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    The Matthew A. Stickney 1878
    Morgan Dollar Pattern in Silver
    Judd-1550A, Pollock-1725, Gem Proof

    1878 $1 Morgan Dollar, Judd-1550A, Pollock-1725, Low R.6, PR65 NGC.
    The design on both sides is similar to the adopted Morgan dollar, but on the obverse the point of the bust truncation is nearer to star 1 than to the 1 in the date. The wheat ear in Liberty's cap is distant from the R in PLURIBUS. On the reverse there are no "cut-in" notches where the eagle's lower wings join to its torso. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.

    Commentary. Matthew A. Stickney (1805-1894).
    The name of Matthew A. Stickney is one of the most illustrious and revered in U.S. numismatics, more than two centuries after his birth and more than a century after his long life ended. Stickney lived in the same house in Salem, Massachusetts, for 56 years. At around age 18, he began collecting coins--possibly the first person in America to begin a systematic collection of dates in several series (see 1907). His most famous and historic acquisition was in the year 1843, when he obtained a Class I Original 1804 silver dollar directly from the U.S. Mint. Stickney's end of the trade was a unique 1785 Immune Columbia cent overstruck on a 1775 British gold guinea, along with some other pieces.

    Stickney provided much valuable assistance to Sylvester Crosby when Crosby was writing his still-famous Early Coins of America, published in the mid-1870s. Crosby studied and photographed several coins that were unknown except in Stickney's collection. An entire generation of collectors around the turn of the 20th century was largely unaware of Stickney's holdings. One year after dissolving his filial partnership, Henry Chapman in 1907 landed one of the most valuable and comprehensive coin collections sold in the 20th century, the Stickney Collection. Stickney devoted the last years of his life mostly to genealogy, not numismatics, so many of his coins had not been seen for 25 years or more when sold in 1907.

    As expected from a 19th century collection, Stickney's Colonial holdings were strong. Besides a Brasher doubloon-which sold for $6,200-he owned the unique Janus Head halfpenny, a LIBER NATUS cent from New York, an Albany Church penny, an INIMICA TYRANNIS cent, and an extensive run of Washingtonia, including a series of Seasons medals. Patterns were well represented in Stickney's holdings, although his is not one of the foremost names among pattern collectors of the era. (Regarding the present coin, it is worth mentioning that Henry Chapman cataloged the coin as a regular Morgan dollar proof of the year 1878, rather than including it in the patterns section.) Regular issue federal coinage is well represented in all areas, including an 1815 half eagle, but the premier coin, and the one Stickney is most famous for, is his 1804 silver dollar, which realized an astounding $3,600 in 1907.

    It is instructive to note that in 71 years of collecting, Stickney apparently never owned an 1802 half dime. It is awe-inspiring to see the proof sets Stickney owned, a near-complete run from 1843 through 1879, missing only the 1851-1853 issues and the 1877, and to read Chapman's accompanying copy: "All brilliant and as bright as the day they left the Mint, having never been out of the possession of Mr. Stickney, who bought them at the Mint, and they have never been cleaned. The finest line ever offered. The half cents are all originals ... ."

    The entire Stickney Collection, which his two daughters had maintained intact until the 1907 Chapman sale, realized the princely sum of $37,859.21. The present coin almost undoubtedly represents another coin that Stickney obtained directly from the Mint in the year of its striking, toward the twilight of his numismatic endeavors. As such, it occupies a doubly important place in American coinage history.

    Physical Description.
    Delightfully original rose and ice-blue patina evenly covers both sides of this stunning coin, which at first glance simply resembles a high-end Gem proof Morgan dollar. It is quite easy to understand how Henry Chapman could miss (or not care about) the subtle distinctions between the two. NGC Census: 4 in PR65, 1 finer as a PR65 Cameo. PCGS Population: 2 in PR65, 1 finer as a PR65 Cameo (12/08).

    Ex: Matthew A. Stickney, likely direct from the Mint; Stickney Collection (Henry A. Chapman, 6/1907), lot 916, which realized $2.00; The Connecticut Historical Society and M. Vernon Sheldon Collections (Bowers and Merena, 4/1983), lot 1191.
    From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two.
    (NGC ID# 2AF2, PCGS# 61910)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    7th-11th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,530

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