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Lot 30369

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 30369
Date 1739
/Catalog #
Grade 4
Service NGC
Denomination HIGLEY
Description 1739 COPPER Higley Copper, Broad Axe Good 4 NGC. Crosby VIII-26, Freidus 3.3-D, W-8285, R.7. 177.8 grains. This unique reverse type is identifiable as Reverse D by the presence of the date, 1739, just faintly visible below the blade of the axe. The presence of a date on these pieces is another curiosity in the Higley series. Samuel Higley was lost at sea in May 1737, while delivering a load of copper ore to England. His will was entered into court records on June 7, 1737. So who exactly struck these pieces? Once again, we are left with only speculation. Some have claimed his older brother, John, Jr., struck them. It could just as likely have been one or several of Samuel Higley's business associates. All we know for sure is that they were minted in Connecticut in 1739. Among the canon of stories and oral traditions associated with Higley coppers is one related by Sylvester Crosby and only recently debunked by Daniel Freidus. This legend claims that early 19th century goldsmiths used Higley coppers as copper alloy in jewelry because of the "fine quality of the metal of which they were composed." Freidus conducted metallurgical analyses on Higley coppers and other contemporary copper coins from America and England, and found no significant difference in the purity of the copper. All were over 95% pure, and most were 98% to 99% pure copper. Crosby related the story of their use by goldsmiths as a way to explain the extreme rarity of Higley coppers, even in the 1870s. Today their rarity is widely recognized, and only seven other examples were recorded of this variety on Freidus' roster from 20 years ago. This is a heavily, although not atypically, worn example of a Higley copper. The obverse clearly shows the deer, the words VALUE PLEASE, the denomination below the deer, the curved lines below the deer and the five-pointed star. The reverse shows a faint outline of the broad axe. Of all the peripheral devices on the reverse, only the date shows plainly. Nevertheless, the surfaces are even brown and undamaged, unlike many Higley coppers. Ex: Prann Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 8/1947); Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $54,343.75. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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