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Magnificent Joseph Richardson, Jr. Regulated Full Joe Marked by a Future Assayer of the US Mint

Brazil. Joao V 12800 Reis 1730-M. Minas Gerais mint. IR mark for Joseph Richardson, Jr. KM139. VF. Clipped, plugged, marked IR for Joseph Richardson, Jr. of Philadelphia. Weight less than a grain over 18 dwt (432.8 grains). Edge clipped and smoothed, no trace of edge device. Neatly plugged at center, small circular vestige on obverse, large IR mark bold and perfectly horizontal over flattened plug on reverse. Lovely light yellow gold with attractive ruddy toning at peripheries, a well worn coin.

One of the rarest regulated denominations, this full Johannes (or double Joe) was the Portuguese equivalent of the Spanish 8 Escudos yet valued slightly higher ($16 vs $15) in the future United States in most eras and regions. This piece is particularly important as a regulation by the assayer of the first United States Mint in Philadelphia, one of just a few known to us. A 1746 Bogota 4 Escudos in the Lasser Collection at Colonial Williamsburg shows the precise same mark as seen here. Richardson was a signatory of the 1777 Philadelphia merchants petition, and this piece is regulated to the 18 dwt standard that document required for a full Johannes. The nine pennyweight / 18 pennyweight standard was the most common standard throughout North America during and after the American Revolution.

Joseph Richardson ranks with Ephraim Brasher as one of the most numismatically notable of early American silversmiths. His father was the author of the first two medals ever produced in early America, the 1756 Kittanning Destroyed and 1757 Quaker Indian Peace medals. Both father and son were among the most prominent producers of Indian Trade silver, the leading currency objects of the American frontier. This lead to Richardson the Younger, the man who regulated this coin, producing the legendary Washington Oval Indian Peace medals, several of which bear this precise IR mark. In 1795, President Washington appointed him to be the assayer of the United States Mint in 1795, a position he held until his death in 1831.

This is the only Joseph Richardson, Jr. piece we have identified sold at public auction. It is, likewise, the only full Johannes in this collection (the finest ever presented for sale and perhaps the finest ever formed). Despite the American importance of Richardson, neither Garrett nor Eliasberg included one. It is one of the highlights of this sale and should realize a runaway price. Its inclusion in a collection of United States Mint gold coins would be even more apt than that of a Brasher doubloon. It is a miracle that this piece survived. In truth, it should have become three half eagles as of 1795.

Provenance: Ex Spink in September 1977 by private treaty. Plated in Gordon's West Indies Countermarked Gold Coins, p. 92 to show IR mark.
From the Edward Roehrs Collection of U.S. Regulated Gold.

Service and Handling Description: Coins & Currency (view shipping information)

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Auction Dates
August, 2010
12th-16th Thursday-Monday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 3
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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