Greer-102. The precise events around the striking of this Specimen coin are unknown. Two events immediately come to mind, either of which would be sufficient to warrant such a celebration striking, the first is of course the Centennial of the United States. Events and celebrations swept the nation--America, the upstart country founded on the principles of freedom and democracy had survived despite multiple wars, inflations, depressions, disasters and corrupt politicians. Another possibility is the tenth anniversary of the Carson City Mint, which was founded in 1866 although coinage did not begin until 1870. In either case, there was certainly much to celebrate. Most of the regular issue 1876 coinage from all mints seems to come with sharper strikes and shows greater care in its production. Then along comes this stellar Carson City Gem, with highly reflective fields and frosted devices. Be certain to admire the wire edge or fin which extends around the entire obverse and reverse rim. This feature alone is unheard of on circulation strikes. At first glance one assumes this is a typical Gem Philadelphia Proof dime, as the dramatic presence of the strike is first noticed. Finding the familiar CC on the lower reverse causes one to pause and rethink just what this coin is. Today, the two major grading services have determined this to be a Specimen from a Branch Mint. Such coins are of extreme rarity, usually are unique or nearly so, and are extremely desirable.
Toned with elegant cobalt-blue with violet and rose accents near the rims with the toning spanning the entire coin in a perfectly splendid fashion. The planchet shows heavy roller line traces at approximately a 45 degree angle down to the left on the obverse and reverse. For identification there is a minute nick on Liberty's thigh, on the reverse a tiny scratch crosses the long leaf into a single grain of wheat on the upper left wreath at approximately the 10 o'clock position. A singular lump of die rust is noted on Liberty's dress a bit low on her forward knee. No trace of repunching on the date, but the reverse die G-102 with the doubling at the base of the E in ONE and post of the E in DIME. A shadowy speck near the rim below the 76 confirms the earlier appearance in Auction '90 and Heritage's FUN Auction of 1996. One other example has crossed the auction block that being in Superior's March 2000 Auction which appeared later in Heritage's Auction of February, 2003 as lot 6280. The combined NGC Census and the PCGS Population Report show possibly 7 examples, although we seriously doubt there are more than two or three distinct examples, with duplication an inevitable challenge when researching such delicacies.
Further confirmation of the great rarity of the 1876-CC dime Specimen striking is its complete absence in both Breen's Proof Encyclopedia or his later general Encyclopedia. Furthermore, these are not mentioned in Brian Greer's reference The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Dimes. Certainly if there were half a dozen or so of these 1876-CC Specimen dimes floating about these noted experts would have reported on them. The first auction appearance seems to be that of this exact coin in Rarcoa's session of Auction 90. If others exist, which is possible, then they have remained well hidden.
In the past few years a better understanding of these Branch Mint Specimens has come about. Their true rarity has been confirmed by numismatic experts in each series, and these museum worthy relics are now highly sought after. The Carson City Mint seems to have produced various examples of Specimen coinage in its limited years of operation, and their coining press obviously had considerable capacity to strike up the larger sized denominations. Perhaps this huge press was also used to produce the incredibly deep strike and wire edge of this Specimen 1876-CC dime, as the strike is clearly a quantum leap beyond that of a normal circulation strike dime from this mint. What is obvious to any numismatist is that this is indeed a very special Gem Specimen coin, and one worthy of the most advanced numismatic cabinet of rarities.
NGC Census: 5; 1 finer (SP-66 finest).
From RARCOA's session of Auction '90, August 1990, lot 612; Heritage's Bullet Sale of August 1992, lot 5190; and Heritage's FUN Signature Sale of January 1996, lot 5311.