Extremely Rare 1802 Novodel Dollar, PR65 Cameo
1802 $1 PR65 Cameo PCGS. B-8, BB-302, High R.7. The 1802
proof novodel silver dollar is an issue that is usually grouped by
numismatists with three others: the 1801 proof novodel, the 1803
proof novodel, and the famous 1804 silver dollars. Like the 1804
dollar, which has been referred to as the "King of American Coins"
for more than a century, the 1802 proof novodels were manufactured
in a minuscule quantity, sometime after 1832. No more than a dozen
of the 1802 proof novodels were struck, and only four pieces are
definitely confirmed to exist, based upon the following roster of
The Newcomer-Carter-Queller Specimen, B-8, BB-302
1. The Boyd Specimen: Captain John W. Haseltine; Virgil Brand; F.C.C. Boyd "World's Greatest Collection" Sale (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1945), lot 119; Milfred H. Bolender (M.H. Bolender's 183rd Sale 2/1952), lot 175; New York Collection; "Groves" Collection sale (Stack's, 11/1974), lot 443; Four Landmark Collections Sale (Bowers and Merena, 3/1989), lot 1981; Superior Galleries, 1/1993, lot 615; The Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 8/1999), lot 245. (Plate coin in Breen's Proof Encyclopedia and his Complete Encyclopedia.)
2. The Cleneay Specimen: Captain John W. Haseltine; Thomas Cleneay Sale (S. Hudson Chapman and Henry Chapman, 12/1890), lot 949; Peter Mougey Sale (Thomas Elder, 9/1910), lot 962; John P. Lyman Sale (S. Hudson Chapman, 11/1913), lot 14; H.O. Granberg Sale (B. Max Mehl, 7/1919), lot 30; Virgil Brand (journal id #92339); B. Max Mehl private treaty sale 1/1937 to Ambassador and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb; Norweb Sale (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3770; Don Hosier (Superior, 2/1991), not sold; Jack Lee Collection III (Heritage, 11/2005), lot 2199.
3. The Wilharm Specimen: Ex: Captain John W. Haseltine; Dr. G.F.E. Wilharm Collection (B. Max Mehl, 2/1921), lot 592; Virgil M. Brand Estate, via B.G. Johnson; William Forrester Dunham Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1941), lot 1055; 1942 ANA Convention Sale (Abe Kosoff); Michael F. Higgy Collection (Abe Kosoff, 9/1943), lot 817; Beverly Hills Stamp & Coin Co. (Max L. Justus FPL, 8/1957); Abe Kosoff; Ken Nichols; Newport Balboa Savings and Loan; Abe Kosoff; unknown intermediaries; Autumn Sale (Stack's, 9/1978), lot 304; Ellis H. Robison Collection (Stack's, 2/1982), lot 1884; Larry Whitlow; Larry Hanks (Superior, 7/1984), lot 171, not sold; subsequently sold by Larry Hanks to Pennsylvania collector; Harry Einstein Collection (Bowers & Merena, 6/1986), lot 1734; The Worrell Collection (Superior, 9/1993), lot 1301; Seymour Finkelstein Collection (Stack's 10/1995), lot 696; Philip Flanagan Collection (Bowers & Merena, 11/2001), lot 4297.
4. The Newcomer Specimen: Captain John W. Haseltine; Waldo C. Newcomer; Colonel E.H.R. Green via B. Max Mehl (ca. 1932); Jack Roe Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1945), lot 427; Will W. Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 29; Amon Carter, Sr.; Amon Carter, Jr. (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 239; L.R. French, Jr.-French Family Collection (Stack's, 1/1989), lot 13; David Queller-Queller Family Collection. The present specimen. (Plate coin in Newman and Bressett's The Fantastic 1804 Dollar.)
Much confusion has reigned in the numismatic universe where these problematic coins are concerned, which is unsurprising when one considers the deliberately clandestine nature of the 1801-1803 proofs, as well as the 1804 dollars. Numismatic heavyweights such as Walter Breen, Q. David Bowers, Eric P. Newman, and John Dannreuther (among many others) have attempted to deconstruct the history of these fascinating pieces, and have drawn at least some conclusions that seem logical and supported by the relatively few known facts of the case.
In his monumental 1993 work Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, Q. David Bowers outlines the following sequence of events: He believes the novodel dollars were produced from dies that Mint Director Samuel Moore instructed Chief Coiner Adam Eckfeldt to prepare in 1831, in anticipation of a resumption in the coining of silver dollars that never actually occurred. Since the Draped Bust motif had not been used on any U.S. coin since the 1808 half cent, Eckfeldt had to consult old Mint records to ascertain that 1804, 1803, and 1802 were the last years that dollar production featured this design. (What he did not know, however, was that the 1804 delivery contained dollars dated 1803.) By the end of 1831, the Philadelphia Mint had on hand one incomplete obverse die, three obverse dies dated 1802, 1803, and 1804, respectively, and two distinct reverse dies (designated X and Y by Eric P. Newman and Kenneth E. Bressett in their 1962 book The Fantastic 1804 Dollar). Between that year and 1836, the so-called Class I 1804 silver dollars, of which the King of Siam and Imam of Muscat specimens are the most famous examples, were produced.
