Probable Finest Known 1803 JR-1 Dime, XF45
1803 10C XF40 PCGS. CAC. JR-1, R.7. Pleasing
pewter-gray surfaces show deeper steel at the peripheries, along
with wispy rose toning on both sides. Considerable weakness is
evident at the centers, as usual. This pleasing piece has a few
minor hairlines and abrasions that are consistent with the
Die State. The reverse has a fine die crack through N to the left wing, ribbon, and eagle's head, nearly invisible by the time it reaches star 10. Faint reverse clash marks are just above the eagle's right wing.
Condition Census. This piece is believed the finest of less than a dozen known. Our consignor reports two XF coins, two VF pieces, and a few in much lower grades.
Appearances. The plate coin in the dime book.
Obverse Die. The 3 leans left, its right top close to the drapery. The 1 nearly touches the lowest curl and 03 are close. 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. A small rust pit is usually visible at the center of the 3.
State a. Perfect.
Reverse Die. Star 1 is boldly recut with nine distinct points. The branch has five berries, and only the lowest berry is free of leaves. A leaf joins the right base of I. No letters touch, but AMER are extremely close. The first S is low and nearly touches the cloud below it. Star 12 joins the upper beak and star 13 is far from the eagle's head, pointing to the right side of U.
State a. A crack joins the right wing tip to the border at 2 o'clock. Faint clash marks are visible above the right wing. A vertical die line connects the left shield point to the scroll above.
Heritage Commentary. Until Ed Price discovered the 1803 JR-5 dime, this variety was considered the rarest of the 1803 die marriages. The obverse remained in use for 1803 JR-2 and JR-3, while the reverse was also used for 1802 BD-3, 1802 JR-1, and 1803 JR-5. With that discovery, we know that 1803 JR-1 followed JR-5, as it is a later die state.
Consignor Commentary. This is the finest I have seen or heard of. This was one of the highlights of the Subjack collection. There is one other XF coin, two VF coins and a few much lower grade coins. (For example, the Lovejoy coin was dismal--Good-4 with significant scratches and bruises.)
For many years, I owned this and the other XF coin. They are close in quality, but I have always preferred this one. The other XF has an interesting history. It appeared in four different Paramount sales in the 1970's--different grades and different descriptions but very clearly the same coin. Then it disappeared. In 1996 Jim Matthews cherrypicked it from a dealer's stock for $2350. He placed it in a Bowers and Merena auction later that year. B & M sent me the coin to view and I spent most of a day with it side by side with the JR plate coin I already owned. I decided that mine was clearly better. But, those were the days when I was trying to acquire two nice specimens of each variety, so I attended the auction. Both Russ Logan and I bid on it. I was the underbidder but it went to an unknown bidder for $10,450. I was mildly disappointed and assumed I would never see it again. At the 2000 B & M FUN auction, it appeared again. I had very recently met Stu Levine, but already liked him and his business style. I asked him to bid on it for me and I bought it for $6,375. Jim Matthews and I were both puzzled--wondering who the unknown owner had been--he had paid over $10,000 for a great rarity and then four years later had sold it for less than $6000.
Provenance. Ex: Dr. Clifford E. Smith Sale (Stack's, 5/1955), lot 924; Herdman Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 2/1978), lot 274; William L. Subjack (1/1992).
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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