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Category: Auction News

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The Fun Has Begun

News and Analysis on scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #34

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

While the Summer ANA Convention includes a wide variety of items of interest to collectors of U.S. coins, paper money, tokens and medals, plus some coins of the world, the Winter FUN Convention is the leading event of the year in the field of rare U.S. coins. Today’s discussion will be a little shorter than usual as I am busy in Tampa viewing coins, witnessing events and gathering information during FUN week. Yes, the winter FUN Convention formally begins on Thursday, at the Tampa Convention center. Coin related events, however, have already occurred.

I. B&M Pre-FUN Auction

I attended the Bowers & Merena pre-FUN auction on Tuesday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which is near the Tampa Airport. In last week’s column, I discussed the fact that Bowers & Merena and Stack’s are in the process of merging. The new Stack’s-Bowers president, Chris Napolitano, was in attendance. It was made clear that QDB and Chris Karstedt would continue to play roles in Stack’s-Bowers. Brad Karoleff, the longtime auctioneer for B&M, and Melissa Karstedt, an auctioneer at Stack’s, served as auctioneers during Tuesday night. Unfortunately, as this auction did not finish until well into Tuesday night, there was not time for me to thoroughly analyze this event.

On Tuesday, the lot viewing room for the B&M auction was packed. There were, at times, people waiting for seats in a fairly large room on the main floor of a very large hotel. My sources tell me that lot viewing attendance was excellent on Sunday and Monday as well, and that there were many collectors and dealers viewing at Heritage’s lot viewing room at the Tampa Convention center on Monday and Tuesday. So far, there seems to be even more interest in the FUN auctions than there was last year. It is too early, however, to draw a conclusion on the topic of collector interest in FUN week auctions.

In my column of Dec. 8, I raised the topic of FUN auctions, and I then provided explanations as to the general importance of January FUN auctions. My column of Dec. 8 is primarily about Jim O’Neal’s landmark set of Indian Head Half Eagles ($5 gold coins) and I remind readers that I wrote a two part series on O’Neal’s Eagles ($10 gold coins) in 2009. Please also read my article about the Jan. 7, 2010 Platinum Night event. (As usual, clickable links are in blue.)

In my column of Dec. 22, I focused upon the Henry Miller collection, the core of which Heritage will auction on Thursday, during Platinum Night. On Dec. 15, I wrote about the Malibu set of Proof Liberty Seated Quarters. The collector known as ‘Malibu’ also consigned Proof Liberty Seated halves and silver dollars to Tuesday night’s event, plus a few other coins. As I earlier suggested, his set of Proof Liberty Seated Quarters is far more spectacular than his respective sets of halves and dollars. I was delighted to finally have the opportunity to view all of his Liberty Seated Quarters, Half Dollars and Dollars. (more…)

Dr. Norman Jacobs Collection of Korean and Japanese Coins on display at NYINC

Heritage Auctions has announced that we will be auctioning The Dr. Norman Jacobs Collection of Korean and Japanese Coins, the most important collection of its kind, from one of the most famous Asian numismatic experts to have lived. This collection will be featured in our September 2011 Long Beach Signature Auction.

The groups of coins from both nations individually represent possibly the most complete sets of Japanese and Korean coins and currency ever assembled, and most likely the most important numismatic offerings of both countries in the last half century.

Collectors will not have to wait 10 months to get a look at these amazing coins, however, as highlights will be on display at the New York International Numismatic Convention, at the Waldorf-Astoria, Jan. 6-9, 2011, in conjunction with our New York Signature World and Ancient Coin Auction. This appearance will be the beginning of a “world tour” for the coins, as they visit the Chicago International Coin Fair, April 13-16, 2011, heading to Tokyo in May and coming home for the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Chicago, Aug. 15-21, 2011.

“Collections such as Dr. Jacobs’ is what we live for here at Heritage,” said Cris Bierrenbach, Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage. “Handling the incredible Asian rarities that Dr. Jacobs dedicated his numismatic life to is a great honor to us. The World Coin department at Heritage, along with our entire company, will be working hard to produce a catalog and an auction that match the fantastic accomplishments of Dr. Jacobs in Korean and Japanese numismatics. The next 10 months are going to be a great ride.”

In 1953, Dr. Jacobs (along with Cornelius Vermeule) wrote the first English language book on Japanese numismatics that covered both ancient and modern coins. It was also the first publication (in any language) to catalog Japanese coins by date and type. That book opened up the world of Japanese (and modern Korean) coinage to western collectors.

The principle highlight of the auction comes from the Korean collection: a unique set of 1909 Korean gold in 5, 10 and 20 Won denominations — the only other set in existence is in the collection of the Bank of Japan.

“The vast majority of these coins, and the core of the collections, were purchased in the 1940s and 1950s,” said Bierrenbach, “during Dr. Jacobs’ time in Asia. He also added significantly to his collection when he worked with Robert Friedberg at Capital Coin of New York in the 1950s. So the vast majority of the ultra rarities have been in his collection for 50+ years.”

Bowers and Merena Auctions and Stacks Announce Merger

BOWERS AND MERENA AUCTIONS TO JOIN FORCES WITH STACK’S TO CREATE STACK’S-BOWERS NUMISMATICS

Spectrum Group International, Inc. (SPGZ.PK) announced today that its subsidiary Bowers and Merena Auctions, one of the world’s pre-eminent auctioneers of rare coins and currency, has entered into an agreement with Stack’s, the oldest rare coin retail and auction company in the U.S., to combine their operations.

The new company, which will be known as Stack’s-Bowers Numismatics, with a world coin division to be known as Stack’s-Bowers and Ponterio, will be owned 51% by Bowers and Merena Auctions and 49% by Stack’s. The closing, which is subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions, is expected to take place in early 2011.

Greg Roberts, president and chief executive officer of Spectrum Group (SGI), commented, “We believe that this combination, once consummated, will create a major player in the coin industry. Stack’s had over $65 million in aggregate sales in 2010 and between them, the two companies have handled many of the significant coin collections that have sold at public auction, including the Eliasberg Sales, the Norweb Sales and the Ford Collections.”

Bowers and Merena Auctions president Chris Napolitano, who will serve as president of the combined company, said, “I am honored and excited to lead this new venture, which combines two of the leading names in our industry. We consider Stack’s to be the crown jewel of coin auction houses and with this partnership, we have assembled a numismatic team that we believe to be unequaled in the industry. We look forward to continuing and expanding Stack’s auction and retail locations in mid-town Manhattan, which serve not only the greater New York metropolitan area but also the entire east coast.”

Added Mr. Roberts, “A significant factor for SGI in pursuing this merger was the opportunity to partner with Charles, Joel and Harold Anderson and the rest of the Anderson family, who own a controlling interest in Stacks. For years I have enjoyed a strong personal and professional relationship with the Andersons and now look forward to a long-lasting association with the family through Stack’s-Bowers Numismatics. We intend to continue the long tradition that the Stack family developed over many decades in New York. For years it has been a goal of ours to have a presence in NYC. With this partnership, we will achieve that goal at one of the most famous and prestigious addresses in the numismatics industry: 123 West 57th Street, New York, New York.”

Joel Anderson commented, “We are looking forward with great enthusiasm to the successful combination of these two fine companies. Both have rich histories of service with integrity to the numismatic community and together their combined resources and talents will bring new levels of service and value to the numismatic market. In addition, Charles, Harold and I have assembled some nice collections and we are pleased that Stack’s-Bowers Numismatics will be there for us when the time comes to sell.” (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The Henry Miller Collection

News and Analysis on scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #32

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. FUN Auctions

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Jim O’Neal’s set of Indian Head Half Eagles ($5 gold coins), which will be auctioned during the Jan. 6, 2011 FUN Platinum Night auction in Tampa. During the FUN Convention, Heritage will auction a wide variety of items, including the Henry Miller collection. Miller specialized in Proof gold coins and many of his coins will also be sold during this Platinum Night event. He also had business strikes. The topic here is the Henry Miller collection.

To attain some understanding of FUN Platinum Night events, please see my column two weeks ago and my articles concerning coins auctioned in Jan. 2009 and 2010: The Jan. 2010 Platinum Night, $3,737,500 for a nickel, the O’Neal Collection of Indian Head Eagles, and Jay Brahin’s $20 gold coins.

II. Henry Miller

Henry Miller collected coins for decades before passing in 2009. He lived and worked in New York City. Miller collected Proof Liberty Head Double Eagles ‘by date’ and gold coins from many other series mostly ‘by type.’ Though Miller had a few pre-1834 Half Eagles and some early 20th century gold coins, he generally focused on U.S. gold coins of the second half of the 19th century. Additionally, he had an accumulation of ‘not rare date’ Liberty Head and Saint Gaudens Double Eagles. Also, Miller had a complete 1887 Proof Set, copper, nickel, silver and gold, which Eric Streiner regards as “a fantastic set.”

