166.7 grains. Perhaps the most fascinating coin in the entire Craige Collection of New Jerseys, one of the most distinctive of all New Jersey coppers. Phil Mossman's thorough survey of overstruck coppers (Appendix 2 in Money of the American Colonies and Confederation) lists just three New Jerseys struck on French coins. Two of them are struck on French sous of Louis XVI – this coin and Garrett:1408, a Maris 17-b. No other colonial-era copper known to Mossman sported a French undertype. Unlike the Garrett overstrike, this piece is choice, with beautiful glossy medium brown surfaces and outstanding eye appeal. The surfaces are smooth and attractive on both sides, betraying just a hint of undertype on the obverse but boldly intermingling elements of the French host with the New Jersey parasite on the reverse. Essentially the entire reverse legend of the French sou remains visible, boldly so, with the 1780 date at 1 o'clock and the H mintmark for La Rochelle at 7:30. The crown atop the French shield tops the Jersey shield's right side. The reverse is choice and problem-free, as eye catching as any single side on any New Jersey in existence. The obverse shows just trivial surface roughness hugging the rim from 6 o'clock to 9 o'clock and a little patch near the plow. An old horizontal scratch is present across the neck and under the snout, another under the plow, where the soft date is partially present. The French sou's privy mark is visible at the tip of the coulter, Louis XVI's lowest curl and bust truncation can be seen nearby.
While this piece is unique among the whole universe of New Jersey coppers, it also ranks as one of the most pleasing examples of the very rare Llama Head variety, Maris 40-b. The Ford coin was just a bit sharper, but was dark and granular with some light scratches. That piece carries the rank of fifth finest in the SHI Condition Census, graded EF-. Two AU coins top the list (including the impressive Maris-Garrett piece), followed by two EFs, the Ford coin, and an eBay find graded VF+. The eye appeal and surface quality of this piece places it in that mix, while its rather incredible undertype sets it apart. French coppers clearly saw active circulation in North America in the Confederation period, with metropolitan French types likely outnumbering what modern collectors gather as French Colonials by a significant margin. Both the smaller liards and the copper-sized sous are found in American ground contexts. Interestingly, the undertype for this piece was struck in La Rochelle, the Atlantic seaboard mint that also produced the vast majority of the 1721 and 1722 French Colonies nine diners and the issues that were most numerous aboard the Chameau.
This lot is accompanied by a similar 1785-W copper sou, Lille Mint, VF-20, 168.1 grains, collected by Mr. Craige to illustrate the undertype over which the 1787 Maris 4-b in this lot has been struck. (Total: 2 coins)
From the Ted L. Craige Collection. Acquired from Edward “Ned” Barnsley. Published in a note by Barnsley in the Colonial Newsletter, 1963, pp. 61-2. Paper envelopes with attribution notes included.