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All Posts Tagged With: "Double Eagles"

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The CoinFest, Washlady Dollar, 1861-O $20 gold coin, Connecticut Coppers

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #25

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. The CoinFest

The fourth annual CoinFest was held in Stamford (CT) from Oct. 28th to Oct. 30th. For the first time, Heritage conducted the official CoinFest auction and this auction was very successful. Below, I discuss specific coins that were sold in the auction. Also, the exhibit of Gerry Fortin‘s collection of Liberty Seated dimes added luster to the CoinFest. Listings of Fortin’s dimes may be seen in the PCGS and NGC registries.

In my view, bourse floor displays and trading activity were much more impressive at the second and third CoinFest events, in 2008 and 2009. This is partly because the scheduling of the show was then better. This year’s event was just too close to the better established Baltimore Expo and related auction events. Lot viewing in Baltimore for a Stack’s auction started less than forty-eight hours after CoinFest closed. More importantly, this year’s security policies at CoinFest were just too aggressive.

A lot of collectors who attend coin shows do not know that a particular show’s owners are nice people, and, whether a show’s owners are nice or not, collectors often do not wish to be placed on mailing lists or on any other kind of list. Over the last ten years, it has become common for marketing firms and other firms to keep relatively secret databases regarding consumers and to trade such information. Adults certainly should not have to reveal their home addresses or their ages. A list owned by nice people may be sold to nasty people in the future, or stolen by computer hackers.

Indeed, collectors should be able to anonymously attend coin shows. They should have the right not to be bothered and the right not to have their personal information scrutinized. Like identity theft, an individual’s privacy can be invaded without him knowing about it.

Collectors who attend coin shows know that they are likely to be video recorded, which is a sufficient deterrent for wrongdoing, and video recording should be the limit to privacy invasions. The very rare attendee who causes trouble because of severe psychiatric problems is not going to be deterred by aggressive security policies. Moreover, a criminal who is planning to follow dealers from the show is certainly not going to attend the show and be video recorded. Such a criminal will wait outside or use binoculars from a distance.

Aggressive security policies do more harm than good, and when collectors tell their collecting friends about such policies, coin show attendance drops. Besides, I strongly recommend that a collector who attends a coin show keep his driver’s license in his car or in a hotel safe (as people often do with passports in Europe). If a collector is robbed after walking from a coin show, he would not wish for the thief to get his driver’s license, too, which could lead to problems more serious than a loss of a few coins.

Coin show personnel, security or otherwise, should not be asking collectors for ID or pressuring people to reveal their home addresses. Before a few years ago, this was never done at a coin show, for good reason.

II. Washlady Silver Dollar

The Washlady Dollar is one of the most famous of all U.S. pattern issues. In 1879, there were also minted Washlady dimes, quarters and half dollars. These designs were considered and never adopted for regular U.S. coinage. Though the Washlady patterns are of silver denominations, these were struck in copper as well. Copper is much less expensive than silver. On Oct. 29, Heritage auctioned one of the finest known Washlady Dollars in silver. (more…)

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

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

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

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

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

Highlights of the Zürich Collection include:

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

Bullock 1856-O double eagle brings $345,000 to headline $13.4 Million Heritage Long Beach Auction

Gold remains in high demand as it reaches world record $1,300 an ounce high

The recently discovered Bullock specimen of the 1856-O double eagle, XF45+, NGC, was the unabashed star of the Sept. 23-26 Heritage Auctions September Long Beach, CA Signature® U.S. Coin Auction, as it soared to $345,000 amidst spirited bidding. The auction realized an impressive $13.4 million total, with almost 5,000 bidders vying for the 7,385 lots, translating into a 93% sell-through rate by value and 96% by total number of lots.

Overall the auction affirmed the continued strength of gold in an up-and-down global market – with spot gold prices reaching $1,300 and on Friday, Sept. 24 – with fully seven of the top 10 lots coming in the form of the precious metal.

“We were all quite impressed overall with how these coins performed,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “Collectors continue to respond enthusiastically to the best and rarest examples, as evidenced by the heated competition for the Bullock 1856-O double eagle. We don’t expect to see a drop-off in gold demand as the year comes to a close and we hold our last few auctions of 2010.”

