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    Description

    1861 Original Confederate Cent, PR63+
    Third Finest of 16 Known
    Ex: 'Colonel' Green, Eric P. Newman

    1861 1C Confederate States of America Cent, Original, B-8005, PR63+ NGC. CAC. The 1861 Original Confederate cent is one of the rarest and most misunderstood issues in American numismatics. Only 16 specimens were struck, under mysterious circumstances, on the very brink of the Civil War. Paradoxically, although the coins were intended as prototypes for a Confederate coinage, they were actually struck in Philadelphia. The Northern die sinker who designed this iconic Confederate issue developed so many misgivings about his new creation that he never delivered any of the coins, or the dies used to strike them, to their intended owners. The existence of the coins was never even hinted at until years after the conflict was over, when a fortuitous accident revealed the long-hidden Confederate cent to an amazed and delighted numismatic community. Heritage Auctions is pleased to offer this spectacular PR63+ specimen from the legendary Eric P. Newman Collection in its first public auction appearance.

    Design and Striking of the Confederate Cent
    No official documentation on the striking of the Confederate cents has ever come to light, and we have only second-hand testimony about their creation from the man who actually struck the coins. Fortunately, much has been learned from contemporary numismatic accounts and the evidence of the coins themselves. It seems that in the short window of time between the secession of South Carolina in December 1860, and the beginning of actual hostilities, Philadelphia die sinker Robert Lovett received a commission from Southern sympathizers to produce a design for a Confederate cent. The commission may have come through the jewelry firm of Bailey & Co., or Lovett may have conceived the project on his own, as his work was well-known in the South. In any case, he proceeded to cut the dies and strike a small number of specimens for demonstration purposes in the early part of 1861.

    The obverse die features a bust of Liberty, wearing a Phrygian cap with a band of six stars in the center, with the legend CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA around, and the date below. The bust is from the same punch used on a store card Lovett issued the year before, making it easy for contemporary numismatists to identify the design as Lovett's work. The reverse includes the denomination in the center, surrounded by a wreath of agricultural products from the South, with a prominent cotton bale at the bottom. Lovett's initial "L" is inscribed on the lower right portion of the bale. The coins were supposedly struck on copper-nickel planchets, but the exact composition has recently been questioned by some researchers who doubt such planchets were available at the time.

    As might be expected of coins produced to demonstrate the design, the Confederate cents are uniformly well-made. The design elements are sharply detailed on most specimens known to us and the fields are noticeably mirrored. The grading services have taken notice of the special production characteristics of the 1861 Original Confederate cents. PCGS now certifies Originals as Specimen strikes, while NGC certifies them as proofs, with a few older submissions still listed in the population data as Mint State.

    As hostilities deepened, Lovett grew increasingly anxious about the propriety of producing coins for the Confederacy. President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation making it illegal for Northern businessmen to engage in commerce with the Confederacy on July 13, 1861, making his fears of imprisonment even more concrete. In addition, it appears the reverse die for the cent cracked during the initial striking of the coins, as many examples show a die crack at the lower right of the wreath. With the die damaged and legal perils multiplying, Lovett abandoned his Confederate cent project and all the coins and dies were permanently concealed in his cellar. Or so he thought.

    The Confederate Cent Surfaces
    At some point, probably after the war was over, Lovett began carrying one of the Confederate cents as a pocket piece. He was fond of evening visits to a nearby saloon operated by Captain Thomas G. Funston, and one night in 1873, he inadvertently used his pocket piece to pay part of his bill at the bar. Funston noticed the unusual coin in his till and began showing it to numismatically minded customers, until a collector named T. Frank Carlin recognized its importance and purchased it. Researcher P. Scott Rubin recently discovered an account of Carlin's lucky acquisition in the catalog of the Boeing/Bridgman Collections (S.H. & H. Chapman, 11/1891), lot 823 (Carlin was the consignor of the lot). Rubin published his findings in an article in the January 2016 issue of The Numismatist, including the following quotation from the Chapman catalog:

    "A letter from Mr. Carlin to the following purport accompanies this coin. In the early part of 1873 he purchased it from Capt. Funston (now deceased) who kept a saloon on Chestnut Street between 17th and 18th, Philadelphia, who is believed to have received it as a cent (spent by mistake) from Mr. Lovett who cut the die on an order from the South, but who was afraid to deliver it and subsequently when this specimen was discovered, stated that he had lost or spent his personal specimen accidentally and this is believed to be the identical one, -- may say is known to be. Had it not been for this to him unfortunate - at the time - loss, it is quite probable that the existence of the Confederate cent would have forever remained unknown. John W. Haseltine recognized the workmanship when he saw the present piece and accused Mr. Lovett of it - which was subsequently acknowledged and the dies dug up from their place of concealment in the cellar of Mr. Lovett's house, -- who sold them to J.W. Haseltine and J.C. Randall who had restrikes made in gold, silver, and copper and to their credit be it said, refrained from restriking any in nickel. The dies were subsequently destroyed after some 55 were struck in copper, 7 in gold, 12 in silver. Mr. Lovett struck some 12 in nickel in 1861. Mr. Carlin will make an affidavit to the above."