Eric Streiner remembers Miller’s coins though he has not seen any of them for more than a dozen years. Streiner “knew the guy quite well. Miller really liked his coins. He spent a lot of time looking at his coins,” Streiner recounts. Eric emphasizes that Miller was an enthusiastic collector.

Eric reports that “Miller bought most of his coins in the 1970s from dealers in the New York area, many from Stack’s. He bought some at auction, but mostly he bought coins privately,” Streiner says. “He bought a few coins in the mid 1990s,” Eric adds.

Streiner relates that, “in the late 1980s or early 1990s,” Eric arranged for Miller’s coins to be submitted to the NGC for grading and encapsulation. Streiner remembers that Miller contacted him through Stack’s. At the time, Eric was a very young dealer who had a reputation as a grading wizard. I (this writer) heard many stories, some clearly verifiable, of Eric spotting coins that were undergraded, or not clearly graded, by other coin dealers.

John Albanese recollects that, “a long time ago, probably in the late 1980s, [he] had lunch at a seafood restaurant with Eric Streiner and Henry Miller, who was a really nice guy.” Albanese is glad to have had the opportunity to view Miller’s Proofs again. Recently, Heritage sent many of Miller’s Proof coins to the CAC.

John Albanese was the sole founder of the NGC in 1987. Mark Salzberg, the largest current shareholder in the NGC, joined Albanese as a partner in 1988. Ten years later, Albanese sold his shares in the NGC to Salzberg. In 2007, John founded the CAC, which evaluates the quality of coins that are already graded and encapsulated by the PCGS or the NGC. Submitted coins may be approved or rejected. Approved coins receive a CAC sticker.

Both Albanese and Streiner were very impressed by the quality of Miller’s coins. Streiner, “even around twenty years later,” recalls Miller’s coins “as great pieces, nice original stuff, mostly gem, definitely good eye appeal.” Indeed, John and Eric separately emphasized that Miller’s Proof gold coins tend to be “original,” meaning that these have never been dipped, substantially cleaned, or doctored.

Though Streiner “hates to say it,” Eric is concerned that “some of these coins might lose their original surfaces, after the auction”! Some dealers will dip or doctor them in efforts to get higher grades assigned. (more…)

Malibu Collection Part II Anchors Bowers and Merena’s January 2011 Rarities Sale

Nearly 1,700 lots to cross the auction block in Tampa, FL immediately prior to  FUN

Bowers and Merena, one of the world’s preeminent auctioneers for rare coins and currency, will conduct the January Rarities Sale as its first event of 2011. The single-session sale on Jan. 4 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay will offer nearly 1,700 lots of rare and desirable United State and Colonial-era coinage.

“It is and honor and thrill to start my career with Bowers and Merena with such an important sale,” said Chris Napolitano, President of Bowers and Merena. “Our January 2011 Rarities Sale will be presenting a wide selection of United States, Colonial and Territorial coins which range from affordable collector coins to world-renowned absolute and condition pieces.”

Headlining the sale is Part II of the Malibu Collection. “The first part of this impressive Malibu Collection helped propel our Official Auction of the November Whitman Coin & Collectible Baltimore Expo to the forefront among numismatic events of 2010. Part II promises the same rarity, quality and eye appeal that we have come to expect from the collection,” said Napolitano.

Highlights from the Malibu Collection include lot 855, one of the finest-known 1866 Motto Seated Dollars in PCGS Secure Proof-66 Deep Cameo, as well as lot 594, an important strike and condition rarity 1918-S Standing Liberty Quarter certified MS-67 Full Head by NGC with a combined pop of just 2/0 by PCGS and NGC.

“From U.S. minors to patterns, bidders will also enjoy Part II of the G. Edward Reahl, Jr. M.D. Collection and the Abingdon Collection,” said Napolitano.

Additional highlights in the sale include:

* Lot 48, 1883 Hawaii Eighth Dollar, Proof-62 Cameo (PCGS), Secure Holder
* Lot 59, Undated (Circa 1616) Sommer Islands Twopence, BMA Type I, Small Star Below Hog, AG-3 (PCGS)
* Lot 73, 1776 Continental Dollar, CURENCY, Pewter, MS-63 (NGC)
* Lot 302, 1924-S Buffalo Nickel, MS-66 (NGC)
* Lot 304, 1925-D Buffalo Nickel, MS-66 (PCGS), Secure Holder (more…)

Coin Profiles: Unique 1834 Original Half Dollar O-104, Ex: Brand, Norweb

1834 Capped Bust Half Dollar PR65 NGC. O-104, Unique as a Proof.

Only a few proof 1834 half dollars are known, mostly restrikes from the dies used to produce the Crushed Lettered Edge coins. In the catalog of the George “Buddy” Byers Collection (Stack’s, 10/2006), the cataloger enumerated these Overton varieties used to produce the Crushed Lettered Edge restrikes, of which at least 10 pieces survive in all: O-101, O-103, O-104, O-106, O-114, and O-122.

The cataloger also included five Overton varieties known for the 1834 proof half dollars, each unique original coins, that were not CLE restrikes. Those varieties include: O-101 (Large Date, Large Letters, ex: Floyd Starr), O-103 (Large Date, Large Letters; in the King of Siam set), O-104 (the present piece, from the Norweb Collection), O-106 (Large Date, Small Letters; the Byers coin), and O-114 (Small Date, Small Letters; Bowers and Merena, 8/1991, lot 2268). Each one of those unique proof original half dollars is much, much rarer than the 1834 Crushed Lettered Edge restrikes.

The present coin is one of those original pieces, unique as far as we can determine. The catalogers in the Norweb Collection sale described it in this way:

“1834 O-104. Large Date, Small Letters. Proof-64/65. A glittering gem specimen with full Proof surface on all areas, including within the shield stripes on the reverse. This piece is breathtakingly beautiful and is toned a delicate blend of muted rainbow colors, ranging from magenta at the center, to electric and gunmetal blue, to gold at the borders.

“Perhaps unique as a die variety; Walter Breen did not know of other examples, but he was aware of this one, as he participated in the sale of it to Mrs. Norweb. “Here is a superb gem coin, a half dollar for the ages.”

Technical Description: Large Date, Small Letters. The 4 in the date is tall and recut, with the 18 wider than 834. The 4 is higher. The Overton reference describes the date “with an open 3 and extra tall tapered 1” a half-millimeter from the drapery, “the closest of any large date 1834.” On the reverse the top of the C in the denomination is close to the olive stem. The I is centered left of the crossbar of the T. This die lacks the die lump normally seen on business strikes under TE, providing evidence that this proof was struck first. The thin left stand of the M is joined at its base to the center stand. (more…)

Historic proof sets and ‘Stella’ pattern coins present momentous opportunities for collectors at FUN

1834 and 1846 proof sets from private collection released as part of Heritage’s Jan. 6 FUN Platinum Night offerings in Tampa, FL

Two rare early proof sets and a remarkable set of six pattern coins associated with the famous “Stella” coinage experiment are important collective highlights of Heritage’s Tampa FUN Platinum Night U.S. Coin Auction, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011.

“All three of these sets have remained intact from the time of issue,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “It’s amazing to be able to see an 1834 proof set all at once, or the three coins of an 1846 proof gold set, or a six-coin set of Stella patterns. We understand that many collectors are interested in particular coins rather than sets, so we’ve chosen to offer the pieces from these sets as individual lots. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if a single buyer were to keep one of the sets together.”

The earliest set is an 1834 eight-piece proof set, half cent through half eagle, with grades ranging from PR63 to PR65 NGC. While this proof set does not include the denominations included in diplomatic presentation sets of that year – namely the legendary 1804-dated silver dollar and gold eagle – it does include eight denominations, all extremely rare: the half cent, large cent, half dime, dime, quarter, half dollar, quarter eagle, and half eagle.

“Perhaps four or five of these non-diplomatic sets were issued,” said Rohan. “All the rest were broken up long ago. Depending on who buys these coins, this may literally be the last chance for collectors to bid on one of the non-diplomatic sets while it’s still intact.”

The second set, smaller but just as important in its own fashion, is a three-piece gold proof set from 1846. It contains the three gold denominations struck that year, the quarter eagle, half eagle, and eagle, and each coin is graded PR64 Cameo by NGC. The three-coin gold set was part of a larger 10-coin complete proof set that was last offered as part of the legendary John Jay Pittman Collection. The coins trace their origin all the way back to an 1892 sale by Ed Frossard.

