1852 $10 Wass, Molitor & Company, Large Head, Wide Date NGC MS61. The firm of Wass, Molitor & Co. produced only five dollar and ten dollar pieces in 1852, while in 1855 they made ten dollar, twenty dollar, and fifty dollar pieces. The ten dollar denomination was the only one that repeated in 1855. The 1852 fives and tens are both known with so-called Small Head and Large Head styles. The 1852 ten dollars are known with three date styles: High Narrow Date, Low Narrow Date, and Wide Date, as here.
All of the 1852 Wide Date tens are of the Large Head (or Short Neck) type. The Large Head, Wide Date shows the 2 in the date slanted to the left at its top and partially protruding from under the bust truncation. All known examples of the 1852 K-4 ten show numerous obverse die cracks–Kagin enumerates 10; see that reference for the detailed list–as well as three others on the reverse. Clearly this was a die that was stressed and ready to crack, or cracked already, before any coins were struck–or, at least, any that survive today.
The present piece shows wonderfully deep, rich yellow-gold color with lots of luster remaining. The obverse die was cut too deeply, which caused a concaveness on that side. As a result, the reverse die was convex. This causes the reverse, as Don Kagin put it, “to be much weaker (usually appearing 15 points inferior) than obverse.” This is one of the strongest strikes we have seen on this variety. The feathers on the eagle’s breast and neck are unusually sharp. This unusual exception to the rule should make this a highly desirable specimen to those who appreciate the subtleties of the striking characteristics of Wass Molitor coinage. Scattered minor abrasions, mostly seen under a loupe, account for the grade. -Heritage, Jan 6, 2011. Collectors Universe priced at $50,000 in MS61.