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    1786 New Jersey Copper, AU55
    Very Scarce Maris 13-J
    Among the Finest Known

    1786 New Jersey Copper, Straight Plowbeam, Maris 13-J, W-4800, R.6, AU55 NGC. 157.6 grains. A very scarce and important variety, being one of the first New Jersey coppers produced. Of the 20 examples traced by Siboni, Howes, and Ish for their book New Jersey States Coppers, they ranked the present piece as second finest known. The coin is exceptionally well-struck, and vies with the finest known in this regard (no Uncirculated examples are known). The horse's head, held proudly upright, has a finely defined mane, clear eyes, and simply engraved muzzle. Two small marks between the horse's head and chest serve to distinguish it from other examples. Otherwise, the surfaces are smooth and undisturbed. The plow is somewhat squat, though the plowshare is nicely defined, and the date is widely spaced, with the 1 higher than the 7 and 8, and with the final 6 so high it is touching the exergual line. On both sides, the lettering exhibits occasional weakness toward the rim, suggesting that the engraver lacked a full familiarity with the strengths and weaknesses of the press upon which the coins would be struck. The reverse shield, like the obverse head, is distinct, if not artfully rendered.

    The Maris J reverse die is one of the true workhorses of the New Jersey series, found coupled with no fewer than ten obverse dies, the most die marriages encountered in these coppers. It is also a biennial die: a reverse die that is found paired with obverse dies bearing different dates. For example, the Maris 13-J is dated 1786, while the Maris 37-J is dated 1787. Michael Hodder published an exhaustive study of the Maris reverse J die in the 1989 volume of the American Journal of Numismatics. His careful examination of the die state evidence led to some surprising conclusions. He found that some examples of the Maris 34-J were struck before any examples of the 17-J, despite the fact that the 34 obverse is dated 1787 and the 17 obverse is dated 1786. In other words, we cannot safely assume just because one copper is dated 1786 and another 1787, that the first was produced before the second. There are other biennial dies in the New Jersey series where such disruptions to the assumed chronology are also evident.

    This example of the 13-J, almost certainly a product of the Rahway mint run by Thomas Goadsby and Albion Cox, is considered to be in the earliest reverse die state, with any swelling across the shield barely perceptible. The obverse die state is perfect. This is the heaviest representative of the variety included by Hodder in his study. Maris described the 13-J as "Rare" in his 1881 A Historic Sketch of the Coins of New Jersey, writing that "I have seen only four specimens with this combination." He used this example to illustrate the obverse die. Cataloging his own collection in 1886, he described the current piece as a "beautiful impression" and the "finest I have ever seen." Maris further stated that this piece was from the collection of Sylvester S. Crosby, the author of the 1875 classic Early Coins of America; however, the 13-J in John Haseltine's 1883 sale of Crosby's collection is described as being low-grade and pierced, which the present coin clearly is not. If the pedigree of this piece extends to Crosby, it must have been purchased privately by Maris before 1883, something which has not been ascertained. Regardless of its earliest provenance, it remains a remarkable coin. Listed on page 73 of the 2021 Guide Book.
    Ex: Edward Maris (H.P. Smith, 6/1886), lot 367 (1881 Maris Obverse Plate Coin); Garrett Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1980), lot 1398; Anthony Terranova; Henry Garrett Collection (Bowers and Merena, 3/1992), lot 1309; Donald G. Partrick.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 767873, Base PCGS# 45423)

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2021
    17th-18th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 21
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 251

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