The 1856-O $20 XF45+ NGC, Ex: Bullock, one of perhaps 20 or fewer commercially available examples, made front-page news in the July 26, 2010 Coin World, with a headline proclaiming “1856-O gold double eagle surfaces in Ohio.” The coin was part of a “small accumulation of gold coins held by a family in Ohio for nearly 100 years,” and is now further distinguished by its $345,000 and its spot at the top of the roster in the Long Beach Auction.

Always popular when they come to auction, Kellogg & Humbert S.S. Central America gold ingots continued to capture collector imaginations, and superb final prices realized, at Long Beach when an astounding 114.65 ounce (9 pounds) “Very Large Size” Kellogg & Humbert Gold Assayer’s Ingot, 114.65 Ounces , brought $253,000 from an advanced collector, while a 23.35 Ounce Kellogg & Humbert S.S. Central America Gold Ingot, considered “small to medium-sized,” captured great attention at a final price of $80,500.

Nineteenth century gold continued its dominance at the top of the auction, with the single finest 1891 Carson City $10 MS65 NGC bringing $74,750. The same final price was realized by a spectacular 1848 $2-1/2 CAL. MS61 NGC, a sublime quarter eagle gold coin made from some of the earliest gold mined during the California Gold Rush.

Further highlights include, but are not limited to:

1796 50C 16 Stars VF25 PCGS. O-102, High R.5.: Realized $69,000.

1895 $1 PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS: Realized $60,375.

1876 $3 PR64 Cameo NGC: Realized $54,625.

1886 $20 XF45 NGC: Realized $54,625.

1874-CC 10C Arrows AU50 PCGS. CAC: Realized $50,313.

Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.

Some Further Thoughts on Carson City Double Eagle Gold Coins

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

I’ve been working on a third edition of my book on Carson City gold coins. For some odd reason, I’ve been working from back to front, meaning that I’ve done the new research of double eagles before following this with eagles and half eagles. I’ve been able to uncover some really eye-opening new information on the rarity and price levels of Carson City double eagles and I’d like to share a few tidbits.

The last Carson City book that I produced was published in 2001, so almost a full decade has passed. My first impression about the market for Carson City double eagles is that it has become far, far more active than ever. Prices have risen significantly since 2001, especially for rarities and for high grade pieces.

In 2001, the five rarest Carson City double eagles in terms of overall rarity (i.e., total known) were the 1870-CC, 1891-CC, 1871-CC, 1878-CC and 1879-CC (these last two issues were tied for fourth rarest). In 2010, the five rarest Carson City double eagles in terms of overall rarity are the 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1891-CC, 1879-CC and 1885-CC (these last two issues were tied for fourth rarest).

The 1870-CC has remained an extremely rare coin, despite a surprisingly high frequency of auction appearance in the middle part of this decade. I had previously thought 35-45 were known. Today, I think that number is around 40-50. This includes a number of low grade coins and at least five or six that are either damaged or cleaned to the point that can not be graded by PCGS or NGC.

The rarity of the 1891-CC seems to have diminished quite a bit. I think there are two reasons for this. The first is that I overestimated its rarity in 2001. The second is that a significant number of examples have been found in Europe and other overseas sources. This date hasn’t become plentiful in higher grades but it is far more available in AU50 to AU55 than I ever remember it being before.

The 1871-CC seems more available as well. In 2001, this issue was very hard to find in any grade and it was almost never seen above AU50. Today it is more available and the number of coins graded AU53 to AU55 has risen dramatically. I would attribute much of this to gradeflation as the majority of the 1871-CC double eagles that I see in AU53 and AU55 holders are “enthusiastically” graded, to say the least. In properly graded Mint State, the 1871-CC remains exceedingly rare.

A date whose rarity has become more apparent is the 1885-CC. In the 2001 edition of my book, this date was not even listed in the top six rarest Carson City double eagles. I now rank it as being tied for fourth along with the 1879-CC.

Everyone loves a sleeper, right? The dates that I believe are underrated (and undervalued) in the Carson City double eagle series include the 1872-CC, 1877-CC, 1882-CC and 1892-CC.

