Impressive 1849 Massachusetts & California $5 RarityCopper Die Trial1849 Massachusetts & California Co. $5 Die Trial. K-2B. Rarity-7+. Copper. Reeded Edge. AU-55 (PCGS).This is a handsome and wonderfully original piece with dominant antique copper patina to both sides. Blushes of lighter autumn-brown color are also evident in the field around the reverse denomination. Smooth in hand with a satiny texture, bold to sharp striking detail rounds out an impressive list of attributes for this highly desirable piece.In the early days of the California Gold Rush, many firms organized on the East Coast travelled to the gold fields to make their fortune mining and assaying. Many of these companies proved to be "fly by night" operations that left few, if any artifacts behind. One such early and mysterious enterprise is the Massachusetts & California Company. First reported by Edgar Adams using contemporary accounts, the Massachusetts & California Company was established in January 1849 in Northampton, Massachusetts with the intent to assay and coin money in the gold producing region. Contemporary news accounts even made rather bold comparisons to the well known Bechtler mint in North Carolina. According to additional newspaper accounts, members of the company as well as their coining equipment was reportedly loaded aboard the Alice Tarlton on May 21 and set sail for San Francisco. Unlike the Bechtlers whose assay and coining business was immensely successful and well documented, nothing further is heard about the Massachusetts & California Company nor their coins. Several die trials were produced in various metals -- though none in gold -- which has led to the suggestion that the pieces were actually struck back East in Massachusetts as a demonstration of the company's capabilities. It is perhaps from these trials that the newspaper accounts used to compare the firm to the Bechtler mint.All Massachusetts & California Company die trials are of the highest rarity. According to the consignor to Heritage's January 2013 FUN Signature Auction, the coin offered here was in his possession for 40 years before making its appearance in that sale: "I have had the coin in my collection since 1972. Only two examples have been graded by PCGS. Mine was first -- I submitted the coin to PCGS in 1999 for grading, and only one other has appeared since that time -- also graded AU55." A fleeting bidding opportunity for the advanced collector of territorial and related coinage.Provenance: From the Samuel J. Berngard Collection. From Heritage's FUN Signature Auction of January 2013, lot 5996.PCGS Population: just 2 in all grades, both AU-55.PCGS# 10230.Click here for certification details from PCGS.