Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 8

Lot 152

1792 Copper Disme. Reeded edge. Judd-10, Pollock-11, High Rarity-6. . J-10. PCGS graded EF-45. Here is one of the most desirable of the 1792 pattern issues. Approximately 15 are known in all grades of this important trial piece. This is one of the finer ones known, behind the stunning example from the Garrett collection. Better than EF coin from the Norweb sale, and similar to the Stack's 1976 ANA sale specimen. It doesn't appear to be the Crosby plate coin either from our check of available reference works.
Medium to dark brown in color and very well preserved. The surfaces show only the slightest trace of porosity, mostly in the lettering. Quickly identifiable by a minor planchet lamination near the bust tip through the B of LIBERTY, and this feature will allow the next owner to quickly trace the specimen from the few known in this grade from the roster below. No circulation marks or other problems, clearly this coin was cherished soon after it was struck and carefully preserved by generations of numismatists. Only 3 pieces graded by PCGS, one the MS-65, the other two both EF-45. No others reported by that service.
Here is a list of those known, taken from the Bowers and Merena Norweb Sale, November 1988, lot 3391:
1). Garrett: 2352 as Choice AU, now graded Specimen MS-65 by PCGS
2). Norweb, 11-88:3391 as EF, prior to that Ex. Ellsworth
3). Lauder: 237 as "AU", ex Jackman:224
4). Stack's ANA 1976:131. "EF" Ex: NERCA, November 1975:383
5). Byron Reed Collection "Fine"
6). Robison: 968 "VF", Ex: Park:203, Stack's June 1973:879, weakly struck lower right obverse
7). Stack's January 1987:515 "AG", Bowers and Ruddy, November 1976:937
8). Crosby Plate X, 18, EF? (probably not this coin)
9). Bushnell:1761, EF?
10). National Collection, ex Mint "AU."
11). Eric P. Newman Collection
12). Ten Eyck:566-A, "VF"
13). Jess Peters, ANA, 1973:1088, "AU-Unc."
14). Another, whereabouts unknown
Of the above, we checked several but were unable to trace this specimen from our available library reference material (time is also a factor too, of course). It could be the Lauder coin, or the Bushnell, maybe even the Ten Eyck or Jess Peters piece noted, or even one not even listed above.

The story of the 1792 pattern issues is filled with mystery and guesswork. We know the founding fathers were very interested in the founding of the Philadelphia Mint, and Washington was a frequent visitor. The foundation for our coinage had been laid by Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance in the 1780s. The results of these early efforts resulted in the Nova Constellation coinage and pattern issues. The establishment of a mint would have to wait a few more years. In 1790 Congress instructed Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, to prepare a plan to establish a Mint. In July of 1791 a report was submitted to Congress by Hamilton, and on March 3, 1792 Washington approved a joint resolution of Congress to establish a mint. The original legislation, prior to the April 2 passage read as follows:
"Upon each of the said coins there shall be an impression or representation of the head of the President of the United States for the time being, with an inscription which shall express the initial or first letter of the Christian or first name and his surname at length, the succession of the presidency numerically, and the year of the coinage; the reverse of the gold and silver coins to bear…an eagle with the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA"
Well, President Washington did not find favor with this (see the 1791 and 1792 contract coinage patterns elsewhere in this sale for examples!). Washington did not want to be represented on our coinage, and had the section changed to read "…an impression emblematic of Liberty, and the year of coinage…" dropping the President from coinage.
While the Mint was still an idea, a New Jersey sawmaker named John Harper used his Philadelphia facilities and small coining press to make contract coinage. Research has confirmed that the first half dimes, using George Washington's own silver dinnerware, were coined in his cellar located at the corner of Sixth and Cherry Streets, Philadelphia, in early 1792.
On July 1, 1792 David Rittenhouse was selected by Washington to be the first Director of the Mint, A lot was purchased on Seventh Street in Philadelphia, and the lot was cleared. A cornerstone was laid July 31, 1792 by Rittenhouse. By September 7, 1792 operations began. On September 11, six pounds of copper were purchased for coinage. Coinage presses ordered from England arrived September 21, 1792. Congress had required the onerous bond of $10,000 for the Mint employees in order for them to coin either silver or gold. The cost of the bond could not be met initially, and for this reason, no silver or gold was coined in 1792-93 at the Philadelphia Mint. Washington referred to the Half Dismes in his fourth annual address on November 6, 1792.
The first copper coins struck at the Mint were in December of 1792, coiner Henry Voigt's account includes the notation "Struck off a few pieces of copper coin" under the date of December 18, 1792. Perhaps this reference is to this coin, or the various cents produced, silver center, fusible alloy, or large cents of 1792 to show the powers that be. Decades later, when the original Mint building was demolished, Frank H. Stewart found two planchets for making the 1792 silver center cents, thus verifying that these were almost certainly struck at the Mint.
As to this 1792 Disme, the dies are thought to have been engraved by Joseph Wright, the famed engraver of the 1793 half cent and Liberty Cap cent. Wright died of Yellow Fever in September 1793, just after completing a few dies. Wright's artistic talents far exceeded those of Robert Scot, who was hired to replace him as the defacto chief engraver. Our thanks to the cataloguers of the Norweb collection for the above information, and for further reading on the subject, see Breen's Encyclopedia, U.S. Mint and Coinage by Taxay, and Frank Stewart's History of the United States Mint.
Estimated Value $35,000-UP.

