Sunday, July 14, 2013

JR Newsletter: 14 July 2013 (149)

We have two contributions this week.

First, David Finkelstein wrote that he will discuss "The Colors Of Our Heraldic Eagle Silver & Gold Coins" as the educational presentation at the JRCS Annual Meeting at the Summer ANA Show in Chicago.

Also, David Perkins wrote to us concerning an article on early dollars that I am sure you will find fascinating:

The following article by W. David Perkins appeared in latest issue of The Asylum (Volume 31, No. 1, pages 3-20), the quarterly Journal of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS).   I have submitted for the JR Newsletter the text (pages 3-4) and first catalog listing and commentary from the article.  Auction sale coverage runs from Haseltine (1881) through more recent sales such as Luebke (2007), Queller (2008) and Hesselgesser (2011).
 If any JRCS Members or JR News readers would like a copy of this article along with the illustrations and the complete auction and FPL catalog listings please send a note to W. David Perkins at wdperki (at) and Dave will send you a PDF copy of the article, courtesy of himself and NBS.  Membership and other information on NBS can be found at

Key Public Auction Sales and Fixed-Price Lists: Early United States Silver Dollars, 1794–1804, by W. David Perkins

I have been collecting and researching the early United States silver dollars dated 1794–1803 for over a quarter of a century now. A primary focus of my research has been the great collections and collectors of the early dollars.

Early dollars can be and have been collected in many different ways over the last 150 years or so. In the mid- to late 1800s, most collected simply by date. Others put collections together by type—different combinations of Flowing Hair and Draped Bust obverse dies mated with Small Eagle and Heraldic Eagle reverse dies, overdates, etc. Over time this evolved to what I term “date and major type.” Some focus their collecting on the major types and varieties listed in A Guide Book of United States Coins (the Red Book). Completing a collection of Red Book varieties is a formidable challenge, especially locating nice examples in higher grades. Today there are also PCGS and NGC registry set collections. Currently the ultimate achievement may be a collection of all 118 different die marriages—all the different combinations of obverse and reverse dies used in striking the early dollars. (The total of 118 does not include the “novodel” issues of 1801–1804.) Only one person ever has completed a set of all 118 known die marriages. A number of die marriages have only one specimen known, thus only one person can have a complete set of all 118 different die marriages at any one time. Assembling close to 100 or more die marriages is quite a challenge and in most cases takes many a decade or more to achieve.

 As collecting the early dollars evolves, perhaps the ultimate set someday will include advanced die states, mint errors, counterstamped early dollars, and all four proof “novodel” issues! Classifying and collecting early U.S. silver dollars by die marriage originated with Capt. John W. Haseltine and J. Colvin Randall prior to the publication of the 1881 Haseltine Type Table catalogue. The catalogue of the Messrs. Bangs & Co. auction sale of November 28–29, 1879, noted on page 7:
 Where a variety is designated by “H. & R.” and a number, it relates to number of the variety, fully described in a work on the types and varieties of the United States Silver Dollars, Half and Quarter Dollars, compiled by John W. Haseltine from his collection and that of Mr. J. C. Randall, to be issued in 1880.

 Lot 41 in this sale, for example, was cataloged as “1795; wide date; one point of star touches the curl nearly at the end; reverse has 19 berries; very fine; H. & R., No. 1.” (For additional information on this subject, see Charles Davis, “The Randall Haseltine Type Table,” The Asylum 9 no. 4 (Fall 1993), pp. 17–19.)

 Despite this statement, as many numismatists know today, Haseltine offered his personal reference collection in the Messrs. Bangs & Co. Type Table sale of November 28–30, 1881, where the collection was catalogued using only Haseltine (H) numbers. Haseltine (H) numbers were used to classify the early dollars until around 1950 with Milferd H. Bolender published his new book, The United States Early Silver Dollars from 1794 to 1803. This book introduced Bolender (B) numbers and included the Haseltine (H) number equivalent, for example, “1794 H-1, B-1 Flowing Hair Dollar.” If a die marriage was unknown to Haseltine, just a Bolender number was provided.

Bolender numbers are still used today, along with Bowers-Borckardt (BB) numbers from Q. David Bowers, Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, volume I, published in 1993.

 Following is a listing of what I consider some of the better early silver dollar collections by die marriage that were sold via public auction sales and fixed-price lists, starting with the Haseltine Type Table sale in 1881. I have also included a few selected “date and major type” collections. Please note that there have been other great collections formed in the last hundred years that were sold privately and are not included in this listing. Each sale noted is followed by a short overview of the collection and a few highlights.

Key Sales of Early U.S. Dollars
 5 November 28–30, 1881       John W. Haseltine’s Type Table sale

Important as the first extensive date and die-variety collection of early silver dollars offered via a public auction sale, the “Haseltine Reference Collection.” Some varieties that were disposed of prior to the sale are listed in the back of the catalogue (1794 Haseltine-1 (H-1); 1795 H-8; 1802 H-7 and 1804 H-1). No specimens were plated, making it difficult to attribute die varieties using only the descriptions. B. Max Mehl reprinted the Hazeltine [sic] Type Table in 1927. 
(Article continued on pages 5-20)

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS) is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1979 to support and promote the use and collecting of numismatic literature. Numismatic literature includes books, periodicals, catalogs and other written or printed material relating to coins, medals, tokens, or paper money, ancient or modern, U.S. or worldwide. Membership is open to any individual or organization interested in the study of numismatics and the study and collecting of numismatic literature.