By James McCartney, Numismatist & Cataloger – Stack’s Bowers …..
Early American copper collectors pursue numismatics with great enthusiasm, resulting in long-established condition censuses for most issues. Usually, the finest half dozen examples of a given variety comprise a recognized hierarchy with provenances stretching back a century or more. Rarely, if ever, is this order disturbed by new additions.
However, our offering of the Collection of Robert Warner Wolfe (1904-1973) brings an incredible group of half cents and large cents to light for the first time in decades. Collected primarily from the 1920s through the ’70s, the coins in this cabinet mostly represent newcomers to the existing condition censuses.
Among this assemblage is a gorgeous 1803 Draped Bust half cent of the Cohen-2 die pairing that now ranks the finest known example of the variety. Two obverse dies and four reverse dies were combined across four distinct marriages in the striking of the 1803 issue, with Cohen-2 being the scarcest of these varieties. Typically seen in grades of Good through Fine, the appearance of a Choice AU example is certainly exciting for copper collectors.
Until now, the top of the condition census for the Cohen-2 variety was occupied by the AU-55 (PCGS) example from the Missouri Cabinet. The present AU-58+ (PCGS) specimen from the Robert Warner Wolfe Collection easily surpasses this piece to claim the title of finest known, including having been granted a green sticker of acceptance by CAC.
The surfaces are attractive and thoroughly lustrous, approaching Mint State in many respects. The dominant mahogany patina is accented by chocolate and chestnut hues across each side, with the reverse exhibiting noteworthy vibrancy. Overall, smooth and untroubled by disturbances of any merit, two light bisecting marks at Liberty’s throat will aid in identifying this piece in future collections.
This important half cent will be featured in our June 2017 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore as part of the Collection of Robert Warner Wolfe, accompanying other astonishing pieces like a 1793 Sheldon-3 Chain cent in AU-53 (PCGS). To secure your copy of the catalog for this event or to consign to a future auction, contact our offices at 1-800-458-4646 or email [email protected].