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Extremely Rare Silver Columbian Expo So-Called Dollar Highlights a Very Impressive Offering in Baltimore

Our Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Winter Expo is full of specialized collections, and we are pleased to present one of the most diverse offering of “so-called dollars” to cross the auction block in some time. So-called dollars are generally silver dollar sized commemorative medals that were struck both by private firms and interests, as well as at the U.S. Mint. These medals run the gamut from historically important events (opening of the Erie Canal, etc.) to more mundane. These disparate themes are all tied together, thanks to the reference book authored by Harold Hibler and Charles Kappen, with the first edition coming out in 1963. A good number of the pieces in our Baltimore sale were plate coins in the first and/or second editions of the HK book.

The majority of the items come from one collection, although there are other holdings as well. This wide-ranging selection is anchored by several high grade and rare pieces, including an extremely rare Official Medal for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, cataloged as HK-154a, but struck in silver, not the listed aluminum. Certified Proof-63 by NGC, this is a major rarity in the series, and in silver, it is listed as Rarity-9, with three to four examples known. Our catalog description follows:

“A key rarity in the so-called dollar and U.S. Mint medal series, the only documented silver Proof, and one of perhaps just three known in silver of this famous issue. Typically made in brass and aluminum, this so-called dollar variety was struck in the U.S. Mint display at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Neither edition of the Hibler-Kappen reference includes listings for silver specimens, but two examples have apparently sold before: a VF that surfaced twice in two different Charles Kirtley sales in the 1980s, and a prooflike AU with several rim marks that was offered in a 1996 Paul Koppenhaver sale. The example offered in our upcoming auction shows glorious deeply reflective fields, similar to those found on Proof Morgans of the same era, with an original blend of pale gold and blue toning. The eye appeal is spectacular, and the details are precise. A single tiny rim nick is noted for an identifier just left of 12 o’clock on the obverse. The piece is otherwise of essentially Gem quality, with just a few wispy hairlines on either side. Neither PCGS nor NGC has certified another example of HK-154 in silver; this, of course, is also the only Proof in silver certified by either service. As an extremely rare product of the U.S. Mint, and a classic rarity in the SCD series, this specimen deserves a place in a world-class cabinet of so-called dollars or medals of the Columbian Exposition.”

Specialists in this extensive series will certainly have many items to bid on in this sale and should be sure to review our offering, either in the catalog which is mailing this week, or on our website at StacksBowers.com. We anticipate a good crowd of seasoned collectors and beginners who are drawn to the diverse designs on the evening of Wednesday, October 29. If you plan to participate, we look forward to seeing you in Baltimore, or online when these important medals cross the block. If you would like to receive the catalog for your reference, be sure to contact one of our auction services associates. 

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