Tuesday, July 11, 2023

The Clackamas Collection - 1796 Cents

 I have chosen to call my collection the “Clackamas Collection” for a few reasons. The Clackamas people comprised one of the tribes on the lower Columbia River that were collectively called The Chinook Indians by Lewis and Clark during their famous expedition. The Clackamas river is not as well known as larger rivers in Oregon, such as the Columbia. However, the Clackamas River is a noble stream, with its roots in the Cascade Range near Mt. Hood, and some of the best white water rafting and fly fishing in the Northwest. The Clackamas is one of Oregon’s “hidden gems”, known best to locals. From stunning views of Mt. Hood across Timothy Lake, to dramatic waterfalls along its South Fork, and ultimately to its confluence with the Willamette near Oregon City, the Clackamas can surprise and delight you. So it is with the Clackamas Collection. The collection was born in Oregon, and many of the coins therein were found while I was an Oregon resident. A majority of the coins in the collection would be called “blue-collar” coins. However, each coin was selected with deliberation, and many of the varieties are hard to find. Like the namesake river, these coins must be seen to be appreciated.

While assembling these 1796 cents, I tried to acquire coins with major features visible, good color, reasonably nice surfaces, and minimal problems, while remaining affordable. The challenge of getting all 39 Sheldon varieties for 1796 in acceptable condition has been daunting. Indeed, it required 31 years to complete my basic Sheldon variety set.

1796 LIBERTY CAP cents

S-81. This is a relatively easy variety to find (R3). The date is closely spaced, and very close to the bust. I located this coin on ebay in 2004.

S-82. A scarce variety (R5). This coin was purchased in a Goldberg auction in 2015, and once belonged to the well-known collector / dealer Rod Burress.

S-83. A moderately scarce variety (R4). The date is close to the bust, with wide spacing between “1” and “7”. This coin was purchased at a San Diego coin show in 2011.

S84. Another somewhat abundant variety (R3). This coin has fairly strong details, but a few light rim bumps. It was purchased in a Goldberg auction in 2016 (Ex. Norman Wolfe).

S85. A scarce variety (R5-) and difficult to find without problems. This coin was purchased in a Heritage auction in AUG 2008. It was then in a NGC F-details holder (Environmental Damage). I have liberated the coin. The surfaces are lightly rough, but the eye appeal remains good.

S86. A very scarce variety (R5). I rate this variety 2nd behind the S90 in rarity among the Liberty Cap cents of 1796. This coin was purchased from Doug Bird in 2009. Doug acquired it in an earlier Goldberg auction.

S87. The variety is not rare (R3). The “6” is typically very weak, due to die failure. This coin, though fairly worn, shows a strong date. It is the first 1796 cent I purchased, from Beaverton Coin back in 1990.

S88. A moderately scarce variety (R4). This coin features nice details, and lightly “rusted” surfaces. The central rev. is weak, as is often the case with 1796 Liberty Cap cents. This coin was purchased in 1996 from Jerry Wickwire of Portland, OR.

S89. This variety is somewhat plentiful (R3). The date & LIBERTY are close, giving the portrait a “crowded” look. This coin has a bit of scattered “corrosion” on each side, but decent eye appeal. It was purchased in a Goldberg auction in SEP 2008.

S90. Easily the most difficult Liberty Cap variety to locate (R5+). This coin has unusual brick red patina, and surfaces that were “smoothed” at some point. I purchased this coin in a Goldberg auction in FEB 2017, with provenance from the Pierre Fricke collection. Note: The reverse is pictured "upset" because it is 180 degrees rotated on the actual coin.

S91. A relatively common variety (R3). This coin exhibits good detail (except the central rev.), with light roughness on the surfaces. It was purchased in a Bauer on-line auction in 2022.

1796 DRAPED BUST cents

 S92. This is not a difficult variety to locate (R3). I purchased this coin in 2015 from Joan & Rod Widock. they, in turn had obtained it in an earlier 2009 Goldberg auction.

