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Knowledge Empowers the Collector -- Part 1

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TheHawaiianaNumismatist

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What a find!

I review auction listings periodically and scan for items of interest to add to my collection. Two weeks ago, I found a very interesting listing. The seller did not know exactly what they were selling (as stated in the listing) and was not able to locate any information about his item.

My "cherry picker" curiosity kicked in. I reviewed the wording in the auction listing and its pictures multiple times. The information provided was sparse and the low quality pictures were not that revealing.

I checked my trusty collector catalog. There was a single sentence that subtly mentioned this mysterious auction item. There were no pictures in the catalog (of this item), just a single sentence. I re-reviewed the auction listing pictures and noticed the miniscule details. What I saw in the low quality pictures was now being revealed to me based on that single sentence from my trusty collector catalog.

I began to search the internet with this partial set of usable information. I found two additional references about this item. I located a previous realized price (with a very helpful description) from a major auctioneer and a blog entry by a medal specialist describing this curious item. With this newly found information in-hand, I placed a conservative bid for the item at the auction.

One week ago, I watched the auction final minutes with cautionary anticipation. I bumped up my secret high bid as a safety net. I was expecting a bidding war because I knew the rarity of this item. The bidding war never materialized. I was ecstatic that I won the auction well below my secret high bid.

The item that I won is called by several different names: production sample set, progression set, production run set or process set. The focus of this set is the high relief 1959 Official Hawaii Statehood medal. It showcases the five stages of this high relief medal production effort with an actual medal from each of the stages. This set contains a blank planchet, medal after first strike, medal after second strike, medal after third strike and completed medal (obverse and reverse).

My trusty collector catalog (Hawaiian Money 2nd edition, 1991, by Medcalf & Russell, page 100) states that only 30 such sets were produced and this set showed the 5 stages in the production life of the high relief Official Hawaii Statehood medal.

Two items that tipped me off that this was a "process set" were: 1) Design details became sharper and crisper on each proceeding strike. 2) The circumference of the medal became larger (extra medal beyond the rim expands outward on each proceeding strike (high relief medals are not struck with a collar). The excess metal beyond the rim is later trimmed.

Days after the auction ended, I found an exact set sold at Stack's September 2006 auction. I was surprised to find out that each of the three struck medals is uniface. The 2006 auction listing is http://preview.outside-affiliatelinksnotallowed.com/bruou54

This "process set" is extremely nice and rare addition to my Hawaiiana collection.

To be continued with Part 2 (set has been received; I'm studying it and will document/share my findings).

Picture is from the 2006 auction (I believe it's the medal after the third strike).

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