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Category: Unique Items

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…)

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…)

Unusual Items: Republic of Eutopia “So-Called-Dollar” BiMetallic

Bowers and Merena today auctioned an unusual item, a 1886 Eutopia Dollar. HK-1005. Rarity-8. Bimetallic (Silver and Gold). MS-62 (NGC).

Designed and struck by Nicholas Veeder of Pittsburgh, PA in 1886 as a model for co-metallic coins and medals in an effort to demonstrate the practicality of using both Gold and Silver in the production of coinage.

Veeder published a booklet in 1885 titled “Co-metallism: A Plan for Combining Gold and Silver in Coinage, for Uniting and Blending their values in Paper Money and for Establishing a Composite Single Standard Dollar of Account” Quite a title !

According to reference books, the reaction at the time, to both the idea and the pattern itself were not positive, and many likened the coin to the “Goldoid” patterns previously produced in 1878.

For an interesting history of “The Patterns for International Coinage” , go to the USPatterns.com website for a summary excerpted from Stacks October 2000, 65th Anniversary Sale pages 160-161.

This is an R-8 coin, and it has been reported that the dies used to make this broke on the third impression. That has not be confirmed, but adds a bit to the mystery and unusual character of the coin.

The obverse shows a Sun and Rays on the Gold center insert with two beaded circles housing the words “Model for Cometallic Coins and Medals” On the outside border of the Silver portion of the coin reads “Republic of Eutopia” and the date 1886.

The reverse shows the Gold insert with the words “Gold 12.9/10 Grains with a beaded circle around, and then the lettering (separated)” A R G E N T O R U M Silver 206 1/4 Grs” On the outer edges of the coins are displayed the 12 signs of the Zodiac

Legend Numismatics Pays $2 Million Dollars For 3 Lincoln Cents!

By Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatic Market Report

You may have noticed the past two weeks or so we have been saying and doing little with our web site. NEWPS have been minimal and Market Reports and Hot Topics have slowed. We can now tell you why. We have been super busy traveling completing deals-not just any deals, deals that are at world record prices and that include some of the rarest coins on earth! We are now finally back home and are pleased to make the following announcement:

LEGEND NUMISMATICS HAS BOUGHT AND SOLD THE UNIQUE 1C 1943D COPPER FOR $1,700,000.00!

We actually purchased a 3 coin coin deal for $2,000,000.00. We figured the 1943D at $1.7 million cost. The other two coins in the deal were the finest 1944 P Steel cent PCGS MS64, and a 1C 1942 PCGS 65 made out of white metal. Yes, you have read this right-3 pennys for $2 million dollars!

The 1943D and the 1944P are both now part of the ONLY COMPLETE PDS sets for their metals. The steel cent collection is by far the finest, as are the coppers. We are hoping to display both these sets at the PCGS table at FUN 2011.

Hard to believe, but Legend tried unsuccessfully for four years to buy the 1943D. The seller in the end was still reluctant. However, we can state ALL of the monies he received from the sale are going to a pet charity project of his. The seller (who wishes to remain anonymous) was represented by Lincoln Cent Specialist Andy Skrabalack of Angel Dee’s.

Our customer is thrilled to own the 1943D. Ever since he heard the coin existed, we had been sent on a mission to acquire it. His desire to own the complete and only PDS copper set came from his finding what he thought was a 1943 copper when he was young. Sadly, this piece was found to be a fake. Still he keeps this coin in his desk draw. He believes 43 Coppers are one of the ultimate classic rarities (and so do we). While the price we paid was stiff, the monies went to a good cause and the coins are now locked away in a great home.

Legend Numismatics has handled MANY million dollar plus classic rarities over the years. The 1943D really is one special highlight for us. We thank the seller and congratulate the new owner. For us, it really has been a career highlight.

WHAT ELSE DID WE TRAVEL FOR?

We have now flown several coast to coast trips over the past 2 weeks. There have also been stops in Dallas, NYC, and Denver in between.

One exciting collection we purchased was a spectacular Pattern Collection. When we got the call we were like, “oh great, more patterns”. This deal turned out to be an incredible “old time” collection with the majority of the coins being raw. Highlights included Earring Quarters, Amazionan Dollars, and several R-8 Seated patterns. These coins will be sent in for grading shortly. We did not grade anything less than PR65! ALL of the coins have been off the market for at least 20+ years. Guess we can never have enough great Patterns!

Besides patterns, we also bought and sold a 50C 1919D PCGS MS65. The price was in excess of $200,000.00. This sale now completes what maybe the second finest Walker set assembled (no, its NOT registered). (more…)

Unique Bronze 1943-D Lincoln Cent Sold for $1.7 Million by Legend

A one-of-a-kind Lincoln penny, mistakenly struck in 1943 at the Denver Mint in bronze rather than the zinc-coated steel used that year to conserve copper for World War II, has been sold by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey for $1.7 million to an unnamed Southwestern business executive.  The coin’s anonymous former owner made arrangements for the entire sale proceeds to go to a charitable organization.

