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All Posts Tagged With: "Colonial Coins"

W. Philip Keller Colonoal Coin Collection Leads Heritage COINFEST Auction

Locked in a Pennsylvania vault for 43 years, one of the most comprehensive collections of colonial and early American coins ever to reach public auction, The W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials, is the principle highlight of the upcoming Rare U.S. Coin auction, Oct. 28-31 in conjunction with COINFEST in Stamford, CT.

Mr. Keller apparently stopped actively collecting around 1966, with intermittent purchases through the early 1970s, and stored his collection in a bank vault where it was discovered nearly 40 years later by his surprised family after he died last year, who knew that Mr. Keller was a collector, but had no idea of the depth, or value, of his collection.

This is Heritage’s first official auction with COINFEST, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Fittingly enough, our debut at this New England venue is filled with a variety of colonial and early American coins, including dozens of different Connecticut coppers struck shortly after independence.

One of those Connecticut coppers is a 1785 African Head Connecticut copper, the extremely rare Miller 4.2-F.6 variety, graded VF30 by NGC. It is estimated at $40,000+, but could go significantly higher.

There are two varieties of the African Head Connecticut copper, one relatively common, the other extremely rare. This piece is one of the rare variety, one of just two or three known. Its appearance at COINFEST is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Keller bought most of his collection from leading dealers and auctioneers in the 1950s and 1960s, and this African Head copper has been in Keller’s collection, and thus off the market, since 1966.

Another anchor consignment of the auction is The Diotte Collection, which spans U.S. Mint history from some of the earliest issues to noted modern rarities. Its chief highlight is a 1797 half dollar, O-102 variety, graded Fine Details by NCS. It is estimated at $50,000+.

The half dollars of 1796-1797 are among the most prized U.S. type coins regardless of grade. Just four varieties were struck between the two years, all of them are very scarce to very rare, and the 1797 O-102 variety is the most elusive of them all.

In addition to colonials, pattern coinage is among the strengths of this auction. In a relatively small but impressive selection, the most prominent piece is an 1879 “Washlady” dollar struck in silver, Judd-1603 variety, graded PR66+ by NGC. It is estimated at $50,000+.

This design’s nickname was originally an insult. In 1891, just a dozen years after this pattern was struck, David Proskey called it the ‘Washlady,’ a negative reference to how Liberty’s hair appeared. Today, however, the ‘Washlady’ is considered one of the most beautiful patterns ever produced, and the very rare examples struck in silver are especially sought-after.

The 20th century has its share of highlights as well, led by a 1909 half eagle, graded PR67 by NGC. Like other gold proofs of that year, it has a distinct semi-bright finish sometimes called “Roman gold,” which tried to find a balance between the mirrored proofs of the 19th century and the dull-finished matte proofs that were popular in Europe but had received a disastrous reception among U.S. coin collectors. The “Roman gold” experiment failed, but survivors from the issue’s mintage of 78 half eagles are popular with modern numismatists. It is estimated at $55,000+.

A more conventional mirrored proof offered is a 1904 double eagle graded PR65 Cameo by PCGS. Just 98 proof $20s were struck in 1904, and most of them lack the contrast that was often seen on pre-1902 specimens. Thanks to its Cameo status and solid all-around preservation, it is one of the most important representatives of its issue. It is estimated at $60,000+.

Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:

Dwight Manley’s Superlative New England Silver Registry Set to Highlight ANA Platinum Night

What’s better than an offering of New England coinage at the Boston ANA? An offering of the very finest New England coinage at the Boston ANA, and Heritage’s Platinum Night festivities will feature precisely that.

Dwight Manley’s NE Silver Collection is a Registry masterpiece, the #1 finest set of all time at PCGS:

  • #1 Massachusetts Silver Shilling Design Set (1652-1682)
  • #1 Massachusetts Silver Design Set (1652-1682)
  • 2009 “Best of Registry Award Winner”

Dwight Manley is no stranger to outstanding coins, and this collection is proof of that. The five coins in this collection include:

Gem Mint State 1652 Pine Tree Shilling. One of Only 11 Examples of Noe 7 Known, and the Finest Example Certified. While not rare, Pine Tree shillings have a romantic quality that has enticed countless collectors. If a collector were to choose only one Colonial coin to own, it would undoubtedly be the Pine Tree shilling. A previous owner of this coin described it succinctly: “Gem Coin. Cannot Be Excelled.” We feel that his description accurately represents this stellar coin.

Spectacular 1652 Oak Tree Shilling, MS66. An Oak Tree shilling in Mint State 66 is something so remarkable that one must see and hold it in person to fully appreciate it. (I have, and I concur. -Editor) This lucky survivor is the finest example certified by PCGS by a margin of two points and could possibly be the finest Oak Tree shilling in existence.

1652 Willow Tree Shilling, VF35; Plated in Noe. This very piece has a special significance to numismatists as the discovery coin for the Willow Tree type. As a type, the Willow Tree shillings are rarer than their NE, Oak Tree, and Pine Tree counterparts, and this piece is additionally an example of the very rare Noe-3 variety, with perhaps eight examples known to collectors.

