Insights

1897 Cuban coins, offered in Lissner Collection auction, were struck in the United States

Portion of International page from July 21, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Coin World
Published : 07/07/14
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The following post is pulled from Coin World’s International page in the July 21 issue.

The story of world coinage struck at United States government Mint facilities is no secret, but lesser known may be the issues struck in the United States by private companies for use around the world.

Several highlights from the Richard Lissner Collection, which is being auctioned Aug. 1 and 2 in Chicago, illustrate the activity of private companies in supplying world coins in the absence of domestic mints.

Classical Numismatic Group, St. James’s Auctions and M. Louis Teller are jointly auctioning the Richard Lissner Collection of 2,900 coins in 2,200 lots, at the Chicago Marriot O’Hare. Every coin in the collection was submitted to Numismatic Guaranty Corp. for grading and encapsulation.

Printed catalogs are available for purchase A digital edition may be viewed at the CNG website.

For more information, telephone CNG at 717-390-9194. 

Coin World is highlighting three issues that combine condition, rarity and history. Below is the first.

Cuban coins promote freedom at turn of 20th century

In 1897, to raise money for Cuba’s struggle for independence, a New York banker came up with the idea to issue souvenir “coins.”

About the same size, weight and fineness as the World’s Columbian Exposition half dollar, the 1897 Cuban liberation pesos bear no denomination (they read SOUVENIR) and were sold for $1 each. 

They were designed by Phillip Martiny and show a personification of Liberty on the obverse and the Cuban coat of arms on the reverse. 

Gorham Manufacturing Co., of Providence, R.I., was contracted to produce the pieces, but could not initially, so in July 1897, Dunn Air-Brake in Philadelphia struck the first 828 pieces, using dies and planchets that Gorham had provided. In August, Gorham produced an additional 9,142 pieces. The two versions can be distinguished by the spacing of the date on the obverse, the rarer ones having a wide date.

In 1898, an additional 1,000 examples, labeled as “UN PESO,” were ordered. After the United States liberated Cuba in 1898, all examples of the silver peso were accepted as legal tender. 

Lissner has three examples of this issue, all graded Mint State 65. 

The piece struck by Dunn exhibits mottled dark toning, original patina and full frost, according to the auction houses, and is estimated at $3,000.

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1 comment
eBay has ruled pre-Castro Cuban coin sales are in violation of the U.S Embargo of Cuban products. How is this sale of Cuban coins permitted to be held in view of its possible violation of the Embargo?