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All Posts Tagged With: "Dennis Hengeveld"

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…)

Collecting Date Sets of Liberty Seated Coinage Part 2: Quarters through Half Dimes

By Dennis Hengeveld – from E-Gobrecht Volume 4, Issue 3

Link to PART ONE: Dollars and Half Dollars

The seated quarter dollars had their production starting a year earlier in 1838. The series was just like the other seated series, except for the half dime and dollar, struck until 1891, when it was finally replaced a year later by a new design, made by Charles Barber. The design is not much different than the half dollar; the most notable difference is the denomination and size, as can be expected.Seated Liberty Quarters - Half Dimes

In my opinion, this series is the most difficult of the seated series to complete by date only. The long run of dates (continuously from 1838 to the end of the series in 1891) is not the main criteria for this; it’s the fact that many Philadelphia dates, especially the 1880’s dates, are very scarce in any grade. In Mint state, most coins including branch Mint issues, are available although earlier dates can be very scarce or (virtually unknown) in full Mint state; this especially the case for the branch Mint issues.

These branch Mint coins were struck at the same Mints as the Half Dollars, the San Francisco, New Orleans and Carson City Mints. As is the case with the other seated coinage series, branch Mint coins normally command a premium over a Philadelphia Mint issues, although again this is not the case.

As I said before, the series started in 1838, replacing the capped bust design in production since 1815. The first two dates were only struck at the Philadelphia Mint. These issues are common in grades up to EF-40, but command a nice premium and get scarcer in higher grades.

In gem grades, a coin is very rare and a trophy coin to most collectors. the design of these first two years is of the no drapery, type 1 design. this was changed in 1840 when drapery was added to the elbow of liberty.

Philadelphia Mint coins only exist as type 2 (with drapery). The New Orleans Mint first struck quarter dollars in 1840. Because the correct, with drapery dies were not received at the beginning of the year, production started using the old type 1 obverse design. During the year, the obverse die was replaced with the new obverse, thus creating two separate varieties for the 1840-O issue. The type 1 had a Mintage of 382,200 coins and the type 2 output for the year was 43,000 coins. Both command a premium over a common type coin of more than 100% and thus are not really interesting to date only collectors. (more…)

Collecting Date Sets of Liberty Seated Coinage – Part 1: Dollars and Half Dollars

By Dennis Hengeveld

Collecting seated coins can be fun, rewarding, and above all very challenging. Not many people can afford both the time and cost to search, find, and have the opportunity to buy the hard to find coins which are included in every seated series due to the many dates and mintmarks included in the series. Examples could be the 1878-S half dollar and various Carson City coins. These coins, “stoppers” as they are called, are expensive and very hard to find, often causing collectors to fail in their final goal of completing a series they have specialized in for a long time.
Seated Liberty Dollar and Half Dollar
Although I love seated coins, as a 19 year old I just can’t afford to complete any of the seated series in the grades I like, mainly AU50 to MS64 or higher in as original condition as I can find them. Of course, I might be able to buy those coins later in my life but I am not really the person who has the patience to buy coins for a set I know won’t be complete within an acceptable period time (“acceptable” for me is 8-10 years).

As you might guess, I had to find a solution. So, after buying my first certified seated coin (and my first seated coin anyway), which happened to be a wonderful and very original PCGS MS64 1871 Half Dime, I decided to try a very complete type set, with every single type in there (including coins with different weights but the same design). After buying my second Half Dime (1843 PCGS MS63 which after studying proved to be V-6a, the well-known repunched date) before buying any other seated coin, I got hooked to that series.

Yet, I already knew that the series was not possible to complete in both the time period in those grades I had in mind. So I searched for other solutions, with one of them described in this article: collecting the date-set; each date just one time without paying attention to mint marks. This technique is affordable and possible to complete, even for me with a limited budget.

In this article, all seated series, with the exception of the 20-cent series and the Trade Dollar (a series I personally do not consider a real seated type coin), are discussed. The 20-cent series is relatively easy but not fun to complete with only two business strike dates. Thus, for now, it is not included in this article. I will shortly describe the coins in the set and the difficulty of completing a date-set. For the first series of the seated type, this article will start with the highest denomination in the series, the Silver Dollar. (more…)