The only known 1943-dated Lincoln cent mistakenly struck at the Denver Mint on a bronze planchet has been sold for a record $1.7 million by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey. The unique coin, not publicly known to exist until 1979, is graded PCGS MS64BN.

The new owner is a Southwestern United States business executive who wants to remain anonymous, but who plans to exhibit this coin and others in January at the Florida United Numismatists convention.

He also purchased in the same transaction through Legend a 1944 Philadelphia Mint cent struck on a zinc planchet, graded PCGS MS64, for $250,000, and an experimental 1942 Philadelphia cent mostly composed of tin for $50,000. The unnamed new owner plans to exhibit these coins and others at the Florida United Numismatists convention in January.

(Photo credit: Legend Numismatics.)

“The 1943-D bronze cent is the most valuable cent in the world, and it took four years of aggressive negotiations with the coin’s owner until he agreed to sell it.”

“The new owner is proudly now the only collector to ever own the all-time finest and complete sets of Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco 1943 bronze cents and 1944 steel cents,” said Laura Sperber, President of Legend Numismatics.

“The new owner is a prominent Southwestern business executive who’s been collecting since he was a teenager, searching through pocket change looking for rare coins. As a youngster he thought he’d actually found a 1943 copper cent in circulation but it was not authentic. He still has that in his desk drawer, but now he’s the only person to ever assemble a complete set of genuine 1943 bronze cents, one each from the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints. He will display that set at FUN along with his 1944 Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco zinc cents,” said Sperber.

The anonymous collector who formerly owned the coin “donated it to a charitable organization so they could sell it with all of the proceeds going to the charity,” according to Andy Skrabalak of Angel Dee’s Coins and Collectibles in Woodbridge, Virginia who acted as agent on behalf of the former owner.

“As a specialist in small cents, this transaction is the ultimate accomplishment for me and I’m privileged to be part of it. I don’t think it will ever be duplicated in my lifetime,” said Skrabalak.

Zinc-coated steel was used for producing cents in 1943 to conserve copper for other uses during World War II, but a small number of coins were mistakenly struck on bronze planchets left over from 1942.

“We estimate that less than 20 Lincoln cents were erroneously struck in bronze at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints in 1943, but this is the only known example from the Denver Mint,” explained Don Willis, President of Professional Coin Grading Service.

Sperber said the collector’s historic, mis-made World War II era cents will be displayed during the first three days of the FUN convention in Tampa, Florida, January 6 – 8, 2011. (more…)

Video: Interviews with Martin Logies and Steve Contursi on the Sale of the 1794 Silver Dollar

The Neil/Carter/Contursi specimen 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar was sold in May for $7,850,000, setting a new record as the world’s most valuable rare coin. Graded PCGS Specimen-66, it is the finest known 1794 dollar and believed by several prominent experts to be the first silver dollar ever struck by the United States Mint.

It was sold by Steven L. Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers of Irvine, California, to the nonprofit Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation (CCEF) in Sunnyvale, California. Collector and numismatic researcher Martin Logies represented the foundation of which he is a director and its numismatic curator. The private sale was brokered by Greg Roberts, President and Chief Executive Officer of Spectrum Group International of Irvine, California.

From 2004 to 2009, the coin was a featured exhibit at the American Numismatic Association’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and was displayed at a half dozen ANA World’s Fair of Money and National Money Show conventions around the country.

The 1984 Stack’s auction lot description in the Carter Collection sale stated, “It is perfectly conceivable that this coin was the very first 1794 Silver Dollar struck!” Over the decades, various numismatic researchers have stated a similar belief including Walter Breen, Jack Collins, John Dannreuther, David Hall and Logies who is author of the book, The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794.

David Lisot of CoinTelevision.com interviewed both the buyer, Martin Logies, Curator Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation and the seller, Steve Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers at the Long Beach Expo earlier this month.

CoinLink is pleased to be able to provide both of these interviews:

[iframe http://www.coinlink.com/Video/062110_logies.html 544px 395px]

Buyer of the 1794 Dollar for $7.85 Million: Martin Logies, Curator – Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation [9:18]

CCEF maintains several web sites to provide information about early American coins, including www.EarlyUSCoins.org and www.EarlyDollars.org that features an interactive “treasure hunters” guide for easily attributing early U.S. silver dollars by die variety. Another web site is planned, www.CCEFlibrary.org, that will be devoted to providing the public with access to the foundation’s extensive numismatic library.

