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US Coins: Those Magical CC Morgans

By Jim Fehr – The Winning Edge

Coins disappearing as collectors and investors buy rarities
Hello, all. This article has be updated with new PCGS and NGC census and pricing information as of September 2010. Hope you enjoy.

There are over one hundred and fifty new purchases in this issue of The Edge, so take a close look at this listing. There should be plenty to choose from whether you’re buying rare dates for your set or just starting out.

The market is good – stable prices and strong demand for rarities along with an expanding collector base. In fact, an 1804 Class 1 Draped Bust Dollar just traded for $3.7 million at the Central States Numismatic Society coin convention in Rosemont, IL. It was a record breaking price for this particular 1804 dollar. It last traded for $475,000 in 1993!

The Carson City Dollars

Politically, the pro-silver factions in this country have always been very strong. The Bland Allison Act and Sherman Act in the late 1800’s required the U.S. Government to purchase large quantities of silver and coin it into silver dollars that, at the time, were not being used in circulation. Therefore, Morgan silver dollars flooded into the treasury vaults. In 1918 the Pittman Act was enacted in part, to sell off the excesses holdings of silver in the treasury vaults, not more than 350 million silver dollar pieces were to be melted. But pro-silver factions helped convolute the Pittman Act.

Due to their influence, one provision of the Pittman Act required the U.S. government to buy domestically one silver ounce for each silver dollar ounce the Pittman Act required be melted and sold. The silver was sold to England at $1 per ounce. In other words, as the government was buying up all the silver dollars in circulation and melting them, along with what was stored in the treasury vaults, they were also forced to replace the melted dollars with domestically bought silver bullion – which they then coined into the new 1921 Morgan silver dollars.

Yet, because of the domestic silver purchase provision in the Pittman Act, many of the silver dollars were never melted and in this way the government unintentionally kept a hoard of about 155 million silver dollars for over 40 years. Since silver dollars during the early 1900’s were used frequently only in Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming, circulating Morgans dried up quickly.

Fast forward to Kennedy. From 1960 to 1964, the government suddenly released over 152 million silver dollars, at face value. The government was the last to learn that many of these coins were worth more than face value because they were prized by collectors. Three years later in 1967, silver prices were up enough to make any silver dollar worth over face value in bullion alone. Afraid to let go of any more too cheaply, the government held back 2.8 million of the lower mintage Carson City dollars.

Sen. Key Pittman – Nevada

On the last day of 1970, President Nixon signed into law the Bank Holding Company Act Amendments. The act authorized the General Services Administration to sell the 2.8 million Carson City dollars in any suitable manner, and thereby created the modern market for Carson City silver dollars. The treasury chose to market the CC dollars via several mail bid sales. There were five sales from 1972 to 1974, then two more in 1980. Minimum bid on 1882-CC, 1883-CC, and 1884-CC was $40-$42; minimum bid was $180 for 1880-CC, 1881-CC, and 1885-CC. (more…)

Gold Confiscation Past and Present

There was a recent article posted  by David Ganz in Numismatics News titled “Protect Your Gold Against Seizure” (actually it is just the first part of a multi-part article), where several topics were discussed, not the least of which was FDR’s Executive order from April 5, 1933.

Many “Gold Bugs” in addition to just regular investors who have moved into the gold marketplace are concerned that if the economic crisis worsens, there is or might be the possibility that we could see new efforts to confiscate gold on the part of the government.

Indeed the Glen Beck-Goldine controversy with NY Congressman Anthony Weiner is in part about what Rep Weiner calls misleading statements and fear-mongering on the part of Beck and Goldline, to use the 1933 Executive order to steer buyers into numismatic coins (and common date foreign gold coins) which were exempt under the 1933 confiscation order, rather than purchasing lower margin bullion products, such as American Gold Eagles, Krugerrands and the like.

CoinLink is going to have an article about the Beck-Goldline-Weiner story next week which is sure to piss off a number of people.

Back to David Ganz’s article. There were several thing in the piece that raised our eyebrows and were just interesting.  Mr Ganz is both an attorney and a highly intelligent and insightful coin enthusiast. We always follow his articles with the highest degree of interest.

FDR Ends Gold Standard in 1933

He related that there was some disagreement on whether or not FDR’s Executive order was indeed a confiscation order, or a request for voluntary compliance in the national interest.  It is true that the police did not come knocking at the doors to take all of their gold, but we would have to disagree with Maurice Rosen’s conclusion that this was a voluntary situation. Clearly Section 9 of the Executive Order  (See full text of Executive Order 6102 below) calls for a $10,000 fine and Up to 10 Years in prison for ‘non compliance. That does not sound very  “Voluntary” to me. (more…)

Pinnacle Rarities Trades Finest Known Walking Liberty Half

Elusive 1921-S PCGS MS66 is Placed through Private Treaty

Pinnacle Rarities is proud to announce the private treaty sale of the finest known 1921-S Walking Liberty half. The coin is graded MS66 and is the single finest graded at PCGS. The 1921-S is by far the rarest Walking Liberty half in the uncirculated grades, and is very elusive in the top gem grades.

Most of the early Walkers are tough, especially in gem or better. With the end of WWI, the early twenties saw a decrease in demand for circulating coinage. As such, the mintage figures for 1921 are low. The years surrounding the end of the war produced the series’ most prized dates.

For 1921 all three mint marks are elusive, and despite the slightly higher mintage from San Francisco, the bulk of them were heavily circulated or lost to attrition. Today surviving quality examples are scarce, Coinfacts gives this date a 9.1 in MS65 on a rarity scale of 1 – 10.

In relation to the other series keys, the 1921-S has a bit higher mintage. The lower circulated grades are more available than some more common dates. But as the condition reaches the extra-fine (XF) level, the date becomes increasingly tough. No date in the series has fewer coins graded in the uncirculated grades. Nothing is even close.

The 1919-D is considered by some the King of the Walker series. However, there are just 202 1921-S coins graded in the uncirculated grades and the next closest is the 19-D with 344. So, there are 142 more 19-D halves grading in MS60 or better then there are uncirculated 21-S halves.

In fact, Jeff Ambio author of Collecting & Strategies for Walking Liberty Half Dollars agrees, describing the date as “the rarest Walking Liberty Half in Mint State, (with) Choice examples having tremendous appeal in virtually any numismatic market.”

At Pinnacle Rarities, nothing gets sold on our website that we don’t want to buy back. Pinnacle Rarities takes pride in the fact that after decades of placing some of numismatic’s finest material, many of these rarities come back through our offices. This is a prime example. We have been lucky enough to trade this coin several times. We originally purchased this example from late numismatic icon – Jack Lee. We then placed it into the PCGS Hall of Fame GBW Collection. Although retired, that set still ranks as the all-time finest.

In 2004, we were fortunate enough to buy that collection. We again sold this example privately. When it was time to sell, that collector knew to call us first. And again, we found it a home in a very astute collector’s cabinet. We are unlikely to see this superb example again anytime soon. But rest assured, it has found a good home – no a GREAT home.

