One of Only Three Known 1836 Name Below Base Gobrecht Dollars, Judd-63 Restrike1836 PS$1 Name Below Base, Judd-63 Restrike, Pollock-63, R.7-8, PR 62 PCGS. The history of the Gobrecht dollar begins in the 1830s when the production of silver dollars became a reality after a hiatus of three decades. Pursuant to his predecessor's desire to improve the aesthetic merits of the nation's circulating coinage, Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson hired Pennsylvania-born engraver Christian Gobrecht to join his staff in Philadelphia. Working with representations of the seated Britannia figure prepared by noted artists Thomas Sully and Titian Peale, Gobrecht created his own concept of the Seated Liberty motif by early 1836. In its various forms, this hardy design would become the hallmark of 19th century United States coinage.
In November 1836, Gobrecht completed the first set of working dies for the new dollar. The obverse bore a seated figure of Liberty in a plain field with the date at the bottom. Below the portrait, Gobrecht inserted his "signature" in the form of the Latin phrase C. GOBRECHT. F. (C. Gobrecht Fecit), which translates as "Christian Gobrecht made it." The reverse depicted a majestic eagle flying within a field of 26 stars with the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination ONE DOLLAR around the periphery. Toward the end of 1836, the Philadelphia Mint produced the first 18 pattern silver dollars (Judd-58) with these dies. What transpired next is common knowledge to most numismatists. Following a reported "public outcry" about the prominence of his name in the obverse field, Gobrecht created new dies that moved his stylized signature to the base of the rock upon which Liberty is seated. When this proved inadequate to still the criticism, the engraver removed his signature in its entirety from the silver dollar dies that he prepared in 1838 and 1839.
Federal authorities did not, however, destroy the original Gobrecht dollar obverse with C. GOBRECHT. F. below the base. Instead, the chief coiner locked the die in his vault, where it remained until the late 1860s. According to noted pattern specialist Saul Teichman, this obverse die was retrieved from the coiner's vault between 1867 and 1878. Mated with the original reverse die with the eagle flying in a starry field, this obverse die produced an undetermined number of Gobrecht dollar restrikes (Judd-58). As the 18 originals that the Mint produced in late 1836 have since been lost, these restrikes constitute the sole representatives of this die marriage available to today's Gobrecht dollar specialists. Needless to say, examples of the Judd-58 Restrike bring hefty sums in today's market, as evidenced by the PR 64 NGC specimen that realized $36,800 as lot 6486 in our September 1999 Long Beach Sale.
During the same period when these restrikes were produced, the Mint appears to have mated the original obverse die with the reverse die used to produce the 1838-1839 Gobrecht dollars. The reverse depicts the eagle flying in a plain field, the stars having been moved to the obverse of the 1838-1839 issues. Again, the Mint produced an unknown number of examples from this die combination on both silver and copper planchets. (The silver strikings of this issue are known alternatively as AW-48, Judd-63 Restrike, and Pollock-63.) All of the Judd-63 specimens have plain edges with the eagle flying level when the coin is rotated around its horizontal axis. The latter is referred to in Gobrecht dollar parlance as Die Alignment III. Since this die pairing was not used to strike any original Gobrecht dollars in either 1836, 1838, and 1839, the examples coined circa 1867-1878 are referred to as "mules."
The fact that Judd-63 was produced between 1867 and 1878 is based on research done by Gobrecht dollar specialists Mike Carboneau and Saul Teichman. According to them, all known representatives of the Judd-63 Restrike variety display small areas of die rust in the right obverse field and in the reverse field around the E in UNITED and the AR in DOLLAR. In addition, the reverse die had cracked along the tops of the letters MERIC in AMERICA, and from the left side of the D in UNITED into the field. Both Carboneau and Teichman agree that the areas of rust are indicative of dies that had been stored for several years. The cracks suggest that the reverse die had been used to produce other original and/or restrike Gobrecht dollars prior to its use for Judd-63.
Today, it is believed that only three silver strikings of Judd-63 are extant. Two of these are:
Ex: Anthon Sale (Bangs & Co., 10/1884), lot 117; Garrett Sale (Stack's, 3/76), lot 252.
Ex: William C. Wilson; F.C.C. Boyd (most likely acting as an agent); Virgil Brand (2/12/19); Farouk Collection (Sotheby's, 1954), lot 2020; A.H. Baldwin & Co.; Major Lenox R. Lohr Collection; not in the Stack's 1956 sale of Lohr's holdings, but believed to have been included in the Lohr patterns purchased by Empire Coin Company, ca. 1961. This is the plate coin in Breen's Proof Encyclopedia (1977) and his Complete Encyclopedia (1988).
We now come to the third and final surviving Judd-63 Restrike Gobrecht dollar--the present example. This coin's pedigree begins with H.O. Granberg, the first numismatist to assemble a set of all 1836 Gobrecht dollar patterns, which were displayed at the 1914 ANS exhibit. Subsequent owners were Waldo Newcomer, King Farouk (lot 1717), A.H. Baldwin & Co. (Baldwin purchased both of Farouk's Judd-63 Restrike Gobrecht dollars), and Alfred Ostheimer. Lester Merkin sold the coin as lot 329 in his 1968 sale of the latter's collection. Both Breen and Pollock have confused this coin's pedigree by stating that W.G. Baldenhofer was the buyer at the Farouk Sale. Numismatic literature specialist Karl Moulton, however, asserts that this coin did not appear in Stack's 1955 Farish-Baldenhofer Sale and the buyer at the Farouk Sale was the prestigious London firm of A.H. Baldwin & Co. This is the plate coin above numbers 46 and 48 in the book United States Pattern, Trial, and Experimental Pieces by Edgar H. Adams and William H. Woodin (1913).
This coin disappeared following the Merkin sale of 1968, its subsequent owner(s) being unknown to the general collecting community. The story resumes, however, with the passing of the coin to its present owner in the late 1970s. Ironically, the owner of this Gobrecht dollar is not a collector. Instead, he received the coin around 1979 or 1980 along with several common Morgan dollars as payment for a debt owed to him. Of course, he had no idea of the coin's significance or its illustrious pedigree. The owner, a Michigan philanthropist, recently donated several of his numismatic holdings to the Lake Michigan Academy, a school for learning disabled children. Luckily, the treasurer of this organization, Pat Mullen, is an avid coin collector who recognized the Gobrecht dollar as a significant rarity. With the help of Michigan dealer Steve Friedman, Mullen submitted the coin to PCGS where it was properly attributed and graded PR 62.
This coin's overall appearance has changed somewhat since its use as a plate coin by Adams and Woodin in 1913. The toning spot in the left obverse field is still visible, although much lighter and the reverse has acquired a smoky-gray appearance. The balance of the obverse is brilliant with the exception of a hint of russet coloration around the upper rim. There are scattered grade-defining hairlines on both sides and a moderate hairline that protrudes diagonally into the obverse field from the top of Liberty's foot. The latter is the only pedigree marker that we can see.
In sum, this coin represents a golden opportunity for the buyer to write his/her name into the sometimes confusing but always romantic history of the Gobrecht dollar. (NGC ID# BLX5, PCGS# 11239)
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