“Of all the rarities I have seen or heard of, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the single most important of all, the very first silver dollar. This is the coin that has it all,” said Logies. (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…)

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…)

Controversial 1959-D Lincoln Cent with Wheat Ears Reverse to be Sold at Goldbergs Pre Long Beach Coin Auction

This coin has created quite a bit of controversy in the past, and it’s time the allegations and innuendo get laid to rest. For some reason, the few independent grading services who have examined this coin can’t seem to decide on its genuine status, although no one can define any reason to consider it counterfeit, they also won’t render an opinion to support the coin as a genuine mint product. Hence, the opinions of most remain that no decision can be made on the coin unless further tests are conducted.

The known history of this unique cent begins in 1986. A retired police officer named Leon Baller advertised in his local Walnut Creek, California newspaper that he would purchase rare and unusual coins. A local coin collector saw the ad and contacted Baller about an unusual 1959-D wheat reverse cent that he had found, and Baller soon arranged to meet with him and then purchased the coin for $1,500. Baller sent the coin to the United States Department of the Treasury for authentication in early 1987. Jim Brown, a forensic lab authenticator for the Department of the Treasury examined the coin and found no indication that it was counterfeit. The coin was returned to Baller on February 7, 1986 with a letter signed by Richard M. McDrew, Special Agent for the Department of the Treasury.

The letter states as follows:

“Enclosed is your United States 1¢ coin, dated 1959-D, with wheat reverse. This coin was microscopically examined by our Forensic Services Division in Washington, D.C. and it is their opinion the coin is genuine.”

Baller eventually sold the coin to Heritage Rare Coin Galleries in 1987. The cent was then sold to a private collector where it remained until recently.

The current owner of the coin is a business syndicate whose members’ names have not been disclosed, and their representative is Larry Choate, a Southern California collector. Choate took the bold move in 2002 to resubmit the coin to the Department of the Treasury and Secret Service for a more comprehensive review of the 1959-D wheat cents authenticity. Choate realized that if the coin was considered a counterfeit, it would be seized and destroyed. In addition, Choate took the risk that the coin was produced at the Denver Mint but illegally spirited out, and could be seized on those grounds as well.

Frankly, the Department of the Treasury has a checkered list of such seizures, and only a few coins have been seized over the years. It is important to note here that this coin will not be confiscated as the Treasury Department has returned the coin twice to the owner after reviewing the coin and returning it as genuine. It is also considered legal tender by the Treasury Department.

The most recent and very public seizure was the 1933 double eagle which the Government seized and wanted to destroy in a mindless bureaucratic fashion. Mercifully for collectors, the original owner of the 1933 double eagle was Egypt’s King Farouk, and he obtained an export license which allowed him to take the coin with him out of this country to Egypt. (more…)

World Coins – Unique 1928 South Africa 6 Pence Graded by NGC

Certified by NGC is this recently discovered South Africa 6 Pence dated 1928. It is the only known example bearing this date.

The coin was first spotted in an English country auction where it was cataloged with an unusual notation: the coin’s date was not listed in the standard series reference. It was purchased by a dealer who had a strong suspicion about the its origin.

Although he had no doubt about the coin’s authenticity, he sent it first to South Africa, where a number of experts examined the coin, all declaring it genuine. The coin itself, as a unique discovery piece, created a sensation among collectors of South African coins, who marveled that this discovery took over 80 years to occur.

From South Africa, the coin was sent the coin to the United States to be certified and encapsulated by NGC.

The dies for South African coins of this era were manufactured in England and then sent to South Africa for use in coinage production. Mysteriously, six pence dies of this year were not shipped and no pieces dated 1928 were struck in South Africa. Other denominations of coins were produced in that year, however, and it is not certain why the six pence was omitted.

Numismatist believe that the coin was produced in England as a specimen piece.

It has shallow mirrored fields, a crisp strike, as well as squared rims, similar to all South African presentation coinage of this era. It is also struck on a .925 fine silver planchet, while coins struck for circulation in South Africa are only .800 fine. It has a deep amber patina and is remarkably well preserved, evidence that it resided in the possession of a collector since it was struck.

Unique Australian 1952 £50 banknote sells for $750,000

Western Australian-based business The Rare Coin Company, in Albany has just sold the only Australian 1952 George VI £50 unissued specimen banknote of its type known in private hands to a WA client for $750,000, setting a new benchmark for this classic Australian rarity.

The only other example is displayed in the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) museum in Sydney.

Presented in superior about Uncirculated-grade (aUNC), the banknote last surfaced for sale in 2006, when it was sold to another WA buyer for an undisclosed sum.

Previously Unreported

This magnificent banknote, featuring the portrait of Sir Henry Parkes, known as the ‘Father of Federation’, remained unreported until the 1990’s. It is believed to have been one of a proposed new series of Australian banknotes. It was first shown at the International Coin Fair in Singapore by its purchaser, coin and banknote company Monetarium (Australia).

