The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 46, November 14, 2021, Article 21


Allan Davisson wrote this overview of his firm's upcoming E-Auction. I added some lot images for illustration. -Editor

Davissons E-Auction 42 catalog cover E-Auction 42, closing Wednesday, December 8th 2021, is online now! Print copies were sent over the weekend, if you are not on our mailing list and would like a copy please let us know.

‘Twas a dark and stormy time….

We received an unusual consignment for this sale—a group of United States coins minted in 1853. All the gold issues (the first $3 gold piece was issued in 1854), and a choice large cent. I became fascinated by what must have been happening in this year that usually has no particular historic resonance.

The year 1853 was a time of tension and uncertainty. It was an era where things were happening in the United States—the Gadsden Purchase of land from Mexico that expanded the southern parts of modern day Arizona and New Mexico, the arrival of Commodore Perry in Japan seeking trade and consequently opening Japan to the West, the Crimean War that resulted in the defeat of the Russian Empire and Florence Nightingale's introduction of modern nursing practices. On a more mundane level, Levi Strauss and Otis Elevator began business along with the predecessor firm for Traveler's Insurance.

  1853 Gold Eagle
Lot 4: 1853 Gold Eagle

It was also a time when all was not well in America. The 1850's were plagued by sectionalism, strong feelings of threat and defensiveness that divided the country. In many respects it was a split of the sort that has its parallels now, the urban—rural split or, stated in a 21st century taxonomy, the coasts versus the flyovers. It was a period when individuals and groups felt that the fabric of their lives was under threat by others. It had economic elements, cultural elements, religious elements…

The final devastating outcome was the Civil War that began a few short years later.

  1853 Large Cent
Lot 198: 1853 Large Cent

It was a time of uncertain leadership as well. Two presidents whose names are known, at best, in passing were unable to bring a workable resolution to the national unrest. Millard Filmore, an accidental president succeeded the distinguished Zachary Taylor who died after 16 months in office. He became the namesake of the Millard Fillmore Society whose annual meeting on his birthday is held for the single purpose of celebrating his anonymity.

Franklin Pierce, inaugurated in March 1853, mishandled the Kansas question of allowing slavery in the territory despite the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which had prohibited it. The ultimate outcome was the formation of the Republican Party, a northern antislavery party that a few short years later was the party of Abraham Lincoln.

(I have no comment on the most recent pair of American presidents and the times we are in. History is long and time tempers our passions and our understandings. We must wait.)

The rest of the catalog has some neat things—fascinating ancient silver and bronze, Roman portraiture from the provinces, affordable Scottish coins along with a section of British hammered and milled pieces, more high quality tokens from the Sussman collection, a few choice Canadian pieces, a long offering of circulated and fascinating German talers, a few U.S. pieces, and some neat odds'n'ends to end the sale.

  Lycian League Kragos Silver Hemidrachm
Lot 31: Lycian League Kragos Silver Hemidrachm

To view the complete sale, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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