In higher grades (AU50 and above), the rarity scale of the Carson City double eagle series has remained remarkably consistent. In 2001, I stated that the 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1879-CC, 1878-CC, 1891-CC and 1872-CC were, in that order, the six rarest issues. In 2010, I believe the six rarest are the 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1878-CC, 1879-CC, 1872-CC and 1891-CC. In other words, the same six dates are still the keys in higher grades but there are now some minor changes in the order. (more…)

The Top Ten Mint State Saints

Much has been written about the $20 Saint-Gaudens series since it is quite possibly the most popular gold coin sought after today. I’d like to discuss the rarity/value relationship of the top ten scarcest dates, in mint state condition. I will exclude the 1933 from this discussion since there is only one coin legal to own and therefore unobtainable by the majority of registry collectors. Although most coins have appreciated in value over the last 10 years, the Saint-Gaudens series has been the area of some of the biggest increases. In compiling this list, PCGS and NGC population numbers are used as a starting point as well as CDN values over the last ten years. Needless to say, population report numbers are not entirely accurate due to resubmissions; however they do still represent a high degree of accuracy. The increasing popularity of registry sets makes such analysis important for current and future collectors. (All population data is current as of 2/2/07)

#10) 1908-S:

The 1908-S has the distinction of being the lowest mintage date (22,000) in the series (aside from the 1907 $20 High Relief) Since we are focusing on mint state examples today, some would be surprised to see this date in the top ten list, however with a certified PCGS population of 121 and an NGC population of 124 in all mint state grades I rank it number 10.

Most Uncirculated coins have soft satiny luster and an adequate strike. There are a small number of heavily abraded and unattractive lower grade mint state coins which came over from Europe in the last few years. None of those coins were above MS-63 in quality. This may be the reason that the CDN bid price has not adequately reflected this date’s value over the last 3 or 4 years. For example; 1908S has a current MS-63 CDN bid of $15,500. These have been trading at auction in the last year for between $19,578 and $21,850. The latter coin I purchased out of the ANR sale in Chicago, July of last year. Needless to say I resold the coin for a profit. The relative grey sheet value of the 1908S should therefore resemble the value of other key date Saints with equal rarity and population.

One date that comes to mind is the 1926-D. The combined certified population of both dates in MS-60-62 is 139(1908-S) and 123 for the 1926-D, roughly equal, yet the 26-D trades for over twice the price of the 08-S. Moreover in MS-63 the 1908-S has a certified population of only 31 while 1926-D has certified population of 50. (more…)

New Coin Discovery: 1856-O Double Eagle Discovered in Ohio to Be Offered At Long Beach

This recently discovered coin made front-page news in the July 26, 2010 Coin World, with a headline proclaiming “1856-O gold double eagle surfaces in Ohio.” The double-decker headline added, “Rarest New Orleans Mint gold coin in family holdings.” Numismatic researcher John W. McCloskey relates in detail how this rare coin–one of about 20 to 30 1856-O twenties known–was turned over to him for evaluation as part of a “small accumulation of gold coins held by a family in Ohio for nearly 100 years.” The coin has now been authenticated, encapsulated, and certified XF45+ by NGC.

Gold coin specialist Doug Winter calls the 1856-O double eagle issue “the rarest New Orleans double eagle and the rarest gold coin struck at the New Orleans mint.”

The Discovery

McCloskey’s Coin World article describes how an Ohio resident asked him to evaluate the family holdings:

“He indicated that ownership of the coins could be traced back to James Bullock, a gentleman who owned a farm near the city of Livermore, KY., during the early years of the 20th century.

“When Bullock died on June 26, 1923, his estate included a collection of gold coins that were passed down to his heirs as treasured family heirlooms. These coins have passed through three generations of family descendents over the years since his death and are now spread out among several family members.”

The Realization

The Coin World story relates the owner’s gradual realization of how fabulous and rare the 1856-O twenty is:

“After my evaluation session with the new owner I went home and checked the June 2010 issue of Coin World’s Coin Values and realized that I had just stumbled upon a great rarity that was completely unknown to the numismatic community. I then called the owner and told him that the 1856-O double eagle was listed at $220,000 in an Extremely Fine grade and that the piece might bring considerably more than that at auction considering its beautiful original surfaces and minimal field marks. I don’t think that the family really believed my estimate of the coin’s value but it began to sink in after I showed them the price listing in my copy of Coin Values.”

The Authentication

McCloskey goes into great depth over how, after they realized that “we had a treasure on our hands,” he studied the present piece under a microscope and identified various surface diagnostics that helped in its authentication as a genuine 1856-O double eagle. His descriptions of those obverse and reverse criteria, as quoted from Coin World, follow: (more…)

San Francisco Double Eagles Gold Coins: A Date by Date Analysis Part Two

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

The second part of this study on San Francisco double eagles deals with the Type Two issues struck from 1866 to 1876. [EDITOR: Click Here To Read Part One]

There are no absolute rarities in this series as with the Type One issues but there are a number condition rarities as well as affordable dates that are easy to locate in Extremely Fine and About Uncirculated grades.

