“Special” dollars in the 2021 Baltimore auction from Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ November 2021 Baltimore auction – the official Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo auction – will take place after the convention on November 22nd and 23rd in Costa Mesa, California.
The 151-lot Rarities Night session on November 23 has a very unusual Gobrecht dollar from 1836, which was rated Proof 6 by the Professional Coin Grading Service. The proof designation identifies its original method of manufacture, while the numerical rating recognizes the heavy wear and tear on both sides, possibly suggesting that it was worn as a bag piece for many years.
The design elements, including the date, remain clear, while “a small marginal stain at 7 o’clock is noticed on the latter side as well as small scratches on the back, but all of these features are easy to forgive given the handling the coin has obviously endured,” emphasizes the Cataloger.
Gobrecht dollars from 1836 to 1839 are curious items that have long been of interest to type collectors interested in only one type and to specialists who have identified stamp marks and other features in order to get original mints from re-mintings from the late 1850s to early 1870s to distinguish. This coin is listed as Judd 60 in the pattern reference and is classified as Original, with a smooth edge and dice orientation 1 with the eagle flying upwards.
All examples are rare. As Stack’s Bowers writes of the dollars designed by engraver Christian Gobrecht: âThe rarity and importance of the Gobrecht dollar as a type has resulted in strong numismatic prices for examples across the rating spectrum, and it is rare that the budget conscious collector has an opportunity to at a relatively low price on an attractive coin. ”
Up to the Gobrecht dollar, the silver dollar was last minted in 1804 (with an earlier date stamped). Contemporary reports say that 1,000 judd 60 original dollars were minted in 1836. Despite its inclusion in the sample references, the Red Book identifies it as a circulation problem. Stack’s Bowers Galleries, in its offering of another example of the issue, wrote: âThe mint even ran some sort of press campaign on the new coin, as descriptions of ‘a new dollar from our own mint’ were published in New York as early as December 15, 1836, and spread nationwide in the course of the following month. “
Zerbe Proof 1921 Morgan
Farran Zerbe recently made some numismatic headlines when the American Numismatic Association announced that it would remove this numismatist’s name from its highest honor. Zerbe was president of the ANA from 1907 to 1909 and was a bit of a seedy character. He was influential in creating the Peace Dollar in 1921 and used his connections to have some special pieces made for his own interests. He called for special Morgan dollars from 1921 to be minted at the Philadelphia Mint to serve as de facto proofs for the year.
Stack’s Bowers will be offering a 1921 Morgan dollar now known as the Zerbe Special Strike and rated by PCGS as Specimen 66 with a green CAC sticker
While the coin is unofficially known as the “Zerbe Proof,” these aren’t true proof strikes like the Morgan dollars from 1878-1904 that were sold direct to collectors. Instead, they are special coins that are not identified as proofs in coin records, but come from highly polished stamps.
The cataloger explains: “The present example shows the well-known diagnostics of the type with the above-mentioned semi-reflective fields and scattered die polishing lines from the die preparation process.”
Of the 150 or so Zerbes minted on request, perhaps 100 to 125 have survived, and this one is one of the most beautiful.
Some are rather skeptical about the possible proof status of the Zerbe pieces. F. David Bowers wrote in his latest edition of A Guide to Morgan Silver Dollars“In the author’s view, Zerbe proofs have no numismatic or historical basis,” adds, “It seems very unlikely that these were made as proofs for collectors.” Still, regardless of their status, they are more attractive than the regular issue of 1921 Morgan dollars and are highly sought after by collectors today, especially in the absence of normal proofs of the year.
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