Lot 153

1794 Pattern Silver Dollar, struck in copper, no stars, lettered edge. J-18, P-25, Unique! . J-18. PCGS graded VF-20. Judd-18, Pollock-25. Unique! This unique copper dollar is almost certainly the very first dollar coin struck at the Philadelphia Mint, and its importance can't be overstated. The obverse die of this coin was apparently used to coin only this piece. For most of its history, collectors thought that after this piece was coined, the stars were added to the obverse die and the balance of the 1794 silver dollars struck came from this die pairing. Research by Andrew W. Pollock III finally demonstrated in 1989 that the obverse die did not later have the stars added, but that an entirely new die was engraved for 1794 silver dollars with stars.
It is virtually certain that this coin was a pattern issue reviewed by all Mint and Federal officials. It is very similar to the pattern 1794 half dime, also with no obverse stars (Judd-14) which is also unique. In the 1792 pattern issues, the motto LIBERTY PARENT OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY was used on the obverse. This motto dropped in 1794 and not used again. Without the motto, the fields were left open, and the head of Liberty is centered between the word LIBERTY and the date 1794 below. After viewing this coin, and probably the 1794 no stars pattern half dime, the decision to add stars to future dies was made. No doubt Mint officials decided the stars would further protect the coin and increase its longevity in circulation. We note the cheeks on Liberty are very full, not unlike the Sheldon-24 large cent of 1794, but not quite as dramatic on this coin as seen on the large cent. Perhaps the two dies were made by the same engraver?
The obverse die differs from the 1794 with stars as follows: the 4 on the no stars obverse is placed over the center of a dentil, while on the with stars pieces the 4 is not perfectly centered over a dentil. The placement of the digits in the date are also slightly different on this coin than the later with stars variety. We also note that the hub used to produced this die lacks certain details, mostly on the back of the curls on Liberty. On later 1795 silver dollars, which use this same hub (Liberty's head) on the obverse, the hair curls tips, lettering, date, and stars would be added to the die. Note in particular that the curl tip (usually third from the bottom) has not been engraved on this 1794 no stars die, but a third curl tip is always added on the with stars 1794 dollar obverse and all 1795 flowing hair dies later. We would guess the engraver simply used the obverse hub to make the die and didn't complete the finishing details of lengthening curls. Also, note the size, direction and length of this normally hand engraved curl tip is diagnostic on later 1795 silver dollar obverse varieties and used to tell the dies apart. Using a master hub produces identical dies, except for added details, like the lettering placement, curls added etc… The reverse die is the same used to produce all known 1794 silver dollars. Curiously, the reverse die was not used later in 1795, although the die showed no signs of breaking or wear on the few 1794 dollars produced.
The physical characteristics include a deep dark chocolate brown color, the surfaces show a fine layer of porosity, with some small deep pits and general roughness on much of the surface. The reverse has more porosity than the obverse. Diagnostics are all present, and the coin is not unlike most large cents of the era. The edge lettering is sharp, and can be seen despite the PCGS holder insert, if examined carefully. There are no unsightly bangs or bumps, the rims are very choice, and the coin has a pleasant appearance overall. A couple of faint scratches can be seen on the obverse and reverse, but a strong glass is needed. The dollar is the central monetary unit of coinage in this country. This coin is apparently the first and only example to survive from this die pairing, with a pedigree that includes several of the most famous collectors of the past two centuries. A more important opportunity to purchase any coin simply can not be imagined.
What makes this coin so important is that it is likely the very first "silver" dollar struck at the Mint. It is obviously a die trial piece, struck in copper to test the dies, coining equipment, and to receive approval from the officials. As noted, apparently this met with disfavor, as a new obverse die was engraved and used to coin the small number of 1794 silver dollars later that year. It is likely that this very coin was inspected by President Washington, as well as countless other government and Mint officials. Washington was very interested in the progress at the Philadelphia Mint, and would no doubt have been involved in approving the new silver dollar.
What is curious is that this coin somehow was lost, and the rumor that it was given to President Washington as a memento has generally been disproven. Research by the late Jack Collins indicates that this coin may have shown up when the first Philadelphia Mint building was torn down around 1833 when the new Philadelphia Mint began service. This coin is first reported in the collection of John W. Haseltine, which is the time the silver center cents (1792) found their way into the Mint Collection in Philadelphia. As this coin is porous, it may well have been buried for a time, or at least in a damp environment (Philadelphia certainly qualifies for that!). This coin is next known in the Robert Coulton Davis collection, Davis was the special pharmacist who used his authority to obtain large amounts of laudanum for Mint employees, from whom he obtained many coins for his collection! When Davis sold his collection in 1890, this coin was purchased by Harlan T. Smith and David Proskey, who then sold it to Lorin Parmelee. Next it went to George D. Woodside via the Parmelee Sale of 1890, Woodside sold it via Smith and Proskey again to William H. Woodin. Wooden sold it after a few years to Waldo Newcomer. At some point later, Dr. J. Hewitt Judd bought the coin where it was included in his famous book on Pattern coins. Next it turns up in a Sotheby's Sale in London in 1973, where Ed Milas purchased it and sold it to a Delaware Collector. The coin next crossed the block in the 1977 Getty Sale by Bowers and Ruddy, then later in the sale by Bowers and Merena of Dr. Nelson Page Aspen (ANA Sale) of 1989 lot 741. The coin was then sold to the current consignor.
While this coin is not as beautiful as the gem 1794 with stars copper dollar in the Smithsonian Institution, this coin does have one advantage, it was struck first! This may not be the most valuable coin in the sale, but it will always be one of the most important we have ever sold. A museum piece that still resides in private hands, at least for now.
Estimated Value $75,000-UP.

