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All Posts Tagged With: "heritage auctions"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts on the Simpson Dime Sale

By Jason Feldman – The E-Gobrecht

The Simpson dimes were being broken up. [ Heritage Long Beach Sale #1144] This would be a great opportunity to upgrade dimes in an advanced Seated Dime collection. The big problem was there were so many coins that few buyers would be able to purchase them all and no one did surface who did. Even more amazing are some of the coins left in the collection like a MS66 1844 Dime. Legend (Numismatics) has made available to me so many wonderful dimes that news of this sale created euphoria.

It would come as no surprise that most of the coins were either crossed over to PCGS at the same or in many cases a lower grade. Seeing the secure plus holders and Simpson pedigree would make this obvious. There was a lot bidding research needed prior to bidding. There were cases where buying too many coins early would limit the ability to chase coins later. One the highlights of the sale being a simply gorgeous 1872-S, I was not the only one to think so as the coin went to the moon.

One of my regrets of the sale was not being able to purchase the 1845-O dime in mint state. This is a very rare opportunity indeed but as a rule if you set a maximum bid and exceed it by 10% you have to know to stop. Being the under bidder was really not satisfying and maybe a higher bid was warranted. Another highlight of the sale was a gem 1860-S. Prior to the sale, Laura (of Legend Numismatics) and I spoke as to where the coin would sell. It was another on my short list. I think we both underestimated the demand for this coin. It went far over preauction estimates but I don’t doubt it to be well worth the hammer price $40,250. A nice return on investment considering one sold for roughly $7,000 in 1994.

One of the interesting notes about these coins is how many were not picked up by Seated Dime registry collectors but rather a just collectors and dealers. I know one dealer picked up roughly 10% of the coins and most all have been sold. There were many bargains in this sale too. Mostly the coins following the Simpson dimes went too cheap. One example is an 1858-O is a MS64 PCGS holder population 1 with 8 finer sold for just under $3,000 while the Simpson PCGS MS65 population 7 with one finer soared to $9,200. With the grade covered it was not really possible to call either coin much better than the other.

Some of the real steals in the Simpson collection came in the coins in NGC holders. The obvious assumption is these are coins that on a given day did not cross over at PCGS. A good many of them did regrade at NGC. In the case of the ultra-rare 1853-O MS64 the coin was simply overgraded. The coin did have a wonderful and original look to it but just had too many marks to be graded higher than MS62 in my opinion. The coin could easily be traced back with little effort to its previous holder. In general the ultra high grade trophy coins were the ones hitting the moon. Clearly one of two mint state 1845-O Dimes should be worth more than a other coins that sold in the low $20,000’s. This was a sale where knowledge was king. (more…)

One of the finest 1895 Morgan dollars known headlines Heritage Houston U.S. Coin Auction

Early U.S. coins and classic proofs to provide holiday cheer to numismatists at the Money Show of the Southwest, Dec. 2-3

Early U.S. coinage and classic proofs, among them one of the finest known 1895 Morgan dollars, are the twin strengths of the Heritage Auction Galleries December 2010 U.S. Coin Auction, to be held in conjunction with the Money Show of the Southwest in Houston, TX. Floor sessions are Dec. 2-3.

“With Featured Collections such as The W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials and The Eagle Harbor Collection, Part Two lined up, we knew this auction was going to be heavy on early U.S. coinage,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “The many great proof coins we’re going to offer were more of a surprise, though definitely a welcome one.”

Perhaps the most surprising lot of them all is an 1895 Morgan dollar graded PR68 Ultra Cameo by NGC. This example from what is arguably the most famous Morgan dollar issue combines great condition with immense popular demand. It is estimated at $90,000+.

“For many years, collectors believed that there were business strike 1895 Morgan dollars out there waiting to be discovered, and in the meantime, they collected proof examples to fill the gap,” said Rohan. “Today, there is growing acceptance that the business strikes may never be found, but this has hardly dampened enthusiasm for the proofs.”

Just 880 proof Morgan dollars were struck in 1895 for inclusion in the year’s silver proof sets. Perhaps half that number survive today, but only a handful of those coins are in a condition approaching the PR68 Ultra Cameo level.

On the early coinage side, the most prestigious pedigree belongs to a 1793 Wreath cent with Vine and Bars edge, S-5, B-6, graded MS61 Brown by PCGS. It is estimated at $50,000+.