At the time, it was also reported in the Australian Coin Review magazine’s March and May 1996 editions and displayed at the Numismatic Association of Australia (N.A.A.) Coin Fair in Sydney, in March the same year.

Then Monetarium spokesperson Barrie Winsor told Coin Review at the time “that the recent publicity surrounding the launch of a Parkes one dollar coin helped bring this new discovery to light”. The Parkes portrait later appeared on the commemorative five dollar polymer banknote issued in 2001 to mark the Centenary of Federation. (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…)

Unique Item: Republic 50 Francos Gold Coin from Ecuador

50_francos_uniqueHeritage Wold Coin Auctions will be offering perhaps the most interesting and desired South American coin, the unique 50 Francos gold piece, which was unknown for almost a century until it was discovered by Robert Friedberg in the 1950’s.

It is likely that Friedberg discovered this piece amongst the Virgil Brand collection he acquired around this time. It first appeared in Gimbels (where Friedberg worked) fixed price list in 1956 for US$3500.

In 1962, it was offered in Hans Schulman’s “The Golden Sale of the Century” where it was illustrated and sold for US$7500. Finally, it was offered and sold by Christie’s in the “Escudo Sale” of March 1970 and on April 1st of the same year it was authenticated and evaluated by Schulman for $10,000. The certificate as presented to the owner of the coin, Enrique Maulme, accompanies this lot.

An apparent contradiction to the Reales/Escudos denomination of the time, the 50 Francos was actually struck not for internal circulation but for international trade.

Some researchers argue that this piece was struck at the Paris Mint, since it features the “A” mint mark, but it is our opinion that it was actually struck in Ecuador mainly due to the crudeness of the design and overall engraving quality.

Important South American numismatist Carlos Jara also argues that this piece was probably part of a small circulation issue coin while Friedberg and Krause both list it as a pattern piece.

It is unquestionable though that this piece is one of the most charismatic and intriguing coins of South America if not the world. Estimate: $400,000 – $500,000.

The Caballero de las Yndias Coin Collection sold by AUREO & CALICO but “Highlight Coin” Disappoints

1609_Felipe_III_barcellona_1022092,200 high grade samples of mostly scarce, rare or unique specimens from Spain, her colonies and empire ranging from the Visigothic era to the present were sold Oct 21-22 by Aureo & Calico in Barcelona Spain. The Caballero de las Yndias collection is stunning representation of all of the mints that struck coinage for all of the Spanish dynasties throughout all of the rulers and respective types.

The “Caballero de las Yndias” (Knight of the Yndias) collection contains numismatic treasures, the scope and the quality of which have never before brought to the auction block before.

Interestingly, the collection is being sold by an American who inherited it from a Basque ancestor who had emigrated to the US.

Aureo & Calicó’s coin specialist, Eduard Domingo, told the media that “the coins, all of them solid gold, were minted between the first century (Roman) and the 20th century (during the reign of Alfonso XIII)”.

The star piece was without doubt Lot: 1863, a gold coin known as a Centén (due to its worth of 100 reales, an antiquated Spanish currency). It weighs in at almost 11 ounces.

The coin was minted in Segovia in 1609 by order of the then monarch Philip III. It is the largest gold coin ever minted in Spain and was the first of its kind in Europe.
(more…)

NGC Certifies Classic South American Gold Coin Rarity

The unique Ecuador 1862 50 Francos will be auctioned in January as part of Heritage’s Signature World Coin Auction in New York.

ngc_equador_unique_101509NGC recently certified the unique Ecuador 1862 50 Francos struck in gold. This classic rarity of 19th-century South American coinage is an experimental denomination that conforms to the European coinage standards of the era. It is graded NGC AU 55.

The coin first appeared in published texts in 1956, offered by Robert Friedberg in the November issue of The Numismatist from that year. Scholars believe that he acquired the coin from the Virgil Brand estate. After four more auction appearances between 1957 and 1976, it was sold into a private collection where it has remained since.

Although originally listed in Standard Catalog of World Coins as “unique” alongside the regular issue coinage of Ecuador, it was re-catalogued as a pattern coin in 1986, and this reference number is provided on the NGC certification holder. Although its exact origin and occasion for issue are uncertain, a related 5 Francos silver coin was struck for circulation in Ecuador in 1858. That coin contained 25 grams of 900 fine silver — identical weight and fineness to the 5 Francs and other crown-sized European silver coinage.