S93. Another variety that is somewhat easy to locate (R3). I found this coin in a Stacks/Bowers auction in 2015. The coin was submitted to PCGS, where it graded G6.

S94. This is a tough variety to find (R5+). After a long search, I found this coin in a Heritage auction in JAN 2018. PCGS has graded the coin VG-10. However, the surfaces are dark and heavily granular, leading to an EAC net grade of G4.

S95. A very difficult variety to find (R5+). As so often happens in numismatics, after years of searching for this variety, I got two chances to obtain it within a 30-day period of time! This is the finer of those two coins. There is a touch of reddish patina on the obv., but the eye appeal is above average. This coin was purchased in 2018 from Kevin Vinton.

S96. A very rare coin (R6). This variety is the most difficult one to locate among all the regular Sheldon-numbered varieties of 1796. The coin I finally located, on ebay in 2021 has acceptable detail (numbers and letters all clear), but is heavily granular (one could almost say "rusty"). None-the-less, the coin is a treasured addition to my 1796 set. This was the final variety needed to complete my 1976 “Sheldon set”. It is an example of the late die-state, with a die crack bisecting the rev. from the "T" in UNITED to the right side of "M" in AMERICA. According to my records, this is a new S-96 in the census, and is the 26th known specimen.

S97. A fairly plentiful variety (R3). This coin was one of my early finds as a large cent collector. Paul Dorney had a small shop in Tigard, OR and he bought a nice set of large cents which included this coin. I bought this coin in 1991, and did not realize until much later how hard it would be to find a better one! The deep gray-brown surfaces are minutely granular. This is a very pleasing coin to contemplate.

S98. A moderately scarce variety (R4). This coin is the 2nd finest 1796 draped bust cent in my collection. This coin has extremely fine sharpness, and superb eye appeal, in spite of being cleaned and re-toned long ago. I purchased it in a Goldberg auction in June 2016. The provenance includes March Wells and can be traced to the 1944 sale of the Howard Newcomb large cents! Truly a historic & important coin.

S99. A scarce variety (R5). This variety presents some spectacular obv. die breaks in the later stages. My coin is an early die-state, before the breaks behind the head become evident. The bottom of the date and the top of LIBERTY are weak, but the remaining details are nice, including ONE CENT on the rev. The coin has been cleaned & re-toned to a nice chocolate brown. I obtained this coin in 2017 from Shawn Yancey.

S100. This variety is also scarce (R5). My coin is from a Superior auction in 2004, and is heavily worn, with a touch of roughness on the obv. 

S101. A variety of moderate scarcity (R5-). This coin has very nice detail, with relatively smooth dark gray-brown surfaces. One light rev. rim tap, but otherwise a nice example for the grade. I found it in a Heritage auction in 2016.

S102. A moderately scarce variety (R4). This coin has a nice level of detail, with some weakness on the rev. legend noted. The color & surfaces are choice for the grade level. A nice deep chocolate brown. There is a die break noted, through BE to the top of the head. This coin was purchased in a Goldberg auction in June 2016. The coin is graded & encapsulated VG8 by PCGS.

S103. LIHERTY. One of the famous varieties with a die-cutting error involving the “B” in LIBERTY being first punched in backwards, then corrected, to make what appears to be a letter “H”. S103 is the scarcer of the two LIHERTY varieties (R4+). This coin has solid details and choice surfaces & color, with just one small ding noted at the rim under the letter “N” in UNITED. I purchased the coin in 1996 from Jerry Wickwire of Portland, OR.

S104. LIHERTY. The less scarce variety with the LIHERTY die error (R3). This coin features nice detail, with lightly granular dark steel brown surfaces and a couple trivial rim bumps (obv.). The coin was purchased in a Goldberg auction JUN 2016.

S105. A fairly scarce variety (R5-). I purchased this coin in the annual EAC auction in 2015. The coin is graded & encapsulated AG3 by PCGS.

S106. A moderately scarce variety (R4+). Although the rarity rating is not as high, I found this variety difficult to locate. In 2018 I finally found one that looked decent in an ebay auction. This coin is in a PCGS holder, graded VG Details, Scratched. The scratch is fairly obvious, just left of the lowest curls, but it does not harm the eye appeal too much. The dark brown surfaces are lightly granular.

