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4107

1783 Nova Constellatio Pattern Quint, Silver, Type Two AU53 PCGS Secure. Breen-1102, W-1830, Unique....

2013 April 24 - 28 CSNS US Coin Signature Auction - Chicago #1184

 
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Auction Ended On: Apr 25, 2013
Item Activity: 16 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel
1551 North Thoreau Drive
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Description:

Unique 1783 Quint, Type Two, AU53
Tremendously Important Nova Constellatio Pattern
Representing the Historic Inception of Decimal Coinage
Ex: Crosby-Parmelee-Ellsworth-Garrett
1783 Nova Constellatio Pattern Quint, Silver, Type Two AU53 PCGS Secure. Breen-1102, W-1830, Unique. Some coins are so important that they transcend all collecting boundaries and become cherished treasures to numismatists, connoisseurs of art, and students of history alike. The 1783 Nova Constellatio patterns are such coins. As Q. David Bowers stated when the four-piece denominational set, ex: John Ford was displayed at the Whitman table at the 2011 ANA Convention:

"In my opinion -- and I have no vested interest of any kind -- the 1783 Nova Constellatio patterns are candidates for the very most important (and I won't even mention value) American coins."



Heritage Auctions is pleased to offer the unique Type Two 1783 quint from the collection of Walter Perschke, the first time this coin has been offered at public auction since its appearance in the Garrett Collection sale 34 years ago.

As Bowers implies, the value of any Nova Constellatio pattern is almost impossible to calculate. There are no meaningful prices realized to go by, since none of the coins has been auctioned since the Garrett sale. They are essentially priceless as, once the opportunity to purchase one of them passes; no amount of money can secure a replacement. John Ford, an expert on pre-federal American coinage, considered his set of Nova Constellatio patterns the most important items in his famous collection. When the previously unknown copper "five" first surfaced in the late 1970s, it was offered to a wealthy collector who asked Ford for advice, because the price seemed so high. Caught in an agonizing conflict of interest, between his desire to own the coin himself and his obligation to give his client an honest assessment, Ford replied, "Just buy it -- whatever it takes -- buy it!"

The Patterns Are Conceived
Gouverneur Morris, assistant superintendent of commerce for the Confederation of American States, conceived the Nova Constellatio patterns in 1781 as the first proposed monetary system for the newly independent country. As Walter Breen said, it was "at once the most ingenious and the most cumbersome coinage system ever devised in Western Civilization." At that time, each of the 13 original Colonies acted as an independent economic entity, and rates of exchange differed from place to place. A Spanish milled dollar, or piece of eight, was valued at five shillings in Georgia and at eight shillings in New York and North Carolina, for example. To complicate matters, the only coins available to the Colonists up until that time were a motley mix of English, Spanish, and French issues, with an equally confusing mix of paper money issued by various banks and government entities. This made interstate commerce extremely complicated. The need for a standard federal medium of exchange was obvious to everyone involved in commerce and government.

Gouverneur Morris discovered that 1,440 was a magic number for 12 of the 13 different monetary systems in use throughout the country. By making his basic unit, or mill, equal to 1/1,440th of a Spanish milled dollar, Morris could express prices for any item in terms of the monetary units currently employed by 12 of the 13 states in a corresponding number of federal units without resorting to fractions. Ten federal units would equal one penny in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, 15 units would equal one penny in Georgia, 24 units would equal one penny in New York and North Carolina, and 32 units would equal one penny in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Virginia. Only South Carolina remained unreconciled, where slightly more than 3.6973 units would equal one penny. Morris decided that 48 units would equal 13 pence in South Carolina units, close enough for his purposes.

Accordingly, Morris decided to make his basic monetary unit equivalent to 1/1,440th of a Spanish milled dollar. Of course, even if the coin were made of base metal, a coin that contained only that tiny intrinsic value wo (PCGS# 821)

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