The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection - Part I
Territorial Gold - Lots 2068-2076
Private and Territorial Gold Coins
Rare Christopher Bechtler $5 Gold
2068 Undated (circa 1922) Henry Chapman restrike. Christopher Bechtler. $5 gold. Kagin-31. Rarity-7+. Proof-64. Brilliant deeply mirrored Proof fields accented by the sharp, heavily frosted devices. Some trivial hairlines are noted. Overall a lovely cameo, with a significantly more "refined" look than any original Bechtler product. Henry Chapman must have been quite proud, save for the diagnostic reverse die crack from the lower rim and the bubbly patches resulting from the pitted dies. A very rare issue. The number of pieces minted is not known to this cataloguer, but judging from the infrequency of appearances, it is probably only a small handful.
Notes concerning the restrikes and Chapman: Per conventional wisdom, this restrike and the following lot were struck in 1908, however it seems more likely that they were made circa 1922. Walter Breen cites a receipt made out to Henry Chapman, March 22, 1922, for "Ten (10) Gold Bechtler medals." The earliest auction appearance seen has been Henry Chapman's sale of the Reimers, Jenkins, et al. Collections, July 25-27, 1922, which ties in nicely. By this time, that well-known Philadelphia dealer was entering the sunset years of his career. Much could be related about Chapman, of course, and a superb overview is in John W. Adams, United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. I, 1982.
Concerning Henry (and brother S. Hudson Chapman) in the 1920s, Alden Scott Boyer later reminisced:
"When S. Hudson Chapman used to set up his exhibits at a convention, a bright shiny Smith & Wesson revolver always laid at hand-many will recall this. His brother, Henry Chapman, was as careless as all get out; but he was such a gentleman that I doubt if he ever had any petty thefts at his set-ups."
In 1929, Frank Duffield commented:
"If you see an elderly man arranging his exhibit, about which is gathered an interested crowd listening to his remarks about certain coins in it, that will be Henry Chapman, of Philadelphia."
Henry Chapman donated to the American Numismatic Society, New York, the original coining press used by the Bechtlers, where it is on display today. Separately and not involving the ANS, the restriking of $5 coins seems to have been conducted under a shroud of secrecy, with little factual information appearing in print then or since.
Notes concerning the Bechtlers: During the 1830s the Bechtler family coined $2,241,850.50 worth of gold coins. Bearing the imprint CAROLINA GOLD or GEORGIA GOLD, depending upon the state in which the coinage metal originated, the pieces were produced in the denominations of $1, $2.50, and $5 from minting facilities in the Rutherfordton, North Carolina vicinity. In the 1840s Augustus Bechtler (see next lot) took over the business.
Christopher Bechtler, the elder, and several members of his family came from Germany to Rutherfordton in 1830. Accompanying him were his two sons, Charles and Augustus, and his nephew who is known as Christopher Bechtler, the younger. The elder Bechtler, trained in the art of the gunsmith and goldsmith, established a jewelry store shortly after his arrival. There was gold-bearing earth on his property, and several shafts were sunk to exploit it. His son Augustus shared his interests and abilities and was a capable assistant.
Bechtler's entry into coinage occurred in the summer of 1831 when he announced he was ready to receive gold and coin it into $2.50 and $5 pieces. It is believed that pieces of the $1 denomination were first produced in 1832. From that time onward specimens were produced of three denominations, $1, $2.50, and $5. The weight and fineness was prominently lettered as part of each coin's inscription. In addition the origin was stated as CAROLINA GOLD, GEORGIA GOLD, or NORTH CAROLINA GOLD.
Realizing the service that the Bechtler minting operation was providing to miners and tradesmen of the area, the government made no effort to stop them. A Treasury investigation into the Bechtler coinage did provide the data which led Congress in 1835 to provide for the establishment of a branch mint at Charlotte. In 1838 the Charlotte Mint issued its first coins for circulation.
Niles' Register report, August 6, 1836. This notice, located by us in our file of America's most weekly commercial and national journal of the era, is reprinted verbatim for the possible interest of numismatists:
NORTH CAROLINA GOLD MINES.
The following statement from the Rutherford (NC) Gazette, would seem to remove the impression pretty effectually, that the southern gold mines are becoming exhausted:-
BECHTLER'S GOLD COIN.-Mr. Bechtler has politely furnished us with the subjoined statement of money coined by him from the 18th of January 1834, to the 12th of December 1836, together with the amount of gold fluxed during the same period. Most of the gold was taken from the mines in Rutherford and Burke counties, although much of it is stamped Georgia gold.
