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1861 50C Original

Image Information

Type Coin
Title 1861 50C Original
Date 1861
Grade EF40
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 340401
Denomination 50C

1861 50C Original Confederate States of America Half Dollar PR40 NGC. CAC. 190.5 grains. The 1861 Original Confederate half dollar is one of the rarest and most enigmatic issues in the history of American coinage. Only four coins were struck in the early days of the Civil War, and they remain the only coins specifically designed and produced by the Confederate States of America. As such, their appeal extends far beyond conventional numismatics, and the individual coins have been owned at various times by government officials, soldiers, and millionaire businessmen, as well as some of the greatest coin collectors of all time. As numismatist L.L. Wilson wrote in 1915, the Confederate half dollar represents: {blockquote}"The only Numismatic Record of a nation of nine million people who maintained a precarious existence for the space of nearly four years and a half. There are very few coins today that can be said to rank in interest with this half dollar, with its U.S. obverse and distinctive Confederate States reverse designs. Such a unique combination of the official devices of two great opposing powers probably has not another parallel in history."{/blockquote} Heritage Auctions is privileged to offer one of the finest specimens of this classic American rarity, from the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society, in its first public auction appearance. Historical Background With the Civil War looming, events on the national political scene moved quickly in the early months of 1861, and the New Orleans Mint experienced a rapidly changing sequence of governing authorities. Despite the fluid political situation, the Mint continued to strike coins on a daily basis throughout the early part of the year. From January 1 through January 26, the facility remained under federal control, and a mintage of 330,000 Seated Liberty half dollars and 5,000 Liberty double eagles was accomplished. On January 26, the State of Louisiana took the Mint "under trust" and proceeded to coin 1,240,000 half dollars and 9,750 double eagles before turning operations over to the Confederacy on March 31. In turn, 962,633 half dollars and 2,991 double eagles were struck under the auspices of the Confederacy during the month of April, after which time the Mint was closed. Contemporary authorities cited lack of bullion as the reason for the closure, but this seems unlikely in light of later events. Records describe the evacuation of nearly $1 million in bullion from the facility in April of 1862, just before the re-occupation of New Orleans by federal forces. The Mint could have continued coinage operations for some time with that much bullion on hand. The true reason is more complicated. With the beginning of hostilities, interstate and international commerce declined drastically in the South, greatly reducing the need for coinage. The New Orleans Mint was an expensive institution to keep running at the best of times, and the Confederacy was perpetually short of funds. With its usefulness dwindling and expenses always more difficult to meet, it was impractical to keep the Mint open. Confederate Secretary of the Treasury Christopher Memminger notified Superintendent William Elmore of the decision to close the facility on May 14, 1861, noting, "The stern necessities of war compel the government to collect and receive all of its resources." The closure of the New Orleans Mint destroyed any realistic hope for a distinctive, circulating Confederate coinage. However, such a coinage had been contemplated, and exactly four half dollars were struck using a specially created Confederate reverse die in combination with the familiar federal Seated Liberty half dollar die for the obverse. The four coins were parceled out to interested parties for inspection and evaluation, but nothing further was accomplished and the issue quickly lapsed into obscurity. Many years later, long after the war was over, the story of the Confederate half dollars finally surfaced, to delight and astonish the numismatic community. The Coins Are Struck No account of the Confederate half dollar coinage was published until 18 years after the events took place. In the January 2, 1879, edition of the Philadelphia Record, coin dealer Ebenezer Locke Mason published an article entitled Craze for Coins, listing some rare U.S. issues and emphasizing the high prices dealers were willing to pay for