The coin has fabulous in hand eye appeal. It is the sharpest struck 1921-S example we’ve encountered. While there is some weakness evident in the central devices, it has great detail with good hand definition and crisp eagle leg feathers. The surfaces are extremely clean with only a couple light hits on the obverse.

The reverse is faultless. Some light toning in the peripheries provides a pleasing palette of color represented along the rims. This coin has been the centerpiece to every collection it’s been in, and will likely never find an equal.

Odyssey Marine Exploration Challenges Claims by Spain in Its “Black Swan” Appellate Reply

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. today filed its Reply to Spain’s Response in the “Black Swan” case, currently pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia. This is expected to be the last round of written pleadings at the appellate court level. Odyssey’s filing is available for review at http://www.shipwreck.net/blackswanlegal.php

Odyssey is appealing the district court’s dismissal of the case based on the court’s finding of lack of federal jurisdiction. Odyssey’s Reply presents the following documented facts that debunk the misrepresentations made by Spain that contributed to the clear error in the district court’s earlier ruling and that have been repeated in Spain’s appellate Response:

  • there was no vessel and there were no human remains located at the “Black Swan” site
  • Odyssey acted legally and appropriately in the recovery of the “Black Swan” artifacts
  • evidence, including accounts from Spain’s “experts” and Spain’s own contemporaneous diplomatic communications, prove that the Mercedes (the vessel Spain associates with the site) was on a commercial mission on her final voyage — a fact that legally voids Spain’s claim of immunity under settled international law and conventions
  • a distinction between cargo and vessel is allowed and even required by settled admiralty law; and — according to the manifest of the Mercedes, the vast majority of cargo on board did not even belong to Spain — even Spain concedes the cargo was “articles of Spanish citizens.”

“The emotional and inflammatory language used in Spain’s appellate response serves to distract from the truth and the relevant legal issues. The story Spain tells mirrors the one it told at the district level, where the court made clearly erroneous factual findings,” said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel.

“Spain’s filing has painted a negative portrait of Odyssey, but the company has always acted in full compliance with the letter and spirit of the law. We brought the artifacts to the U.S. courts for proper adjudication of claims, but we didn’t even receive a hearing on the jurisdictional facts. If the court did not have jurisdiction, it would have no legal authority to order transfer of the property to Spain, who did not have possession of the coins. (more…)

United States Mint to Adopt New Brand Indenty: “Connecting America through Coins”

Global strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale, www.siegelgale.com, today announced the development of a new brand promise and identity for the United States Mint, a bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury.

The new brand promise, Connecting America through Coins, communicates the widespread influence the United States Mint has on Americans’ everyday lives — highlighting coins as not only a powerful link between American values and commerce, but the basis for everyday moments shared among us. From enabling commerce to initiating the start of sporting events and even helping children learn to count — the coins produced by the United States Mint connect us in various ways.

The new promise and identity were developed based on four objectives: to strengthen the identity and level of awareness with the public, to increase sales of collectible coins, to increase the uptake and use of dollar coins and develop and further build a reputation for the organization as the only legal manufacturer of American coins.

“As the world’s largest coin maker and sole authorized manufacturer of American coins and official medals, the United States Mint has an incredible impact on the American economy,” says David Srere, co-president and chief executive officer, Siegel+Gale. “But, the American public has had little understanding of how the United States Mint touches their lives outside its role of enabling commerce. While recognizing President Obama’s call for openness and transparency in government, we wanted to develop a simple and elegant promise that would act as a foundation for the United States Mint to more clearly communicate the influence it has on us all.”

An accompanying visual identity enlivens the promise with the symbol of a coin flipping in the air to demonstrate the optimistic spirit of America and the inscription of “e pluribus Unum” as a reminder of the nation that brings us all together.

The first phase of the United States Mint’s brand rollout includes the simple and elegant design of packaging for the organization’s highest selling retail item — the Annual Sets. The new brand positioning and identity will be displayed on all the Annual Set packaging, beginning with the 2011 sets.

Siegel+Gale continues to work with the United States Mint as it introduces its new brand.

ANA Urges Members to Contact Congress to Repeal New 1099 Requirements

The American Numismatic Association urges its members to contact their members of Congress and ask to repeal a law that could significantly increase the paperwork burden on dealers and increase the risk of identity theft for all collectors who buy and sell numismatic material.

Under Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as health care reform legislation, businesses will be required to report all goods and services purchased in excess of $600 with an IRS 1099 form. As written, the law would, beginning in 2012, require all coin dealers to report on IRS form 1099 all goods and services (totaled across a taxable year) they purchase from other dealers and customers in excess of $600.

While the legislation applies to all types of businesses, an unusual burden would be placed on numismatic dealers who, unlike most businesses, buy goods and services from each other and their retail clients. In addition, dealers will be required to gather personal information on all clients who sell them goods or services in excess of $600, including name, address and social security number.

“All dealers will be disproportionately and unfairly impacted by this legislation,” said ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd. “As a former dealer, I can see how a small-to-medium-sized dealer could easily be required to submit 1,000 or more 1099s in a typical year, at very significant cost. In addition, all collectors would be forced to give out personal information that could increase the possibility of identity theft. This section of the healthcare reform bill is a nightmare for everyone in this hobby. We need to make sure that our voices are heard.”

Shepherd cautioned that the numismatic community should understand that this is not a new tax, but rather a method by which the IRS can collect more information in hopes that more taxpayers will report taxable income. The assumption is that the new regulation would generate about $17 billion over 10 years, increasing tax revenue to cover some of the costs of health care reform.

Already, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) has introduced HR 5141 to repeal this part of the health care reform act, and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S. 3578. Both bills are titled “The Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act,” and will likely need more co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and Senate.

“The ANA urges everyone who loves this hobby to contact your representatives and urge them to sign on to HR 5141 and to contact both your senators and urge them to sign on to S. 3578,” Shepherd said.

The ANA has posted sample letters from dealers or collectors below and on its website at www.money.org.

For contact information on your members of Congress, go to www.house.gov or www.senate.gov. Anyone without a computer should contact the local office of your representative or senator, or call the U.S. Capitol at 202-224-3121. (more…)

The Ten Rarest Three Dollar Gold Pieces

top_10_three_dollarIn my continuing series that has focused on the ten rarest coins in each denomination of United States gold coin struck from the late 1830’s to the early 1900’s, I’ve nearly reached the end of the road. The last major denomination to discuss is the enigmatic Three Dollar gold piece.

This denomination was produced from 1854 to 1889. For more details and history behind the series I suggest that you read the book the Q. David Bowers and I wrote in 2005. It is available through Stack’s and fine numismatic booksellers everywhere.