Lot 266

1794 Liberty Cap Cent. Starred reverse. Sheldon-48, Rarity-5. Fifth Finest Known. . S-48. PCGS graded VF-30 and Del Bland graded VF-20. Medium dark chocolate brown with traces of microscopic porosity scattered around the obverse, a horizontal pin scratch far below C in CENT and an edge dent between O and F. Perfectly centered and sharply struck, all the stars boldly visible. This variety, the most famous of the entire large cent series, is clearly the highlight of this sale. It is the fifth finest known, fourth finest available to collectors as one of the examples graded VF-25 is in the ANS collection and is permanently off the market. Another example graded VF-30 is very sharp, but has serious defects making the piece offered here more desirable. The condition census is as follows:
1). VF-35 (formerly graded EF-40) John W. Adams-Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, FPL, 1982:43
2). VF-30 (EF-45 but with planchet defects and edge dents), Garrett--Johns Hopkins University
3). VF-25 ANS Collection
4). VF-25 Jackman--Sheldon--R.E. Naftzger, Jr.
5). The coin offered here
6). F-15 Dorothy Paschal Collection
7). F-15 Dr. French:29--T. James Clark
Two more at F-12
Years may come and go before a similar specimen is offered. Long time collectors may remember when the spectacular Adams specimen was offered in 1982, at that time the economy was in deep recession, and most collectors could not scrape together much money for their collections. Unless you had a huge reserve fund for "special" coins that appear infrequently, and could write a substantial check, that would be another opportunity lost. Today, in 2001 the economy is in much better shape, many collectors have substantial investments aside from their collections, and more numismatists are able to afford such a coin. Owning such a piece will put your collection squarely on the map with the great collections of the past, and future. Of course, rarity and quality of this magnitude will not come cheap, it never does, good market, bad market, quality always sells for a premium.
It appears that the ninety four tiny stars were engraved in the reverse die before the dentils. Some of the stars are covered over by the dentils, and if the stars were added later, they likely would have been placed between the dentils. Much speculation has been written and discussed as to why the stars are there. No answer or theory has proven definitive on the matter. What is clear to all, is that these ninety four tiny stars embody all the charm and charisma that make collecting early coppers one of the most popular and spiritually rewarding pursuits in numismatics.
Estimated Value $60,000-UP.
Ex: Samuel A. Bispham; S. H. Chapman 2/1880:162; John W. Hazeltine collection; John W. Hazeltine 3/1881:771: C.T. Whitman; S. H. and H. Chapman 8/1893:826; Dr. Thomas Hall 9/7/09; Virgil M. Brand, 1934; Armin W. Brand; New Netherlands Coin Co. #34 10/51:579; Willard C. Blaisdell 9/74; Del Bland 1/2/85; Jack H. Robinson; Superior Galleries 1/89:84: Douglas F. Bird.

