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The E-Sylum:  Volume 2, Number 8, February 22, 1999, Article 6

CONTEMPORARY REPORT OF AN EARLY COIN SALE  

    In the "Show-N-Tell" category, here's an interesting account 
    from an unnamed and undated newspaper article pasted onto 
    the endpapers of my copy of the 1846 book by William Du Bois, 
    "Pledges of History."  The book is the first record of the cabinet 
    of coins at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.   The article describes 
    a coin sale, probably the March 25, 1862 sale of the John K. 
    Wiggin collection by Edward Cogan in Philadelphia:  

      "RARE AMERICAN COINS AND MEDALS - A 
      NOVEL SALE  

      A sale somewhat curious and interesting took place, a few 
      evenings ago, in Tenth street, consisting of nine hundred and 
      eighty lots of rare American coins and medals.  Mr. William 
      C. Cook acted as auctioneer.  The bidding was very spirited, 
      especially for the finer pieces.  Among the numismatoloists 
      present we noticed Messrs. Strawbridge, and McCoy, of 
      New York, Mr. Cohen, of Baltimore, Leavitt, of Cincinnati, 
      Chambers, of Providence, Bertah, of Mauch Chunk; and of 
      Philadelphia, Messrs. Coffin, Zehnder, Jenks, Mickle, 
      Cauffman, Emlen, Moneita, Potts, Humphries, Jones, Nipper, 
      Clarke, Cline, and others.   Below we give prices of some of 
      the finer pieces, which no doubt will prove interesting to 
      many of our readers."  

    The article went on to list prices of fifty-seven lots.  Top bids 
    were for a 1796 Half Dollar "remarkably fine and rare," $28, 
    an 1854 proof set, $21, an "excellent impression" of a 1799 cent, 
    $14, and a 1794 Half Dime "proof, very rare," $8.13.  The 
    account is an interesting window into the golden age of 
    American numismatics.  Although the reporter misspelled many 
    of the names, they are still recognizable as including the major 
    numismatic figures of the day.   What fun we "numismatoloists" of 
    today would have if we could be transported back to that sale. 
    Pleasant dreams... 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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