It will be seen that the subjoined statement extends no later down than 12th December 1835. Since that time, instead of being a falling off, there has been an increase of business. We paid him a visit on last Saturday, when he had just polished off the last $3,000 for a day's work. Mr. B. has promised to furnish us with a statement of the amount coined and fluxed since that period, at as early a date as possible.
State of the amount of gold coined and fluxed by Christopher Bechtler, near Rutherford, NC.
Amount coined in $5, $2.50 and $1 pieces, from the 18th January 1834 to 22d December 1834 $109,732.50
Amount coined in $5, $2.50 and $1 pieces from the 22d December 1834, to the 12th December 1835 $695,895.00
Number of dwts fluxed from 22d Dec. 1834 to 12th Dec. 1835 711,533.50
Number of dwts fluxed from 18 Jan. 1834 to 22d Dec. 1834 395,804.00
These statements prove the immense extent of the mining interest in this section of the state. We do not know to what proportion this forms to the amount collected from the mines, perhaps a half, perhaps not one-fifth. Yet mining has not fairly commenced with us. Deposit mining is more profitable than ever, and vein mining, though it has been but barely tested, is yet sufficiently so to induce several large capitalists to embark in the experiment extensively.
Rare August Bechtler $5 Gold
2069 Undated (circa 1922). Henry Chapman restrike. August Bechtler. $5 gold. K-30. Rarity-7+. Proof-63. Sharp frosty devices rise out of brilliant mirrored fields giving a lovely cameo contrast. Some light hairlines are present, though probably a result of minor mishandling than any cleaning. Sharply struck with bold details and high rims. The characteristic reverse die crack is boldly obvious from the rim through the second A in CARATS, as are some light patches of die rust marks.
This piece, as the one in the previous lot, is extremely rare and very seldom offered. In fact, years can pass between our handling an example either at auction or at private treaty. An interesting "territorial" issue, with a 20th-century numismatic twist.
Augustus Bechtler: Following the death of the elder Christopher Bechtler in 1842, the coinage business was conducted by his son Augustus. Augustus apparently continued production of coins for a year or so and then was succeeded by the younger Christopher Bechtler, the nephew of the original coiner. Apparently standards of honesty and quality declined, for Director of the Mint R. M. Patterson made a report which stated:
"Assays repeatedly made at this mint showed that the coins thus fabricated [by Bechtler] are below the nominal value marked upon; yet they circulate freely at this value, and therefore it must be more advantageous to the miner to carry his bullion to the private rather than the public mint."
By this time the Charlotte and Dahlonega Mints had been in service for several years (since 1838) and had reduced the demand for Bechtler coins. Augustus Bechtler died sometime prior to 1847. The younger Christopher Bechtler moved to Spartanburg in the early 1850s, at which time the Bechtler coinage was discontinued.
Impressive 1851 Humbert $50 Gold
Early "Handmade" Issue
2070 1851 Augustus Humbert. $50 gold slug. 887 THOUS. on ribbon. K-4. Rarity-5+. AU-55. Lettered edge. Lightly cleaned long ago. Bright, attractive gold surfaces. Far above average in overall quality in the context of this desirable, very early issue. Indeed, a prize coin with relatively few equals. Moreover, the piece is exquisitely struck, with design details sharp in nearly all areas. The reverse is bright and lustrous, with excellent definition of the engine-turn design. A $50 gold "slug" of commanding importance, which no doubt will attract much attention.
The obverse, from a die believed to have been cut by C.C. Wright, features an eagle standing on a rock, holding a shield, with a ribbon in its beak, inscribed E PLURIBUS UNUM. Above is a label with the inscription 887 THOUS., while the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is around, with 50 (hand punched) and D C below.
The reverse depicts an engine-turned design arranged in rays with undulations, a sunburst at the center, in which is stamped 50.
Around the edge is lettered in segments: AUGUSTUS /HUMBERT / UNITED / STATES / ASSAYER / OF GOLD /CALIFORNIA / 1851.
Weight: 1307.0 grains; Diameter: 40.9 mm.
