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Lot 30368

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 30368
/Catalog #
Grade 30
Service NGC
Denomination COPPER
Description (1737) COPPER Higley Copper, Broad Axe VF30 NGC. Crosby VIII-24, Freidus 3.2-C, W-8260, R.7. 149.0 grains. The surfaces show a pleasing blend of darker and medium brown patina. The obverse devices are especially well-defined - even the crescent moon is clear. The reverse shows a strong die crack, and the devices on one side are clearly elevated relative to those on the other side of the crack. Many of the reverse devices on this piece (including the axe head) show evidence of the double striking that is so often mentioned in association with these pieces. This doubling is frequently cited as evidence Higley coppers were struck with the ancient hammer method of coining, rather than using a rocker press. This is a remarkably attractive, problem-free Higley copper. When studying these coppers, one eventually has to ask why Higley changed the initial obverse die from THE VALUE OF THREE PENCE to VALUE ME AS YOU PLEASE. Research conducted by Philip Mossman determined that Higley threepence coppers actually weighed less than an English halfpenny. Based on the intrinsic value of the copper in the coins, and after figuring in production costs, Mossman has concluded that valuing the initial coins from 1737 as threepence yielded Samuel Higley a 465% profit. Higley altered the devices in subsequent issues, and in the case of this piece he added J CUT MY WAY THROUGH to the reverse periphery, rather than the previous I AM GOOD COPPER. To further reinforce his assertion of value, a broad axe was substituted in the center of the reverse for the previous three crowned hammers. Undoubtedly value, or the lack thereof, played a pivotal role in the design of these early American coppers. A mere handful of collectors over the past 150 years have been able to locate more than one or two Higley coppers in a lifetime of collecting. Michael Hodder points out the few that have accomplished this feat in the Ford II catalog: "The Norweb sale in 1987 included three Higleys and it was considered unusually large. The Garrett sale featured four Higleys and was described as a landmark. The Zabriskie Collection had six Higley coppers." (The Garrett Collection actually had five Higley coppers.) The Ford and Roper sales each had seven pieces, and we found the Prann Collection from 1947 contained six examples. The Newman Collection has five Higley coppers in this sale, all of which have been off the market for at least 49 years. A sixth example is being retained for the Newman Money Museum. Daniel Freidus recorded eight examples of this die variety, while Q. David Bowers gives a rating of URS-5, suggesting that nine to 16 examples survive, but unfortunately giving no basis for that higher count. The finest known examples of this variety include the XF Garrett Collection coin and the present VF30 Newman piece. Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $199,750.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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