The 1838 Gobrecht Dollar similar in design to the 1836 J60/P65 but with 13 stars added to the obverse and the 26 stars removed from the reverse. An extra clump of feathers has also been added below the eagle's neck area.
Much controversy surrounds this issue. There are 2 theories revolving around them. The first theory originally espoused by Walter Breen and championed by Robert W. Julian and originally Craig Sholley believed that originals were struck in alignment I. We recommend reading their article in the July 31, 2007 edition of Numismatic News. The second theory by James Gray and Mike Carboneau believe that originals were struck in die alignment IV. To view these articles, click here.
Research is still ongoing but Saul Teichman, John Dannreuther and Craig Sholley (he switched sides) believe that the die alignment IV pieces, like the Smithsonian example are in fact the originals as this alignment and format matches the flying eagle half dollar patterns struck that year. It was believed that the Smithsonian piece did not have any die cracks but a May 2015 visit using better lighting and higher magnification shows that this piece does have very fine cracks through ITE and MER. The reeded edge collar used on this piece had 181 reeds. W.E. Dubois sold one to Matthew Stickney as noted in a letter dated July 12, 1843 in the Peabody Essex Museum. This letter, shown below courtesy of David Stone, specifically mentions the restriking of 2 flying eagle half dollar patterns (J73 and J79a or 2 of J79a) but does not note the dollar as such.
We wonder if the piece, which was purchased by S.H. Chapman at the Stickney sale, could be identified today as this coin could confirm that the originals were in fact alignment IV. Its first sales appearance was in the 1851 Roper sale where it realized $5, a strong price for the time. Regrettably, we cannot identify this coin today as it is either an original or the earliest reported restrike. Additional 1838s were sold through Stickney in letters date Oct 8, 1846 and April 14, 1854.
John Dannreuther has discovered that the working dies for this and J104/P116 were made from the same master die which originally had the Gobrecht's name on the base as on J60/P65.
Restrikes were struck in die alignment III with 182 reeds and also in alignment IV and show any or all of the following die cracks.
1. Through the tops of the letters ITE in UNITED.
2. Through the tops of the letters MERI in AMERICA.
3. Through the bases of the letters LAR in DOLLAR.
The alignment IVs are much rarer than the alignment IIIs. For additional information on this, click here.
For additional information on this click here for Part 1 or Part 2 where a sequence is supplied at the end of the article.
At least one of these was used in trade for Washingtoniana. A letter to R.C. Davis from the Director of the Mint James Snowden dated June 30, 1859, regarding Washington tokens and medals and exchanging rare coins notes: "I have to thank you for your favor of yesterday enclosing a Washington cent of 1792 (small eagle). It is in good condition and we could use it.
I send you a dollar of 1838, reverse flying eagle, and proof specimen of the dollar of 1854, also the half dollar of 1838, trial piece, eagle without the shield, and a specimen of the proposed cent struck in copper, instead of one tenth." It is likely others were traded for as well.
A famous example is known struck over an 1859 seated dollar. The date area of this famous coin is shown below. Note the 59 from the host coin to the right of the second 8.
According to numismatist Len Augsburger, the piece is mentioned in the May 1957 issue of the Numismatist 1957, pp. 531-532. “Recent NY auction”, realized $580, then to Kagin at $2000 via Louis Werner. This appears to be the one in Stack’s 12/1956:1188 ($580), and is plated there, where Werner apparently cherried it. Regrettably, the plate in the Stacks catalog does not have the contrast to see if that is truly where the piece originated. It has since been sold in Heritage 8/2010 sale and is now in the Simpson collection.
For more on this piece, click here.
Photo courtesy of Heritage.
Strikings from these dies are as follows:
Silver with reeded edge J84/P93 with about 50 believed known in alignment III and IV combined. The following 3 are confirmed in alignment IV, the last has die rust in the fields and appears to be one of the earliest restrikes.
2) Dr Korein, ANS - NGC65
3) J.B. Wilson (Elder 10/1908), Norweb, Heritage 4/08, Gardner-Heritage 10/14 - NGC65, apparently an early restrike.
It is unknown if #2 is a later occurrence of the Stickney or Roper example.
Note: The alignment III Freisner, Eliasberg, Korein, ANS example is an anomaly. It is in the earliest state like the Smithsonian example with no die rust present but using the 182 reed collar of the Judd 61. It could be an original or a very early restrike. See the commentary above regarding the funneling of these from W.E. Dubois via Matthew Stickney.
Only a single alignment III appears to have entered circulation. It is presently in an NGCVF25 holder.
Silver with plain edge J85/P94. As there were 2 in the Linderman sale, these restrikes were likely made circa 1869 and into the early 1870s in alignment III with the reverse die cracks through the 'MERI' in 'America' in its most advanced state as shown below. At least 8 are known of which two were in the Brand collection, journal ids (#83316 and 90916) and 2 were in the Col Green collection.
Photo courtesy of Heritage.
Copper with a plain edge J87/P96 with only 2 examples known.
Copper with a reeded edge J86/P95 has been discredited.
For additional information on this and all copper Gobrecht dollars, click here.
For the latest information on J84 from Craig Sholley, John Dannreuther and Saul Teichman, click here. For the latest information on J85, click here. For the latest on all Gobrecht dollars, click here courtesy of our friends at Heritage.
Photo courtesy of Bowers and Merena.