1786/85 Immunis Columbia, Confederatio, Large Stars, Crosby VII, 16, Breen-1128, Whitman-5665, MS64 Brown NGC. 159.8 grains.

This extremely rare Confederatio piece combines the 1786 Immunis Columbia obverse with the 1785 Large Stars Confederatio reverse. Walter Breen believed this mule was unique, and used this piece as the plate coin in his Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. This is the first example of the variety that Heritage have handled in the 40-year history of our firm. The Newman specimen is clearly the finest example, and carries the longest provenance. The other known piece is a corroded VG example that was offered in the 2002 ANA sale with no previous pedigree.

More recently, another lower grade piece was illustrated in the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins. That illustrated example may be a third specimen of this extremely rare variety, or it might be a composite illustration made from two different coins; it’s impossible for the reader to know because the author provided no identifying information.

 

1786/85 Immunis Columbia, Confederatio Mule
1786/85 Immunis Columbia, Confederatio Mule

Facts about these pieces are extremely limited and confusing. A series of coins including various combinations of the Immunis Columbia obverse, the Confederatio reverse, and related dies, includes a mule of the 1786 Immunis Columbia obverse and the New Jersey shield reverse, also offered in the present Heritage sale. The various pieces are recorded in the Whitman Colonial Encyclopedia under catalog numbers 5630-5700, listing 14 different varieties. These pieces are also punch-linked to the Nova Constellatio coppers of 1783 and 1785.

Eric P. Newman believes that these coins, including the Nova Constellatio coppers and the Immunis Columbia pieces, were produced in England, probably at Wyon’s Birmingham Mint. Earlier numismatic scholars, including Sylvester S. Crosby held the same belief in the 19th century. More recently, other researchers, including Michael Hodder, have developed an alternative viewpoint that the coins were produced in America. Hodder, however, In a 1994 Colonial Newsletter article, concedes:

“If the evidence for the Novas being struck in England is weak and unreliable, the documentary and historical support for their American origin is circumstantial and fraught with serious difficulties.”

1786/85 Immunis Columbia, Confederatio Mule reverse
1786/85 Immunis Columbia, Confederatio Mule

Those who believe the pieces are American-made point to a very distinctive punch for the letter S that is identical on the Nova Constellatio coppers, the Immunis Columbia pieces, at least one New Jersey reverse die, and certain issues of Machin’s Mills in New York. Although Newman identifies a contemporary newspaper account from London dated 1786 as evidence for the English origin of these pieces, Hodder dismisses that report.

While we may never know for certain who engraved the dies and produced these pieces, or even where they were produced, we do know that the present variety and most others are extremely rare. Perhaps only two, or possibly three, examples of the Whitman-5665 copper exist, and the present piece from the Eric P. Newman Collection is the finest surviving specimen, with a provenance as important as the coin itself.

This amazing Choice Mint State example has satin surfaces with lovely chestnut-brown and tan patina. The strike is slightly blunt on the obverse high-points where the die was deeply engraved. An exceptional and extraordinarily important American colonial issue. Offered as Lot # 3020 in Heritage’s 2014 November 14 – 15 Selections from the Eric P. Newman Collection Part V US Coins Signature Auction – New York #1215

Ex: Jacob Giles Morris; Col. Robert C.H. Brock; University of Pennsylvania; Philip H. Ward, Jr.; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.

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