them. As might be expected, Mason received a number of responses from readers who believed they owned rare and valuable coins. On closer investigation, most of the responses proved disappointing, but one remarkable account stood out. The former Chief Coiner of the New Orleans Mint, Benjamin F. Taylor, claimed to have an Original 1861 Confederate half dollar. Mason was initially skeptical, but after further correspondence, including rubbings of the coin, he became convinced that Taylor's coin was genuine. He widely publicized his new find in newspapers and numismatic journals, including Mason's Coin Collector's Herald and the prestigious American Journal of Numismatics. The news attracted the attention of General Marcus J. Wright, who was compiling the Confederate Archives for the Adjutant General's Office. In March of 1879, he wrote to Taylor, inquiring about his service at the New Orleans Mint. The New Orleans Picayune printed the following exchange of correspondence on April 9, 1879: {blockquote}"War Department, Adjutant-General's Office Washington, March 27, 1879. "Dr. B.F. Taylor, New Orleans, La.: "Dear Sir: The inclosed circulars will explain to you the nature of the duties upon which I am now engaged. "I beg to refer you to my friends, Generals Beauregard and Hood, and Captain Pierce, of your city, for my service in the Confederate army. I would like to have from you for file with the Confederate archives, a letter stating when and where you were appointed chief coiner of the Confederate States Mint, instructions received, copies of any original papers, sketches, descriptions, etc., of all the coins made, etc. This will make a valuable addition to Confederate history, and I know no one but you can give it. "Very truly yours, "Marcus J. Wright"{/blockquote} Taylor (who revealed the existence of the coins to dealer Ebenezer Locke Mason only weeks before) replied with a detailed account of the striking of the Confederate half dollars: {blockquote}"New Orleans, La., April 7, 1879. "To Hon. Marcus J. Wright: "Dear Sir: Your favor requesting a statement of the history of the New Orleans Mint, in reference to the coinage under the Confederate government, is received. "That institution was turned over by the State of Louisiana the last of February, 1861, to the Confederate States of America, the old officers being retained and confirmed by the government, viz.: Wm. A. Elmore, Superintendent; A.J. Guirot, Treasurer; M.F. Bonzano, M.D., Melter and Refiner; and Howard Millspaugh, Assayer. "In the month of April orders were issued by Mr. Memminger, Secretary of the Treasury, to the effect that designs for half-dollar coins should be submitted to him for approval. "Among several sent, the one approved bore on the obverse of the coin a representation of the Goddess of Liberty, surrounded by thirteen stars, denoting the thirteen States from whence the Confederacy sprung, and on the lower rim the figures 1861. "On the reverse there is a shield with seven stars, representing the seceding States; above the shield is a liberty cap, and entwined around it stalks of sugar cane and cotton. The inscription is: 'CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA.' The dies were engraved by A.H.M. Patterson, engraver and die sinker, who is now living in Commercial Place. They were prepared for the coining press by Conrad Schmidt, foreman of the coining room (who is still living), from which four pieces only were struck. "About this period an order came from the Secretary suspending operations on account of the difficulty of obtaining bullion, and the Mint was closed April 30, 1861. "Of the four pieces mentioned one was sent to the government; one presented to Prof. Biddle, of the University of Louisiana; one sent to Dr. E. Ames, of New Orleans, the remaining one being retained by myself. Upon diligent inquiry I am unable to find but one piece besides my own, that being in the possession of a Confederate Officer of this city, who transmits it to his son as a souvenir of his father's service in the Confederate cause. "So soon as copies are made I will take pleasure in sending you a specimen for the archives you represent. "Very respectfully, your obedient servant, "B.F. Taylor, M.D. " Formerly Chief Coiner C.S.A."