Augustus Humbert and the early $50: In California in 1849 and early 1850, monetary matters were in a state of flux. Many different private issues-coins and ingots-had appeared under the imprints of Kohler; Norris, Gregg & Norris; Bowie; the Miners Bank; Baldwin & Co.; Moffat; and others. Some of these had intrinsic or melt-down values close to their stated face values, while others did not.
Seeking to add stability to circulating gold coins, in September 1850 Congress authorized the secretary of the Treasury to contract with a well-established assaying business in California to affix the stamp of the United States to bars and ingots, to assay gold, and assign value to it. Moffat & Company, the most respected of the San Francisco coiners, received the commission. Appointed to the position of United States assayer was Augustus Humbert, a New York City maker of watch cases, who (according to new research by Dan Owens) arrived in San Francisco on January 8, 1851. Meanwhile, in preparation for the new franchise, in late 1850, Moffat & Co. curtailed most of their private business and prepared to issue coins under the government contract. New premises were secured on Montgomery Street between Clay and Commercial streets.
On February 14, 1851 San Francisco Prices Current contained an article relating to the $50 slugs, indicating their regular production was about to begin:
"The above cut represents the obverse of the United States ingot, or, rather, coin, of the value of $50, about to be issued at the Government Assay Office. It is precisely of this size and shape. The reverse side bears an impression of rayed work without any inscription. Upon the edges following: 'Augustus Humbert United States Assayer-California Gold 1851.' The fifty-dollar pieces will be of uniform value, and will be manufactured in the same manner as coins. By order of the secretary of the Treasury these ingots and coin are to be received for duties and other dues to the United States government, and our bankers, we are advised, will receive them at their stamped value. This will produce an important change in the monetary affairs here, gold dust will immediately go up, and as a necessary consequence foreign and domestic [Eastern] exchange will be at a premium 5 to 7%. "
The Daily Alta California commented on the new $50 pieces on February 21, 1851: "The new 50-dollar gold piece was issued by Moffat & Co. yesterday. About three hundred of these pieces have already been struck off. The coin is peculiar, containing only one face, and the eagle in the center, around which are the words 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.' Just over the eagle is stamped "887 THOUS." signifying the fineness of the gold. At the bottom is stamped '50 DOLLS.' The other face is ornamented with a kind of work technically called engine-turning, being a number of radii extending from the common centre, in which is stamped, in small figures, '50.' Around the edge is stamped the name of the United States Assayer. "
Later varieties of $50 issues had the denomination marked "FIFTY DOLLS" and as part of the die inscription. These seem to have replaced the very early issues (such as the coin offered in this lot) which had the value and fineness individually hand punched. From the preceding, it seems reasonable to conclude that the coin here offered was part of the group released on February 20, 1851, and that later pieces were all of the "DOLLS" type. In the first quarter of 1851 the Moffat-Humbert coiners produced $530,000 worth of pieces. This is equal to 10,600 $50 pieces. It further seems reasonable to assume that only a few of the style with the "50" value, "880" or "887" fineness, and eight edge segments hand stamped were made, and that late February and all March pieces were of the type with the value and fineness in the die and with reeded edge.
To emphasize the character of the $50 pieces with the hand-stamped features, we mention that these processes were needed to create them:
1. The obverse and reverse motifs were stamped from a pair of dies.
2-4. The fineness was hand-stamped on the obverse with three separate numeral punches.
5. The value (50) was hand-stamped on the obverse, possibly from a single punch (but this is not verified).
6-13. In eight separate operations each of the eight edge faces was stamped with a logotype punch. (On the presently offered Bass Collection coin, the lettering is inverted with relation to the obverse.)
14. The number "50" was stamped at the center of the reverse.
Thus, it took 14 steps to create this early $50 piece! Later coins with the fineness and value in the die and with reeded edge were struck in a single operation.
While the federal standard for gold coinage was 900/1000 fine, in San Francisco in 1851 this was difficult to attain with the refining processes then in use, and the Humbert coinage was of two finenesses, 800 and 887, the latter coins being slightly lighter in overall weight due to the smaller proportion of alloy. By 1852, coins of 900 fineness were being made, but other finenesses (884 and 887) were employed as well. The remaining alloy was native silver (whereas under the government standard, copper was used).