The ten rarest Three Dollar gold pieces are as follows:

1. 1870-S:

The 1870-S is the only unique regular issue U.S. gold coin. The sole example resides in the Harry Bass core collection that is currently housed in the ANA Museum in Colorado Springs. Bass purchased it for $687,500 at the Eliasberg sale in 1982. It had been acquired by private treaty from Stack’s in January 1946 for $11,500. The coin is not visually impressive when you see it in person. It has the details of Extremely Fine/About Uncirculated but it was once used as a watch fob by the former Chief Coiner of the San Francisco mint. It has the numbers “893” scratched on the reverse above the wreath tips at 12:00. Nonetheless, it remains one of the two most desirable regular issue United States gold coins, along with the 1822 half eagle. What would this coin bring if sold in the near future? That’s a hard question to answer. There are not many collectors that specialize in this series and the coin itself, as I mentioned above, is not destined to win any beauty contests. That said, it’s unique and it’s a legitimate regular issue with no mystery or controversy trailing it. I’d set the over/under line at $5 million and probably take the over…if I were a betting man.

2. 1875:

This date has been a celebrated rarity for well over a century and it is the first United States coin to eclipse the $100,000 mark at public auction, all the way back in 1972. The mintage is traditionally said to be 20 pieces, all in a Proof format. We can deduce with certainty that more than this were made to satisfy contemporary demand. Today, there are between two and three dozen known. Ironically, the 1875 is among the least rare Three Dollar proofs from this era, in relation to the total numbers known. But the fact that business strikes do not exist make it a very rare issue from the standpoint of overall availability. Gems continue to sell in the $175,000-250,000+ range and the level of demand for the 1875 continues to be as strong as ever.
(more…)

All-Time Greatest Collection of Barber Half Dollars to be Auctioned in Boston, Part 2

by Greg Reynolds

In part 1, I introduced Dr. Duckor’s set of Barber Halves, mentioned the last two coins that he added, focused on his 1904-S half, and discussed the building of his set of Barber halves. Here in part 2, the historical and cultural importance of this set will be analyzed, with references to other landmark sets of Barber Halves. In my last weekly column, on Wed. Aug 4th, I discussed two other halves in Dr. Duckor’s set, both of which were previously in the Thaine Price collection, his 1893-O and 1895-S. (As usual, clickable links are in blue.)

IV. Gem Sets of Business Strike Barbers

Only a small number of collectors have attempted to assemble a set of gem quality Barber Half Dollars. These were minted from 1892 to 1915. Barber Dimes and Quarters were also first minted in 1892, though these continued until 1916. In low grades, Good-04 to Fine-12, a set of Barber Halves is easy to complete. Without consideration of the 1892 Micro O variety, Numismedia.com suggests that a whole set, in Good-04 grade, could be assembled for around $2500.

Generally, many collectors choose Barber Halves over Barber Quarters because a set of Barber Halves is easier to complete. An 1896-S quarter may cost as much as $1000 in Good condition, while a 1901-S quarter could easily cost more than $5000. So, kids and other beginners are often discouraged from Barber Quarters because they are concerned that they will never be able to complete a set. In grades of MS-65 and higher, though, Barber Halves are much more expensive than the quarters overall.

In many instances, when a collector becomes wealthy, he (or she) returns to some of the series that he collected when he had far less money, often to coin types that he collected as a kid or as a relatively young adult. As sets of circulated Barber Halves have been completed by so many collectors, I am surprised that so few advanced, wealthy collectors have sought to complete sets of gem quality Barber Halves. Such a quest may be very exciting.

Yes, gem quality Barber Halves have been worth significant sums of money since the late 1980s. From then to the present, however, it has often been type coin collectors and speculators that have demanded gem quality Barber Halves. Over the last century, there have been very few collectors, who strongly focused upon completing sets of gem quality, business strike Barber coins.

A perusal of catalogues of auctions of especially great collections from the 1940s to the 1970s demonstrates that minimal attention was given to Barber Halves. It seems that, in decades past, collectors of half dollars felt an obligation to include Barber Halves because traditional rules stipulate that a collection of classic half dollars should include all the dates that the respective collector could afford. In the traditions of coin collecting in the U.S., completion is a value of a high order.

Only in rare instances was a collection of business strike Barber Halves a focus. In addition to being the foremost researcher of U.S. Patterns, Saul Teichman has engaged in a tremendous amount of general research regarding great collections. “One point to remember is that Barber Halves were no big deal in the 1960s and early 1970s,” Teichman remarks, “many of these were under $100 in gem grade back then.”

Several of those who built the greatest U.S. coin collections of all time did, in fact, very much appreciate Barber Halves. Their respective collections featured numerous gem quality Barber Halves. (more…)

San Francisco Double Eagles: A Date by Date Analysis Part Three

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Part One
Part Two

In 1877, a third type of double eagle was created when the reverse valuation was changed from TWENTY D to TWENTY DOLLARS. Liberty Head double eagles were produced with just one interruption (1886) from 1877 through 1907. This is a very easy series to complete as all thirty issues are readily available in the lower Uncirculated grades and many of the post-1890 date can even be found in Gem.

I would recommend this series for beginning collectors or advanced collectors who are more interested in grade than absolute rarity. What follows is a date-by-date analysis of each issue.

1877-S: This is the most common Type Three San Francisco double eagle from the 1870’s. It is common in grades up to an including MS62. It becomes scarce in MS63 and is very rare in MS64 and above. Most are seen with good luster and nice color but heavily abraded surfaces. The finest known is Stack’s 1/09: 1420, graded MS65 by NGC, which set a record price for the date at $29,900.

1878-S: The 1878-S is scarcer than the 1877-S but it is still a fairly easy date to find in grades up to an including MS62. In MS63 it is rare and it is extremely rare above this. The finest that I have personally seen is the high end PCGS MS63, ex Heritage 9/06: 4139, which sold for a strong $23,000. This date is characterized by soft, frosty luster and heavy abrasions on the surfaces.

1879-S:
This is easily the scarcest San Francisco Type Three double eagle from the 1870’s and it is one of the harder SF issues of this type to locate. It is scarce even in the lowest Uncirculated grades and it is very scarce in properly graded MS62. In MS63, the 1879-S is very rare and there is but one example graded better than this, a PCGS MS64, ex Heritage 9/07: 3851, which sold for an amazing $63,250. Virtually every known example is marred by excessive bagmarks and many have impaired luster as a result.

1880-S: The 1880-S is only marginally scarce in MS60 to MS61 but it becomes a hard date to find in properly graded MS62. It is rare in MS63 and very rare above this but there are a few very high quality pieces known. The best is a superb NGC MS66, ex Heritage 2004 ANA: 7626, which brought a hefty $92,000 and the second best is an NGC MS65, ex Bowers and Merena 2/06: 603 that was bid up to $54,625. These are the two best early date Type Three San Francisco double eagles that I have personally seen.

1881-S: The 1881-S is much more available in the MS60 to MS62 range than the 1879-S and 1880-S. It is only moderately scarce in MS62 but it becomes rare in MS63 and I have never seen one that graded higher than this. The best I am aware of are a small group of nice PCGS MS63 coins, the last of which to sell was Heritage 4/09: 2763 (at $17,250). As with all of the early S Mint Type Three issues, this date is characterized by good luster and color but heavy surface marks.