{/blockquote} Apparently, Taylor's memory played him false on some minor details, as the Confederacy only took over the New Orleans Mint from the State of Louisiana on April 1, 1861, not the end of February, as he indicated in his letter. Similarly, the name of the engraver was Peterson, not Patterson, and "Prof. Biddle" almost certainly refers to John Leonard Riddell, former Melter and Refiner at the Mint and Postmaster of New Orleans, among his other accomplishments. In Taylor's defense, some of the errors may have occurred when his handwritten reply was transcribed into print by the Picayune, as some slightly later accounts in the press have the names Peterson and Riddell spelled correctly. Taylor's account was widely accepted at the time, and provides most of what we know about the striking of the coins today. Despite Mason's extensive publicity campaign, he failed to place the coin with a suitable buyer, as many collectors believed the issue rightfully belonged to the U.S. government. The editor of the American Journal of Numismatics noted the coin "... struck in the New Orleans Mint by government officers, with government tools, and on silver stolen from the United States, should be restored to its true ownership ..." and placed in the Mint Cabinet. No doubt, fear of confiscation dampened the enthusiasm of many collectors, and the Confederate half dollar proved a difficult coin to market. Mason eventually sold the coin and the Confederate die, which Taylor had carefully preserved, to prominent New York coin dealer John Walter Scott, for a mere $310. J.W. Scott and the Restrikes The following is from our description of the Partrick specimen of the Confederate half dollar in lot 5847 of the Donald G. Partrick Collection (Heritage, 1/2015): {blockquote}"After his purchase of the discovery piece and the reverse die, John W. Scott's efforts to promote the Confederate half dollar were even more energetic than Mason's. He published an article about the Confederate cents and half dollar in the June 1879 edition of the Coin Collector's Journal, outlining Taylor's account of the striking and mentioning his purchase of the discovery coin. Perhaps inspired by Haseltine's successful offering of Confederate cent restrikes, he decided to sponsor a similar program of restrikes for the half dollar. Since he had only the reverse die for the half dollar (Taylor had not preserved the obverse), Scott conceived the ingenious idea of using regular-issue 1861-O Seated Liberty half dollars, with the reverse design "drilled off," for planchets. David Proskey assisted in the difficult task of rounding up 500 examples from the original issue and filing off the reverse design. Each of the now one-sided coins was placed in the anvil position of a screw press, with the obverse padded, and affixed in a collar with a blank edge, after which the now-blank reverse was struck with the Confederate half dollar die. Inevitably, the obverse design and edge reeding were slightly flattened in this process, but the Restrikes are still convincing facsimiles of the Original 1861 Confederate half dollars, and have often been mistaken for the very rare Originals. Because of the planed reverse, the weight of a typical Restrike is about 185 grains, noticeably lighter than the standard 192 grains for a Seated Liberty half dollar of that era. The Original 1861 Confederate half dollars were struck on standard planchets, so their weights are close to the 192-grain standard, a reliable way to distinguish between Restrikes and Originals. "Because the rim was crumbling slightly above the ER in AMERICA, Scott was afraid that the old, somewhat rusty, Confederate die would break during the striking process. So he would have at least something to offer if the dies broke while coining the 500 Restrike half dollars, he first produced 500 tokens struck in white metal, which he believed would cause less wear on the die. These tokens featured the Confederate design on the reverse, with an obverse bearing the inscription "4 ORIGINALS STRUCK BY ORDER OF C.S.A. IN NEW ORLEANS 1861 ****** REV. SAME AS U.S. (FROM ORIGINAL DIE, SCOTT). "Scott began marketing the Restrikes through fliers in September of 1879, offering the coins at $2.00 each and promising to deface the die after 500 pieces were struck. He also offered the Original Confederate half dollar for a price of $1,000, but no takers were forthcoming. The tokens were offered at 50 cents per piece, and the cancelled die was offered for $50. Scott reported that sales of the Restrikes were brisk and he ran out of coins before the demand could be met, but Proskey later revealed that Scott maintained a large supply on hand for many years. The coins were all dispersed by the early part of the 20th century, and have become steadily more popular over the years. "The Restrikes were often mistaken for Originals in later years, making pedigree tracking difficult because of all the spurious sightings in the literature. For example, coin collector L.L. Wilson wrote an account of his coin, which he believed to be an Original, in the August 1915 edition of the Philatelic West, with a halftone image of the coin and a provenance, making his case most convincing. Although the image of the obverse seems less flattened than the typical Restrike, careful comparison to the specimens known today reveals no match, and the rim above ER in AMERICA seems to show the crumbling seen on the Restrikes. In all likelihood, Wilson's coin was a better-than-average Restrike, which he mistook for an Original."