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The Legendary Ted L. Craige Collection, Part III

By Greg Cohen, Professional Numismatist and Consignment Director, US and World Coins. Coins Catalogued by John Kraljevich, Numismatic Consultant and Frank VanValen, Numismatist and Cataloguer

Author: Greg Cohen / Thursday, January 10, 2013 / Categories: Crossing the Block
Right on the heels of our highly acclaimed colonial coin sale, held in conjunction with C4 in our November Baltimore auction, comes another large and important offering of US colonial coins anchoring the first day of our New York Americana Sale. While there are 215 lots of colonial coins in Session 1, the 634 lots of coins comprising Part II of the Ted L. Craige, which make up Session 2, will attract much attention from specialists.

The series offered in the Craige Collection Part II are:

1. Silver coinage from the Massachusetts Bay Colony
2. Elephant Tokens
3. Pitt Tokens
4. Massachusetts Copper Coins
5. Connecticut Coppers
6. New Jersey Coppers
7. Washington Pieces
8. Fugio Coppers

The session starts with the enigmatic Noe 2-B New England sixpence, one of just two known pieces in private hands, and continues with some very wholesome examples of the ever popular Oak and Pine Tree coins, including lot 11006, a lovely 1652 Oak Tree sixpence graded EF-45 by PCGS and among the finest known for the Noe-16 variety, and lot 11015, an unusually overweight Noe-10 Pine Tree shilling, weighing in at 76.38 grains and graded EF-45 by PCGS.

Craige’s Elephant tokens represent the finest offering since our (Stack’s) sale of the John J. Ford, Jr Collection, Part II. High grade and rare types and variants abound, including lot 11029, a rare God Preserve London struck over a CAROLVS A CAROLO halfpenny pattern. Graded MS-63 BN by PCGS, this is just one of four known example, tied with the 60th New Netherlands Sale piece for finest known. We are also offering two examples of the rare 1694 Carolina Proprietors O/E tokens.

A small offering of Pitt tokens is highlighted by a rare brass farthing certified as having AU Details by PCGS, the firm noting Environmental Damage as the reason keeping the coin from a numerically graded encapsulation.

While the copper coins of New Jersey and Connecticut have large followings of specialists building collections of the various die marriages, the copper half cents and cents of Massachusetts are often overlooked by die variety collectors. Mr. Craige took “a workmanlike approach to filling in a set of…cents and half cents by Ryder number…” including several in the condition census. Lot 11042 features a 1787 half cent, Ryder 4-B that grades MS-63 BN -- a Rarity-5 coin that fits into the condition census and the ready equivalent of the Ford piece offered as lot 69 in our (Stack’s) sale of October 2004. The highlight of the set is the 1788 Ryder 13-I cent, graded as VF-20, cleaned; this Rarity-7 variety was missing from the Ford Collection, as well as many other extensive collections of colonial coins. In fact, Craige noted on his envelope “Unique. Unlisted, unpublished, and unknown combo.” Over the years, a few other examples have been discovered, but it is still an exceptionally rare variety, and should see spirited bidding from specialists when lot 11096 is called to the podium.

While it is well known among colonial specialists that Ted Craige’s “mainline” Connecticut copper collection was sold in the early 1970s and then sold in the 1975 EAC auction, the coins that were retained in many cases were in some cases finer than the coins sold, noted by John Kraljevich to be “the greatest second-line offering of state coppers since the Boyd duplicates began appearing in several famous sales in the early 1990s.” There are 189 coins being offered here, “representing almost as many varieties.” Many of the coins have illustrious prior pedigrees or are in the Condition Census. Lot 11117, a VF-30 1785 Miller 7.2-D is among the finest known for the variety. Lot 11131 is the Parmelee-Miller 1786 Miller 5.6-M and lot 11156 is the Stearns 1787 Miller 16.2-NN.1, which is among the finest known of this Rarity-5+ die variety. An EF-45 1787 Miller 33.10-W.6 will cross the auction block as lot 11200, and is noted as being perhaps the finest known example of a rare variety “missing from Taylor, Norweb, Oechsner, and other major collections.” Lot 11255, a remarkable brockage of Miller Obverse 40 (AUCTIPI obverse legend) is graded VF-25, and called Rarity-8 by our catalogers. The extremely rare 1788 Miller 8-K, ex Stack’s October 1970 sale of the Massachusetts Historical Society; ex William Sumner Appleton (1840-1903) appears as lot 11273 and is considered to be Rarity-7- by experts. Finally, lot 11277 brings a well pedigreed and visually appealing 1788 Miller 12.1-E to the auction block. This coin is accompanied by a S.H. and Henry Chapman auction envelope (date unknown, but prior to 1906), lot 129, and its subsequent pedigree is as follows: William Wallace Hays; Hillyer Ryder; F.C.C. Boyd; John J. Ford, Jr.; Ted L. Craige. An impressive pedigree that is missing one name, yours! Between these examples, there are many rarities and other special coins for both the beginning collector and the seasoned colonial veteran.