1882-S: Beginning with this issue, the Type Threes from San Francisco become more available in the lower Uncirculated grades. The 1882-S is very common through MS62 and slightly scarce in MS63. But it is very rare in properly graded MS64 and I am not aware of any Gems. The best I know of is ex Heritage 7/06: 1714; a PCGS MS63 that brought $23,000.

1883-S:
The 1883-S is very common through MS63 but it becomes very rare in MS64 and it may not exist in Gem. This date is seen with good luster and color but is almost always very heavily abraded. There is a small group of properly graded MS64’s known and the last of these to sell was Heritage 1/10: 2261, graded by NGC, which realized $16,100. (more…)

Previously Unknown Specimen of 1855 $50 Kellogg & Co. Fifty Dollar available at Heritage Boston ANA Coin Auction

In the words of B. Max Mehl, the Kellogg & Co. fifty dollar gold pieces are “the most beautiful of all Pioneer gold coins and one of the rarest.” While Heritage has handled Kellogg fifties on several occasions in the past, we take particular pleasure in offering this specimen, which seems to match none of the previously known examples of this extraordinary issue. A “new” Kellogg fifty is a numismatic landmark and an unparalleled opportunity for the Territorial gold collector.

For more than a century, numismatists have puzzled over the purpose of the Kellogg fifties and exactly how many were struck. All known specimens were minted in proof format, suggesting they may have served as presentation pieces for bankers and politicians: They were struck when the firm was considering a large business strike mintage to compete with the fifty dollar pieces of their competitors, Wass, Molitor and Company. The “regular-issue” coins never materialized, but the proof production has delighted and puzzled collectors since the coins appeared.

One disputed question about the Kellogg proof fifties has been the number struck. The proprietors of Kellogg & Co., John Glover Kellogg and Augustus Humbert, were partners in 1855. Both of them retained several examples of the Kellogg fifties long after they dissolved their partnership in 1860. Kellogg’s heirs, including his son Karl, remained in possession of three coins many years after Kellogg’s death in 1886. Humbert, who died in 1873, left his collection to his brother, Pierre. When Pierre died in 1901, his heirs sold the collection to Captain Andrew C. Zabriskie. As Henry Chapman relates in the introduction to the Zabriskie Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1909):

“Capt. Zabriskie some years ago had the good fortune to purchase from his executors the collection of coins left by Mr. Humbert, the California Assayer, and from which collection he derived many of the most remarkable Pioneer Gold Coins, which , added to his collection that had been forming for many years, makes his Pioneer Gold the best ever offered at public sale.”

Later in the sale, Chapman described the Kellogg fifty in lot 341, which realized $1,250, a huge price at the time. To quote his description in part:

“Sharp, beautiful specimen. The finest known, as Capt. Zabriskie had his choice of the six which Mr. Humbert had preserved. So far as I am aware, it is possible about 10 are known, in fact, this is the number it is said was coined.”

Chapman thus reveals the startling fact that Humbert saved at least six specimens of this issue until his death. We can only wonder what Humbert’s purpose was, since $300 was a large sum in 1855, too large to tie up in souvenirs. Whatever his reasons, he deserves the thanks of all Pioneer gold collectors for preserving so many of these wonderful coins. In his catalog of Humbert’s collection, which he sold in 1902, Chapman mentioned one specimen in the collection of J.W. Scott, which would be the 10th coin in his census, after the three kept by Kellogg’s family and the six in Humbert’s estate.

The trouble with Chapman’s roster is this: More than 10 specimens have always been known to numismatists since the coins surfaced. The census of known examples has gone up and down over the years, but most catalogers agree at least 13 pieces were struck, even if fewer examples seemed to be extant at a particular time. With the appearance of the present coin, we have a pictorial record of what seem to be 14 different coins. (more…)

Bowers and Merena Auctions to Host Boston Rarities Auction

Auction to Feature Condition Census #4 1794 Silver Dollar

Bowers and Merena Auctions will host its Boston Rarities Auction on Saturday, Aug. 7 at The Castle at Park Plaza Hotel and Towers in Boston, Mass. The sale, comprised of nearly 1,800 lots, will feature world-class rarities and highly desirable collectors’ coins.

“Three consignments stand out in my mind as defining elements of the importance of this sale: the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation Mint State Set of 1794 United States Coinage, the Horseshoe Collection of New Orleans Mint gold and silver coins, and the Ostheimer Specimen of the 1870-S Seated Liberty Silver Dollar,” said Greg Roberts, CEO of Bowers and Merena. “With selections as diverse, important and desirable as these, we are confident that our Boston Rarities Sale will see spirited bidding from a wide variety of collectors.”

The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation (CCEF) Mint Set of 1794 United States Coinage is a fully Mint State complete set of 1794-dated coins struck from the Half Cent through the Silver Dollar with most coins choice to gem in quality. The coins are among the finest known for their respective issues and die varieties, but the obvious highlight of the set is the Virgil Brand-F.C.C. Boyd-Cardinal specimen of the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. Certified MS-64 by NGC, the coin is Condition Census #4 for the issue and one of only six Mint State examples known to exist. The five coins in the 1794 Mint State Set will be auctioned individually at the beginning of the beginning of the Silver Dollar section.

“This important offering is made possible by the CCEF’s recent acquisition of the Carter-Contursi 1794 Silver Dollar, graded PCGS Specimen-66, which recently sold for $7,850,000 in a transaction that set a world record price for the most valuable coin,” said Roberts.

At the heart of the Horseshoe Collection is one of the most comprehensive sets of New Orleans Mint gold and silver coins that Bowers and Merena has offered in quite some time. The stand-out highlight of the collection is an 1854-O Liberty Double Eagle, a pop 2/0 coin certified AU-55 by PCGS. With an estimated 25-35 surviving coin population from a mintage of 3,250 pieces, it is the second-rarest New Orleans Mint Double Eagle. Other rarities featured in this collection include Morgan Dollar condition rarities, key-date 19th century gold coins from other Mints and a J.W. Scott Restrike of the fabled 1861 Confederate States of America Half Dollar. (more…)

History of Coins: TWO-BITS, FOUR-BITS, SIX-BITS, EIGHT…

by Leon F McClellan as published on columnarios.com

Columnario and a CobHave you ever wondered why a United States quarter-dollar is called “two-bits”? Or, a half-dollar “four-bits”? Do you know why we call our basic monetary unit “dollar” instead of something else?

Two-bits, four-bits, six-bits and eight-bits make reference to the eight-reales silver coin of New Spain and Mexico. It is also called piece of eight and circulated in the English Colonies and freely in the USA following the Revolutionary War. As a matter of fact, the eight-reales coin was legal tender in the United States until 1857 and was the world’s most used coin at one time. It is the renowned piece of eight that became part of the Spanish Main pirate lore.

The coins minted until 1734 technically, are called a cob coins, because they were originally made by hand stamping “tail ends of bars” or “cabos de barra”, which were sliced as planchets from rudely cast, more or less round, bullion bars which were assayed and carefully weighed. “Cabo” might well have given us the name of cob, although it does mean a lump or small mass (as of coal). The second definition comes from the Dutch “kubb”.

