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Extremely Rare Franco-American Jeton, Missing from LaRiviere, Ford, and Adams

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Extremely Rare Franco-American Jeton, Missing from LaRiviere, Ford, and Adams

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From the Eric P. Newman Collection, with his original envelope.

Details

1753 Franco-American jeton. Silver, 29 mm. Betts-388, Breton-513, Frossard-23, Wilson Obverse S. AU-55 (NGC). Plain edge. Perhaps the key in any collection of Franco-American jetons, this variety was not included in the LaRiviere Collection (Bowers and Merena, 2001, 7 specimens/varieties), the Ford Collection (Stack's, 2005, 60 pieces), or Adams (sold privately, 2011, 38 pieces including 20th century "restrikes" from copy dies). The Adams collection was the only one of the above to include an example of this Betts number, represented by a copper strike from this identical die pair. Considering the depth and breadth of Ford's holdings -- one of the few collections where Ford made significant additions to what was acquired from the Boyd and Raymond estates -- it is stunning that he didn't own a single example of this Betts number. The Adams holdings were acquired intact and described in a 2011 issue of the MCA Advisory. The Betts-388, listed as number 12 on that list, should have been catalogued as Frossard-23 (FM monogram under bust) instead of Frossard-22 (JCF monogram under bust), relying upon Ed Frossard's monograph Franco-American Jetons, published in 1899. The American Numismatic Society owns a single specimen, struck in copper from a different obverse die, likely struck a bit earlier than this one.  The Bank of Canada owns several examples of this Betts number among their cabinet, the largest intact holdings of Franco-American jetons. Although they own 19 (!) examples of this Betts variety in various forms, they don't own a single one from this die marriage in silver. They do own two from this die marriage in copper, calling one a circulating original and the other a restrike.

As noted by previous writers (Hodder, Baker, et al), it is extremely difficult to parse what is an "original" in the Franco-American jeton series. Among other Paris Mint medals of this era, anything that was originally struck with a plain edge is considered "original" if it was struck before the era of edge marking began, ca. 1842. This piece was struck with a plain, unmarked edge. From my examinations into the series, I would define "originals" as silver pieces on a thin planchet with a reeded edge and bronze strikes with a plain, rounded edge. This example is clearly a very early strike, but wouldn't meet this definition; my best guess is that it was struck in the early 19th century.

Needless to say, this is the first example of Betts-388 I've ever handled in any form (aside from the 20th century Paris Mint "restrikes" from modern-looking copy dies). In fact, I can trace only one offering publicly in recent memory, a copper striking that sold in a French auction last year for 2700 euros plus a 20% buyer's fee, or almost $4400! This piece is deeply toned antique gray with lustrous silver gray undertones. The toning is heavy, imbued from 70 years or more in a B.G. Johnson paper envelope while owned by Eric P. Newman. Earlier, this was likely in the Col. Green holdings, where most of the Johnson-Newman shared stock came from. Thus, this piece has likely been off the marked for a century or so! The surfaces are free of issues, just some trivial hairlines and minor marks. 

The reverse is among the most interesting in the Franco-American jeton series. The legend SATIS UNUS UTRIQUE translates to "One is enough for both." A divided globe under the same sun shows two hemispheres (i.e. one sun is enough for both French worlds). The left hemisphere includes "AM. S." or Amerique Septentrionale (North America), "M.D. Sud" (Mere du Sud, or Pacific Ocean), "Am. M." (Amerique Meridionale, or South America). T. Anta is for Terre Antarctique; P.A. is either a typo for Terre Arctique or means something different (Passage Arctique?). The right hemipshere is similarly labeled: Europe, Mer des Indes, Asia, etc.

For those ambitious enough to try to complete the Betts series, there may not be another chance to purchase an early strike of Betts-388 in the foreseeable future, particularly in silver. This would also be a very interesting and desirable addition to a collection of map medals, or, of course, a specialized collection of Franco-American jetons.

