Seldom-seen selections from the Schilke-Kagin 1842 Proof Set highlight Heritage's recent auction.
[DALLAS, TX] — The noted Connecticut numismatist, Oscar G. Schilke (1903-1965) joined the American Numismatic Association in 1937, and retained his membership until his death. He also held membership in several other organizations, and served as president of the New York Numismatic Club in 1954 and 1955. He was a past president of the Fairfield County Historical Society in Connecticut. In 1958, the Smithsonian Institution received his donation of "Colonial, Continental, and State Bank Notes." He will be remembered as the co-author of America' s Foreign Coins, published shortly before his death. Outside of numismatics, Schilke worked as an electrical contractor.
Although the exact date is unknown, Schilke acquired a seven-piece 1842 proof set in the middle 20th century. The set was reportedly found in a Revolutionary War-era house that was the residence of a former Connecticut governor. Paul Kagin recalls that the set was originally found "behind the paneling" of the house when it was razed. Alternatively, Q. David Bowers recalls that the set was found in "a dresser drawer." Regardless, acquisition of this set combined Schilke's numismatic and historical interests.
The set includes the maroon presentation case that accompanies the Seated dollar, described in further detail below. At one time, a large hoard of similar boxes was in the possession of the Chapman brothers, so we are unable to state if it is the original box, although it was with the coins when Paul Kagin purchased this set from Schilke.
Only three coins remain from the set, including the half cent, the Small Date half dollar, and the Seated silver dollar. Each of these coins will be offered individually as a part of our upcoming 2012 April 18-22 US Coins & Platinum Night CSNS Signature Auction. The Small Date quarter originally part of this set was offered in our sale of the Philip Kaufman Collection in April 2008.
The half cent has the Large Berries reverse of all Original Braided Hair pieces, and this is the first example we have handled. Splashes of pale blue toning appear on virtually full red surfaces with a few minuscule spots on each side. The surfaces offer nicely mirrored fields with sharply defined, satin devices, yielding light cameo contrast especially evident on the obverse.
The 1842 Original half cent is one of the scarcest of the series, with just over a dozen pieces known. This example was mentioned in Walter Breen's Census, when he wrote: "One of these is reportedly in a proof set in the Oscar G. Schilke estate." Breen was obviously unaware that Schilke had sold the set to Kagin.
Despite occasional reports to the contrary, apparently all known proof 1842 half dollars are from a Small Date obverse die. When we offered the Boyd specimen in our January 2012 FUN sale, we developed a roster of seven different proofs. The Schilke-Kagin piece is an eighth proof specimen, tied for the third finest of those certified.
This Choice proof is a lovely specimen with deeply mirrored fields that show faint hairlines and minor contact marks, preventing a higher grade. The boldly detailed devices host satin luster with light cameo contrast evident on both sides. Considerable light silver appears throughout with splashes of champagne, gold, and blue-green toning to heighten the eye appeal. Two important half dollar collections sold in the last decade, the property of David Queller and George "Buddy" Byers, each lacked a proof example of this rarity.
After careful analysis of past auction appearances, we have established a roster of nine different 1842 proof silver dollars, and acknowledge the possibility of three additional pieces. However, we are confident that a dozen pieces is the upper limit of surviving proofs of the issue.
The Gem proof 1842 Seated dollar from the Schilke-Kagin set is possibly the finest existing coin of its kind. This lovely Seated dollar displays brilliant, deeply mirrored fields with splashes of gold and blue toning. A few stars are weak, and the top of the left (facing) wing is indistinct. All other design elements are sharply defined. The devices exhibit satin luster with a hint of cameo contrast. An impressive Gem, this Seated dollar will soon grace a fine collection of the series.
Included with this coin is the maroon seven-piece leather proof set case that accompanied these coins from the Oscar Schilke proof set. The antique case shows some scuffing, although its plush blue interior is exceptionally well preserved. The hinge and clasp are both intact.
For information on this auction, visit www.ha.com .
The thoughts and opinions in the piece are those of their author and are not necessarily the thoughts of the Certified Collectibles Group.