Kolbe & Fanning
Auction 168  23 Sep 2023
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Lot 318

Starting price: 5000 USD
Price realized: 9500 USD
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[Cogan, Edward]. AN ACCOUNT OF THE SALE OF COINS, MEDALS, &C., BELONGING TO CHARLES B. FOOTE, SOLD BY EDWARD COGAN, PHILADELPHIA, BETWEEN THE 7TH AND 14TH MARCH, 1859. (Philadelphia), 1859 [presented in October 1859 according to the handwritten presentation inscription]. Small [18.5 by 12 cm] notebook of 18 leaves of ruled paper, stitched into original printed calf and pasteboard covers. First leaf with inscription to J.N.T. Levick by C.B. Foote with original photograph of Foote carefully trimmed and mounted below; second leaf with title; the eleven following leaves list, mostly on both sides, the coins sold in the sale, including their prices, and a running tally of the proceeds. The final five leaves are blank. The manuscript entries are carefully written in a neat, professional hand. Covers somewhat worn at extremities, particularly at lower corner of front cover near spine. Contents near fine. A wonderful item, being an original manuscript account of Edward Cogan's March 1859 sale of the coin collection formed by Charles B. Foote, comprising Sale 2 in the Cogan series. The first four Cogan sales were not conducted as traditional auctions, though they have always been included in listings of his catalogues. They were conducted from a manuscript listing in Cogan's office, either as sealed-bid sales (1), what appear to be "buy or bid" sales (2 and 3), or as an auction without printed catalogue (4). Emmanuel J. Attinelli described the first Cogan sale thusly:

This sale, although perhaps not strictly an "auction sale," yet so closely approaches it, that it is given a place here. The coins were exhibited at Mr. Cogan's store, and bids for the various pieces were made in sealed letters, which letters, nineteen in number, were, in accordance with a previous understanding, opened on the 1st day of November; the highest bidder for any particular piece was to be regarded as the purchaser. (Numisgraphics, page 13).

The Foote sale was conducted in a somewhat different manner, with Attinelli writing (page 14) that "This was not an auction sale, upset prices were placed on the pieces, competition was invited, with the results described [in Attinelli's entry for the sale]." This cataloguer is inclined to interpret "upset prices" as meaning prices at which the coins could be purchased outright, especially given a comment made by Mark Collet that "This collection was not sold by Auction, but was retailed between 7th & 14th March 1859" (see below). The Gratz sale, Cogan's third, was conducted in the same manner. Cogan printed an edition of his first sale in 1863 to meet collector demand; Attinelli printed limited editions of Cogan's Sales 2–4 from borrowed manuscripts shortly thereafter. The Attinelli printing of the Foote catalogue was made from a manuscript provided by Foote himself-which is highly interesting, since it does not exactly match the manuscript here present.

This copy was presented in October 1859 to well-known collector "Mr. J.N.T. Levick, with Compliments of C.B. Foote. Octo. 1859." Following the inscription is a photographic portrait of Foote, neatly trimmed and mounted-a fascinating addition to this copy. Aside from the presentation inscription to Levick, the notebook is unsigned. Clarity regarding its production is provided in the October 1868 issue of the American Journal of Numismatics, where J.N.T. Levick provided "A Table Exhibiting the Prices Paid for the Five Types of the 1793 Cent of the United States, Selected from Twenty of the Most Prominent Coin-Sales in the Country from 1855 to 1868." In his introduction to the table, he writes:

The collections of Chas. B. Foote and Simon Gratz, of Philadelphia, were sold by Mr. Cogan in his store; and no printed catalogues were ever issued, but copies were preserved by many collectors in manuscript, for they were then considered very fine collections, and sold at high prices. Mr. Foote employed a person to write a number of catalogues with prices, which he distributed among his friends. I happened to be one of those friends, and therefore am fortunate enough to hold now one of his rare catalogues.

This is the exact copy Levick describes. As mentioned before, it differs somewhat from the edition printed by Attinelli. The Attinelli edition assigns each lot a number, listing a total of 273 lots, including a group of material sold directly to Cogan to close out the sale. The manuscript account does not assign numbers to the lots. It lists each piece individually, suggesting that this is how they were sold. For instance, the Attinelli edition lists eight lots of 1794 large cents, numbering twelve pieces total: there are twelve separate listings in the manuscript. The total value of the lots is the same, but the method of listing them is different. This difference between the Foote/Levick manuscript account and the Attinelli printed edition continues, with coins usually listed separately in the manuscript regardless of whether they sold separately or as a group (and some did seem to sell as group lots). There are exceptions, such as the 1858 proof set, all eight pieces of which are recorded as being sold as a set in both versions; the larger bulk lots are also recorded simply as a lot in both versions. Attinelli lists the collection in 273 lots; the manuscript lists them in 325 (both including the lots bought in by Cogan). No coins appear to be present in only one version, and the proceeds are the same. The order of presentation is somewhat different.

