Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has graded and encapsulated the rare and historic set of United States proof coins presented to the King of Siam in 1836. Consisting of nine denominations ranging from half cent to eagle, this amazing proof set has been known to numismatics only since 1962, when it surfaced in England.
For a time exhibited at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and
Casino in Las Vegas, this set was recently purchased
from its previous owner by Mike Bobb of Mike's Coin
Chest in Torrance, California. Now that it has been
certified by NGC, the set will be exhibited at NGC's
table during the Fall 2001 Long Beach Expo in California.
When revealed to the numismatic community in 1962,
this set was contained within a custom made case covered
in yellow leather, that being the color of Siamese royalty.
Inside, the coins were held by slots depressed into
a lining of blue velvet. Two of the slots were empty,
and it is assumed that these once held proof examples
of the 1834 half dime and the 1834 Capped Head quarter
eagle (the type with motto E PLURIBUS UNUM). All of
the coins present are dated 1834, with the exception
of the silver dollar and gold eagle. These two are dated
1804 and feature designs typical of that time.
Research by Eric Newman and Kenneth Bressett resulted
in the publication in 1962 of a book in which the story
behind this mismatching of dates was revealed. When
commissioned by the State Department in 1834 to prepare
two complete sets of the current coins, U. S. Mint Director
Samuel Moore interpreted this to mean that such sets
would include, in addition to the pieces then being
coined, the silver dollar and the eagle, two denominations
not minted since 1804. Rather than prepare hubs for
these two denominations featuring designs then common
to the other pieces, he had the Engraving Department
prepare 1804-dated dies of the types last used for them.
He was unaware, however, that the silver dollars struck
in 1804 bore dates of earlier years. Thus, the first
silver dollars dated 1804 were minted in 1834, these
being the "original" or Class I dollars of
which just eight are known.
A very thorough account of the history behind the coining
of the King of Siam proof set and its presentation to
King Ph'ra Nang Klao was written recently by Q. David
Bowers. His book, The Rare Silver Dollars Dated 1804
and the Exciting Adventures of Edmund Roberts, goes
into great detail. It recounts the long journey by which
Roberts presented this set and other gifts to the king
in April of 1836.
Well preserved within their velvet bed, the nine coins
that comprise the King of Siam proof set received very
impressive grades from NGC. Both the 1834 Classic Head
quarter eagle and the 1804 eagle have been certified
as Proof-64. The set's quarter dollar, half dollar and
half eagle, all dated 1834, achieved gem status, grading
Proof-65. Finer still are the collection's copper pieces
of 1834, the half cent grading Proof-66 Red/Brown, while
the lovely cent was certified as Proof-66 Brown. Easily
the finest coins in this historic set are the 1834 dime
and 1804 silver dollar, both of which received the lofty
grade of Proof-67. The latter is the finer of just two
1804 Class I dollars certified by NGC.
Mark Salzberg, Chairman and CEO of NGC, was delighted
to have this famed proof set reside within the company's
holders. "It's terrific to see these coins again
after ten years," Salzberg said. "It makes
one reflect on the learning curve that results from
examining so many rare and outstanding pieces since
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