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1776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURRENCY, Pewter, Ornamented Date XF45 PCGS. CAC. ...

2009 August Los Angeles, CA US Coin Auction #1128

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Auction Ended On: Jul 31, 2009
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Hyatt Regency Century Plaza
2025 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Excessively Rare 1776 Ornamented Date Dollar, XF45
Tied for the Finest of Three Known
A Landmark Opportunity
1776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURRENCY, Pewter, Ornamented Date XF45 PCGS. CAC. Newman 5-D, Hodder 4.1-B, W-8480, R.8. Only three examples of the Ornamented Date rarity are known to collectors. The Norweb specimen and the present example appear to be tied for the finest known of the Ornamented Date variety. However, the Norweb coin is now in the collection of a well established New York colonial specialist, and will likely remain off the market for a long time. Unknown to older generations, the present example first appeared in the Christie's sale of November 1990, lot 241, where it was conservatively graded Very Fine. The third specimen appeared in the June 1997 Spink America sale, lot 19, with a provenance to Burdette Johnson, Col. E.H.R. Green, and Waldo Newcomer before him. It is the Newcomer-Green specimen that was plated in Newman from a rubbing that Edgar Adams had placed in his numismatic notebook.
The ornament following the date is often described as a floriated cross, defined as an early ornamented Latin cross with the arms terminating in a flower design. Its sole purpose was to cover or mask an extra Y from its first die state with the misspelled CURRENCEY. When the die engraver finally noticed the error, after a few pieces were struck, he took steps to correct the obverse die. This meant that he had to carefully punch a Y over the errant E, making certain that he effaced as much of the E as possible, and then had to turn the extra Y into the ornament. Traces of the E can still be seen, especially between the two upper arms of the Y. It remains unknown why so few were struck. The reverse die was cracked, but continued in service with additional examples of Hodder 3-B. Perhaps the modification of the obverse die created some stress that caused the die to fall apart after only brief use.
This Choice XF specimen, the only one that has ever been certified, has even medium gray color with scattered surface marks that are entirely consistent with the grade. The strike is nicely centered, although the obverse and reverse borders are tight in places. This is an impressive piece and a landmark opportunity for the colonial specialist to acquire an extremely rare variety. Consider all of the important specialist collections, such as the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, that never had an example of the Ornamented Date variety. Miss this opportunity and there is a strong probability of never acquiring the Hodder 4.1-B die marriage.

Summary of Known Examples
per the Norweb catalog. B. Max Mehl (privately, 1/11/1937); Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 3/1988), lot 2458; New York Collection.
XF45 PCGS. Christies (11/1990), lot 241. The present specimen.
Waldo Newcomer; Col. E.H.R. Green; Burdette Johnson; later, Spink America (6/1997), lot 19.

Continental Dollar Die States and Production Order

Among many numismatic pleasantries is the determination of the order that a series of coins were produced, commonly called the emission sequence. For the Continental Currency coinage, several observations will assist the study. We know that just two reverse dies were used for the entire series with a convenient break that provides two distinct groups. Reverse A exists in three stages, so we can be certain that the varieties were struck in order as 1-A.1, 1-A.2, and 1-A.3. The obverse of 1-A.3 exists in a number of die states, so that sequence can be further fine tuned. The development of rust marks on the reverse of variety 2-A.3 informs us that it was the last variety produced with the first reverse die.
The second reverse was used to produce three varieties from two obverse dies. This reverse has a prominent die crack curving through many of the rings, and stages of the crack help us determine the striking order. On variety 3-B, the crack begins in ring 13 (Georgia) and continues clockwise through eight additional rings, terminating in the Delaware ring. Two examples variety 3-B in the present sale are entirely different die stages. The PCGS MS64 example is in the die stage just described, while the MS63 NGC piece is a much earlier die stage with an intermittent crack that misses some of the rings. The Ornamented Date coin, variety 4.1-B, is in a similar stage with the earlier state of 3-B. Michael Hodder studied the die states extensively, and determined the emission sequence of the second group as 3-B, 4-B, 3-B, 4.1-B, and 3-B.
A further complication in the development of an emission sequence is where to put the off metal brass and silver pieces. The brass pieces were struck before and simultaneously with the pewter coins. The silver pieces from Reverse A were coined between intermediate and late states of 1-A.3, and the silver pieces of Reverse B were coined simultaneously with the first pewter examples of variety 3-B.
The two groups of varieties are unconnected, meaning there is no single obverse die that was used with both reverse dies. Hodder pointed out that there is no common punch used on both reverse dies. However, the geographical relationship of the rings on the blundered Reverse A, and the corrected Reverse B almost ensures that Reverse A was used first. The emission sequence of the Continental Currency coinage follows closely the sequence that Hodder presented in his 1991 article.

Group One - Reverse A
Sequence Hodder Newman Composition Comments

1 1-A.1 1-A Brass
2 1-A.2 1-B Brass and Pewter
3 1-A.3 1-C Pewter Early and Intermediate States
4 1-A.3 1-C Silver Intermediate State
5 1-A.3 1-C Pewter Intermediate and Late States
6 2-A.3 2-C Pewter

Group Two - Reverse B

7 3-B 3-D Pewter and Silver
8 4-B 4-D Pewter
9 3-B 3-D Pewter
10 4.1-B 5-D Pewter
11 3-B 3-D Pewter

From The Collection of a Patriotic American. (PCGS# 797)

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