    Apparently, it was actually well-known numismatist Edward Maris (not Haseltine) who initially recognized Carlin's coin as a product of Lovett's shop. He approached Lovett later in 1873 and convinced him to sell the remaining coins, probably 15 examples, rather than the 12 indicated in Carlin's account. Maris later noted, "I believe only about 16 were ever struck" which coincides exactly with the number of specimens known today (see roster below). Maris consigned one example to Haseltine's sale of January 13, 1874, which alerted him to the existence of the coins and introduced the Confederate cent to the numismatic community of the time. Haseltine quickly followed up the successful sale of the coin by purchasing as many as 11 more examples from Maris, which he marketed privately in the following years. He also coaxed Lovett into selling him the dies and embarked on the program of Restrikes outlined above. Although the dies were defaced after the Restrikes were produced, they were not completely destroyed, and Robert Bashlow used them to produce a popular series of Restrikes in various metals 100 years later. Haseltine later took credit for discovering the Confederate cent himself, and his account was widely accepted before Rubin (and others) debunked his claims in recent years.

    The wide chronological gap between the reported striking date and the first appearance of a Confederate cent, combined with Haseltine's less than sterling reputation, led to many conspiracy theories over the years about exactly when the coins were struck. Some have suspected Haseltine of having them struck in 1873, along with contemporary fantasy issues, like the Class III 1804 dollars. This now seems unlikely, since we know Haseltine was not the first numismatist to own an example. Additionally, the photograph of a specimen published by Dr. William Lee in his 1875-dated reference on Confederate notes shows rich peripheral toning, which would require more than just a couple of years to accumulate, under normal conditions. Ironically, while the Lee coin was the first example of a Confederate cent to be photographed, it was the last specimen to be positively identified by students of the issue. For generations, the Lee photograph remained a mystery, as it could not be matched to any of the known survivors. Only when the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection was sold in March 2015 did the coin reappear in a recognizable image, settling that nagging question to rest.

    The individual coins were mostly dispersed by Haseltine in private transactions, but a few were held back by Maris for his own collection, and Carlin retained the discovery coin until 1891. Examples resurfaced at wide intervals over the years, their histories difficult to trace because of the private nature of the early transactions. We believe we can finally account for all 16 examples Lovett reportedly struck, but there are wide gaps in most of the pedigrees. This coin has one of the longest and most prestigious pedigree chains, as it has been a highlight of the famous "Colonel" Green Collection and Eric P. Newman's unprecedented numismatic holdings.

    Physical Description
    The present coin is a splendid Plus-graded Select proof, with well-preserved reflective surfaces that are blanketed in attractive shades of reddish-brown and gold toning. The design elements exhibit razor-sharp definition in most areas, with just the slightest trace of softness on Liberty's hair. On the reverse, the veins in the leaves and slats in the barrels are finely delineated, and Lovett's all-important initial is especially bold. The coin was struck in medallic alignment, a characteristic of all Originals (Restrikes have a coin turn). This piece is the third-finest certified proof example of this rare and charismatic issue. In our opinion, when photos of the present piece and the finest-graded SP64+ example are examined, the Newman coin appears to have greater eye appeal. It has been off the market for more than seven decades, and many years may elapse before a comparable example becomes available.

