1811 1/2 C Wide Date, C-1, B-1, Low R.4, MS66 Red and Brow...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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1811 Classic Head Half Cent, MS66 Red and Brown
1811 1/2 C Wide Date, C-1, B-1, Low R.4, MS66 Red and Brown
PCGS. CAC. Manley Die State 1.0. (85 grains). Ex:
Missouri-Pogue. The 1811 Classic Head half cent is a low-mintage
key in the popular series and a challenging condition rarity in
high grade. Only a handful of high-quality examples have survived
over the years, and any auction appearance of a Mint State specimen
is a notable event for early copper collectors. PCGS has certified
only five examples in all Mint State grades, while NGC has graded a
single Mint State example, in MS61 Brown (3/20). Heritage Auctions
is privileged to present the finest certified example of this
elusive issue, the CAC endorsed MS66 Red and Brown PCGS specimen
from the famous Missouri Cabinet and the D. Brent Pogue Collection,
in this important offering.
Finest Certified Example, C-1, B-1
Ex: Missouri Cabinet-Pogue
The 1811 Classic Head Half Cent
According to Mint records, only 63,140 Classic Head half cents were struck in 1811, a small mintage for this series, which had seen a production of more than 1 million pieces just two years before. The coins were all delivered on July 9, and no more half cents were produced until 1825. In American Half Cents, the "Little Half Sisters", Roger Cohen speculates the small mintage in 1811 and the long gap in production might be attributed to a shortage of planchets. Apparently, the Mint's supply of half cent blanks ran out in 1811 and it was difficult to resupply in following years, due to the economic and political fallout of the War of 1812.
Two die varieties that share a common reverse are known for the date. This coin represents the C-1, B-1 variety, with a Wide Date that shows the numerals 1 and 8 widely separated and the E in LIBERTY repunched over a smaller E. Although the Classic Head half cents did not circulate as extensively as their earlier Draped Bust counterparts, most examples of the 1811 C-1 are well-worn and Ronald Manley notes the variety is seldom seen in grades above the Fine level. The 1811 C-1 is more elusive than the C-2 variety and Bill Eckberg (2019) estimates the surviving population at 150 examples in all grades.
The 1811 was a collector favorite from the earliest days of the hobby and by the late 1850s, when coin collecting first became widespread in this country, the issue was already known as a sought-after rarity. In his American Numismatical Manual (1859), Montroville W. Dickeson described the 1811 as "rare and valuable, as they are to be found in few cabinets." Examples began appearing at auction as early as lot 106 of the A.C. Kline Sale (Moses Thomas & Sons, 6/1855). The lot realized $.75, a strong price at the time. The present coin established the current prices realized record for this issue when it sold for a remarkable $1,121,250 in the Missouri Cabinet in January 2014.
Beginning when the Flying Eagle cents were released in 1857, favored Philadelphia collectors and dealers were able to examine many of the early coppers that were turned in at the Mint for recoinage. Prominent dealer Edouard Frossard reported:
"During the last fifteen years the vein of collecting coins has greatly increased in the United States. Before that time there were collectors, men of note, perseverance and genius, like Dr. M.W. Dickeson, Edward Maris, J.J. Mickley, and a few others, whose opportunities for collecting the various issues of Colonial and old mint pieces have not since been equaled. Had it not been for the spirit of research of these gentlemen at a time when old American coins were sent to the United States mint for recoinage by the thousand; many rare varieties ... would have been utterly lost to us. The facilities extended those gentlemen by a liberal mint government enabled them to handle thousands of coppers, and to select from the mass such specimens as they considered worthy of preservation."
Undoubtedly, many of the 1811 half cents we know about today were preserved in this fashion (thanks to Bill Eckberg for this information). Discounting the enigmatic 1831 issue, the 1811 remains the most elusive date in the Classic Head half cent series and present-day collectors prize examples in all grades and conditions.
The Present Coin
Traditionally, this coin was pedigreed to the collections of Dr. Hall and Virgil Brand before it was acquired by Eric P. Newman, but research by noted early copper specialist Del Bland indicates another origin for this piece. Bland's findings were not widely published at the time of discovery (10/2014) and many researchers continue to list the older pedigree for this coin, which was printed in the Missouri Cabinet catalog.
On the title page of the January 2014 Missouri Cabinet catalog, the Goldberg's thanked Michael Spurlock and Del Bland for their help with extra provenance research for the catalog. Bland was a tireless student of the series and he continued his research on the Missouri Cabinet coins long after the sale was over. In October of 2014, he succeeded in matching the present coin to the plate of the example in lot 879 of the Allison Jackman Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1918). Chapman's description of the coin was quite lengthy and extended the pedigree of this piece back even further, into the 19th century:
"1811 G.1. Uncirculated. Sharp, brilliant impression with even milling around obverse and reverse. Original color, changing to steel color. Semi-proof surface. A superb example and of the highest rarity in this condition. A gem of the first water. Plate.
