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    Description

    1787 New Jersey Copper, MS65 Red and Brown
    Probable Finest Known Maris 48-g

    1787 New Jersey Copper, No Plow Sprig, M. 48-g, W-5275, R.1, MS65 Red and Brown NGC. 143.9 grains. A fascinating example of this popular variety, and very likely the finest known. What first impresses the viewer of this coin is its color: an almost overwhelming red, lightly streaked through with tan and gray on the obverse. The reverse is more uniformly red, with darker peripheral toning along some planchet roughness between 6 and 10 o'clock and with occasional flecks of bluish-gray. The overall effect is stunning--state coppers are very rarely encountered with even traces of mint red. In this case, the mint red has only traces of anything else. Boldly struck, the well-proportioned horse's head is handsome and fully rendered. The mane is distinct, the ears are sharply defined, and the eye is round and deep. The contours of the muzzle and neck are apparent, and the coin's bright luster peeks out even from the inner recesses of the horse's nostril. A compact but well-made plow sits a bit off-center to the right below a scroll with seven nodules. The strike is well-centered and quite pleasing.

    The distinct reverse is perhaps even better executed. The shield is particularly notable for its unusual design, with the center point of the chief lower than the points to either side. This diagnostic, in addition to its strong and deeply engraved border, makes this an easy variety for most collectors to attribute by sight. The lettering is neatly and carefully placed, though a Gem Mint State example such as this betrays the die-cutter's occasional slips, with repunching and recutting visible, most obviously at the final U of PLURIBUS and the M of UNUM. The dies have clashed, most apparent on the obverse: one can see a distinct outline of the shield's edge to the left and running above the horse's head. On the reverse, traces of the obverse plow design can be made out in the field immediately above the shield.

    As discussed elsewhere, certain New Jersey reverse dies are found paired with obverses of different dates. These "biennial dies" can be instructive, shedding light on the inner workings of the mints. In this case, we note that the Maris g reverse is found coupled only with the Maris 48 and 51 obverses. The die state seen on this example of the 48-g, with a light diagonal crack running across the shield from a point opposite the final star of the legend toward the chief's upper left corner, is found only when this reverse is married to the Maris 48 obverse. Maris 51-g coppers are not encountered with this die break -- an important point because the Maris 48 obverse is dated 1787 while the Maris 51 is dated 1788, which means that this 1787-dated copper was produced after the 1788-dated coppers struck with the Maris 51 obverse die. This demonstrates that one should not assume that these coins were necessarily struck in the year indicated. Once a die was made, it was employed until it failed or there was no further use for it: its stated date was essentially irrelevant.

    In New Jersey State Coppers: History, Description, Collecting, by Roger S. Siboni, John L. Howes, and A. Buell Ish, the present piece is listed as the finest known. The cataloger of the Norweb collection suggested that it was tied for first place with the Anton coin, which these three authors place second. Regardless, this is one of the few existing Gem Mint State New Jersey coppers, and it will be a highlight of any collection. Listed on page 74 of the 2021 Guide Book.
    Ex: Fred Baldwin (1958); Norweb Family (Bowers & Merena, 10/1987), lot 1353; Donald G. Partrick.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 768361, Base PCGS# 506)


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2021
    20th-24th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 22
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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