Cob coinage was made at the first mint in the Americas in Mexico City, established in 1535. Authorized by a Spanish Royal Decree dated 14 September 1519 to melt, cast, mark and put aside the royal-fifth of the gold and silver being collected from the Aztecs in Mexico City (Tenochtitlan). He used the palace of Axay catl (father of Moctezuma II) for the task. This may be considered the first foundry of New Spain and of all North America.

When Cortes moved into a home in 1521 in what is today the Mexico City suburb of Coyoacn, he established the second foundry in order to meet the demand for currency and produced “more than 130,000 castellanos”, according to information in documents collected by Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana. “Castellano” (Castilian) was the current coin of the time. These were the first cobs of the New World. The royal fifth was faithfully sent to Spain in the Spanish galleons.

When the Viceroyalty of New Spain was established by Spanish Royal Decree signed by the Queen of Spain the 11th of May of 1535, the Casa de Moneda (house of coin or mint) was formally established. Beginning sometime in April of 1536, according to the best estimates, the first mint of the Americas started coining operations.

Cobs did not start pouring-out into world marketplaces until the reign of Phillip II, after 1556. These crudely minted reales (literally, royals) of silver were undated until 1580 when some were and others were not marked with the year of coinage. The first pieces of eight were struck in Spain, as early as 1497, although it was not until after 1572 that the Casa de Moneda in Mexico City struck them. Before that time, only denominations smaller than eight-reales were struck in Mexico. (more…)

Harlan White Honored by California Coin and Bullion Dealers

The California Coin & Bullion Merchants Association (CCBMA) has presented an Exceptional Service Award to veteran rare coin dealer Harlan White of San Diego, California.

“Harlan White is a nationally-known and highly respected coin dealer whose strong commitment the past 25 years to help numismatists avoid needless state regulations and taxation has made my job easier,”said CCBMA President Barry Stuppler of Woodland Hills, California.

Stuppler and CCBMA Vice President Jim Hill of San Diego made the surprise presentation of the award to White at the California State Numismatic Association (CSNA) Educational Symposium in San Diego on March 20, 2010.

Time for the previously unannounced honor was discreetly arranged in the symposium schedule by CSNA Education Director Jim Hunt, according to Stuppler.

The California Coin & Bullion Merchants Association works with elected and appointed government officials in California to inform them about the benefits of rare coin and precious metals ownership.

With the assistance of a lobbyist in Sacramento, CCBMA seeks to prevent legislation that negatively affects the entire numismatic and bullion community. The organization also provides information to the public and law enforcement agencies to assist in the recovery of stolen coins.

For additional information about CCBMA, visit www.ccbma.com. For additional information about the California State Numismatic Association and future educational symposiums, visit www.calcoin.org.

1943-S Lincoln Cent Struck in Bronze sold by Heritage for $207K

The Amazing Branch Mint Error Rarity Graded VF35 by PCGS

Coming on the heels of Heritage’s offering of a 1943 bronze cent struck at Philadelphia in their January 2010 FUN Auction, Heritage has just sold this 1943-S bronze cent in the February 2010 Long Beach Auction.

Few coins are so misunderstood, so mysterious, so legendary as the 1943 cents struck in bronze, known informally as the 1943 “copper” cents.

In 1943, the U.S. Mint switched from bronze to zinc-plated steel for cent coinage in an effort to conserve copper for use in World War II. Over a billion “Steel Cents” were struck by the three Mints combined in 1943, though a majority of the known 1943 “copper” cents were struck in Philadelphia, not Denver or San Francisco. Fewer than 20 are known.

Most experts believe the error occurred when left-over bronze planchets were mixed with a batch of the new Steel planchets that went through the usual striking methods, then escaped into circulation.

An article by Gary Eggleston stated “In the June issue of the “Numismatist,” 1947, it was reported that a Dr. Conrad Ottelin had discovered a 1943 bronze Lincoln Head cent. A few weeks before Dr. Ottelin’s discovery, Don Lutes, Jr., a 16 year old from Pittsfield, MA, found one in his change from the high school cafeteria. Then in 1958, a boy named Marvin Beyer also found the 1943 bronze cent. With the publicity from all three finds, and estimates that these coins could sell for at least 5 figures (at that time) at auction, a national frenzy was created. Every man, woman and child sifted through their pocket change looking for their fortune.” (more…)

Canadian “Dot Cent” Rarity Sold in New York by Heritage for $400K+

UPDATE: Legendary 1936 Dot Cent–Finest of Three Known had been sold to an identified buyer for  $402,500.

Pre-sale estimates of the coin valued it at around $300,000. The penny was part of one of the most valuable Canadian coin collections ever offered at auction, however while the 1936 penny is certainly among the priciest Canadian coins ever sold, it did not a new record for the country. A 1911 Canadian silver dollar — one of only two known to exist — was sold in 2003 to a Canadian collector for $1.1 million

ha_dot_cent_112309Heritage’s  2010 January Signature World Coin Auction features quite a number of great coins, but none are as famous as the legendary Canadian 1936 Dot Cent. This coin, struck in 1937 prior to the creation of coinage dies for George VI but never released for circulation, has seen its reputation grow exponentially since its discovery.

In early 1936, Great Britain’s George V passed away and was succeeded by his son King Edward VIII. As was common practice, for the remainder of 1936 the coinage continued to have the effigy of King George V. Toward the end of the year, and throughout the British Commonwealth coinage, models were made and dies produced with the effigy of King Edward VIII, but upon Edward’s abdication the dies were no longer valid and a severe shortage of Canadian 1, 10, and 25 Cent pieces arose in early 1937.

Because of the shortage, Canada was forced to continue producing coins dated 1936 with the portrait of King George V. Canadian authorities felt a need to distinguish this 1937 mintage from the 1936 production and a small Dot was placed on the reverse of the 1, 10, and 25 Cent coins. The dot is under the date on the 1 Cent coin, and under the bow on the wreath of the 10 and 25 Cent coins.

History tells us that only the 25 Cent piece was placed in circulation and that three pieces of the Dot Cents, and four pieces of the Dot 10 Cents are the only surviving examples. (more…)

Coin Collecting: Condition Rarity vs. Absolute Rarity

by Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

In numismatics, there are essentially two types of coins. There are coins that are condition rarities and there are coins that are absolute rarities. A condition rarity is a coin whose value is primarily derived from its high degree of preservation. An absolute rarity is a coin whose rarity is based more on the total number known to exist than its grade. As a long-time participant in the coin market, I tend to prefer coins that are absolute rarities.

dw_condition_rarity_010310Let’s take a look at a few specific coins that easily fall into one of the two categories. Then, let’s take a look at another category (and for my money the most interesting): a coin that is not only an absolute rarity but a condition rarity as well.