{/blockquote} Like Mason, Scott found the Confederate half dollar difficult to market, despite his energetic advertising campaign. His $1,000 asking price was probably unrealistic, as it would have been a world record price for any U.S. coin at the time. After his fixed price offering produced no takers, he offered the Confederate half dollar in the sale of his personal collection, the John W. Scott Collection (Scott Stamp & Coin, 3/1882), lot 163. The bidding was enthusiastic, and a top bid of $870 was received. This was an extremely high price for that era, but still short of Scott's $1,000 reserve. Scott retained ownership of the coin and kept it in a safe deposit box for the next 28 years. The B.F. Taylor/John W. Scott specimen of the Confederate half dollar was finally purchased by prominent numismatist Edgar Adams, circa 1910. Adams offered the coin in a Thomas Elder sale in 1910, where it also failed to meet the reserve. He later displayed the Confederate half dollar at the 1914 ANS Exhibition. After a few more changes in ownership, the coin was donated to the ANS by millionaire collector, J. Sanford Saltus, where it remains today. Peterson's Interview Until recent times, B.F. Taylor's account of the striking and dispersal of the four Original 1861 Confederate half dollars was accepted by the vast majority of numismatists, but the findings of several present-day researchers have cast some doubt on his list of original owners. In a March 30, 2015-dated article in Coin World, researchers Nancy Oliver and Richard Kelly unearthed a long-lost interview concerning the striking of the Confederate half dollars, given by Augustas Heinrich Marcus Peterson, the man who designed and engraved the die for the Confederate reverse. The interview was originally published in the January 24, 1889, issue of the Wichita Daily Eagle, in the form of a special correspondence report by journalist Jorge Brisson, who was visiting New Orleans at the time. As often happens when two individuals recall the same incident from the distant past, Peterson's account agrees with Taylor's in most areas, but differs in several particulars. The following is a quote from the final portion of the interview: {blockquote}"Mr. Peterson himself, he tells me, having had some little experience as a die-sinker, was asked to assist Conrad Smith, foreman of the coinage room of the New Orleans Mint, in preparing the new die; and they completed their work the later part of May and turned it over to Dr. B.F. Taylor, Superintendent of the Mint, who had four specimen pieces struck. One of these was forwarded to Secretary Memminger and another to President Davis; one given to Mr. Peterson and the last retained by Dr. Taylor himself."{/blockquote} Peterson claimed he still had his Confederate half dollar in 1889, having refused several offers of as much as $700 for it. This was not Peterson's first article about the Confederate half dollar, although it was the first time he described the striking of the coins. He seems to have had a keen interest in the coins he helped create and closely followed any publicity concerning the issue. He disapproved of Scott's Restrikes, and castigated Taylor for selling the reverse die in an earlier article in 1882. Like Taylor's account, published ten years earlier, Peterson's interview contains a number of inconsistencies. The foreman's last name was Schmidt, not Smith, and Taylor was the Chief Coiner, not the Superintendent, of the New Orleans Mint. More importantly, if Peterson's dates are correct and the dies were not finished until late in May, then the striking of the Confederate half dollars took place after Secretary Memminger ordered the closure of the New Orleans Mint. Researcher George Corell, coauthor of The Lovett Cent; a Confederate Story, has advanced the theory that the Confederate half dollars were actually clandestine strikings, like the 1913 Liberty nickel, based on contemporary documents like Peterson's account. As Oliver and Kelly explain in their article, it all depends on whose version of events you