“Today’s collectors have a chance to make these incredibly rare 1846 gold coins part of their collections,” said Rohan. “The half eagle, for example, is the only proof specimen not in a museum collection. We hope the winning bidders enjoy the same pride of ownership that Pittman displayed.”

Chronologically last, but of similarly momentous importance, is a set of five pattern pieces dated 1879 and 1880 and related to the famous proposed international trade coin, the four dollar or “Stella.” The first five coins, all very rare or extremely rare, were made of copper and later gilt. They grade PR62 to PR64 and include a Judd-1636 1879 Flowing Hair four dollar, a Judd-1639 1879 Coiled Hair four dollar, a Judd-1658 1880 Flowing Hair four dollar, a Judd-1661 1880 Coiled Hair four dollar, and the legendary Judd-1644 1879 quintuple stella – a trade-coin spin on the existing double eagle. (more…)

Three Big Rarities Offered at FUN Auctions

By Steve Roach – First published in the Jan. 3, 2011, Special Edition of Coin World – Rare Coin Market Report

For the past few years, arguably the main annual event for the rare coin market has been the massive Heritage auctions at the Florida United Numismatists convention, a major coin show that will take place during the first week of the new year in Tampa Jan. 6 to 9.

The multiday auctions and the packed bourse floor at FUN set the tone of the market for at least the year’s early months, as dealers reposition their inventories, and collectors make their first buys of the year.

Some expensive coins were sold at the 2010 FUN Heritage auction, including $3,737,500 realized for one of finest known examples of the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin, tying the third-place record for the largest sum ever paid at auction for a single U.S. coin.

Two other million-dollar coins traded hands in the 2010 Heritage FUN auctions: a 1927-D Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle graded Mint State 66, which sold for $1,495,000, and an 1874 Dana Bickford gold $10 eagle pattern in Proof 65 deep cameo, which sold above expectations for $1,265,000.

In total, more than $36.5 million in coins traded hands at the 2010 Heritage official FUN coin auctions.

While the new year’s first auction lacks an obvious million-dollar superstar on the level of the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent piece, three exceptional coins could prove dazzling.

Perhaps the most noteworthy is an 1852-O Coronet $20 double eagle graded MS-65. It is the finest known example of the date and the catalog description states that it is “quite likely the finest New Orleans twenty of any date.”

In 2009, a Specimen 63 1856-O Coronet double eagle realized $1,437,500. In addition, 1850 to 1866 New Orleans Mint double eagles enjoy a healthy popularity.

Since the offered 1852-O Coronet double eagle has been off the market for more than 30 years, it’s anyone’s guess as to what this grand condition rarity will bring.

Another New Orleans Mint gold coin may also soar – the finest collectible 1909-O Indian Head $5 half eagle, graded MS-66. The lot description counts 19 examples graded MS-64 to MS-66 and the issue is the key to the series. The offered example last sold publicly in May 1998 as part of the Thaine B. Price Collection for $374,000, where it was described by auctioneer David Akers as “the finest collectible example of the rarest issue in the entire series.” (more…)

Ponterio & Associates Kicks-Off 2011 with the January N.Y.I.N.C. Auction

Sale features outstanding selection of Mexican and ancient coinage and Italian banknotes

Ponterio & Associates, a division of Bowers and Merena Auctions, is pleased to present the January 2011 N.Y.I.N.C. Auction at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on Jan. 7-8. The auction will feature 2,558 lots including Part I of the Len Novotny Collection of Mexican Coinage, the Michael Demling Collection of Ancient Coinage, David Ian Wright Collection of Italian Banknotes and a superb selection of Fussli specimens.

“After wrapping up our December Hong Kong auction with the Wa She Wong Collection, we are excited to offer another extremely diverse selection of ancient and world coins and paper money,” said Rick Ponterio, executive vice president of Bowers and Merena. “Sure to be the center of attention, the 1854 Guatemala 8 Reales, lot 1036 and graded AU-55 by NGC, is perhaps the rarest crown-sized type coin for all of Latin America.”

Shortly after the production of this coin, the Republic of Guatemala adopted the decimal system and began producing coinage in Pesos and Centavo-equivalent denominations. This marks the coin as the first, last and only 8 Reales produced by the Republic of Guatemala.

Another anchor of the sale is lot 827, an extremely rare and important 1897 Anhwei Pattern Dollar, graded MS-62 by PCGS. “This particular specimen is clearly intended for special presentation purposes as it exhibits a bold, full-bodied strike with all special characters and sharp details,” said Ponterio.

Furthering the significance of the piece, the short-lived Anhwei mint only produced silver coinage for approximately two years before operations ceased and the mint was dismantled.

Additional coin and paper money highlights of the auction include:

· Lot 116, 1784/3 Mexico 8 Escudos, Key Charles III Proper Portrait, Choice Extremely Fine

· Lot 131, 1823 Mexico 8 Escudos, Hookneck Eagle, AU-55 (NGC)

· Lot 258, 1835 Belgium 40 Francs, MS-64 (NGC)

· Lot 357, 1850 Costa Rica ½ Onza, SP-61 (NGC), (Ex: Fredrick Mayer Collection)

· Lot 464, 1883 Honduras 10 Pesos, , AU-50 (NGC)

· Lot 549, 1926 Italy 50 Lire, MS-64 (NGC)

· Lot 550, 1926-R Italy 20 Lire, MS-65 (PCGS)

· Lot 2031, 264 B.C. Siculo-Punic Silver Dekadrachm, Time of First Punic War, Sicilian Mint, Choice Very Fine

· Lot 2536, 1892 Bank of Greece 100 Drachmai, P-45

· Lot 2611, 1913 Imperial Bank of Persia 2 Tomans, P-2, About Uncirculated, Consecutive pair

· Lot 2613, 1890-1923 Imperial Bank of Persia 1,000 Tomans Specimen, P-10s, Choice Uncirculated

The first day of the two-day auction will feature Part I of the Len Novontny Collection of Mexican Coinage and an array of world gold coins, world crowns and minors. The second day will host the Michael Demling Collection of Ancient Coinage, David Ian Wright Collection of Italian Banknotes, and ancient and world paper money including Fussli specimens. Lot viewing will be conducted before the sale at the Waldorf Astoria in the Morgan Suite, floor 18, Jan. 5-8. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The Malibu Collection of Proof Liberty Seated Quarters, with information for beginning and intermediate collectors

News and Analysis of scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #31

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. The Malibu Collection

In Tampa, on Tuesday, Jan. 4, B&M will auction the second part of the Malibu Collection, among other consignments. The focus here is on Malibu’s collection of Proof Liberty Seated Quarters dating from 1863 to 1891.

This sale will occur almost exactly two months after B&M auctioned the first part of the Malibu Collection, in Baltimore. In my column of Nov. 17, I reviewed the sale of the Malibu set of Standing Liberty Quarters. On Nov. 4, B&M also auctioned Malibu’s business strike Liberty Seated Half Dollars and silver dollars. On Jan. 4, B&M will auction Malibu’s sets of Proof Liberty Seated Quarters, Proof Liberty Seated Half Dollars and Proof Liberty Seated Dollars, plus a few other coins from the Malibu collection, as well as a wide variety of items from other consignors.

This Jan. 4 auction will be conducted just prior to the FUN Convention. Please see last week’s column for a discussion of FUN Convention auctions and a review of the O’Neal Collection of Indian Head Half Eagles that Heritage will offer. (As always, clickable links are in blue.)

Since the collector who formed the Malibu collection has not granted permission for his name to be mentioned, the code name Malibu is employed for his overall collection, sets of specific series, and the collector himself. Other coins from the Malibu Collection may be auctioned in Baltimore in March. Most of the coins in the Malibu collection are, or were, included in set listings in the PCGS and NGC Registries.

Besides Malibu’s set of Standing Liberty Quarters, which was complete and excellent, each of his sets seems to be a ‘work in progress’ with some missing dates that are not difficult to find. It is sad that his sets of Proof Liberty Seated coins were not completed as he seems to have had both the budget and the dedication to ‘complete’ sets of ‘later date’ Liberty Seated Proof Quarters, half dollars and silver dollars, those dating from 1858 onwards.

Starting in 1858, Proof Sets were publicly offered by the U.S. Mint each year. Before then, Proof coins were released quietly to collectors and dealers who had contacts at the Philadelphia Mint or elsewhere in the U.S. Treasury Dept. While Proof sets were not available to collectors every year prior to 1858, my impression is that these were often available to collectors who took the initiative to seek Proof coins.