Additional Information

Grading Service NGC
Grade AU55
Designation N/A
Mint Location Philadelphia
Strike Type Business
Circulated/Uncirc Uncirculated
Grade Add On N/A
SKU or Cert # 2038973006

Listed below are blog articles related to this product listing, if applicable:

Description

Details

1753 Franco-American jeton. Silver, 29 mm. Betts-388, Breton-513, Frossard-23, Wilson Obverse S. AU-55 (NGC). Plain edge. Perhaps the key in any collection of Franco-American jetons, this variety was not included in the LaRiviere Collection (Bowers and Merena, 2001, 7 specimens/varieties), the Ford Collection (Stack's, 2005, 60 pieces), or Adams (sold privately, 2011, 38 pieces including 20th century "restrikes" from copy dies). The Adams collection was the only one of the above to include an example of this Betts number, represented by a copper strike from this identical die pair. Considering the depth and breadth of Ford's holdings -- one of the few collections where Ford made significant additions to what was acquired from the Boyd and Raymond estates -- it is stunning that he didn't own a single example of this Betts number. The Adams holdings were acquired intact and described in a 2011 issue of the MCA Advisory. The Betts-388, listed as number 12 on that list, should have been catalogued as Frossard-23 (FM monogram under bust) instead of Frossard-22 (JCF monogram under bust), relying upon Ed Frossard's monograph Franco-American Jetons, published in 1899. The American Numismatic Society owns a single specimen, struck in copper from a different obverse die, likely struck a bit earlier than this one.  The Bank of Canada owns several examples of this Betts number among their cabinet, the largest intact holdings of Franco-American jetons. Although they own 19 (!) examples of this Betts variety in various forms, they don't own a single one from this die marriage in silver. They do own two from this die marriage in copper, calling one a circulating original and the other a restrike.

As noted by previous writers (Hodder, Baker, et al), it is extremely difficult to parse what is an "original" in the Franco-American jeton series. Among other Paris Mint medals of this era, anything that was originally struck with a plain edge is considered "original" if it was struck before the era of edge marking began, ca. 1842. This piece was struck with a plain, unmarked edge. From my examinations into the series, I would define "originals" as silver pieces on a thin planchet with a reeded edge and bronze strikes with a plain, rounded edge. This example is clearly a very early strike, but wouldn't meet this definition; my best guess is that it was struck in the early 19th century.

Needless to say, this is the first example of Betts-388 I've ever handled in any form (aside from the 20th century Paris Mint "restrikes" from modern-looking copy dies). In fact, I can trace only one offering publicly in recent memory, a copper striking that sold in a French auction last year for 2700 euros plus a 20% buyer's fee, or almost $4400! This piece is deeply toned antique gray with lustrous silver gray undertones. The toning is heavy, imbued from 70 years or more in a B.G. Johnson paper envelope while owned by Eric P. Newman. Earlier, this was likely in the Col. Green holdings, where most of the Johnson-Newman shared stock came from. Thus, this piece has likely been off the marked for a century or so! The surfaces are free of issues, just some trivial hairlines and minor marks. 

The reverse is among the most interesting in the Franco-American jeton series. The legend SATIS UNUS UTRIQUE translates to "One is enough for both." A divided globe under the same sun shows two hemispheres (i.e. one sun is enough for both French worlds). The left hemisphere includes "AM. S." or Amerique Septentrionale (North America), "M.D. Sud" (Mere du Sud, or Pacific Ocean), "Am. M." (Amerique Meridionale, or South America). T. Anta is for Terre Antarctique; P.A. is either a typo for Terre Arctique or means something different (Passage Arctique?). The right hemipshere is similarly labeled: Europe, Mer des Indes, Asia, etc.

For those ambitious enough to try to complete the Betts series, there may not be another chance to purchase an early strike of Betts-388 in the foreseeable future, particularly in silver. This would also be a very interesting and desirable addition to a collection of map medals, or, of course, a specialized collection of Franco-American jetons.

Additional

Additional Information

Grading Service NGC
Grade AU55
Designation N/A
Mint Location Philadelphia
Strike Type Business
Circulated/Uncirc Uncirculated
Grade Add On N/A
SKU or Cert # 2038973006

Related Blog Article(s)

Listed below are blog articles related to this product listing, if applicable:

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