1786 New Jersey Immunis Columbia. Shield Reverse. Maris 3-C, W-5670. Rarity-6+. AU-58+ BN (PCGS). 132.6 grains. 29.0 mm. When this was last sold at public auction in 1985, it was described as "Choice AU with rich, glossy brown surfaces. Exceedingly sharply struck." The surfaces are lustrous light golden brown, lightly mellowed from mint color with splashes of subtle darker toning on the obverse. The reverse is similar, light golden brown with iridescent highlights and a halo of darker toning around the central device. The detail is essentially that of a Mint State coin, and the iridescent frost around devices has barely faded from full mint luster. An old dull scrape is hidden within a vertical shield stripe, right of center, on the reverse, and two thin scratches descend from the base of the shield to the edge. Otherwise, this piece is as choice as it is fresh and appealing. Its aesthetic appeal, aided by a bold and well-centered strike, is simply superb. The finest Maris 3-C is, by all accounts, the Appleton-MHS coin that we sold in our October 2018 Archangel Collection sale. This coin actually shows some areas of greater sharpness than that one, particularly in the chest and flag folds. That piece, like this one, shows some very faint and unusual toning halos, which may be indicative of a fully obliterated undertype that manifests only in a vestigial way.<p><p>Ranked as fifth finest in the Siboni-Howes-Ish (SHI) Condition Census, this example is clearly finer than some certified at higher grades (including two graded PCGS MS-62 BN: the fourth ranked Mills-Boyd-Ford coin and the example from the 2007 CSNS sale, ranked seventh). It has far greater detail than the PCGS AU-50 we offered in our March 2017 sale of the Dr. Gordon Shaw Collection, a beautiful specimen ranked as eighth. The specimens listed as finer are the aforementioned Archangel coin (PCGS MS-63 BN), the finest of Partricks three (NGC MS-62 BN), the Newman coin (NGC MS-62 BN), and the Crosby-Boyd-Ford coin (PCGS MS-62 BN). All of those four coins are lovely. This one is too.<p><p>The SHI census lists 16 examples, and a newer discovery makes 17. The census is heavily weighted toward coins graded EF and above; in fact, only three could be considered low grade. The fact that so many survived in such nice shape is suggestive. Its not proof of pattern status, or special VIP distribution, or anything of the sort, but it is certainly data that these were more cherished than typical coppers, spent less and preserved more.<p><p>The population of this variety is varied enough in appearance that plate matching is fairly simple. Its also rare and distinctive enough that examples have always been highly desirable - and thus theyve been featured highlights every time theyve sold. Of the 17 that have been traced, about a third have a known provenance that extends back to the 19th century. These all have august ownership histories, linked to personalities like Crosby, Garrett, and others. But this piece arguably has the best early pedigree chain, having appeared in the Bushnell, Parmelee, and Ten Eyck sales. In Ten Eyck, a sneakily great sale for New Jersey copper varieties, B. Max Mehl called this coin "Extremely fine, bold impression, with a beautiful even, slightly glossy, olive surface." At the time, he noted just six specimens were known and that this was the first he had ever sold. (Some of his description was inaccurate, including the fact that none had sold since the 1890 Parmelee sale, or that this variety was missing in the Earle Collection.) Mehls estimate of six known matched the population cited in the 1882 Bushnell and 1890 Parmelee sales.<p><p>The Immune and Immunis Columbia coppers are a puzzlement. The 1785-dated IMMUNE die ties together the Nova Constellatios and the products of Machins Mills, the Newburgh, New York production facility where that die eventually ended up. This 1786-dated IMMUNIS die (and a similar die with an identical date) is clearly from a different workshop than its 1785 inspiration, and the 1787-dated IMMUNIS die is from a third hand entirely. The concept is crisp enough, the design attractive enough, that its not surprising that the 1785 original would inspire others. Whats fascinating is how the New Jerseys fit into the realm of coppers conceived for potentially national circulation, as one product line bringing together several groups of entrepreneurs entering the profitable coinage space at a peculiar and precarious time in our national economy history.<p><p>With interest that extends far beyond the Maris series, the New Jersey Immunis Columbia is a classic rarity. This is among the best of them. <p><p> PCGS# 861. PCGS Population: 1; 3 finer (MS-63 BN finest). From the Sydney F. Martin Collection. Earlier from S.H. and H. Chapmans sale of the Charles I. Bushnell Collection, June 1882, lot 883; New York Coin and Stamps sale of the Lorin G. Parmelee Collection, lot 367; B. Max Mehls sale of the James Ten Eyck Collection, May 1922, lot 760; our (Bowers and Merenas) Four Memorable Collections sale, September 1985, lot 1382; Roy E. "Ted" Naftzger Jr. Collection, via Anthony Terranova; Lawrence R. Stack Collection, November 2006.