believe. Both Taylor and Peterson played important roles in the production of the Confederate half dollars and both men were present when the events in question took place, but both were relying on memories of events that happened decades before their written accounts appeared. Both men seem understandably vague about some dates and the names and titles of other people involved. It would be most unusual if their accounts did not differ in some details. As far as their lists of original owners is concerned, Taylor and Peterson both agree that Taylor kept one of the coins himself, and the pedigree of that specimen is well-documented down to the present day. The coin that "was sent to the government" in Taylor's list corresponds to the example that Secretary Memminger received in Peterson's account. Unfortunately, the two men differ widely on the identities of the other two original owners. Taylor believed the other coins went to Dr. Edward Ames and Dr. John Leonard Riddell. Riddell died in 1865, and Ames passed away in 1874, so neither man could confirm or deny Taylor's 1879 report. No one has ever established a positive connection between Dr. Ames and the New Orleans Mint. All things considered, he seems a most unlikely recipient for a Confederate half dollar. On the other hand, John Leonard Riddell was Melter and Refiner of the New Orleans Mint from 1839-1848 and he published the Monologue of the Silver Dollar: Good and Bad in 1845. His interest in numismatics and connection to the Mint make him at least a credible candidate for ownership of a Confederate half dollar. Peterson's two unconfirmed nominees for original ownership include himself and President Jefferson Davis. It seems unlikely that Davis would receive a coin directly from the New Orleans Mint. Such a coin would have been sent through official channels and would have passed through Memminger first. Peterson's confusion may have resulted from some correspondence in J.W. Scott's publicity campaign. Scott had written to Jefferson Davis about the Confederate half dollar in 1879, and had widely publicized the correspondence. Davis confirmed that he had owned a "Confederate coin" that was stolen during his imprisonment after the war, but he could not say for sure if his piece was the half dollar Scott was inquiring about. Peterson was probably aware of this correspondence, since he obviously followed the history of the Confederate half dollar in the press. If his memory failed him about the identity of the third original owner during his 1889 interview, it would have been natural for him to assume the coin had gone to Davis . As to Peterson's claim of ownership, as the man who engraved and helped prepare the Confederate reverse for coinage, he seems a natural recipient of the fourth specimen. Given the contradictory information in the two eyewitness reports, it is impossible to identify the four original owners of the Confederate half dollars with absolute certainty. However, we believe the most likely recipients were Chief Coiner B.F. Taylor, CSA Secretary of the Treasury Christopher Memminger, New Orleans die-sinker A.H.M. Peterson, and former Melter and Refiner John Leonard Riddell. None of the initial recipients were noted coin collectors, despite their obvious numismatic interests and ties to the Mint. The numismatic community was not even aware of the coin's existence until Taylor's specimen appeared in 1879. The other three examples surfaced much later, at widely spaced intervals, making it difficult to match the initial owners of the coins to their more recent pedigree chains. The Present Coin The present coin was the second of the four Confederate half dollars to come to the attention of the numismatic community, and its pedigree can be reliably traced back to Thomas Elder in 1912. The publicity surrounding Elder's offering of the Taylor Confederate half dollar in his William Lukens auction in March of 1910 inspired Mark Jacobs, the owner of this piece, to contact him about this coin almost immediately. Within a month of the Lukens sale, Elder published a notice of his new find in the April 1910 edition of The Elder Magazine: {blockquote}"The second known original Confederate Half Dollar, - one of the original four specimens - was shown to Mr. Elder on April 20th, by its owner, Mr. Mark Jacobs of Rondout, New York. Mr. Jacobs, who is a tailor, received this coin about 30 years ago in a roll of change from the bank."