The Pittman-Kaufman 1844 'Little Orphan Annie' Dime, PR66
1844 10C PR66 NGC. This PR66 NGC coin is the finest
certified example of the 1844 dime. In his 1988
Encyclopedia, Breen says of the 1844 dime that there are
possibly eight proofs. Our roster below shows just seven different
examples with some additional earlier appearances. This piece is
pedigreed to the John Jay Pittman Collection, Part I, cataloged and
sold by David Akers in his October 21-23, 1997 sale. The coin was
part of Pittman's 1844 proof set that was housed in the "Original
Case of Issue." Akers opined that just six to eight proofs are
known, consistent with our own observations.
Sole Finest Certified of Seven Known
The 1844 dime is dubbed "The Little Orphan Annie" and is extremely popular among collectors. Walter Breen attributes the nickname to Frank C. Ross, a Kansas City area writer who hoarded the issue at one time. Ross apparently gave no reason for the nickname, and Breen suggested it was an early instance of "media hype." Today, the nickname remains attached to the issue as a pleasant reminder of numismatic history.
The NGC and PCGS population figures tend to corroborate Akers and Breen's estimates of extant 1844 proof dimes. The two services combined have seen six coins of this issue. The current PR66 NGC Pittman-Kaufman piece represents the finest certified, followed by a PR65 PCGS, two PR64 PCGS, a PR64 NGC, and a PR63 NGC.
Roster of 1844 Proof Dimes
1. PR66 NGC. Numismatic Gallery; purchased privately by John Jay Pittman as part of an 1844 silver proof set on 4/5/1948; John Jay Pittman Collection (David Akers, 10/1997), lot 833, part of Pittman's 1844 complete proof set; Phil Kaufman Collection/FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 3024, which brought $103,500. The present example.
2. PR65 PCGS. Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Merena, 5/1996), lot 1130, $88,000.
3. PR64 NGC. Richmond Collection, Part III (DLRC Auctions, 3/2005), lot 1239; Continuous Internet Auction (Heritage, 4/2005), lot 23192; San Francisco Signature (Heritage, 7/2005), lot 10158.
4. PR64 PCGS. Dallas Coin and Stamp Exposition (Heritage, 12/1986), lot 362; Baltimore Signature (Heritage, 7/2003), lot 6568; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 2763.
5. PR64 PCGS. Newport Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 1/1975), lot 220; Krugjohann Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 5/1976), lot 309; Blauvelt Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 2/1977), lot 106; Auction '90 (RARCOA, 8/1990), lot 605; Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2009), lot 2260; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 9/2009), lot 448.
6. PR63 NGC. Public Auction Sale (Lester Merkin, 4/1966), lot 139; 1971 ANA (Stack's, 8/1971), lot 663; Lovejoy Collection (Stack's 10/1990), lot 223.
7. Proof. Smithsonian Institution, from the Mint Cabinet.
A. Proof. Brand-Lichtenfels Collection (Kreisberg-Schulman, 3/1964), lot 2996; Public Auction Sale (Quality Sales, 9/1973), lot 731; Joe Flynn. This piece could be number 3, 4, or 5 in our roster. The plate is unsuitable for study.
B. Proof. Dunham Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1941), lot 171. The Dunham catalog image may or may not be the actual coin that Mehl sold. He often used stock photos. The Dunham example could be any of the coins listed above, except for the Smithsonian Institution specimen.
C. Proof. Part of a cased proof set once owned by Dr. J. Hewitt Judd, probably the same as number 1 above.
D. Proof. Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 643; Lorin G. Parmelee, who purchased the entire collection intact, Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1157; John G. Mills Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 4/1904), lot 1137; possibly the Dunham coin in B above, per Walter Breen.
E. Proof. Dr. Christian Allenburger; Royal Sale (B. Max Mehl, 3/1948), lot 1026.
F. Proof. Harlan Page Smith Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 5/1906), lot 951; John Story Jenks Collection (Henry Chapman, 12/1921), lot 6045.
G. Proof. Joseph Mickley Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1867), lot 1715, part of a five-piece silver proof set, realized $42.50 to William Lilliendahl.
The Present Example
Variegated, low- to medium-intensity cobalt-blue and tan-lilac patina in the fields of this Premium Gem highlights the mostly champagne-gold design elements, accenting the contrast between the reflective fields and lightly frosted motifs. A bold strike translates into razor-sharp definition on the devices, and close examination with a loupe reveals impeccably preserved surfaces. The only mentionable pedigree marker is an as-made curving lint mark below the right foot of the E in STATES. This is a charming proof dime for the aficionado of the Seated Liberty series.
From The Greensboro Collection, Part I. (NGC ID# 23BY, PCGS# 4731)
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 Greensboro Collection, Part I ]
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