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    Description

    1786 Maris 18-M New Jersey Copper
    MS66 Red and Brown

    Highest Graded New Jersey at NGC

    1786 New Jersey Copper, Bridle, M. 18-M, W-4890, R.3, MS66 Red and Brown NGC. 155.6 grains. A breathtaking coin, exhibiting a nearly impossible level of detail for a state copper. The boldly struck obverse is perfectly centered. The famous "Bridle" crack connecting the tips of the horse's nose and trunk is only slightly visible on this early die state. Free of any marks, the broad planchet is remarkably clean and is awash in blazing mint red that begins to fade to a light tan. The eye appeal of this piece is difficult to overstate. The horse, though placed to the right of center, provides a focal point for the viewer with its large and deeply cut eye. The plow is compact but still artfully rendered. Wholesome in appearance and elegant in design, it is hard to imagine a more visually pleasing New Jersey copper. The single finest New Jersey copper, this piece is the only MS66 NGC coin with none finer.

    Direct viewing of this piece under magnification reveals extraordinary detail: the strokes left by the engraver's tools as he shaped the horse's head and the plow are distinctly preserved. This is easily visible in the photo enlargements or under magnification. The engraver's strokes resemble a painter's brushstrokes. At the juncture of the plow beam and right handle, for instance, we can see the manner in which the design was carefully engraved into the die. Traces of the coulter and singletree in the beam itself suggest that the various design elements were traced out first, then more boldly incised. Most notable is the plowshare itself, which reveals an interesting anomaly: a 6 has been punched much too high of where it should have been punched for the date, and one can see the tip of it protruding from the top of the plowshare above where the correctly placed 6 appears. As is obvious on this high-grade example, the share was reengraved to cover up most of the errant 6: it bulges out, being cut much more deeply than it otherwise would have been. This could only be fully observed on a coin as well-struck and well-preserved as is this piece.

    In contrast to the lettering and the carefully engraved devices, the date on the Maris 18 obverse is crude and poorly placed. One might think it was entirely hand-engraved were it not for the errant 6 described above, which indicates the use of a punch. The erratic placement of the numerals, with the 1 and 6 disrupting the line above, the 8 resting upon it, and the 7 sitting awkwardly below, is difficult to explain, as is the obvious attempt to touch up the punched digits with additional engraving. While the reverse die is perhaps more even in artistic merit, the presence of a notable flaw in the horizontal lines within the chief (the upper part of the shield) suggests the use of a less-experienced engraver who lost control of his burin. The combination of skilled and unskilled die work on this piece is indicative of the checkered workforce available to these semi-professional mints.

    The provenance chain for this piece requires additional research. It was sold for $16 at the 1904 sale of the John G. Mills collection, but was bought there by the Chapman brothers themselves and presumably sold privately thereafter. Its whereabouts for most of the first half of the twentieth century remain to be discovered. This astonishing example of a New Jersey copper is clearly deserving of further research. The present auction is only the second time in a century that this coin has been offered publicly. Listed on page 73 of the 2021 Guide Book.
    Ex: John G. Mills (S.H. & H. Chapman, 4/1904), lot 397; later, Richard Picker (1958); Norweb Family (Bowers & Merena, 10/1987), lot 1327; Donald G. Partrick.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 766247, Base PCGS# 501)


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

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2021
    20th-24th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 30
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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