1804 10C 14 Stars on Reverse MS63 NGC. JR-2, R.5....
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Finer Than the Price-Eliasberg or Stack Coins
New Candidate for Finest Known
The sole obverse die and both reverse dies of the 1804 13 Stars and 14 Stars were used in the production of silver dimes as well as gold quarter eagles, a Mint economy measure.
Ron Guth makes an entertaining comment concerning the JR-2 dime variety, writing on PCGS CoinFacts that "this variety of the 1804 Dime features 14 stars on the reverse, an inexplicable error on the engraver's part since the 14th state (Vermont) joined the Union more than a decade earlier." (In fact, remember that some Vermont coppers of the Colonial period feature the Latin motto stella quartadecima, "14th star.")
At the time the Davis-Logan-Lovejoy-McCloskey-Subjack Early United States Dimes 1796-1837 was written, the authors commented that the JR-1 13 Star accounted for "about two thirds of all 1804 dimes" with the JR-2 14 Star comprising "about one third of 1804 dimes." Writing before 1984, the authors said the JR-1 "probably does not exist in mint state, but EF-40 or better specimens can be located." For the JR-2 they write "major rarity in high grade; unknown in mint state."
Similar sentiments were expressed by the Heritage catalogers when we handled the remarkable Ed Price dimes and quarter eagles in 2008. The Ed Price 1804 14 Stars dime was certified AU58 NGC, a coin that had previously appeared in the 1996 Eliasberg Collection sale, and it was headlined as "perhaps the finest." Consignor Ed Price wrote of that coin:
"This is easily the finest 1804 dime of either variety that I have seen or heard of. I was a little surprised that this coin did not grade as Uncirculated. In any case, it is clearly finer than any others I am aware of.
"Mark Borckardt called me in late 2006. He mentioned that Heritage had a group of coins consigned from the Eliasberg Collection for the 2007 FUN sale that included an 1804 14 Stars dime I might like. I have known Mark for many years. He knows a lot about early Federal coinage. Mark understands my collecting interests and has brought other coins to my attention over the years. We discussed the 1804 dime and others that I owned or had owned. The Eliasberg coin sounded at least as nice as the Bolen/James A. Stack example I then owned. After talking to Mark, I studied the coin on-line and realized that it was an exceptional coin. There was no wear apparent and it seemed to have extraordinary eye appeal. I discussed the coin with Stu Levine. One concern I had was that I would not be able to view the coin before the FUN sale. Stu agreed to view the coin in Dallas. When Stu called from Dallas, he confirmed that it was extraordinary. We discussed the coin at length--Stu had the coin in his hand and I was looking at the image on-line. Later Stu and I discussed pricing and concluded that $125,000 hammer would be reasonable. Stu would be at the auction to bid. On the night of the sale, I watched the bidding at the Heritage website. The coin sold for $140,000 hammer. I was disappointed that I had not been a little more aggressive. Then the phone rang. Stu had been the buyer--understanding the importance of the coin and my strong interest in owning it. I was delighted, but I still had never seen the coin. A few days later I saw the coin and realized that it was easily the finest 1804 dime of either variety." (Italics ours, after the fact.)
The Present Specimen
While this MS63 NGC-certified coin now assumes the mantle of finest known 1804 14 Stars Reverse dime, it is clearly neither the former Eliasberg-Ed Price nor James A. Stack examples, each certified AU58 NGC and each of which has distinctive coloration and identifying characteristics.
The Eliasberg-Ed Price coin shows a clear bisecting die crack through much of the obverse, from the hair at Liberty's temple through the cheek, chin, and outward into the right obverse field near star 13.
The James A. Stack example also shows the same bisecting obverse die crack, a bit further advanced.
No such obverse die crack is present on this coin, a piece clearly struck from an earlier die state. The coloration shows a mingling of ice-blue, copper-pink, mauve, and powder-gray. A similar color palette appears on the reverse, with the devices mostly powder-gray to pinkish-gray and much iridescent field color. The strike quality is always uneven on this variety, with TED weaker than UNI on the left-side reverse and AMERICA bold and complete on the right. Similarly, the left-side stars on the obverse are noticeably weaker than on the right side.
The central devices are well-struck up on each side, displaying a wealth of detail in Liberty's hair, facial details, the lower bust, and the date. The reverse eagle is also quite sharp throughout. Star 4 in the top row is weakly punched into the die. There are no signs of planchet adjustment or any mentionable abrasions on either side of this remarkable coin. Census: 1 in 63, 0 finer (2/13).
This Condition Census includes only the 1804 14 Stars varieties. Duplications are possible. A helpful note from Saul Teichman mentions that the only other known Mint State 1804 dime is a 13 Stars Reverse, held by France's Bibliothèque Nationale. John Dannreuther has seen the coin and grades it MS63-MS64.
MS63 NGC. The present specimen.
AU58 NGC. CAC. David Wilson Sale (S.H. Chapman, 3/1907), lot 694; Clapp Collection; Eliasberg Collection; Heritage (1/2007), lot 861, as AU53 PCGS, $161,000; Ed Price Collection-ANA Signature (Heritage, 7/2008), lot 1443, which brought $632,500.
AU58 NGC. James A. Stack estate (Stack's, 1/1990), lot 13; Bolen Collection, Numisma '95 (RARCOA, 11/1995), lot 2019; Milwaukee ANA (Heritage, 8/2007), lot 1622, which brought $184,000. The cataloger wrote at that time, in part: "Gray, golden, and lightly iridescent ... likely the finest known."
Stained--NGC Details. AU. Chicago Signature (Heritage, 8/2011), lot 7071, brought $18,400. "Unusual brown and gray coloration that suggests it may have once been buried."
XF45 PCGS. CAC. FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2012), lot 3136, which brought $69,000. Scrape from obverse field to star 4.
XF45. Miles Sale (Stack's, 4/1969), lot 606. Mentioned as the "finest known" in the JR dime book, published in 1984.
From The William Jacob Collection, Part II.(Registry values: P8) (PCGS# 4475)
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