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Category: Proof Coinage

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…)

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…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Stack’s auction of the W. L. Carson Collection of Proof Coins

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins and coin markets #26

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

The current topic is the W. L. Carson collection, which features Proof U.S. coins. It was auctioned by Stack’s in Baltimore last week. B&M also conducted a major auction in Baltimore, which included the Malibu Collection. Next week, I will discuss the Malibu Collection. This ‘Malibu’ collector formed one of the all-time best collections of Standing Liberty Quarters. He also had an excellent run of Liberty Seated Halves, as well as some important Liberty Seated silver dollars.

Some may wonder why I am focusing on collections rather than on the most expensive coins in these two auctions. I write about a wide variety of coins, not just expensive ones. For discussions of modestly priced coins, please see some of my recent columns: Advice for Beginning Collectors, The 1933/34 dividing line and Collecting Modern Coins.

Importantly, the most expensive coins in an auction are sometimes consigned by dealers or non-collecting speculators. In the grand scheme of the history of coin collecting, consignments from collectors (or the beneficiaries of deceased collectors) have much more significance than dealer-consignments. Moreover, collector-consignments tend to realize higher prices at auction, especially in instances where the coins consigned have been ‘off the market’ for seven years or more, and thus constitute ‘fresh material.’ Bidders become more enthusiastic about coins in very good collections than about coins that are consigned by dealers or entirely unknown parties. Noteworthy collections are central to the culture of coin collecting.

I. W. L. Carson Collection

Most (or all) of the coins in the W. L Carson collection have been ‘off the market’ for decades. This collection contained more than six hundred coins, including, but not limited to, early copper, circulated key-date Lincolns, and choice vintage commemoratives. The core of the collection, however, is Carson’s Proof sets dating from 1856 to 1915.

As best as I can tell, all of the pre-1916 Proofs in the Carson collection are PCGS certified. Most are PCGS graded and a large number have stickers of approval from the CAC, which approves or rejects coins that have already been graded by the PCGS or the NGC.

I hypothesize that Carson aimed to assemble Proof sets, from 1856 onwards, in copper, nickel and silver. Three of his sets included gold, 1888, 1906 and 1913.

Unfortunately, Carson’s level of knowledge was not great, at least not when he started buying Proof coins, and he bought some problematic coins, including non-Proofs that were probably represented to him as Proofs. I further hypothesize that he learned a good deal, received advice from an expert advisor and/or purchased many coins from honest, knowledgeable dealers, as he did obtain a large number of choice or gem Proof coins dating from the 1860s to 1915. Though Carson also had Proof sets dating from 1936 to 1942, and from 1950 to 1964, these are beside my discussion of the core of his collection. At the center of the core is a complete 1888 Proof Set.

II. 1888 Proof Set

Yes, W. L. Carson had a complete 1888 Proof Set, with copper, nickel, silver and gold coins. The Indian Cent is in a PCGS Genuine Holder. Carson probably did not know that it had problems when he acquired it. After all, other coins in the set are choice. (Coins that grade 63 or higher are termed ‘Choice.’ Coins that grade 65 or higher are gems.) (more…)

Coin Profile: Roman Finish 1909 Half Eagle Gold Coin

The proof five dollar coinage of 1907 through 1909 provides quite an object lesson in the evolution of Mint technology and consumer tastes. The 1907 Liberty Head proof, last of the series, was produced in a mostly brilliant or “semibrilliant” proof format that was introduced in 1902; as a result, most proof gold from 1902-1907 lacks much cameo contrast–half eagles or otherwise.

The 1908 gold coins of the new Bela Lyon Pratt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens designs were launched with a new “matte” proof format that was all the rage in European mints of the era. The Robert Loewinger reference, Proof Gold Coinage of the United States, offers this:

“The [matte proof] process originally started in Belgium and was popularized in the Paris Mint. The finish was applied after striking and was made by sandblasting the coins at different forces and speeds with different sizes of grains of sand. Also pickling the coins in a weak acid was another technique that was used on these coins after striking.”

We are unsure how widespread the “pickling” was, but the sandblasting was a well-known, widespread Mint technique that produced a granular (sometimes fine, sometimes coarser), usually dark, subdued finish to the product, a function of the lack of normally reflective surfaces. The matte proof coins of 1908 are usually dark, brownish-gold to olive-brown, and they were extremely unpopular with collectors accustomed to a more brilliant finish.

The Mint in 1909 reverted to a lighter Roman or satin finish for proof gold. The updated Akers Handbook offers these thoughts:

“The proof 1909 introduced the Roman Gold proofing method in the Indian Half Eagle series, although at least one specimen was prepared using the dark matte finish of 1908. Despite having brighter, flashier surfaces than the proof 1908, the proof 1909 still failed to gain wide acceptance among the contemporary public The Mint melted many examples at year’s end. Interestingly, even though most survivors present as overall smooth, the issue has the lowest average grade in the entire proof Indian Half Eagle series.”

A  PR67 piece is being offering in the current 2010 October Stamford Coinfest Signature US Coin Auction #1145, and is one of the nicest survivors of the proof 1909 half eagle mintage, recorded as 78 pieces. It is one of six so graded at NGC, with but two coins finer.

THE ZÜRICH COLLECTION TO ANCHOR BOWERS AND MERENA’S BALTIMORE AUCTION

Bowers and Merena will feature the important and extremely rare proof gold coins from the Zürich Collection in the Official auction of the November 2010 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo.

“We are extremely honored to include the Zürich Collection among the anchor consignments in our upcoming November Baltimore Auction,” stated Bowers and Merena CEO Greg Roberts. “Assembled by a collector who is a connoisseur of rare classic proof gold coinage, the Zürich Collection was assembled over a period of many years. Our consignor spent a lot of time and effort acquiring these coins, passing on many other pieces that did not meet his strict standards for technical quality and eye appeal. The result is a collection replete with stunning examples of both proof Liberty gold coinage and 20th century proof gold rarities, many coins of which are among the finest certified for their respective issues.”