Some speculate that the coin was produced at the Paris Mint because an “A” mintmark appears beneath the bust of Bolivar. The quality of die engraving, however, seems incompatible with the superior work of Albert Desire Barre, who engraved for the Paris mint at the time, and best evidence suggests that dies were executed in Ecuador. The coin’s obverse shows a profile bust of South American liberator Simón Bolívar, and the reverse displays the coat of arms of Ecuador, above QUITO, the capital city and location of Ecuador’s mint.

After being off the market for three and a half decades, this coin will be auctioned on January 3–4, 2010, as part of Heritage’s Signature World Coin Auction in New York.

1907 Rolled Edge Indian Eagle and Pedigreed Kellogg $20 Highlight B&M Auction

A 1907 Rolled Edge Indian Eagle, a gorgeous and conditionally rare representative of this classic issue in the 20th century gold series, will be offered in Bowers and Merena’s Official Auction of the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money® at the Los Angeles Convention Center and online, August 5-8, 2009, with lot viewing August 1- 8. The auction will also spotlight one of the most important California Gold Rush-era coins produced in San Francisco, the unique Kellogg and Company specimen $20 territorial gold piece personally owned by former U.S. Assayer Augustus Humbert.

This 1907 Rolled Edge Indian Eagle, graded NGC MS-67, is one of the U.S. highlights offered by Bowers and Merena Auctions, August 5 - 8, 2009, during the Official Auction of the ANA World's Fair of Money in Los Angeles.     Photo credit: Bowers and Merena AuctionsListed in the auction catalog as 1907 Judd-1903 (Judd-1775), Pollock-1997, Rarity-5, Rolled Edge, it is described as “a bright, satiny piece” with a strike that is “characteristic of the issue, meaning that it is bold-to-sharp elsewhere yet noticeably soft in the center of the obverse.” The example boasts a Condition Census MS-67 Grade from NGC with a combined PCGS and NGC Population of just 6, 0 finer.

“This is one of only 42 potential examples to have survived the melting of the issue at the Philadelphia Mint, and three of these survivors are known to be in the Smithsonian Institution,” said Steve Deeds, President of Bowers and Merena (www.bowersandmerena.com). “It is very infrequent for any of these remaining specimens to appear at auction, so we fully appreciate how special it is to be able to present coin this coin to our bidding audience.”

The unique specimen striking of the 1854 Kellogg & Co. $20 Gold coin is graded PCGS Specimen-69 and is described in the auction catalog as “possessed of awe-inspiring eye appeal” with a strike that “is 100 percent complete over all the elements of the design.”

“This is the single most important twenty-dollar gold piece issued by Kellogg & Co.,” said Deeds. “It was struck on February 9, 1854, and given by John Glover Kellogg to Augustus Humbert, his friend and future business partner. It later was a highlight of the legendary Garrett Collection at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for decades.”

The auction also includes other rare or even unique United States proof and pattern coins with impressive numismatic pedigrees. (more…)

Unique PCGS-Certified 1870-S Sold by Legend Numismatics in Half Dime Deal

(Lincroft, New Jersey) – The top-rated sets of Capped Bust and Liberty Seated half dimes in the PCGS Set Registry have been sold in a multi-million dollar private sale by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey (www.LegendCoin.com). The 93 coins include many of the finest known examples and the unique 1870-S half dime that was individually valued in this transaction at $1.4 million. The coin is graded PCGS MS-64.

1870-S Half Dime - Photo courtesy of Lyle Engelson/Goldberg Coins & Collectibles. [ Editors Note: For an in depth profile on the 1870-S Half Dime, Read Greg Reynold’s Article in CoinLink’s Coin Guide ]

“The collections are known as ‘The Law Collections,’ named after the anonymous ‘Law Collector,’ a New Jersey hobbyist who sold the coins to us for $2.2 million,” said Laura Sperber, President and Founder of Legend.

“We then sold both sets intact to a Western states collector who told me he would like to exhibit the 1870-S and other coins from his extensive collection, perhaps at an ANA convention next year.”

“The buyer is especially excited about the mint state Liberty Seated half dimes because they will compliment his collection of proof half dimes,” Sperber explained.

The Law Collections of half dimes comprised a total of six different categories that are each ranked number one in the PCGS Set Registry:

* Capped Bust Half Dimes Basic Set, Circ. Strikes, 1829-1837 (with a weighted grade point average of 67.20);
* Capped Bust Half Dimes with Varieties, Circulation Strikes, 1829-1837 (66.091 GPA);
* Liberty Seated Half Dimes Date Set, Circulation Strikes, 1837-1873 (66.06 GPA);
* Liberty Seated Half Dimes Basic Set, Circulation Strikes, 1837-1873 (65.03 GPA);
* Liberty Seated Half Dimes with Varieties, Circulation Strikes, 1837-1873 (65.07 GPA); and
* Liberty Seated Half Dimes with Varieties & 1870-S, Circulation Strikes, 1837-1873 (65.03 GPA).