Although the Humbert $50 pieces were clearly produced under government auspices, and although they were receivable for U.S. customs payments in San Francisco, in Philadelphia on April 23, 1851, Mint Director George N. Eckert perversely (it would seem) stated that while Augustus Humbert was the United States Assayer in California, his stamping of bars for owners of bullion did not make them legal tender.
Pleasing 1852 $50 Gold "Slug"
U.S. Assay Office of Gold
2071 1852 U.S. Assay Office of Gold. $50 gold "slug." 900 THOUS. on ribbon. K-14. Rarity-5+. EF-45. Reeded edge. Bright and lustrous yellow gold with some deeper orange toning visible in the protected recesses. Though the outer legend is somewhat soft, it is legible and the coin is generally well struck. A slight prooflike effect is noted on the obverse. The target and engine turned design is bold and well defined.
An excellent example of the later style of $50 "slug" in which the various devices were incorporated into the dies, and the edge treatment was done by a collar, permitting this piece to be struck in one operation rather than 14 (as preceding).
Weight: 1288.5 grains; Diameter: 41.7 mm.
U.S. Assay Office of Gold: The Daily Alta California on March 22, 1853, contained a description of the U.S. Assay Office of Gold establishment: "The machinery made use of by Messrs. Curtis, Perry & Ward is of the same description, made by the same mechanics, and is as perfect in all respects, as that of the United States Mint at Philadelphia. The capacity of their press is such to enable them to coin $360,000 in $10 pieces and $720,000 in $20 per day, and it keeps up with their facility for drawing, cutting, and adjusting by being worked only a few hours per day. The mechanical execution of the coin itself is fully equal to that of the United States Mint, as will be seen by a comparison of the coins. Too much credit cannot be awarded to Messrs. Curtis, Perry & Ward for the radical change in the facilities for coinage offered by them to the people of this state while at the same time it is advantageous to them personally."
The total production of the United States Assay Office of Gold during the years of its operation is not known. It was estimated during the first quarter of 1851 that $600,000 worth of coins of the $50 denomination were made. Prices Current on September 30, 1851, noted that the Assay Office had been increasingly busy in recent times and occasionally had attained the production of $100,000 in $50 ingots per day. What happened to them all? Edgar H. Adams notes that certain foreign bankers preferred octagonal ingots to regular American coins, thus leading to the export of huge quantities, some from San Francisco and others from New York City. A newspaper item of January 13, 1853, notes that the steamer Asia from New York to Liverpool carried $200,000 in $50 pieces from California.
On December 4, 1853, the United States Assay Office of Gold ceased operations. Machinery and equipment were transferred to the new San Francisco Mint. The construction contract was given to a Mr. Butler at $239,000. This was subsequently acquired by Curtis, Perry & Ward, who negotiated a new contract with the secretary of the Treasury. The partnership undertook to provide both the building and machinery. Curtis supervised construction details while Perry tended to the arrangements for the machinery. Part of the Curtis, Perry & Ward establishment was utilized in the construction. The San Francisco Mint, as finished, consisted of a structure 60 feet square and three stories high; 20 feet wider on the western side than the earlier private mint, which measured 40 by 60 feet.
The San Francisco Mint opened for business on April 3, 1854, and on April 15 the first coins, $20 pieces, were made. In the first year coined were a few $2.50 and $5 gold coins and many $10 and $20 issues. Much additional information concerning the U.S. Assay Office of Gold, the transition to the new San Francisco Mint, etc., appears in Q. David Bowers' book, The Treasure Ship S.S. Brother Jonathan.
Extremely Rare Proof 1853 $20
U.S. Assay Office of Gold
Only Specimen in Private Hands
2072 1853 U.S. Assay Office of Gold. $20 gold. 900 THOUS. on ribbon. K-18. Rarity-8 as Proof. Proof-63. Deeply mirrored and highly reflective Proof fields. A magnificent specimen of a general issue which is often seen in high grades such as EF, AU, or, occasionally, Mint State, but for which a splendid Proof represents a notable rarity.