Continued Roberts: “The core of the Zürich Collection is a selection of proof Liberty Double Eagles dated 1878 through the series’ end in 1907. The stand-out highlight in this group is the 1878 Double Eagle certified Proof-64 Cameo by NGC. With a surviving population of only nine specimens from a tiny mintage of just 20 coins, the 1878 is one of the rarest and most underrated issues in the entire proof Liberty Double Eagle series. The issue is particularly underrated relative to the proof Type I and Type II Double Eagles of the late 1860s and 1870s, many issues of which are equally as rare as the 1878 yet priced much higher in today’s market. The proof 1878 in the Zürich Collection, therefore, represents a particularly important bidding opportunity for the astute collector.”

Roberts concluded: “Additional Proof Liberty Double Eagle rarities in the Zürich Collection include two Gem-quality examples of the 1892—a date that is also an important rarity in business strike format—one of the two finest-certified 1897 Twenties in NGC Proof-66 Ultra Cameo and several Cameo-finish specimens from the early 20th century including a 1902 and 1906, both of which are the finest certified for their respective issues. The Zürich Collection is also well represented in other classic proof gold series, and we note the presence of an elusive 1876 Gold Dollar in PCGS Proof-64 Deep Cameo, the finest-certified proof 1884 Liberty Half Eagle in NGC Proof-66 Ultra Cameo, a sandblast proof 1913 Indian Half Eagle in NGC Proof-67 and a 1908 Motto Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle in NGC Proof-66 that was struck with the characteristic dark matte finish of the issue. Finally, the Zürich Collection also features a complete set of business strike Indian Quarter Eagles in MS-64, centered around the key-date 1911-D certified by NGC.”

Highlights of the Zürich Collection include:

• 1911-D Indian Quarter Eagle, MS-64 (NGC)
• 1876 Gold Dollar, Proof-64 Deep Cameo (PCGS), PCGS Population: 2/1
• 1884 Liberty Half Eagle, Proof-66 Ultra Cameo (NGC), Combined PCGS and NGC Population: 1/0
• 1913 Indian Half Eagle, Proof-67 (NGC)
• 1878 Liberty Double Eagle, Proof-64 Cameo (NGC), One of Just Nine Examples Confirmed Extant from a Mintage of 20 Coins
• 1892 Liberty Double Eagle, Proof-66 Ultra Cameo (NGC), Combined PCGS and NGC Population: 6/0
• 1892 Liberty Double Eagle, Proof-65 Cameo (NGC)
• 1897 Liberty Double Eagle, Proof-66 Ultra Cameo (NGC), Combined PCGS and NGC Population: 2/0
• 1902 Liberty Double Eagle, Proof-66 Cameo (NGC), Combined PCGS and NGC Population: 1/0
• 1906 Liberty Double Eagle, Proof-66 Cameo (NGC), Combined PCGS and NGC Population: 2/0
• 1907 Liberty Double Eagle, Proof-64 Cameo (NGC)
• MCMVII (1907) Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, High Relief, Wire Rim, Proof-64 (NGC)
• 1908 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, Motto, Proof-66 (NGC) (more…)

Prices for Proof American Eagle Gold Coins Tumble

By Steve Roach – First published in the Aug. 30, 2010, issue of Coin World

Proof American Eagle gold coins have provided some sparks in the marketplace this past year, but the fast fall in prices over the past several weeks serves as a reminder that what goes up usually comes down.

Some major buyers have stopped buying these and prices have fallen sharply.

For some smaller dealers who were stockpiling the coins in anticipation of continued demand, the change in the market means they have lost substantial money, for now, as the coins are now worth substantially less than what the dealers paid for them.

During July, several large dealers were paying between $1,950 and $2,000 per ounce for Proof American Eagle gold coins in original Mint packaging – the inner and outer boxes, original capsules and original certificate of authenticity with the same year as the coins.

For example, on July 14 a major wholesaler was paying $2,025 per ounce; the dealer’s price gradually declined to $1,900 July 26. Then on July 27 the dealer’s buy price went down to $1,850. On July 29 in the morning the dealer’s buy price was $1,830 and by the afternoon it went to $1,800. On Aug. 3, the price hit $1,750 and then, with orders filled, that dealer stopped buying.

Incidentally, the price of gold on July 26 was $1,189 per ounce and the price on Aug. 3 was $1,184, meaning that the drop in demand was not directly related to the bullion market.

On Aug. 6, when gold increased to $1,205 per ounce, one dealer offered $1,650 per ounce for coins with original packaging, and for coins without the packaging, the price dropped sharply to $1,400 per ounce.

If those who are closest to the market are not buying at the high levels that have characterized these Proof issues for the last year, are they doing this because they know something that we at Coin World don’t know?

On Aug. 6, the U.S. Mint told Coin World that no decision has been made as to whether Proof 2010-W American Eagle 1-ounce gold coins would be struck.

If the U.S. Mint releases Proof American Eagle gold bullion coins in 2010, supplies will increase and less pressure will be placed on the current supply, likely ending the bull market for these issues.

Mr. Roach maintains a website/blog titled The Rare Coin Market Report

US Gold Coin Profiles: Revisiting The 1841 Quarter Eagle

ByDoug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

A few years ago, I wrote a blog about 1841 quarter eagles that basically stated that the currently-accepted belief that all of the known examples were Proofs was wrong. After recently being able to examine no less than four 1841 quarter eagles at one time, I am now totally convinced that this issue exists in two distinct formats.