"Note:-This coin was discovered in 1884 being brought by an old colored woman of Alexandria, Va. To Mr. B.H. Collins of Washington to whom she stated she had a bag of them! He thinking there was not any mistake about the hoard sold it to S.H. & H. Chapman for $3! With the remark 'How many more will you take?' We said the lot. The woman subsequently brought him the bag but to his astonishment they were all 1828's 13 stars! And it has always been a mystery to me that an 1811 equally fine as the 1828's should have been in with the later date, and that her pick at random should have alighted on the only 1811 in the bag! It was subsequently sold in the Warner Sale, $67 and there bought by Mr. Jackman."
Chapman mistakenly attributed the coin as Gilbert 1, the other half cent variety of this date, which may explain why earlier researchers failed to connect this description to the present coin. Confirming Bland's identification, Ron Guth notes, "The plate coin from Jackman sure seems to match the Missouri Cabinet coin and I don't know of any other 1811 that matches it." The description of the Hall/Brand coin in B.G. Johnson's 1935 consignment from Armin Brand mentions a slight defect at the top of the obverse that is not present on this coin, further confirming Bland's pedigree. Despite being consigned to Johnson in 1935, Armin Brand's estate did not actually sell that coin until 1951, after Johnson's death, so it was not handled by Johnson and Newman in the manner of the "Colonel" Green coins (thanks to Saul Teichman for this information).
Samuel Hudson Chapman purchased this coin at the Jackman sale and sold it to early copper specialist Howard Rounds Newcomb. Later, the coin passed to the fabulous collection of "Colonel" E.H.R. Green, via Fort Worth coin dealer B. Max Mehl. After his death, Eric P. Newman acquired this piece from Green's estate, via B.G. Johnson. Newman and Bernard Edison (aka R. Tettenhorst) collaborated to form the Missouri Cabinet, which was compiled over many years and probably constitutes the finest collection of half cents of all time. Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins and Collectibles sold the Missouri Cabinet in a blockbuster auction in January 2014. Super collector D. Brent Pogue purchased this coin at that celebrated event. Pogue sold his collection through a series of notable auctions held by Stack's Bowers and Sotheby's in 2015 through 2017. This coin crossed the auction block as lot 5067 of the Pogue Collection, Part V in March 2017, where it realized $998,750, almost as much as the record price it realized at the Missouri Cabinet sale three years earlier. It has not been publicly offered since.
The present coin is a spectacular Premium Gem, the only 1811 half cent certified with the Red and Brown designation and the single-finest example certified by CAC. The virtually flawless surfaces show highlights of original red around the design elements and the reddish-brown fields show strong hints of magenta, with semiprooflike reflectivity underneath. The design elements are sharply detailed in most areas, but the upper stars on the left show just a touch of flatness on the centers. The lower wreath shows a trace of the usual softness seen on this issue, due to the high relief of Liberty's hair on the obverse. Raised die lines show on Liberty's cheek and many areas of the reverse field. The only useful pedigree markers are a thin hairline from star 2 through the field to near star 6 and a small amber toning spot between F in OF and A in AMERICA. Overall eye appeal is terrific.
Among certified 1811 half cents, the only coin to rival this piece in grade is the MS65+ Brown PCGS specimen that was also featured in the Missouri Cabinet, but that coin is the more available Cohen 2 variety. The MS63 Brown PCGS coin in Heritage's April 2014 Central States Signature is also a C-2 example, as is the MS62 Brown specimen from Jim McGuigan's collection. The only other Mint State Cohen-1 known to the numismatic community is the prooflike Norweb specimen that has never been certified and has not been publicly offered since it sold in 1987. The catalogers of the Missouri Cabinet noted that coin had better detail on the stars, but this piece has better color and fewer surface flaws. The coin offered here finished in first place at the Half Cent Happening events held in conjunction with the EAC annual conventions in 1998 and 2011. This coin is plated on page 77 of the second edition of Roger Cohen's American Half Cents, the "Little Half Sisters" and in the color plate section of Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of American Half Cents 1793-1857, at the back of the book. It is also plated on page 97 of The Half Cent, 1793-1857/The Story of America's Greatest Little Coin by William R. Eckberg and pictured on PCGS CoinFacts. Our EAC grade MS65. Population: 1 in 66 Red and Brown, 0 finer. CAC: 1 in 66 Red and Brown, 0 finer (3/20).
Ex: "Old colored woman" from Alexandria, Virginia; B.H. Collins; sold privately to S.H. and H. Chapman for $3; Thomas Warner Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/1884), lot 3125, realized $67; Robert S. Hatcher; Allison W. Jackman; Jackman Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1918), lot 879, realized $145; S.H. Chapman; Howard Rounds Newcomb; B. Max Mehl; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Burdette G. Johnson (Saint Louis Stamp & Coin); sold privately to Eric P. Newman; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society; Missouri Cabinet (Eric P. Newman and Bernard Edison, aka R. Tettenhorst); Missouri Cabinet Collection of U.S. Half Cents (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 1/2014), lot 102, realized $1,121,250; D. Brent Pogue; Pogue Collection, Part V (Stack's Bowers/Sotheby's, 3/2017), lot 5067, realized $998,750; Oliver Jung; The Type Set Collection (Oliver and Lish Jung); the present consignor. (Variety PCGS# 35240, Base PCGS# 1136)
Weight: 5.44 grams
Metal: 100% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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