Most new collectors buy coins based on condition. This makes sense. They are introduced to coins through mass marketers or they buy modern coins directly from the United States mint. Mass marketers can’t sell absolute rarity for an obvious reason: there isn’t a large enough supply and mass marketing entails selling products on a large scale.

Certain mass marketed coins aren’t strictly condition rarities in the truest sense of the word. A coin that most people would consider to be a condition rarity would be a common date St. Gaudens double eagle in MS65. But this really isn’t the case. A damaged, virtually destroyed Saint has a current market value of around $1,200 while an MS65 is worth $2,500. The 2x value ratio for a Gem is low when compared to the basal value.

A coin that I would consider a classic condition rarity is an Indian Head half eagle. This is a coin that is worth just a bit over $300 in very low grades but over $15,000 in MS65. That’s a 300x value ratio. I appreciate the fact that a true MS65 Indian Head half eagle is a reasonably scarce coin. But I have a hard time attributing this much value to a high grade example, especially based on the fact that the series is not terrifically popular with date collectors. (more…)

Unusual Items: 1874 Dana Bickford Ten Dollar Gold Coin

Heritage Auctions will be selling one of the two known Bickford $10 Gold Patterns at it FUN Sale this week. Below is the Catelog description of the coin and some history surrounding it.

judd_1373_bickford_gold_10The Bickford pattern ten dollar gold piece, known to pattern collectors as Judd-1373, is one of the most celebrated issues in the U.S. pattern series. Only two examples are known, placing the issue at the pinnacle of rarity. Both known examples have been meticulously preserved, and their size, attractive design, and majestic gold composition combine to make them breathtakingly beautiful numismatic patterns. The rich and mysterious history shared by these pieces adds to their irresistible appeal.

The Design

On the obverse, a fresh-faced, youthful Liberty faces left, with her hair tied back and wearing a diadem, ornamented with six stars, reading LIBERTY. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA rings the rim; the date 1874 is below. Liberty has an olive wreath tied around her neck. On the reverse a rope design forms six separate cartouches around the rim. In the center is the Latin word UBIQUE “everywhere,” with 16.72 GRAMS 900 FINE in three lines. In the cartouches are the coin’s exchange values in various international currencies: DOLLARS 10; STERLING 2.1.1; MARKEN 41.99; KRONEN 37.31; GULDEN 20.73; FRANCS 51.81. Struck in gold, with a reeded edge. The diameter is the same as a twenty dollar, but the planchet is thinner.

Bickford’s Proposal

Dana Bickford’s proposal for an international coinage captured the public’s attention in the mid-1870s. The following article explaining the situation was originally published in The Coin and Stamp Journal in Kansas City, Missouri (February 1876 issue). It has been reprinted in several sources since that time:

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Brahin’s Syrup to be Auctioned at FUN: Select Group of Saint Gaudens $20 Gold Coins

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

On Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010, Heritage’s long awaited Platinum Night event at the FUN Convention in Orlando will include a marvelous array of choice and rare U.S. coins. It is part of a larger auction extravaganza that is held in conjunction with one of the two most important coin conventions of the year, that of the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) organization.

brahin_121809_reynoldsThe famous collector Jay Brahin has consigned a select group of Saint Gaudens Double Eagles ($20 gold coins) to be sold on Platinum Night. The most valuable piece from the Brahin collection is a 1927-S Saint that is graded MS-66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

Brahin’s consignment is of just seven coins, yet these are particularly significant. These seven constitute his entire current collection of Double Eagles and were very carefully selected by him. Jay reveals that he had “no intention of selling is coins, but I [Jay] am selling for personal reasons that are completely unrelated to coins or coin markets. I would have liked to have held these coins for a decade or more. Coins are art to me, and I am proud to have obtained these coins. I love the thrill of the hunt. Finding the coin is more gratifying than selling it.”

Brahin started “collecting coins as a kid.” He “filled coin albums with cents, nickels, dimes and quarters. During vacations, I [Jay] would work $20 in change several times over in one day, by going back and forth to the bank. Over the period of a summer day, I would go to a bank eight or nine times. It was fun. I loved it. I fell off the collecting wagon, but I never lost my love of coins.”

As a teenager, Brahin had other interests. Later in life, in 2002, Jay returned to coin collecting. He “always wanted to own a Saint when [he] was a kid.” So, he “turned to Saints.” Jay saw “Dr. Duckor’s Saint set on the PCGS registry, which was then blocked from view, but his e-mail address was briefly posted. I wrote to him and said I was an admirer of his Barber Half set; I inquired about his Saints. Later, we talked about the philosophy of collecting.” (more…)

Gold Coin Sales to End December 31st for 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle

Sales of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin will end on December 31 at 3 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Customers may order the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin until December 31 at the United States Mint’s secure Web site, http://www.usmint.gov/catalog, or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).

Customers with TTY equipment may order by calling 1-888-321-MINT (6468). Credit cards are billed as products are shipped from our fulfillment center. Because of possible price fluctuations, mail orders are not accepted. There is no household limit.

The obverse (heads side) design of the one-ounce $20 coin, which is struck in 24-karat gold, features Liberty, represented by a statuesque woman striding forward. The reverse (tails side) design depicts a young eagle flying during a magnificent sunrise. The coin is encased in a protective capsule and mounted on a wood platform housed in a velvet-lined, highly lacquered, mahogany wood box that bears inscriptions in a font similar to those used in the early 1900s, when the original coin was produced.

Included with each coin is an official hard-cover, companion book that chronicles the story of the original $20 1907 Double Eagle gold piece, and describes the modern technologies and processes that the United States Mint used to perfect the legal tender 2009 version. The book is not sold separately.

Sales for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin began on January 22, 2009 – a special collectible resulting from modern 21st century digital design technology. To date, sales of the coin have exceeded 108,961 units. (more…)

Bowers and Merena 2010 Orlando Rarities Coin Auction Includes Humbert $50 Error

Important U.S. Coins to Cross Auction Block in January

humbert_error_bm_121109Bowers and Merena Auctions, America’s leading rare coin and currency auction house, will commence its 2010 auction schedule with the Orlando Rarities Sale. The auction will be conducted on Tuesday, January 5, 2010, beginning at 6 p.m. ET at the Doubletree Resort-Orlando International Drive. Pre-sale lot viewing will take place in the same location January 3 to 5 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

“2010 promises to be another exciting year for Bowers and Merena,” remarked Steve Deeds, president of the firm. “The year will certainly begin on a high note with our eagerly anticipated Orlando Rarities Sale. Many important coins are included among the highlights of this sale, and bidding promises to be spirited for all U.S. coin series and types.”

Continued Deeds: “Among the leading rarities set to cross the auction block in our Orlando Rarities Sale is an 1851 Augustus Humbert Fifty-Dollar gold piece with an extremely important, previously unknown engraving error.

humbert_error_details_121109Nominally an example of the Kagin-2 Lettered Edge variety—itself a scarce variety with a Rarity-5 rating—this particular piece is missing the digits 88 in the inscription 880 THOUS, resulting in a partially blank scroll on the obverse above the eagle.