Numismatic tradition states that the 1841 quarter eagle was struck only as a Proof. This has never made sense to me. With as many as 15-17 pieces known, why would the Mint have made so many Proofs in 1841 when virtually none were struck in any other year between 1842 and 1853? And why would most of the survivors be in such low grades (EF40 to AU50) when most of the Proof gold coins from the 1840’s that still exist tend to be in reasonably high grades?

This enigma has become a semi-obsession of David Hall’s and when you are the head of Collector’s Universe/PCGS you can get things done. David was able to wrangle four different examples of the 1841 quarter eagle including a PR60 illustrated below. A few weeks ago, one of his security detail flew the four coins up to my office in Portland and I am now more convinced than ever that 1841 quarter eagles exist in two formats.

First, a few words about the Proofs. One of the main reasons that you can determine that a Proof 1841 quarter eagle actually is a Proof is that is “looks like one.” These coins are not weakly struck, nor is there any question about whether they have squared edges or incomplete reflectiveness to the fields. These coins look just like other Proof gold coins from the 1840’s. They may have some mint-made flaws such as pits in the planchet or lintmarks but their appearance is not much different than Proofs from the latter part of the 19th century either.

There appear to be just three or four Proofs known. The finest is a PCGS PR64 owned by a prominent Texas collector that is ex Heritage 6/04: 6204 where it brought $253,000; it was earlier in the Eliasberg sale and it sold for $82,500 in October 1982. The second Proof is owned by a customer of mine and it is graded PR60 by PCGS. I purchased it out of Bass II in October 1999 and paid $110,000 for it. A third Proof is in the Smithsonian. I have not seen the coin in person but it has been confirmed by Jeff Garrett whose opinion I respect. A possible fourth Proof is the ex Davis-Graves coin that was last sold as Superior 2/91: 2664 at $66,000. This coin might be the piece that appears in the PCGS population report as a PR62.

When I recently examined the Eliasberg and Bass Proofs, I made the following observations about them. I’m certain they apply to the other one or two Proofs as well.

*Proof 1841 quarter eagles have fully reflective fields that look like Proofs should. They are not “semi-prooflike” or “mostly prooflike.” They are Proofs, no ifs and or buts.

*On Proof 1841 quarter eagles, there is sharpness of strike on the curls below the ear of Liberty. This sharpness does not appear on business strikes. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Proof 1804 Eagle, Kellogg $50 gold coin, Half Unions, and an 1854-S Quarter Eagle

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, markets, and the collecting community #11

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

After discussing the Proof 1804 Eagle that has repeatedly sold privately for startling sums, I will discuss a few famous rarities that will be offered in Boston. Indeed, I have discussed other coins in these auctions in a few past columns. There are, though, a startling array of rarities in the upcoming auctions, and I have not yet covered the offerings of a “Proof-60” Kellogg $50 gold coin, two gold-plated Half Unions, and the worst known (though still attractive) 1854-S Quarter Eagle.

I. Proof 1804 $10 Gold Coin

As I have been writing extensively about famous rarities for years, I could hardly resist writing about the Proof 1804 Eagle ($10 gold coin) that was just sold by Laura Sperber to Bob Simpson, who is the leading collector of patterns and has landmark collections in other areas as well. Although the sale price has not been disclosed, it may be fair to assume that the price is between $2.5 million and $7.5 million.

There probably exist four Proof 1804 Eagles, and this one is NGC certified ‘Proof-65 Ultra Cameo.’ Further, this coin has been approved by the CAC. John Albanese, the founder of the CAC, and earlier of the NGC, was involved in enabling Simpson to acquire this coin. In 2007, a coin firm in upstate New York arranged for one of their clients to sell this coin to another one of their clients, for a reported price of “$5 million.” Coincidentally, the owner of this firm is also named Albanese, though he is not related to John.

This same upstate New York Albanese coin firm sold this same exact Proof 1804 Eagle earlier, in 2005, for a price that they reported to be “$2,274,000.” A famous collector, who refers to himself as “TradeDollarNut,” has publicly stated that he was offered this same coin, in 2001, for “$587,500.”

The value of many gold rarities has multiplied since 2001; a five to ten times increase in value is not unprecedented. Consider, as examples, the post-2005 values of many gold rarities that were included in the auctions, in 1999 and 2000, of the Harry Bass collection. It is not unusual for a Bass rarity to be worth multiples now of the price it then realized.

It is also true that this same 1804 Eagle was NGC certified ‘Proof-64 Cameo’ in 2001, or earlier, and remained so certified in 2003 and maybe later than 2003. At some point, it was PCGS graded “Proof-64.” Certainly by 2007, the NGC upgraded it to “Proof-65” with an “Ultra Cameo” designation.

How rare are Proof 1804 Eagles? It seems that there exist four, though it has been argued that there are only three. The Bass-Dannreuther book (Whitman, 2006) states “3 known,” but also indicates that the issue is “R-7+,” which means an estimate of four to six in existence. The “3” may have been a typographical error. The tenth edition of the Judd book (Whitman, 2009), which is the leading text on patterns and related pieces, lists this issue as Rarity-“8,” which means two or three or thought to exist. This same section, however, lists an auction result for a Proof 1804 Eagle that is incorrect. Oddly, the Judd book values a gold Proof 1804 Eagle at “$1,500,000.”

If there are just three, it would have impossible, in 2009 or 2010, for someone to purchase one for $1,500,000. The Eliasberg-Bass Proof 1804 Eagle is impounded in the Harry Bass Core Collection, for at least a long time, maybe forever. The ‘King of Siam’ 1804 Eagle remains in the ‘King of Siam’ Set, as far as I know. If the current owner were to dismantle the set, then the current owner would ask millions for the ‘King of Siam’ Proof 1804 Eagle.

