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    Never Before Offered at Public Auction

    George V "Trial Strike" bronze Farthing 1936, KM12.3, Hern-S16, MS62 BN NGC, handsome brown surfaces with blue iridescence. One of the major rarities of the ZAR, with a reported mintage in proof of 40 pieces and possibly an additional 3 pieces long considered to have been struck as trials, or set-up pieces, for the proofing process. Forty-three pieces were logged in official mint records as having been struck, including the 40 proofs. No farthings intended for circulation, or commerce, were planned for this year; only the proofs for collectors in the 40 sets. The 3 mystery pieces were never accounted for after the fact, and for decades were only rumored to exist. This specimen was reputedly discovered not long ago in a 1936 Proof Set which had been lacquered, which had masked the real texture of this particular bronze coin. Once the lacquer was removed, it became evident that this coin does not bear the qualities of a Pretoria Mint proof. It looks like a business strike, but it could not be, because no such coins were made in 1936. It is now thought that one of the trial pieces was mistakenly placed in one of the 40 proof sets. That begs the question: whatever became of the other 3 coins? Were they melted, including one of the proofs? Or were they just tossed into a coin hopper to be placed into commercial use along with 1935 farthings? Or were they secretly kept by someone close to, or employed by, the mint? We will likely never know. What we do know is that this coin does not have any of the qualities of a proof. Rather, its surfaces are mottled and show some small marks and even several faint scuffs. The strike is not that of a twice-struck proof. The rims and edge are not those of a proof. If it were viewed as a commercial coin, it is well made, with fine details, although no commercial pieces of this date, in the farthing, are known to exist. The consignor believes, as we do, that this was a trial piece, that once inspected it was seen not to have the proper sharpness nor the surfaces of a proof, probably because the dies used to make it were not sufficiently polished to create perfectly smooth surfaces. Perhaps another two trials were struck off that were finer. Nobody knows for certain, but this coin, in this lot, may well be the first 1936 farthing that was struck, followed by the other two and then the 40 proof pieces. One other possibility exists: that 43 Proof Sets were planned but the first 3 farthings were not up to snuff, so that when the sets were assembled it was seen that only 40 could be made in all; the other coins intended for the sets might then have been melted. If this is in fact the case, it means that only 40 1936 farthings exist in toto, 39 proofs and this one trial piece, which resembles a business strike, accounting for the "MS62" grade given to it.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2011
    2nd-3rd Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,368

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