New Discovery: PCGS Certified 1876 Independence Hall With Trees So-Called Dollar (HK-27) 5-pointed Star Variety
April 3, 2023
A new discovery for the So-Called Dollar "Centennial Small Liberty Bell With Star / Independence Hall With Trees" by John William Kline, Jr. has been identified, namely that there are two different "With Star" varieties, a 5-pointed star and a 6-pointed star variety. Previously, all star specimens were considered one variety, along with a "No Star" variety. The discovery was made by John Wang who confirmed it with Jeff Shevlin, the So-Called Guy. John stated:
As a collector of 1876 US Centennial So-Called Dollars, it's a great privilege to be the discoverer of such a prominent variety just a few years short the 125th anniversary of these medals and the U.S. Semiquincentennial. PCGS CoinFacts and TrueView images helped immensely in providing large, detailed photos so I could recognize the difference in the star device and do further resesarch. Also noteworthy is that this piece is from the keets collection, a fellow So-Called Dollar collector and friend that frequented the Collectors Universe Message Boards.
While the number of points wasn't previously noted in catalogs, the vast majority of pieces are 6-pointed stars with only a single 5-pointed star variety identified, so this article indicates the new discovery is the 5-pointed star variety.
The three major varieties are now:
- 5-pointed star variety
- 6-pointed star variety
- no star variety
This report documents the 5-pointed and 6-pointed star varieties using photos from a 5-pointed star PCGS-certified medal sold by Stack's Bowers, a 6-pointed star NGC-certified Brand specimen sold on Heritage, and, for completeness, a no-star specimen with photos courtesy of NGC PhotoVision.
The author has observed the following specimens in hand and/or via photos:
- 5-pointed star variety in bronze
- 6-pointed star variety in brass, bronze, silver and white metal
- no star variety in bronze and white metal
Differences in the 5-pointed and 6-pointed star varieties include:
Five-Pointed Star Variety Diagnostics
- five-pointed star
- bell crack traverses rings on bell shoulder
- comma between "LEVITICUS" and "XXV"
- foot of "F" in THEREOF is between "U" and "S" in "LEVITICUS"
- bell clapper between "C" and "U" in "LEVITICUS
Six-Pointed Star Variety Diagnostics
- six-pointed star
- bell crack does not traverse rings on bell shoulder
- no comma between "LEVITICUS" and "XXV"
- foot of "F" in THEREOF is after "S" in "LEVITICUS"
- bell clapper over "U" in "LEVITICUS
A photo collage is available below
6-pointed star photos courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
5-pointed Star Variety
The discovery, and only known, specimen is in bronze.
Photo courtesy of PCGS TrueView.
6-pointed Star Variety
The 6-pointed star variety is the common die seen on the star pieces and this variety is known in bronze, brass, and silver.
Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
No Star Variety
An image of the "no star" variety is included for completeness.
Of note, on this die, the crack in the bell does not reach the ring on the shoulder.
Photo courtesy of NGC PhotoVision.
Of interest is that the length of the crack in the bell is different on all three major varieties in the following order:
- no star - half way up
- 6-pointed star - beneath shoulder rings
- 5-pointed star - crosses shoulder rings
On the real bell, one theory has that the bell received its first crack in 1752 when it was tested on arrival in Philadelphia. Its final ring was in 1846 when it stopped ringing. So, the crack could have grown for almost 100 years from 1752 to 1846.
Combining the medal varieties with the progress of the crack, the medals can be ordered in the progression of crack.
Today, the only varieties cataloged are a common "With Star" and "No Star" vareities. This report suggests two significant varieties for the With Star may be worth cataloging.
The catalog numbers in use today are:
Hiber & Kappen
- HK-27 Copper. 38mm. (With star)
- HK-27a Bronze. No star.
- HK-27b Silver.
- HK-28 Brass.
- HK-29 White Metal. Thick (3mm.) and thin (2mm.) planchets.
- HK-29a White Metal. No star.
Shevlin & Hyder
- SH 2-45 With Star
- SH 2-46 No Star
A quick search through the Heritage and Stack's Bowers archives indicates the 5-pointed star variety is much more rare than the 6-pointed star variety. No 5-pointed star varieties could be found on Heritage and Stack's Bowers online archives.
References & Additional Reading
- Shevlin, Jeff. “1876 U.S. Centennial Exposition”. So-Called Dollar collectors web site. http://www.so-calleddollar.com/category/1876-u-s-centennial-exposition/. Accessed March 31, 2023.
- Shevlin, Jeff. “Centennial Small Liberty Bell With Star / Independence Hall With Trees”. So-Called Dollar collectors web site. http://www.so-calleddollar.com/scd/centennial-small-liberty-bell-with-star-independence-hall-with-trees/. Accessed March 31, 2023.
- Shevlin, Jeff. “Centennial Small Liberty Bell No Star / Independence Hall With Trees”. So-Called Dollar collectors web site. http://www.so-calleddollar.com/scd/centennial-small-liberty-bell-no-star-independence-hall-with-trees/. Accessed March 31, 2023.
- Hibler, Harold and Charles Kappen. “Centennial Small Liberty Bell No Star / Independence Hall With Trees”. So-Called Dollars. https://www.so-calleddollars.com/Events/US_Centennial.html. Accessed March 31, 2023.
- LUPIA, III, John N. “Kline, Jr., John William”. Numismatic and Philatelic Mall. https://www.numismaticmall.com/encyclopedic-dictionary-of-numismatic-biographies/kline-jr-john-william. Accessed March 31, 2023.
- Homren, Wayne. “More Research on the Coin Collectors Kline”. The E-Sylum. https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v16n41a14.html. Accessed March 31, 2023.
- Heritage Auctions. “(1876) Liberty Bell Dollar, U.S. Centennial Exposition, HK-27, MS64 Brown NGC. Bronze.”. 2017 September 25 Virgil Brand Collection. U.S. and World Tokens and Medals US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas #131791. September 25, 2017. https://coins.ha.com/itm/so-called-dollars/tokens-and-medals/-1876-liberty-bell-dollar-us-centennial-exposition-hk-27-ms64-brown-ngc-bronze-an-impressive-medal-with-mahogany-sur/a/131791-21133.s?ic4=ListView-Thumbnail-071515. Accessed March 31, 2023.
- Stack's Bowers Galleries. “'1776' (1876) U.S. Centennial Exposition. Liberty Bell-Independence Hall Dollar. Copper. 38 mm. HK-27. Rarity-5. MS-64 BN (PCGS).”. June 2020 Auction - Session 3 - Internet Only - Numismatic Americana - Lots 2001-2694. June 22, 2020. https://auctions.stacksbowers.com/lots/view/3-N4T14/1776-1876-us-centennial-exposition-liberty-bell-independence-hall-dollar-copper-38-mm-hk-27-rarity-5-ms-64-bn-pcgs. Accessed March 31, 2023.