A discovery piece that has been certified AU-55 by PCGS, this coin is sure to warrant the undivided attention of Territorial gold specialists.”

Deeds also called attention to highlights in the regular issue United States silver- and gold-coin series. “We will also be presenting a low-mintage 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter graded MS-65 Full Head by NGC, an elusive 1796 Draped Bust, Small Eagle Half Dollar of the 16 Stars variety in PCGS/CAC VG-10 and an exquisite 1879 Flowing Hair Stella rarity that NGC has certified as Proof-66 Cameo.” (more…)

As the 2009 Coin Market Comes to a Close, Where Are We and Where Are We Headed?

By Doug Winter – Raregoldcoins.com

With the year nearly over, we are heading towards a slow few weeks in the coin business followed by what is certain to be an interesting FUN Show in January 2010. As we close the year out, I thought it would be interesting to look at a few points and ask where we are and where we’re headed.

dw_may09_5wvalueI have been through some odd coin markets (1982-84 and 1992-1994 come to mind) but what we are currently experiencing is pretty much unique. We are seeing a market where coins that were considered unfavorable a few months ago (bullion and semi-numismatic) are now what everyone wants and “real” coins are as hard to find as at any time I can remember.

The demand for generic U.S. gold, especially double eagles, remains as strong as I have ever seen. The premiums are as high as I can remember. As I write this, gold spot is at $1,140 per ounce (after having broken the seemingly unreachable $1,200 barrier last week) and an average quality MS60 to MS62 Saint is trading for $1,600-1,700. This 40%+ premium over melt for a low-end Saint is easily the highest I can recall and I think it’s pretty remarkable considering that you had to beg people to buy the exact sort of coins a few months ago at a 10% premium.

I am beginning to see some profit taking in the generic market and I think this will continue for a short period, possibly evaporating the premiums. That said, with the current sad state of the American dollar and the worldwide demand for gold, I wouldn’t be stunned to see gold break $1,500 in the next few months and a lower quality Saint to be worth close to $2,000 (!)

What about the rare coin market? It is, in its own way, experiencing topsy-turvy conditions not dissimilar to generics. The big difference is that there is good supply in the generic market but very limited supply in the rare coin market. (more…)

Gold dominates in Heritage Auctions’ $9.4 million+ Houston U.S. Coin sale

1915-S Pan-Pac $50 Octagonal leads the pack with $92,000; popular 1915-S $50 Round follows close at $86,250

ha_houston_120909_50One thing was clearly on the minds of collectors at the $9.4 million+ Heritage Auctions Houston U.S. Coin Auction on Dec. 6, and that was gold. More than 3,600 bidders participated in the event, which sold through fully 93% of the lots offered, or 87% by dollar value.

“We expected gold to perform well at this auction,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions, “especially with the spot price of gold at $1200. While gold did dominate the top lots of the Houston sale, it’s also encouraging to look at the overall results and see that the coin market is remaining steady.”

The year 1915 seemed to be foremost in the minds of collectors in Houston, as two sculptural, splendid Panama-Pacific $50 gold pieces came in as the event’s top two lots.

While the round Pan-Pac $50 commemoratives are the rarer examples in the absolute sense, the octagonal variety has always proved the more popular, as evidenced by the auction’s top price-getter, a gorgeous Near-Gem 1915-S Panama-Pacific $50 Octagonal MS64 PCGS, which led the way with a final price of $92,000. All prices include a 15% Buyer’s Premium.

If the Octagonal variety of the Pan-Pac $50 was the top prize in Houston, a superb round 1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific $50 MS64 NGC was close behind in terms of price with a highly respectable $86,250 finish. The $50 round has the distinctive status of having the lowest net distribution, at 483 coins, of any commemorative issue made in the United States. (more…)

The Basis for Collecting and Appreciating Naturally Toned Coins, Part 3

By Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

In Part 1, I frame the topic and put forth perspectives of very accomplished, active collectors regarding natural toning. As I discuss in Part 2, preferring coins with natural toning is a tradition at the core of the culture of coin collecting in the U.S.

Here in Part 3, I maintain that the case for strongly favoring naturally toned coins goes beyond collector opinions and tradition. There have always been logical reasons for determining that coins with natural toning and/or mostly original surfaces are superior.

nat_toned_120609(1) Coin collecting has been a popular and serious pastime for around 150 years in the United States, and there has always been a strong tradition of valuing, all other things being equal, coins with mostly original surfaces and/or natural toning over those that have been treated with acids (including dipping), artificially toned, surgically altered or deliberately chemically affected in other ways.

It is fair to conclude that experts in earlier eras were employing reason, not just following a tradition, especially before the tradition evolved. (Please read Part 2.)

(2) The layers of a coin’s surface that are stripped off, and the changes in the texture of the surfaces of coins, through standard dipping or the application of many chemical concoctions implemented via ‘conservation,’ or other deliberate, short-term modifications are, to some extent, irreparable. The original state of the coin can never be restored, and will never fully return on its own. Parts of the coin are destroyed, and, while some coins can largely recover, parts of the nature and history of each coin are lost forever.

Please note that I am referring primarily to rare or at least scarce old coins. Usually, recently minted coins are minimally or not noticeably toned. So, not much toning is destroyed when a recently minted, or modern coin, is dipped in a standard acidic solution. For high quality, rare coins, dipping or ‘conservation’ through liquids, almost always destroys toning.

Typically, a coin will be much brighter after it is dipped, and some will thus conclude that the coin’s luster is not impaired. Luster is the way that the metal flow lines on a coin reflect light. When layers are stripped via dipping, the characteristics of the flow lines are changed. The coin may end up being brighter than it was before, or even brighter than it was the moment it was minted. Destruction still occurred, however, and metal was removed.

Jeff Ambio very much agrees with the above statement (#2), and he “believe[s] that, if more collectors understood this point, it would really help to the put the coin doctors out of business.” Ambio is the author of three recent books on coins and is a cataloguer for leading auction firms and coin dealers. He has analyzed and written about thousands of U.S. coins, including innumerable rarities.

Dipping changes the texture of a coin. Ambio, Joe O’Connor and myself all agree that toning that occurs after dipping, natural or not, will be different from the toning that would have occurred had the coin never been dipped. (more…)

Ponterio & Associates to Conduct January 2010 N.Y.I.N.C. World Coin Auction

Russian, Annam and Argentine Sun Face Coinage Loom Large Among Highlights

Ponterio & Associates, Inc., the world and ancients auction division of Bowers and Merena Auctions, will commence its 2010 auction schedule as an Official Auctioneer of the New York International Numismatic Convention (N.Y.I.N.C.).

ponterio_ny10_russian37.5 The auction will be conducted January 8-9, 2010, in New York’s prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Pre-sale lot viewing will take place in the same location beginning January 6, with additional lot viewing opportunities available at the Bowers and Merena world headquarters in Irvine, California, December 21-31, 2009 (by appointment only; closed December 24-27).