“This coin has been well-recognized and important to collectors for more than a century,” said Rohan. “It was first highlighted in the auction catalog for the Dr. Charles Clay Collection, sold all the way back in 1871. After that, it passed through a series of famous hands, including W. Eliot Woodward, Lorin G. Parmelee, and Wayte Raymond. We expect another name with plenty of future appeal to add this prestigious and carefully preserved coin to his or her collection.”

In addition to proof silver, proof gold is also well-represented in this auction by an 1876 three dollar gold piece graded PR63 by PCGS, a proof-only issue with an official mintage of just 45 pieces, among the most elusive Philadelphia dates in the series. This Select example was certified early in the history of PCGS, and no mention is made on the holder of the coin’s obvious cameo contrast. It is estimated at $40,000+. (more…)

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…)

W. Philip Keller Colonoal Coin Collection Leads Heritage COINFEST Auction

Locked in a Pennsylvania vault for 43 years, one of the most comprehensive collections of colonial and early American coins ever to reach public auction, The W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials, is the principle highlight of the upcoming Rare U.S. Coin auction, Oct. 28-31 in conjunction with COINFEST in Stamford, CT.

Mr. Keller apparently stopped actively collecting around 1966, with intermittent purchases through the early 1970s, and stored his collection in a bank vault where it was discovered nearly 40 years later by his surprised family after he died last year, who knew that Mr. Keller was a collector, but had no idea of the depth, or value, of his collection.

This is Heritage’s first official auction with COINFEST, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Fittingly enough, our debut at this New England venue is filled with a variety of colonial and early American coins, including dozens of different Connecticut coppers struck shortly after independence.

One of those Connecticut coppers is a 1785 African Head Connecticut copper, the extremely rare Miller 4.2-F.6 variety, graded VF30 by NGC. It is estimated at $40,000+, but could go significantly higher.

There are two varieties of the African Head Connecticut copper, one relatively common, the other extremely rare. This piece is one of the rare variety, one of just two or three known. Its appearance at COINFEST is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Keller bought most of his collection from leading dealers and auctioneers in the 1950s and 1960s, and this African Head copper has been in Keller’s collection, and thus off the market, since 1966.

Another anchor consignment of the auction is The Diotte Collection, which spans U.S. Mint history from some of the earliest issues to noted modern rarities. Its chief highlight is a 1797 half dollar, O-102 variety, graded Fine Details by NCS. It is estimated at $50,000+.

The half dollars of 1796-1797 are among the most prized U.S. type coins regardless of grade. Just four varieties were struck between the two years, all of them are very scarce to very rare, and the 1797 O-102 variety is the most elusive of them all.

In addition to colonials, pattern coinage is among the strengths of this auction. In a relatively small but impressive selection, the most prominent piece is an 1879 “Washlady” dollar struck in silver, Judd-1603 variety, graded PR66+ by NGC. It is estimated at $50,000+.

This design’s nickname was originally an insult. In 1891, just a dozen years after this pattern was struck, David Proskey called it the ‘Washlady,’ a negative reference to how Liberty’s hair appeared. Today, however, the ‘Washlady’ is considered one of the most beautiful patterns ever produced, and the very rare examples struck in silver are especially sought-after.

The 20th century has its share of highlights as well, led by a 1909 half eagle, graded PR67 by NGC. Like other gold proofs of that year, it has a distinct semi-bright finish sometimes called “Roman gold,” which tried to find a balance between the mirrored proofs of the 19th century and the dull-finished matte proofs that were popular in Europe but had received a disastrous reception among U.S. coin collectors. The “Roman gold” experiment failed, but survivors from the issue’s mintage of 78 half eagles are popular with modern numismatists. It is estimated at $55,000+.

A more conventional mirrored proof offered is a 1904 double eagle graded PR65 Cameo by PCGS. Just 98 proof $20s were struck in 1904, and most of them lack the contrast that was often seen on pre-1902 specimens. Thanks to its Cameo status and solid all-around preservation, it is one of the most important representatives of its issue. It is estimated at $60,000+.

Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:

W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials leads Heritage COINFEST Auction

Oct. 28-31 auction in Stamford, CT features one of the most important offerings of early American coinage in decades

DALLAS, TX — Locked in a Pennsylvania vault for 43 years, one of the most comprehensive collections of colonial and early American coins ever to reach public auction, The W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials, is the principle highlight of the upcoming Heritage Auctions Rare U.S. Coin auction, Oct. 28–31 in conjunction with COINFEST in Stamford, CT.