This is the only complete set of Liberty Seated half dimes possible since it includes the unique 1870-S, the only coin not in the legendary Eliasberg Collection.

Baltimore banker Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. assembled virtually one example of everything struck by the United States before his death in 1976. The 1870 San Francisco Mint half dime was not discovered until 1978 when it was reported to the hobby by Rare Coin Company of America (Rarcoa) in Chicago.

(more…)

Unique Items: The Largest Silver Coin Known of the Roman Empire

Ira & Larry Goldberg will be hosting their Pre-Long Beach Auction #53 on May 24-26th at the Crowne Plaza Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills CA 90212. The auction consists of a great selection of US coins along with World Coins and Ancients.

In browsing the on-line catalogue we came across this Unique item, The Largest Known Silver Coin of the Roman Emprire. Below is the full description from the Goldberg catalogue:

Valentinian I, AD 364-375. Silver Multiple of 24 Miliaresia (48 Siliquae)Valentinian I, AD 364-375. Silver Multiple of 24 Miliaresia (48 Siliquae) 104.3 g. 66 mm., minted at Antioch, AD 369. Diademed, cuirassed and draped bust right of Valentinian. Reverse: Legend in four lines within laurel wreath; below, “AN” (mintmark for Antioch). Unpublished, and apparently unique; cf. Kent, RIC X, p. 139 discussing the Priscus Attalus medallion of quarter-pound weight. Some light porosity and displaying stray marks. Minimal wear results in the net grade of Extremely Fine. .

This, the largest silver coin known of the Roman Empire, is a silver multiple weighing one-third of a Roman pound of silver. Remarkably thick in comparison to contemporary silver coins, it was struck at a time when silver, as a metal, was scarce. The normal silver unit of account was the siliqua; 24 siliquae equaled a gold solidus. The siliqua, the silver miliarense and the gold solidus were introduced during the monetary reforms of Constantine the Great. During Constantine’s reign, gold was valued at about 14 times the worth of an equal weight of silver. Modern numismatists use the terms “siliqua” and “miliarense”as denomination names; however, they have no basis in fact as having been used in ancient times to refer to a specific coin.

This gargantuan gift was no doubt presented to a high-ranking Roman officer or dignitary. One theory that has been advanced is the possibility that Count Theodosius himself, peacemaker of Britain at the time, was the recipient of the medallion. A likely occasion for this honor was Valentinian’s quinquennial celebration, held on 25 February AD 369.
Estimated Value $300,000 – 400,000. (more…)

Unique Ancient Coin Die Tiberius, 14-37 A.D.

Ancient Coin DieWhile browsing the upcoming Stacks  Saint Ludovico and Firth of Clyde Collections  auction catalog set to commence on April 22-23rd at the Doubletree Hotel Chicago in Rosemont , Ill., we cam across a most unusual and unique item we wanted to highlight on CoinLink.

Occasionally numismatic items appear that few have ever seen, and actual production dies are one of these, however a die used to strike ancient coins is an even rarer item.

Below is some background on  unique example of an ancient coin die used to strike  a Tribute Penny – Denarius of the mint of Lugdunum, and perhaps the first known evidence of early coin brockage.

We hope you find this as interesting as we have.

The Stacks Catelog states the following:

Side view of ancient coin die“A Unique Die for a Tribute Penny – Denarius of the mint of Lugdunum. An official die with the obverse of a denarius stuck on the top. Laureate head r.; TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS. 161.16 grams. Height: 36.8mm, circumference: 31.4mm at its widest.

In Catalogue des Monnaies de l’Empire Romain, Tiberius- Nero (Paris, 1988), Jean-Baptiste Giard listed 12 known dies, 11 of which having been found in the Lugdunum (Lyon) area (an area of 200km).

Four were found in 1863 at Paray-le-Monial (Saone-et-Loire) and are now in museums. Six were unearthed in Auxerre (Yonne) in 1799, four of which are now at he Cabinet des Médailles de la BnF; the other two reside at the Musee monétaire de la Monnaie de Paris. And one was found at Vertault (Côte d’or).

This die come from an old collection in Poule-les-Echarmaux (Rhône), which is in the same area. (more…)

Unique Items: 1865 50C Half Dollar, Judd-431, Pollock-504, Unique

The obverse features the familiar Liberty Seated design used for regular-issue coinage in 1865. The reverse design consists of the traditional perched eagle motif, with the addition of the scroll and motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The reverse design was not adopted for regular coinage of this denomination until 1866. Struck in aluminum with a reeded edge. Sold at the 2009 January Orlando, FL Heritage FUN Auction #1121 Lot: 1639 for $46,000

It is possible that Judd-431 was struck in 1865 as a die trial piece, but it seems unlikely. There is no discernible reason to test the transitional pattern dies in such an exotic and expensive metal in 1865. Walter Breen noted that the obverse die was different from any of the regular-issue No Motto proofs produced in that year. It is most likely that Judd-431 is a fantasy piece, created for sale to collectors at a later date.

