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Choice Proof 1802 Dollar
1802 $1 PR64 PCGS. B-8, BB-302, High R.7. Ex:
Cleneay/Brand/Norweb. The 1802 proof silver dollars are fabulous
rarities with a surviving population of just four examples.
Heritage Auctions was privileged to offer a specimen of this iconic
issue just a few months ago, in our August 2012 Philadelphia
Signature Auction, which realized $851,875. The opportunity to
acquire another 1802 so soon after a public sale is unprecedented
in numismatic history, as years or even decades normally pass
between offerings. By extraordinary good fortune, the present coin
has become available, and we expect intense competition from
advanced collectors when this lot is called. The coin offered here
boasts an unbroken pedigree all the way back to 1890, and may well
be the discovery coin, first exhibited by Captain John W. Haseltine
in 1876. Super-collector Virgil Brand included this piece in his
remarkable collection, and it was a highlight of the fabled Norweb
gathering, a mark of distinction for any coin.
Only Four Examples Known
This example displays attractive light silver-to-gray surfaces, with a blush of hazy gold over the reflective fields. The devices are well-frosted and carefully preserved since the time of issue. Examination of the fields reveals the peculiar deep watery reflectivity that is expected from highly polished dies, offsetting the richly frosted devices. The obverse has a scattering of dull pits which can best be seen with a loupe, one near the second star in the field, another above the ribbon end, a few more below Liberty's chin to the 11th star, and a couple on her chest. These pits are minimally distracting and serve as good pedigree markers for this very rare coin. What caused these tiny depressions is unknown, but they were likely on the planchet at the time the coin was struck, as no deformation is seen surrounding them, and they are different in size. This feature was noted as early as the Cleneay Sale (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1890), lot 949:
"1802 Perfect date. Brilliant proof. Some pin-head depressions on obv., caused by moisture being on die, probably. Restrike. Extremely rare. Plate IV."
The dies for the 1802 proofs were prepared using the original bust, eagle, star, letter, and date punches used on Draped Bust dollar dies of the 1798-1803 period, although a new 2 punch had to be created, as the original punch was either lost or broken. Whoever engraved the dies fashioned a 2 with a fancy curl on the top, similar to those used on the Capped Bust half dollars of the 1820s. The letter T may also have been replaced, as the T punch used on the novodel die has a shorter left upper serif and a longer right serif, and this letter punch was unused on earlier Bust dollars. The novodels were struck with a close collar and show the uniformly beaded border that is characteristic of that technology. If proof Bust dollars had been made during the 1798-1803 period, these novodels would certainly be a very close match, except for the borders.
The edge lettering matches the edge dies used for regular-issue Bust dollars but reportedly appears flattened. If this is the case, then the edge lettering was applied prior to striking, then the collar slightly crushed the edge as the coin expanded into the limits of the collar during the striking process. This close collar machinery was unavailable until the late 1820s. All indications are that the dies for the 1802 were produced in the early 1830s, about the same time as the dies for the Class I 1804 dollars. The 1802 obverse dies were actually produced before the 1804 dies, as evidenced by the top curl of hair on Liberty's bust. On the 1802, this curl extends into a final upward flip, while the curl ends in a short, broken fashion on the 1804. The top curl clearly broke off the bust punch before it was used to create the 1804 obverse, establishing the 1802 obverse as the earlier die.
It is interesting to note that the reverse die actually has a thin crack that extends from the top right of the N of UNITED along the tops of ITED to the upper feather on the eagle's wing. This is quite significant when one considers that only four examples of this 1802-dated proof issue are extant today, and we have no evidence that the original mintage was any larger. It is remarkable that the original die punches were still around in the 1830s or even later to create these dies. Obviously the dies were stretched to their limits to coin these proofs, as the dies were prepared in the early 1830s, but the coins were struck at a much later date.
The weight of these early proofs provides important evidence about their date of production. This coin is reported to weigh 420.0 grains, slightly heavy from the 416-grain standard in 1802, and the weight closely matches that of the other proof examples reported. As the planchets for silver dollars coined after 1837 conformed to a 412.5-grain standard, it would appear that no standard silver dollar planchets could have been used to strike these coins. Q. David Bowers and Mark Borckardt believe this issue was coined after 1873 using Trade dollar planchets, which weighed 420.0 grains, exactly matching the weight of the present coin. Any earlier striking would have required the minters to produce special, nonstandard planchets, a most unlikely occurrence.
These early proofs were first discovered by John W. Haseltine who exhibited a set of 1801, 1802, and 1803 proofs, along with a Class III 1804 dollar, at the sale of the Jewett Collection (Edward Cogan, 1/1876). Haseltine is known to have obtained a number of delicacies from the Philadelphia Mint, and was a favorite conduit for clandestine Mint offerings. Bowers suggests the term novodel to describe the 1801-1804 proof silver dollar issues, combining two Russian words that translate as "newly made." Borckardt and Bowers discuss these proof novodels in their Encyclopedia and conclude that the 1801-1803 issues were all struck after the Class I 1804 silver dollars, which use the same reverse die but do not show the die crack at the top of NITED. The Class III 1804 dollars all display a different reverse and were probably struck circa 1858, with edge lettering added in the 1870s.