Lot 151

1792 Cent. Copper or Fusible Alloy. Reeded edge. Judd-2, Pollock-2, Rarity-7. . J-2. PCGS graded VG-10. We don't know if this is a fusible alloy or a copper cent, not that it matters very much. This coin should be tested by an expert in order to properly identify if it is one of the fusible alloy pieces. The idea behind the fusible alloy was Henry Voigt's. He decided that by placing a small amount of silver (like the silver center cents) and mixing it into the copper to make a cent, the size could be greatly reduced. To strike a coin worth one cent of copper, the coin would have been four times as large as this coin. Note the size and weight of the 1792 Birch Cents, and just imagine a few of those clunkers jangling about your pockets. Voigt was onto a good idea, but it wouldn't fully develop until 1856 when the large cents were reduced in size to the Flying Eagles, then reduced again in 1864 to French bronze pieces, and finally in 1982 to a small copper coated zinc planchet in use today. Trouble with Voigt's mixing the silver with the copper, is that you couldn't tell if there was any silver, and the value would then be brought into question. The last thing the new government needed was a scandal, especially trying to pass inflated money (which had frequently happened elsewhere) off on the unsuspecting public. A silver and copper alloy combination would have to wait.
One of the better examples of this extremely important coin known, this 1792 pattern issue was likely struck in December of 1792 at the Philadelphia Mint. It had been proposed to strike three type of cents, and Thomas Jefferson himself wrote to George Washington with information about this early coinage as follows:
"Th. Jefferson has the honor to send the President two cents made on Voigt's plan of putting a silver plug worth three quarters of a cent into a copper worth one quarter of a cent."
"Mr. Rittenhouse is about to make a few by mixing the same plug by fusion with the same quantity of copper. He will then make of copper alone of the same size and lastly he will make the real cent as ordered by Congress, four times as big. Specimens of these several ways of making the cent may now be delivered to the Committee of Congress now having the subject before them."
Thus, the 1792 pattern cents were made in three ways, the famous silver center cents, the fusible alloy with the silver and copper mixed together (or just plain copper), and regular large copper cents. This is the fusible alloy type, possibly only copper, one can't tell without an expert in metallurgy to confirm the presence of the proper amount of silver in the copper planchet.
Sharply struck and well preserved, unlike several others which are corroded or simply not appealing in grade. Clean surfaces and well struck, with familiar dark olive patina in the fields, lighter coppery shades on the devices. Struck with the reverse die rotated 180 degrees from later coinage, so you turn the coin over side to side, instead of top to bottom, and all known specimens show this die alignment. The edge has a raised reed at the center of the edge, although it is hard to see in the PCGS holder. There are some trivial pin scratches near the bust tip and others in the hair, and a very minor edge tap is noted above the second T of STATES. Overall, this coin is pleasant, the surface roughness is familiar to any copper collector, and not too bad as such things go, and the coin has a wonderful appearance to the eye. The date and devices are all strong, and the only weakness is on the ON of ONE at the central reverse.
A list of the known specimens is taken from the Norweb Collection, 11/88:3393:
1). National Collection
2). Norweb, second finest known
3). Garrett: 2348, ex Maris, Seavey (1873)
4). Lauder:234, Bowers and Ruddy's Rare Coin Review, #53 (This Coin)
5). ANA Museum, ex Paramount's Century Sale, 1965:50; Pine Tree 2-21-75:59
6). Harmer-Rooke 11-69; to a private collection, Good to Very Good, porous
7). Lohr (1961); River Oaks, Bowers and Ruddy, 1976:909; Stack's 1-14-87:476, Good, porous
8). Crosby, Plate X, 12, the Appleton-MHS coin, now untraced.
An exciting and historic pattern to own, and certain to be one of the highlights of any collection it graces.
Estimated Value $35,000-UP.

