Colonial America column from Nov. 28, 2016, weekly issue of
Since the mid-1990s, the Colonial Coin Collectors Club convention has
been a can’t miss event for enthusiasts of America’s pre-federal
coinage. Long held in Boston, in recent years the C4 show has been
held in Baltimore in conjunction with the Whitman Coin and
This year’s event, as usual, included educational forums and
gatherings of like-minded collectors on and off the bourse. The C4
auction, conducted by Stack’s Bowers Galleries, featured a number of
important rarities. The focus was on varieties of state coppers, the
lynchpin of Colonial coin collecting for decades.
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Beginning in the years after the Civil War, collectors of Colonial
coins followed in the footsteps of large cent scholars and began to
identify and describe individual die marriages of state coppers. Dr.
Edward Maris published his Coins of New Jersey in 1881, and Dr.
Thomas Hall’s A Descriptive List of the Coins Issued by Authority
for Connecticut for the Year 1787 followed in 1892. Rev. Edmund
Slafter was the pioneer, publishing The Vermont Coinage in
1870, though his effort did not have the long-term impact of the
books by Maris and Hall.
Maris numbers remain in use today. Miller numbers for Connecticut
coppers, first published by Henry C. Miller in 1920, closely follow
Hall’s initial work on the coppers of 1787.
The star of the state coppers in this year’s C4 auction was a very
rare New Jersey copper, Maris 24-Q. Dated 1786, the Maris 24-Q has
been known since before 1881. Dr. Maris knew of two examples. Today,
the population has increased to only five, making it among the rarest
of all New Jersey coppers. The newly discovered piece sold in the C4
auction was graded Very Fine 20 by Professional Coin Grading Service and may rank
as finest known. It brought $82,250, several hundred times what a
common variety would be worth in similar grade.
The Anderson-Gleckler collection of Connecticut coppers garnered a
good deal of attention from specialists. Described as “a major rarity
in the Connecticut series,” the 1786 Miller 2.1-D.3 in the sale showed
significant granularity from burial and would not be considered
beautiful by even the most ardent admirer of the series. What it
lacked in beauty it made up for in rarity, with a population estimated
at nine known examples. The coin realized $17,625 in feverish bidding.
Other Connecticut coppers sold in the range of $100 to $10,000,
showing why this speciality has had such enduring appeal.
For more info about C4, check their website at www.colonialcoins.org.