Rare Silver 1883 Newburg Centennial So-Called Dollar (GW-998, HK-135b) Sells at Baltimore
December 21, 2021
At the Baltimore 2021 auction, a rare 1883 silver So-Called Dollar by Abraham Demarest sold for $9,000. This piece is so rare that it was not cataloged in the Hibler and Kappen 2nd edition released in 2008, however it now has a catalog number HK-135b on So-CalledDollars.com. It is also cataloged as GW-998 by Neil Musante in Medallic Washington. This specimen previously appeared in a Kagin’s sale in 1985. The only other specimen that the author has seen surfaced in 2017 and is also covered in this article for completeness.
The medal was designed for the Newburgh Centennial which is documented in the book “Newburgh Centennial: The Peace Celebration of October 18, 1883. Newburgh Daily Journal’s Account of the Observances”, published in 1883. This specific medal is not identified book but the general presence of medals at the fesitvities is referenced in this passage:
THE STREETS ALIVE.
By nine a. m. the scene about town began to grow still more animated. The crowds of people began to be flecked here and there with various uniforms. Marshals and aids commenced to gallop about. The Grand Marshal was at his headquarters. People already began to seize on places for viewing the procession. Hucksters were howling out a variety of wares, centennial medals, cologne, photographs, penknives, pop-corn, papers of alleged antiquity, whips, canes, toy balloons, jumping jacks, peanuts, etc. Moving bands now gave new interest to affairs, denoting that preparations for the parade had actively commenced.
The original newspaper clipping is provided for reference:
Of note, in addition to this medal, a smaller medal of approximately 27mm was made by George Hamden Lovett for this event which has been cataloged by Neil E. Musante as GW-993.
Washington’s Newburgh Headquarters
The obverse of the medal in features Washington’s headquarters building which currently resides in the New York State Washington’s Headquarters Historic Site. New York State mentions the following notable events that occurred at the site:
It was here that Washington
- rejected the idea of an American monarchy;
- ended the Newburgh Conspiracy, preventing potential military control of the government;
- created the Badge of Military Merit, forerunner of the Purple Heart; and
- circulated an influential letter to State Governors outlining the key principals he felt necessary for the new republic.
Washington’s Newburgh Headquarters. Source: New York State Parks.
Washington’s Family Coat of Arms
Of note, the reverse features Washington’s Coat of Arms with the following text:
Washington’s Family Coat of Arms from which the American Flag was Designed
The look bears resemblance to the one used by the 1932 United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission.
MountVernon.org has good information on the Coat of Arms indicating that George Washington could trace his family history back to Sir William Fitz Patrick de Hertburn (1138–1194) who was graded lordship of Wessyngton in northeast England, now known as the town of Washington in Tyne and Wear. Hertburn adopted the name of his estate becoming William de Wessyngton. The family name had been changed to Washington by 1593. It was Geroge’s great grandfather, John Washington that emigrated to Virginia.
The following census has been created by reviewing the population reports at PCGS and NGC, along with past sales at Stack's Bowers, Heritage, and WorthPoint.
- MS66 NGC (as HK-135B).
- MS64 NGC (as HK-135B). Jeff Shevlin Fixed Price List (2/20/2019), offered $6,500.
- MS62 PCGS (as GW-998 Var Silver). Western Reserve Historical Society Collection (Kagin's, 3/29/1985), lot 1044, realized $160; E Pluribus Unum Collection (Stack's Bowers, 11/21/2021 as "HK-134, var. Silver."), lot 10180, realized $9,000; Jeff Shevlin Collection.
- MS PL SBG (raw). Baltimore Sale (Stack's Bowers, 3/29/2017, "HK-134, var."), lot 100, realized $1,997.50; Jeff Shevlin Collection.
Of note, the raw specimen sold at Baltimore 2017 may have since been encapculated at NGC and exist as one of the two NGC specimens (MS64 or MS66).
These two specimens with photos presented below.
Specimen "3": “Western Reserve Historical Society” (PCGS MS62)
This is the specimen being discussed in this article. The photos indicate a proof-like surface with good mirrors.
This specimen's recent realized price has likely been supported by the following:
- encapsulated by PCGS with a TrueView
- inclusion in the amazing E. Pluribus Unum collection sale which has been sold in several sessions to build up demand for for the collection
- prior provenance from Kagin’s Western Reserve Historical Society Collection sale, March 1985, lot 1044, indicating a long period of time before reappearing on the market.
- multiple avenues of demand for both Washingtonia and So-Called Dollar enthusiasts
This is the original lot description in the Kagin's 1985 catalog:
Specimen "4": “Stack’s 2017” (SBG MS PL)
The Stack’s Bowers Galleries sale in 2017 was for a raw medal, described the condition as “Gorgeous multicolored patina over both sides, essentially flawless”, and graded “Prooflike Mint State”.
- Newburgh Daily Journal. "1783-1883. Newburgh Centennial. The Peace Celebration of October 18, 1883. Newburgh Daily Journal's Account of the Observances." Ritchie & Hull, Newburgh NY. 1883.
- New York State. "Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site." Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. https://parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/17/details.aspx. Accessed December 21, 2021.
- Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. "Coat of Arms". Geroge Washington's Mount Vernon. https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/coat-of-arms/. Accessed December 21, 2021.
- Kagin, Arthur Meyer. "The Western Reserve Historical Society Collection". Kagin's Numismatic Auctions, Inc. March 29, 1985. page 6. https://archive.org/details/kagins338thsalew1985kagi/mode/2up. Accessed May 16, 2023.