PIONEER GOLD COINS
This name appears on a trial piece struck in brass and dated 1851, the obverse design being similar to a gold Mexican eight escudos piece. On the reverse is the denomination of “16.DOL.” and the wording CALIFORNIA DOUBLOON. This trial strike is a vivid reminder of the Spanish influence in California, as the eight escudos pieces represented one ounce of .900 fine gold and was roughly equivalent to $16 in the United States.
The identity of the company which issued these trial pieces is not known, but it may have been one of those companies which planned to issue coins but for one reason or another did not. The only known specimen was discovered about 1916 by Dr. J. M. Henderson, who claimed he bought it from a lady who had owned it for forty years, having been given it by her father, “who so far as she knew, never was in California.” Evidently Henry Chapman of Philadelphia acquired the piece from Dr. Henderson and subsequently traded it to Waldo Newcomer.
--Reprinted with permission of the author
from Donald H. Kagin's, "Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the
United States", copyright 1981, Arco Publishing, Inc. of New