As in the 2012 Stack’s Bowers New York Americana Sale, an impressive collection of Connecticuts is followed by an equally impressive collection of New Jerseys. There are 95 varieties represented in the Ted L. Craige Collection, and as noted in the introductory commentary of the section, “there are fascinating overstrikes, rare die states, and superb old pedigrees. A few might be Finest Knowns.” The first piece offered is lot 11289, a 1787 Maris 6-C, “Pattern” Shield in EF-40, a very attractive specimen. The rare and popular “No Coulter” types are represented in lots 11292 to 11297, and include a Maris 10-h (Rarity-7), two Maris 11-H (Rarity-6-), Maris 11.5-G (Rarity-7-), Maris 12-G (Rarity-4), and Maris-12-I (Rarity-5). Each one of these pieces would be a great addition to an advanced cabinet of New Jersey coppers. A lovely 1786 Maris 14-J is called AU-55 and was described by Mr. Craige as “Choice! AU/UNC.” The room will hush, and all attention will be paid to the auctioneer when she calls lot 11312 to the block. A magnificent 1786 Maris 18-M, an example of the popular “bridle” obverse, in stunning MS-63 is certainly among the finest known for the variety, and will no doubt be a centerpiece in its next owner’s collection. Two lots later, lot 11314 is the finest known Maris 18-N, ex Stickney; Stearns, and will also be hotly contested by connoisseurs of colonial coins. Lot 11323 will be well-received by bidders, despite some serious surface issues, as it is the third known specimen of the extremely rare 1786 Maris 23 ½ -R known, the other two are the famous Ford specimen that realized $51,750 in October 2003 and the Norweb Coin that sold for $13,200 in 1988. Lot 11342 is the F.C.C. Boyd-Ted L. Craige 1787/1887 Maris 35-W, one of just a half a dozen known, and apparently is the second sharpest, behind the John Ford specimen we sold in October 2003. Lot 11407 is the finest known Maris 75-bb, the famous Stickney example that reappeared in New Netherlands’ 60th sale, now called AU-55. As with the Connecticut coppers, between these mentioned lots are dozens of important and rare coins with great history. If you are already on your way to the oft attempted and rarely accomplished goal of 100 varieties, there are certainly coins in the offing to fill holes in your cabinet. If this is your first foray into the field of New Jersey coppers, there is enough variety of marriages, types, and quality to fit any budget.

The coins, tokens, medalets, and the like portraying various renditions of George Washington’s visage are numismatically referred to as “Washingtoniana.” Most collectors of colonial era issues are generally satisfied to own an example of each type. Die variety study and collecting of Washington pieces is not actively pursued by specialists. Ted Craige was well ahead of his time with his collection of Washington pieces, put away over 40 years ago. Our offering begins with the 1783 Washington Georgius Triumpho tokens, progressing to the 1783-dated Military and Draped Bust coppers, struck circa 1820. The number of die varieties offered is extensive, and is highlighted by the unique 1783 Draped Bust copper with the misspelled INDEPEDENCE in the legend. This is only the second time this coin has ever appeared at auction, first appearing in the New Netherlands’ sale of December 1968, lot 488, and is the plate coin in Breen (1988) and the 2nd edition of the Rulau/Fuld Washingtonia reference. A Gem 1791 Washington Large Eagle cent, graded MS-65 BN (PCGS), will create a stir when it crosses the block, and is among the top specimens graded by that service. A rare 1792 Washington President copper with the General of the American Armies Reverse, Baker-59, Rarity-8 will create a buzz when the auctioneer calls lot 11493. A holed and plugged 1792 Getz pattern “half dollar” struck in silver with VF details, earlier ex F.C.C. Boyd and a Fine-12 (PCGS) 1792 Getz pattern “cent” struck in copper appear as lots 11496 and 11497. A near-Gem, Proof-64 BN PCGS 1792 Roman Head cent is offered as lot 11499, and is a very popular issue. The finest PCGS-certified Silver Washington Funeral Medal with the skull and cross bones reverse, graded VF-35, and acquired by Ted Craige from George Fuld, will cross the auction block as lot 11541, and will begin a large offering of these popular issues.

The final series offered in Part II of the Craige Collection is his extensive offering of Fugio coppers. Following the cabinet of Fugios formed by Rob Retz that we had the privilege of offering in our November 2012 sale, we are again proud to offer collectors a chance to buy some great examples of this popular and important series. Ted Craige was collecting Fugios at a time when few people collected by die variety, thus he was able to assemble a great collection without much competition for rare varieties. In the lots offered, there will be coins in superb condition, condition census pieces, and ones with awesome provenance, starting with lot 11558, a Newman 1-B, Cross After Date UNITED STATES, graded AU-55 by PCGS, and called “finer than any example offered in well over a decade.” The Winsor-Guy-Craige Newman 1-Z, a Rarity-7 die variety, lot 11562 is an important opportunity for a collector to obtain an example of this elusive variety. The rare, famous, popular, and important FUCIO error, Newman 2-C in VF-35 (PCGS) should see spirited bidding competition from specialists. Tied for finest known Newman 11-A, UNITED over STATES, graded MS-64 RB by PCGS will turn heads and realize a strong price when lot 11583 is offered. Three lots later, the George Parsons (1914) Newman 11-X, now graded MS-63 RB, but “as full original red as any Fugio your cataloger can recall” is a lovely coin that will be long remembered for its quality.

Catalogs for this important collection are in the mail, and the listings are available on our website now at www.stacksbowers.com. This is just an overview of the 634 lots of coins in the legendary Ted L. Craige Collection, Part II. If colonial coins are of interest to you, there is definitely something in this offering for you, whether a seasoned specialist or a casual collector. As noted in our catalog of the Craige Collection, Part I (November 2012), this is a fresh a collection, which sat unmolested in a bank vault since the time of his untimely passing in 1971. If you are not currently on our mailing list, and would like to receive a copy of this important catalog, please contact any one of our auction services specialists. Lots will be on view in our New York auction gallery starting on Thursday, January 17. We look forward to seeing you either at lot viewing or at the auction, and from all of us here at Stack’s Bowers Galleries, I wish you the best of luck in your bidding, and hope that you will be able to bring home a tangible piece of early American history!