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High-Grade 1836 Name Below Base
Gobrecht Dollar
, Judd-58, PR64

1836 P$1 Name Below Base, Judd-58 Restrike, Pollock-61, R.6(?), PR64 NGC. Silver. Plain Edge. Die Alignment III (head of Liberty opposite the ON in ONE after a coin turn). Few coins have generated as much controversy as the 1836 Name Below Base Gobrecht dollar. For more than a hundred years it was thought that only 18 examples were struck. This bit of misinformation began with a comment by Edward Cogan in the June 1867 issue of the American Journal of Numismatics under the title "An Item for Numistologists." A collector from Brooklyn quoted a San Francisco journal that apparently ran a story about the "only complete set of American coins in the hands of private individuals." The article was undoubtedly written by a non-numismatist who misquoted an 1801 (rather than 1804) dollar valued at $950, and "Of the silver dollars of 1838 only eighteen were minted, and consequently they are very rare." Cogan made lengthy observations about this mainstream article. He easily cleared up the 1801/1804 dollar confusion. He then corrected the date of the Name Below Base to 1836 rather than 1838. He went on at great length to underscore the mintage of 18 pieces. He told the story about the "conceited German" (Christian Gobrecht) and how comments in the press at the time about his name in the field "hurt the old gentleman's feelings so much, that he, immediately after reading this criticism, took his name off the Die."
The earliest appearance of a Name Below Base dollar at auction was in the Levick Sale (Edward Cogan, 12/1859), lot 222. The previous year Joseph Mickley listed two varieties of 1836 dollars in his Dates of United States Coins, and Their Degrees of Rarity. This listing in the Mickley reference gives us a good baseline for the production of these pieces, as there is no mention of these coins prior to this and no auction records (it is conspicuously absent from the Roper Sale, 1851).
The striking sequence of the Name Below Base coins is currently in a state of flux. It was believed until recently that Gobrecht's name had been removed from the Name Below Base coins as on the 1838 and 1839 coins. However, the base on the Name Below Base dollars has a different, textured appearance from the 1838 and 1839 issues. It is even believed by some that original strikings were produced in 1836, but if so all were apparently destroyed, as none exist in Die Alignment I. All Name Below Base dollars are struck from a single Starry Reverse die. Coins struck from this die show die cracks connecting several of the letters and all are restrikes.
This piece shows the die cracks usually seen on Die Alignment III coins, but only faintly seen through NITED STATES O, and heavier through OLLA. The die crack above the eagle's wing is small and shows faint progress into four or five of the feathers, as seen on later die states. In the latest state, which we believe this piece is from, an attempt was made to efface the die cracks apparently to create an "original" Name Below Base dollar (as on the Eliasberg coin). The die polishing required to efface the die cracks also gave the letters on the reverse a softer, rounder appearance, rather than the sharp, squared-off lettering seen on the Judd-59--a coin that was obviously struck prior to this final die state. Microscopic evidence of die rust is barely discernible on the reverse, but as usual, none is seen on the obverse. Die Alignment III dollars were struck after Die Alignment IV pieces, which were struck in the late 1850s. Die Alignment III coins, such as this one, are believed to have been made sometime in the 1860s or 1870s.
It is believed that probably fewer than 60 Name Below Base dollars are known today, a major rarity for certain, but a far cry from the apocryphal 18-coin mintage Edward Cogan alleged in 1867. Out of the 27 pieces certified by both NGC and PCGS, only a combined seven coins have been certified in this grade, with a mere three submissions that grade PR65 (and one PR66). The fields are brightly reflective in spite of the toning seen on each side, and the mirroring is consistent with proofs struck from 1858 on. The surfaces are lightly hairlined, but this is only apparent when closely examined with a loupe. Each side has gray-crimson toning with occasional accents of blue, and there noticeable brilliance around the central devices on both sides. A few light contact marks appear in the fields, none prominent enough to use as a pedigree identifier. This is an exceptionally attractive, high-grade example of this sought-after Gobrecht rarity. (NGC ID# BLWU, PCGS# 11217)

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Auction Dates
August, 2010
11th-15th Wednesday-Sunday
Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 1,472

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