Without question, these early proof Bust dollars are extremely rare and valuable in their own right, and they have profited from their association with the famous 1804 dollars, which always garner superstar publicity. The 1801-1803 novodels are actually much rarer than their 1804 counterparts, but they have not attained the same level of popularity. If the coins were offered with more frequency, they might one day assume the same level of importance and desirability as their 1804 cousins. In the meantime, this spectacular 1802 proof dollar remains a "sleeper" in the annals of numismatic rarities, and a terrific prize for the discerning collector.
Roster of 1802 Proof Dollars
1. PR65 Cameo PCGS. Captain John W. Haseltine; C.S. Wilcox Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 11/1901), lot 323; Virgil Brand (journal number 22666); F.C.C. Boyd "World's Greatest Collection" Sale (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1945), lot 119; 183rd Sale (M.H. Bolender, 2/1952), lot 175; New York Collection; "Groves" Collection (Stack's, 11/1974), lot 443; Four Landmark Collections (Bowers and Merena, 3/1989), lot 1981; January-February Auction (Superior Galleries, 1/1993), lot 615; Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 8/1999), lot 245; Philadelphia Signature (Heritage, 8/2012), lot 5181, realized $851,875. (Plate coin in Breen's Proof Encyclopedia and his Complete Encyclopedia.)
2. PR65 Cameo. Captain John W. Haseltine; unknown intermediaries; Waldo C. Newcomer; Colonel E.H.R. Green via B. Max Mehl (ca. 1932); Jack Roe Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1945), lot 427; Will W. Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 29; Amon Carter, Sr.; Amon Carter, Jr. (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 239; L.R. French, Jr., via John Nelson Rowe III; French Family Collection (Stack's, 1/1989), lot 13; David Queller; Queller Family Collection (Heritage, 4/2008), lot 2088, realized $920,000. (Plate coin in Newman and Bressett's The Fantastic 1804 Dollar.)
3. PR64 PCGS. Captain John W. Haseltine; Thomas Cleneay Sale (S. Hudson Chapman and Henry Chapman, 12/1890), lot 949; Peter Mougey Sale (Thomas Elder, 9/1910), lot 962; John P. Lyman Sale (S. Hudson Chapman, 11/1913), lot 14; H.O. Granberg Sale (B. Max Mehl, 7/1919), lot 30; Virgil Brand (journal number 92339); Armin Brand; B. Max Mehl private treaty sale to Ambassador and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb (1/1937); Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3770; Don Hosier (Superior, 2/1991), lot 1960; Jack Lee Collection III (Heritage, 11/2005), lot 2199; the present coin.
4. PR64 PCGS. Possibly from a set of novodels owned by Mint Director Henry Linderman, and not marketed through Haseltine (conjectural); Dr. G.F.E. Wilharm Collection (B. Max Mehl, 2/1921), lot 592; Virgil M. Brand (journal number 106474); Armin Brand; B.G. Johnson on 2/27/1937; William Forrester Dunham Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1941), lot 1055; 1942 ANA Convention, sold privately by Abe Kosoff to Michael Higgy; Michael F. Higgy Collection (Abe Kosoff, 9/1943), lot 817; Beverly Hills Stamp & Coin Co. (Max L. Justus FPL, 8/1957); Abe Kosoff; Ken Nichols; Newport Balboa Savings and Loan; Abe Kosoff; unknown intermediaries; Autumn Sale (Stack's, 9/1978), lot 304; Ellis H. Robison Collection (Stack's, 2/1982), lot 1884; Larry Whitlow; Larry Hanks; Auction '84 (Superior, 7/1984), lot 171, unsold; subsequently sold by Larry Hanks to a Pennsylvania collector; Harry Einstein Collection (Bowers & Merena, 6/1986), lot 1734; Worrell Collection (Superior, 9/1993), lot 1301; Seymour Finkelstein Collection (Stack's 10/1995), lot 696; Philip Flanagan Collection (Bowers & Merena, 11/2001), lot 4297.
A. Captain John W. Haseltine; Coin Sale (Haseltine, 1/1879), lot 283; possibly the coin in number 2 above.
B. Captain John W. Haseltine, exhibited as part of a full set of 1801-1804 proof dollars at Cogan's Jewett sale in January 1876. The discovery coin, possibly the coin offered here, see number 3 above.
C. Captain John W. Haseltine; Haseltine Sale (Haseltine, 6/1880), lot 982; possibly the coin in number 1 above.
From The Greensboro Collection, Part I.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 24XF, PCGS# 6905)
View all of [The Greensboro Collection, Part I ]
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