Mr. Keller apparently stopped actively collecting around 1966, with intermittent purchases through the early 1970s, and stored his collection in a bank vault where it was discovered nearly a 40 years later by his surprised family after he died last year, who knew that Mr. Keller was a collector, but had no idea of the depth, or value, of his collection.

“This is Heritage’s first official auction with Coinfest, and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “Fittingly enough, our debut at this New England venue is filled with a variety of colonial and early American coins, including dozens of different Connecticut coppers struck shortly after independence.”

One of those Connecticut coppers is a 1785 African Head Connecticut copper, the extremely rare Miller 4.2-F.6 variety, graded VF30 by NGC. It is estimated at $40,000+, but could go significantly higher.

“There are two varieties of the African Head Connecticut copper, one relatively common, the other extremely rare,” said Rohan. “This piece is one of the rare variety, one of just two or three known. Its appearance at COINFEST is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Keller bought most of his collection  from leading dealers and auctioneers in the 1950s and 1960s, and this African Head copper has been in Keller’s collection, and thus off the market, since 1966.”

Another anchor consignment of the auction is The Diotte Collection, which spans U.S. Mint history from some of the earliest issues to noted modern rarities. Its chief highlight is a 1797 half dollar, O-102 variety, graded Fine Details by NCS. It is estimated at $50,000+.

“The half dollars of 1796-1797 are among the most prized U.S. type coins regardless of grade,” said Rohan. “Just four varieties were struck between the two years, all of them are very scarce to very rare, and the 1797 O-102 variety is the most elusive of them all.”

In addition to colonials, pattern coinage is among the strengths of this auction. In a relatively small but impressive selection, the most prominent piece is an 1879 “Washlady” dollar struck in silver, Judd-1603 variety, graded PR66+ by NGC. It is estimated at $50,000+.

“This design’s nickname was originally an insult,” said Rohan. “In 1891, just a dozen years after this pattern was struck, David Proskey called it the ‘Washlady,’ a negative reference to how Liberty’s hair appeared. Today, however, the ‘Washlady’ is considered one of the most beautiful patterns ever produced, and the very rare examples struck in silver are especially sought-after.”

The 20th century has its share of highlights as well, led by a 1909 half eagle, graded PR67 by NGC. Like other gold proofs of that year, it has a distinct semi-bright finish sometimes called “Roman gold,” which tried to find a balance between the mirrored proofs of the 19th century and the dull-finished matte proofs that were popular in Europe but had received a disastrous reception among U.S. coin collectors. The “Roman gold” experiment failed, but survivors from the issue’s mintage of 78 half eagles are popular with modern numismatists. It is estimated at $55,000+.

A more conventional mirrored proof offered is a 1904 double eagle graded PR65 Cameo by PCGS. Just 98 proof $20s were struck in 1904, and most of them lack the contrast that was often seen on pre-1902 specimens. Thanks to its Cameo status and solid all-around preservation, it is one of the most important representatives of its issue. It is estimated at $60,000+. (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.

Unusual Coins: Copper $10 Eagle Pattern Minted in France

Heritage’s Sunday Internet Coin Auction (bidding ends on September 26) features one of the more intriguing patterns ever offered. Lot 26512 is an extremely rare copper Eagle pattern produced at the Paris Mint by engraver Louis Charles Bouvet (1802-1865). Only two copper pieces are known–both from the King Farouk Collection–although they differ slightly in thickness and edge markings. A third, unconfirmed copper example is said to be in the holdings of the British Museum (per Stack’s 9/1998 sale). An example in gold or gold-plated is also known (per American Numismatic Rarities’ 6/2006 sale).

Let us backtrack now, for a moment, to July 23, 1844. Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht died suddenly on that date. Largely due to his political connections with John C. Calhoun as well as his skill as an engraver, Mint outsider James B. Longacre is hired to fill the position a couple of months later. Chief Coiner Franklin Peale and Mint Director Robert M. Patterson oppose the move and despise the man but are forced to accede to it. Despite his talent as an engraver, Longacre lacked skill as a die-cutter; the many reengraved, repunched, and blundered dates in U.S. coinage from 1844 to the early 1850s are evidence. Nonetheless, from 1844 to 1848, Longacre merely needed to add dates onto mechanically made dies; there were no new pattern or circulating coinage designs launched during that time.