As I just became aware of Legend’s sale of a Proof 1804 Eagle on Tuesday morning, I have not had time to research this issue before this column was posted. I am almost certain, however, that the Baldenhofer Proof 1804 Eagle exists and is different from the Eliasberg-Bass coin.
(more…)

US Mint to Release Annual 2010 Uncirculated and Proof Coin Sets This Month

The 2010 United States Mint Uncirculated Set®, priced at $31.95, will be available on July 15; and the 2010 United States Mint Proof Set®, priced at $31.95, will be available on July 22.

Both sets include the first five commemorative quarter-dollar coins in the America the Beautiful QuartersTM Program, honoring Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas), Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming), Yosemite National Park (California), Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona), and Mount Hood National Forest (Oregon). The sets also include four Presidential $1 Coins, honoring Presidents Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln; one Native American $1 Coin; one Kennedy half-dollar coin; one Jefferson 5-cetn coin; one Roosevelt dime coin; and one Lincoln one-cent cent.

The United States Mint Uncirculated Coin Set includes two folders, each containing 14 coins from the United States Mint facilities at Denver and Philadelphia. The coins are struck on special presses using greater force than circulating coins, producing a sharp, intricately detailed image. The satin-finish coins are displayed in a folder that includes a Certificate of Authenticity.

The United States Mint Proof Set contains 14 coins that bear the “S” mint mark of the United States Mint at San Francisco. The coins are manufactured using specially prepared, highly polished dies. The coins are extraordinarily brilliant, with sharp relief and a mirror-like background. A frosted, sculpted foreground gives these coins a special cameo effect. The coins are sealed in three protective lenses to showcase and maintain their exceptional finish. A Certificate of Authenticity is included with each set.

Sales for these sets will open at noon Eastern Time (ET) on the specified release dates. Orders will be accepted at the United States Mint’s Web site, http://www.usmint.gov/catalog, or at the toll-free number, 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Hearing- and speech-impaired customers may order by calling 1-888-321-MINT (6468). All domestic orders will be assessed a shipping and handling fee of $4.95 per order.

Customers may also acquire the United States Mint Uncirculated Set and the United States Mint Proof Set through the Online Subscription Program. For more information about this convenient ordering method, please visit http://www.usmint.gov/catalog. (more…)

Original 1867 Rays Gem Cameo Proof Shield Nickel to be offered at Heritage’s Summer FUN Coin Auction

The 1867 Rays Shield nickel business strikes are conditionally rare coins in the highest Mint State grades, but they are generally obtainable for a price. The 1867 Rays Shield nickel proof coins, however, are celebrated rarities, well-known to series specialists and advanced numismatists.

John Dannreuther, director of research at PCGS, has delved extensively into the die diagnostics and Mint history surrounding the 1867 With Rays and No Rays proof issues–and reissues. Much of what follows is from the summation in the Bowers Shield and Liberty Head nickels Guide Book and from Dannreuther’s PCGS article, published in the June 2007 PCGS Rare Coin Market Report and reprinted on www.shieldnickels.net, titled “Third Obverse Die Identified for Proof 1867 Rays Nickel.”

Three Different Obverse Dies Used

Dannreuther has established that three different obverse dies were used for the 1867 Rays proofs, which were restruck at various times, all paired with a single reverse die that was lapped on each reuse. The first obverse used, Dannreuther-1, shows the characteristics below:

–The left base of the 1 in the date is over the right side of a dentil.

Dannreuther writes concerning the first use of this obverse that it likely was used to produce 10 to 15 1867 With Rays proofs earlier than previously believed. Earlier research by R.W. Julian had indicated that, when the order was given on January 21, 1867, to suspend coinage of the With Rays design, chief coiner Archibald Louden Snowden had so far supposedly “refused” to make any 1867 With Rays proofs for sets. However, Dannreuther believes that is likely untrue since, based on the die emission sequence and die state information he has established, Dannreuther-1 is the earliest known stage of this obverse die. Dannreuther writes:

“Most likely, the 25 Proofs reported delivered on February 5, 1867 are the ones with the Pattern reverse, as determined by specialist Douglas Kurz. These No Rays Pattern reverse Proofs have a very slightly different (but later) stage of State a, indicating that some With Rays proofs were probably struck in January or early February right before the No Rays Proofs with the Judd-507 Pattern reverse.”

The appearance of “hollow” leaves, a lump or dot at the lower-left forepart of the fletchings, the absence of visible recutting on the 7, etc. would indicate later die states and presumably coincide with a lesser degree of the marked field-device contrast also evident on this coin.
(more…)

Coin Profile: The Mystery of the Proof 1875 Gold Dollar

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

As I have mentioned before, certified population figures can be helpful but they can also be confusing. Take, for instance, the 1875 gold dollar in Proof. This is a coin with a reported original mintage of 20. But it has a combined PCGS/NGC population of 24 (twelve at each service). Something is obviously not right here. But, for once, the fault does not lie with the population reports.

Despite being created with the best of intentions, the PCGS and NGC population figures are full of inaccurate information which can be misleading to collectors. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the grading services. It is the fault of dealers (and collectors) who resubmit coins and do not send in their extra inserts. I’ve rambled on (and on) about this in the past and do not plan to offer my two cents this time on how I think that dealers who do this are doing themselves and the coin market a major disservice.

In the case of the Proof 1875 gold dollar the disconnect between the number struck and the number graded has to do with information from the Mint which is not necessarily accurate.

We know for a fact that 20 Proof gold dollars were struck on February 13 as parts of complete gold proof sets. For a number of reasons (some of which will be discussed below), the demand for Proof 1875 gold dollars was higher than expected and it is likely that another 20 or perhaps even a few more were made later in the year and sold to collectors. These appear to have been struck from the exact same dies and cannot be distinguished.

