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    Description

    1861 Original Confederate Cent, SP62
    One of Only 14 Pieces Known

    1861 1C Original CSA Cent SP62 PCGS. The name "Lovett" was prominent both in the first production of Confederate currency, notes, and bonds, as well as in the preparation of dies for a proposed Confederate coin. George H. Lovett engraved a seal for the Confederate Treasury Department in March of 1861 on behalf of one of the leading bank note companies -- either the National Bank Note Company or the American Bank Note Company.
    At about the same time, his brother -- Robert Lovett, Jr. -- was engaged by person or persons unknown to engrave dies for a proposed Confederate coin. Some believe the bank note company served as intermediary between the Confederate government and the skilled Lovett family of engravers. Researchers suggest the Confederate cent dies and original Specimen strikes were swiftly made after the secret meeting of Robert Lovett, Jr. and the unknown Confederate agent.

    The pace of events that followed the election of Abraham Lincoln on November 6, 1860 was swift and astonishing. By December 20, 1860 South Carolina had seceded from the Union. Five more states followed suit in January and February of 1861. By the end of February, the Confederate Provisional Government was in place.

    One of the first acts passed by the Confederate Congress was an authorization to create a Treasury Seal, followed by an act that enabled the first issue of Confederate paper money. On March 9, an act was passed to keep the Dahlonega and New Orleans mints in operation and provisions were granted to obtain appropriate dies to strike Confederate coinage.

    At that time, it was neither unusual nor illegal to do business with the Confederacy, although the pace of hostilities would soon change all that. On April 12, the attack on Fort Sumter complicated dealings with the Confederacy. On April 25, U.S. Marshals in New York City seized the printing plates for Confederate bonds and notes. At the end of April, C. G. Memminger suspended operations at the Confederate Mints in Dahlonega and New Orleans to concentrate on more urgent military matters. On July 13, 1861 Lincoln signed legislation making it illegal to do business with the Confederacy.

    One can only imagine the effect such events would have on Robert Lovett, Jr. who -- sworn to secrecy -- may have already made the dies for the Confederate cent and, as many numismatists believe, struck 15 or 16 original Confederate cents in copper-nickel as Specimen strikes. The fact that 14 surviving coins are confirmed gives credence to the number of pieces struck, but does not confirm the timing. Lovett himself claimed he kept the dies and original specimens hidden, fearing arrest for aiding the Confederates.

    Others point to the long period of time before an original coin appeared, when it was consigned to a January, 1874 auction by Capt. John W. Haseltine and his associate J. Colvin Randall. Their consignor was none other than Dr. Edward Maris, the noted Philadelphia collector, who supposedly obtained a "Confederate cent" (from a local bartender, so the story goes) and recognized the die work of Robert Lovett, Jr. Maris subsequently acquired the remaining coins struck by Lovett.

    Haseltine, upon seeing the cent, eventually persuaded Maris to sell him the remaining examples and also convinced Lovett to sell him the dies, which at the time were cracked and barely serviceable. Haseltine made restrikes in gold, silver, and copper until the dies broke on the 55th copper strike. No coins were struck from copper-nickel to retain the integrity of the original strikings, according to Haseltine.

    The present coin is struck in copper-nickel from the 1861 composition of 88% copper, 12% nickel. The coin is encapsulated in a blue-label holder as MS62 PCGS, although the current certificate verification describes the coin as a Specimen strike, SP62 PCGS. The coin is exceptionally sharp for the issue, with crisp hair detail and legends. The "L" for Lovett is bold on the reverse cotton bale - a critical diagnostic of original Confederate cent strikes versus the restrikes, which are usually quite weak with only a partial L. Importantly, this piece is struck with a medal turn, as opposed to the coin turn shown by restrikes. It displays a lovely olive-brown patina with golden highlights around the central devices. The surfaces are smooth and pleasing, with a few darker areas of toning that bespeak its age. The provenance of the current coin is detailed in the accompanying detailed roster, which was based on the roster in Levi and Corell's book on Lovett and the CSA cents, and then expanded when we sold the Donald G. Partrick coin earlier this year.

    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 label). 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. The present coin.
    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. Choice Brilliant Uncirculated, Prooflike. 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 (grade per Ford auction appearance).
    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. 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.
    M. 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 Liberty Collection, Part III.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 340404)


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

    View all of [Selections from The Liberty Collection, Part III ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    12th-16th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 35
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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