US Coins

Classic U.S. type coins, patterns from Galst Collection at CNG sale

Classical Numismatic Group will present some choice U.S. coins from the collection of Dr. Jay M. Galst at the May 20 session of its Feature Auction 117, held live online.

Galst died in 2020 from complications due to COVID-19.

As the auctioneer writes in its tribute, “Jay was able to combine his love of numismatics with his professional career as an ophthalmologist, and he wrote a book about the coins, tokens, medals, and similar objects that were all related to the eye.”

This 574-page book, Ophthalmologia, Optica et Visio in Nummis (“Ophthalmology, Optics and Vision in Numismatics”), has more than 1,700 entries, with many of the coins and artifacts described and documented from Jay’s own collection.

The Galst consignment is especially rich in type coins such as an 1866 Seated Liberty, With Motto silver dollar graded Proof 64 Ultra Cameo by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. that is from a modest mintage of just 725. In 1866 the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the reverse after the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865.

Visually, the coin in the auction is striking for the dramatic contrast between the frosted devices and mirrored fields, with the cataloger observing, “The fields have a light golden-orange tone trending to brighter red-orange and vivid iridescent blue at the borders.”

An affordable option for a collector seeking a Proof Morgan dollar can be found in an 1899 issue graded by NGC as Proof Details, Cleaned that from the image appears to be bright. CNG calls it “a mark-free coin that apparently had been dipped long ago but is now starting to retone,” adding, “This is a very attractive coin in hand.”

A selection of pattern coins shows the U.S. Mint’s experiments that would eventually become the Liberty Head 5-cent coin, the “V Nickel,” in 1883. An 1881 pattern with designs by Charles Barber features his familiar bust of Liberty with her coronet inscribed LIBERTY, and the Roman numeral V inside a wreath of corn, cotton and wheat sheaves. Listed as Judd 1672 in United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces by J. Hewitt Judd and graded Proof 64 brown by NGC, the lack of a denomination on the reverse (the design lacks the word “cents”) foreshadows the issues that would come on some regular issue coins in 1883 that were gold plated by ne’er-do-wells and presumably passed as gold $5 half eagles.

An 1882-dated copper pattern listed as Judd 1691 again shows an obverse nearly as used on the regular issues struck the following year, though the arrangement of the stars on the obverse was changed. It has a reverse that would essentially be used as well on the “No CENTS” issues with the addition of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

Graded Proof 63 brown, it was formerly in the collection of Michigan collector and long time American Numismatic Association counsel George D. Hatie. It was previously offered by Bowers and Merena in its Aug. 3, 1983, auction of the Hatie collection, where it sold for a hammer price of $1,980. At the May 20 session it has an estimate of $2,000 and up.

An 1883 pattern for the Liberty 5-cent piece uses the same bust as used on regular issue examples, but UNITED STATES OF AMERICA has moved to the obverse and the reverse’s V has been replaced with an articulation of the proposed composition of 75% nickel and 25% copper, and with the text FIVE CENTS prominent. However, consistent with the Judd 1707 type, this is struck from pure nickel, as it is magnetic, and is part of a series of patterns that tested different compositions including pure nickel, 75% nickel and 25% copper, 50% nickel and 50% copper, and 33% nickel and 67% copper.

The coin in the auction is graded Proof 61 Cameo by NGC. The high points of the design show some strike weakness, perhaps expected from a pure nickel coin, which is a hard metal.

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