1724 Wood’s Hibernia Halfpenny. Martin 4.9-J.1, W-13690. Rarity-7. Silvered bronze. SP-62 (PCGS).124.9 grains. An exciting and rare variety, termed the "second prototype halfpenny" in Breens <em>Encyclopedia </em>(1988) and there listed as "unique?" This piece is visually distinctive, in particular the reverse, where the word HIBERNIA starts above the level of the y-axis rather than its usual position closer to Hibernias ankle. It makes for an eye-catching and intentional design, one seen only on this single-use reverse die.
Breen appears to be the authority for this pieces provenance before Farouk, but it makes sense: Newcomers colonials were acquired intact by B. Max Mehl, and Mehl steadily supplied Farouk with rarities from the Newcomer holdings. In the Farouk sale, this piece was listed as silver. It has some of the expected Farouk appearance, with traces of old lacquer visible on both sides. The surfaces have been silvered evenly and masterfully, undoubtedly before striking, but enough friction has occurred to leave the coppery base metal visible at high points like Georges hair and the cheek of Hibernia. No marks or damage is seen, and the visual appeal (though unusual) is very positive.
This is the Martin plate coin for reverse J.1, using the ancient image from the 1988 Norweb catalog. This was cataloged a bit dismissively in Norweb at a time that no one was especially attuned to rare or unusual varieties in the Woods Hibernia series. Yet, it still brought $495, a lot for a coin that was more or less written up as a "superficially deceptive" curiosity. While Martin listed this die variety as Rarity-7, were hard-pressed to identify any other example in the literature. There wasnt one in Ted Craiges cabinet, gathered at a time when he and Bob Vlack were the only serious collector-students of the series. Mrs. Norweb was savvy enough to recognize this was distinctive, special, and rare. When it was offered to him privately in 2009, Syd was that savvy as well.
.PCGS# 921583.<strong>To view supplemental information and all items from the Sydney F. Martin Collection, click<a href="https://stacksbowers.com/sydney-f-martin-collection/"target=’_blank’> here.</a></strong>.From the Sydney F. Martin Collection. Earlier from the Dr. Phillip Nelson and Waldo Newcomer collections; Sothebys sale of the Palace Collection of Egypt (King Farouk), February 1954, lot 2352; our (Bowers and Merenas) sale of the Norweb Collection, Part III, November 1988, lot 3493; Stacks, privately, June 2009.