“Our 2010 N.Y.I.N.C. Auction will feature more than 2,300 lots of ancient coins, world coins, paper money, and orders and decorations,” stated Rick Ponterio, executive vice president of Bowers and Merena and founder of Ponterio & Associates. “Leading the way among important consignments is the second installment of the Chester Skotak Collection of Central American Coinage. We sold the first part of this fabulous collection through our Official November 2009 Baltimore Auction, and we anticipate equally impressive results when the second portion of Mr. Skotak’s holdings comes up for auction at the N.Y.I.N.C. We also have significant consignments of Russian and Annamese coinage, as well as a noteworthy array of Argentine Sun Face Coinage.”

Continued Ponterio: “One of the most prominent coins in our upcoming N.Y.I.N.C. Auction is a 1902 Russian 37 ½ Rubles—the Prize of Russian Numismatics. Attributed alternately as Fr-170, Y-B65, Bitkin-309 and Sev-578, this is a very rare type with a mintage of only 225 pieces. A special issue that was used by the Czar for gifts on special occasions, this is the largest Russian gold coin struck in the modern era. We grade the piece attractive AU and are offering it as lot 7389.” (more…)

The Evaporation of the Premium Factor in the Carson City $20 Gold Coin Market

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

evaporating_ccOne of the many interesting facts about the rare coin business at this point in time is that the focus in the gold market is clearly on generics and semi-numismatic items and, at least for the time being, off many rare coins. How has this shift of focus affected the Liberty Head double eagle market and, more specifically, the market for common date Carson City issues?

I look at common CC double eagles as a sort of bellwether for the dated gold market. The most common Carson City issues (such as the 1875-CC, 1876-CC, 1883-CC, 1884-CC, 1890-CC and 1892-CC) are affordable, exist in enough quantity that they are subject to occasional promotional activities and have a good enough background story that they are easy to sell to beginning collectors.

Traditionally, the price ratio for Extremely Fine and About Uncirculated Carson City double eagles versus generic common dates of this design was around two to one for XF coins and around three to one for AU coins.

A year ago, well before the current soaring gold market, a common 1904 double eagle in Extremely Fine was worth in the area of $700-800 and not an easy issue to sell. The same coin in About Uncirculated was worth just a bit more; say $750-850. At the same point in time, an 1890-CC double eagle was worth around $1,400-1,600 in EF and $2,000-2,250 in AU. This meant that the price ratio for the two issues was approximately 2x in EF and 3x in AU. (more…)

Ponterio & Associates Nets $2.1 Million in Official November Baltimore Auction

Offerings from Several Countries, Including China and Venezuela, Surpass Expectations

ponterio_balt_results_1109Ponterio & Associates, Inc., the world and ancients auction division of Bowers and Merena Auctions, dazzled bidders with an extensive selection of coins and paper money from around the world as part of Bowers and Merena’s Official Auction of the November 2009 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. The combined auction realized more than $8 million, with Ponterio & Associates contributing an impressive $2.1 million to the total through sale of world coins and currency.

“We conducted a fabulous auction at the Baltimore Expo this November,” stated Rick Ponterio, executive vice president of Bowers and Merena Auctions. “World coin and paper money consignments were many and diverse, and they resulted in spirited bidding from collectors who were keenly aware of the fleeting buying opportunities that many of the lots represented. Offerings from several countries still amaze me with regard to the final prices realized. In particular, pieces from China, El Salvador, Norway, Russia and Venezuela greatly exceeded our pre-sale estimates, proving that there are active communities of highly specialized bidders who are not afraid to chase down the coins and/or notes that they need to complete their collections.”

“One particular coin whose performance impressed me is the Costa Rican 1828-CRF 8 Escudos,” continued Ponterio. “Certified NGC MS-62 and cataloged as a ‘RARE type and exceptional condition,’ this piece is also pedigreed to the renowned Eliasberg Collection. We estimated the coin at $25,000-$35,000 and offered it as lot 8392. The final realized price surpassed our expectations at $37,375.” (more…)

A Father and Son Coin Collecting Team

By Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatics Hot Topics

BACKGROUND: Legend Numismatics recently purchased the Boyd 1870-S Seated Dollar Graded PCGS Genuine for this dynamic father/son duo from the Bowers and Merena Sale in Baltimore. Thay had just about finished with their AU/MS Seated Dollar Collection and dreamed about owning a 70-S. Here is a portion of Laura’s Hot Topics Post:

1870-s_dollar_bm_111409In all my years of dealing I have seen all types of collectors. Since the registry craze started I have seen more ego maniacs then true collectors. Seeing this father/son team work is not only refreshing, but its a heart warming story of interaction as well.

Today, I only know of one other true “team” building a collection (I am not talking about daddy just forking over money-I am talking about a true working pair). They travel to some shows, they look at their coins when ever they can, they both love coins.

One thing that impresses me the most, they are all about the coins. They couldn’t give a hoot about the registry. Their whole take on coins and collecting them is fabulous! I hope this Hot Topics can inspire more familys to collect as a unit.

Here is the story (as written by the teenage son) about their collecting endevors of Seated Dollars:

The MNS Joint Venture Seated dollar set is being put together by my father and I. We started collecting in 2002 or 2003 with liberty nickels and within 3 years we had a whole set, and up to 4-5 of some dates with a nearly complete second set. Time to look for a new series.

The Seated dollar set was our second set we set out to tackle. It presented a challenge at a reasonable cost in the XF grade range that we started to look at. A few XF’s in and a tough decision had to be made. Take the plunge or not. I was able to locate a choice XF 1873-cc in a dealers website and it was an easy decision. The coin was in our possession and quickly followed by an 1871-cc in XF. Some of the keys were down and there was no turning back from here.
(more…)

US Mint 2009 One-Ounce Platinum Proof Coin Available December 3

Coin features first new reverse design in multi-year series with mintage limited to 8000

The United States Mint announced that it will begin accepting orders for the 2009 American Eagle One-Ounce Platinum Proof Coin at noon Eastern Time (ET) December 3, 2009. Orders will be limited to five units per household.

2009_Proof_plat_revThe reverse (tails side) of the 2009 American Eagle One-Ounce Platinum Proof Coin features the first design in a new six-year program that commemorates the core concepts of American democracy by featuring the six principles of the Preamble of the United States Constitution. Themes for the reverse designs in the new series of American Eagle One-Ounce Platinum Proof Coins are inspired by narratives prepared by the Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts, Jr., at the request of the United States Mint. Coin designs reflecting the remaining principles of the Preamble will be released as follows: To Establish Justice (2010); To Insure Domestic Tranquility (2011); To Provide for the Common Defense (2012); To Promote General Welfare (2013); and To Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity (2014).

The 2009 design depicts four faces representing the diversity of our Nation, with the clothing and hair weaving together symbolizing the principle, To Form a More Perfect Union. A new design element, an American Eagle “privy mark,” has been added to the reverse of the coin. The privy mark is from an original “coin punch” identified at the United States Mint at Philadelphia. The reverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Susan Gamble and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill. (more…)