DescriptionHB-29 EP-34 Reed-AS03SM 3¢ Ayer's Sarsaparilla Small Ayer's Extremely Fine.
In this cataloger's opinion, neither Reed nor Hodder-Bowers gives the rarity of this piece its due. Reed considers it an R-2 (51 to 100 known) and prices it at just a hair more than the very common Medium Ayer's 3¢. The HB reference does the same. Our experience is that the Small Ayer's variety is far rarer than the Medium, and several times rarer than the Large. The Reed auction census shows 102 appearances for this piece, 267 for Medium and 139 for Large. While it's purely speculation on our part, we have always suspected that early auctioneers, when confronted with two sizes of "Ayer's," a Large and a Medium, called the Medium piece "Small," throwing off the census. Our experience is that the Medium is massively the most common (everyone agrees), the Smalls are easily 20-to-1 rarer than the Medium, and the Large about 3-to-1 rarer than the Medium. This example has a substantially clear mica with three or four surface marks, a stamp that is only slightly toned and a very attractive, problem-free case.
From The Honorable William H. Kelly Collection
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