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    Description

    Very Rare - The Finest Known Business Strike

    Republic "Barre Head" 2 Reales 1862-GJ MS64 NGC, Quito mint, KM40. Choice Mint State and well struck with mottled toning as often seen on this debased issue. Also as usual, the surfaces might appear a tad dull but they are in fact impeccably preserved and truly superb. As persuasively demonstrated by Carlos Jara ("The Strange Concurrence of Coinage in Francos and Reales in Ecuador from 1858 to 1862", 2004) the 1862 Ecuadorean coins of minor denominations were emergency issues (per the decree authorizing them dated June 11, 1861) of deliberately debased fineness of 0.666 and destined only for local circulation. The 2 and 4 Reales coins exist in two varieties, the Quito bust (struck with cruder dies locally engraved in Quito) and the Barre head (struck with dies from master dies engraved by French artist Albert Barre at the Paris mint). Only the business strike of the Barre Head 4 Reales (a rare proof issue struck in Paris also exists) is readily available: the Quito bust issues are both very rare (the 2 Reales of that variety, KM38, has been claimed as unique by most experts) and the 2 Reales with the Barre head are extremely rare. Of the latter, two distinct varieties exist: a pattern issue struck from the master dies on planchets with full .900 fineness (KMPn6, 10 pieces struck with perhaps 2 or 3 surviving specimens) and a business strike struck on regular flans thus debased at .666 fineness (the present type, KM40, 4-5 specimens known). Apart from the unmistakable debased appearance of the regular issues, the finish and edge on these types is also clearly different and serves to further distinguish them. While the rarity of the pattern coins can easily be explained from their minute mintage figure, it might seem puzzling that this regular issue is of essentially comparative rarity since the dies commissioned from Barre were clearly meant to be used. The clue to explain this apparent mystery lies with an analysis of the die used to mint said business strikes. This die was manufactured in Quito from the aforementioned master dies prepared by Barre and was apparently defective all three of the examined pieces by the cataloguer (one being the following (!) lot, the other the ex-Dana Roberts coin, Heritage Auctions 4/2011, lot 23827) show a characteristic die-break running left from the date on the obverse. Presumably, the die broke after only a few coins were struck, and thus was created a legendary prize of Ecuadorean numismatics, with a current confirmed population of only 4 specimens. Heritage is proud to offer two specimens of this famous rarity in this sale and has in fact offered 3 of the 4 known examples! The lesser of those examples was the aforementioned ex-Dana Roberts coin and hammered at $6,500 in F-VF condition. The present coin is the finest one, and we expect strong interest for the privilege of owning this little jewel. Ex Ponterio (4/1997, lot 2783).

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    4th-5th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,385

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