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    Description

    1786 Immunis Columbia, W-5675, AU50
    Eagle Reverse, One of Three Known

    1786 Immunis Columbia / Eagle, Breen-1135, W-5675, R.8, AU50 NGC. 118.9 grains. A landmark rarity in the colonial series. Only three examples are known, all of which are well enough preserved to suggest that they saw little use in circulation. This combination of rarity and condition points toward their being a pattern or trial striking for some proposed coinage that never came to fruition, but the full story of their origins remains shrouded in mystery. The present piece occupies the middle spot in the three-piece Condition Census, being somewhat sharper than the Ford example while falling a bit short of the one sold in our 2015 FUN offering of highlights from the Partrick Collection. Both sides are clear and free of any distracting marks, and have developed a ruddy brown patina over slightly granular surfaces. The highest points of Columbia and the eagle are insufficiently struck, a feature shared with the other known examples of this coinage. The planchet used was slightly smaller than the dies, leaving some of the dentilation off-planchet. The coin remains attractive and all design elements are fully present.

    This variety of the 1786 Immunis Columbia issues was discovered by Dr. Edward Maris in 1885, and first described in the July-September 1885 issue of Ed Frossard's Numisma (reprinted in the October 1885 issue of the American Journal of Numismatics). Maris noted that the obverse die was different than that used with the "pattern shield" reverse and muled with the 1785 large circle Confederatio die. The engraving on this obverse, while adequate, is not as elegant as on the other 1786 Immunis die, where Columbia sits more erect, the flag billows out further behind her, and the scales are not running into the legend. Its only use is on this piece, which Maris compared to the 1787 Immunis with eagle, noting that the arrows are transposed on this die -- instead of being on the viewer's right, they are to the left. Maris found the new piece to be similar in execution to some New Jersey coppers, writing in his 1885 AJN letter:

    "The date and letters of the legends are exactly like those on some of the 1786 New Jerseys. I was struck by the very close resemblance in these particulars, and also in the size and shape of the planchet, to the particular coins which in 'The Coins of New Jersey' I have described as No. 15. J. The two pieces must have come from the same mint and from dies made by the same pair of hands."


    The coin was added by Harlan Page Smith to the catalog he published for his sale of the Maris collection in 1886, though he claimed it did not belong to Maris (who wrote in an 1896 letter to Hall that the previous owner was one Benjamin Titus of Trenton, New Jersey). Smith illustrated only the reverse on the rare plates for that catalog. The coin was first fully illustrated in the July 1901 issue of the American Journal of Numismatics, which prints several letters written to the owner, Dr. Thomas Hall, authenticating the piece. Listed on page 59 of the 2021 Guide Book.

    We are aware of only three examples:
    AU58 NGC. 143.3 grains. Richard Picker; John L. Roper, 2nd (Stack's, 12/1983), lot 213; Marvin Browder; Ed Milas; Stack's; Jon Hanson (8/8/1998); Donald G. Partrick (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 5650.
    AU50 NGC. 118.9 grains. Richard Picker (privately in 1970 @ $7,500); Frederick B. Taylor (Bowers & Merena, 3/1987), lot 2095; Jon Hanson; Donald G. Partrick. The present piece.
    Choice VF. 137.4 grains. Benjamin Titus (H.P. Smith, Dr. Edward Maris Collection, 6/1886), lot 501; Elmer S. Sears (privately, 2/12/1915); Hillyer Ryder; F.C.C. Boyd; John J. Ford, Jr. (Stack's, 5/2004), lot 289.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2021
    22nd-25th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 21
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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