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All Posts Tagged With: "Coin Profiles"

Coin Profiles: Unique 1834 Original Half Dollar O-104, Ex: Brand, Norweb

1834 Capped Bust Half Dollar PR65 NGC. O-104, Unique as a Proof.

Only a few proof 1834 half dollars are known, mostly restrikes from the dies used to produce the Crushed Lettered Edge coins. In the catalog of the George “Buddy” Byers Collection (Stack’s, 10/2006), the cataloger enumerated these Overton varieties used to produce the Crushed Lettered Edge restrikes, of which at least 10 pieces survive in all: O-101, O-103, O-104, O-106, O-114, and O-122.

The cataloger also included five Overton varieties known for the 1834 proof half dollars, each unique original coins, that were not CLE restrikes. Those varieties include: O-101 (Large Date, Large Letters, ex: Floyd Starr), O-103 (Large Date, Large Letters; in the King of Siam set), O-104 (the present piece, from the Norweb Collection), O-106 (Large Date, Small Letters; the Byers coin), and O-114 (Small Date, Small Letters; Bowers and Merena, 8/1991, lot 2268). Each one of those unique proof original half dollars is much, much rarer than the 1834 Crushed Lettered Edge restrikes.

The present coin is one of those original pieces, unique as far as we can determine. The catalogers in the Norweb Collection sale described it in this way:

“1834 O-104. Large Date, Small Letters. Proof-64/65. A glittering gem specimen with full Proof surface on all areas, including within the shield stripes on the reverse. This piece is breathtakingly beautiful and is toned a delicate blend of muted rainbow colors, ranging from magenta at the center, to electric and gunmetal blue, to gold at the borders.

“Perhaps unique as a die variety; Walter Breen did not know of other examples, but he was aware of this one, as he participated in the sale of it to Mrs. Norweb. “Here is a superb gem coin, a half dollar for the ages.”

Technical Description: Large Date, Small Letters. The 4 in the date is tall and recut, with the 18 wider than 834. The 4 is higher. The Overton reference describes the date “with an open 3 and extra tall tapered 1” a half-millimeter from the drapery, “the closest of any large date 1834.” On the reverse the top of the C in the denomination is close to the olive stem. The I is centered left of the crossbar of the T. This die lacks the die lump normally seen on business strikes under TE, providing evidence that this proof was struck first. The thin left stand of the M is joined at its base to the center stand. (more…)

Coin Profile: 1849 Oregon Exchange Company Five Dollar Gold Territorial Coin

The news of the discovery of gold in California reached the Oregon Territory in late July 1848. That news was confirmed in Oregon City, seat of Clackamas County, on August 9 of that year, when the brig Henry docked with gold dust, arriving from San Francisco, and by October more than two-thirds of the men in Oregon had departed to seek treasure in the gold fields of California.

The Oregon Spectator, founded in 1846, one of the first newspapers west of the Mississippi River, was forced to stop publishing in 1848 “because its printer, with 3,000 officers, lawyers, physicians, farmers and mechanics were leaving for the gold fields.” (Kagin, Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States.)

By spring of the following year, gold dust had almost entirely replaced beaver and other fur pelts as the primary medium of exchange, although it traded at a substantial discount to silver coins (when available) and to its value at the Philadelphia Mint. Miners were losing money.

Against this backdrop, the Oregon Exchange Company was formed, with the express purpose of weighing and stamping gold.

Although Oregon was officially declared a territory of the United States on March 3, 1849–rendering any plan to coin gold clearly unconstitutional–several prominent residents determined to proceed with the plan.

PCGS Video:David McCarthy of Kagin’s tells the story of the 1849 $5 Oregon gold piece

The surnames of those residents were Kilborn, Magruder, Taylor, Abernethy, Willson, Rector, (Gill) Campbell, and Smith. Their initials K. M. T. A. W. R. G. S. appear around the rim of the five dollar gold pieces, which also picture a beaver on a log and a laurel wreath. In error, the initials T.O. (rather than O.T., for Oregon Territory) were stamped on the obverse.

The five dollar contains the reverse legend OREGON EXCHANGE COMPANY around the periphery, with 130 G. / NATIVE GOLD. / 5 D. in the center. The initials of two men were omitted from the ten dollar pieces struck later, and the T.O. was corrected to O.T.

The gold coinage was unalloyed with silver or copper, and succeeded in raising the price of gold dust from $12 to $16 as the pieces circulated. Alloy was purposely omitted to ensure that the pieces would be accepted regardless of variances in the purity of gold dust, but their inherent softness caused them to suffer in contact with the harder alloyed gold coinage from California–and their higher intrinsic value caused them to soon be melted. (more…)

An introduction to Gobrecht Silver Dollars 1836-1837

By: Dennis Hengeveld – Republished with Permission from the Author

1836 Original J-60 Gobracht DollarGobrecht Dollars. They have fascinated both collectors and researchers since they were minted, first in 1836, and for the last somewhere in the 1870’s as re-strikes. And collectors love them. On the obverse, the coin design shows Miss Liberty, seated on a rock and with here right hand holding a shield. Sometimes there are stars around Miss Liberty, sometimes not. On the reverse, there is an eagle, flying onward in different positions, sometimes up and sometimes level. Here also, sometimes there are stars around the eagle, sometimes not.

The above text sounds a bit confusing, but that is also the case with the Gobrecht dollars. The originals are already confusing when you want to find out when they were minted, and how much. Because only very few were minted (always less than 1000 if you take die alignments in account) die cracks and the like are very rare, and you have to find other ways to find it out. Then there are the second originals, sometimes already designated as re-strikes. And after that the real re-strikes were made trough the early 1870’s.

Reverse of a Gobrecht DollarThe designer, Christian Gobrecht was of German ancestry, and was born in Pennsylvania in 1785, and early in his life he showed an interest and talent for artistic and engraving work. He perfected his talent when he worked for a clockmaker at the usual tender age by putting his engraving skills in ornamental designs put on watches. In 1811, he moved to Philadelphia, and after that he soon began to work for a bank-note firm. As early as 1816 his name was well known in engraving circles and he seems to have begun his die engraving work about this time, although there are no signed medals until the mid-1820s. When the mint’s engraver Robert Scot died in November 1823, Gobrecht was already well enough known to become a temporary replacement. Unfortunately for him, he was turned down in favour of William Kneass, who had better connections (which was very important at that time). The chief engraver received a salary of $1200 per annum (year) and Gobrecht thought even this amount was barely acceptable. Despite losing the top prize and turning down the assistantship, Gobrecht maintained a connection with the Mint in several ways. Not only did he make letter and figure punches for the engraving department, in 1825 he executed some fine Liberty heads (which again for him) unfortunately were not used on the coinage.

In mid June 1835, Gobrecht was hired has the second engraver of the mint. He was needed for this because during the 1834-1835 winter, Congress was debating that there were three more mints (Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans) needed. In March 1835 the legislators decreed, and the president accepted it. Gobrecht would receive $1500 annually, and the first engraver William Kneass would receive an increase to the same amount.

In late August 1835 the director (Dr. Robert Maskell Patterson at that time) wrote the Treasury for emergency authority to hire Gobrecht because first engraver Kneass suffered a severe stroke, which incapacitated him for some months and after that he was never able to do detailed engraving work again and this the permission was granted in short order. (more…)