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    Description

    An Historically Connected Boer War Gold "Field" Pond

    Republic gold Veld Pond 1902,  KM11, Hern-Z54, Fr-4, thickly reeded edge, variety with "slash" (die nicked at the mint) on upper left obverse, MS62 NGC, deep toning obscuring the underlying luster, struck with irregular rims wavering from flat to broad and high, not many abrasions, likely not graded higher because of the nature of the rims but absolutely Mint State.

    During the Boer War, the republic mint which had coined gold Half Ponds and Ponds from 1892 through 1900 ceased operations. In the final year, 1900, the mint prepared gold blanks but did not coin them; instead, it released a number of what are now called Kraal Ponds, with no design on either side but of correct weight, which were used as money. The familiar story of this emergency or seige issue is that, toward the end of the Boer War, a temporary mint was created at Pilgrim's Rest, supervised by P.J. Kloppers, a former school teacher called to assist the Dutch troops. Using broken-down equipment from the abandoned workshop of the Transvaal Gold Mining Estates, he and his workers engraved a pair of rough dies, used blanks made on the spot of pure gold, and by hand manufactured enough pieces to satisfy military demands. The long-accepted total mintage was just 986 pieces. At some point during this brief operation, the obverse die was nicked by a tool, creating the now-famous "slash" just above the "Z" in ZAR. These rudely made coins were equal in intrinsic value to the universally accepted British gold sovereign. Most of the mintage has perished, probably being made into other gold coins early in the 20th century. An unused example is rare. In the lot following this one, we offer one of the finest known Veld Ponds, a fabulous coin, but the presently offered lot contains a piece accompanied by a fabulous story and its documentation. Such an "association piece" anchors the Veld, or Veldt, Pond historically, and is just as rare as the finest of surviving coins.

    The purchaser of this extraordinary lot will also receive two letters explaining its origins. C.F. Thomas has consigned this treasure to us for sale, a coin held by the same family almost since its issue in 1902. The most important  letter is hand-written in ink, undated, addressed from Goldfield, Nevada, penned by M.J. Cooney, who had been the Gold Master Assayer at the Field Mint where this coin was struck. It is addressed to "little Maggie," who was the Great Aunt of the consignor. Enclosed in that letter was the coin offered in this lot. When Maggie died at a young age, her coin and this letter were passed on to her brother, who was the consignor's grandfather, Carl Thomas, who grew up in the famous American mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. About a century ago, Carl Thomas sent for his brother, Harry, to join him in Cripple Creek, and the consignor relates that he and Harry's son, Lowell Thomas, "grew up hearing the stories of Michael Cooney and perhaps sparked a desire for global exploration." Lowell Thomas became one of the most famous of newspapermen in the early decades of the 20th century, specializing in foreign correspondence. Eventually, Carl Thomas passed this famous coin and Cooney's authenticating letter on to the consignor.  The second letter comes into play at this juncture. It is dated August 28, 1935, and is signed by the noted American numismatic dealer B. Max Mehl, on his stationery from Fort worth, Texas.  The consignor had sent rubbings of his Veld Pond to Mehl for identification. Mehl wrote back briefly explaining its history and asking if the coin was for sale. It was not, and has been held by the Thomas family until now. Cooney's letter provides us with some extraordinary facts, specifies the origin of the present lot, and reads in full as follows:

    P O Box 605 Goldfield Nevada

    My Sweet Dear little Maggie

    One hundred thousand thanks for your artistic Christmas Card.

    Enclosed -- you will find a Souvenir which I send you as a token of my love for you for a New Year's gift. This unique gold coin was made in South Africa at the last legal mint of the late government of the South African Republic (Transvaal). I was the Assayer of this mint; which was the most unique and short-lived known to history. Where peace was proclaimed between the British and the Boers (papa will explain to you) we had only fairly started to make the crude coins of which enclose is one; and all we had made when the British supplanted the Boers in the Transvaal treaty . . . was £530 coins . . . They have same weight as an English sovereign or about that of an American $5.00 gold piece . . .  Being made in Pilgrims Rest -- a mining camp in the Transvaal, they have been known by common consent in south Africa as Pilgrim's Rest coins . . . These coins were first intended to be given as souvenirs to Genl Ben Viljoens faithful Boer federal forces but sudden proclamation of peace upset all pending calculations at the time and the Boer Govnt and the "Staats Munt on de Veldt" (State's Mint in the Field (meaning battle field) ended together May 30th 1902).

    [Continuing as another letter on the same paper:]

    Dear Niece

    If you keep this coin until you get big it may become quite valuable in itself as the P Rest Coins were nearly all absorbed by British officers immediately after the war as unique souvenirs for from £10 to £40 Each (50 to 200 dollars).

    Give my love to your Papa & Mama your nice big Bro Carli keeping for yourself a big big slice. Hoping to see you and papa mama & Carli some day soon and Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year

    I remain your

    Little Old "New Uncle" in big haste M.J. Cooney

    P.S.

    "Ein Pond" on one side of the coin is one pound (English denomination of value) and the Monogram ZAR on the other side signifies South-African Republic (Zoud Africandisch Republique).

    Ta:Ta: Magie

    MJC




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    Auction Dates
    January, 2013
    6th-7th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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