Written by: Janell Armstrong
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation« (NGC«) has certified more than 600 American Colonial and Pre-Federal coins, tokens and medals from the outstanding collection of Eric P. Newman. Assembled over a period of more than 90 years, the selections include a number of extremely rare and high grade specimens that have not been seen publicly for many decades.
Eric P. Newman, who will turn 103 in May, is one of the greatest numismatic writers and researchers of all time and is particularly well regarded for his contributions to the study of Colonial coins and currency. His many works are reflected in the range of his Colonial and Pre-Federal holdings, which present a remarkably complete history of American coinage from 1616 to 1792.
"Eric P. Newman built a phenomenal working collection of Colonial and Pre-Federal coins that served as the basis for much of his research and writing," says Mark Salzberg, chairman of NGC. "As a result, he has assembled an incredibly diverse collection that includes a number of amazing, high grade rarities."
These selections comprise part four of the extraordinary Eric P. Newman Collection. The first three parts, which were also certified by NGC, have shattered records and achieved nearly $34 million at auction.
The Eric P. Newman Collection Part IV is anchored by a number of high grade examples of important rarities. Among them is a pair of outstanding New England 'NE' coins, which were struck in 1652 in Massachusetts and represent the first coins minted in what would become the United States.
Newman's (1652) New England 'NE' sixpence is truly spectacular. Graded NGC AU 58, it is the finest of only eight known examples, three of which are in museum collections. The (1652) New England 'NE' shilling is also impressive with an NGC AU 55 grade, which ties this incredible rarity with one other piece for the status of finest certified.
The selections include two 1652-dated Willow Tree coins, which were struck in Massachusetts following the New England 'NE' coinage. Newman's Willow Tree sixpence, graded NGC VF 25, is one of just 14 specimens known. His Willow Tree shilling is also graded NGC VF 25.
Other early American Colonial pieces represented in Newman Part IV are the Sommer Islands "Hogge Money," which were struck circa 1616 in twopence, threepence, sixpence and shilling denominations for the Sommer Islands, now known as Bermuda. Remarkably, the Newman selections feature all four denominations, including a sixpence in NGC AU 50 BN and a shilling in NGC AU 55 BN.
Newman Part IV boasts five varieties of the rare Higley threepence, which were struck in Connecticut by Samuel and John Higley from 1737 to 1739. Among these pieces is a 1737 Three Hammers 'CONNECTICVT' threepence graded NGC AU 50 BN, considered to be the finest known of all extant Higley coppers.
Among the most significant later issues is the 1776 'EG FECIT' Continental Currency dollar in silver. Graded NGC MS 63, it is the finest of only two known silver specimens and is undoubtedly one of the most significant pieces in the Newman selections.
Several important early United States patterns are in Newman Part IV. The 1783 Nova Constellatio pattern 100 Units or "Bit" in the Newman Collection, graded NGC AU 55, is unique with a plain edge. The Nova Constellatio patterns are significant as the first official proposed coinage for the United States and more broadly as the first attempt to create a decimal coinage system.
The 1792 Judd-1 Pattern Silver-Center cent in NGC MS 63+ BN is the third-finest of only 14 specimens known. Newman Part IV also includes the rare 1792 Judd-10 Pattern disme (dime). The finest example certified by NGC, it is graded NGC AU 55 BN.
While not an official pattern, the rare 1787 Immunis Columbia is considered to be a private proposal for an early United States coinage. The Newman example is pedigreed to the famed Parmelee, Ten Eyck, Newcomer and Green collections. Overstruck on a broad flan, it is graded NGC AU 55 BN.
Similarly, the 1787 George Clinton Excelsior pieces were struck for a proposed coinage for New York State. Newman Part IV includes an MS 63 BN example-an astonishingly high grade for this very rare issue.
A handful of extremely rare, high grade 1786-1788 Connecticut coppers are among the Newman selections. The 1787 Figure Right Connecticut in NGC F 12 BN is the finest of only two known examples of the Miller 1.4-WW variety. A 1786 Backwards 'D' Connecticut copper, attributed as Miller 2.5-V and graded NGC VF30 BN, is believed to be unique.
Stuart Levine, himself a respected scholar of Colonial and Pre-Federal coinage, serves as numismatic advisor to Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
Selections from the Collection of Newman Part IV will be sold by Heritage Auctions in New York May 16-17, 2014. The catalog, including images and descriptions, will be posted on the Heritage Auctions website (HA.com) in April.