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    Complete Cased 1843 Proof Set

    Ten Piece 1843 Proof Set PR62 to PR64 NGC. Accompanied by Original Case. This is one of just two complete 1843 Proof Sets that exist, to the best of our knowledge. The other set was offered by David Akers in his October 1997 sale of the John Jay Pittman Collection. A third set is located at the Smithsonian Institution, however, that set lacks the half eagle, which was either lost or traded away.

    Although not included here, the cased sets of the 1840s originally included a card, printed by Manly & Orr, Philadelphia printers, listing each of the individual coins at face value, along with an additional $3.085 for the case, for a total of $22.50. An example of such a card is depicted in the aforementioned Pittman catalog on page 180. This is important in that it suggests that these sets were, in fact, offered for sale to the earliest coin collectors, rather than for presentation purposes.

    Confused Pedigrees
    In his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, Walter Breen recorded the existence of just two proof sets of 1843. The first is the Smithsonian set, originally from the Mint Cabinet, but now missing the half eagle as mentioned above. The other set listed by Breen is the Carter set, which he recorded in his 1977 reference as part of a New York State Specialists collection (Pittman). Of course, seven years later in 1984, the Carter set appeared in the sale of the Amon Carter Collection by Stack's.

    It is now known that the Carter set and the Pittman set are two different sets, each in a case variously described as the original case of issue. The Amon Carter set previously appeared for sale in 1947 as part of the Will W. Neil Collection sale held in June of that year by B. Max Mehl. Prior to the Mehl auction (actually a mail bid sale as were all of B. Max Mehl's sales), this set appeared for sale in the auction of the Fernand David Collection which was sold in Amsterdam in 1930. It seems likely that the Carter set has been intact and together since the time of issue over 160 years ago.

    The Pittman set, does not have the same prestige. John Jay Pittman acquired the gold coins at a different time and from a different source as the non-gold Proofs, yet it is likely that his coins were also issued together. In 1895, the Chapman Brothers offered a complete 1843 Proof Set in their sale of the Richard Winsor Collection, that set reportedly a presentation set from President John Tyler. It is almost certain that the Tyler-Winsor set is the same as either the Carter or Pittman sets.

    Past Offerings
    This 1843 Cased Proof Set previously appeared in the Will W. Neil Collection sold by B. Max Mehl in June 1947. In that catalog, Mehl illustrated the entire set as it appeared within its case, and continued to describe each individual coin, finally discussing the history as he knew it:

    "This magnificent and excessively rare Proof Set, as stated before, is in the original Mint Case as issued in 1843. We can readily understand the infinitesimal number of proofs struck at the Mint over one hundred years ago. I know of but one other similar set. The Set here offered originally came from a famous Collection sold at auction in Amsterdam, Holland, some twenty years ago. I had my European representative purchase it for me. I sold it to Mr. Stoddard of Pasadena, California. Later, to be exact, in 1932, when I purchased the Stoddard Collection, this Set was in turn sold by me to the late Colonel E.H.R. Green. After the passing of the Colonel, I acquired this Set indirectly, and again sold it to Mr. Neil. This is the first time this beautiful and exceedingly rare Set is offered at auction in this country. I consider it the most outstanding and desirable item in this Great Collection."

    In the Neil Sale, only 10 other items sold for the same or more than this set, which realized $1,250.00. Those other items included a Mint State 1794 Silver Dollar, the Idler 1804 Silver Dollar, an 1870-S Silver Dollar, an 1838-O Half Dollar, an 1827 Original Quarter Dollar, an 1876-CC Twenty-Cent Piece, an 1894-S Dime, a set of four Stellas, a complete five-piece set of Panama-Pacific coins, and a 1913 Liberty Nickel. This set had remarkable company in the Neil Collection.

    Thirty-seven years later, Stack's offered this same set in their January 1984 sale of the extensive and impressive Amon G. Carter, Jr. Family Collection. Little new information was provided in that catalog.

    The Individual Coins
    1843 Half Cent: Original. PR62 BN NGC. Breen-1. Large Berries in the wreath. Perhaps as many as 20 examples of the 1843 Original Proof Half Cent survive. The digit 8 in the date is visibly repunched below. Sharply struck with lightly reflective fields. Both sides exhibit natural medium brown color with faint lilac, blue, and iridescent toning. Some minor surface marks are noted on each side. On the obverse, a small saucer-shaped depression on the edge of Liberty's neck just below her throat will serve as a pedigree-marker. On the reverse, a faint black "10" appears inside the wreath above HALF. Someone attempted to diminish the appearance of this old India ink figure by faintly scratching the surface, although this does not seriously affect the overall appearance. Mehl described this as "a sharp struck proof with even brilliant olive iridescent surface. Broad borders with wire edge." Stack's noted: "Brilliant Proof, olive and iridescent toning. Faint trace of an India ink #10 on the reverse."