Whatever its origin, the extreme rarity of this issue is not in doubt. Andrew Pollock, the latest Judd reference, and USPatterns.com all list this coin as unique. Robert Coulton Davis was aware of the issue and listed it as number 198 in his pioneering work on patterns in 1885. There was no example of Judd-431 in the R.C. Davis Collection (New York Coin and Stamp, 1/1890) at the time it was sold. Davis must have known about the coin from another source. The piece was also missing from the Parmelee Collection, Woodin’s consignment at the 1914 ANS Exhibition, the King Farouk Collection, and the Lohr Collection. (more…)

Unique Items: 1797 Die Trial $5 Five Dollar Struck in copper

1797 DT$5 Five Dollar, Judd-24, Pollock-40, Unique--Mint Defaced--PR50 NGC. 1797 DT$5 Five Dollar, Judd-24, Pollock-40, Unique–Mint Defaced–PR50 NGC.

This issue is an original die trials piece from 1797. It was defaced at the Mint to prevent possible counterfeiting (it would be a simple matter to gild the piece, and five dollars was a lot of money in 1797).

Miraculously preserved, this piece has been known to numismatists since the 1890s. The dies were used to strike an extremely rare variety of 1797 half eagle, BD-4, with only a single example known today. The BD-4 variety was unknown until Robert P. Hilt discovered a specimen in the Byron Reed Collection in 1972. Harry Bass purchased that coin at the sale of the Byron Reed Collection (Spink, 10/1996), lot 99, and it now resides in the Harry Bass Research Foundation.

Because of this unique copper pattern, the BD-4 reverse die was known to the numismatic community for almost a century before the single gold example was discovered. Unique, the only specimen known. The coin has been off the market for 20 years, and it may not be offered again for decades.

While not a thing of beauty, this coin has character and unparalleled historic charm. Heavy blows from a blunt instrument have distorted the devices on both sides, but enough detail survives to identify the design. The dark brown surfaces have been well preserved, and the romance of the early Mint enhances every detail.

Provenance. Ex: Woodside Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 4/1892), lot 7; Virgil Brand; Forty-First Catalog (New Netherlands, 9/1953), lot 419; Matt Rothert Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1973), lot 1266; Breen II (Pine Tree, 6/1975), lot 332; Everson and Faught (Bowers and Merena, 6/1988), lot 281.
Part of the The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (#11068) Being offered By Heritage at the FUN Signature Sale in Orlando Wednesday, January 7, 2009 as Lot 1504

Unique Items: 1807 Draped Bust Half Dollar, SP65

1807 50C Specimen 65 PCGS. O-109, unique as a specimen strike.

Unique Specimen 1807 Bust half DollarThe superb, talented engraver Joseph Wright, designer of the Liberty Cap cent and half cent, was the first full-time engraver hired at the Philadelphia Mint. Tragically, he died in September 1793 during one of the annual yellow fever epidemics that killed so many early Philadelphia residents.

Robert Scot was hired only two months later as chief engraver, a post he held until his death in 1823. Scot was born in 1744 and was already 50 years old when he began working for the Mint. Although Scot was later criticized for his modest talent and slow work style, among his improvements at the Mint were the use of device punches; for example, the whole head of Liberty, so that only the date, stars, and letters required addition to the working dies.

By 1807 Scot, then 63, faced serious competition from a younger rival, John Reich, who was much more talented judging from each man’s artistic accomplishments. Breen writes in his Complete Encyclopedia:

John Reich sold himself into indentured service to escape to the USA from the Napoleonic Wars. As early as 1801 his name came to official attention as one of the finest engravers in the country. Opposition from Robert Scot prevented the Mint from hiring him except for occasional odd temporary assignments. But in 1807, Scot’s health (for which read failing eyesight) was a source of serious concern to officialdom; accordingly, the Mint hired Reich as assistant engraver at a pittance of $600 per year. (more…)

Unique Items – 1889 $3 Indian Head Three Dollars In Copper

Judd-1756a, Pollock-1970, Unique, PR64 Brown NGC.

The regular issue obverse and reverse design for the three dollar gold piece. Struck in copper with a reeded edge. The first notice of this pattern appeared in Numismatic News, November 26, 1985. This is an attractive Choice proof with rich chocolate-brown and olive color, graced by pale blue toning. Both sides have reflective and partially mirrored fields.

This pattern is believed to be unique and first appeared for sale in the 1987 ANA auction. It is also the only pattern issue produced in 1889, to the best of our knowledge. It is clearly an intentional pattern and not a mint error.