An article by Doug Winter from The Numismatist of May 1982, titled “What Might Have Been: The Story of the Bouvet Eagle of 1849,” picks up the tale from there:

“When the Act of March 3, 1849 became law, the long period of inactivity at the Mint ended. This Act, which authorized the coinage of gold dollars and double eagles, meant that the Mint quickly had to design and produce new coins in these denominations. Mint Director Patterson had already decided that Longacre would never be able to perform this type of work, So he surreptitiously devised a plan that would get rid of Longacre once and for all. He would have Franklin Peale, on his scheduled trip to Europe in the summer of 1849, locate a suitable replacement for Longacre. In connection with his plan, Patterson used the design of the new gold dollar as a sort of litmus test for the fledgling Longacre. If Longacre failed, as Patterson confidently expected him to, he would petition for the removal of his Chief Engraver.”

No documentation of direct contact between Patterson and Bouvet survives, but Patterson is known to have contacted Charles Cushing Wright and other talented contemporary engravers about producing master dies for U.S. coinage. (more…)

Warren Tucker Named VP of Heritage World Coins

Following on the heels of a $8.57 million World Coin auction at the Boston ANA World’s Fair of Money, Heritage Auctions has announced the promotion of Warren Tucker to Vice President of the World Coins division.

“Warren is one of the best known numismatists in the business and his reputation is second to none,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “Under his careful watch, the World Coins category at Heritage has grown by leaps and bounds, as clearly evidenced by the recent showing in Boston. This promotion is in recognition of his tireless promotion of World Coins at Heritage.”

Tucker became a full-time coin dealer in 1964. In 1968 he joined Jack Boozer and Doug Weaver in business in Waco, Texas, where he first met Steve Ivy. After moving back to Georgia, Warren became a partner with John Hamrick at WorldWide Coin Investments of Atlanta.

In the 1970s, he began more extensive travel throughout Europe and Asia to buy coins before joining forces with Steve Ivy, in 1979, and opening an office in Atlanta. Associations with noted numismatists Richard Nelson and Ronald J. Gillio followed thereafter. From 1985 TO 1995 spent a great deal of time in the Orient, with extended stays in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines. Tucker moved to Dallas in 1999, where he lives today, working at Heritage headquarters.

“Working with Warren on a daily basis is like getting free tuition at ‘Numismatic University,'” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage. “There are but a handful of numismatists worldwide with his experience and knowledge of world coins. He’s also one of the most well-liked and respected coin professionals in the market.”

During his tenure at Heritage, Warren has been instrumental in the consignment and subsequent auction of numerous International numismatic rarities and collections that have realized World Record prices. He is a lifetime member of PNG.

With Tucker as the primary world coin expert since the World Coin Department’s inception as a separate entity at Heritage in 2000, Heritage has grown to be one of the worldwide leaders in world coin sales.

“I’m fortunate to be able to work every day in a field that I love, for a company that I’m dedicated to and with colleagues that I very much respect,” said Tucker. “I look forward to continuing my work at Heritage in keeping it the World’s premier rare coin auctioneer.”

Heritage Auctions New York City Gallery opens Sept. 1

445 Park Avenue (at 57th Street) location features eye-opening “Heritage Window on Park Avenue” of upcoming auction treasures

NEW YORK – The eagerly-awaited new Manhattan gallery and offices of Heritage Auction Galleries will open at 445 Park Avenue (at 57th Street) on Wednesday, September 1, 2010.

The expansion of Heritage, the world’s third largest auction house, into the New York City market comes at a time when many major auction firms are contracting. The Dallas-based firm also opened a Beverly Hills, California gallery and salesroom earlier this year.

“The New York City area is home to many of the top collectors and collections, and the center of the art and antique market,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “It’s a perfect fit with our increasingly expanding services, and the best possible place for us to serve the art and high-end collectible needs of our clients. I can think of nowhere else we’d rather be opening a new gallery right now than right in the heart of Manhattan’s auction district.”

“Heritage is distinguished by its superb sales catalogs, unequalled online resources for buyers and sellers and transparency in how we do business. We have a non-stop auction rotation that features the very best across 30 categories including rare coins, collectibles, fine art, jewelry, comics, movie posters, rare wine, sports memorabilia and much more,” explained Rohan.

The first auction to take place under the auspices of Heritage Auctions New York City will be the company’s Oct. 16 Signature® Illustration Art Auction at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion (The Ukrainian Institute), 2 East 79th Street. It will feature some of the very best illustration pieces Heritage has ever offered, including works by Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, Gil Elvgren, J.C. Leyendecker and one of the most iconic pieces of illustration art pieces to come on the market anywhere in years, Garth Williams’ original graphite and ink on paper drawing for the cover of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, 1952.