Generally, it is customary to define a set of each series of Proof Liberty Seated silver coins, or of Proof Liberty Head gold coins, as a collection of one of each issue from 1858 onwards. Pre-1858 Proofs tend to be much rarer, and a set of all Proof Liberty Seated coins would not be feasible.

Clearly, the Malibu collector was in the process of assembling sets of Proof quarters and halves dating from 1858 to 1891, and of Proof Liberty Seated Dollars dating from 1858 to 1873, which was the last year of Liberty Seated Dollars. The Malibu 1858 to 1891 set of Proof Liberty Seated Halves contains twenty seven Proofs of different dates, and a second Proof 1887 Half Dollar. This half set is missing eight dates.

A set of Proof Liberty Seated Dollars consists of sixteen dates and the Malibu set has eleven plus a duplicate Proof 1873 dollar. The PCGS and the NGC Registries ignore the 1866 ‘No Motto’ Proofs of quarters, halves and silver dollars, as these are mysterious strikings about which little is known, and were not available to the public. While the Malibu sets of halves and silver dollars are important, and will receive much attention when auctioned on Jan. 4th, the topic here is his set of Proof Liberty Seated Quarters. (more…)

Wa She Wong Collection of Chinese and Other Asian Coins Tops $10.7 Million at Hong Kong Auction

Exclusive NGC-graded sale marks most important array of Chinese coinage offered at auction in 20 years

Over 300 anxious bidders filled the live auction floor for the highly anticipated sale of the Wa She Wong Collection and other Asian Coins on Dec. 3-4. The Hong Kong auction, presented by Ponterio & Associates, a division of Bowers and Merena Auctions, featured 1,107 lots with total sales reaching $10.7 million.

“A collection of Chinese coinage of this magnitude has not come to market in over 20 years and it surely did not disappoint,” said Rick Ponterio, executive vice president of Bowers and Merena. “We saw such spirited bidding, the sale of the first 487 lots took an astounding 11 hours with many of the lots selling for multiple times their estimated value.”

Drawing worldwide attention, the collection is a compilation of Wa She Wong’s lifelong passion for collecting which contained multiple rarities missing from major exhibits including many scarce pattern coins that were never released into general circulation. Headlining the collection, the 1890 Kwantung Mint Specimen Set, lot 220, began with an estimated value of $300,000 and realized a staggering $718,750. The set represents a landmark in Chinese minting as the first silver coinage produced with modern machinery.

Another important coin was the extremely rare “Flying Dragon” Szechuan 30 Cash Struck in Copper, lot 311. Opening at $12,500, lively bidding quickly brought the coin to a final selling price of $460,000. “The buyer had been searching for this rarity, one of only two known in private hands, for more than 30 years. The two other examples known to exist are housed in public museum collections,” said Ponterio.

All major rarities in the collection were certified by the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (NGC), a market leader in grading Chinese coins, and pedigreed as “Wa She Wong Collection” on individual holders. Additional highlights of the Wa She Wong Collection include:

  • Lot 3, 1920 “Yuan Shi Kai” Dollar Struck in Gold, MS-64 (NGC), realized $138,000
  • Lot 27, 1911 “Long-Whisker” Dragon Pattern Dollar Struck in Silver, MS-65 (NGC), realized $431,250 (Ex: Kann Collection)
  • Lot 130, 1844 Changchow Military Rotation Dollar, AU-50 (NGC), realized $103,500
  • Lot 139, 1909 Honan Pattern 20 Cash Struck in Copper, AU-55 BN (NGC), realized $126,500
  • Lot 147, 1930 Hunan Pattern 500 Cash Struck in Copper, MS-63 BN (NGC), realized $103,500
  • Lot 162, 1897 Kiangnan Dollar, Plain Edge, Proof-66 Cameo (NGC), realized $373,750 (more…)

Coin Profile 1804 Bust Quarter, Single Finest Certified B-1, Ex: Colonel Green

Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green (better known as Col. E.H.R. Green or, more simply, Col. Green), was the son of Henrietta Howland Robinson Green, née Henrietta Howland Robinson (1834-1916). She, too, is known more simply as Hetty Green, and even more familiarly as the “Witch of Wall Street.” Hetty Green was connected on the Howland side of her family to one of the great merchant families of New England. She grew up in a Quaker household, noted for its austerity.

Upon their deaths in 1865, her father and maternal aunt willed to her a total of about $10 million. Even after her 1867 marriage to Edward H. Green, she kept her finances separate, managing them herself with single-minded monomania. Her father and grandfather had educated her in finance from early childhood, and she dedicated herself to expanding that fortune. As her wealth increased, she continued to live with her son and daughter in modest surroundings, avoiding all social contacts or displays of wealth. In time she became a major force on Wall Street, despite which she often appeared in public in shabby garb and sought medical treatment for herself at charity clinics. She left an estate valued at more than $100 million when she died in 1916, reputedly the world’s richest woman.

“Extremely rare grade and one of two finest known of just three, possibly four known in full Mint State. Certainly the most famous specimen and long thought to be clearly the finest.”

The most often-repeated story concerning her penury is that concerning her son Edward, whom she refused to take for medical treatment, resulting in the need for his leg to be amputated. Col. Green was born the year following Hetty’s marriage to Edward Green, during his parents’ tour of Europe.

By age 25, Col. Green had been admitted to the bar and become president of the Texas Midland Railroad (his mother Hetty had owned many railroad stocks during her lifetime). He was active in Texas Republican politics, served as chairman of the Texas Republican State Committee, and was a director of the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. In order to maintain a Texas residence, he kept a suit of clothes and one of his wooden legs in a “fine residence” in Terrell, Texas. He died at age 68 in Lake Placid, New York.

At the time of his death–with a total estate valued at more than $40 million–his coin collection was valued at an estimated $5 million, along with a stamp collection worth $3.5 million. Green’s numismatic holdings included at least seven different 1838-O half dollars, a Brasher doubloon, all five of the 1913 Liberty nickels, and a staggering hoard of 1796 quarters, said to number more than 200 pieces. (more…)

Heritage’s World and Ancient Coin Auction in NYC

International numismatic treasures highlighted by rare German, Polish and South American coins, as well as the largest gold coin in the world, a Chinese 321+ ounce Beijing Olympics gold 100,000 Yuan

DALLAS, TX – As the profile of Heritage Auctions’ World & Ancient Coins category has continued to skyrocket over the last few years, each consecutive offering has raised the bar significantly. With the Jan. 3-4 New York Signature? World & Ancient Coin Auction at the Waldorf Astoria, coinciding with the New York International Coin Show (NYINC), Heritage has not only assembled its largest World Coin auction to date, it has also once again raised the bar in terms of absolute quality.

“With more than 5,000 total lots in this auction we have literally scoured the planet for the best possible international numismatic offerings,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage. “The incredible scope of countries represented, and the depth to which the collections go is so advanced that putting this catalog together was like a getting a graduate degree in world numismatics at a crash course pace.”

More than 240 consignors have placed coins in the auction, most of which will be on display for lot viewing, Dec. 29 and 30, at Heritage’s jewelbox New York space at 445 Park Avenue (at 57th). To further entice International coin collectors, Heritage will have highlights from the upcoming auction the Norman Jacobs Collection of Korean and Japanese Coins, the most important collection of its kind, on display at the NYINC, January 6-9, at the Waldorf-Astoria.

A Polish Sigismund III gold 10 Dukats 1588, Fr-83, XF45 NGC represents one of the superb early highlights of the auction. This exceedingly rare type, with its clean lines and striking imagery is appealing as much for its numismatic value as for its artistic value, and is sure to be the subject of spirited bidding. It carries an estimate of $175,000+. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: O’Neal Collection of Indian Head $5 Gold Coins

News and Analysis on scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #30

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. FUN Auctions

During the Jan. 2011 FUN Platinum Night auction in Tampa, Heritage will offer Jim O’Neal’s set of Indian Head Half Eagles ($5 gold coins). This set is the “All-Time Finest” in the PCGS Registry and contains many individual coins that are at or near the top of the condition rankings for their respective dates. Many other rare U.S. coins, including some Great Rarities, will be auctioned during the Platinum Night event and I will cover those soon.

Since 2005, the Heritage FUN Convention auction has been the leading auction of the year for U.S. coins. Indeed, four of the last six January FUN auctions have been phenomenal.

A few days before the start of the FUN Convention at the Tampa Convention Center, B&M will conduct a pre-FUN auction at a nearby hotel. The Malibu collection will be included. Traditionally, pre-FUN auctions have featured especially choice and rare coins as well.

