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Lot 3025


Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 3025
Date 1776
Side obverse
Grade 8
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 286
Denomination COPPER
Description 1776 COPPER New Hampshire Pine Tree Copper VG8 NGC. CAC. Breen-708, Whitman-8395, High R.7. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. 142.0 grains, 99% copper, per NGC test results. The obverse of this simply designed copper features a tall Pine Tree with the legend AMERICAN LIBERTY, while the reverse depicts a harp with the date 1776. Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia lists six different varieties under the heading New Hampshire Coppers, but that illustrated and offered here is the only variety that is considered a genuine New Hampshire copper. Sylvester S. Crosby reproduced the legislation in Early Coins of America and noted that a copy of the original record of March 13, 1776 included sketched designs that are nearly identical to the few surviving examples such as this piece from the Eric P. Newman Collection. Facts about these coppers are limited and surviving examples are extremely rare, although reproductions are commonplace. In his book, In Yankee Doodle's Pocket, Will Nipper writes: "New Hampshire patterns are so rare that the probability of encountering a genuine specimen is almost zero. Yet, copies number in the millions." Walter Breen estimated that eight or nine examples exist and Q. David Bowers suggested almost incredibly that as many as 32 might exist when he assigned this variety a rating of "URS-5 or 6" in the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins. A rating of URS-4 is in line with this cataloger's experience. The Newman coin, the Garrett example, and one other seem to be the only three in private hands, with others in the collections of the American Numismatic Society and the Smithsonian Institution. All five examples are cast, rather than struck, perhaps unsurprising as steel for dies was unobtainable, and they were made by the silversmith, William Moulton, according to numismatic tradition. Moulton was recommended by the New Hampshire House of Representatives to produce the coins. The cast production of these pieces undoubtedly accounts for some of the light porosity seen on all known examples. The otherwise splendid surfaces are lovely golden-brown, with the principal devices on both sides outlined. The legend and date are partially visible. All five known examples are low grade. The New Hampshire House of Representatives established a committee on March 13, 1776 to consider the subject of coinage, and they recommended that William Moulton produce up to 100 pounds of copper coinage to be the weight of an English halfpence (the following reproduced from Crosby): {blockquote}"In the House of Representatives Mar: 13th 1776. "Voted that a Committee be chose to Join a Committee from the Honorable Board, to confer upon the expediency of making Copper Coin & make a report to this House. "Voted, that Capt. Pierce Long, Jonathan Lovell, Esq. & Deacon Nahum Balden be the Committee for the above mentioned purpose. P. White Speaker."{/blockquote} Wyseman Claggett and Benjamin Giles replied with their report the same day: {blockquote}"The Committee humbly report that they find it expedient to make Copper Coin, for the Benefit of small Change, and as the Continental and other Bills are so large that William Moulton be empowered to make so many as may amount to 100 lb. [weight] subject when made to the Inspection and Direction of the General Assembly, before Circulation. Also we recommend that 108 of said Coppers be equal to one Spanish [Milled] Dollar: That the said Coin be of pure Copper and equal in [weight] to English halfpence, and bear such Device thereon as the [General] Assembly may approve. Wyseman Claggett, Chairman."{/blockquote} Just over three months later, on June 28, 1776, the same body voted a sum not to exceed 1,000 pounds in lawful money with a weight of five pennyweight and 10 grains each (130 grains): {blockquote}"Voted, That the Treasurer of this Colony receive into the Treasury, in exchange for the Paper Bills of this Colony, any quantity of Copper Coin, made in this Colony, of the weight of five pennyweight and ten grains each, to the amount of any sum not exceeding �1,000 lawful money; three of which Coppers shall be received and paid for two pence, lawful money, in all payments; which Coppers shall have the following device, viz: A Pine tree, with the word American Liberty on one side, and a harp and the figures 1776 on the other side."{/blockquote} The surviving pieces all weigh between 142 and 155 grains, nearly equal to the weight of an English halfpence and 10% to 20% over the authorized weight of June 28, suggesting they were produced in reply to the original recommendation of March, and that the June 28 authorization never materialized. Silversmith and pioneer William Moulton, III, was born at Newburyport, Massachusetts on July 12, 1720. He married Lydia Greenleaf on September 16, 1742, and died at Marietta, Northwest Territory (Ohio) in 1793. He plied his trade in Newburyport from 1742 to 1762, and in Hempstead, New Hampshire from 1762 until 1788, when he left for the Northwest Territory. It is likely that he is the same William Moulton who made the New Hampshire coppers, and he is undoubtedly the same man who lived his last few years in Ohio Country. The June 25, 1788 issue of the Essex Journal of Newburyport, Massachusetts published extracts of a letter "from Mr. William Moulton, to his family in Hampstead, in the state of New Hampshire." Julia Perkins Cutler, author of Founders of Ohio, related an eye-witness account of Col. Joseph Barker during the Indian Wars of 1791 that specifically mentions "old Mr. William Moulton, aged seventy, with his apron full of old goldsmith's tools." There is no doubt that William Moulton, the Massachusetts and New Hampshire silversmith who made these rare copper coins, was also the Ohio pioneer. Ex: Bartlett Collection (Thomas Elder, 1/1918); Waldo C. Newcomer; B. Max Mehl; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $300.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $94000.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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