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February 21 , 2014

COIN OF THE WEEK

1903 JEFFERSON GOLD DOLLAR, NGC PROOF 66
Click on Coin Image to enlarge


1903 Gold $1.00 Jefferson NGC PF66 - $25,900.00

1903 Jefferson Gold Dollar - 1903 Gold $1.00 Jefferson NGC PF66. In its population report, NGC shows 3, certified at the PF66 grade level with none higher. Proof Gold Commemoratives are so undervalued they seem a relative bargain when compared with regular issue US gold proofs.

This rare, eye-appealing Superb Gem proof 1903 Jefferson commemorative dollar is tied for the finest known at NGC. It has extremely clean surfaces with no visible hairlines or contact marks. The piece is well struck with full details on the cheekbone, hair, and the dates on the reverse. The coin is a mixture of yellow gold with shades of orange and green in the fields. These colors show its originality. The devices are fully lustrous against darker backgrounds, which create a semi-prooflike effect. The coin was designed by Charles Barber assisted by George T. Morgan. It was inspired by a 19th century medal by John Reich that was designed based on a bust of Jefferson by the sculptor Houdon. The obverse shows a left facing profile of a bewigged Jefferson surrounded by the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The reverse shows the denomination ONE DOLLAR in two lines and the dates 1803-1903, also in two lines. The denomination and dates are separated by a sprig of laurel that is off center to the right. The whole is surrounded by the inscription ST. LOUIS LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION.

Since the act that authorized the coinage for the exposition did not prohibit more than one design, Farran Zerbe, a prominent numismatist of the time and advisor to the project, suggested that there be two different gold dollars. One celebrated Thomas Jefferson, who was president at the time of the Louisiana Purchase, and the other William McKinley, who was president when the exposition was authorized. McKinley was assassinated in 1901 so he never saw the implementation of the act he signed into law.

The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States at the time. It consisted of 828,000 square miles of France’s claim to the territory of Louisiana. The United States paid about 15 million dollars, in cash and cancellation of debts, which was less than 42 cents per acre. The land purchased contains all or part of 15 present states and two Canadian provinces. France had planned to build an empire in the New World, but a slave revolt in Haiti and an impending war with Britain force her to abandon these plans and sell the territory to the United States, which had only intended to purchase New Orleans and its adjacent lands. Jefferson faced opposition because it was thought the purchase was unconstitutional. Although the constitution did not contain a provision for acquiring territory, Jefferson decided to make the purchase in order to remove France from the region and protect U.S. trade access to New Orleans and free passage on the Mississippi River. Of course, Jefferson recognized the importance of the purchase. He said, “We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives…From this day the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank.”

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, was supposed to open in 1903; however, delays postponed it until April 1904. It remained open until December 1904, after about 20 million had visited its exhibits. It was built on a large piece of land in Forest Park, St. Louis. The 1,272 acre parcel was one of the largest uses of land for an event of this type. There were 15 major buildings, including four art palaces, numerous smaller buildings, exhibit areas, gardens, fountains, and other attractions. Items of great interest at the time were automobiles, the wireless telegraph, other uses of electricity, and dirigibles. Numerous works of artists and sculptors were on display.

One hundred proof specimens of each of the two designs were struck. There were distributed to favored insiders and government officials. The following notation was included with each coin: This is to certify that the accompanying Louisiana Purchase Exposition gold dollar struck at the Mint of the United States, Philadelphia, in accordance with an Act of Congress approved June 28th, 1902, is one of the first one hundred impressions from the Jefferson [or McKinley] dies.”

Barber was the sixth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. He became Chief Engraver after the death of his father, William. He served from 1879 to 1917. He is best known for his designs of the “Barber” dime, quarter, and half dollar. In addition he designed the Liberty Head nickel, several commemoratives, and the Flowing Hair Stella pattern. Barber was born in London in 1840. He came to the United States in 1852 with his family. His father became an engraver at the Mint in Philadelphia. Following Longacre’s death, William Barber became the Chief Engraver and made his son, Charles, his assistant. In 1879, Charles Barber became the Chief Engraver despite the fact the George T. Morgan may have been more qualified or at least more talented. William Barber, Charles’ father, had been an engraver in England. He worked for the Mint in Philadelphia and became Chief Engraver in 1869 after James Longacre died on New Year’s Day. In 1875 Charles married Martha Jones. They had a daughter, Edith. Martha died in 1898, and Charles remarried in 1902 to Caroline Gaston.

After William Barber’s death, George T. Morgan was also being considered to replace him. However, a few months later, Charles was named to the position. During the time that he was Chief Engraver, he was responsible for the 1883 Hawaiian coinage: the silver dime, eighth dollar, quarter, half dollar, and dollar. He also designed coins for Cuba and Venezuela. Later he designed the obverse of the Columbian half dollar and both dies for the Isabella quarter. Barber also was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition gold dollars, the Lewis and Clark Exposition gold dollar, the obverse of the Panama-Pacific Exposition half dollar, and the quarter eagle, along with George T. Morgan. Barber also designed the obverse of the McKinley Memorial dollar. When President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to redesign the coinage of the United States, he felt that he was in a “private war” with Charles Barber. Because Roosevelt felt that Barber was not an imaginative engraver, he enlisted the help of Augustus Saint-Gaudens and later Bela Lyon Pratt to remake America’s coinage. Barber was critical of the new designs and pointed out their impracticality. Eventually his view prevailed, and he reduced the relief of the Saint-Gaudens’ works.

Morgan was born on January 4, 1845 in Birmingham, England. Morgan attended the Birmingham Art School and won a scholarship to the South Kensington Art School. He worked as an assistant under the Wyons at the British Royal Mint. In 1876 Morgan immigrated to the United States and was hired as an assistant to William Barber at the United States Mint. Morgan reported directly to Mint Director Henry R. Linderman, whose office was moved to Washington D.C. in 1873, no doubt upsetting Engraver Barber and his son, Assistant Engraver, Charles Barber. Morgan was involved in the production of pattern coins from 1877 until his death in 1925. He designed varieties of the 1877 half dollar, the “Schoolgirl” dollar of 1879, and the “Shield Earring” coins of 1882. He became the seventh Chief Engraver in 1917 with the death of Charles E. Barber. Today, Morgan is most known for his design of the Morgan Dollar of 1878 to 1921. A recently found, although never released design was for the $100 Gold Union.

By some standards his career was a disappointment. He was an Assistant Engraver for over forty years and during that time designed only one regular issued United States coin, the famous Morgan Dollar. In 1917 Charles Barber died. Morgan, at age 72, finally became Chief Engraver.

Only 80 to 90 proof Jefferson gold dollars are known to exist. In its population report, NGC shows 3, certified at the PF66 grade level with none higher.

 

Very Truly Yours,

Tom Pilitowski
www.usrarecoininvestments.com
Toll Free:
1-800-624-1870
Email: TomPilitowski@yahoo.com

 


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