By James McCartney, Numismatist & Cataloger – Stack’s Bowers …..
The No Stars Liberty Seated dimes of 1837 and 1838 are often considered Gobrecht’s little masterpieces. Uncluttered by stars on either side, Liberty sits majestically at center, placed upon a perfectly sized canvas that allows appreciation of the obverse motif without being distracted by the nuances of Liberty’s drapery folds or the intricacies of her hair that sometimes draw the eye on larger coins, like Gobrecht’s silver dollars of 1836-1839. While these features can be seen under a glass, to the naked eye they are sublimated into the overall aesthetic, allowing the focus to remain on the themes of freedom and liberty as Kneass, Sully and Gobrecht had intended.
Of the three No Stars issues, including both the Small Date and Large Date varieties of 1837, the 1838-O is the scarcest and most celebrated. Just 489,034 coins were struck utilizing a single obverse die and two reverse dies, resulting in two distinct die pairings for the year. The present piece is an exemplary representative of the later state of the first pairing, Fortin-101a, displaying pronounced obverse cuds at two o’clock, four o’clock and eight o’clock.
Popular as a type coin and also as the first issue struck at the New Orleans Mint, most pieces are heavily worn and Uncirculated examples are elusive in all conditions. Even in Mint State preservation, survivors are largely confined to Choice and lesser grades, and true Gems are rare. The example we will showcase in our November auction shares the MS-65 grade with just four others at PCGS, and is surpassed by just a single piece graded MS-65+. For Liberty Seated dime specialists and type collectors, this piece represents a truly significant opportunity.
Subtle bronze hues accent the brilliant pearlescent surfaces. Liberty is sharp across all elements despite the aged die, as is evidenced by the aforementioned rim cuds and virtually nonexistent denticles. The reverse exhibits a similar fatigue to the peripheral devices, with the letters of UNITED crumbling and stitched together by cracks. Even so, the denomination at center is bold and the repunching of the mintmark is clear, a diagnostic of the Fortin-101 die pairing. The fields are nearly pristine and support soft and satiny luster. This gorgeous piece undoubtedly ranks among the finest survivors of this issue and certainly of the variety. At one time under the custodianship of Eugene H. Gardner, this Gem is bound to once again become a highlight in a similarly acclaimed assemblage.
This lovely 1838-O No Stars dime will be featured among numerous world-class rarities in our November 2016 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo. To obtain your copy of the catalog or to consign your rarities to a future showcase event, please contact our offices today at 1-800-458-4646 to speak with a Consignment Director and see what Stack’s Bowers Galleries can do for you.