NGC Certifies Garrett 1804 Dollar

Posted on 2/16/2005

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation is pleased to announce that it has recently graded and encapsulated the famous Garrett specimen of the 1804 silver dollar.

Dubbed the “King of American Coins,” the coin has resided in the Laura Sommer Collection for many years.

Graded PF 55 by NGC, this coin’s last public appearance was a quarter century ago. It was featured as Lot 698 in Bowers & Ruddy Galleries’ auction sale of the Garrett/Johns Hopkins University Collection in March 1980. An example of the Class III 1804 dollar, it is a U. S. Mint-made restrike from the mid-19th Century and one of only six examples known.

With an impressive pedigree, this 1804 silver dollar first surfaced in 1875 in the possession of John Haseltine, who is believed to have discreetly placed it with an Austrian auction house to mask its recent Mint origin. It was acquired by O. H. Berg at that time, and for many years it was known as the Berg Specimen. George W. Cogan purchased the 1804 dollar in Haseltine’s 1883 auction of the Berg Collection for placement with his client, railroad baron T. Harrison Garrett. Upon Garrett’s untimely death in 1888, the coin passed to his son, Robert, who later traded it to brother John in 1919. It was included in the estate of John Work Garrett as willed to the Johns Hopkins University in 1942. The coin remained with the university until the entire coin collection was sold in four spectacular sales during 1979-81.

Laura Sommer selected NGC to grade the coin, as she believes it has set a fine standard for collectors and investors. She also appreciates the work NGC has done over the years to help clean up the industry, as she remembers a time when there were few standards and where the business of numismatics was “caveat emptor.”

Arrangements for Ms. Sommer to have her coin graded were made by Dr. Richard A. Bagg and Melissa Karstedt of American Numismatic Rarities of Wolfeboro, NH through the assistance of Rick Montgomery and Mark Salzberg of NGC. Ms. Sommer has been a client of companies under the direction of Q. David Bowers for many years. Previously, she participated in the “Somerset Collection Sale” as one of the main consignors. Along with the famous 1804 dollar, over the years she has collected many other fabulous rarities, including a bronze 1943 cent, a steel 1944 cent, an Uncirculated 1794 dollar, the incredibly rare 1884 and 1885 trade dollars, several stellas and many superb patterns.

Also assisting was Bob Brueggeman, executive director of the PNG and president of Positive Protection with security for both NGC and Ms. Sommer.

Mark Salzberg, Chairman of NGC, is pleased that Ms. Sommer selected NGC to certify her rare and very famous coin. “It says a lot that a person as knowledgeable as Laura Sommer would seek out NGC,” observed Salzberg. “She’s someone who always does her homework, whatever the subject, and she determined that NGC was the best company to entrust with her 1804 dollar.”

Ms. Sommer, one of the first woman stockbrokers and investment bankers on Wall Street, recognizes that there are very few women involved in numismatics and believes the addition of more would serve the business well. A born humorist, she wrote a column for Coin World in the 1980s on the humorous side of coin collecting. Personally, she has always had a keen sense of history which she has used as a jumping off point in the pursuit of her enjoyment of the hobby. Integral to her collecting persona is the acquisition of coins that make her heart beat, as she prefers those items that are out of the mainstream of most collectors’ interests. As she puts it, “I look for the road less traveled.”

The 1804 dollar has been certified by NGC with the Garrett-Sommer pedigree. No plans have been announced by Ms. Sommer for her coin.

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