    Roster of 1861 Original Confederate Cents
    Grades are per the last auction appearance, unless a subsequent certification event is known.
    1. SP64+ PCGS. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; F.C.C. Boyd; Boyd estate; John J. Ford, Jr.; John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part I (Stack's, 10/2003), lot 321; Simpson Collection; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2016), lot 5246.
    2. PR64 NGC. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; F.C.C. Boyd; Boyd estate; John J. Ford, Jr.; John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part X (Stack's, 5/2005), lot 4478.
    3. PR63+ NGC. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp and Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $100.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. The present specimen.
    4. PR63 PCGS. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; possibly John J. Ford, Jr.; Q. David Bowers; offered in Rare Coin Review numbers 19 and 20; purchased in April 1974 for the Noble Family Collection; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2014), lot 5139, where it brought $211,500.
    5. PR63 NGC. Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; possibly a coin in the possession of John J. Ford, Jr. which he sold to Dr. Irving Schuster, reportedly later handled by Q. David Bowers; Rare Coin Review #72 (Bowers and Merena, Spring 1989); Jon Hanson; Donald G. Partrick Collection (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 5849, where it brought $188,000.
    6. Choice Brilliant Proof. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; F.C.C. Boyd; Boyd estate; John J. Ford, Jr.; John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part X (Stack's, 5/2005), lot 4477; Q. David Bowers; 74th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 11/2009), lot 794 (grade per Ford auction appearance).
    7. Choice Uncirculated. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; Kensington Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 12/1975), lot 431 (grade per 1975 auction appearance).
    8. SP62 PCGS (MS62 on holder label). Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; Aubrey and Adeline Bebee Collection (Bowers and Merena, 8/1987), lot 1545; West Coast collector, via Liz Coggan; William H. Labelle, Sr. Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 7/2005), lot 26; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2015), lot 3937.
    9. SP62 PCGS. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; Dr. William Lee circa 1874, he photographed and published this coin in a book on Confederate notes in 1875;
    Nicholson Family Collection (Stack's, 6/1967), lot 721; Henry P. Kendall; Kendall Foundation Collection (Stack's Bowers, 3/2015), lot 2579.
    10. PR62 NGC. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; Charles Steigerwalt; purchased by T. Harrison Garrett in late 1881; Robert Garrett; John Work Garrett; Garrett Collection, Part IV (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1981), lot 1995; Jon Hanson; Donald Groves Partrick. This piece will be sold in a later Partrick Collection sale.
    11. MS62 NGC. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; Dodsen/Collier Collections (Bowers and Merena, 6/1984), lot 3421; New York City Auction (Spink Smythe, 11/2008), lot 475.
    12. MS60. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; Lee F. Hewitt Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1984), lot 2799; Hoke S. Green Collection (Bowers and Merena, 6/1985), lot 498 (grade per last auction appearance).
    13. AU. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; Hain Family Collection (Stack's, 1/2002), lot 876 (grade per 2002 auction appearance).
    14. Extremely Fine. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; F.C.C. Boyd; Boyd estate; John J. Ford, Jr.; John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part I (Stack's, 10/2003), lot 322 (grade per Ford auction appearance).
    15. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; a fifth specimen that was included in the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection at the time of its sale in 2003. Sold privately via Stack's and not described in any of the catalogs.
    16. Robert Lovett, Jr.; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Dr. Edward Maris and Captain John W. Haseltine; a specimen in the ANS Collection, accession number 1908.181.1, listed as an Original by Harold Levi and George Corell in The Lovett Cent a Confederate Story.

    Other Appearances
    A. Coin Sale (Captain John W. Haseltine, 1/1874), lot 665, the first auction appearance.
    B. Dr. Edward Maris Collection (Harlan Page Smith, 6/1886), lot 304.
    C. Thomas G. Funston; T. Frank Carlin; Boeing/Bridgman Collections (S.H. & H. Chapman, 11/1891), lot 823, apparently bought in by Carlin for $9.25.
    D. Maris Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 11/1900), lot 850.
    E. A specimen exhibited by Judson Brenner at the 1914 ANS Exhibition. This piece may have passed to Virgil Brand in 1919, when Brenner sold him the Confederate cent dies and many other coins.
    F. George Earle Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 3823, based on toning patterns this coin resembles number 10 above, but the match is not definitive.
    G. George M. Parsons Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1914), lot 2707, toning patterns resemble the coin in number 5 above, but the match is not definitive.
    H. John Story Jenks Collection (Henry Chapman, 12/1921), lot 6471, toning patterns resemble the coin in number 5 and letter G above, but the match is not definitive.
    I. Fred E. Olsen Collection (B. Max Mehl, 11/1944), lot 1632, reportedly struck on a large planchet, possibly an off-center restrike according to John Ford.
    J. Philpot/Zander Sale (B. Max Mehl, 11/1945), lot 2621, Extremely Fine.
    K. Will Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 3071.
    L. An eighth specimen owned by John Ford at one time according to Michael Hodder, no longer in the Ford Collection at the time of the 2003 sale.
    Ex: "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp and Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $100.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. (NGC ID# 2C4V, PCGS# 340404)


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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2017
    1st-3rd Wednesday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 26
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,457

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

    Truth Seeker: The Life of Eric P. Newman (softcover)
    A powerful and intimidating dealer of the 1960s, backed by important colleagues, was accused of selling fraudulent gold coins and ingots to unsuspecting numismatists. Who would go up against a man like that and, over the course of decades, prove the fraud? Who would expose a widely respected scholar as a thief, then doggedly pursue recovery of coins that the scholar had stolen from an embarrassed numismatic organization, all over the objections of influential collectors who had bought coins with clouded titles? Eric P. Newman would - and did. Reserve your copy today.
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