The Finest 1803 Dime, JR-3, MS64
1803 10C MS64 NGC. JR-3, R.4. Brilliant ivory
surfaces exhibit frosty mint luster with delicate peripheral gold
toning on both sides. The design elements are generally bold, with
weakness in the usual places, especially at the junction of the
shield and right wing. A few small abrasions on each side are of
little consequence on this near-Gem specimen.
Die State. The obverse die is shattered, especially at the lower left and through the date, with heavy clash marks that are most evident at the throat. The reverse die also has several cracks, especially in the vicinity of UNITED, and clash marks at ES OF.
Condition Census. This is the finest known example of 1803 JR-3 and the finest existing 1803 dime of any variety. The dime book authors described it as MS65.
Appearances. The dime book plate coin.
Obverse Die. The 3 leans left, its right top close to the drapery. The 1 nearly touches the lowest curl and 03 are close to each other. LIBERTY is close and even with all letters separated. Stars 1 and 7 are far from the curl and L. Stars 8 and 13 are close to the Y and drapery.
State a. Perfect, may not exist in this marriage. State b. Cracked from star 4 to the hair, bust, and left side of the 3. A "complex series of cracks" has formed at the lower left obverse, as described in the dime book.
Reverse Die. U in UNITED is clearly recut, and appears to be tripled on this example. Stars in the top row touch or nearly touch the clouds, except for star 5, which is well below the cloud. Star 12 joins the eagle's lower beak and the ribbon. Star 13 is separated from the ribbon and the eagle's head. AME are close with the A slightly low and joined to the third feather. All other letters in the legend are clearly separated from each other, and from the devices and border. A leaf tip is just right of the right base of I. The branch has five berries, the top inside berry stemless.
State a. Perfect, may not exist. State b. Shattered with extensive die cracks and clash marks. Intermediate states probably exist.
Heritage Commentary. This piece, in addition to its status as the finest known 1803 dime, has an impressive pedigree, dating at least back to Lorin Parmelee. It may have earlier been from Ed Cogan's sale of the James E. Root Collection, December 1878, lot 695. The Root coin was described as "An unusually fine impression. Cracked die. Very desirable" and sold to Lorin Parmelee.
Consignor Commentary. A highlight of the collection, this is easily the finest I have seen or heard of. The Bolen catalog was very weak on provenance. This coin was easily recognizable as the Lovejoy/Bareford/Parmelee specimen. I was present at the auction. I remember having to stay very focused since I bought lots 2013, 2018 and 2019 in addition to this one. The dime book indicates that only two 1803 dimes (all varieties) are known in Uncirculated condition. That is consistent with my experience. The only other Uncirculated specimen I have seen is a stretch MS-61.
Provenance. Ex: Lorin G. Parmelee (New York Coin and Stamp Co., 6/1890), lot 808; William Cutler Atwater (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 895; Norman Shultz (privately, 1/1949); Harold Bareford (Stack's, 10/1981), lot 147; Allen Lovejoy (Stack's, 10/1990), lot 24; Waldo Bolen Collection (RARCOA, Numisma '95), lot 2017.
From The Ed Price Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 236L, PCGS# 4473)
Weight: 2.70 grams
Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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