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Obverse of Judd 540     Reverse of Judd 540


1866 FANTASY SILVER DOLLAR

PCGS No: 7009, 87009

Variety equivalents: Judd 540

Obverse:
Regular dies

Reverse:
Regular dies without the scroll and motto on the reverse

Rarity - 2 known

Diameter: 

Metal content:
Silver - 90%
Copper - 10%

Weight: 

Edge: Reeded

ANR "Classics Sale", 09/2003:31, where it was described (in part) as follows: "Silver. Reeded edge. Brilliant silver gray with delicate mottled cabinet toning dominated by pale golden tones with intricate highlights of bright blue and deep violet; the reverse shows pewter gray toning with subtle gold and violet tones. The devices are satiny, the fields reflective but not deeply mirrored, the obverse showing greater reflectivity than the reverse. Apparently struck only once, nicely detailed with a nearly full strike, the most minor flatness on Liberty's knuckles and hat curls. Light hairlines on both sides, tiny spot inside of stars 1 and 2, dark toning below D and L of DOL, spot apparently removed at lowest arrowhead and noted for identification of this specimen. An eye-appealing, glittering, beautiful Proof dollar. However, it is not the quality of the coin that is the key point; the fame rests upon its rarity. The silver dollar series is laden with rarities - but none compare with the 1866 No Motto dollar...For many years, the 1866 No Motto dollar has been recognized as the key to the silver dollar series. In 1949, the piece was misunderstood, and the Guide Book of United States Coins (3rd edition) mistakenly listed it with a common date price. The next year, catching the error, there was no listing of the coin at all - that line entry had simply been effaced from the text. In the 1951 5th edition, the entry "1866 No Motto Reverse" returned with but a single word of explanation - "unique." At the time, the present piece was lost in the Brand estate and was unknown. Today, in 2003, it is the only silver dollar listed in A Guide Book of United States Coins without an estimated price or price history...Like other famous rarities, the famous 1913 Liberty Head nickel being the prime example, the exact circumstances of striking the 1866 No Motto dollar are not known today. It is presumed that only two pieces were struck to create numismatic rarities, probably in the 1860s or early 1870s. The practice of creating rarities for a ready numismatic marketplace created nearly all of the classic rarities placed in the modern pantheon of United States coins: the aforementioned 1913 Liberty Head nickel, the 1804 Class II and Class III silver dollars, the 1884 and 1885 trade dollars, and other famous but "second-tier" rarities such as the 1868 copper large cent, the 1879 Coiled Hair Stella, and 1880 Coiled and Flowing Hair $4 gold Stellas.  The 1866 No Motto dollar was apparently once part of a set of three pieces, all dated 1866 with the obsolete No Motto reverse: a quarter, half dollar, and dollar. The set - lacking the dollar - entered the historical record and the numismatic spotlight in 1890 at the Robert Coulton Davis sale. The R.C. Davis collection was consigned intact to the partnership of H.P. Smith and David Proskey, doing business as New York Coin and Stamp Company, then a brand new firm. The two known dollars both somehow ended up in the hands of Stephen K. Nagy, the Philadelphia dealer, soon thereafter...It was exhibited with great acclaim at the 1979 ANA Convention and at the Money Museum of the National Bank of Detroit in the same year.  The other 1866 No Motto dollar, after leaving Nagy's hands, enjoyed a place in several important collections before meeting an apparently tragic end. H.O. Granberg, William Woodin, Waldo Newcomer, and Wayte Raymond all owned it - it became the plate coin for the Adams-Woodin book (and later for all editions of the Judd book) while in Woodin's possession. Colonel E.H.R. Green, with his nearly endless resources, reassembled the No Motto set of quarter, half, and dollar, and the set traded to F.C.C. Boyd, Abe Kosoff, and eventually to King Farouk of Egypt. Purchased in the 1954 Farouk sale by Kosoff and Sol Kaplan, the set was broken up and the dollar was sold to Lammot du Pont. The coin was stolen at gunpoint from Willis du Pont and family in 1967 in south Florida along with other famous rarities, including the unique plain edge 1849 Cincinnati Mining and Trading Company $10...Numismatists have not yet been able to pinpoint precisely which No Motto reverse die was used to produce this issue. The die has few markers that would be easily discerned in photographs - the dearth of quality photographs and the private ownership of both pieces has left the exact nature of this piece shrouded in mystery. After careful magnified study of the reverse die alongside the various pattern dollars in this sale which also use a No Motto reverse, no matches were found to any other pieces - not the 1851 to 1853 restrike dollars, nor the 1871 Indian Princess dollar, nor the Liberty by the Seashore pattern of 1876. The only visible markers we can note are as follows: the horizontal shield line third from the bottom extends to the outside border of the shield on the left side, and the leftmost vertical line in the batch of vertical shield lines third from left shows a raised 'pimple' about two-thirds the way from its top.", failed to meet the consignor's reserve.
   