Let’s take a look at each date and focus on the higher grade coins as these tend to be the most interesting Type Two double eagles from this mint.

1866-S With Motto:

After a small number of No Motto double eagles were struck in San Francisco in 1866, the change was made to the new With Motto design. The 1866-S With Motto is desirable as a first year of issue date but it is not really rare in terms of overall rarity. It tends to be found in lower grades (EF40 to AU50) and is nearly always seen with heavily abraded surfaces and poor eye appeal. It is scarce in properly graded AU55 to AU58 and rare in Uncirculated with an estimated two to three dozen known. It is extremely rare in MS62 above and none have been graded better than this by PCGS or NGC. The population figures in MS61 seem to be very inflated at both services and a few of the coins that I have seen in MS61 holders are marginal at best for the grade. The current auction record is $39,100 set by Bowers and Merena 7/06: 1667, graded MS62 by PCGS.

1867-S:

The 1867-S is a bit more available than the 1866-S With Motto in terms of overall rarity. In Uncirculated it is actually more rare with an estimated 15 or so known. The finest is a single MS63 at NGC; another five or six are known in MS62. This date is typically seen with a flat strike, very “ticky” surfaces and poor luster. Examples with good eye appeal are quite hard to locate and are worth a good premium over typical coins. Properly graded AU55 to AU58 pieces are very scarce and any example that grades above MS61 is extremely rare. The current auction record is $22,425 set all the way back in 2002 by Superior during the ANA auction; this was for a coin graded MS62 that is still the best that I can recall having seen.

1868-S:

The 1868-S is the most common Type Two double eagle from San Francisco struck during the 1860’s. It is plentiful in grades below AU55 but it is scarce in properly graded AU58 and rare in Uncirculated. I think there are around three dozen known in Uncirculated with most in the MS60 to MS61. Above MS61, the 1868-S is extremely rare. The highest graded is a single MS64 at NGC; the services have combined to grade four in MS62 with just one of these at PCGS. This date comes better struck than the 1866-S and 1867-S and has better luster as well. Like all San Francisco double eagles of this type, it is plagued by excessive surface marks. The natural coloration is often a pleasing rose-gold; others are found with orange-gold or greenish-gold hues. The current auction record was set by Heritage 2006 ANA: 5644, an NGC MS62 that sold for $32,200.
(more…)

Legendary $20 Gold 1882 Double Eagle Coin To Be Offered by Heritage at Summer Fun Auction

The 1882 double eagle is so rare that even the Smithsonian Institution, keeper of the National Numismatic Collection, lacks an example of this issue.

While there are numerous double eagle issues from the late 1870s through early 1890s that boast extraordinarily low mintages, the 1882 is the absolute lowest-mintage of them all, at 571 coins. Any representative of this issue, in any grade, is an extraordinary rarity.

The next-lowest mintage of the denomination in the 1880s is the 1885, produced to the extent of 751 coins–an increase of over 30% in comparison to the 1882. In fact, the 1882 double eagle has the lowest mintage of any circulation strike in the double eagle series, save for the 1861-P Paquet Reverse.

The 1882 double eagle is not only an issue with a remarkably low mintage to begin with, but its rarity is compounded because so few were saved. The handful of contemporary collectors who specialized in gold–and they were few and far between–preferred proof examples, which could be had from the Mint for a modest premium.

The reasons for the minuscule mintage are complicated. Mint officials had adopted a new policy to stimulate national demand for half eagles and eagles, according to Rusty Goe in The Mint on Carson Street.

“… double eagle output was decreased on a national scale as the Treasury implemented its new policy of expanding the distribution of $5 and $10 gold pieces. It was the Treasury’s conviction that if more gold coins in denominations less than twenty dollars were in reserve at Mint offices around the country, depositors would accept these coins in payment in lieu of waiting for additional double eagles to be struck.”

At any rate, the nation’s operating mints had other troubles, as they shouldered the enormous burden of Morgan silver dollar production in 1882, amounting to more than 27.5 million pieces at four facilities.

