Incredible 1838 No Drapery Dime, PR67 Cameo
    The Only Certified 1838 Proof Dime
    And Possibly Unique

    1838 10C No Drapery PR67 Cameo NGC. Ex: P. Kaufman. Of all the amazing coins in the Phil Kaufman Collection, this 1838 Superb Gem Cameo proof dime is perhaps 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 not surprising, as the 1838 proof dime is an extremely rare issue. Indeed, little mention is made of it 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 collections offered in the last several years lacked a proof example of this 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.

    The only references to the appearance of 1838 proof dimes in public auctions are made in another of Breen's treatises, his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, 1722-1977. Breen cites the F. C. C. Boyd-Adolph Friedman specimen, and the Samuel W. Wolfson example. Unfortunately, none of the appearances includes a photograph of the sale specimen, preventing us from determining whether the Kaufman coin matches any of them. In fact, we are unable to recall seeing so much as a photo of a proof 1838 dime in the various references. 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.

    Stars 1, 8, 9, and 12 are repunched, most notable on star 8, and these are the only visible die characteristics on either side. Otherwise, both dies were very well made.

    The richly frosted motifs on the Kaufman coin stand out against the reflective fields, yielding magnificent cameo contrast. Additionally, a well executed strike brings about strong and uniform definition on the design features, including crispness on all of the star centers, Liberty's hair and gown lines, and the leaf ribbing. Immaculately preserved surfaces are virtually stone white, and devoid of mentionable marks. We can only discern a couple of tiny contacts, one occurring below the A in STATES and the other 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 unfathomable, making it highly desirable for the connoisseur of Seated Liberty proofs. It is conceivable that we will not see a proof 1838 dime on the market again for some time.

    Mr. Kaufman tells us: " 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." This is an important lesson for those attending the sale that feel the bidding is too strong. It may cost you much more in 2018!
    From The Phil Kaufman Collection of Early Seated Proof Sets, Part Two. (NGC ID# 23BP, PCGS# 84721)

    Weight: 2.67 grams

    Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Copper

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

    View all of [The Phil Kaufman Collection of Early Seated Proof Sets, Part Two ]

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