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1849-C Open Wreath Gold Dollar, A Legendary Rarity Among Southern Gold

1849-C G$1 Open Wreath Fine 15 NGC. Ex: Elrod. Winter 1-A. This year is the first in which Gold Dollars were struck by the United States Mint. Every coinage facility that was operational in 1849--Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans--took part in delivering the initial examples of James Barton Longacre's Type One Gold Dollar. The Philadelphia delivery was divided between Open Wreath and Closed Wreath examples, but among the Southern branch mints, only Charlotte produced examples of both varieties. A presumably miniscule percentage of the 11,634 1849-C Gold Dollars originally produced displayed on Open Wreath on the reverse. Today, only four survivors have been confirmed, a total that makes the '49-C Open Wreath the rarest gold coin produced at the North Carolina branch mint. It is also one of the premier rarities in the U.S. gold series. The four known examples are:

1. Ex: McReynolds (before 1956); Leo Young; Charles Southwick; GENA Sale (Pine Tree, 9/1974), lot 1952, where it realized $35,000; Stack's sale of 5/1986, lot 1330; Elrod Collection; Winthrop Carner; California Collection; Heritage Rare Coin Galleries; Michigan Collection; Long Beach Signature Sale--The William Miller Collection of Charlotte and Dahlonega Gold (Heritage, 2/1999), lot 6086; FUN Signature Sale (Heritage, 1/2000), lot 7549, where it realized $86,250.The present example.

2. Ex: New England Rare Coin Galleries (1978-1979); Delaware Collection. Believed to be an XF example, the existence of this coin was confirmed by Doug Winter in 1997.

3. Ex: Waldo Newcomer Collection; Belden Roach Sale (B. Max Mehl, 2/1944), lot 1083; Charles Williams Collection; Robert Schermerhorn Collection; ANA Sale (James Kelly, 1956), lot 1571; unknown collector; Midwestern collector; Auction '79 (Stack's, 7/1979), lot 749, where it realized $90,000; New England Rare Coin Galleries; private collection; FUN Sale (New England, 1/1982), lot 1350, where it realized $50,000; Southern collection; Kevin Lipton; Winthrop Carner; North Georgia Collection; FUN Signature Sale--The North Georgia Collection (Heritage, 1/1999), lot 7722. Certified AU58 by PCGS, this is the discovery piece for the 1849-C Open Wreath that was obtained by Waldo Newcomer sometime prior to 1933. It is also the plate coin in Doug Winter's book on Charlotte gold.

4. Ex: New Netherlands Coin Co.; private collection. Also graded AU58 by PCGS.

This NGC-certified Fine 15 example fits the diagnostics listed by Winter for the 1849-C Open Wreath:

1. Star opposite Liberty's nose is unusually weak and its right point is short.

2. The leaf in the reverse wreath below the 1 in the date is hollow.

3. The leaf in the reverse wreath below the 9 in the date is partially detached from the stem.

4. The reverse ribbon ends are incomplete from excessive die polishing.

5. There is a tiny die file mark on the reverse above the RI in AMERICA.

Both sides exhibit rich reddish-gold color that lightens a little on the obverse. There is some loss of detail over the central obverse highpoints, but all other features are relatively bold for the assigned grade. The surfaces reveal numerous pinscratches, and a mount appears to have been removed from the reverse at the right wreath. Nevertheless, this coin presents well, and its unquestionable rarity guarantees strong competition among bidders in Orlando.
From the Ashland City Collection. (NGC ID# 25BB, PCGS# 7506)

View all of [The Ashland City Collection ]

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Auction Dates
January, 2003
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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