1866 Washington Five Cent Obverse/No Rays Reverse
1866 5C Five Cents, Judd-520, Pollock-547, R.8, PR63 NGC.
Judd-520, Struck in Lead/White Metal, PR63
Only Two Pieces Known in Lead/White Metal
With Uncracked Reverse
Design. Obverse: Washington portrait facing left with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around and date below. Reverse: the Without Rays dies adopted for regular-issue coinage in 1867. Struck with a high percentage of bismuth with a plain edge, technically white metal. Medallic orientation. The exact metallic composition is given as: 42% bismuth, 31% lead, and 22% tin. It weighs 6.0 grams. Scott Schechter from NGC commented: "While technically white metal, we generally handle alloys like this as lead if that is the only available entry in Judd. They are visually similar. While they do have slightly different specific gravities, tin is so much lower and frequently in alloy. We therefore assume the exact composition wouldn't have been known at the time the Judd reference was originally compiled."
Commentary. The muling of these dies resulted in the curious display of the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA on both sides of the coin. These pieces are believed to have been struck from genuine dies but outside the Mint by Joseph Mickley, probably from dies sold as scrap. All the No Rays issues were overlooked by Robert Coulton Davis when he published his research in The Coin Collector's Journal in 1885. Adams and Woodin were only aware of this obverse/reverse pairing in nickel, bronze, and copper. Today we know it to be struck in nickel, copper, silver, bronze, and lead/white metal. Of these, the bronze and lead/white metal strikings are the rarest. Among the lead/white metal strikings, there appear to be two striking periods that are distinguished by an uncracked reverse and a cracked reverse. Only one other lead/white metal piece is known from the uncracked reverse. This example differs from the other lead/white metal piece with uncracked reverse as that piece (Ex: GENA, Kagin's, 10/1983) is slightly circulated and lacks the distinctive reverse spot seen on this example. There are also three known from the cracked reverse.
Physical Description. If indeed this piece was made by Mickley, it is a remarkably well-produced piece. Only slight surface irregularities are seen, most of which are around the rims. The surfaces are dull gray, as one would expect from a bismuth-lead alloy, with deeper color in the centers and lighter margins. A couple of tiny field marks are seen above the tip of the bust on the obverse and a spot is noted just above the ball of the 5 on the reverse, these providing positive identification of this uncracked lead/white metal striking. This is one of only two lead pieces certified, the other is a PR60 at NGC (2/13).
Provenance. "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $50; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
From The Eric P. Newman Collection. (NGC ID# 2X9S, PCGS# 60717)
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