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Very Rare Small Head, Baker-13

1786 COPPER New York Copper, NON VI VIRTUTE VICI, Small Head XF40 PCGS. CAC. Baker-13, W-5730, R.6. Ex: F. Dabney Caldwell. The NON VI VIRTUTE VICI coppers are a significant rarity coveted by both Washingtonia and Early American collectors. Breen (1988) and Rulau and Fuld (1999) assert that James F. Atlee, later of Machin's Mills, was the engraver. The Whitman Encyclopedia simply states "minter and location unknown."
The legends are in Latin, as was the tradition during the late 18th century. The reverse legend, NEO-EBORACENSIS, is a belabored translation of New York. The obverse legend, NON VI VIRTUTE VICI, means "Not by violence but by excellence have I conquered." The portrait is almost certainly that of George Washington, since no other American in 1786 could command such praise.
Two other NON VI VIRTUTE VICI die pairs are known, the Large Head Baker-12 and the Shield Reverse Baker-13C. Both are extremely rare and neither is listed in the Guide Book.
Although Rulau and Ford estimate about 25 specimens are known for the Small Head Baker-13, the variety seldom surfaces. John J. Ford, Jr., had an example, of course, which sold for $37,375 in a 2004 Stack's auction. We can find no other recent auction appearance of the variety.
The present representative has a better strike than the Ford specimen, particularly at the centers. In fact, the strike is unusually distinct for the variety. The walnut-brown surfaces are smooth and show only a couple of thin marks, located near the profile and the Liberty cap. Close inspection locates a couple of small flan flaws at the top of Washington's queue and the lowered elbow of the seated Justice.
Foree Dabney Caldwell, Jr. (1918-1971) was a World War II Navy veteran and held a law degree from the University of Virginia. His Colonial collection was formed with the assistance of Richard Picker, whose connections presumably helped in obtaining such formidable rarities as the current lot. Listed on page 64 of the 2013 Guide Book. Population: 2 in 40, 1 finer (10/12).
Ex: Foree Dabney Caldwell, Jr. Collection (Stack's, 4/1988), lot 2005. (NGC ID# B7UW, PCGS# 422)

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Auction Dates
Nov-Dec, 2012
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