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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 53, December 30, 2007, Article 7

PITTMAN EARLY SILVER DOLLAR COLLECTION INFORMATION SOUGHT

W. David Perkins of Centennial, CO writes: "The recent November
1, 2007 George Kolbe Numismatic Literature Sale 104 offered
the John J. Pittman numismatic literature collection.  Included
in this sale was Lot 117, a signed copy of the First Edition
of The United States Early Silver Dollars From 1794 To 1803
by M. H. Bolender.  I placed a bid on this lot but was not
the winner.  I also cannot say I was the underbidder, despite
what I thought was a strong bid.  This lot realized $325,
which may be a record price for a copy of the Bolender book.
Prices in this Kolbe sale were very strong indeed!

"What was of primary interest to me as a researcher was not
the book (I have multiple copies of the book, including
one signed by Bolender) but a letter that was included with
the book.  The letter was dated January 1, 1954 and was
from early dollar specialist Frank M. Stirling to John J.
Pittman.  Stirling stated that the early dollar varieties
were a favorite of his, "especially the 1795s."  Stirling
noted that he had located four 1795 B-13 Dollars (Stirling
owned the finest known (to me) 1795 B-13 Dollar, ex. Atwater
and the plate coin on page 211 in the Bowers silver dollar
book) and that he had not found a specimen of 1795 B-17.
Stirling asked, "Do you have any information on this one?"
[To my knowledge, no examples of 1795 B-17 have been confirmed.]

"I have a large volume of Frank Stirling's correspondence,
including a letter from Pittman to Stirling dated May 20,
1957.  Interestingly, Pittman states in this 1957 letter that
he owned a brilliant proof 1803 Dollar.  Pittman wrote, "I
purchased the 1803 restrike silver dollar to display at
meetings and conventions so as to point out to collectors
that it and the 1804 Dollar are all restrikes made at a later
date.  They are all extremely rare, but none were made in
the year they were dated, and undoubtedly no 1804s were made
in that year."  Imagine buying a rare 1803 Dollar, "just to
display."  [Are there any "old time" dealers or collectors
out there who recall this 1803 Dollar being displayed?]
Note also that this letter was written prior to the
Newman-Bressett Fantastic 1804 Dollar book (which was
published in 1962).

"I wonder what happened to this specimen of the 1803 Proof
Dollar.  It was not offered in the May 20-21, 1998 David Akers
sale of The John Jay Pittman Collection, Part Two?  Furthermore,
a quick perusal of the Bowers book on the 1803 Proof Novodel
Dollar, pages 462-464 does not turn up Pittman's name as part
of the provenance of the known specimens listed in the book.
Perhaps Pittman owned the "Milas Specimen" at one time?  Or
is this specimen "still out there" somewhere..

"Pittman also wrote in this letter, 'I do not collect early
silver dollar varieties.  I have at the present time 1795-1803
in uncirculated condition, but have never actually checked
them for varieties, although I do have Bolender's book.
Quite a number of my pieces were purchased in England many
years ago..'   I also wonder what happened to the early
dollars in this collection.  The May 1998 Pittman sale
offered only a handful of early dollars.

"I am very interested to learn if any E-Sylum readers can
shed light on any of these questions.

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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