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SI Neg. 2005-27364. Date: 9/1/2005...As early as 1850, agitation began in Congress for the establishment of a San Francisco branch of the United States Mint. This action was blocked by people from New York-who wanted a branch in their own state-and from Louisiana and Georgia-who argued that any California operation would represent unfair competition to the branch mints in New Orleans and Dahlonega..The opposition won, and San Francisco went without a branch mint for another four years. But it did get an odd sort of hybrid, the United States Assay Office of Gold, striking an odd sort of money-a gigantic-fifty-dollar ingot that also did duty as a coin. .In addition to the Assay Office, other California coiners toyed with the idea of striking fifty-dollar gold pieces. One group, headed by J. G. Kellogg and G. F. Richter went so far as to have dies for circular slugs prepared and a dozen or so proofs struck from those dies. .But by the time the project had gone forward that far, the federal branch Mint at San Francisco was finally coming into full production. Soon California private gold coinage, no matter how large or small the denominations, became irrelevant..Click here to view the obverse...Credit: Tom Mulvaney (Smithsonian Institution)