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Lot 30376

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 30376
Date 1787
/Catalog #
Grade 45
Service NGC
Denomination COPPER
Description 1787 COPPER New York, Nova Eborac, Seated Figure Faces Right XF45 NGC. Breen-987, W-5760, R.4. The Nova Eborac coppers are ranked scarce overall, and the Breen-987, W-5760 Seated Figure Faces Right variety is rated very scarce or R.4, somewhat more elusive than the Seated Figure Faces Left variety but still obtainable. The Medium Head Nova Eboracs are the only types readily obtainable, as the Small Head and Large Head variants are both very rare. The 1787 Nova Eboracs appeared to help fill the void in New York coinage that existed from the variety of substandard types in contemporary circulation. The Irish halfpennies with a harp and British halfpence bearing the effigy of George II were often defaced and worn slick from circulation; the British monarchy under George III, who assumed the throne in 1760, resisted the necessity to coin copper bearing his likeness until 1797, as the pieces were considered "ignoble." This gave rise to the various Conder tokens, Birmingham coppers, evasion tokens, and Tory coppers that served as substitutes. Will Nipper writes in his underrated reference, In Yankee Doodle's Pocket: The Myth, Magic and Politics of Money in Early America: {blockquote}"In the absence of specie [gold and silver], the most widely used coin form in eighteenth century America, by a significant margin, was the British halfpenny. Farthings circulated in the colonies as well, but to a lesser extent. Ironically, as many as two-thirds of the coppers in America actually may have been counterfeits. This is evidenced by American non-collector accumulations that contain large proportions of them. Moreover, eighteenth century newspapers, American and British, routinely carried editorials lamenting the abundance of lightweight imitation coppers. For years the commercial role of imitation coppers was underestimated, perhaps because the coins themselves attracted little attention. Today, however, counterfeit British coppers are among the hottest topics in early American numismatics. Except for a few halfpence that are linked to unauthorized Confederation era American mints, no absolute place of origin ever has been established for the various groups of imitations."{/blockquote} It was into this maelstrom of counterfeit copper coinage that the 1787 Nova Eborac coppers appeared. Rather than depicting George II or George III with a fictitious date, or surrounding a vaguely regal bust with a deceptive legend, the Nova Eborac coppers encircled the same monarchical, laurel-wreathed portraits with the legend NOVA EBORAC (New York) on the obverse. And rather than Britannia on the reverse bearing a shield, the simple addition of a cap atop the pole she bore turned the seated goddess into a decent representation of Liberty -- or perhaps Virtue. The legend VIRT. ET. LIB. seems to allow for either possibility, and the general fabric of the coins not only imitates British halfpence, but some Connecticut and Vermont coppers as well. Although there is no certain documentation, the letter punches used on these coins were identical to those used on the Brasher doubloons, tying Ephraim Brasher, and likely John Bailey, to these and related issues. This piece is a nice Choice XF example with medium chocolate-brown surfaces that show scattered tan-colored accents and a bit of charcoal patina at LIB on the reverse. The glossy surfaces retain some evidence of the original mint luster. This piece shows the usually seen late state of the reverse die, displaying a triangular break from the right quatrefoil to the seated figure's right foot. Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $4,112.50. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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