Lot 4100

1907. Wire rim, periods. NGC graded MS-66. Miscalled the "wire rim" by most, the proper term is "knife rim" to describe the fine raised circle of gold at the extreme edge of the rim on the obverse and reverse. The surfaces are outstanding, with satiny softness throughout. The fields show extensive die polishing lines which cross many of the devices. The net mintage is believed to be 448, after some were melted from the original 500 coined. Apparently these were not intended for circulation, but were instead given out to dignitaries, hence most of these are not well preserved.
One of only 3 graded as such, with 4 graded higher by NGC. This one has a tiny mark in the field before Liberty's nose, and another small scrape on the raised branch below the eagle's foreward claw. In NGC holder #651795-007.
The story on this issue is delightful and is always worth repeating. President Teddy Roosevelt took it upon himself to replace the designs on our national coinage. In a letter to the famed sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens, Roosevelt called the coin designs then in circulation "atrociously hideous", and further asked for St. Gaudens help in redesigning the coinage. St. Gaudens had sworn he would never work for mint under any circumstances after submitting a magnificent design for the official medal of the 1892 Columbian Exposition. St. Gaudens submission featured a magnificent portrait of Columbus, with the reverse of a Grecian youth, unashamedly naked, holding torch and wreaths to crown the victors. The controlling Board of Gentlemen Managers of the Exposition accepted St. Gaudens models and displayed them. Soon the naked youth came to the attention of Anthony Comstock, founder of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, who at once denounced the St. Gaudens reverse as "obscene", and began a torrent of verbal abuse at the sculptor and the Exposition. Comstock also wielded his immense power in Congress. The Board, afraid to stand up to the fanatic, or to defend St. Gaudens from fundamentalist prudery, withdrew the reverse and asked Charles E. Barber to design a replacement, predictably notable in its banality. St. Gaudens, infuriated, swore he would go to his grave before having anything to do with the Mint Bureau again.
Fourteen years after that painful incident, President Theodore Roosevelt used his friendship with St. Gaudens to persuade him to design his official inaugural medal. Roosevelt confided to St. Gaudens his "pet crime" of wanting to redesign Barbers coinage. This seemed plausible with Roosevelt in the White House. Roosevelt specifically wanted to see the beauty and dignity displayed on Greek coins on America's coinage. St. Gaudens took on the challenge, and began to produce models, just as his health declined. St. Gaudens's pupil, Henry Hering stepped into St. Gaudens's shoes and completed the finishing touches on the designs and Roosevelt used all his influence to have dies made under Hering's supervision. Barber hated the personal slight, and fought the Roosevelt/St. Gaudens project every step of the way.
At last, dies were completed for these magnificent eagles. Having no edge, the wire rim became a problem when the coins were stacked, so they would tip over, not to mention being a handy dirt collecting device. Barber demanded they be redesigned, and sabotaged the project at every turn. Roosevelt persisted, and Hering continued to press for the original designs. Nevertheless, Barber's sabotage paid off, and the original concepts were changed in late 1907, reducing the relief adding rims to the eagles and double eagles designed by St. Gaudens. Meanwhile St. Gaudens died before any were coined, never seeing his magnificent coins in circulation. This particular coin is closest to St. Gauden's original design, on later issues the periods were dropped, then the design was changed a bit by Barber for the more common no periods, "Type III".
St. Gaudens had originally hoped to have a full standing figure of Liberty, but Roosevelt wanted only Liberty's head, so as not to detract from the stunning full person of Liberty on the double eagle. St. Gaudens chose the figure of Nike from his General Sherman monument (1905) for the obverse head, Roosevelt then requested the Indian war bonnet be added, possibly to conceal the Sherman monument connection, and thus minimize protests from the South. No Native American woman would have worn such a war bonnet, but the powers that be insisted, so there it is. (See Breen's Encyclopedia for more).
This coin is a sweet reminder of an epic battle that waged from the White House to the Mint, and the power of many personalities, all struggling with their own agendas.
Estimated Value $50,000 - 75,000.

Lot 4009

1818. Miller-123, Rarity-6. . M-123. PCGS graded MS-65. Clearly the Finest known of this variety this coin stands alone in MS-65 in the PCGS Population Report, in fact there are no MS-64s graded, and only six in MS-63. The obverse boasts glowing original mint frost and a hint of coppery toning, similar on the reverse, which retains its original luster and mint bloom. As to the strike, it is sharp on the obverse, with the reverse a touch weak at the center, probably because of the bisecting die crack that starts near the 5 in the denomination, and continues up to the second S of STATES. Another crack is noted through the base of AMERICA to the D. Close examination reveals few signs of handling, even on the devices, save for the most minute contact ticks. An impressive example of this rare type, and worthy of the finest collection. In PCGS holder #6561403.
Estimated Value $45,000-UP.

