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Lot 3472

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 3472
Date 1852
Side obverse
Grade 63
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 10348
Denomination $10
Description 1852 $10 Wass Molitor Ten Dollar, Large Head, Wide Date MS63 NGC. CAC. K-4, R.5. The firm of Wass, Molitor & Co. issued private gold coins in five and ten dollar denominations on an emergency basis, beginning in January of 1852. The coins were struck to alleviate a crippling shortage of small denomination gold coins in the region, as all the earlier private mints had been closed by 1851, and the United States Assay Office of Gold was not authorized to issue any coins except their octagonal fifty dollar slugs, which were handy for large transactions, but useless in making change for small purchases. After much argument and several changes in direction, Moffat & Co., acting under their government contract as the U.S. Assay Office, finally received permission to issue lower denomination gold coins in early 1852. The two companies were able to strike enough coins to meet the economic needs of the region for some time, and no Wass, Molitor & Co. issues were coined in 1853 or 1854. The Wass, Molitor & Co. ten dollar coins were struck in large numbers, and the issue was well-received because the intrinsic value of the coins was at least as great as the face value. Three die varieties are known for the date, with this coin representing the popular K-4 variety, identified by the pointed bust of Liberty and the wide uneven date. Probably no more than 100 examples of the K-4 variety survive today in all grades, as the great majority of the pieces were turned in for recoinage after the San Francisco Mint opened in 1854. The central devices on the obverse die were deeply cut, and the reverse is typically softly impressed on the corresponding area. Donald Kagin enumerates 10 obverse die cracks on the K-4 issue, with another three on the reverse. The Wass, Molitor &Co. ten dollar gold piece was a popular issue with collectors in the early part of the 20th century. We have tentatively identified this coin as an example from the fabulous collection of Waldo Newcomer, based on similarities between the coin and the image of the Wass, Molitor & Co. ten dollar piece on B. Max Mehl's Newcomer plates. The image and the coin share the following features: {blockquote}1. A tiny obverse rim bruise at about 6 o,clock, just left of the 8 in the date. 2. A small contact mark on Liberty's nose. 3. Three small obverse planchet flakes, one slightly above and to the right of the date, and two in the field, near star 2. 4. A curling lint mark behind the lowest bun of Liberty's hair. 5. A small slanting contact mark on the upper side of the eagle's wing on the reverse. 6. Two more minor contact marks in the reverse field, one above the eagle's head, and another just in from the rim at about 7 o'clock.{/blockquote} Curiously, some marks that do show on the coin are not visible on the Newcomer plate. This may be a trick of the lighting, or it is possible that the marks were not yet on the coin when the photograph was taken more than 80 years ago. Plate matching images of this vintage is always difficult, and we acknowledge the slight possibility that we may be in error in this instance, but the many similarities noted above are quite convincing. The great majority of Newcomer's American coins were sold through B. Max Mehl in the early 1930s, with the lion's share of the gold going to "Col." E.H. R. Green. Eric P. Newman acquired many of Green's coins when his collection was broken up in the early 1940s, and this piece may have been among them, but no documentary evidence has survived to confirm this. The present coin is tied for finest certified with one other coin at NGC, while PCGS has graded no example finer than MS62 (8/14). The design elements are sharply rendered and the lemon-yellow surfaces radiate vibrant mint luster throughout. This coin should find a home in the finest collection of Territorial gold. Ex: Possibly Waldo Newcomer and "Col." E.H.R. Green; Eric P. Newman; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $82250.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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