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    Description

    1861 Original Confederate Cent, MS64+
    Probably the Finest Known
    Ex: Ford / Simpson

    1861 1C Original CSA Cent MS64+ PCGS Secure. CAC. Ex: Simpson. In our 2013 FUN catalog, we were privileged to offer the Noble Family example of an Original Confederate cent, a coin that had been in the same family for almost 40 years. In the write-up for that coin we listed several questionable stories related to these coins, one of which was that "The story about one of Lovett's pocket pieces surfacing in a Philadelphia bar was not part of the story until Haseltine's address [to the ANA] in 1908. Thanks to numismatic researcher extraordinaire, P. Scott Rubin, we now know the story of the coin being passed in a Philadelphia bar predates Haseltine's address by 17 years, and considering the Chapman Brothers as the source, greatly increases the likelihood of the story being true. A note appended to lot 823 of the consignment from T. Frank Carlin included in the Wilhelm Boeing Sale of November 1891 told the story as it was related to the Chapman brothers:
    "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 probably 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."

    This passage essentially defines the story of the Confederate cent. John Haseltine's 1908 address was certainly full of embellishments, but a grain of truth was also present. Lovett apparently did have a pocket piece that he unknowingly passed across the counter at a local bar. What happened next is subject to speculation, but it is reasonable to believe the bartender showed the piece to others until one customer, a coin collector named T. Frank Carlin, recognized its significance and value and bought it from Captain Funston. It seems Carlin showed the above 1891 Sale coin in 1873 to Maris who recognized the Confederate cent as a product of Lovett's work. He purchased at least three (maybe four) Original CSA cents from him. Three coins were sold at auction by Maris or his estate by 1900. John Haseltine did not enter the scene until almost a year after discovery of the "bar piece." Haseltine and John C. Randall apparently reasoned if the coins were available, then the dies might also exist. These two Philadelphia dealers apparently pressured Lovett about the dies until he admitted they existed, finally selling them to Haseltine. (Haseltine then produced restrikes, but that is another story, see next lot.) A more complete story will be published in the January 2016 issue of The Numismatist in an article by P. Scott Rubin, who has graciously shared much of what is contained here.

    Another reasonable conjecture about the Original Confederate cents is that they were most likely never actually offered to anyone in the Confederate government. It also does not appear that the CSA contacted Lovett in Philadelphia. Not only has no documentary evidence ever surfaced, but it is highly unlikely Lovett would have offered a cracked reverse die for coinage purposes. Original Confederate cents exist in two die states, an uncracked reverse and a cracked reverse. Most show a crack on the right side of the wreath on the reverse, and on this piece it is quite pronounced. Since Lovett made only one pair of dies, the most logical conclusion is that he produced the dies and subsequent coins of his own volition. He couldn't sell a cracked die, and as the Civil War ground on prospects for a lasting Confederacy, and their need for small-denomination coinage, dimmed with each passing year. Most likely he decided it was better to conceal the dies and either the 14 or 16 coins produced (depending on which story you prefer) in his cellar. Indeed, the Originals we have examined show evidence of darkening and light porosity around the margins that is consistent with having been buried or residing in a damp environment for several years. This last point argues against the belief by some that the Originals were a Haseltine concoction from 1873.

    The surfaces of this piece are remarkably bright and vibrant with rich reddish patina on each side. The color is only interrupted by the darkening mentioned above around the bottom curve of the obverse rim and corresponding bottom of the reverse. Die striations are prominent in the obverse fields, less so on the reverse. As expected, the strike definition is strong throughout, including the important initial L (for Lovett) on the cotton bale. The only mark we see is a very shallow, diagonal one placed in the middle of the cheek of Liberty.
    Roster of 1861 Original Confederate Cents
    1. PR64 NGC.
    Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including 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.
    2. PR63 PCGS. Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including 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, 1/2013), lot 5139, where it brought $211,500.
    3. PR63 NGC. 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.
    4. SP62 PCGS (MS62 on holder insert). Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including 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.
    5. Choice Brilliant Proof. Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including 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).
    6. PR62 NGC. Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including 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.
    7. MS64+ PCGS. Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including 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 (graded Choice Brilliant Uncirculated, Prooflike in the Ford catalog); Bob Simpson. The present specimen.
    8. Choice Uncirculated.
    Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Captain John W. Haseltine; Kensington Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 12/1975), lot 431 (grade per 1975 auction appearance).
    9. MS62 NGC. Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Captain John W. Haseltine; Dodsen/Collier Collections (Bowers and Merena, 6/1984), lot 3421; New York City Auction (Spink Smythe, 11/2008), lot 475.
    10. MS60. Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including 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).
    11. AU. Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including Captain John W. Haseltine; Hain Family Collection (Stack's, 1/2002), lot 876 (grade per 2002 auction appearance).
    12. Extremely Fine. Robert Lovett, Jr.; Dr. Edward Maris; unknown intermediaries, most likely including 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).
    13. 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.
    14. A specimen in the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
    Other Appearances
    A.
    Coin Sale (Captain John W. Haseltine, 1/1874), lot 665, the first auction appearance.
    B. A coin in the possession of Dr. William Lee circa 1874, which he photographed and published in a book on Confederate notes.
    C. Dr. Edward Maris Collection (Harlan Page Smith, 6/1886), lot 304.
    D. John Colvin Randall Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 6/1885), lot 1391.
    E. T. Frank Carlin Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 11/1891), lot 823.
    F.
    Maris Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 11/1900), lot 850.
    G. 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.
    H. 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.
    I. 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.
    J. 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.
    K. 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.
    L. Philpot/Zander Sale (B. Max Mehl, 11/1945), lot 2621, Extremely Fine.
    M. Will Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 3071.
    N. 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.
    O. A specimen in the ANS Collection, accession number 1908.181.2 listed as an Original by Harold Levi and George Corell in The Lovett Cent a Confederate Story, but the ANS website says this piece is a Haseltine Restrike in copper.
    Selections from The Bob R. Simpson Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2C4W, PCGS# 340404)


    View all of [Selections from the Bob R. Simpson Collection ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2016
    6th-11th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
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