Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 44

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Lot 3216

1900 Lafayette Dollar. PCGS graded MS-65 CAC Verified. Unbelievable blue and golden toning. One of the best toned Lafayette Dollars we have ever seen. A runaway! The lively satin silver luster underneath this majestic color spreads evenly to the rims and across the devices, gleaming with frostiness in all areas. We note a short chattermark on the horse's foreleg. And so next to the devices, which are sharply struck on obverse and reverse. There is a full wig detail on Washington*, while the facial dimples and hair curls on Lafayette are similarly clear.

America's first Commemorative Silver Dollar, the designs were by Charles E. Barber after an engraving of Houdon's bust of Washington. On the reverse, Barber depicted the Lafayette equestrian statue at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Lafayette Dollars were sold to defray part of the cost of completing Paul Wayland Bartlett's statue of the French General, then under construction in Paris for display at the exposition. Out of an authorization for 50,000 pieces, 36,000 were sold, the remainder being melted.

According to researcher, Q. David Bowers, "the Lafayette silver dollar was minted in one day, December 14, 1899, at the Philadelphia Mint, this being the 100th anniversary of the death of George Washington. When queried about prestriking the coins, for it was not yet 1900, the date on the coin, the Mint took the position that the date did not represent the striking at all but, simply, observed the year that the Paris Exposition was held, this being noted on the reverse."

Bowers further observes that "the 1900 Lafayette dollar is very unusual, indeed unique among coinage of its era, for the dies were made by hand. The motifs were impressed on the obverse and reverse, and then by use of hand punches the dates and numerals were added around the border -- in the old-style process generally in use in the 1830s and before, but long obsolete by 1899. The reason for doing this is not clear today, but probably was one of expediency. A number of die pairs were needed, and quickly, and the normal hubbing and master die process was bypassed. Accordingly, this is the only commemorative coin that can be collected today by die variety!" Pop 236; 85 finer, 80 in 66, 5 in 67 (PCGS # 9222) .

*A brief description of wigs: Wigs were made of horsehair, yak hair and human hair, the latter being the most expensive. In the 18th century, wigs were very expensive. A man could outfit himself with a hat, coat, breeches, shirt, hose, and shoes for about what a wig would cost him. A wig also required constant care from a hairdresser for cleaning, curling, and powdering.
Estimated Value $10,000 - 15,000.

Realized $17,250

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