In general, territorial issues are known for displaying tell-tale signs of somewhat crude minting techniques, but the striking quality of this Proof is easily as nice as would be expected of a federal Proof gold issue. Indeed, perhaps this piece was struck at Philadelphia, where the dies were prepared for shipment to California. It is known that a few Proofs were made, and generations ago some pieces surfaced in the Augustus A. Humbert estate and Zabriskie Collection offerings. The present piece is sharply struck with bold design details on both sides, the devices showing some satiny frosting. A distinct lint mark is noted just above the C in CALIFORNIA, as are some raised die lines in and around the devices where the finishing of the die was not properly executed. A few light hairlines are noted on the fields. A truly superlative example of this popular issue, clearly intended for presentation or some other high calling, perhaps a piece that could be traced to Humbert or Zabriskie. A rarity of the highest order. The notes of the Bass Foundation indicate that this is the only known specimen in Proof format, though Walter Breen in his Encyclopedia, lists two different examples. This being the first, and the second being impounded in the Smithsonian Institution.
Die Notes: Die notes are given for possible interest of specialists. On the obverse there are some diagonal lines extending from the dentils downward above NIT (UNITED). Below the eagle's neck on the right, in the tear-drop-shaped area of field, the bottom 50% or slightly more is filled with raised die preparation lines. On the label above the eagle, in the die the digit 9 is slightly too far left, the first zero is double punched at the top, and the second zero is perfect and slightly high. Areas of Proof finish are in and among the numerals 900 except for the interior of the 9, and extend partially through THOU, and the left side of S; the rest of the label is of a matte finish. On the reverse UN (UNITED) is sharply doubled punched; the upper right of the T has a teardrop "island" below it. The second T (STATES) is very slightly doubled at the top, as is the top of the S. In ASSAY the first A has extra raised material around it, the first S is lightly doubled, the second A is doubled, and the Y has its upper right arm missing, although the top serif to that arm is partially present. The O (OFFICE) is slightly doubled and has the interior mostly filled, not Proof finish; the first F is notably doubled at the bottom, and the second F is lightly doubled. The letters LD (GOLD) are doubled. S (SAN) is doubled and against an irregular background, while the A is ever so slightly doubled. C (FRANCISCO) is doubled at the upper right, and O is slightly doubled and is filled at the center. C (CALIFORNIA) is incomplete at the lower right; the first A is incomplete at the upper left (reminding one of a punch on certain varieties of Vermont and Connecticut coppers) and is slightly doubled; the L is slightly doubled at the left. 1 (1853) is lightly doubled, 5 is heavily doubled, and 3 is slightly doubled. This is a very early impression from the die pair, without the slightest evidence of cracks or repolishing.
From Sotheby's sale of King Farouk's "Palace Collection," 1954.
Choice Mint State 1853 $20
U.S. Assay Office of Gold
2073 1853 U.S. Assay Office of Gold. $20 gold. 900 THOUS on ribbon. K-18. MS-63. Extraordinary satin surfaces on both sides, each with bright cartwheel lustre. Sharply struck in rich yellow gold with all design details bold. Some trivial hairline scratches are visible, and noted for the sake of accuracy. Outstanding quality for any territorial issue. A most beautiful specimen; from an aesthetic standpoint, among the finest business strikes we have ever seen or handled.
The obverse die has the same characteristics as 900 as described earlier; and the same lines are seen above NIT, suggesting that this is a later business strike from the Proof dies. The reverse has some characteristics of the preceding (such as the teardrop at the T of UNITED), but is from a different die.
From RARCOA, August 1973.
Rare and Impressive 1861 Confederate Cent in Gold
1874 Restrike by Haseltine
One of Only Five Traced
2074 1861 Breen-8006. Confederate States of America cent. Restrike in gold. Proof-63. A splendid specimen in bright yellow gold. Attractive Proof surfaces, with a few marks here and there, prompting us to call it Proof-63. The coin compares very favorably with the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Collection coin we sold in 1997, a Proof-64. This coin possesses tremendous eye appeal, unquestioned rarity, and is of extraordinary importance.
Weight: 99.2 grains. Diameter: 19.2 mm.
History of the C.S.A. Cent
The Confederate States of America cent is one of the most interesting issues associated with the "Lost Cause." Much of what we know today comes to us through the 19th-century catalogues of John W. Haseltine, the 1874 notice issued by the restrikers of the cent, and from a talk given by Haseltine to the members of the ANA assembled in convention in Philadelphia in 1908. Some of this information is contradictory. What is given below is the most widely believed scenario.