    1843 Cent: PR64 BN NGC. Newcomb-14. Perhaps 15 examples of this Proof-only variety are known. This is a delightful Proof example with natural dark brown and iridescent surfaces, along with considerable original orange luster. The surfaces are lightly reflective and not as deeply mirrored as on some other Proofs. It is sharply struck with every detail on the obverse and the reverse fully defined. It is not bluntly struck as some other examples of this variety (including the upcoming Reiver coin which has very weak design details). A small depression is seen at the center of the neck, just below the jaw line, and directly below the ear lobe. The obverse has a curved lint mark in the field directly above the digit 1, about half way to the jaw. Mehl called this "an iridescent red and olive proof." Stack's inexplicably described this coin as "Uncirculated, polished and recolored, however the coin still exhibits natural prooflike surface." This is unquestionably a Proof example.

    1843 Half Dime: PR64 NGC. The entire date is sharply recut and shows evidence of being triple-punched. This is a different obverse than the Valentine-6a Doubled Date variety listed by Al Blythe in The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dimes. Walter Breen described this as "Breen-7" in his Proof Encyclopedia. The digits 184 are clearly tripled while the digit 3 is quadrupled. Breen suggested a total Proof population of five normal date examples and eight "double date" coins. All of the design elements on both sides are sharply defined. The fields are moderately mirrored beneath pleasing steel, blue, and champagne color. A few faint hairlines on each side keep this from the Gem grade level. Mehl stated: "Perfect brilliant proof. Excessively rare and almost priceless in this condition." Stack's simply noted: "The date triple-punched. Brilliant Proof, lovely russet and iridescent toning." Aside from a few tiny planchet flakes, we do not see any noticeable pedigree markers.

    1843 Dime: PR64 NGC. The obverse has a tiny triangular rim break, confined to the flat portion of the rim outside the dentils, and about midway between stars 1 and 2. This piece is very similar to the half dime in appearance with sharp design features, attractive mirrored fields, and nicely blended steel, champagne, and blue toning. The fields have a slightly deeper Proof appearance than that found on the half dime. Like the half dime, a few minor hairlines limit the grade. Both sides have tiny lint marks and planchet flakes, and one of those on the reverse passes beneath the stem end at the lower right. Mehl described this coin as a "Perfect brilliant proof gem. These early proofs are not even listed in the Standard Catalog, as they are excessively rare and seldom offered. I doubt if as many as a dozen specimens are known to exist." Stack's simply called this "Brilliant Proof. Russet and iridescent toning as on the previous coin." Walter Breen estimated a total Proof population of just eight coins.

    1843 Quarter: PR64 NGC. This is a delightful example for the variety specialist, or the connoisseur of the unusual from the United States Mint. The obverse die has lots of defects, including some of the heaviest criss-cross die file lines within and around the shield, heavy die lumps including one between the cap and star 9, and recut stars, especially star 7. None of these die characteristics have been described in any previous literature that we are aware of. The reverse shield has a few horizontal and vertical lines extending beyond their borders. The surfaces and overall appearance of this example is similar to the other silver coins, with steel, champagne, blue, and lilac coloration. The design elements are sharply defined, and the fields deeply mirrored. Mehl commented: "Perfect brilliant proof. Of excessive rarity." Stack's repeated their description from the smaller silver coins: "Brilliant Proof. Russet and iridescent toning as on the previous coin." This important quarter is one of eight or so Proofs surviving today. The reverse has a couple small lint marks, including one that looks like the number 17, located below the T of UNITED.

    1843 Half Dollar: PR63 NGC. The obverse has minor die file lines around the shield, similar to the quarter in this set but not nearly as heavy. This is a Proof-only variety and is instantly identified by the vertical bisecting die crack on the reverse. Every vertical shield line on the reverse extends upward, some only to the second or third horizontal line, others to the top of the shield. Nearly every vertical line also extends downward past the lower shield border. This is a sharply struck example with mirrored fields that are deeper than the smaller silver coins. The coloration is similar, with steel, champagne, and iridescent toning. Mehl described this as "Brilliant proof. Excessively rare." Stack's noted: "Brilliant Proof. Russet and iridescent toning as on the previous coin." Perhaps six to eight Proof Half Dollars are known. This total includes the Smithsonian specimen, the example in this set, two Proofs in the Pittman Collection, and a couple others.

    1843 Silver Dollar: PR63 NGC. The Silver Dollar in this set was struck from rather well-made coinage dies without any significant defects. Both sides have a few tiny rust pits and the reverse has two short points to the right from the right side of the final A. This latter characteristic is common to Proof Silver Dollars of several different dates in the early 1840s. There do not appear to be any recut stars, letters, numerals, or devices on either side. Like the other silver coins, this example is sharply struck and has nicely mirrored fields beneath steel, champagne, and iridescent toning. The surfaces are faintly marked and hairlines, including a few lint marks as struck. Mehl simply described this as "Brilliant Proof," while Stack's repeated earlier descriptions, stating: "Russet and iridescent as on all of the silver coins." We estimate that somewhere in the vicinity of a dozen Proof dollars of this date exist, alongside a few prooflike business strike examples.