One of the most talked about features of Heritage’s new Manhattan venue will be the Heritage Window on Park Avenue, which will feature a continually rotating selection from upcoming Heritage auctions, across all of the firm’s categories.

Highlights from the inaugural Heritage Window on Park Avenue will include, but are not limited to: Thomas Moran’s oil on canvas Venice, Grand Canal, 1903; Howard Terpning’s A Winter Trail, 1975; Birger Sandzen’s Rock Mountain Landscape, circa 1920; a very rare copy of a 1939 Detective Comics #27, CGC 7.0, the first appearance of “The Batman,” and Garth Williams’ aforementioned Charlotte’s Web original cover art.

“We expect the Window to become a regular attraction for both collectors and everyday New Yorkers alike,” said Rohan.

The offices on Park Avenue at 57th will be open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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…)

The Joshua II Collection of Mercury Dimes is the #1 All-Time Finest PCGS Registry Set and is being sold in Boston

Selling the #1 All-Time Finest PCGS Registry Set in any category is an honor, and Heritage fully appreciates the hard work necessary to put the Joshua II Collection into that position. Completing the all-time finest set, especially in such a popular series, is an accomplishment of the highest order. In a popular series with thousands of collectors, the task becomes nearly impossible.

The consignor of Joshua II did it, and did it convincingly, and with the same style that characterizes his many other Registry leading collections. This set has a collecting background measured in decades, with such uniform quality across the series that the hard work of collecting is almost unimaginable. Heritage has been proud to offer many other collections, of equal quality and note, from this distinguished numismatist. s.

As might be expected from such a high quality set, many of the coins are the finest known of their date. In addition, every circulation strike dime has obtained with the Full Bands designation, and 46 of the 79 coins have the CAC affirmation as well. Each coin grades at least MS66, with the 1939-D, a date called “the quintessential type coin” by David Lange, reaching an astounding MS69 to go along with its full bands. Of course, the overall quality of this set is by no means limited to type coins; the key date 1916-D grades MS67 with full bands, and is one of only seven known in the grade from PCGS with none finer.

A collection like this has innumerable highlights; these are just a few:

An Example of Yap Island Stone Money to be Auctioned During ANA’s Boston Coin Show

Yap Island is part of the Federated States of Micronesia, and is notable for its stone money, known as Rai: large doughnut-shaped, carved disks of (usually) calcite, up to 4 m (12 ft) in diameter (most are much smaller). The smallest can be as little as 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in) in diameter. These stones were probably little used before 1800, and the last pieces were produced in 1931. Prior to traders arriving at Yap, the Island Chief controlled the stones.

There are five major types of monies: Mmbul, Gaw, Fe’ or Rai, Yar, and Reng, this last being only 0.3 m (1 ft) in diameter. Many of them were brought from other islands, as far as New Guinea, but most came in ancient times from Palau. Their value is based on both the stone’s size and its history. Historically the Yapese valued the disks because the material looks like quartz, and these were the shiniest objects around. Eventually the stones became legal tender and were even mandatory in some payments.

The stones’ value was kept high due to the difficulty and hazards involved in obtaining them. To quarry the stones, Yapese adventurers had to sail to distant islands and deal with local inhabitants who were sometimes hostile. Once quarried, the disks had to be transported back to Yap on rafts towed behind wind-powered canoes. The scarcity of the disks, and the effort and peril required to get them, made them valuable to the Yapese.

In 1871 David Dean O’Keefe, a sea Captain from Savannah, Georgia was shipwrecked on the island. During his 30 years on the island, he obtained much fame in the islands, and considerable fortune, by gaining control of the stone quarrying. His exploits were brought to light in a 1954 film starring Burt Lancaster called, His Majesty O’Keefe. O’Keefe then traded these stones with the Yapese for other commodities such as sea cucumbers and copra. Although some of the O’Keefe stones are larger than the canoe-transported stones, they are less valuable than the earlier stones due to the comparative ease in which they were obtained. Approximately 6,800 of them are scattered around the island.

As no more disks are being produced or imported, this money supply is fixed. The islanders know who owns which piece but do not necessarily move them when ownership changes. Their size and weight (the largest ones require 20 adult men to carry) make them very difficult to move around. Although today the United States dollar is the currency used for everyday transactions in Yap, the stone disks are still used for more traditional or ceremonial exchange. The stone disks may change ownership during marriages, transfers of land title, or as compensation for damages suffered by an aggrieved party. It is now illegal to remove the stones from Yap Island, with severe penalties for disturbing the stones.