In 1861, Robert Lovett, Jr., a die sinker and medallist at 200 South 5th Street, Philadelphia, was well known for the many tokens and medals he produced. One of these, a cent-sized token dated 1860, bore on the obverse the portrait of a lady's head, an allegorical goddess, "Miss Liberty" if you will, but the image bore no special designation. In the first year of the Civil War, an official of the Confederate States of America contacted Bailey & Co. to seek a die cutter who could design a C.S.A. cent. In 1861, the leading Philadelphia jewelry firm was Bailey & Co., which later became known as Bailey, Banks & Biddle. Lovett was Bailey's logical choice. In due course, Lovett adopted his goddess head for the obverse of a cent, with CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA surrounding and the date 1861 below. The reverse design illustrated agricultural products of the South, with a bale of cotton below, on which was the initial of the engraver, L. Within the wreath was 1 CENT.
Lovett struck 12 pattern pieces in copper-nickel, the alloy being used at the time to make federal Indian Head cents. He soon had second thoughts about the project, and fearing reprisal from Union authorities if he aided the Confederacy, he canceled the project and hid the 12 coins. There the matter rested for a long time. After the war ended he took one of the coins and used it as a pocket piece. Although he was well known to numismatists of his city, he told no one about the little Confederate cents, and no one suspected that they existed.
One day in 1873, Lovett spent his pocket piece by mistake in a West Philadelphia bar. By chance, the barkeep recognized the piece as being unusual, and showed it to a numismatist. Or so the story goes. In any event, around this time Edward Maris, M.D., prominent Philadelphia collector, learned, and succeeded in buying Lovett's remaining coins, some 10 or 12 in number, and, possibly, the dies. The discovery coin, with evidence of wear, was consigned or sold to Capt. John W. Haseltine, Philadelphia dealer, who included it as Lot 665 in his January 13-15, 1874 sale. The description, given below (thanks to P. Scott Rubin for the citation), represents the first time collectors learned of the issue:
"CONFEDERATE CENT, 1861, head of Liberty; inscription, 'Confederate States of America'; rev., '1 CENT' in two lines, surrounded by a wreath of ears of corn and wheat, with a cotton bale at the bottom; nickel; Very Fine; excessively rare.
"The dies for the above piece were made by Mr. Lovett, of Philadelphia, in 1861. Mr. Lovett says that they were ordered in 1861, for the South, and that the dies were delivered. Previous to delivering the dies, he struck 12 pieces, but showed them to no one and kept the matter quiet, fearing that he might be arrested if it were known. It was not until about six months since that Mr. Lovett parted with all he had (either 10 or 12) to Dr. E. Maris, of Philadelphia, from whom this one was obtained. Although it is evident that the Southern Confederacy did not adopt this piece, still it will always be considered interesting and valuable as the only coinage designed for the Southern Confederacy, and will no doubt bring a high price. I have been somewhat particular in giving the facts about this piece, as there are persons who always sneer at and doubt anything new and interesting that is discovered by other than themselves. J.W.H."
The preceding was not completely accurate, in that Lovett had not delivered the dies to the Confederacy. Nor was it "the only coinage designed for the Southern Confederacy," but Haseltine would not have known otherwise, for the existence of a Confederate half dollar was not known until 1879.
Within a short time Haseltine and his associate, J. Colvin Randall, made a deal to buy the coins from Maris. The dies were acquired as well, either from Maris (if Maris had them) or from Lovett. A plan was made to create restrikes.
Peter L. Krider, another Philadelphia die sinker and medalist, was hired to make the restrikes. A "Circular to Collectors" dated April 2, 1874, published by Haseltine and Randall, told of the discovery of the coins and dies, and noted that restrikes had been made to the extent of seven gold, 12 silver, and 55 copper impressions, the die breaking on the 55th copper strike. No restrikes were made in copper-nickel, thus preserving the numismatic integrity of the originals.
Whether these are accurate figures is not known. Years later at the 1908 ANA convention, Haseltine stated that just three gold and only five silver restrikes had been made, plus 55 in copper. Haseltine was not a paragon of veracity, and the truth may never be known (indeed, Haseltine's secret of secrets regarded his involvement with Proof dollars of 1801-4). However, the number of Confederate restrike cents must have been very small, for today they are exceedingly rare, and even the copper restrikes are lacking in most major collections. So far as the gold restrikes are concerned, the expression "Forget it!" might be appropriate, except for the present sale!