While the winter Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Convention is typically in Orlando, it was in Fort Lauderdale in 2005 and will be in Tampa in January 2011. The Fort Lauderdale area is a more sensible location, as Southern Florida is densely populated. Fort Lauderdale is close to especially affluent areas in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Plus, there are many snowbirds in Southern Florida, people who otherwise live in the Northeastern States.

To attain a better understanding of FUN auctions, or at least to get a flavor for them, please see my articles relating to 2009 and 2010 events: The Jan. 2010 Platinum Night, $3,737,500 for a nickel, the O’Neal Collection of Indian Head Eagles, Queller Collection of Patterns, and Jay Brahin’s $20 gold coins.

When the Jim O’Neal collection of Indian Head (or Saint Gaudens) Eagles ($10 coins) was the opening feature of the Jan. 8, 2009 Platinum Night event, the room was packed. Afterwards, a few experts in attendance indicated to me that prices were higher than expected. Prices were much higher than I expected, as I was not overwhelmed by O’Neal’s Eagles. My preliminary impression is that I will be much more enthusiastic about O’Neal’s Indian Head Half Eagles ($5 pieces), which will be sold during the Jan. 6, 2011 Platinum Night event.

II. O’Neal’s Half Eagles

It now seems that Jim O’Neal’s set of business strike Indian Head Half Eagles is the most famous collection that will be auctioned at the Jan. 2011 FUN Convention. For years, this has been the “finest” such set in both the PCGS and NGC registries. Although the PCGS ranks it ahead of the Dr. Thaine Price and Dr. Duckor sets of Indian Head Half Eagles, my belief is that the Duckor collection was finer. I have yet, however, to see most of the coins in the O’Neal set. The Duckor set of Indian Half Eagles was auctioned by the firm of David Akers as part of the Auction ’90 event, in the Chicago area.

Dr. Thaine Price’s collection was also auctioned by Akers’ firm. All of the Price collection was sold on the evening of May 19, 1998, and it was overshadowed by the epic Pittman II event that was held the same week at the same location. In most other situations, the offering of the Thaine Price collection would have been considered an amazing event of epic proportions. Dr. Duckor admits that he takes his Thaine Price catalogue with him on vacations to Hawaii, “probably fifteen times” so far. “Akers did a great job.”

The sets of Thaine Price and Steven Duckor were assembled during an era when grading standards were tougher than standards were in the late 1990s and in the early part of the 2000s. Even so, there is no doubt that this O’Neal set contains some of the greatest and most important Indian Head Half Eagles. (more…)

Chris Napolitano Named President of Bowers and Merena Auctions

Bowers and Merena Auctions, one of the world’s preeminent auctioneers for rare coins and currency and a subsidiary of Spectrum Group International, Inc. (SPGZ.PK), announced today that noted numismatic professional Chris Napolitano has joined the 27-year-old auction house as president. At the same time, Spectrum Group International (SGI) reported that its Collectibles Division achieved a record $45 million in worldwide aggregate auction sales for the three months ended December 31, 2010, its second fiscal 2011 quarter.

Mr. Greg Roberts, CEO of Spectrum Group International: “His numismatic knowledge is virtually unsurpassed, and I have tremendous confidence in his business and leadership abilities. Along with the addition of Chris, who will be relocating to Orange County, Bowers and Merena has also acquired certain assets of Summit Rare Coins, furthering our goals of expansion and growth.”

A collector since childhood, Mr. Napolitano decided to make numismatics his life’s career in 1989 with the founding of Summit Rare Coins, Inc., serving as president and CEO since its inception. Under Mr. Napolitano’s leadership spanning more than two decades, the company has handled in excess of $250 million in rare coins, including many classic American rarities, and has attended every major show and auction during that period. In 2001, Mr. Napolitano co-founded American Rare Coins and Collectibles with locations in St. Paul and Minneapolis, which he helped to grow into a $20 million business. Mr. Napolitano belongs to many important numismatic organizations and is a Lifetime Member of the American Numismatic Association.

Mr. Napolitano has personally handled approximately 80 of the coins featured in the popular numismatic reference book by Jeff Garrett, “100 Greatest U.S. Coins,” along with many notable pedigrees. He counts the L. Rogers 1794 FH $1 in PCGS 66 among his favorites, and other career highlights that include:

* 1794 50c PCGS 64
* 1793 Chain 1c PCGS Specimen 67 BN
* 1793 Wreath 1c PCGS Specimen 68 RED
* 1870-S Seated $1 PCGS AU 58 EX-NORWEB
* 1893-S $1 PCGS 67 EX-NORWEB/JACK LEE
* 1870-CC 25c NGC 64 EX-ELIASBERG
* 1856-O $20 PCGS 58 EX-AMON CARTER

“My mission in business has always been to provide great service and the right product — at the right price — to both the wholesale and retail community,” Mr. Napolitano said. “I have known Bowers and Merena throughout my career in this industry, and I am excited to join such a highly regarded business that shares my goals.”

“We are very happy to welcome Chris to our team,” said Greg Roberts, president and CEO of SGI. “His numismatic knowledge is virtually unsurpassed, and I have tremendous confidence in his business and leadership abilities. Along with the addition of Chris, who will be relocating to Orange County, Bowers and Merena has also acquired certain assets of Summit Rare Coins, furthering our goals of expansion and growth.” (more…)

The Jim O’Neal Collection of $5 Indians readies for auction in Heritage FUN U.S. Coin event

Finest known 1909-O half eagle headlines the Jan. 6 Platinum Night auction of this PCGS Registry Set All-Time Finest in Tampa, FL

DALLAS, TX — The finest collectible 1909-O Indian half eagle, MS66 PCGS, the Mitchelson-Clapp-Eliasberg-Price example – designated by legendary numismatist David Akers as “The Coin” – will provide some New Year’s fireworks on Thursday, Jan 6, 2011, when it comes up for auction as part of Heritage’s Tampa FUN Platinum Night U.S. Coin Auction. This magnificent coin is the principal highlight of The Jim O’Neal Collection of $5 Indians, the #1 All-Time Finest set of its kind graded by PCGS.

“This is the fourth major collection from Mr. O’Neal that Heritage has had the distinct pleasure to handle, starting with his U.S. currency collection in 2005,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “ His incredible $5 Indian Registry Set stands alone in terms of quality, and the advance buzz from collectors is considerable, to say the least. A high grade mint state set of $5 Indians is easily the most daunting challenge facing collectors of 20th Century gold.

The O’Neal specimen of the 1909-O Indian half eagle, the only Indian Head gold coin ever minted in New Orleans and the rarest issue in the set, has an unimpeachable provenance from J.C. Mitchelson to John H. Clapp, Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Dr. Thaine B. Price before reaching O’Neal. The Clapp Notebook recording acquisitions of coins in that collection indicates that Mitchelson sold the coin to Clapp in June 1909. That means that Mitchelson almost certainly ordered the coin directly from the Mint and, given that it is well-known that the 1909-O half eagles were coined in February or March 1909, this piece may well have been among the first coins minted.

Going one year earlier, among the most luminous of the O’Neal coins is a 1908-S half eagle MS68, PCGS, the single highest PCGS-graded mint state $5 Indian of any date. While specific information about this coin’s origin dates back only five years, it may date back to a small hoard of high-quality pieces once owned by legendary businessman and collector Virgil Brand.

The finest certified example of a 1911-D half eagle, MS65+ PCGS, CAC, one of several famous gold issues bearing that date and mintmark, continues the top offerings of the collection.

“It’s rare to find a 1911-D half eagle with a smooth surface, period,” said Rohan, “let alone one as gorgeous, glossy and appealing as this particular example. It’s the #1 coin of its kind for good reason and we anticipate spirited competition to take it home in Tampa.”

A stunning 1913-S half eagle, MS66 PCGS, the finest known example certified by PCGS and likely the finest of its kind – certainly, in the absolute sense, one of the great condition rarities of the series – rounds out the top offerings in The O’Neal Collection. The coin’s provenance, which includes a long stay in the famous Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection, indicates that this example has only been offered publicly on two previous occasions, in 1998 and 1999.

The Finest New Orleans Double Eagle Gold Coin to be Sold at FUN

The upcoming 2011 January Tampa FUN Signature & Platinum Night US Coin Auction features what is probably the finest New Orleans twenty of any date. Easily the finest known 1852-O double eagle, this Gem has been off the market since the early 1970s, when our consignor purchased it through a private treaty transaction with Stack’s.

This coin has long been unavailable for study by most modern researchers, although Doug Winter was aware of it when he wrote the first edition of New Orleans Mint Gold Coins: 1839-1909 in 1992. At that time, Winter considered the specimen in the Dallas Bank Collection the finest known 1852-O, with this coin listed in the number two spot. Like the present coin, the Dallas Bank specimen had only been examined by a few specialists during the 1990s.