The piece Heritage is offering in its Boston Sale is a premium example of Yap Stone money, in exceptional condition: smooth round calcite stone with center hole quarried on Babekldaop Island, in the Pelew group of Islands, and transferred back to the island of Yap, 40 lb., 5 oz., 15-1/8 inches in diameter.

This Yap Stone belongs to the Numismatic Association of Southern California and was donated to the club many years ago by a primitive money collector. It has been displayed at numerous coin shows in California since becoming the property of the club. The NASC , in an effort to raise money for operating expenses, reluctantly consigned this wonderful item to Heritage for auction at the ANA.

Heritage, in their ongoing support of numismatics, has waived the seller’s fee, and 100% of the hammer price of the Yap Stone will go directly to the Numismatic Association of Southern California. Estimate: $5,000 – $6,000.

Lot 21988 – 2010 August Boston, MA Signature ANA World Coin Auction #3010

All-Time Greatest Collection of Barber Half Dollars to be Auctioned in Boston, Part 1

by Greg Reynolds

On Wed., Aug 11, during the Platinum Night event of the Summer 2010 ANA auction in Boston, the all-time greatest collection of Barber Half Dollars will be auctioned. This set was assembled and consigned by Dr. Steven Duckor.

I. Overview

Here in part 1, I will introduce Dr. Duckor’s collection, mention the last two coins that were added, focus on his 1904-S half, and discuss the evolution of his set of Barber halves. In part 2, the historical and cultural importance of this set will be analyzed, along with references to other landmark sets of Barber Halves, including those of Thaine Price, Louis Eliasberg and the Norweb family. Plus, there will be some additional information in at least one of my Wednesday morning columns. Please read tomorrow’s column.

All of Dr. Duckor’s coins are authenticated, graded, and encapsulated by the Professional Coin Grading Service. During the Spring, the entire set was re-evaluated by the PCGS under the new SecurePlus™ program. Twenty-seven of Duckor’s halves received plus grades, Duckor himself reports, and “one coin fully upgraded to the next grade.”

In accordance with the rules of the PCGS registry, Duckor’s primary set has a “weighted” grade point average of “66.776.” With inclusion of the rare and recognized 1892 Micro O variety, his GPA drops a little to “66.72” The second ‘current finest’ set is owned by Dr. Peter Shireman and it is third on the “all-time” list. My guess, though, is that the Thaine Price collection is superior to that of Shireman. In accordance with current grading criteria, some of Price’s coins would merit higher grades than these received in the 1990s.

I am not referring to Dr. Duckor’s set of Barber Half Dollars as the ‘all-time’ best because it is the number one “All-Time Finest” in the PCGS registry, though this is so. I am referring to it as the greatest collection of business strike Barber Halves of all time because it is superior to any other, better than those that were disbursed before the PCGS was founded, and better than those that include a mix of PCGS and NGC certified coins. I have spent considerable time researching and analyzing the topic of business strike Barber Half Dollars.

Actually, so few collectors have even attempted to assemble gem quality, complete sets of business strike Barber Halves, it was not that difficult to determine that the Duckor collection is the greatest of all time. References to other sets of Barber Halves are central to an understanding of Dr. Duckor’s set. In terms of the culture of coin collecting, Dr. Duckor’s set of Barber Halves is perhaps the most important collection to be auctioned in Boston this August, even though tens of millions of dollars worth of rare coins, including several wonderful collections, will be sold.

Unfortunately, I am not able here to extensively discuss many of the individual Barber Halves in the collection. The objectives of this two-part series are to explain the importance of this set, to provide information about its evolution, to relate it to other sets of Barber Halves, and to discuss the meaning of this set in the context of the history and traditions of coin collecting in the United States. I will mention a few specific Barber Halves in my weekly columns, starting tomorrow.

Mark Borckardt, surely, did an admirable job of cataloguing Dr. Duckor’s coins. I strongly recommend that collectors read the catalogue. Even collectors who cannot afford these halves will find the catalogue to be educational and interesting. In order to understand the coins that a collector possesses, it is necessary for him or her to learn about coins that are not affordable. (more…)

The Most Important Coin I’ve Ever Handled

By Mark Borckardt

During 30 years as a full time professional numismatist, I have had the opportunity to examine and handle many of the most important rarities in the American series, including two Brasher doubloons, all five 1913 Liberty nickels, two 1894-S dimes, and four 1804 silver dollars. I have handled 80 of the 100 greatest U.S. coins according to the study published by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.

