Lot #23. 1787 Immune Columbia Copper Pattern. W-5680, Breen-1137. URS-8. IMMUNIS COLUMBIA, Large Eagle Reverse, Plain Edge, Narrow Planchet. MS-64 BN (PCGS).
The September 2009 Philadelphia Rarities Sale - 9/22/2009
View all lots in this auction
Its status as the only readily collectible type in the Immune Columbia series notwithstanding, W-5680 is an elusive variety that is almost always offered well worn. Mint State coins are extremely rare, the present near-Gem certainly qualifying as one of the two or three finest-known survivors. This is the small planchet subtype of the W-5680 variety, the date partially off the flan at the lower-obverse border. Centering is quite nice, nonetheless, and all major design elements are readily evident. The strike is bold-to-sharp throughout, and we see no abrasions or other blemishes of note. Pretty chestnut-brown patina with some deeper olive-gray tinting outlining the lower portion of the reverse eagle.
The Immune Columbia pieces dated 1785, 1786 and 1787 are perhaps the most difficult coins to classify in the entire Colonial and early federal series. Many theories have been advanced to support the status of these pieces as patterns, but the heavily worn state of most survivors clearly indicates that the coins circulated widely. Then there is the existence of a large planchet example overstruck on a late die state of a 1786 Maris 26-S New Jersey Copper. That piece was probably dates to 1788 or 1789 despite the dates on the undertype and the principal type. While the overstruck coin could be a unique anomaly, it seems likely that the Immune Columbia pieces as a group were struck sometime in 1787, 1788 and/or 1789, probably as a private or unofficial issue. The coins were almost certainly intended for use in circulation, where most pieces served until worn out or lost. The type often seen in numismatic circles is W-5680, the number of survivors (65-124 coins, per Q. David Bowers, 2009) suggesting an original mintage of approximately 1,000 pieces.