Looking at auction records for Proof 1875 gold dollars over the last few decades, it looks like the actual number known to exist might be as high as 20-25 pieces. Given the fact that survival rates for small denomination Proof gold coins of this era is typically around 50%, this is in line with an original mintage figure of around 40-50 coins. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Bowers & Merena auction, Proof 1876-CC dime, and $150 million for the CAC

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #5

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

I will not be discussing the most expensive or the rarest coins that are coming ‘on the auction block’ this week. Rather, I have selected a few that I find to be both newsworthy and particularly interesting. Admittedly, these are expensive. I continue to insist, though, that an understanding of rare coins, and of the values in the coin collecting community, requires knowledge of coins that most collectors cannot afford.

Suppose that this column was geared towards art enthusiasts rather than coin enthusiasts. Would it then make sense to discuss only the paintings that most art collectors could afford? Collectors who cannot afford great and culturally important paintings enjoy learning about them and often learn to apply their knowledge of famous painting to their interpretations of a wide variety of not-so-famous paintings. Likewise, coin enthusiasts, in general, appreciate coins that are great, famous, very rare and/or important to the culture of coin collecting.

Please see my discussions below of the following coins. The 1851-O trime is the only Three Cent Silver issue that was not struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Indeed, it is curious that the New Orleans Mint struck this denomination, as the Branch Mints tended not to manufacture small denomination coins in the 19th century. The Hawaiian Eighth-Dollar is certainly extremely rare and extremely curious. The 1926-S nickel issue is just incredibly difficult to find in MS-65 or MS-66 grade. As I discussed one in last week’s column, I could not resist mentioning another, as B&M will auction it this week in Baltimore. Similarly, I discussed a rare and historically important King James II English gold coin last week and B&M will auction a coin of the same design type this week. Plus, the unique Proof 1876-CC dime is one of the most exciting coins of all.

II. The CAC Surpasses $150 Million Level

It is widely known that the CAC approves (or rejects) submitted coins that are already graded by the PCGS or the NGC. Approved coins receive a green sticker, or, in rare instances, a gold sticker. It is not as widely known that the CAC will make sight unseen commitments to pay competitive prices for CAC approved coins. These are not ‘low ball’ bids. As of June 15, the CAC has purchased $154 million of coins, almost all of which are CAC approved.

The CAC was founded by John Albanese in Oct. 2007. CAC purchases have thus been averaging more than $4.7 million per month. The $150 million level was reached in early June.

Albanese was the sole founder of the Numismatic Guaranty Corp (NGC) in 1987. Around Dec. 1998, he sold his shares in the NGC to Mark Salzberg, who is the current NGC Chairman. (For more discussion of the CAC, please see my articles on CoinFest, Jay Brahin’s Coins, the PCGS graded MS-68+ 1901-S quarter, the 20th Century Gold Club, and Dr. Duckor’s quarters.)

Although the CAC has acquired thousands of coins that are valued at under $5000 each, the CAC has approved and acquired some very famous coins. Among others, the Eliasberg 1870-S silver dollar and the finest known, Rogers-Madison 1796 ‘No Stars’ Quarter Eagle ($2½ gold coin) come to my mind.

III. Unique Proof 1876-CC Dime

Laura Sperber, of Legend Numismatics, acquired the unique Proof 1876-CC dime from a New Jersey dealer in early June. On Saturday, June 12, she sold it for an amount in excess of $200,000. It “went into a collection of Proof Seated Dimes,” Sperber reveals. It is certified as Proof-66 by the PCGS and has a sticker of approval from the CAC. (more…)

Original 1867 Rays Proof Shield Nickel to be offered by Heritage at Summer FUN Coin Show

The 1867 Rays Shield nickel business strikes are conditionally rare coins in the highest Mint State grades, but they are generally obtainable for a price. The 1867 Rays Shield nickel proof coins, however, are celebrated rarities, well-known to series specialists and advanced numismatists. Heritage will be offering a cameo Gem example in the upcoming 2010 July Orlando, FL (Summer FUN) Signature US Coin Auction #1142, taking place July 8-11.

John Dannreuther, director of research at PCGS, has delved extensively into the die diagnostics and Mint history surrounding the 1867 With Rays and No Rays proof issues — and reissues. Much of what follows is from the summation in the Bowers Shield and Liberty Head nickels Guide Book and from Dannreuther’s PCGS article, published in the June 2007 PCGS Rare Coin Market Report and reprinted on www.shieldnickels.net, titled “Third Obverse Die Identified for Proof 1867 Rays Nickel.

Dannreuther has established that three different obverse dies were used for the 1867 Rays proofs, which were restruck at various times, all paired with a single reverse die that was lapped on each reuse. The first obverse used, Dannreuther-1, shows the left base of the 1 in the date over the right side of a dentil. The earliest state of this die, as on the present coin, shows numerous markers, including:

  • All leaves are complete; none are “hollow.”
  • The 7 in the date is clearly recut and has not yet faded.
  • No die polish is evident in the lower vertical shield stripes.
  • All berries are complete and attached, with those at the inner right recut. The lowest inner-right berry shows a tiny die polish line to the adjacent leaf.
  • A die line runs from the seventh horizontal stripe, angling down through several stripes. A curly die line from the 10th horizontal stripe runs down through the left side of the shield, ending in the circle or ball ornament (a.k.a. terminal volute).
  • The left fletchings are detached at the lower right (lower front) portion (where they join the shield), but the detached part has not yet degenerated into a small lump or dot as on later die states.

The appearance of “hollow” leaves, a lump or dot at the lower-left forepart of the fletchings, the absence of visible recutting on the 7, etc. would indicate later die states and presumably coincide with a lesser degree of the marked field-device contrast also evident on this coin. The Reverse A, also from the earliest die state, displays:

  • A slightly weak center ray below the second T of STATES.
  • Full, rounded dentils from 3-5 o’clock, with no space between them. (more…)

Coin Profile: 1871 Standard Silver Pattern Proof Set to be sold in Baltimore

Bowers and Merena will be offering Lot 3410 in their Baltimore Coin and Currency Auction next week. One item, possibly unique, is a 5 coin 1871 Standard Silver Pattern Proof Set.

