Chief Engraver William Kneass suffered a stroke before he could finalize the design for the Seated Liberty motif, which replaced the Capped Bust design on U.S. silver coinage in the late 1830s. The talented Christian Gobrecht took over the project and completed the design, based on earlier contributions from Kneass, Thomas Sully, and Titian Peale.
The Seated Liberty obverse design appeared first on the famous Gobrecht dollars in 1836, followed by the dime and half dime in 1837, the quarter in 1838, and finally, the half dollar in 1839. Gobrecht’s initial obverse design was a masterpiece of simplistic beauty, with no stars around the border, giving the coin an uncluttered, medallic look that creates intense aesthetic appeal. Thanks to its simplicity, the entire design could be engraved into the hub, leaving only the date logotype to be punched in by hand.
Among dime issues, the No Stars obverse was used only on the 1837 and 1838-O emissions. Accordingly, the No Stars obverse is always in demand as an important two-year type issue.
Walter Breen notes 30 Proof Seated Liberty dimes were struck on June 30, 1837, to serve as presentation pieces to demonstrate the new design to Treasury officials and other VIPs. The proofs show a diagnostic small tine of metal from the dentils above the first T in STATES and a diagonal die scratch through (STAT)ES and O(F). The No Stars design was a favorite of early numismatists, and the proofs apparently started appearing at auction at least as early as 1859.
Our June 6-9 Long Beach Signature Auction features a delightful Premium Gem Proof, graded by NGC, with sharply detailed design elements and reflective fields, under medium-intensity shades of jade-gold and cobalt-blue toning. The surfaces are impeccably preserved and eye appeal is outstanding. The 1837 No Stars Seated Liberty dime is extremely rare at the PR66 grade level, and the only one coin has been certified finer at either of the leading grading services.
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