Lot 119

1792 Washington Copper Token. Eagle with stars on reverse, lettered edge. Baker-21. EF-40. The surfaces are a medium chocolate brown in color, although the coin was lightly silvered, most of which has worn away (less than fifteen percent of the surfaces show silvering) in subsequent circulation. Perhaps silvered to provide a visual aid to Congress and to demonstrate the usefulness of W. and Alex Walkers (Birmingham merchants) proposed copper, silver and gold coinage denominations, all produced by the same pair of dies. The silvering remains only in the protected areas, near the devices and lettering. Surprisingly well struck as the devices are deeply cut into the dies, even the epaulets on Washington's shoulders show complete and exacting detail, despite light wear from circulation. Further, the highest curls on Washington's wig remain crisp and complete in definition. A tiny centering dot can be seen just above Washington's collar below and slightly left of his earlobe. Similar on the reverse, the eagle retains magnificent and glorious feather separation on its wings, tail and head. Even the minute details of its knobby legs are present. This is where the genius of the engraver John Gregory Hancock, Sr. shines, the central shield received most of the wear, but rather than engrave fine pales and gules in the shield (which would offer little defense against circulation and wear), Hancock engraved wide, deep lines which would not show wear until after extensive circulation. Curiously, the reeding around the edge is very shallow, and the planchets appear to be too small for the dies. Reeding protects the central devices from wear, a problem on the 1793 half cents and cents (which used much smaller edge beading instead), without the surrounding edge reeding to protect the central design, coins tend to wear much quicker after limited circulation. Engraving devices which could receive wear (reeding, or in this case a thick central shield) while the fine details were preserved (the eagle's wing feathers and tail feathers) is the genius of the sixteen year old engraver, Hancock.
Close examination will note a faint series of scratches forming a grid pattern in the left obverse field, and more continue above Washington's head as well as a few vertical ones in the right field. The reverse also has a few, but they are very faint. The scratches are old, toned over and while present, are not too troublesome. There is a tiny planchet defect touching the outer edge of D of PRESIDENT from the rim, and this should help to trace the pedigree of this coin.
Breen reports 4-6 known with the lettered edge (Br-1229), and another 6 or 7 known with a plain edge. The only other offering of a lettered edge coin is the "nearly Fine" piece in the Garrett Sale (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/81:1712; later Stack's Roper Sale, 12/83:380) the Bowers cataloger stated "only about a half dozen are known" but offered no other information on known specimens. In the Roper Sale, Stack's estimated that 8 to 10 copper specimens are known including lettered and plain edge varieties. None have been offered in recent years, and this important issue is undoubtedly extremely rare. Neither Norweb or Eliasberg had a specimen. The copper examples apparently circulated along with other Washington pieces, as well as large cents once the Philadelphia Mint began producing coins. Survival was random, and no condition census exists that we could locate. Nevertheless, this coin is certainly one of the finest of the few known, hidden off the market for over 55 years.
The story behind the creation of this coin is fascinating. One of the most important of the series of Washington pieces is the Hancock multidenominational pattern offered here. They were designed by John Gregory Hancock, Sr., a juvenile engraving prodigy who was working for a Birmingham, England token manufacturer. Hancock became one of the finest artists in the history of 18th century British diemaking and earned his reputation well. One of Hancock's honored tasks was being chosen to make dies for cents portraying George Washington as samples for a proposed federal coinage contract. Hancock had already made a name for himself in America by designing the 1791 Washington, large eagle cents. It is believed that about 4,000 of the 1791 cents arrived in America, and these were distributed to dignitaries and officials in hopes of winning the contract to produce coinage for the new United States.
During 1791 proposals were discussed in Congress to establish a mint in America, or purchase contract coinage from the technically superior and cutting edge firm of Boulton & Watt (Birmingham, England), including negotiations with a would-be representative of Boulton, one John Hinkley Mitchell, who seems to have had in mind establishment of a subsidiary or agency of Boulton in the USA (Breen). Meanwhile Jefferson way trying to induce Swiss engraver John Pierre Droz to move to Philadelphia and become Engraver or even Director of the proposed federal mint, leaving behind his employment at Boulton & Watt. Last but not least, we have Messrs. W. and Alex. Walker, Birmingham merchants, who ordered sample cents of two designs to be struck by Obadiah Westwood's private mint in that city, with dies by Hancock. Some solution was urgently needed.
Heated words flew back and forth as Congress debated the proposals for creating much needed coinage. Thomas Paine passionately opposed private contract coinage, especially of foreign origin using foreign copper. Thomas Jefferson listened well, and helped to have Paine's arguments published in the National Gazette 10/17/1791 and in American Magazine 10/1791 (Breen). Apparently Jefferson convinced George Washington that the best solution was to establish a federal mint.
Meanwhile, Congress was debating the Morris coinage bill which would have established a federal mint and a coinage system. In addition to establishing a mint, the Morris bill proposed that the coins would "portray Pres. Washington" (Breen) and because of this section, Hancock's employers submitted these copper coins for consideration to win the coinage contract. Winning an important coinage contract would be very lucrative for the backers.
Meanwhile, President Washington reportedly saw his image on some of the 1791 Hancock coins and stated that the designs were too "monarchical" and rejected the idea of his image being placed on coins. The Morris bill was rewritten, and in its final form (which became law on April 2, 1792) the coins instead called for "an impression emblematic of Liberty". With international communications slow, Hancock did not learn of the change in the Morris bill, or of Washington's disapproval, until these new dies had been engraved and a few coins struck.
Hancock and his backers (W. and Alex Walker) believed that these dies could be used interchangeably to produce copper coins worth approximately one cent, silver coins worth approximately half a dollar, and a gold piece worth ten dollars, although no weight standard had been set at the time for denominations. A single gold example exists in the Newman Collection, less than 10 silver pieces are known, some with a lettered edge, others plain; and less than a dozen copper coins are known, some with plain edge (6-7) and lettered edge (4-6) according to Breen. This coin has the lettered edge UNITED STATES OF AMERICA .X.
When word finally reached Hancock that Washington didn't want his portrait on coins and that the Morris bill had passed establishing a federal mint, Hancock undertook an extraordinary piece of revenge. Washington's spokesman had compared the idea of presidential portraits on coins to the practices of Nero, Caligula and Cromwell, so Hancock's (and/or Westwood, his employer) idea was to portray Washington on a coin as a degenerate, effeminate Roman emperor. The "Roman Head" cents are one of Hancock's masterpieces, albeit a satirical piece. Of the Roman Head coins, approximately a dozen were made and given out very quietly to Hancock's and Westwood's friends. These remained a secret for over 40 years, lest their discovery touch off an "international incident". (Breen)
Thus, the rejection of this coin design and failure to obtain the contract coinage agreement led to creation of the "Roman Head" cent by Hancock. The coin offered here is one of the most coveted and rare of the Washington pieces, and certain to bring a runaway price from a true numismatist that understands the immense historical importance of this coin.
Estimated Value $15,000-UP.
Ex: Ira S. Reed, 11/21/45 at a then staggering cost of $125.