Last week I had the pleasure of examining and researching a coin that I believe carries more numismatic and historical importance than any of those coins mentioned above, or any other coin that I have ever handled. It is the 1907 Wire Rim Indian eagle with a plain edge. Only two plain edge specimens were struck, and they were the first Indian eagles ever created, to fulfill the wish of a dying man.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens was near death in the middle of July 1907. Dies for the Indian eagles had already been created, but the collar containing 46 stars was not completed. For that reason, the two plain edge coins were minted, one was sent to President Theodore Roosevelt, and the other was sent to Saint-Gaudens. The sculptor passed away a couple weeks later on August 3.

Roger W. Burdette has traced the issue in his reference Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908 (Seneca Mill Press, LLC, 2006), and Michael F. Moran has also examined the issue in his 2008 reference Striking Change — The Great Collaboration of Theodore Roosevelt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In a July 28, 2008 Coin World article, P. Scott Rubin writes: “I received an important e-mail from Roger W. Burdette … that this coin was ‘…one of two plain edge pattern pieces struck in July 1907.’ Just as important, he informed me that one of the specimens went to Secretary of the Treasury Cortelyou and the other went to Augustus Saint-Gaudens… I learned that this was the only coin similar to those issued to the public designed by Saint-Gaudens that the artist saw before his death.” While we are unable to say with certainty that the present piece was the coin sent to Saint-Gaudens, it almost certainly is. The coin that went to Cortelyou was forwarded to President Roosevelt who returned it to the Mint. In all likelihood, the Cortelyou-Roosevelt coin was melted, as it does not appear among coins at the Smithsonian Institution.

It is thought that President Roosevelt returned the coin he received, and it is also believed that the coin sent to Saint-Gaudens was retained by the artist. It is my belief that the coin I handled is the exact coin that Saint-Gaudens received. Since all other Indian eagles and all double eagles of his design were minted after his death, this single coin seems to be the only coin of his own design that Saint-Gaudens ever saw in person.

This plain edge 1907 Wire Rim Indian eagle will be offered for sale as lot 3561 in the Platinum Night session of Heritage’s 2010 ANA auction in Boston. The Platinum Night session is scheduled for 6:00 PM EST on Wednesday, August 11. I hope to see many of you there, and hope that those unable to attend will be watching this historic offering on HA.com/live.

Heritage to Present 2,800+ Lot Currency Auction at Boston ANA

Official Auctioneer of the ANA World’s Fair of Money, Aug. 11-16

The Official Currency Auction of the 2010 ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston, MA will be conducted by Heritage Auctions Aug. 11-16. The auction includes three floor sessions and one online session. Lot viewing will be conducted at the Hynes Convention Center, Room 210, 900 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02115 and the floor sessions will be held at the Hynes Convention Center, Room 203, 900 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02115.

In addition to lot viewing in Boston, a preliminary lot viewing will take place at Heritage Galleries Beverly Hills, 9478 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite #100, Beverly Hills, CA 90212 on Friday, July 30, 2010 and Saturday, July 31, 2010.

Session One will begin on Wednesday evening, Aug. 11, at 6 p.m. ET and includes Continental Currency, Colonial Currency, Fractional Currency, Encased Postage, Obsolete Currency, Confederate Notes, a Confederate Bond, Miscellaneous, Postal Notes, Military Payment Certificates, World Currency, and Canadian Currency.

Heritage Currency Auctions is presenting The Collection of a Patriotic American, a complete collection of all 102 Friedberg numbers associated with Continental Currency and believed to be the finest collection ever assembled. The collection also includes 71 additional related items, including the extremely rare marbled edge counterfeit detector; eight extra Fugio bills representing the different plate positions; 21 different contemporary counterfeits; nine sheets of Continental Currency, including a very rare sheet of Fugio bills; and nine counterfeit detector sheets. Among the 71 items are 23 pieces issued by cities and states payable in Continental Currency: four notes from Albany dated 1776 and 19 typeset certificates from Georgia dated June and September 1777.

Among the many highlights of the collection is the finest known Continental Currency May 10, 1775 $20 PCGS Choice About New 58PPQ. The $20 from this first issue of Continental Currency is the only piece of the 102 different Continental Currency notes that has a different shape, size, paper, and color. Benjamin Franklin procured the distinctive marbled edge paper from his contacts in Paris.

