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    1786 New Jersey Copper, AU55
    Legendary Maris 7-E
    The Finest Known Date Under Plowbeam

    1786 New Jersey Copper, Date Under Plowbeam, M. 7-E, W-4710, High R.7, AU55 NGC. 155.0 grains. The finest known example of the distinctive Date Under Plowbeam type and a truly legendary New Jersey copper. This is the plate coin in New Jersey State Coppers: History, Description, Collecting, by Roger S. Siboni, John L. Howes, and A. Buell Ish. When this example of the Maris 7-E appeared in the first of the John J. Ford, Jr. collection sales, it sent shockwaves through the close-knit community of colonial coin collectors. It had not been offered publicly since 1916, and it had never been illustrated. Most collectors of the series had no idea that it existed. What had previously been considered the finest known example, the Crosby and Maris plate coin most recently offered in the 1984 Picker sale, is a pleasing and attractive XF. The present coin caused a complete rewriting of the Condition Census, not only for the variety but for the entire type. The excitement generated by its appearance spilled over into the auction room, where the coin sold for an impressive $322,000.

    Even if it were a common variety, this copper would be regarded as unusually choice. A cursory glance shows a glossy tan coloration, a bold strike, and clean fields. Closer examination reveals a more complex patina, with soft olive tones in the fields lightening near the edges of letters and devices. Occasional remnants of original mint red remain along the edge of the left plow handle and around the O of NOVA. These traces of red are more apparent on the reverse, where most of the legend's letters are surrounded by a flush of color, which extends further into the fields on the left side of the coin. The obverse is struck slightly off-center toward 12 o'clock, with this shift revealing the die's edge from 3 to 9 o'clock; the reverse is well-centered. The strike is bold, with the horse's muzzle clearly defined from the nostrils back to the forehead. A softer area above the eye extends to the horse's temple but does not detract from its distinctively tousled mane. The reverse shield is distinct and clear, its vertical pales readily apparent and with only some slight softness to the horizontal lines comprising the "chief," or uppermost section of the shield. Close examination reveals a few hairlines on both sides of the coin, commensurate with its assigned grade, but they must be sought out and are not distracting.

    There are two obverse dies of the Date Under Plowbeam type: obverses 7 and 8, as listed by Edward Maris in his 1881 A Historic Sketch of the Coins of New Jersey, the classic work on the subject. Maris 7 is found paired with reverse E (as here), and a unique pairing with reverse C is also known. Obverse 8 is encountered paired with reverse F in what is the only known use of either die. Of the three resulting die varieties (Maris 7-C, 7-E, and 8-F), there is a total of only 10 known coins, making the New Jersey Date Under Plowbeam among the rarest of all colonial types.

    The Date Under Plowbeam type was first brought to the attention of collectors in 1860, when it was included as a supplementary listing in the second edition of Montroville Dickeson's American Numismatic Manual, in which an example (the present lot) is stated to be in the collection of Boston numismatist Jeremiah Colburn. This coin was first offered publicly in W. Elliot Woodward's May 1864 sale of the John F. McCoy collection, where Woodward wrote: "The peculiarity of this piece consists in having the date directly under the plough-beam. This splendid piece is in almost-proof condition, and its excessive rarity is indicated by the fact that but one other specimen is known. This coin, for many years, has been esteemed as one of the most valuable gems of a celebrated collection."

    The piece sold to Cincinnati collector Joseph Zanoni for $55, and reappeared three years later when Edward Cogan offered Zanoni's collection at auction. Described by Cogan as "in almost uncirculated condition," he notes that it is "the only one I have ever been able to trace, excepting the one in the collection of Mr. Mickley of Philadelphia." Cogan here is speaking only of the type, not the variety: the Mickley piece was what we would now call a Maris 8-F. It sold on that occasion for $60 to one "Harris," otherwise unknown, but possibly the "gentleman of Burlington, N.J." mentioned as George Lewis's source for the coin in Henry Chapman's 1916 catalog of his collection. The Chapman description confuses the Maris 7-E and the 8-G, and badly muddles the provenance of the Parmelee 8-G, making one hesitant to accept the rest of his description as gospel. However, his closing comment--"A gem of the highest importance"--is obviously correct.

    Our roster of this variety shows six pieces: AU55 NGC. The present lot (details given below); XF. Anton Collection. Ex: Jenks, Parmelee, Goodenough; Newcomer; Garrett, Picker. The Crosby and Maris plate coin; VF30 NGC. James F. Ruddy; Norweb Family Collection, Donald G. Partrick duplicate; VG. A. Buell Ish collection. Ex: Anton, Ruder, Spiro, and Ross; VG. Michael Demling Collection. A ground-find exhibiting strong details but net graded; Good. Net graded. An unusual piece recovered from the cornerstone of a building in Cincinnati, with the reverse engraved SAM PEEL / 1858.

    The present coin is the finest known example of one of the landmark rarities of the New Jersey series, and is among the most illustrious colonial coins in existence. It is arguably the single most desirable state copper of any series. Its importance can scarcely be overstated. Listed on page 73 of the 2021 Guide Book.
    Ex: Henry Davenport, imported before 1860; Jeremiah Colburn; John F. McCoy (W. Elliot Woodward, 5/1864), lot 1782; Joseph Zanoni (Edward Cogan, 4/1867), lot 540; Harris (possibly the Burlington, New Jersey collector mentioned in the following); George W. Lewis (Henry Chapman, 1916), lot 12; Hillyer Ryder; F.C.C. Boyd; John J. Ford, Jr., Part I (Stack's, 10/2003), lot 76; Donald G. Partrick.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 492)

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

    View all of [The Donald G. Partrick Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Proxy Bidding Ends
    21st Thursday 4:50 pm CT
    Auction Dates
    20th-24th Wednesday-Sunday
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    This lot is in: 3 - Signature® Floor Session Platinum Night (Live Floor, Live Phone, Mail, Fax, Internet, and Heritage Live):
    (Lots 3900-3973) - 5:00 PM Central Time, Thursday, January 21, 2021.
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    Heritage Auctions
    2801 W. Airport Freeway
    Dallas, TX 75261

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