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    Intriguing 1881 Hawaii Nickel Fragments Delivered to Hotel Continental in Paris

    Group of Six Cancelled 1881 5C Hawaii Five Cent Pattern Fragments MS60 Uncertified with Original Cloth Courier Bag. Immediately after being elected king of the Hawaiian Islands, David Kalakaua set out to turnaround the nation's decline in population, inspire a cultural renaissance, and promote the well being of his people. Within a year he had visited the United States, given a speech before Congress, and signed a Treaty of Reciprocity between the two countries that helped to stimulate Hawaii's long-stagnant economy. Seven years later, in his most ambitious attempt to foster and strengthen relationships with the various nations of the world and to provide labor for the thriving sugar cane industry through the promotion of immigration, Kalakaua embarked on a global tour that made official visits in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Siam, Singapore, Malaya, India, Egypt, Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Portugal, France, and the United States.
    During his stay in Paris, a prototype for an 1881-dated Hawaiian nickel was reportedly presented to the King. It is assumed that a misspelled word in the Hawaiian legend on the reverse prompted his rejection of the design and that many of the 200 originals were destroyed. Restrikes, produced at an unknown, but much later date, lack the cross above the crown visible on these originals. The Damon estate contained an original specimen with an envelope that stated "Suppressed Coin struck during Kalakaua's visit in Paris in 1881. A.J.C. (Alexander Joy Cartwright of baseball fame) has one but does not know of another except cut in halves." Apparently collectors have been aware of the cancelled pieces for at least a century.
    Where this fascinating group of fragments came from is the most interesting part of the story. The accompanying cloth bag is addressed to a Monsieur "Kanakar" (perhaps a poorly spelled attempt at Kalakaua or a member of the King's retinue) at Hotel Continental (in Paris). Another theory ties the name Monsieur "Hanikar" with an influential citizen of New Caledonia, a French colony in the Pacific that had discovered large nickel reserves in the 19th century (and is still a major source of nickel). Perhaps "Hanikar" is the man responsible for having the prototypes struck at the Paris Mint. Three small holes near the end of the bag indicate how it was once sealed. Regardless of the recipient, the bag and its contents represent an intriguing slice of Hawaiian history. (NGC ID# 2C53, PCGS# 10975)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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