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    1790 Standish Barry Threepence, AU53
    W-8510, Among the Finest Known
    Ex: Seavey, Parmelee, Park, Weinberg

    1790 3PENCE Standish Barry Threepence AU53 PCGS. Breen-1019, W-8510, R.6. Ex: Seavey-Parmelee-Park-Weinberg. Die alignment: 0°. An exceptional example of this rare post-Colonial issue, of which perhaps two dozen are known. The peripheries are more firmly struck than the centers, and the strike is typically uneven. ALTIM of BALTIMORE is fairly weak, while the date -- uniquely expressed as JULY 4 90 -- is well-struck and TOWN is downright bold. The center portrait is about as clear as ever encountered on these pieces. The reverse center's THREE PENCE is weak, as almost always, but most of the peripheral legend is distinct, with some softness at the opening STA of Barry's given name. The planchet is slightly out of round, but the design elements and all legends are complete. This piece shows no evidence of the prominent die cracks visible on both sides of the magnificent MS64 example -- the finest known in private hands -- sold by us in January 2015 as part of the Donald G. Partrick collection.
    Standish Barry of Baltimore was one of two Maryland silversmiths to strike silver coinage in the years between the ending of the Revolutionary War and the establishment of the Mint at Philadelphia, John Chalmers having struck several types of silver coins in Annapolis in 1783. Both coinages saw extensive circulation, judging from the condition of surviving examples. Beyond the simple need to provide a circulating medium, however, the exact motivations behind the Barry threepence are uncertain. The unusually precise date has led to speculation that it may have been issued in commemoration of a local event, possibly held in honor of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, though Independence Day as such was inconsistently and mostly unofficially observed at the time.

    The obverse figure has also been the subject of much deliberation, with George Washington being the most commonly proposed identification, along with Standish Barry himself. In the Spring 2009 issue of the C4 Newsletter, however, Max B. Spiegel brought to light an 1843 article from the Baltimore Sun that named the figure depicted as James Calhoun, who was serving in a position analogous to Mayor in Baltimore on July 4, 1790. A comparison of contemporary portraits of Calhoun and the threepence's obverse figure strongly suggests that this attribution is accurate.

    This specimen was part of the extraordinary collection formed in the 19th century by Bostonian Lorin G. Parmelee. Building on an already remarkable cabinet, Parmelee developed it into one of the best ever by purchasing entire collections outright, skimming the handful of pieces needed, and selling the rest at auction. He did this with the George F. Seavey, J. Carson Brevoort, and Charles I. Bushnell collections, as well as with selections from the Sylvester S. Crosby collection. The present coin was from the Seavey cabinet, and was featured in the catalog of Parmelee's collection when it finally came to market in 1890. Listed on page 77 of the 2020 Guide Book.
    Ex: George F. Seavey Collection (1873), Descriptive Catalogue listing 188; Lorin G. Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp Co., 6/1890), lot 303; Laird U. Park Collection (Stack's, 5/1976), lot 21; The Alan V. Weinberg Collection, Part I / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2019), lot 4302; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2019), lot 3654. (NGC ID# 2B5N, PCGS# 609)

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 360

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