Five-piece pattern proof sets of this type were distributed by the Mint to contemporary collectors. The number of such sets produced is unknown, but survivors are very rare with probably no more than six examples of each denomination known to exist. The specimens we offer here could represent an original set, inasmuch as the coins all trace their pedigree to the Harold P. Newlin and Garrett collections.

What is interesting, however, is that the coins were offered individually when Bowers and Ruddy conducted its first two installments of the Garrett Collection Sales in 1979 and 1980. Whether the coins comprise an original set or have been united to form an assembled set makes little difference–this lot represents what is almost certainly the only intact set of these pattern types in numismatic hands.

The obverse design of all examples is the same and features Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre’s Indian Princess motif with no stars around the borders. Liberty is seated left wearing a Native American headdress, her left hand resting atop a globe inscribed LIBERTY and her right hand supporting a liberty pole. Two flags are behind the portrait, and the date 1871 is below.

The reverse designs are identical with the exception of the denomination, which is centered within a wreath of corn and cotton. The word STANDARD is inscribed along the upper border. Struck in silver with either a reeded or plain edge. (more…)

The Three Major Eras Of Modern Proof Sets

Certified 1936 US Mint Proof SetHaving criticized the generic term “The Mint” several times in the past few years for actions which were sometimes the fault of the Treasury Department or Congress or others, I thought it might be a good time for me to compliment the United States Mint proper for one of its generally successful numismatic programs, the Proof set.

Although many of the commemorative coin and medal programs dumped in the lap of the U. S. Mint by a greedy and/or indifferent Congress since 1936 have proven to be less than wonderful, whether in marketing or design or purpose, the regular design Proof sets offered as superior examples of the coiner’s art have generally been considered to be a credit to the Mints that have struck them. Though some of the post-1967 sets have declined in value since they were originally sold, this is generally not the fault of the Mint, but rather the fault of speculators who overbuy an issue in the hopes it will prove scarce and then dump it on the market if it does not.

The first of the three modern eras of Proof sets began in 1936, after a 20-year lapse allegedly caused by concern over the impending entry of the U.S. into World War I (which did not occur until April of 1917), but more likely brought on by collector dislike of the Matte Proof finishes used on certain coins of the 1908-1916 period and the technical difficulties involved in trying to “Proof,” or polish, the textured surfaces of the new 1916 silver coins.

I have no idea why the 1916 Barber Dime and Quarter were not struck in brilliant Proof even if there were no plans to strike a 1916 Barber Half, but as sales of the silver Proof sets had fallen drastically in previous years (380 in 1914 and 450 in 1915) it may have been thought that they just weren’t worth the bother. The classical Proof set era begun with a bang in 1858 ended with a whimper in 1916 with only the Matte Proof Cent and Five Cents being offered to collectors, no regular issue gold coins being struck in Philadelphia in 1916 and hence no Proofs.

Once the decision was made to stop making Proofs, bureaucratic inertia saw to it that the same policy was observed in the next year, and the next, etc. I have never seen a good reason given as to why the production of Proof coins was resumed in 1936, but it is possible that the commemorative coin frenzy which reached its peak in that year inspired the Mint to imitate the Post Office, which since 1934 had been making a tidy sum selling specially prepared souvenir sheets of otherwise regular design stamps to collectors. (more…)

Modern Coins – No-S Proof Coin Set to be offered by Heritage at CSNS


The period 1965 to 1967 was an interesting time in US numismatic history. The price of silver had risen to the point where it made no sense to make higher denomination coins out of silver. In addition, there was a widely reported coin shortage, despite record production levels.

As the mint scrambled to adjust, a number of emergency measures were taken. Production of 1964-dated coinage continued well into 1965 until the new clad planchets were ready. Then, to make sure that there was enough of the new coinage to go around, the mint decided both to cease production of proof coinage and to do away with mintmarks. The only concession of any kind made to coin collectors were the Special Mint Sets of 1965-67, not true proof coins, but high quality circulation strike coins similar in some ways to the satin finish coins in mint sets today.

In 1968, the mint resumed the use of mintmarks and the production of proof coinage, but with a new twist. Proof coins, like the prior Special Mint Set coins, were now made in San Francisco, and the S mintmark reappeared after a 12 year hiatus. Initially, the San Francisco Mint also manufactured some circulation strike cents and nickels, but their dimes, quarters, and halves were strictly proofs. The mint would eventually also make Susan B. Anthony dollars for circulation, as well as silver-clad Ike dollars and bicentennial coinage for collectors.

During the first year of S-mint proof set production, an unexpected hitch occurred. In a few sets full of S-mint coins, the dimes had no trace of a mintmark! This came about because at that time all coinage dies were prepared with no mintmark, which would be added only upon arrival at the branch mint. On one die, that didn’t happen, and an instant rarity was made.

Walter Breen opined that about six examples of the 1968 no S dime were known. If that is true, then Heritage has sold each of these coins an average of at least three times apiece. Nevertheless, the 1968 no S dime is clearly an extremely rare coin, likely R.6 or low R.7, surpassed in rarity among 20th century dimes by only one coin.

Heritage’s upcoming 2010 April-May Milwaukee, WI CSNS US Coin Auction includes a rather unique proof set: one each of the five collectible missing mintmark proof coins. Along with the 1968 no S dime, the set includes the 1970 no S dime, the 1971 no S nickel, the 1983 no S dime, and the 1990 no S cent. While none of these coins is as rare as the 1968 S-less dime, each is highly desirable, and a key to its respective proof series. All of the coins in the set grade Proof-68 or 69, and show the eye appeal expected of latter-day US Mint products.

