Press Release - April 21, 2004

Heritage to auction high grade Gobrecht Dollars at June Long Beach Platinum Night

Dallas, Texas: A pair of rare Gem Gobrecht Dollars will be offered at Heritage's Platinum Night session of the June Long Beach Signature Auction, June 2-5. Heritage is the official auctioneer of the Long Beach Coin Expo.

An 1836 Gobrecht Dollar with "C. GOBRECHT F." in the field above the date, Judd-58 Restrike, has been encapsulated as PR66 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. It is the single finest among five pieces certified as Judd-58 by the service. Struck in silver with a plain edge, the dies have coin turn orientation and the eagle flies level. This is known to pattern specialists as Die Alignment III.

The variety with Gobrecht's name appearing below Liberty's base is an American numismatic classic. Nevertheless, criticism concerning the prominent placing of the engraver's name on a U.S. coin forced director Robert M. Patterson to have this signature moved to a less conspicuous place. In particular, Gobrecht's signature was impressed in small letters at the base of Liberty, creating the Judd-60 issue, or standard 1836 dollar, which was released into circulation in December 1836.

All Gobrecht dollars, including the patterns, were struck with a proof finish. The original dies were produced in 1836 by future Chief Engraver Christian Gobrecht from sketches made by Titian Peale and Thomas Sully. On the reverse, an American eagle flies to the left in a field of twenty-six stars. Thirteen large stars represent the thirteen original colonies, and thirteen smaller stars depict the subsequent states admitted to the Union (with Michigan expected to be admitted in 1837).

According to recent research by Mike Carboneau and James Gray, the Die Alignment III configuration and the presence of reverse die cracks suggest that this coin is a restrike, probably made between 1857 and 1869. However, since no 'original' Judd-58 coin has been authenticated; it appears that all, or nearly all, of the Judd-58s are restrikes. The only collectible Gobrecht dollar patterns are the restrikes, and even these are very difficult to locate. Approximately 80 restrikes are estimated to have been made sometime after 1857. Although PCGS has recently begun to classify some Judd-58 coins as 'originals,' it is not clear that these newly identified coins are in Die Alignment I orientation and were made on 416 grain planchets; or if they represent other die alignment configurations made from an uncracked reverse die.

An 1838 Gobrecht Dollar with no stars on the reverse, Judd-84 Restrike, is graded PR65 by NGC. It is one of ten examples encapsulated as Judd-84 by NGC, and is tied with two others as the finest certified by that service. The dollar is struck in silver with a reeded edge and Die Alignment III.

Unlike the circulation issues of 1836 (Judd-60) and 1839 (Judd-104), no 1838 dollars were intentionally made for public distribution. The 1838 dollars were made to test design changes, namely, Gobrecht's name was removed from the base, the edge became reeded, the 26 stars on the reverse were removed, and 13 stars were added to the obverse periphery.

It is clear that the dies for the 1838 dollar were made in 1838; however, it is not certain how many (if any) 1838 dollars were actually struck in 1838. Only one original specimen is known, and that coin is a part of the U.S. Mint Collection now retained by the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian specimen exists in Die Alignment IV orientation (not Alignment I, as asserted by Breen), and was struck from an uncracked reverse die.

However, all other observed 1838 dollars appear to be restrikes made in the late 1850s under the authority of Director James Ross Snowden, or in the late 1860s by Director Henry R. Linderman. Like the present specimen, the restrikes were made to satisfy collector demand for these beautiful coins. The restrikes are generally found in Die Alignment III, although a few restrikes were also made in Die Alignment IV. The exact mintage of 1838 dollars is unknown, but recent estimates suggest that fewer than 250 coins were ultimately made, and only a small fraction of these coins survive today.

The restrikes can be distinguished from the originals by the presence of a faint die crack through portions of MERI, which is faintly seen on this coin. The present coin also exhibits deeply mirrored surfaces and is pleasingly toned with deep cobalt and gray-purple toning--evenly balanced from one side to the other. Only a small number of hairlines are evident on either side, and are consistent with the Proof 65 grade. A small area of planchet roughness is noted next to the denticles between 7 and 8 o'clock on the obverse, which easily serves as a pedigree identifier for future researchers.

Images, descriptions, and prices realized are available in the Permanent Auction Archives.

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I believe Heritage did a very good job of the cataloging. I am very pleased overall!
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