{/blockquote} Tracing Jacobs' coin back to its original owner is quite difficult. According to his account, he obtained this piece circa 1880. Since Peterson reportedly still had his example when he gave his interview in 1889, this could not be his coin. Similarly, we know the whereabouts of the Taylor specimen in 1880, so it cannot be that example, either. Nancy Oliver and Richard Kelly believe this coin is the one sent to Memminger, but John Leonard Riddell cannot be completely ruled out as the original owner. Oliver and Kelly have also tentatively linked this piece to former Confederate General Francis T. Nicholls, in 1866, and his son, Thomas, circa 1879. The Nicholls attribution fits well with Taylor's description of "a Confederate Officer of this city, who transmits it to his son as a souvenir of his father's service in the Confederate cause." It also neatly fills most of the chronological gap between Memminger in 1861 and Jacobs in 1880. Still, we have to caution that the pedigree of this specimen before 1910 is conjectural. After 1910, the history of this coin is well-established, as it became a highlight of some of the greatest coin collections of all time. Elder purchased this example from Jacobs in 1912 and sold it to prominent Wisconsin collector Henry Olsen Granberg. It later passed to Baltimore numismatist Waldo Newcomer and super-collector "Colonel" E.H.R. Green. After Green's death, the partnership of Eric P. Newman and St. Louis coin dealer B.G. Johnson acquired this piece from his estate. Newman eventually purchased the coin for $4,000, and exhibited it in his Mercantile Money Museum in St. Louis. It has been the property of the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society for many years. Despite its relatively long pedigree, this is its first public offering, and it is the last of the four Confederate half dollars to appear in a public auction. The Other Two Confederate Half Dollars The Partrick specimen of the Confederate half dollar can be traced with certainty only back to 1961, when a coin dealer named Ted Schnur sold it to New York City coin dealer John J. Ford at the New York Metropolitan Coin Convention. Both men believed the coin was a Scott Restrike at the time, but Ford and his associate, Paul Franklin, soon recognized it as an Original. Ford retained the coin for his private collection until October of 2003. When Ford's collection was sold in a series of public auctions by Stack's, his Confederate half dollar was purchased by Donald G. Partrick for $632,500. More recently, this PR30 NGC coin sold in lot 5847 of the Donald G. Partrick Collection (Heritage, 1/2015), for $881,250. The earlier history of this piece is controversial. Many numismatists believe it once belonged to CSA President Jefferson Davis, after being forwarded to him by Memminger. Others think it was originally given to Riddell, Ames, or Peterson, for various reasons. The final Confederate half dollar only surfaced in New Orleans in 1971. Its prior history is unknown, but many numismatists believe it was the coin originally presented to John Leonard Riddell. New Orleans coin dealer James Cohen purchased the piece from an elderly man who brought it to his place of business. Cohen believed the piece was an Original, so he showed it to New York coin dealer Lester Merkin. Merkin had the coin examined by Walter Breen, who pronounced it genuine. Merkin then acquired the coin from Cohen, and later sold this fourth example to Colonial specialist Henry P. Kendall. The Kendall specimen was sold, along with the rest of his holdings, in an auction by Stack's in March 2015. The PR40 NGC specimen realized $646,250. The history of the Original 1861 Confederate half dollar is remarkable for its paucity of auction appearances. The issue has been recognized and widely sought-after in the numismatic community for 138 years, but this appearance marks only the sixth time a specimen has been offered at public auction. For a stretch of 93 years, from 1910 to 2003, no example of the Confederate half dollar was publicly offered. Other coins of comparable rarity, like the 1913 Liberty nickel, appear with much greater frequency. A unique combination of circumstances has presented fortunate collectors with an unprecedented number of chances to acquire this fantastic rarity in recent years. All three available coins have now appeared at auction since 2015. The chances of another auction appearance of this issue in the near future are extremely small. Physical Description Neither Chief Coiner B.F. Taylor nor Engraver A.H.M. Peterson had extensive experience engraving dies for coinage, and the Confederate reverse is obviously the product of an inexperienced die-sinker. As Melter and Refiner M.F. Bonzano related in a letter to Mint Director James Kimball