S107. A very difficult variety to locate in any grade (R5), and especially so in high grade (the top coin in the condition census is just VF-20)! My coin comes from the Stacks / Bowers 2021 sale of the Wm. Woytasek coins. It features good details and minimal problems. The die-state is early, before the cud break develops over the "T" in LIBERTY and to the right.

S108. A variety that is rated R4, but in my experience is not hard to find. This variety has the distinction of having the 1794 style edge dentillation for both obv. and rev. This led Breen to consider it the “first” variety of the draped bust type to be struck in 1796 (I do not agree with his assertion). This coin was purchased from Shawn Yancey in 2005.

 S109. An easy variety to locate (R3). However, it's rarity rating is deceptive, since the majority of coins have surface issues or other problems. This coin, which I acquired in a 2021 Heritage auction, illustrates typical surfaces.

S110. Another fairly common variety (R3). This coin is a pretty good representative. The obv. has nice detail, but some scratches are noted in the area around the date. This coin was purchased in the annual EAC auction in 2004 (LOT 104).

 S111. Somewhat scarce variety (R5-). This coin exhibits nice details, and original dark steel brown color. One obv. rim bump is noted over "LI" in LIBERTY, but the overall appearance remains pleasing. The coin was purchased in a Goldberg auction June 2016 (LOT 139).

S112. A moderately scarce variety (R4+). This coin has smooth brown surfaces, and very few distracting marks. The central rev. is weakly struck (as often seen). The rev. is also rotated slightly. It was purchased on ebay in 2015.

 S113. A very scarce variety (R5) that is most often found with a die break through the date. This coin is an exception, with the die break not evident. The dies appear to have been mis-aligned, because LIBERTY is very weak. The central rev. is also weak, with ONE CENT not visible. The surfaces are smooth, and the color is nice original-looking chocolate. This coin was purchased from Kevin Vinton in 2017.

S114. The guides list this variety as R5-, but I believe it to be more common (R4, at best). A cud die break appears later, at the rim above RTY, but this coin does not show evidence for it. This coin is deep olive green, with granular surfaces, and some evidence of corrosion behind the top of the head. This coin was purchased on ebay in 2016.

S115. An obtainable variety (R3). This coin displays very nice details, and shows an arcing die break behind the date plus a large cud die-break above "TY" in LIBERTY. This coin was purchased in 2009 in the Goldberg auction of the Dan Holmes collection.

S116. A scarce variety (R5-) that usually comes in poor condition. Dark, porous surfaces are much more common than smooth ones. This coin presents original looking color & surfaces, although heavily worn. I purchased this coin in a 2013 Goldbergs auction. It had once been owned by Joe Dooley.

S117. A tough variety to locate (R5+). The present coin exhibits some problems, but comes with a good pedigree. Purchased in 2017 from the Pierre Fricke collection, this coin was earlier sold in the Dan Holmes sale (SEP 2009, LOT 200). The overall sharpness is nearly Very Fine, but there is moderate corrosion present on both sides. The color is reddish chocolate.

S118. An extremely scarce variety (R5+). The only variety with fewer auction appearances than this variety since 2000 is the S96 (an acclaimed rarity). After more than 2 years of diligent hunting for an acceptable coin, this humble specimen was located on ebay in 2018. Although it is only FR2, there are minimal problems, with just a couple small “dark green” spots noted on the rev. rim. This is the ultimate “devotee’s coin”, as only a devoted 1796 fan could appreciate it.

S119. The low rarity rating of this variety (R3) belies the difficulty of locating an affordable specimen. This variety was found in the Nichols Find hoard, with all of these coins being mint-state, or close. The population of S119 in mid-grade and lower grades is not large. This coin is heavily worn, and also holed! This coin was purchased in 2023 in the Stacks / Bowers sale of the Howard Pitkow coins. It has been authenticated by ANACS.

No comments: