It has been a great pleasure for all of us at Stack’s Bowers Galleries to offer for auction an incredible CAC-Approved, Gem Red 1807/6 Draped Bust cent from the Cardinal Collection. This coin was alluded to in our Did You Know? blog article earlier this month and as Rarities Night of our 2015 Chicago ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction approaches, bidders will soon be able to share in the excitement!
The large cents of 1807 proved to be the swan song for Robert Scot’s Draped Bust design that had seen service since 1796. Struck in large quantities over its 12-year run, the Draped Bust cents have long been among the most popular as well as most readily accessible of all the early large cents to collectors. Mint records show that 829,221 pieces were struck in 1807, more than double that of the previous year. Six die pairings have been identified for all the 1807 cents, including two dramatic overdates: one of which is represented by the breathtaking Sheldon-273 example offered here.
In our January 2013 Americana Sale we offered The Cardinal Collection as part of our Rarities Night auction, exhibiting nearly 100 lots of the finest quality and most exceptional rarities from this assemblage. The highlight of this collection, the Specimen-66 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar, realized over $10 million dollars and set a new world record for any coin sold at auction. The accompanying offering of large cents featured some of the finest known examples extant, spanning the Flowing Hair through the Braided Hair series.
Noted large cent specialist Chris McCawley summarized the offering of large cents in the Cardinal Collection as representing "the cream of the crop" and "the best of the best," and these accolades were thoroughly substantiated by the quality of the coins themselves. In Martin Logies’ introduction to the collection, he enthusiastically describes the allure of large cents and his passionate quest to acquire only the very finest examples. However, he mentions an "amazing fully Red Superb Gem 1807 cent" as the one piece withheld from that sale. Now, over two year later, the numismatic market finally has the opportunity to savor this "amazing Gem," and it surely has been worth the wait.
This old-holdered and CAC-approved Gem delivers an captivating aesthetic, matched by an equally impressive provenance that includes some of the most significant names in U.S. numismatics. Uniform and vibrant red-orange luster generously blankets this Draped Bust jewel. The surface quality is that typically seen on the most well preserved Braided Hair cents, which were produced five decades later. Clash marks (as made) lightly encircle Liberty’s portrait on the obverse, and a moderate rim cud (also as struck) occupies the upper left border on the reverse, serving as a convenient marker for this thrice-employed reverse die. The central elements are bold and pleasantly delineated, with Liberty’s profile and lower locks extremely sharp, echoing the definition of the denomination and wreath motifs on the opposite side. A truly breathtaking treasure that is sure to appeal to any student of numismatics, regardless of specialty.
What is profoundly remarkable is the level preservation that has been maintained over the two centuries since the striking of this beautiful piece. While similar Draped Bust cents have managed to evade mishandling and abrasion nearly as well, it is the original Red Mint luster that is truly extraordinary. That the surfaces have gone entirely unexposed and unoxidized for more than 200 years suggests a deliberateness of care and an emphasis on preservation that few numismatic treasures have ever experienced. The anomaly of this complexion was noted at the coin’s first appearance at public auction, in the S.H. Chapman Beckwith catalog of 1923, which states:
"Brilliant, bright red original color as if freshly coined. In a note accompanying the piece Dr. Beckwith states ‘Given to Col. Joshua Pierce of Portsmouth, Me. the year of his birth (1807). In 1909 his son R. C. Pierce, gave it to C. A. Hazlett. Both were officers of Piscataqua Savings Bank of Portsmouth. This information was given to me by Mr. Hazlett in August, 1917.’ Extraordinary Gem."
This coin represents the finest Red Draped Bust cent graded by PCGS from any year of issue, 1796-1807. Only two other coins, an 1801 and an 1803 Small Date, Small Fraction, have been awarded a Red designation, but these MS-64 examples can’t compare to the pristine nature of the 1807/6 presented here.
For the collector of early copper or exceptional U.S. type coins, this offering is a monumental opportunity. Several generations may pass before this jewel is once again presented to the numismatic market.
To view this world-class specimen, along with the rest of our 2015 Chicago ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction, please visit StacksBowers.com or call 800-458-4646 to order your copy of the catalog.