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    Description

    1786 NON VI VIRTUTE VICI, MS64+ Brown
    W-5730, The Finest Known from the
    Eliasberg Collection

    1786 COPPER New York Copper, NON VI VIRTUTE VICI, Small Head MS64+ Brown NGC. Baker-13, W-5730, Musante GW-07, R.6. The obverse legend translates to "Not by force but by virtue we have won" or "Not by violence but by excellence have I conquered." No American citizen other than George Washington could have commanded such praise at the time these coins were issued in the late 1780s. The obverse portrait may be the earliest likeness of Washington on a coin.

    Like the Large Head variant, Walter Breen attributed these pieces to James F. Atlee at his "private mint" in New York City. In the Eliasberg catalog, Q. David Bowers observed:

    "This piece is associated with New York by the reverse legend and may have been the work of James F. Atlee or another contemporary engraver (the Atlee attribution is of long standing, but with little corroborative evidence)."



    The Atlee attribution is based on linking the letter punches to other issues with the same attribution. Punch-linkage strongly suggests the same maker, but does not prove the connection. Breen also attributed these pieces to New York City in early 1786 based on a Massachusetts newspaper story published on March 29, 1786, that notes the circulation of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont coinage. However, Eric P. Newman suggests that the citation may refer to Nova Constellatio coins.

    This is the sixth appearance (the fourth different) of the Small Head variety in our auctions, but no others come close to the quality of this amazing copper. The others graded no higher than XF40. This example was called "MS-63 or finer. Possibly the finest known." in the Eliasberg catalog. If this piece is not the finest known, we would surely like to see the piece that is the finest.

    Traces of mint red remain on the lustrous light brown surfaces of this example that is well-centered and nicely defined, although some central weakness is evident. Carl W.A. Carlson included a Condition Census of these coins in his 1991 ANA Anthology article. One of the coins had not been seen since 1921, and all others had appeared for sale recently. The Partrick coin is from that 1921 sale.
    Ex: John G. Mills Collection (Chapman Brothers, 4/1904), Lot 345; John Story Jenks (Henry Chapman 12/1921), lot 5491; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Merena, 5/1996), lot 56; Donald G. Partrick. Probably earlier from the Bache Collection (Woodward 2/1865), lot 3558 and the Francis F. Hoffman Collection (Woodward 4/1865), lot 2144.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 422)


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

    View all of [The Donald G. Partrick Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2021
    20th-24th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 25
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 775

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