The Jack Lee Collection
Posted on 1/1/2008
The name of Jack Lee is synonymous with gem Morgan and Peace Dollars. He assembled what is widely acclaimed as the finest set of these coins ever completed. NGC had the opportunity to certify Mr. Lee's run of proof and specimen dollars, and each of these coins was captured in full color by PHOTO PROOF's digital imaging process.
In addition to being remarkable for their superb state of preservation, these dollars are important for the completeness of the set. An example is found of each date for which proofs were coined, and this set also features exceedingly rare branch mint proofs and variant finishes of the Peace Dollar. So beautiful are these coins that any one of them would be a major highlight of an advanced hobbyist's collection. Several pieces are pedigreed to famous collections such as those of the late Louis Eliasberg, Sr. and the Norweb Family.
Veterans of the Eliasberg Collection include both types of the 1878 proof Morgan Dollar. Lee's 8-tailfeather specimen was graded by NGC as PF-67 and is tied with just two others for finest certified (all population figures are taken from the January 1998 NGC Census Report). His 7-tailfeather dollar, also ex Eliasberg, is the finest certified by NGC at PF-67. Other Eliasberg silver dollars now a part of the Lee Collection include his 1884 (PF-66) and 1891 (PF-66).
Pedigreed to the collection of the late Honorable R. Henry Norweb and Emery Holden Norweb is Jack Lee's 1922 matte proof Peace Dollar. Struck with the low-relief dies introduced that year, it is NGC-graded PF-64.
Other memorable dollars in the Lee Collection include no less than three pieces which served as plate coins in Wayne Miller's important reference, The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook. All three are branch mint proofs, the rarest of the rare, as normally only the Philadelphia Mint made proof coins during that era. Struck to mark special occasions, these exceedingly desirable dollars include an 1879-O certified by NGC as PF-65, another New Orleans Mint Morgan dated 1883-O (PF-64), an 1884-CC (PF-66) and a product of the final year of coinage from the Carson City Mint, a simply amazing 1893-CC silver dollar graded by NGC as PF-67! Prooflike specimen strikings include 1882-CC (SP MS-65) and 1884-O (SP MS-64). Among the regular proof editions, several of the Lee coins are either the finest certified by NGC for their respective dates or are tied with just a few others for that honor. Finest certified examples in the Lee Collection include 1878 7TF with the Reverse of 1878 (PF-67), 1879 (PF-68) 1880 (PF-69!), 1902 (PF-68) and 1904 (PF-68).
One of the great highlights of the Jack Lee Collection is a run of 1921-22 Morgan and Peace Dollars which includes five different coins! His Farran Zerbe proof (named after the man who commissioned these pieces) of the 1921 Morgan Dollar is NGC-graded PF-66, tying it with just one other for finest certified. The even more rare Henry Chapman proof is a choice PF-63. Both editions of the proof 1921 Peace Dollar are included, Lee's matte proof grading PF-65 and his satin example being a delightful PF-66 (the only one certified by NGC). The very rare, low-relief matte proof 1922 Peace Dollar is also represented by a PF-64 coin.
Among the most unusual items in this collection is a very rare pattern silver dollar of 1885, Judd number 1747. It was coined in silver from the regular dies of the 1885 Morgan Dollar, so it appears at first glance to be an ordinary proof of that date, albeit a gem PF-66 example. In fact, this fascinating coin features an experimental edge device consisting of thirteen raised stars and the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM in raised letters. This was envisioned as an aide to the blind, though it was not adopted for a circulating coin until the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle of 1907.
The grading and PHOTO PROOFing of the Jack Lee Collection of proof and specimen Morgan and Peace Dollars was a memorable event for NGC, and we'd like to share it with you. The complete roster of this amazing set is presented below. The numbers in the third column indicate the total number of examples certified by NGC in that grade, followed by the number graded higher (all figures taken from the January 1998 NGC Census Report).