After the collection was sold in 2001, Winter had the opportunity to view the coin, and he determined that the present specimen is actually superior to the Dallas Bank example. Jim Halperin, Co-Chairman of Heritage Auction Galleries, had the opportunity to study this coin many years ago, and he always believed it was special. Halperin states that this coin is “By far the best condition New Orleans twenty I have ever seen.” Discounting the SP63 PCGS 1856-O double eagle, a coin that many consider a full proof, no other New Orl eans Mint twenty has been certified in any grade above MS63 by NGC or PCGS.

In 1852 the New Orleans Mint produced a generous mintage of 190,000 Liberty Head double eagles, largely due to the influx of gold from the California gold fields. Because of its substantial mintage, the 1852-O is one of the more available Type One double eagles from the New Orleans Mint. Winter estimates a surviving population of 900-1100 pieces in all grades. Most examples seen are in lower circulated grades, and the issue becomes scarce in AU55 and quite rare in Mint State. Due to the availability of the 1852-O in AU, the date is always in demand from mintmark type collectors, seeking a high grade example for their collections.

Of course, the Miller collection coin is in a class of its own as a condition rarity. No 1852-O double eagle of comparable quality has been offered at auction since the Dallas Bank specimen came on the market, nearly a decade ago. In 2006, a PCGS graded MS62 specimen realized $48,875 as lot 5580 of the Denver Signature Auction in 2006, but even that coin clearly lacked the quality of this magnificent Gem, which grades a full three points higher.

As the finest known specimen of the date, with claims to the title of finest New Orleans business strike double eagle, it might be fair to compare this coin to the finest known specimens of other issues offered at auction recently. Considered as a date, the 1852-O is not in the same rarity category as the 1856-O, the classic rarity of the series, but the rarity of the 1852-O in MS65 is just as great as the rarity of the 1856-O in SP63. (more…)

Spink World Coin Auction Realises over £3.2 Million

Over the past 48 hours, Spink auctioned their highest grossing coin sale to date. The fantastic catalogue of over 1300 coins totalled over £3.2 million in sales and generated interest from collectors around the world. Dozens of phone bidders, a standing only room and hundreds of participants on Spink Live contributed to a bidding frenzy in the room.

William Mackay, specialist at Spink, had this to say about the sale:

“This sale demonstrates the strong market for top quality, rare historical gold coins. It definitely showcases the extent to which the value of these sorts of coins have appreciated in the last few years. We are extremely pleased with the results of this sale which demonstrates continued confidence in the marketplace.”

Top lots included the following:

Lot 895
Henry VII (1485-1509), Sovereign, type IV
Sold for £180,000

Lot 949
Charles I, Civil War issues, Oxford,
small module type Triple Unite
Sold for £161,000

Lot 5
Mughal Empire, Jalal ud-Din Muhammad Akbar,
AV 5-Mohurs
Sold for £150,000

Lot 948
Charles I, Civil War issues, Oxford, Triple Unite
Sold for £120,000

Lot 975
James VI (1567-1625), second coinage,
Twenty-Pound piece
Sold for £102,000

About Spink

Spink is the world’s leading auctioneer of coins, stamps, medals, banknotes, bonds, share certificates and autographs, with offices in London, Singapore, New York and Dallas. Since its foundation in 1666, the Spink name has become synonymous with tradition, experience and integrity. Holders of three royal warrants and numerous records for prices achieved at auction, Spink offer an unparalleled range of services to collectors worldwide.

For more information, pictures or to request an interview with the specialist please contact Emily Johnston, [email protected] , 020 7563 4009.

Morton & Eden’s London Sale of Medals, Decorations and World Orders Nets £880,578

Auctioneer James Morton said he was extremely pleased with the results of Morton & Eden’s London sale of British War Medals and Decorations Russian and World Orders and Medals, on Tuesday November 30, 2010.

He said: “Once again there was strong interest in high quality Russian Orders, Medals and Decorations, highlighted by the £180,000 achieved against an estimate of £30,000-40,000 for the cover lot, a privately-made Russian First Class Order of St Anne.

“There were solid prices for British material, but rather less interest in gallantry medals and it was disappointing that the Iraq Military Cross awarded to Private Ryan Copping failed to find a buyer. However, we hope it will be sold privately soon.

“Another highlight was the dispersal of a small collection of Chinese Orders of the Double Dragon Type 2, which while not of the greatest rarity, were keenly contested by bidders in the room, by commission bidders and on the Internet and five telephones. Amid great excitement, the collection realised a total of more than £72,000, to the delight of the U.S. collector who had spent a lifetime acquiring and studying them.”

Also of note was the £2,620 obtained for a Military General Service Medal (1793-1814) awarded to a Maltese recipient and the £5,760 (hammer) paid for another, awarded to a Prussian man, born in Coblenz, who enlisted in the UK and served with the 5 Battalion 60th Foot.

Photo Caption: Russia, Order of St Alexander Nevsky circa 1837-39

SALE TOTAL: £880,578 SOLD BY VALUE: 68%

Lot 213
*Russia, Order of St Anne, First Class, a privately-made sash badge in gold, diamonds and enamels, by ?? (or ??), St Petersburg, dated 1856, marked on suspension ring; of ‘bulbous’ form with central painted enamel portrait of the Saint surrounded by sixteen diamonds, spandrels and riband carrier also set with diamonds and angles of reverse embellished with scroll engraving, height 59.5mm (including suspension ring), width 53.8mm, carrier 38mm, very slight enamel loss at top edge of cross on reverse, of excellent quality, good extremely fine
Estimate: £30,000-40,000 SOLD FOR £180,000 Purchased by European private collector

Lot 274
*Armenia, a rare Pair of Awards attributed to Nikolai Pyotrevich Nazaryan, comprising:

i) Order of the Red Banner of Labour of Armenia, type 1, in silver and enamels, maker’s mark CC, 88 zolotniki fine, impressed no. 83 on reverse and also with original separate backplate similarly marked and numbered (but 84 zolotniki fine), well-worn overall, screwplate lacking and with losses to enamel, generally fine;

ii) Star of Armenia, badge in silver and enamels, the central medallion (originally rivetted or wired) damaged and crudely re-fixed with solder, hammer-and-sickle missing and small diameter screwpost with worn threads, fair (2)

Offered with original named Order Book for the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, dated 17th February 1940, giving the date of award no. 83 as 1st January 1939, with a photograph of the recipient in later life, well-worn; and a Former Red Partisan’s Identity Booklet, 1930’s, this with a replacement period photograph with blind-embossed N.K.V.D. stamp, also heavily worn
Estimate: £60,000-80,000 SOLD FOR £84,900 Purchased by US dealer bidding for a client (more…)

1861 $10 Demand Note, only known, to headline Heritage FUN Auction in Tampa

First Heritage Currency auction of 2011, Jan. 6-8, at Tampa FUN Convention

Heritage Auctions, the official auctioneer of the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Show, will present a substantial number of rare and exceptional notes as part of its Signature® Currency Auction. The auction will consist of three floor sessions, held Jan. 6-8, 2011 in Tampa, FL and one online-only session that will take place Jan. 10, 2011 in Dallas, TX.

Among the scarce items is a newly discovered Fr. 10a $10 1861 Demand Note, the only known example. The recently released 19th edition of Paper Money of the United States listed examples of that Friedberg number as “unknown.” Clerks signed the notes on behalf of the Treasurer of the United States and the secretary of the Treasury and included the handwritten notation “for the.” The process proved to be too cumbersome and the plates were changed to include that wording. All of the handwritten “for the” examples are rare today, with a St. Louis example unknown until now.

A number of exceptional Large Size Legal Tender notes are being offered, including a Fr. 127 $20 1869 Legal Tender graded by PCGS as Gem New 65PPQ. That note is among a large number of outstanding notes being offered as part of The Menlo Park Collection. A Fr. 1072a $100 1914 Red Seal Federal Reserve Note graded PCGS Gem New 65PPQ is also being auctioned as part of the collection.

Also among the Legal Tender offerings is a Fr. 158 $50 1880 Legal Tender graded by PCGS Choice About New 55. A rare note, it is one of only nine examples known. The $50 is new to the census and is being offered publicly for the first time.

Several exceedingly rare replacement notes will be presented, including a Fr. 303* $10 1908 Silver Certificate, one of only three replacement notes known for the type, graded Very Good 10 Net by PMG. The note is new to the census and is being offered to the collecting community for the first time. (more…)

William Pannier Collection of Historic, Rare California Bank Notes Offered By Goldbergs

More than 100 Orange County California bank notes from the collection of the late William (“Willie”) Pannier will be among the highlights of the pre-Long Beach Expo auction to be conducted by Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins and Collectibles in Beverly Hills, California, January 31 – February 2, 2011.