on November 4, 1887, Peterson "produced a half dollar die of such high relief as rendered it impractical for use in a coining press." The dies were burnished by foreman Conrad Schmidt and the four coins were struck in proof format "by successive blows of a screw press." Although some researchers dispute the proof status of the Confederate half dollar, they have historically been known as proofs and NGC certifies them accordingly. The present coin is tied with the Henry P. Kendall specimen for second-finest known honors. Both coins have been certified in the identical PR40 grade by NGC, considerably finer than the PR30 John Ford/Donald Partrick specimen that sold for a record price of $881,250 in January 2015. A comparison of the two PR40 coins reveals this piece has better-preserved surfaces, with less granularity and fewer abrasions than the Kendall specimen. On the other hand, the Kendall coin has sharper details, with less wear on Liberty's hair and bodice than the coin offered here. The famous die crack from the rim to Liberty's nose shows faintly on this specimen. Both coins show some localized softness on the central reverse, with some weakness in the vertical bars of the shield, but the peripheral reverse elements of this piece were strongly impressed, in high relief, and only light wear is evident on that side of the coin. The pleasing, slightly prooflike surfaces are blanketed in attractive shades of lavender-gray and golden-brown toning. The finest known, fully proof B.F. Taylor example is included in the collection of the American Numismatic Society and forever off the market, so this coin represents the finest available technical quality for this storied issue. The CAC sticker attests to its outstanding visual appeal. Only three examples of the 1861 Original Confederate half dollar are available to collectors, and the other two specimens recently changed ownership and are once again in strong hands. It may be decades before eager collectors have another chance to obtain an example of this iconic numismatic treasure. Prospective bidders should plan accordingly. Roster of 1861 Confederate Half Dollars The early histories of most of the coins are conjectural, due to contradictory accounts in the press and lack of official documentation. 1. Proof. Chief Coiner B.F. Taylor of the New Orleans Mint in April of 1861; Ebenezer Locke Mason; John Walter Scott; John W. Scott Collection (Scott Stamp & Coin Co., 3/1882), lot 163, unsold; Edgar H. Adams, circa 1910; William Lukens Collection (Thomas Elder, 3/1910), lot 552, unsold; Edgar H. Adams retained ownership and exhibited the coin at the 1914 ANS Exhibition; David Proskey in 1918; purchased by J. Sanford Saltus along with the die for $3,000; presented to the American Numismatic Society on July 30, 1918. 2. PR40 NGC. Possibly CSA Secretary of the Treasury Christopher Memminger in April of 1861; possibly former Confederate General Francis T. Nicholls, circa 1866; passed to his son, Thomas Nicholls, circa 1879 (thanks to Richard Kelly and Nancy Oliver for this information); found in a roll of change by Mark Jacobs, of Rondout, New York, circa 1880; Thomas Elder in 1912; H.O. Granberg; Waldo Newcomer; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green, via B. Max Mehl in 1931; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman/B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp and Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $4,000; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. The present coin. 3. PR40 NGC. Possibly John Leonard Riddell, Postmaster of the City of New Orleans in April of 1861; unknown intermediaries, including an unidentified elderly man in New Orleans; purchased by coin dealer James Cohen in 1970; Lester Merkin; sold to Henry P. Kendall on June 21, 1971; Kendall Foundation Collection (Stack's Bowers, 3/2015), lot 2583, realized $646,250. 4. PR30 NGC. Possibly CSA President Jefferson Davis in 1861, stolen in 1865; or New Orleans engraver A.H.M. Peterson; unknown intermediaries, coin dealer Ted Schnur; purchased by John J. Ford, Jr. at the New York Metropolitan Coin Convention in 1961; Paul Franklin, briefly; John Ford again; John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part I (Stack's, 10/2003), lot 325, realized $632,500; Donald Groves Partrick; Partrick Collection, Part I (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 5847, realized $881,250.

Heritage Newman IX, November 2017, lot 15125, realized $960000. Images and description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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