By contrast, only three mints struck double eagles at all, as New Orleans’ last twenty was the 1879-O. In 1882 San Francisco struck 1.13 million twenties, with nearly 40,000 in Carson City–and the legendary low mintage of 571 double eagles in Philadelphia.


This coin will be offered at  Heritage’s Official Summer Fun Sale in Orlando, Fl as Lot # 1464

Population: 2 in 53, 7 finer (6/10)

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

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

It has been a long time since I’ve written anything about the San Francisco double eagles. As these coins have become increasingly popular over the course of time (they are actually the most popular gold coins from this mint by a considerable margin) I think this would be an excellent time to begin a series of articles. It is only natural to divide these coins into three groups and this would be as follows:

*Type One, 1854-1866
*Type Two, 1866-1876
*Type Three, 1877-1907

This first article is going to deal with the very popular Type One issues that were produced, as stated above, from 1854 through 1866.

1854-S:

After years of neglect, this historically significant date has finally come into its own. The survival pattern of the 1854-S is different than for any other SF double eagle. Examples are likely to be found either very well worn (in VF35 to EF45 grades) or in Uncirculated (MS61 to MS63). This is because of the fact that this issue saw considerable circulation in the booming local Gold Rush economy and that a hoard of 100 or so Uncirculated pieces with seawater surfaces exists. The 1854-S is extremely rare in high grades with natural surfaces. I have only seen two in Uncirculated not from the shipwreck and just a handful of non-seawater AU pieces. A new price record was set for the date by Heritage 10/08: 3013, graded MS65 by PCGS, which brought a remarkable $115,000. Despite this, published pricing information for the 1854-S is way too low and a solid AU55 or AU58 with natural surfaces is worth well over current levels.

1855-S:

For many collectors, the 1855-S is the earliest date SF double eagle that is added to their collection. This issue remains reasonably available in the lower to medium About Uncirculated grades but it is scarce in Uncirculated and much undervalued in my opinion. I believe that there are as many as 150-200 known in Uncirculated with many of these either in the lower range of this grade or sourced from the S.S. Central America or S.S. Republic shipwrecks. As with the other double eagles from this date, the 1855-S is characterized by very heavily abraded surfaces and choice, original pieces are worth a premium. At less than $3,000 for a pleasing, high end AU example, I think that the 1855-S remains an outstanding value in the Type One market.
(more…)

A Look at the Current Market for Type One Gold Double Eagles Coins

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

How’s the market doing for Type One double eagles? Good question and one that I feel well-qualified to answer, having been a very active participant in this market for over two decades.

We’ve had a lot of interesting external factors shape the Type One market in the last few years. Naturally, the severe economic conditions of 2007-2009 had a profound influence; especially at the high end of the market. And even if the economy had been strong there’s a chance that prices for rarities might have slowed down on their own, given the extreme rise in prices we had seen in the Type One market for the previous five years. It was natural that there would be some profit taking; what I didn’t expect was some of the forced sales we saw in 2007 and 2008.

And then there is the X factor in the Type One market: the incredible run-up in gold prices that has seen metal prices top $1,200 per ounce, and the associated pressures on supply that this has brought with it.

All that said, I’m pretty amazed at how strong this segment of the market is right now. In my mind, there is no question that most Type One double eagles valued at less than $5,000 are in greater demand than I can ever remember. I also think that prices are about as strong as I can recall for these coins. If you look at recent auction, nearly all decent quality EF45 to AU58 Type One double eagles are bringing in excess of Trends (more on pricing in a second…) and these coins are typically selling at auction to dealers; not necessarily end-user collectors.

The coins priced at $5,000-20,000 are generally quite strong as well, although not as much so as at the lower price point. The key factors for Type One double eagles in this price range are: eye appeal, eye appeal, eye appeal and the “sexiness” of the date. This is clearly a collector-oriented market and really pretty coins (i.e., those that are not excessively bagmarked, those that are not all bright and shiny and those that are well-made) are in great demand. Average and below-average quality coins still sell; especially if they are useful dates. But they do not bring the premium prices that the nice coins bring.

The real weakness in this market a few years ago was with the expensive coins. As I touched on above the reasons for this were twofold. When the world economy seemed to be melting down, people weren’t all that crazy about dropping $50,000 on a coin. And prices had risen so much on many of the key issues that many market participants wondered if certain key issues were still good values at the levels they had risen to.