“These historic, Southern California large and small-size notes have been off the market for decades in his collection. There are several unique and serial number one examples,” said Larry Goldberg, partner with his cousin, Ira, in the auction firm.


Photo Caption: The First National Bank of Santa Ana, 1902 $10 Red Seal, PCGS Currency VG10, unique, the only known Red Seal from Orange County California, is one of the highlights of the William Pannier Collection to be offered in an auction by Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, January 31 – February 2, 2011. Photo credit: Lyle Engelson for Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles

Pannier, who died in August at the age of 66, was the long-time owner of Fullerton Coin & Stamp Company, the oldest coin and stamp store in Orange County California. Well-known collector and real estate developer Dwight Manley worked at the shop on weekends as a teenager, and considers Pannier a beloved numismatic mentor.

Pannier began collecting silver certificate notes in the late 1960s and then became interested in Orange County currency, according to his brother David.
“We were second generation Orange County residents. Orange County was in our roots. Some of the notes were displayed at the store, but he kept the more pricey things at home. He always tried to upgrade the notes or get a lower serial number for his collection,” David Pannier recalled.

Highlights of the Orange County California bank notes in the Goldberg’s auction include:

  • The First National Bank of Fullerton, 1882 $10 Value Back, graded PCGS Currency VF30, the finest of only three known Value Backs from the entire county;
  • The Farmers & Merchants National Bank of Santa Ana, 1902 $20 Date Back, PCGS Currency VF20PPQ, one of only four known from the bank; (more…)

Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Book Auction to be Held in NYC in January

On January 8, 2011, numismatic booksellers Kolbe & Fanning will conduct a public auction sale at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention.

The sale features 500 lots of rare and desirable works of numismatic interest, including highlights from the superb Alan Luedeking Latin American numismatic Library, classic nineteenth- and early twentieth-century works on Russian coins and medals from the library of Dr. Ira Rezak, the Dr. Jeff Hosford collection of Crosbyana, key works on ancient coins, and great classic works on American numismatics, some from the library of the New Netherlands Coin Company. Additional consignors to the sale include Norwegian numismatist Jan Olav Aamlid, Minnesota dealer Allan Davisson and the estate of the late Northern California coin dealer Robert R. Johnson.

There are any number of rarities in the sale, covering the numismatic spectrum.

A printed catalogue may be obtained by sending $25 to: KOLBE & FANNING NUMISMATIC BOOKSELLERS LLC, 141 W JOHNSTOWN ROAD, GAHANNA OH 43230-2700. The catalogue is also accessible free of charge at Kolbe & Fanning website: www.numislit.com.

The sale features no fewer than seven original editions of Sylvester Crosby’s Early Coins of America, including two from the library of the author and five other quite special copies. Other American rarities include an original 1925 Browning work on quarter dollars annotated by Walter Breen; a nice 1921 John Story Jenks sale with original photographic plates; three Eckfeldt and Du Bois works featuring actual gold examples from the California Gold Rush; a superb deluxe leather-bound set of the virtually unknown 1881 edition of Loubat’s Medallic History of the United States; all three of James Mease’s extremely rare 1821-1838 works on United States numismatics, the earliest works on the topic written from a numismatic perspective; B. Max Mehl’s own set of Mehl’s Numismatic Monthly; George Woodside’s own annotated copy, with plates, of the 1892 sale catalogue of his collection of United States pattern coins; the unique and extensive numismatic archive of Chicagoan Michael A. Powills, a noted coin collector prominent in American Numismatic Association affairs and the leading numismatic book dealer of his time, containing many thousands of letters from the key movers and shakers in American numismatics, circa 1930-1980; papers relating to the Dr. John E. Wilkison collection of United States pattern gold coins; and a deluxe edition of Valentine’s famed 1924 work on fractional currency, annotated by Walter Breen.

Classic works on medieval and modern coins and medals include a superb set of the 1791 Beskrivelse over Danske Mynter og Medailler from the library of the Prime Minister of Denmark, along with other classic works on Scandinavian numismatics including the extremely rare supplement to the Beskrivelse; a number of rare and important 16th- and 17th-century merchant guides, often termed “Coin Books”; several very rare works on coining technology; rarities on Scottish and English numismatics from the Allan Davisson library; the first 21 volumes of Rivista Italiana, 1888-1908; the firm’s own annotated copies of over 300 Glendining & Co. auction catalogues, 1966-1986; and two leather-bound presentation volumes on Canadian numismatics written by Alfred Sandham. (more…)

Rare Slabs Can Carry Big Premiums!

By Steve Roach- First published in the December 6, 2010, issue of Coin World

Some collectors wouldn’t agree with the statement, “buy the coin, not the slab,” because to them, the slab is just as important as the coin.

In particular, some collectors have acquired a taste for Numismatic Guaranty Corp. “black” holders.

NGC was formed in 1987 and these holders were used for the first several months of operation, roughly from September through November 1987.

They are similar in shape to today’s NGC slabs, but differ in that the insert securing the coin is black, and the white insert with the coin’s identifying information is on the side that displays the reverse, where the coin seems upside down.

The obverse in black holders is displayed on the side with the NGC stamped logo, which for current holders is on the back of the slab.

Few of these holders remain today. Estimates on the number of surviving black holders range from 35 to 200, and they are collected as novel relics of the early days of third-party coin grading.

Occasionally they turn up and trade at auction.

At a Nov. 14 eBay auction, a New Jersey seller offered a 1924 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle in an NGC Mint State 62 “black” slab. (Pictured, image courtesy of Danielle’s, on eBay as onionsavenged)

It sold for an astonishing $3,805. In comparison, one major dealer is selling current-holder NGC MS-62 double eagles for $1,600 and MS-66 coins for $2,850.

While grading was perhaps more conservative back in the early days of NGC, and the seller said the coin “looks like a MS64,” the huge premium must be attributed more to the holder than to the coin.

Nine bidders competed for the coin, with the underbidder dropping out at $3,755. The seller set the starting bid at $2,750 – a price nearly comparable to a current holder NGC MS-66 piece.

While the black holders were flattering to brilliant silver coins or lustrous Mint State gold coins, the holders did little to flatter dark coins and copper, and the holder was retired at the end of 1987.

There is even a 420-page book on slabs by Michael Schmidt, Third Party Grading/Certification Services, that covers more than 80 companies that produced slabs and 200 varieties of normal production slabs.

The Record-Setting Sale of an 1875 Half Eagle: What Does it Portend?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

In the Bowers and Merena November 2010 Baltimore auction, a business strike 1875 half eagle sold without a lot of fanfare for a lot of money. I think this was one of the most significant individual sales in the rare gold coin market in 2010 and I’d like to spend a bit of time analyzing both the coin that was sold and the significance it portends for both the Liberty Head half eagle series and the rare gold market as a whole.

The 1875 is the rarest collectible Liberty Head half eagle. (The 1854-S is rarer but with no pieces likely available to collectors in the near future, I regard this issue as “non-collectible.”) Only 200 business strikes were produced and the number of pieces known has generally been estimated to be in the area of ten. I think this estimate is reasonably accurate although I think the actual number known could be as low as seven or eight.

The 1875 is unknown in Uncirculated and most of the examples that exist are in the EF40 to AU50 range. PCGS has graded five coins including an EF40 and two each in AU50 and AU53 while NGC has graded four: one in EF45 and three in AU55. I believe that these figures are inflated by resubmissions and the total number of distinct 1875 half eagles in slabs is four or five. There have been 10 auction appearances since 1991. Six have occurred since 2000 but this includes a number of reappearances of the same coin(s).

The coin in the Bowers and Merena auction was graded AU55 by NGC and it appeared to have been the same coin that was offered as DLRC’s Richmond I: 1444 back in July 2004 where it brought a record-setting $86,250. There had been no other 1875 business strikes that had been available since the Goldberg 2/07: 2335 coin that brought $74,750.