While Foote may well have commissioned manuscript compilations of "a number of catalogues with prices," they certainly haven't survived in any number. The only other copy to be sold on the secondary market of which we are aware was the copy prepared for Major J. Ledyard Hodge sold by us in our 2016 New York Book Auction (lot 428) for $11,000 hammer. A somewhat different manuscript of the Foote sale exists in a bound volume compiled by Mark Wilkes Collet, a promising Philadelphia numismatist who was killed at the Battle of Chancellorsville. This volume, sold by George Kolbe in his June 1990 sale of material from the John W. Adams library, had manuscript versions of Cogan Sales 1, 2 and 4. Written on 8 pages and arranged in 309 lots, it may have been the work of Collet himself, as the copies commissioned by Foote appear to be more or less identical. There has not been a copy of the Attinelli edition of the Foote sale sold in the modern era to the best of our knowledge; the ANS Library owns the only copy of which we are aware.

Very little is known about Foote's numismatic interests. He was apparently a very young man at the time of the sale, having been born in 1837. An energetic start seems to have been typical of him, however, as he moved from his native Bridgeport, Connecticut, to New York city at a young age and joined the firm of Fisk & Hatch-which by 1867 was the firm of Hatch & Foote. Set back by the Panic of 1884, he struggled on with business in a less prominent role. Later in life he made a name for himself as a book collector; it would seem that numismatics was a passing fancy for him. He died in September 1900.

J.N.T. Levick (1828–1908) was one of the most active and important numismatists in the early American scene. He was an early member of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society in New York, and it was he who urged the Society to establish the American Journal of Numismatics. His research on early U.S. large cents led him to compile what has come to be known as the "Levick plate," a fine photographic plate illustrating the die varieties of the cents of 1793. This famous photograph, included in the April 1869 issue of the AJN accompanied by an article on the subject by Sylvester S. Crosby, is considered the first die study in all of numismatics. Levick was also a specialist in American tokens, and his outstanding collection was featured in W. Elliot Woodward's auction of May 26–29, 1884. He consigned material to a number of other auctions as well, including an Edward Cogan sale scheduled for April 27–29, 1865 that had to be postponed due to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The disposition of Levick's library is poorly recorded, and the ownership of this catalogue in the years between Levick and our consignor is completely unknown to us.

These antebellum U.S. coin sales are little remembered today, and aren't generally included in provenance chains. Levick's account of the Foote sale in the AJN provides a little information regarding participants, specifically mentioning a couple of purchases made by William J. Jenks:

It will be observed that the prices in the Kline, Cogan, Foote, Gratz and Levick collections, all sold previous to 1860, are low in comparison to more recent sales; but my recollection of these sales is, that were the same pieces resold at the present time, they would command much higher prices. The cents of Mr. W. Jenks, of Philadelphia, whose name appears opposite the prices of the pieces he bought in Foote's and Gratz's collections, were in such excellent condition, that, if sold now, they would rank among the fifty dollar pieces. Mr. Jenks' set of cents, especially his 93s, I presume were then about the best if Mr. Mickley's only were excepted. Geo. F. Seavey, Esq., of Cambridgeport, Mass., was fortunate enough to purchase Mr. Jenks' collection, which, of course, improved his own cabinet immensely, and undoubtedly it now ranks as the first in the country. Mr. Mortimer L. Mackenzie, who has been most enthusiastic as a purchaser of the Cent Series, may excel so far as relates to condition; but for varieties, with condition combined, Mr. Seavey undoubtedly outranks him. I recollect well the fine condition of those he secured from the Jenks cabinet.

Levick notes in his table that Jenks was the buyer of Foote's 1793 "Ring" cent for $4.75 and his 1793 Wreath cent for $8.50, these being the finest large cents in the sale. The chain cent is likely the Seavey specimen now in the ANS as part of the Clapp collection; the wreath cent (with vine and bars on edge, according to the table) is more difficult to trace as a few such pieces are provenanced to Seavey. The fact that these early sales often featured genuinely important coins-and that some of them can be traced to present-day collections-should generate real excitement among today's connoisseurs, just as it did among the cognoscenti in the years preceding the war between the states. This is a landmark rarity among early American numismatic works, and will be a highlight of any library of which it becomes a part.
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