Before addressing some specific areas in the market, I mentioned earlier about difficulties with pricing. Coin World Trends ability to keep up with this area in the market appears to not be as good as it was before and many Type One issues now sell for over Trends. This is particularly true with less expensive coins in circulated grades. (more…)

The Norweb 1921 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle To be Sold by Heritage

The 1921 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is a premier rarity in the series, ranking as the third rarest regular issue, behind only the famous and ultra-rare 1933 and 1927-D emissions. Considered as a condition rarity, the 1921 moves into second place in the rankings, surpassing even the fabled 1927-D. The date joined the elite group of coins that have sold at auction for more than $1 million in 2005, when the finest known specimen realized $1,092,500 as lot 6644 of the Phillip H. Morse Collection (Heritage, 11/2005).

Any offering of a 1921 double eagle is noteworthy, but the opportunity to acquire a Choice specimen of this prized issue, with a pedigree to one of the most famous collections of all time, is truly a landmark in numismatic history.

Numismatists of the 1940s were mystified by the rarity of the 1921 Saint-Gaudens double eagle and many other issues in the series, because mint records reported substantial mintages for most dates (528,500 pieces in the case of the 1921). Of course we understand today that the great majority of them were destroyed in the Gold Recall of the 1930s.

While some dates found refuge in European banks and were later repatriated to augment the meager supply of coins in this country, this has not been the case with the 1921 twenty. The only reference to any examples of this date returning from European holdings is found in Breen’s Encyclopedia, where he speculates about five pieces that may have surfaced since 1981 and about a half-dozen examples David Akers mentioned from his days at Paramount (possibly the same coins).

When describing the 1921 double eagle in our recent FUN Signature Auction (Heritage, 1/2010), lot 2315, we published the following information about the actual number of 1921 double eagles officially released:

“In an interesting and remarkable letter first published in the June 2006 American Numismatic Rarities auction catalog, Dr. Charles W. Green writes to Louis Eliasberg in February 1947. Dr. Green had inquired of Mint officials about the availability of Saint-Gaudens twenties, realizing at an early date how rare certain issues were relative to their mintage. Mint officials told Dr. Green ‘the true record would be, not the number struck, but the number ‘put out’; that is actually issued from the producing mints, all the rest having gone to the melt and of course very possibly some of those put out went to the melt also.’ He listed several rarities, among which was the 1921: ‘Of the 1921 Philadelphia double eagle, only 25 coins were put out. So there we have a perfect record of rarity. The rest went to the melt.’ It is natural to assume that with certain rarities more pieces were rescued prior to melting by Treasury Department or Mint employees.” (more…)

Ralph P. Muller $20 Saint Coin Collection Highlights F.U.N. Offerings

As happens every year, Heritage’s official auction of the F.U.N. convention attracts the finest consignments of great coins. Nothing exemplifies this more than The Ralph P. Muller Collection of Twenty Dollar Saints, an incredible 59 pieces from the Saint-Gaudens series of double eagles, valued in the many millions of dollars.
ha_1927-D_20_fun2010
Every circulation strike example in the series is included, except for the uncollectable 1933. And what coins they are! His 1927-D (MS66 PCGS) is the most exciting rarity, a coin that has been called the “King of 20th Century Regular Issues.”

Other exceptional coins include: 1920-S (MS64 PCGS); 1921 (MS64 PCGS); 1927-S (MS66 PCGS); 1930-S (MS65 PCGS. CAC); 1931-D (MS66 PCGS); and 1932 (MS66 PCGS). Behind these exceptional coins are dozens of others that are merely spectacular. (At one time, Mr. Muller had named this The Ferrari Collection, and some of the inserts still bear that appellation).

Ralph P. Muller’s fascination with rare coins has lasted more than half a century, reaching back to his early youth. Working on a newspaper route, he set aside any coins that he encountered that piqued his interest. Even as a youngster, he also collected other interesting things.

As he entered adulthood and began his restaurant businesses, he would still look through the cash receipts for interesting coins. He attended coin shows and auctions and began to buy coins, always becoming better educated and more experienced.

In business for himself throughout, his numismatic purchases had to wait for the most profitable times. Having achieved financial success, he became serious about coins over the last two decades.

The double eagles of Augustus Saint-Gaudens became his greatest desire for many reasons, summarized as their being “the premier collectible series” for Mr. Muller. They are, “without question, the most beautiful American coin,” and the challenge of assembling a complete set was a constant source of motivation. (more…)