Images courtesy of American Numismatic Rarities

Known examples (2):
Gem Proof (illustrated above).
H.O. Granberg
William H. Woodin
Waldo Newcomer
F.C.C. Boyd
Wayte Raymond
Col. E.H.R. Green
King Farouk
Sotheby's "Palace Collection" 1954:1798
[Breen says "again to Boyd"]
Edwin M. Hydeman
Abe Kosoff's NASC Sale 1961:1107 $24,500.00
Lammot DuPont
Willis Harrington Dupont
Stolen from the Dupont family in 1967, recovered in February 2004 (see press release below).

NGC Proof-63 (illustrated below). 
S.H. & H. Chapman, 04/1899
Virgil Brand
Stack's "Fairbanks" 12/1960
Stack's "Wolfson" 1962:1425, $18,000
Stack's "Charles Jay" 10/1967:182, $15,000
Stack's "Winner Delp" 1972:91 $32,000
A-Mark
New England Rare Coin Galleries
Private collection
ANR "Classics Sale", 09/2003:31, not sold

Notes:
According to Breen, the 1866 "No Motto" Quarter Dollar is "...a fantasy piece, struck in a set with the the half dollar [Judd 538] and silver dollar [Judd 540], long after authorization to adopt the new design with motto (Act of March 3, 1865...).  This set was made up for the Mint's favorite druggist, Robert Coulton Davis."  

"Calling them transitional pieces destroys the meaning of the term; the true transitionals are the 1865 coins with motto as adopted in 1866".

The set was stolen in October, 1967 from the DuPont family mansion in Coconut Grove, Florida in an armed robbery by five masked gunmen.  The coins remained hidden until late 1999, when the Quarter Dollar was purchased over the counter by the Los Angeles Coin Company in "a lot of junk and old electrotype Colonial coins".  Upon subsequent examination, the Quarter Dollar was determined to be the long-lost DuPont coin and it was returned to a family representative on December 10, 1999.  The coin was shipped immediately to the American Numismatic Association's Authentication Bureau, where the coin was authenticated and photographed.  As of this writing (March 12, 2000), the coin remains at the American Numismatic Association, along with the 1866 "No Motto" Half Dollar (which was recovered shortly after the Quarter Dollar in remarkably similar circumstances).

PCGS has not yet graded any examples of the Judd-540.