Lot 1109

1873. Doubled "LIBERTY". Snow-1. PCGS graded MS-65 Red and Brown. This is the finest known example of the King of the Indian Cents. This coin has never been on the market before this sale. It was originally purchased uncertified by Eagle Eye Rare Coins in 1996, sold to a California collector, repurchased again 6 months later and placed into the "Heathgate" collection. It exhibits 85% red color and tremendous luster. It is fully struck with nearly perfect surfaces. This is an early die state example with every strand of hair standing out with clear crisp detail. There is slight browning on the high points and in the field to the right of the portrait on the obverse and on the lower right half of the reverse. A small tick is visible on the O in ONE.
Presently only 122 examples of the 1873 Double LIBERTY are reported, mostly in lower grades, as reported by Jerry Wysong in his population study in "Longacre's Ledger". Three examples are known in MS-65RB. The second finest is a close twin to this example, although with a bit less red, and is graded by PCGS. Third finest is an NGC graded example which was featured on the cover of "Flying Eagle and Indian Cents" by Rick Snow.

The 1873 Double LIBERTY is the most dramatic variety of the Indian Cent series, and one of the top varieties in all of United States numismatics. Most advanced date set collectors desire to include an example in their collection, not unlike how the 1955 doubled die is included in top quality Lincoln cent collections. Because of this collector demand, the values of this variety have increased dramatically over the past 10 years. This coin is one of the high points of the "Heathgate" collection and is expected to set new records for this popular variety.
Estimated Value $40,000-UP.
Includes Eagle Eye Photo Seal.