The Bowers coin was part of an interesting set of 1875 gold coinage called the “Kupersmith Once in a Lifetime” collection. Terrible name but an interesting and impressive set with examples of the rare Philadelphia gold dollar, quarter eagle and three dollar gold piece from this year but, curiously without the very rare 1875 business strike (or Proof) eagle. (more…)

Coin Profiles: Monumental 1795 $10 Gold Eagle, 13 Leaves Featured in Heritage Fun Sale

This 1795 13 Leaves eagle, BD-1, certified MS64 NGC, is a monumentally important coin in both aesthetic and historic terms. The obverse of the BD-1 variety is attributed by the 1 close to the lowest lock of hair, with a closely spaced date and the flag of the 5 overlying the drapery. Star 11 is quite close to the Y adjacent, which shows two tiny “lumps” (a die line, in reality) on the left outside serif. The stars are arranged 10 and five (as on all five 1795 Bass-Dannreuther varieties), with the right-side stars cramped tightly together. This is the only pairing that employs this particular obverse.

The 13 Leaves reverse shows a palm leaf virtually touching the left bottom of the U in UNITED, and the tip of the branch stem just about bisects the bottom of the last A in AMERICA.

As mentioned, the obverse this variety is unique to this die marriage. The reverse, on the other hand, is shared with the BD-2, slightly rarer at High R.4. John Dannreuther writes in Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties:

“Bass had a State c/b of this variety that was sold in Bass III. There likely, as noted, is a later state of this obverse die, as this variety is its only use. The obverse die broke or received some other fatal injury to cause it to be retired.”

The obverse of this example shows about the same state of die advancement as the Bass coin, with a light die crack running from the rim above star 10, through star 9 and downward through all left-side stars, continuing from there to the bottoms of the 1 and 7 in the date before terminating just below the 9. Another wispy die crack runs from a point of star 13 through the upper part of star 14 and the center of star 15 before ending at the forward bust tip.

The determination of the reverse die state (or stage) is more problematic; light planchet adjustment marks appear in most of the areas diagnostic for die states. Suffice it to say that no cracks are obvious among those enumerated in Bass-Dannreuther.

More important than the die state–which in any case matters to some specialists-researchers a great deal and to many type collectors little at all–is the enormous aesthetic appeal of this coin, which we believe surpasses the Bass III coin mentioned. The orange-gold surfaces show vibrant, prooflike luster throughout both sides, a trait that some Mint State specimens do show. Dannreuther writes in this regard: (more…)

Rare 1934 $5,000 Federal Reserve Note Will Be Auctioned Nov. 30

A rare $5,000 Federal Reserve Note, said to be one of only 342 known to be remaining in circulation, will be auctioned on Tuesday, Nov. 30, by Chicago auction house Direct Auction Galleries in an auction taking place in Chicago at 7232 N. Western Ave. Absentee bids are also accepted.

The $5,000 bill is one of 800 lots which also includes a 1934-Star $1,000 Federal Reserve Note (165,372 said to be remaining in circulation), and a 1934-A $500 Federal Reserve Note (Unc.), Brown & Green Seal Notes, 8 Gold Coins including an 1898 Unc. Gold Liberty Head Coin, and more in an auction also offering Furniture and Furnishings, Jewelry, a Vintage Nickel Slot Machine, Bronzes, Art, 1893 Columbian Exposition and 1933 Century of Progress items, and much more.

The last printing of high denomination bills ($500 to $100,000) was in 1945. Giving way to advancing and secure technologies, the large bills had been used by banks and the U.S. government primarily for bank transfer payments, and the Federal Reserve officially discontinued these notes and began removing them from circulation in 1969.

The rare $5,000 bill in this auction is graded approximately AU condition and has James Madison, the 4th president of the United States (1809-1817), the “Father of the Constitution” and chief architect of the Bill of Rights on it.

An interesting footnote about President Madison, he also helped establish the departments of war, treasury, and state, and also tried to establish a national brewery; and even a cabinet position for a secretary of beer, as reported on a recent “Sunday Morning” on CBS. Whoever has the winning bid for this item might be toasting with more than beer!

Direct Auction Galleries is a Chicago auction house specializing in estates and fine antiques, founded in 1962 by Mike and Barbara Modica, located at 7232 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. Auctions are held every other Tuesday with inspections Monday prior to auction day from 3:30-7:30pm and 2-3pm before the sale. For more information, call 773-465-3300 or for full listing, photos, and catalog, visit www.directauction.com.

Argentine Rarities to the Fore!

by Greg Cohen – Stacks

One of the many highlights of Stacks upcoming New York International Sale is a lovely and rare 1830 RA P 8 Escudos of Argentina. This is a key date example of the classic Sunface design, the second rarest date in the series.

This piece hails from the Porteño Collection, a small but high quality offering of Argentine coinage, and displays pleasing original gold surfaces with only light wear. This specimen was uncertified when offered in Heritage’s January 2007 sale, and was recently submitted to NGC for encapsulation where it was graded EF-45.

In his 1962 work, Argentine numismatist and researcher, Jorge Ferarri was able to track fewer than 10 examples of this date. In Calico’s “Onza” book, it is simply described as “Extremely Rare.” Even in the current information age, we can only positively identify two examples that have traded at auction in the past five years.

These include: the example in the October 2008 Spink-Smythe sale (which later appeared in the Ponterio New York International 2010 sale) and this example (ex Heritage NYINC 2007). Curiously, this date was missing from our (ANR’s) sale of the Eliasberg World Gold Collection, Goldberg’s sale of the Millennia Collection, our Kroisos Collection Sale, and other important recent sales of quality Argentine coins. While there are probably examples in museums in Argentina, the number available to the collecting public is quite small indeed.

Another stunning Argentine rarity offered as part of the Porteño Collection is an 1836 Rosas portrait 8 Escudos struck in silver. Called an “ensayo” or essay in Hector Carlos Janson’s book, research conducted by our consignor shows that the 1836 8 Escudos was supposed to be an 8 Soles piece, and thus the silver strikings (which are nearly as rare as the gold) are the officially struck coins.

There are four known examples struck in gold, including the Eliasberg-Clapp coin we offered in the Eliasberg World Gold Collection in 2005. Regardless of whether these are official strikes or essay pieces, they are extremely rare. The last silver specimen to sell at public auction was the AU-50 (NGC) that appeared in the Millennia Collection sale. The Porteño Collection example is sharper than the Millennia coin; unfortunately, it has been polished, and is now residing in an AU Details (NGC) holder.

Stack’s is proud to be able to offer these rarities to the collecting public—for the advanced Argentine coin collector, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Bowers and Merena November 2010 Baltimore Auction Tops $13 Million in Sales

Malibu, Kupersmith and Zürich collections excite bidders

Bowers and Merena, one of the world’s preeminent auctioneers for rare coins and currency, saw spirited bidding as the Official Auctioneer of the November 2010 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. Nearly 3,900 lots of rare U.S. coins and currency crossed the auction block in the Nov. 4-6 sale and realized $11.6 million. Ponterio & Associates, Bowers and Merena’s world and ancient coin division, brought over 2,900 lots and added an additional $1.6 million to the sale.

“With the selection of U.S. and foreign collections presented, this year’s November Baltimore Auction ranks as one of our most important auctions yet,” said Greg Roberts, CEO of Bowers and Merena Auctions. “Even our optimistic appraisals were far surpassed, especially those in the fabulous Malibu Collection, which was comprised of the #2 collection of Standing Liberty Quarters with full-head designation on the PCGS Set Registry and an awe-inspiring array of Seated Liberty coinage.”

The Malibu Collection of Standing Liberty Quarters, featured lot 1750, the key-date 1916 in PCGS/CAC MS-67 FH that sold for $115,000, lot 1760, the finest-known 1919-D in PCGS MS-66+ FH, that brought $109,250 and lot 1776, the pop 1/2 example of low mintage 1927-S in PCGS/CAC MS-65+ FH sold for an impressive $149,500.

The 1882 Half Dollar, one of only three Motto Seated Half Dollars certified MS-68 by PCGS and verified by CAC, lot 2074, traded hands at $74,750. Finally, the amazing Stack-Pryor-Malibu Specimen of 1855 Arrows Seated Half Dollar in PCGS/CAC MS-66, lot 2018, realized $54,625.

Leading the way among gold coin highlights, the Kupersmith Once-in-a-Lifetime Collection of 1875-dated gold coinage featured many of the rarest and most significant pieces of the sale. The proof-only 1875 Three-Dollar gold piece, certified Proof-66 Ultra Cameo by NGC with a pop 1/0 sold for $253,000. The business strike 1875 Liberty Half Eagle offered as lot 5043, an even rarer issue, went for an impressive $149,500. Certified AU-55 by NGC, the coin represents the finest grade available among the 10 coins believed to exist from a 200-piece issue.

Another anchor in the Baltimore Auction was the Zürich Collection which almost exclusively contains rare, high-grade proof Liberty Double Eagles. A beautiful gem, the 1892 Double Eagle in NGC Proof-66 Ultra Cameo from the collection netted $103,500 as lot 5392. (more…)