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Fine Details 1739 Higley Copper
Broad Axe Reverse, W-8265

1739 COPPER Higley Copper, Broad Axe -- Damage or Tooling -- PCGS Genuine. Fine. Friedus 3.2-D, W-8265, R.7. Ex: Norweb. 127.8 gn, 29.6 mm per its Norweb auction appearance. The Bowers Colonial Encyclopedia lists W-8265 as URS-4 (five to eight known). We are aware of seven examples:

1. "VF or better." Col. E.H.R. Green; Mayflower, 5/1957, lot 1628; Herbert M. Oechsner Collection (Stack's, 9/1988), lot 972.

2. VF20 PCGS. Henry Da Costa Gomez Collection, Part Two (Stack's, 6/2004), lot 4004; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 5/2008), lot 2106, which realized $92,000.

3. Fine Details. Norweb Collection, Part I (Bowers and Merena, 10/1987), lot 1240. The present lot.

4. Good. Charles Ira Bushnell; Garrett Collection, Part III (Bowers & Ruddy), 10/1980, lot 1307.

5. Good 4 PCGS. Robert Prann Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 8/1947), lot 579; French's, 1969; John "Jack" Royse Collection; Baltimore Auction (Stack's-Bowers, 11/2011), lot 6017.

6. Andrew C. Zabriskie Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1909), lot 41; Eric P. Newman.

7. Connecticut State Library.

Samuel Higley, a medical doctor who graduated from Yale College, operated a copper mine near Granby, Connecticut. Higley is associated with various very rare copper issues, the earliest of which is dated 1737. Since Higley died on a ship voyage in May 1737, he could not have made the present lot, dated 1739. Probably, his son John was responsible for several Higley varieties, including W-8265.

The first Higley issues feature three hammers on the reverse, which refer to smith operations at the copper mine. Later varieties replace the hammers with a single axe and a motto of perseverance: I CUT MY WAY THROUGH. The obverse legends also evolved, from a definitive declaration of value as threepence, to the more conditional VALUE ME AS YOU PLEASE.

This is an important representative of the extremely rare W-8265 variety. The deer and axe types are clear, as is the denomination. The date, CUT MY WAY, and VALUE ME are readable. The dark brown fields are evenly granular and contrast with tan-brown devices. The right obverse has a couple of tiny pits, and close examination reveals a few pinscratches on each side near the borders, from an attempt to remove verdigris. Given the rarity of the variety, any example would be a highlight of an advanced Early American collection. Listed on page 49 of the 2013 Guide Book. (NGC ID# AUAZ, PCGS# 219)

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Auction Dates
February, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 15
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