Rare and Important About Uncirculated New England Shilling; Plated in Noe. The rarity and significance of the New England shilling can hardly be overstated. The NE pieces claim the title of first coins struck in British America. Few collections, including some of the most advanced cabinets of Colonial coins, have possessed a representative of the New England shilling, let alone an example that has the quality of the present coin.

Rare Libertas Americana Medal in Silver, MS61. This is only the second time in 20 years that Heritage has had the pleasure to offer an example in silver. These medals are so highly prized and rare that it may be many years before another silver Libertas Americana, particularly one in Mint State, appears at auction.This auction will post for bidding soon at HA.com/Coins, with previews available now!

Massachusetts Historical Society to Showcase Numismatic Treasures

While the American Numismatic Association (ANA) is in Boston this summer, the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is taking the opportunity to show off some of its numismatic treasures.

From August 2 through September 11, “Precious Metals: From Au to Zn” will be on display in the Society’s building at 1154 Boylston Street—just three blocks west of the Hynes Convention Center.

Special guest curator John W. Adams and MHS Curator Anne E. Bentley have planned an exhibition to highlight many of the rare and unique pieces in the collection.

A small sampling includes the NE two pence and shilling and the 1776 Massachusetts Pine Tree copper penny for the coin collectors. A piece of original Massachusetts-Bay stock and the February 1690/1 Massachusetts Bill of Credit, along with some special colonial notes and obsolete bank bills will tempt the paper specialists.

Medal collectors will be drawn by the full set of Washington-Webster silver Comitia Americana medals, as well as what is possibly the only surviving example of an 18th century diplomatic medal, that was presented by the United States General of the Netherlands to envoy John Adams. Medals from the Betts series, Indian Peace Medals of colonial and federal issue, school and personal medals will also be on view.

The MHS will display a generous number of Washington medals from the Baker series and will feature some fascinating pieces from the Vernon medal series. As well, there will be a display of awards and badges that honor medical and military victories. There is something for everyone at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Regular public hours are from 1 to 4 PM, Monday through Saturday, and there are special ANA morning hours, from 9 AM to noon, on August 10-14. If convention attendees plan to research the MHS collection while in town, please contact Anne Bentley in advance to make an appointment, as time and space are limited at abentley@masshist.org or call 617-646-0508.

About the MHS Numismatic Collection

Created as a repository and a publisher to collect, preserve, and disseminate resources for the study of American history, the Massachusetts Historical Society has been collecting numismatic material since it first opened in 1791. Coins, ancient and “modern” [i.e. colonial American], paper currency, and medals of all classes were grist to our mill. Over this period the Society has enjoyed the support and guidance of several of the hobby’s notables, including earlier luminaries and MHS members William Sumner Appleton, Malcolm Storer, and Shepard Pond; and more recent numismatic collectors and authors John W. Adams, the late Douglas Ball, and Q. David Bowers.

Colonial Coins – The Connecticut Coppers

By Thomas K. DeLorey – Courtesy of Harlan J Berk

For a small State, Connecticut has played a large role in the field of colonial American numismatics. Besides being known for its wealth of pre- and post- Revolutionary paper issues, its most famous coins are the Higley Coppers of 1737-39 and the Connecticut Coppers of 1785-89.

Photos used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries

The Higley coppers were issued by Dr. Samuel Higley and his heirs, using virtually pure copper from a mine they owned near Granby, CT. Higley’s first token issue bore the picture of a deer with the inscription THE. VALVE. OF. THREE. PENCE. on one side, with three crowned hammers, the date 1737 and the inscription CONNECTICVT on the other. It is arguable as to which side should be considered the obverse, but common usage calls the side with the deer the obverse.

The next issue used the same obverse plus a similar reverse with I AM GOOD COPPER replacing CONNECTICVT. Perhaps someone objected to the use of the name of the state on an unauthorized private token. Someone certainly objected to the value Higley placed on the piece, which was no heavier than an English half pence of the period and sometimes lighter, and his third issue saw the deer side changed to VALVE. ME. AS. YOU. PLEASE. A second die saw VALVE spelled as VALUE. Both include the Roman numeral III beneath the deer, thereby hinting at the value that Higley hoped they would pass at.

Higley died in 1737 while escorting a load of his copper to England, and the mine was taken over by his brother, John. John was presumably responsible for a fourth issue that paired the Deer/III obverse with an undated reverse that bore a hatchet with the inscription J. CUT. MY. WAY. THROUGH., and a similar issue that bore the date 1739 below the hatchet. A sixth issue paired the undated hatchet die with an obverse that bore a 12-spoked wheel and the inscription THE. WHEELE. GOES. ROUND., but it is not known if this issue predates or postdates the 1739 issue.

All of the Higley pieces are very rare today, according to legend because they were popular among goldsmiths as a source for pure copper suitable for alloying gold. For an interesting but probably apocryphal legend regarding the supposed reason why Higley valued his tokens at three pence, see “The Early Coins of America” by Sylvester S. Crosby (1875 and reprints). (more…)