    1843 Quarter Eagle: PR64 Cameo NGC. Without a doubt, the gold coins are the heart of this set and the three examples offered with this set are outstanding coins. The obverse has a few die lines extending into the field from the border near stars 1 and 2. The reverse is the same as that described for the 1841 Quarter Eagle offered in the present sale. Several of the vertical shield lines extend upward, with the right most line reaching the top of the shield. Faint die cracks are seen through the tops of UNITED, and also through the top of the denomination. These are slightly more advanced than on the 1841 quarter eagle struck two years earlier. This is a splendid near-Gem Proof example with rich greenish yellow-gold coloration, deeply mirrored fields, and lustrous devices. The contrast between devices and fields is considerable. Mehl called this "A sharp perfect brilliant proof gem. A thorough search of sales records of our times only reveals but one record of sale, that of $275.00. Worth a great deal more today." Mehl was fond of quoting past auction records to promote the prices in his sales. Stack's simply called this "Brilliant Proof. Two-tone with light hairlines." The upper reverse has some bubbly lamination as struck. In the Pittman catalog, David Akers commented "Although I cannot say for sure, I will venture to state that only four or five of the 10-15 1843 Proof sets struck included gold coins." He continued to provide pedigrees of four known examples.

    1843 Half Eagle: PR64 Cameo NGC. Only three or four Proof half eagles are known. The Smithsonian set is lacking this denomination. Amazing as it might seem, this half eagle has a bisecting reverse die crack much like the half dollar! The crack on this example starts at the lower rim through the right side of E in FIVE, the eagle, shield, and up to the upright of E in STATES. It is amazing that the Proof 1843 Half Eagle in the Pittman set does not have any trace of this crack, yet it is the same die as evidenced by die polishing lines that are identical on both examples. The Pittman Collection also contained a Proof 1842 Half Eagle, also with a bisecting die crack, except in a different position. On that coin, it starts from the border through the upright of the E in FIVE. Often, Proof coins were struck from a common reverse die that lasted for several years. This example is an outstanding Choice Proof with light cameo contrast. The surfaces have rich greenish-gold color. The fields are deeply mirrored and the designs are extremely sharp. Mehl did not provide a grade for this coin, simply noting: "Can find but one record of sale. Of excessive rarity." Stack's gave this coin an identical description to the Quarter Eagle: "Brilliant Proof. Two-tone with light hairlines."

    1843 Eagle: PR63 Cameo NGC. The vertical shield lines extend well into the horizontal lines. Otherwise, both dies are perfect without any engraving faults or die defects. This is a lovely cameo Proof with outstanding greenish yellow-gold color and light contrast. The devices are sharp and lustrous while the fields are deeply mirrored. The surfaces have a few minor marks and hairlines. Mehl stated that this eagle is a "Perfect brilliant proof gem, as are the other two gold coins in this remarkable set. I doubt if as many as five or six specimens are known--probably not more than ten specimens of each of the gold struck in proof. Stack's again repeated their comment about the other gold coins: "Brilliant Proof. Two-tone with light hairlines."

    The Accompanying Case
    The physical cases for these two sets (this set and the Pittman set) present a bit of a quandary. Both sets have been described in the past as being "Original Cased Sets," and we believe that this Neil-Carter set is just that, an Original 1843 Proof Set in its case of issue.

    The case for this set is red morocco with gilt trim and blue plush interior. It has two hinges at the back and a clasp in front. The bottom has 10 openings or receptacles for the coins, each lined in heavy cloth with a blue ribbon. Dimensions are 129 mm by 115 mm.

    The case for the Pittman set is also red (or burgundy) morocco leather covered over wood, with a blue velvet lining. The bottom of the case has seven openings for the Half Cent through the Silver Dollar, and the lid has three openings for the gold coins. This seems to be a highly unusual layout whereby the coins would bump against each other, especially when the case is opened or shut. Dimensions of the Pittman case are 129 mm by 87 mm. Examining the illustration of the Pittman case clearly shows that it has been taken apart and reassembled. The lid has outlines from the coins in the bottom part of the case, but they are outlines are inverted in relation to the position of the coins, clearly showing that the case was remade. Perhaps this was an original case for a silver and minor coin set with holes placed in the lid at a later date for the gold coins.

    It is our opinion that the Neil-Carter cased proof set is the same set that earlier appeared in the Winsor sale of 1895, and is the only completely original 1843 Cased Proof Set: possibly the President Tyler presentation set.

    Possibly presented by President Tyler to an unknown dignitary, later to Richard Winsor (Chapman Brothers, 12/1895), lot 1067. Later, Fernand David Collection (Amsterdam, 1930); B. Max Mehl; Frank Stoddard; B. Max Mehl; Colonel E.H.R. Green; B. Max Mehl; Will W. Neil (B. Max Mehl, June 1947), lot 2292; Amon G. Carter, Sr.; Amon G. Carter, Jr.; Carter Family (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 630.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2005
    27th-29th Wednesday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,537

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