In 1961, Robert Bashlow, New York City entrepreneur (his companies included the QWERTYUIOPress, the Williams Trading Company, and the Trans-Africa Development Company), took the rusted, unserviceable original dies and had August Frank, a Philadelphia firm, make new copy dies by transfer, from which he issued "restrikes." However, these copies, with irregular surfaces, are quite unlike the 1874 restrikes from the original die pair and, in fact, are not restrikes at all.
For further reading: Mark R. Borckardt, "A Closer Look at the Confederate Cent," Rare Coin Review No. 106, 1995, modified by commentary by P. Scott Rubin, "An Even Closer Look at the Confederate Cent," Rare Coin Review No. 112, 1996.
Gold issues were first struck from the dies, and thus the present coin is a very early impression. Second finest of just five specimens traced.
In 1874 it was stated that seven impressions had been struck in gold, a figure revised to just three by J.W. Haseltine in his 1908 recollections. The 1874 figure seems to be closer to the truth, in view that five specimens are known to exist today. Indeed, in The Numismatist, March 1911, Edgar H. Adams reiterated the mintage figure of seven. Regardless, this issue is so rare that few advanced collectors or dealers have ever seen a gold example, let alone have had the chance to buy one.
Although copper restrikes come on the market now and then, and silver restrikes at very infrequent intervals, gold pieces are legendary rarities.
Registry of 1861 C.S.A. Cent Restrikes in Gold
1. Eliasberg Specimen. Proof-64.
Albert Steinberg, Baltimore, MD, dealer, circa 1946-1947.
Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Collection (Bowers and Merena, 1997).
2. Kreisberg-Schulman specimen. F-VF.
Major Mackey, Jacksonville, Florida, circa 1930s.
Louis Moskovits, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, circa 1934.
Lichtenfels Collection sale (Kreisberg-Schulman) March 1964, Lot 1107.
Lester Merkin sale of October 1973, Lot 457.
Groves Collection sale (Stack's) November 1974, Lot 467.
Ellis H. Robison sale (Stack's) February 1979, Lot 235.
Michael Steig Collection sale (Bowers and Ruddy), September 1982, Lot 2013.
Stack's sale of January 1989, Lot 680.
Auction '89, Lot 188.
Dent at the last A in AMERICA, edge repair. 99.7 grains.
3. Stack's 400 Sale specimen. Proof.
Stack's 400 Sale, January 1988, Lot 538. Described as brilliant Proof, "a small dig on the neck and some hairline obverse scratches; minor edge nicks."
4. Farouk Specimen. Proof.
King Farouk Collection.
Palace Collections sale (Sotheby's), Cairo, 1954, Lot 335.
C. Ramsey Bartlett sale (Stack's) February 1966, Lot 992. "Brilliant Proof."
Stack's sale of September 1994, Lot 316.
5. Bass Specimen. Proof.
Purchased from R.W. Ward in February 1974.
The coin offered here on behalf of the Harry W. Bass Jr. Research Foundation.
Choice Copper C.S.A. Restrike Cent
2075 1861 Breen-8008. Confederate States of America cent. Haseltine Restrike in copper. MS-63 RB. Copper.
Obverse Design: As preceding.
Reverse Design: As preceding.
Surfaces: A sharp impression with deep orange and pale blue surfaces. A few very minor abrasions are noted.
This Confederate States of America restrike in copper will be a highlight in any fine collection. The quality is remarkable. The specialist in Civil War tokens or Indian Head cents may wish to consider its possibilities as an addition to a cabinet of either. Actually, this is the ultimate "Civil War cent!"
Technical Aspects: Weight: 60.6 grains. Diameter: 19.2 mm. Die alignment: 180°.
2076 1861 Scott store card, Restrike of the Confederate half dollar die. MS-63. White metal. Plain edge. Lustrous with some prooflike reflectivity and medium gray toning in the recessed areas of the design. Scott's Confederate States of America store card. The obverse is an advertisement for J.W. Scott, leading New York stamp and coin company of the era, while the reverse is an impression from the original undated (1861) C.S.A. half dollar die. Reportedly, 500 of these were struck by Scott as a precautionary measure "in order to be able to supply something should the die go to pieces" before Scott was able to procure enough 1861 U.S. half dollars to make his other popular restrikes, those with the reverse shaved and then impressed with the CSA die. Always popular and desirable.
Weight: 110.6 grains. Diameter: 30.6 mm.
From our sale of the Newport Collection, January-February 1975, Lot 344.