Incidentally, the sole 20th century dime that is rarer than the 1968 no S proof dime is also an S-less proof. A mere two examples are known of the 1975 no S dime, and neither Heritage nor the major grading services has ever handled one!

Goldbergs Acquire Legendary King Edward VIII 1937 Proof Set

At the end of February 2010, Ira and Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles purchased England’s legendary King Edward VIII 1937 Proof Set for $2.1 Million (1,350,000 Pounds). This purchase was made in England with the assistance of noted English coin dealers Steve Fenton and Mark Rasmussen.

Considered the “Holy Grail” of English Milled Coinage, this is the only Proof Set of its kind in private hands, and all are in Gem Proof condition. This set has never before been seen outside of England.

Apparently, only four sets, plus a few minors, were minted; the Royal Mint has two of the sets, and another was broken up over 40 years ago, with a few of the coins occasionally appearing at auction.

King Edward the VIII abdicated the throne in December of 1936, after reigning for only 10 months, to marry the American divorcee Mrs. Willis Simpson, a commoner.

It is this King Edward VIIII quote that many school children have been taught to memorize: “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”

The proof set was minted at the Royal Mint and dated 1937 to be issued on his coronation in January 1937, an event which never took place.

This particular set belonged to Mrs. R. Henry Norweb, whose husband was the American Ambassador to England.

Bowers and Merena to Offer 1879-O Class I Branch Mint Proof Morgan Dollar In Baltimore

The Second Finest of Only Four Specimens Known to Exist

Easily the rarest and also among the most popular Morgan Dollars with advanced collectors are the branch mint proofs–coins that are so rare, in fact, that many numismatists have never even seen one of these specimens, let alone been confronted with the opportunity to add one to their holdings.

Writing in the 1982 book The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook, Wayne Miller enumerates five classes of branch Mint proof Morgan Dollars. The claim that an individual issue has to branch mint status decreases as the class # increases; the Class V pieces, in fact, being described by Miller as, “coins rumored to be branch mint proofs which the author has seen and which are definitely not proofs.”

On the other end of the scale are the Class I branch mint proofs, which Wayne Miller describes as, “authorized, definite branch mint proofs. These are the…dates for which proofs were authorized and subsequently issued [emphasis author’s].” Only four branch mint proof Morgan Dollars qualify as Class I: 1879-O; 1883-O; 1893-CC; and 1921-S.

The 1879-O is perhaps the best known Class I branch mint proof Morgan Dollar, and it is also among the most instantly recognizable of all branch mint proof coins regardless of type or issue. Considerable documentation exists for the creation of these coins, according to which a mere 12 specimens were struck on February 20, 1879 to commemorate the reopening of the New Orleans Mint (the facility had ceased production in 1861 at the onset of the Civil War). Of the original 12 coins struck, only four specimens are known to exist. (more…)

Astonishing 1907 Denver Mint Double Eagle ($20 gold coin) Sells for More Than a Half Million Dollars

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

I. The Sale of this 1907-D $20 Gold Coin

During the course of the January 2010 FUN Convention in Orlando, arrangements were finalized for the sale of a 1907-Denver Mint Double Eagle that is possibly unique in Proof format. It is NGC certified as “Proof-62” with a “Farouk” pedigree noted. It is thus indicated that it was formerly in the epic collection of King Farouk.

In November 2009, Carlos Cabrera, Executive Vice President of Park Avenue Numismatics, acquired it from a collector. This coin became the star of the FUN bourse floor. Cabrera then finalized the sale and handed it to a buyer of rare and important coins. Cabrera reports that the price “was well above a half million dollars.”

There is no evidence of another specially struck 1907-D Double Eagle ($20 gold) existing. It has been suggested that Proof 1906-D Double Eagles exist. I have seen the 1906-D that the PCGS has certified as “Specimen-66.” While that 1906-D Double Eagle is a wonderful coin with a very distinctive appearance, I find that this 1907-D Double Eagle fulfills the criteria for a Proof and that 1906-D does not. (more…)

2009 Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Proof Coin Set Available August 26th

Numismatic Set Includes Proof Versions of the Four Newly Designed One-Cent Coins

The United States Mint will begin accepting orders for its 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Proof Set on August 26, 2009, at noon Eastern Time (ET). A household order limit of five sets will be in effect.

The sets, priced at $7.95 each, contain proof versions of the four redesigned one-cent coins struck in honor of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the first issuance of the Lincoln cent. The reverse (tails side) bears designs emblematic of Lincoln’s birth and early childhood in Kentucky; his formative years in Indiana; his professional life in Illinois; and his presidency in Washington, D.C. The obverse (heads) features Victor David Brenner’s image of Lincoln that has graced the coin since 1909. These coins contain the exact same metallic content as the 1909 Lincoln Cent – 95 percent copper and five percent tin and zinc.

Proof coins are manufactured at the United States Mint at San Francisco using specially prepared, highly polished dies and are extraordinarily brilliant, with sharp relief and a mirror-like background. A frosted, sculpted foreground gives them a cameo effect. The coins are packaged in a protective lens to showcase and maintain their exceptional finish and are contained in a custom-designed box. An official United States Mint Certificate of Authenticity is included.

Orders for the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Proof Set will be accepted at the United States Mint’s secure Web site, www.usmint.gov, or at the toll-free number, 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Hearing and speech-impaired customers with TTY equipment may place their orders at 1-888-321-MINT (6468). A shipping and handling fee of $4.95 per order will be added to all domestic orders. Shipping will begin in late November.

Created by Congress in 1792, the United States Mint is the Nation’s sole manufacturer of legal tender coinage. Its primary mission is to produce an adequate volume of circulating coinage for the Nation to conduct its trade and commerce. The United States Mint also produces proof, uncirculated and commemorative coins; Congressional Gold Medals; and silver, gold and platinum bullion coins.