The Bowers theory continues that after their completion sometime in 1831, the Mint locked the novodel dollar dies away for several decades, retrieving the 1804 obverse die along with reverse die X to strike the Class I or "Original" 1804 dollars between 1833 and 1836. The 1804 obverse die was reused, circa 1858, along with reverse die Y to strike the Class II and Class III specimens. The remaining four dies remained tucked away until the early 1870s. Sometime during 1873-1876, Mint Director Henry R. Linderman entered the story of the novodels. Under his direction, a Mint employee retrieved the 1802, 1803, and undated obverse dies from the vault, added stars and the 1801 date to the previously incomplete obverse die, mated the three obverses with reverse die X of the Class I 1804 dollar, and produced fewer than 25 novodels dated 1801-1803. To support this assessment, Bowers cites these facts:
"The Class I 1804 dollars all have weights that conform to the pre-1837 standard of 416 grains. The Class III 1804 dollars (produced sometime circa 1858) all have weights that conform to either the pre-1837 standard of 416 grains or the post-1837 standard of 412.5 grains. The 1801-1803 novodels, however, weigh between 419.5 and 423 grains. This spread is within the legal tolerance range of the 420 grain standard. Since the Trade dollar of 1873-1883 is the only coin that conformed to this standard, it seems nearly impossible that the Mint would have had planchets of this weight on hand during and earlier than the 1870s."
Excerpts from pcgs.com, "Thoughts on Proof 1804 Original and Restrike Silver Dollars (and Their Cousins, the Proofs of 1801-1803)" by John Dannreuther, follow:
"The term that best seems to fit these coins is novodel, which denotes a coin struck from copy dies that are very similar but slightly different than original dies used for a particular series. ... The 1801-1803 Proof dollars have long been called 'Restrikes,' but again this is a misnomer-they should also be called novodels as original dies were not employed in their striking, thus they are not restrikes of a previous coin. ... Their striking quality seems to indicate a striking date of 1858 or later. They may have been made earlier but their weights indicate an even later period. However, I will give the three scenarios as I see them for the striking of the 1801-1803 coins...
"First scenario: These could have been struck between 1834 and 1849 (or pre-1858 as Breen speculates) around the same time as the Class I 1804 dollars with the same reverse. ... Why would the post-1873 weight standard planchets be used is the main, and fatal, flaw with this theory. Also, the progressive rust pits on Reverse X make this time frame highly unlikely.
"Second scenario: Snowden (or the 'Midnight Minters') struck them in 1858-60. He could have seen the 1802 and 1803 dies, as well as the unfinished die. He had the unfinished die prepared with whatever was available to create the anomalous 1801-dated die. ... The weight bugaboo again makes this an unlikely scenario. (All 1801-03 dollars are closer to the pre-1837 weight standard than the 412-grain standard in use during 1858-60.) The rust pits on Reverse X could have developed by this time, so the weight variance is the primary reason for doubting this era as the striking period. Also, none of these coins appeared on the numismatic marketplace until the mid-1870s.
"Third scenario: The X reverse die was the one stolen or 'hidden in the Mint' and Snowden destroyed Reverse Y thinking it was the 'original' as it was the one used on the plain-edge strikes of 1858-1860. Snowden may have not even known about the real 'original' Reverse X die. That the 'Restrike' reverse (Reverse Y) still existed until 1873 seems unlikely, as there are no Class III 1804 dollars struck on 420-grain planchets, while all 1801-03 Proofs are of the past-1873 standard. The fact that several Class III 1804 dollars are circulated and that virtually all 1801-03 coins are Proof 63 or higher makes one conclude that 1873 or later is the striking period for the 1801-03 dollars. The progressive rust pits on Reverse X lend even more credence for a much later striking date for the 1801-03 dollars than for the Class I 1804 dollars with that reverse. Since the size of the rust pit increases, a two or three year time frame is indicated for their striking.
"In summary, I think the case is very strong that all of the 1801-03 Proofs were made circa 1873-76, 1804 Class I dollars circa 1834-35, 1804 Class II and III dollars circa 1858-60, but one never knows! ... If technology ever advances to the point that exact dating of coinage can be ascertained, we will have the answer to when these, and other restrikes/novodels, were struck. Until that time, the coin sleuths will have to expand on the theories and discoveries of their predecessors."
Another of the more persistent theories concerning the origin of the 1801-1804 novodel dollars is the one that Walter Breen proposes in his Complete Encyclopedia. Breen asserts that, while the Class I 1804 novodel dollar dies were produced in the 1830s, those of the 1801-1803 pieces trace their roots to the 1850s. Sometime no later than 1858, an unknown party or parties retrieved the "original" 1804 dies of the 1830s from the chief coiner's vault, along with Robert Scot's old device punches, and created three new obverse dies backdated 1801, 1802, and 1803. On the latter two dies, the tip of a broken hair curl on the top of Liberty's head was repaired by hand. The edge lettering on the 1801, 1802, and 1803 novodel proofs is "blundered" (like that on the Class III 1804 dollars), suggesting that this edge lettering was added to the coins by a Castaing machine at some later date, after they were first struck with plain edges. The pieces that these new dies produced remained in the hands of coin dealer William Idler for an unspecified period of time. In 1876, Idler's son-in-law, Captain John W. Haseltine, revealed the coins to the numismatic community. He was unable to sell the pieces, according to Breen, because collectors dismissed them as fantasy pieces produced within the previous few months.
The current offering is a beautiful specimen with an impressive pedigree that originates, naturally, with Captain John W. Haseltine (the source for all known examples of the 1801-1803 novodel proofs.) The superb toning is a mixture of russet-gold, electric-blue, and deep rose-brown. The design elements are struck with razor-sharp precision throughout. Obverse stars 12 and 13 are joined at the latter's highest point, as made. There are no distracting surface marks on either side, but a tiny, superficial disturbance directly beneath the eagle's left (facing) claw may help to identify this piece in the future. Also noteworthy is the lovely cameo contrast that exists between the lightly frosted central devices and the watery, darker proof fields on both obverse and reverse. In summary, this is a visually captivating Gem proof novodel dollar that shows remarkable preservation, and is unquestionably an extremely rare and historically important specimen.
From The Queller Family Collection of Silver Dollars. (PCGS# 86905)
View all of [The Queller Family Collection of Silver Dollars ]
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