Phenomenal Simpson Collection Helps Launch NGC Plus Designation
Posted on 6/17/2010
Followers of the numismatic scene have already learned of the fabulous Simpson Collection of United States pattern coins, but one remarkable numismatist is a connoisseur of other series, as well. He possesses superb holdings of nearly all United States coin series spanning the period from the 1830s to the 1930s, most of which have been graded and certified by NGC.
Many Simpson Collection coins have received the new Plus () Designation from NGC. Launched on May 25, 2010, the is used to identify coins at the high end of their assigned grade, approaching the quality requirements for the next grade. This new NGC service offering is heralded with the placement of the important Simpson Collection coins on the NGC Registry. Now updated to accommodate graded coins, the NGC Registry is the go-to place to find the rarest and most beautiful coins from around the world. The addition of the Simpson Collection sets only confirms this trend, and users of the NGC Registry will be able to view these remarkable coins for themselves in glorious color.
Texan Bob Simpson is the ultimate numismatic connoisseur, desiring only those coins that meet his exacting standards. He knows what he wants, and nothing less will do. Facilitating his efforts is his longtime numismatic consultant, Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics. The old saying, “Know your coins or know your dealer” is particularly apt, as Mr. Simpson knows both, and this relationship has paid off with an epic collection of coins that compares favorably with the great named collections of the past.
Mr. Simpson’s premier passion is United States pattern and trial coins, and his collection of these is unparalleled. Comprising most of the entries found in Dr. J. Hewitt Judd’s standard reference work, United States Pattern Coins, now in its 10th edition, the Simpson Collection is the greatest assemblage of such coins since Judd’s own collection was dispersed some 50 years ago. Among its amazing highlights is a complete set of the highly coveted Stellas, or four-dollar pieces, complete in all types, dates and metals. While perhaps less known to most collectors, his array of early US Mint patterns is of the greatest historic value and rarity. These coins include 1792-dated pieces such as the silver-center cent (J-1), the even more rare example of this coin without a silver center (J-2), the most popular of early federal patterns — the HALF DISME (J-7) and the exceedingly rare DISME in all three varieties (J-9,-10,-11). Also included are both uniface impressions of Joseph Wright’s famed quarter dollar pattern (J-A1792-1,-2). These coins are seldom offered for sale, as their owners are typically devoted numismatists who cherish their immense historical importance. Such a figure is Bob Simpson.
Also in this remarkable collection is a nearly complete sequence by Judd numbers of the very popular Gobrecht Silver Dollar issues of 1836-39. While a couple of these varieties were actually released to circulation, most were produced solely as patterns, and all had very small mintages. In addition to being stunningly beautiful, these coins showcase the finest technology then available to the US Mint as it transitioned from the era of manual labor and horse-drawn machines to the Industrial Age of steam and electricity.
The depth of the collection is such that, beyond the complete stella sets in all metals, beyond the early US Mint patterns and beyond the Gobrecht dollars, there are more and more seldom seen rarities. The Simpson collection also includes Bickford $10 coins in all metals and the “King of all Pattern Coins,” the Amazonian sets, in all metals. There are so many classic rarities it’s clear the collection cannot be replicated.
In addition to having both the wisdom and good fortune to work with a knowledgeable and well established dealer, Mr. Simpson also has the presence of mind to set firm guidelines for his collecting. Knowing exactly what he wants has kept him focused on obtaining his goals, no matter how long this may take, and it has also kept him from being distracted by the lesser offerings that come up more frequently. Finally, he has a clear understanding of what comprises completeness in a particular series, and nothing less will satisfy. Having both the means and opportunity to achieve such goals is very rare in numismatics. Indeed, many high-reaching collectors lack his stamina and determination, and they simply cash out before attaining completion. These “comets,” as they are called in collecting fields, come and go, but truly great collectors such as Bob Simpson are in love with their coins and stay in the game for the long haul.
In the process of grading and encapsulating the Simpson Collection patterns, NGC’s experts used this opportunity to perform non-destructive testing of those coins whose exact compositions have been a matter of speculation for generations. Previously, the attribution of coins to a particular Judd number was done by simple visual interpretation, as there existed no practical way of determining composition without harming the coins. This led to many incorrect or generalized listings in the Judd pattern book. Recent editions of this reference have attempted to more precisely define exact compositions, sometimes adding multiple listings for what were once single Judd numbers. The tests conducted by NGC on Simpson coins have revealed that there is indeed a sliding scale of metallic components to individual coins of similar appearance. Whether or not these truly merit separate Judd numbers or sub-numbers is another matter, but the results will be made available to pattern researchers.
The extraordinary breadth of the Simpson patterns has been a godsend to numismatic research, but their superb condition likewise presents wonderful opportunities. Primary among these is providing the perfect platform for launching NGC’s new grading service, in which coins at the high end of a particular numeric grade are recognized with a symbol following their assigned grade. The is not to be confused with the existing NGC Star () Designation, though both are symbolic of premium value for a particular coin. While the reflects a coin’s superior eye appeal, it is not a commentary on its numeric grade. The , on the other hand, complements the in that it does indicate that a coin is at the high end of its numeric grade. Each serves a vital role in determining a coin’s overall value in the marketplace. Needless to say, there are numerous and coins within the fabulous Simpson Collection.
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