Apparently the Finest Known Mint State 1839/8 Coronet Ten Dollar Gold Piece1839 $10 Type of 1838, Large Letters MS66 PCGS. The Finest Known! This is one of the most spectacular and important coins in this incredible auction. The team of catalogers all expressed amazement when this coin arrived in our offices. It simply shouldn't exist, not in this stellar grade. Examine the surfaces, the strike, the radiant luster, and any collector or dealer will agree that is piece is stunning. It is, of course, the finest and only example of this date graded this high by either NGC or PCGS. The cataloger recalls discussing the second finest example of this issue when it was sold in the Rasmussen Collection by Superior Stamp & Coin in February of 1998. At that time the present coin was not publicized and that raw Mint State 65 coin they offered was assumed to be the finest known of the date and two year type. Nearly a year later, the present coin popped up out of the fabric of numismatics, and quickly assumed its rightful place on the highest thrown awarded by PCGS and NGC of this type, a coveted and well deserved MS66. While there is always the possibility of a finer example than the present specimen, it would seem quite remote and virtually impossible for such a coin to have remained hidden from numismatic discovery.
Examination of the surfaces will locate the following identifying nicks, a very shallow line on Liberty's chin, there is a short scratch rising at about a 30 degree angle in the field between the 9 in the date, truncation and final star, a very thin scratch resides between star twelve and thirteen, aimed a little above the tip of the truncation. On the reverse we find little to note aside from a very faint scratch which connects the top of AT of STATES. There is a very minor die crack from the rim down the right wing of the eagle, into the field above, neck of eagle and down into the shield through the horizontal lines into the vertical lines and terminating along the third vertical stripe from the right.
The most comprehensive background to the 1838-39 type is given in Breen's 1988 Encyclopedia, which we quote here in part: "Verbal orders of President Jefferson had stopped mintage of eagles as of December 31, 1804. But in July 1838, after two different acts altering the weight and fineness standard of U.S. gold coins, the Secretary of Treasury instructed Mint Director Robert Patterson to resume coinage of this denomination at once. Acting Engraver Christian Gobrecht prepared new dies, and on Dec. 6, four "specimens" (proofs?) went to the Secretary of Treasury, followed by 7,200 business strikes. Gobrecht copied the head of Venus in Benjamin West's recent painting Omnia Vincit Amor, (Love Conquers All) with slightly changed headdress but with the same triple beaded cord on her bun, and the same coronet (here inscribed LIBERTY); this is the same prototype used for the latest style of cents in 1839, differently modified. A very similar obverse design was resurrected in 1839 for pattern half dollars, with the head reversed and the curl on the back of Liberty's neck removed (see Judd-91 to 96 or Pollock 101-108). A slicked-up version of the old John Reich eagle served for reverse; on 1839 "Type I" (Type of 1838) this is called large letters."
In 1839 the design produced in 1838 was struck again, and later in the year the design was modified to the more familiar Coronet style that was used on tens until 1907. Thus, the year 1839 saw two low mintage design rarities created. The former has in the past been called the "1839 Large Letters" type, while the second issue has been known as the "1839 Small Letters." These labels have proved inadequate to describe the minute differences in letter sizes used, and in recent years (since the publication of David Akers' reference on eagles) the terms "Type of '38" and "Type of '40" have come to be more generally accepted.
The second year of Gobrecht's new design saw 25,801 eagles produced, but only a handful of pieces have been certified in Mint condition with this being the finest known. In this two-year series where an XF or AU coin is a significant offering, the importance of this extraordinary coin cannot be overemphasized to both date and type collectors.
From The Gold Rush Collection.(#8576) (Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 54XF, PCGS# 8576)
Weight: 16.72 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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