Lot 1728

1795. Overton-132. Rarity-8. One of two known of the variety. . O-132. NGC graded VG-10. Numismatists for the last 150 years have accumulated coins and medals in America. Scholarly works began to appear in the late 1850s on die varieties of United States large cents. Other denominations were studied, and two students of the time, J. Colvin Randall and Capt. John W. Haseltine examined available collections of the day and published a die variety reference on United States quarters, half dollars and silver dollars, under Capt. Haseltine's name (Randall apparently never forgave Haseltine for claiming the work as his alone). The Haseltine work was the standard reference for these silver varieties for about 5 decades. In time, collectors began to find new varieties, and a new wave of updated variety books was published in the 1920s and later. M. L. Beistle published an excellent work on half dollar varieties in 1929, based on his own collection, the collection of David Proskey and Mr. E. H. R. Green. The Beistle book stood as the standard reference until the 1960s, when Al Overton published his own study of early half dollar die varieties, along with subsequent revisions and updates. The Beistle book proved to be very accurate, but lacked the plates of later varieties desired by collectors.
One die pairing of 1795 half dollars proved to be very troubling. Beistle noted on page 10 of his book under variety 1795 10 C that …"This die variety is very similar to Nos. 1, 2 and 6. The last star point is close to the end of the bust, and the first star and curl are in the same position as on No. 2. This variety can readily become confused with No. 6, but there is one very decided difference. On No. 6, E and R in LIBERTY are wide spaced, and on this variety they are close spaced, and almost touch at the base." Beistle goes on to say "Exceedingly rare; the only one I have seen and believe it to be unique."
Beistle printed plates of the 1794 and 1795 half dollars, as well as other selected varieties. Included in these plates is a photograph of his 10 C variety, the coin he thought to be unique. Beistle's 1795 variety 10 C is important because his obverse 10 was not paired with any other known reverses, while reverse C was used in 1795 to produce Beistle's 1 C variety (Overton-101) which is extremely rare, with only 5 specimens known of the B 1-C or O-101 variety. When Overton published his variety reference on half dollars, he initially dropped Beistle 10 C as he could not locate a specimen, and none of the half dollar collectors he knew had ever seen one. Later, in his second 1970 edition, Overton included 1795 Beistle 10 C as Overton-132, and used the same photograph to represent the variety that Beistle has used.
In 1990, the Third Edition of Early Half Dollar Die Varieties, 1794 - 1836 was published by Don Parsley, updating the Overton reference with a condition census and additional varieties discovered since 1970. Despite years and years of dozens of collectors actively attributing bust half dollars, no one had found the original Beistle 10 C coin, nor had anyone turned up another example. Doubts had begun to form about the Beistle 10 C. Parsley stated after the variety description of 1795 Overton-132 "If in fact, this marriage exists, this piece may be unique. Any information the reader may have would be welcome." Another decade passed, thousands and thousands of bust half dollars were attributed, purchased and sold. Still no example of the 1795 Beistle 10 C (O-132) was located, despite the best efforts of the Bust Half Nut variety collectors club.
The decades of speculation were finally laid to rest in July of 2000, Southern California coin dealer Manny Acosta purchased a 1795 half dollar from a customer in his store. Acosta called half dollar specialist Gary Beedon and asked him to help him attribute his new purchase. Beedon and Acosta soon discovered that the new 1795 half dollar was an example of Beistle 10 C, or Overton 132. To say the discovery was exciting is a serious understatement. Not only did this coin confirm that O-132 did exist, but the example found was different from the coin pictured in Beistle's book. To locate a variety which has been unconfirmed for over 70 years is certainly the find of a lifetime. For bust half dollar collectors, this is one of the most important finds in decades.
As to the coin itself, it is generally untoned and silvery-white in color. The obverse has typical marks expected for the grade, but the rims and surfaces show no significant defects or circulation problems. On the reverse, the unique berry combination 10 on the left branch and 9 on the right quickly identify this as Reverse A (Overton) or C (Beistle). Note that there are four berries on the lower right branch under the wing, both outside berries are small and partially covered by the branch. Well struck by the dies, this coin is quite pleasing for its moderate grade. The obverse die failed quickly, with a strong die break through RTY of LIBERTY. So far as is known, only two coins survived, one of which hasn't been published since 1929, and this example. To say this is a foremost opportunity would be an understatement. This is the opportunity to purchase this variety. Once sold, it may not be offered again for decades unless the buyer from this sale decides to part with it. No hint of a third example has been heard.
After reviewing the Beistle reference, the cataloger (JMM) noticed a small but very important clue pertaining to the Beistle 10 C coin. Beistle noted in his Foreword that his collection was formed with the help of David Proskey and Mr. E. H. R. Green. Beistle notes that through Proskey, Beistle was able to "possess and register many of my rarest varieties, not a few of which came from his private collection." It thus appears that Proskey sold Beistle coins for his collection, including pieces from Proskey's own private collection. Although Beistle did not auction his personal collection, some of the coins used in his plates have turned up in half dollar collections, and it is likely that Beistle's coins were sold sometime after his book was published in 1929 although the disposition of his collection was not published or auctioned.
Reading on Beistle continues in his Foreword as follows:
"This work would not have been brought up to its present completeness had it not been for my friend Mr. E. H. R. Green of South Dartmouth, Mass., who is an ardent collector as well as an advanced student of numismatics. I am very much indebted to Mr. Green for loaning me his entire collection of Half Dollars for checking die varieties, which enabled me to make this work more complete than otherwise. At the same time, it gave me an opportunity when making my plates, to photograph some of his finest and rarest specimens."
My guess is that Beistle did not own the example of 10 C, but that it resided in the Green collection. Further evidence supports this in the fact that the plate for 1795 obverse 10 is dropped in seemingly as an afterthought, on page XXV after the 1796-97 half dollars. Note that all other half dollars plated are in date, variety and letter order. Obverse 1795 10 is the one exception to proper sequential ordering. Let me emphasize what Beistle says in the paragraph about Col. Green. Beistle states that his book was "brought up to its present completeness" by coins Green "loaned" him. Further, Beistle thanks Green for allowing him to "photograph some of his finest and rarest specimens." As the Beistle collection was apparently sold or broken up, yet the 1795 10-C has not turned up, there is certainly a better than average chance that the coin used in his book resides in the Col. Green collection. Based on the location of the 1795 Beistle 10 obverse in the plates, it appears that it turned up very late in the publication process, and barely made it into the Beistle book. The Col. Green collection was broken up in the 1940s, with some of the more important coins sold directly to a famous mid west collector, where they remain to this day. With no evidence to the contrary, it is likely that the long missing 1795 Beistle 10-C, Overton-132 coin is held in that famous collection today. This would explain why the coin hasn't turned up in over 70 years.
Now at last, a second specimen has turned up, the specimen offered here. Rumors of the demise of Beistle's 1795 10-C were exaggerated, and at last all collectors will have a chance to finally purchase this coin for their variety collections. When the hammer falls, there will be one very happy collector who can finally knock this coin off their want list, after decades of uncertainty and searching, the existence of Beistle 10 C is finally solved.
Estimated Value $25,000-UP.
Purchased over the counter by Manny Acosta at his Southern California coin shop July 25, 2000, and consigned to this sale.

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