The weight is 76.5 grains (per the 1987 ANA catalog), almost twice the weight of a contemporary cent planchet of that time period. The cataloger of its 1987 appearance wrote: “The proof finish of the coin, and the fact that it was carefully struck on a medal press, with properly adjusted dies so as to produce a high wire edge, precludes the possibility of its being struck in error on a bronze planchet intended for a foreign coin or for some other circulating piece.”

It is also too well made to be a die trial or test piece, thus its intent is not specifically known, but may have been made in response to a special request by a favored collector-customer of the U.S. Mint.

Ex: Bowers and Merena (8/1987), lot 1505; Superior (10/1990). From The Jones Beach Collection. (#62199)

This item sold at Heritage’s 2007 January Orlando, FL (FUN) Signature Coin Auction #422 as Lot 1627 and realized $29,900

Unique Items: Undated (1840) P25C Quarter Dollar Master Die Impression

Judd-110, Pollock-123, Unique

Undated (1840) P25C Quarter Dollar Master Die Impression, Judd-110, Pollock-123Regarded in the past as a hub impression of the modified Gobrecht Seated Liberty design. However, a hub impression would have the design reversed. We believe this is a trial from the master die. This is the With Drapery design that is struck on an oversized planchet. This impression was struck, according to the Judd book, after Robert M. Patterson asked Robert Ball Hughes to prepare a plaster medallion of Gobrecht’s design for use as the basis for a new hub.

After closely examining this piece and even after John Dannreuther examined it, we still have more questions than answers about these two pieces. The Judd-110 appears to have been made on a lathe with fine lines on the blank areas outside the design. Also, each side shows a prominent centering dot. First, while the piece has consistently been termed as brass, it is really brass coated. Close examination shows areas of the central design that show flaking of the brass, notably on the extended arm and torso of Liberty.

Undated (1840) P25C Quarter Dollar Master Die Impression, Judd-110, Pollock-123The underlying core appears to be a base metal, darkish gray in color. Why was it brass coated if it was meant to simulate a quarter? The eagle on the reverse is notably soft around the outline of the eagle’s body. Why would a master die impression lack highpoint detail? Why are the peripheral design elements raised? It appears that a circular inner border was scored in the master die, then the letters were individually punched in–note the unevenness of QUAR. The reverse field is considerably lower and seems to have been polished away from the raised “track” for the peripheral lettering.

To help answer some of these questions, researcher extraordinaire John Dannreuther rendered an extensive opinion on these two pieces.

“When the Contamin portrait lathe was introduced in February 1837, the Mint had only hired engravers as Chief Engravers or as second or assistant engravers … Scot, Kneass, Gobrecht, Gardner, etc. were either plate engravers or other type engravers.

“In late 1839 or early 1840 (I have not pinned down the exact date), Robert Ball Hughes, a sculptor who was famous for the day, was hired to modify Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated design. Thus, we have Judd-110. (more…)

Unique Items: 1878 $5 Liberty Head Half Eagle Pattern – Judd-1570 PCGS PR-65

1878 $5 Liberty Head Half Eagle, Judd-1570, Pollock-1764, Unique, PR65 PCGSA bold, aggressive representation of Liberty shown facing left, her hair combed back and tied in a bun, with a long curl that extends well down the back of the neck. Two ornamental ribbons decorate the top of her head, including one that runs horizontally and proclaims the word LIBERTY in incused letters.

The portrait is framed by the date and by E PLURIBUS UNUM, with the words of this obverse motto separated by pellets or periods. The reverse design features a defiant heraldic eagle grasping an olive branch and three arrows in its talons. The inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN GOD WE TRUST, and FIVE DOL. encompass the eagle. Struck in gold on a thin, reeded edge planchet and a diameter very close to one inch (25.4 mm.), compared to the 21.6 mm. diameter that was standard at the time.

These broad, thin planchets were first suggested by Dr. J.T. Barclay of the U.S. Mint in the mid-1850s and an initial prototype was struck in the form of the 1860 gold half eagle pattern, Judd-271, which has an even larger diameter of 27 mm., equaling that of a ten dollar piece. They were intended as an anti-counterfeiting measure during a period when rising production of gold coins and increased availability of similarly heavy, but contemporarily less valuable platinum metal ignited concern among Mint officials over the potential use of platinum plugs for existing gold coins. This fear, referred to in Mint reports as the “platinum menace,” apparently gained at least mild support in the years following the Civil War, although it eventually proved to be unfounded as a widespread problem.

This piece is plated in the Sotheby’s February 1954 catalog of the King Farouk Collection, and Andrew Pollock noted an earlier pedigree to Waldo C. Newcomer. This is probably the same piece that has an earlier pedigree back to Harold Newlin in 1884. (more…)