US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Feb. 14, 2022: Rewarding cherrypicking

An anonymous collector’s discovery Jan. 22 of the currently finest-known example of the Newcomb 5 variety of 1825 Matron Head cent proves that knowledge can be rewarding.

Original images courtesy of Michael Fahey.

Cherrypicking is a time-honored skill in numismatics — one in which superior knowledge is invaluable.

Paul Gilkes reports this week on the discovery of the finest-known example of a rare die marriage for the 1825 Matron Head cent. The collector of large cents was reviewing listings of these cents on eBay when he came across an 1825 Matron Head cent that looked distinctive.

The coin was not attributed by die marriage and was offered with a “Buy It Now” price of $171.01. The listing’s clear photographs gave the anonymous collector encouragement to buy the coin, which he suspected was a rare die marriage, immediately. The collector did not know at the time that another collector was viewing the listing at the same time and arriving at the same conclusion. The other collector “would have purchased this coin in 15 to 20 seconds after I did!” the successful buyer told Coin World.

Once he received the coin, the new owner reviewed the coin again and, certain of his assessment, sent it to ANACS for certification and attribution. It came back as he anticipated, being attributed as the Newcomb 5 marriage, and what is more, the finest known with a grade of Fine 15. Just 17 examples of the N-5 marriage are known. Experts estimate a value near $10,000 for an example in F-15. 

The collector’s find is further proof that superior knowledge, combined with a little luck (beating the other guy to hitting the Buy-It-Now button), can be rewarding. The finder’s familiarity with the diagnostics of the Newcomb 5 marriage and how they differ from a related marriage, allowed him to purchase the find of a lifetime.

Knowledge is power, the cliche says. It is also rewarding and satisfying.

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