The Phil Kaufman 1838 No Drapery Dime
1838 10C No Drapery PR67 Cameo NGC. Of all the amazing coins
formerly in the Phil Kaufman Collection, this 1838 Superb Gem Cameo
proof dime was among the most incredible. It is not only the
solitary Cameo certified by either NGC or PCGS, is also the
only proof example of the date seen by either service. This
is unsurprising, as the 1838 proof dime is an extremely rare issue.
Little mention appears in the numismatic literature. Breen's 1988
Encyclopedia gives only a question mark for the mintage
figure, but then says "at least three proofs known." Many famous
recent collections have lacked a proof example of the issue,
including the Norweb, Lovejoy, Eliasberg, and Pittman collections.
While Breen suggests the possibility of three known proofs, it is
also possible that this piece is unique in proof.
PR67 Cameo, Sole Proof Certified
Possibly Unique Survivor
The only references to auction appearances of 1838 proof dimes are in Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, 1722-1989. Breen cites the F.C.C. Boyd-Adolph Friedman and Samuel W. Wolfson examples. Unfortunately, none of them include a photograph of the sale specimen, preventing us from determining whether the Kaufman coin is a match. We do, however, present the catalog description for each of those appearances.
1. Numismatic Gallery, World's Greatest Collection, Boyd, May 11-12, 1945, lot 510: "1838. K-1 (A. Kosoff attribution). Stars on obverse... . No drapery. Perfect die. Brilliant proof, scarce. Estimate Price $15.00." Price realized was $27.50; Numismatic Gallery, Friedman, August 20-21, 1946, ANA, lot 261: "K-1. With Stars. No drapery. Perfect die. Brilliant proof. Rare. (W.G.C.) Estimate Price $27.50." Price realized was $32.50.
2. "Impaired" (per Breen). Stack's May 3, 4, 1963, Samuel W. Wolfson Collection of United States Coins, Part II, Silver and Copper Coins, lot 530: "1838 Large Stars. A Proof impression. The obverse field is a trifle rubbed." This piece realized $100 at the time.
The present piece shows repunching on stars 1, 8, 9, and 12, most notably on star 8, and these are the only visible die characteristics on either side. Otherwise, both dies were quite well made. The richly frosted motifs stand out against the reflective fields, yielding magnificent cameo contrast. Additionally, the sharp strike has created strong, uniform definition on the design features, including all of the star centers, Liberty's hair and gown lines, and the leaf ribbing. The immaculately preserved surfaces are virtually stone-white with just a hint of light golden at the margins, and devoid of mentionable marks. Only a couple of tiny flaws appear, a lint mark below the A in STATES, and a barely perceptible contact mark on the lower right of the O in ONE. We point these out solely for identification purposes, as this Superb Gem possesses no other pedigree markers. The technical quality and aesthetic appeal of this coin are unimprovable, and at any rate this piece, given the infrequent appearances, may be the only proof 1838 dime surviving today.
Phil Kaufman told us before this coin's last offering: "I bought this coin in 1999. I first saw it almost 10 years earlier and did not buy it because I felt it was overpriced. I ended up paying MUCH more in 1999."
Ex: Phil Kaufman Collection, Part Two / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 3017, which brought $161,000.
From The Greensboro Collection, Part I. (NGC ID# 23BP, PCGS# 84721)
View all of [The Greensboro Collection, Part I ]
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