The following press release was issued by American Numismatic Rarities on February 26, 2004:

America's Most Famous Stolen Coin Found!
American Numismatic Rarities Recovers Dupont 1866 No Motto $1
American Numismatic Association to Mediate Return

(WOLFEBORO, NH) Nearly 37 years after being stolen from the Dupont family in a violent break-in, the famous Dupont specimen of the 1866 No Motto dollar has been turned over to American Numismatic Rarities for return to its rightful owner. The coin is the finer of only two known specimens, and its estimated value today is in excess of $1 million. The party in possession of the coin, a librarian and non-numismatist from Maine, contacted American Numismatic Rarities after learning of the firm's offering of the only other known specimen in their September 2003 Classics Sale. John Kraljevich, the cataloguer of that piece and ANR's Director of Numismatic Research fielded the original inquiry from the gentleman who held the Dupont piece. "Despite my initial disbelief that this famously stolen coin was actually in the caller's possession, as that first conversation went along it became clear to me that the gentleman had done a copious amount of homework in an attempt to figure out what he had, and whether or not it was the legendary Dupont specimen," Kraljevich recalled. "After several more phone conversations and emails made me feel more comfortable that the coin was authentic, we made arrangements to meet and start the process of returning the coin to the Dupont family."

The Dupont break-in took place in October 1967 at the family home outside Miami, Florida. Among the thousands of rare coins stolen at gunpoint were a very rare 1787 Brasher doubloon and two specimens of the famed 1804 dollar. While the Brasher doubloon was recovered by police soon after the break-in, and other pieces turned up over the years, the famous and extremely rare 1866 No Motto dollar remained lost. Consequently, the coin became the stuff of hopeful contemplation, with most conceding that it would probably never be found. As a complicating factor, the provenances of the two known specimens became inextricably confused in more than one published work. This confusion gave the gentleman who held the Dupont example hope that perhaps he owned either the specimen that was not stolen, or a previously unknown third example. "As fate would have it, the gentleman saw a headline in Coin World noting that ANR was offering the only known example of the 1866 No Motto dollar in an upcoming auction. After seeing our research as published in the auction catalogue, he came to the unavoidable conclusion that the piece he retained was, in fact, the long-missing specimen. We're glad he came forward in an effort to end its long and mysterious trek begun in 1967," Kraljevich noted.

Details on what became of the coin immediately after the break-in are not known, but by the late 1970s the piece was in the possession of the late Edwards Huntington Metcalf, grandson of magnate Henry Huntington and an inveterate collector of books, coins, and other objects. Metcalf was a major contributor to both the Huntington Library and Pepperdine University. Before his death in April 2001, the piece was passed from Metcalf to the Maine gentleman in a box of otherwise unspectacular miscellaneous coins, its true nature and ownership unknown to the gentleman at that time.

American Numismatic Rarities will turn the coin over to the stewardship of the American Numismatic Association at a press conference at the Baltimore Coin and Currency Convention on March 12, 2004. Christopher Cippoletti, Executive Director of the ANA, will assume responsibility for returning the coin to the Dupont family. The American Numismatic Association, charted by Congress in 1912, assisted in the recovery of many other Dupont coins in the past, including the Linderman 1804 dollar and the kindred 1866 No Motto quarter and half dollars. The latter two coins, once part of a unique three-coin No Motto 1866 set, now reside in the ANA Museum in Colorado Springs.

American Numismatic Rarities is a team of professionals with over 250 years combined experience in numismatic auctions: Christine Karstedt, Q. David Bowers, Dr. Richard A. Bagg, John Pack, Frank Van Valen, John Kraljevich, and photographer Douglas Plasencia, among others. Founded with a goal of presenting the finest numismatic auctions in America, the next ANR event is scheduled for March 2004 in Baltimore, Maryland. For more information about the firm, contact American Numismatic Rarities at Box 1804, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, 03894 or call 866-811-1804. The American Numismatic Rarities website, including full photos and text from all previous ANR sales, is available online at www.anrcoins.com.

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces" by J. Hewitt Judd, M.D.

"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins" by Walter Breen

"Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins 1722-1977"

"The PCGS Population Report, January 2004" by The Professional Coin Grading Service

"COIN WORLD", December 27, 1999

"NUMISMATIC NEWS", January 4, 2000

Obverse of Judd 540     Reverse of Judd 540

Images courtesy of Doug Plascencia
  

 

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