Dominion Grading Service has slabbed 26 examples of the “Smoking Liberty” 1857 Seated Liberty quarter variety, the firm announced March 20.
The variety was reported by error specialist Ken Potter in Numismatic News in 2008. Potter stated that the variety was first spotted by collector John O’Hare, who showed it to friend and fellow collector, Saverio Barbieri, in the early part of 2000. Barbieri began an eight-year search for more specimens.
After searching an estimated 30,000 1857 Seated Liberty quarters, Barbieri found a total of 28 examples of the variety, bringing the known population to 29.
Since publication of the die variety, Mike Ellis, DGS senior grader and variety specialist, found one in a client’s submission that was encapsulated by DGS as a lightly cleaned AU-55. It was the first “Smoking Liberty” encapsulated as such. It brought the number of known slabbed examples to three, the first two being unattributed examples in NGC MS-64 and NGC MS-61.
Both NGC and ANACS have since declined to attribute the coin in their holders, citing the new variety as being too much of an unknown, according to DGS.
Barbieri asked PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG at the January FUN show in Orlando, Fla., if they were ready to attribute the variety on the holder. They reported that they were not yet ready to do so.
Barbieri asked Ellis if DGS was willing to attribute the coin as the “Smoking Liberty” variety. Having seen and attributed one already at DGS, Ellis examined all 28 of Barbieri’s specimens and agreed to place the attribution on the holder for the raw specimens submitted.
Barbieri submitted all 26 of his raw specimens to DGS for attribution, grading and encapsulation. Using DGS’ pedigree option, all 26 are now known as the “Barbieri Cache.”
Some of the coins have been consigned for placement in an upcoming sale by DLRC Auctions and Barbieri says he will not be offering any of the others until after these are sold so that some kind of market can be established.
For details on when the coins will be offered, contact DLRC Auctions by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (800) 277-2646.