‘Twas a dark and stormy time….”
We received an unusual consignment for this sale—a group of United States coins minted in 1853. All the gold issues (the first $3 gold piece was issued in 1854), and a choice large cent. I became fascinated by what must have been happening in this year that usually has no particular historic resonance.
The year 1853 was a time of tension and uncertainty. It was an era where things were happening in the United States—the Gadsden Purchase of land from Mexico that expanded the southern parts of modern day Arizona and New Mexico, the arrival of Commodore Perry in Japan seeking trade and consequently “opening” Japan to the West, the Crimean War that resulted in the defeat of the Russian Empire and Florence Nightingale’s introduction of modern nursing practices. On a more mundane level, Levi Strauss and Otis Elevator began business along with the predecessor firm for Traveler’s Insurance.
It was also a time when all was not well in America. The 1850’s were plagued by “sectionalism,” strong feelings of threat and defensiveness that divided the country. In many respects it was a split of the sort that has its parallels now, the urban—rural split or, stated in a 21st century taxonomy, the “coasts” versus the “flyovers.” It was a period when individuals and groups felt that the fabric of their lives was under threat by others. It had economic elements, cultural elements, religious elements…
The final devastating outcome was the Civil War that began a few short years later.
It was a time of uncertain leadership as well. Two presidents whose names are known, at best, in passing were unable to bring a workable resolution to the national unrest. Millard Filmore, an “accidental” president succeeded the distinguished Zachary Taylor who died after 16 months in office. He became the namesake of the Millard Fillmore Society whose annual meeting on his birthday is held for the single purpose of celebrating his anonymity.
Franklin Pierce, inaugurated in March 1853, mishandled the Kansas question of allowing slavery in the territory despite the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which had prohibited it. The ultimate outcome was the formation of the Republican Party, a northern antislavery party that a few short years later was the party of Abraham Lincoln.
(I have no comment on the most recent pair of American presidents and the times we are in. History is long and time tempers our passions and our understandings. We must wait.)
The rest of the catalog has some neat things—fascinating ancient silver and bronze, Roman portraiture from the provinces, affordable Scottish coins along with a section of British hammered and milled pieces, more high quality tokens from the Sussman collection, a few choice Canadian pieces, a long offering of circulated and fascinating German talers, a few U.S. pieces, and some neat odds’n’ends to end the sale.
Davissons Ltd uses a soft close for its auctions, which means no lot closes until everyone is done bidding. Every time a bid is placed within the final 40 seconds of a lot closing, the timer is reset to 40 seconds. This continues until no bids are placed for 40 seconds, at which point the lot closes. There will never be more than one lot closing at once, as the next lot is not allowed to begin closing until the current lot closes.
To bid: enter your maximum bid into the text box, and click submit. Only round dollar amounts are accepted. You are then required to confirm your bid. Once confirmed, all bids are final. If you have placed a bid in error you must call during office hours and speak to one of us. If you are the current high bidder then it will display “Current High Bidder: YOU” If you are not the high bidder, or if you are not logged in, then the current high bidder will be identified by their 5 digit client ID. You may find your client ID under the Account tab.
Bids are reduced automatically, so feel free to bid your maximum and it will be reduced to one increment over the current high bid. If a user places a bid that is higher than necessary to be the current high bidder on the lot, the displayed bid will reflect one advance over the next lower bid. For example, if a user "A" places a bid of $120 on a lot which opens at $100, "A" will be winning that lot at $100. If another user "B" bids $110, the winning bidder will be "A" at $120, one advance over the supporting bid of $110. If user "B" in this example instead placed a bid at $120, then user "A" will still be winning at $120 because they placed that maximum bid value first.
Increments can be viewed here. The next bid will always be on the next increment, so if a user is winning a lot at $100, or $105, or $109, the next bid will still always be $110.Close