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1760 Voce Populi - Nelson 14


Rarity: Very Rare

Metal content: Copper

Edge: Plain

Mintmark: None

Images courtesy of Numisma

Recent appearances:
Fine (illustrated above).  Offered by Numisma on eBay (390693547) with a closing date of April 6, 2004, where it was described as "1760 Voce Populi Halfpenny. Nelson 14, Zelinka 16-O, Breen 233, "P" Below Bust on Obverse. High Rarity-6. 120.6 grains. Choice Fine, weaker than that grade level at the peripheries as struck, the surfaces clearly arguing for a strong grade. Overall a pleasing example of this RARE variety. On the obverse, the legend is full, the tops of the CE of VOCE are weaker than the rest, everything else strong, including the large "P" beneath the elongated and somewhat crude looking bust; the bust is a bit flatly struck at the high points as usually seen. On the reverse, the tops of HIBER are slightly off the planchet and weak, the remainder of those letters and the NIA following are all fairly strong; the large rosettes after the word are weak, as is the final digit of the date, though the 176 is fully visible. The oddly shaped seated figure and harp are all nicely impressed for the variety, with each of the individual harpstrings bold, as well as the angel’s outstretched wing that forms the top of the harp and the small sprig at the right. Neither the obverse or reverse die was used in any other pairing, and the border design is a crude pellet shape that is not used on any other die in the series – it is tempting to suggest that this variety may actually be a contemporary counterfeit, though the weight range is about the same as the other Voce Populi issues (however, if these actually circulated at the full penny value, then it would become very profitable for a counterfeiter!). Struck on a beautiful light golden brown planchet, the surfaces hard and a bit glossy. There are the barest minimum of circulation marks, and the piece is extremely choice for the grade, with excellent eye appeal overall. One of the rarer numbers in the Voce Populi series, dramatically different in design from most of the other varieties. The variety was recently rated a full Rarity-7, though the 2001 C4 Convention Sale carries it as a High Rarity-6, and cataloguer Tom Rinaldo states that just 18 examples of the variety are known – a far cry from the 4-12 specimens thought to exist by Zelinka; it is called Extremely Rare in the Breen Encyclopedia. The one in the C4 sale was a slightly stronger Fine than this piece, but had a lot of surface roughness whereas this specimen is hard and glossy – and this one is much more desirable as a result. The 2001 C4 piece brought $715 in spirited bidding. There have been a small handful of examples of the variety offered at sale, including a pair in the Taylor sale (one VF/EF from Stack’s sale of the Laird Park collection, the other a VG/F), a VF in Norweb and a pair of VF’s in the 1999 C4 sale (at $1100) and 1997 C4 sale (at $1677.50). We have offered only one other example of this rarity, a weak Fine example on our Eighth price list. One of the tougher varieties in the entire Voce Populi series, and with a current population of well under two dozen specimens, one that is clearly not offered with any sort of frequency. This very attractive middle-grade example will please. Oddly enough, Nelson knew of the variety and even plated it in his 1905 reference work on the series, though he did not describe it in the text – perhaps it was discovered after the text portion had already been set or even printed."

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"Descriptions Of Die Varieties" by Zelinka, The Colonial Newsletter, October 1976, pages 559-564