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Lot 4038

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 4038
Date 1883
Country U.S.
Denomination 5c

1883 5C Liberty Head Five Cents, Judd-1707, Pollock-1911, R.6, PR66 Cameo NGC. Design. The central obverse device is similar to the head of Liberty adopted on the regular issue five cent pieces of this year, the date is below, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the margin. The reverse shows the experimental nature of this pattern with 75 N./25 C. in the center, surrounded by a wreath of cotton and corn, FIVE on the upper border, CENTS on the lower border, with 13 stars arranged seven left and six right at the margin. Struck in a magnetic alloy of 75% nickel and 25% copper with a plain edge. Commentary. Several experimental alloys were tested in 1883 for both new designs for the five cent piece and the composition. These include: PURE NICKEL, 75 N./ 25 C., 50 N./50 C., and 33 N./67 C. If the 75/25 composition on the coin is correct it is magnetic. This is noted on Eric Newman's envelope that accompanies the lot, and we verified it as well. His note on the envelope reads: "Magnetic & therefore pure nickel." We are not sure how much nickel a coin has to have to still be magnetic, but it would be an interesting subject for metallurgical analysis. It is believed that over a dozen pieces are known of this design type. Physical Description. The fields are deeply reflective, surprisingly so for a pattern with such a high nickel content, and the design displays strong cameo contrast. Also surprising is the strength of strike, especially on the reverse. The high points on the reverse show slight softness, leading one to wonder if Charles Barber rejected this wreath design because of its unsuitability for fullness of strike in the one-pass method of coining needed for commercial production of coinage. The fields are slightly granular, a trait often seen even on proof nickel planchets. There are essentially no contact marks worthy of mention on either side. The surfaces are generally brilliant with just a hint of pale rose. From The Eric P. Newman Collection.

From Newman I (Heritage Auctions, 4/2013), lot 4038, realized $4993.75. Image and description courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

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Image Collection Eric P. Newman Collection, Part I
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