NOTE: To ensure that all members of the public have fair and equal access to United States Mint products, orders placed prior to the official on-sale date and time of August 26, 2009, noon ET, shall not be deemed accepted by the United States Mint and will not be honored. For more information, please review the United States Mint’s Frequently Asked Questions, Answer ID #175.

Douglas Winter Numismatics To Sell the Tri Star Collection of Proof Gold Dollars

Updated: July 5th – The Collection has been Posted

Douglas Winter Numismatics has been chosen to sell the Tri-Star Collection of Proof gold dollars. This collection, which was formed by one of the savviest collectors of gold coins in today’s numismatic market, includes a dozen very rare Type Three Proof gold dollars dated between 1856 and 1878.

Gold Dollars - NOT the Tri Star Collection coins - Illustration OnlyIn a conversation with the former owner of the coins, he stated the following: “My original goal was to assemble a complete set of Proof gold dollars in high grades. Instead of focusing on the dates from the 1880’s which I thought would be easy to acquire, I was more focused on the very rare Type Three coins struck from 1856 to 1879. These dates typically had mintage figures of fifty coins or fewer and many have as few as ten to fifteen survivors.”

This collector added another couple of interesting comments about his collection.” I tried whenever possible to buy coins that were original and which had not been recently conserved. I also tried to add a few coins that had particularly good pedigrees. The reason that I gave up on the set was that I found it too frustrating to find the dates I needed with the eye appeal that I wanted.”

What this collector did accomplish is still nothing short of amazing. The undisputed highlight of the coins being offered for sale by DWN is an 1856 gold dollar graded PR67 Ultra Cameo by NGC. It is the earliest dated gold dollar graded this high by NGC and it is the finest known of an estimated six or seven that exist.

Remarkably, the collection continues with a nice date run of Proofs dated 1857-1863. The 1857 is an NGC PR65 Cameo, while the 1858 is a stunning NGC PR66 Cameo that is tied with one other coin as the finest known. The 1859, graded PR66 Deep Cameo by PCGS, has amazing eye appeal and is a coin that is notable for its rich original coloration. The 1860 is graded PR65 Cameo and has a pedigree from the famous Harry Bass collection while the popular 1861 is a very high end PR65 that has also been graded by PCGS. The 1862 is an NGC PR66 Ultra Cameo which is among the finest known while the 1863, while “only” graded PR64 Deep Cameo by PCGS, has the eye appeal and appearance of a Gem. (more…)

2009 United States Mint Proof Set® Available June 1

WASHINGTON – The United States Mint will begin accepting orders for the 2009 United States Mint Proof Set at noon Eastern Time on June 1. The set is priced at $29.95.

This year’s set contains 18 coins, each bearing the “S” mint mark of the United States Mint at San Francisco. The set includes four Presidential $1 Coins honoring William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor; the new Native American $1 Coin; six commemorative quarter-dollar coins honoring the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories (the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands); four Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Coins recognizing the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth; and the Jefferson 5-cent, Roosevelt dime and Kennedy half-dollar coins.

The United States Mint Proof Set contains coins that are manufactured using specially prepared, highly polished dies. The coins are extraordinarily brilliant, with sharp relief and a mirror-like background. A frosted, sculpted foreground gives these coins a special cameo effect. The coins are sealed in four protective lenses to showcase and maintain their exceptional finish. A Certificate of Authenticity is included with each set.

Collectors may purchase the 2009 United States Mint Proof Set at www.usmint.gov, or at the toll-free number, 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Hearing- and speech-impaired customers may order by calling 1-888-321-MINT (6468). All domestic orders will be assessed a shipping and handling fee of $4.95 per order.

The United States Mint Proof Set also is available through the Online Subscription Program. For more information about this convenient ordering method, please visit www.usmint.gov.

Some Thoughts on Proof Bust Silver Coinage: Part One – Half Dimes and Dimes

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Proof gold coinage has been called the “caviar of numismatics” – and with good reason. Everyone loves a nice Proof gold coin and there is no denying the rarity of these issues. But compared to Proof Bust silver coins, most Proof gold is common. I would contend that Proof Bust silver coinage is one of the most fascinating—and undervalued—areas in all of numismatics.

Proof Bust Half Dimes and DimesThe earliest known Proof silver coins (at least those that are universally regarded as having been unquestionably struck as Proofs) date to around 1820. From the early part of the 1820’s until 1837 (when the Capped Bust design was replaced), Proof silver coins were struck in limited quantities. Generally speaking, mintages were around ten to twenty pieces per year. In most cases, official mintage figures were not accurately recorded and rarity estimates today are somewhat speculative. It is clear to state, however, that all Proof Bust silver is, at the very least, quite rare.

The intention of this article is to give the beginning and intermediate collector an overview of Proof Bust coinage by focusing on each of the denominations that were produced in the Proof format. In addition, at the end of this article, I will discuss some pertinent points about these coins that I think are important for all collectors to consider.

I. Bust Half Dimes

There are a few 1794 half dimes known that have been categorized by NGC as Specimen strikings but the first true Proofs were made in 1829. The 1829 has a reported mintage of thirty pieces and it is the most obtainable issue of this type as a Proof by a fairly large margin. I think there are around ten to fifteen known including a few really superb Gems. The best of these is a single example graded PR67 by PCGS; the single finest Proof Bust Half Dime of any date graded by PCGS.

The 1830 has a reported mintage of ten and it is extremely rare with an estimated four or five known. An example graded PR65 by PCGS was recently sold as Lot 1039 in the Heritage 12/08 auction for a strong $50,025. If I’m not mistaken, this is the most that a PR65 Bust Half Dime has ever brought at auction. (more…)