Lovely John Burger Regulated Half JoeBrazil. Joao V 6400 Reis 1744-R. Rio mint. JB monogram mark for John Burger. KM151. XF. Clipped, re-edged, plugged, marked with script JB monogram of John Burger, New York. Plugged twice, one inside the other, in Burger's usual location on the eye of the portrait. Current weight of one grain under 8 dwt (190.7 grains) indicates clipping after Burger's work to meet a lighter West Indian standard than the 9 dwt standard to which Burger regulated. Round Burger mark, the more often seen of the two script JBs in this collection (the other is oval). Even light yellow gold surfaces are frosty if slightly mattelike, a look most often associated with saltwater salvage. Neatly clipped nearly to the tops of the legend, leaving butts of denticles visible around most of periphery. Edge device is consistent, a taut leaf design with central ridge. No major flaws, good sharpness, an attractive example of this famed New York regulator.
Burger advertised himself as a coin regulator as early as January 1784, at which time the local New York standard was the same 9 dwt standard then current throughout most of the United States. Burger was a well respected figure, a Patriot who removed from New York during the British occupation. He was once apprentice, then partner, of Myer Myers, the influential leader of New York's goldsmithing community. He worked as a coroner (including, famously, declaring that Alexander Hamilton's death was a murder) and an assessor for the City of New York. His long career stretched from 1779 until his death in 1828. His office location, at the time of his regulating work, was at 207 Queen Street (today known as Pearl Street); Albion Cox, the first assayer of the U.S. Mint and one of the partners who struck New Jersey coppers, was his neighbor at 240 Queen. He was one of ten members of the New York Gold and Silver Smith's Society, along with his mentor Myer Myers and Ephraim Brasher, as noted in the 1786 city directory. His office was just steps away from the Bank of New York and was within the smell of New York's harbor, placing him at a vertex of international trade unlike any other.
His prominence grew with age, but his desire for positions of leadership began in his youth. On April 25, 1775, just days after Lexington and Concord, John Burger is listed among those who "promise hereafter on demand" as part of the New York City militia. In 1776, at 19, Burger and his friend (and business partner) William Pritchard wrote to a noted leader in the New York Patriot movement:
"Sir : The subscribers request you will be pleased to recommend them to the Honble Committee of Safety and inform them that we are sincere Friends to America and its libertys and desirous to serve as First and second Lieutenants in any corps they be pleased to appoint, and are sir with great respect your very humble servants."
The officer they addressed was Col. Abraham Brasher, a onetime "Liberty Boy" and brother to another silversmith, Ephraim Brasher. In 1778, during his exile from New York, Burger was at last appointed an officer in a militia regiment based in Poughkeepsie, along with New York coiner (and sword maker extraordinaire John Bailey). In 1789, he was a founding member of the famed Tammany Society. By 1802, he was representing Manhattan in the New York Assembly. One of his co-assemblymen was William Gilbert, also a silversmith and the brother-in-law of Ephraim Brasher. Clearly his was a small world, one populated with nearly every notable smith and coin regulator in New York City.
Burger's regulation stamp is a truncated version of the full length "Burger," with the same script JB monogram, found on his wrought silver works (spoons, etc.). It is found exclusively on Half Joes of Brazil and Portugal and British Guineas. Half Joes outnumber Guineas by a margin of perhaps 3 to 1 overall.
From the Edward Roehrs Collection of U.S. Regulated Gold.
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