Other exceptional rarities in the collection include: a Continental Currency February 17, 1776 Twenty Four Note Sheet Choice About New, the finest of three known examples; a Continental Currency May 20, 1777 Complete Double Sheet of Sixteen Extremely Fine-About New which is unique to Heritage’s best knowledge; a Continental Currency May 10, 1775 $20 Counterfeit Detector PCGS Choice About New 58, one of only two known examples and the only one available to collectors as the other piece belongs to the Colonial Williamsburg Museum; and a gorgeous Georgia June 8, 1777 $8 PCGS Choice About New 58PPQ that was payable in Continental Currency, hence its inclusion in this collection. (more…)

Heritage Summer FUN Rare Coin Auction Realizes $7.4 million+

Original 1867 Cameo Proof Shield Nickel Tops Sale at $57,500; demand for rare gold coinage steady

An original 1867 5C Rays PR65 Cameo NGC. Dannreuther-1A, State a/a, a highly desirable and celebrated rarity, brought $57,500 to lead Heritage’s $7,387,384 July Orlando, FL Summer FUN Signature US Coin Auction. Demand for high quality numismatic gold rarities continued in Orlando, with seven of the top 10 lots being gold rarities. All prices include 19.5% Buyer’s Premium.

“We’re quite happy with the result of this auction,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “It was a small auction by Heritage standards, but quite focused, and collectors responded. The result was a very successful auction.”

More than 3700 bidders competed for the offerings, which saw a 94% sell-through rate by total lots.

The 1867 Rays Gem Cameo Proof Shield Nickel is a coin well known to specialists and advanced numismatists and the competition for this specimen was indeed heated before landing in the collection of a smart buyer. Though there may be more 1867 Rays proofs known than originally thought, many are known to be later restrikes, while this piece bears every hallmark of being one of the few – likely 10-15 total – true originals struck

A momentous 1829 Quarter Eagle, BD-1, MS64 NGC, Breen-6132, High R.4. followed the 1867 Rays Gem Cameo Shield Nickel, competing for top honors and almost nabbing the top spot in auction with a final price of $51,750, a mark that was equaled by an historic 1803 $10 Small Stars Reverse MS61 NGC, Breen-6844, Taraszka-28, BD-3, R.4.

One of the most hotly contested non-gold lots of the top 10 was a magnificent 1865 25C MS66 PCGS, CAC, Briggs 1-A, an exceptional example from the concluding year of the Civil War, and an important opportunity for the Seated specialist, one of whom added the coin to their collection for a price realized of $48,875.

A remarkable 1907 $20 High Relief, Flat Rim MS65 PCGS, was close on the heels of the 1865 25C, with a price realized of $46,000. This coin was a result of the numismatically inclined President Theodore Roosevelt, who wanted to create coins for the United States that would rival the beauty of those struck by the ancient Greeks. The result was the 1907 High Relief double eagle, considered by many to be the crowning achievement of Roosevelt’s coinage renaissance.

Further highlights include, but are not limited to:

Dwight Manley’s Superlative New England Silver Registry Set to Highlight ANA Platinum Night

What’s better than an offering of New England coinage at the Boston ANA? An offering of the very finest New England coinage at the Boston ANA, and Heritage’s Platinum Night festivities will feature precisely that.

Dwight Manley’s NE Silver Collection is a Registry masterpiece, the #1 finest set of all time at PCGS:

  • #1 Massachusetts Silver Shilling Design Set (1652-1682)
  • #1 Massachusetts Silver Design Set (1652-1682)
  • 2009 “Best of Registry Award Winner”

Dwight Manley is no stranger to outstanding coins, and this collection is proof of that. The five coins in this collection include:

Gem Mint State 1652 Pine Tree Shilling. One of Only 11 Examples of Noe 7 Known, and the Finest Example Certified. While not rare, Pine Tree shillings have a romantic quality that has enticed countless collectors. If a collector were to choose only one Colonial coin to own, it would undoubtedly be the Pine Tree shilling. A previous owner of this coin described it succinctly: “Gem Coin. Cannot Be Excelled.” We feel that his description accurately represents this stellar coin.

Spectacular 1652 Oak Tree Shilling, MS66. An Oak Tree shilling in Mint State 66 is something so remarkable that one must see and hold it in person to fully appreciate it. (I have, and I concur. -Editor) This lucky survivor is the finest example certified by PCGS by a margin of two points and could possibly be the finest Oak Tree shilling in existence.

1652 Willow Tree Shilling, VF35; Plated in Noe. This very piece has a special significance to numismatists as the discovery coin for the Willow Tree type. As a type, the Willow Tree shillings are rarer than their NE, Oak Tree, and Pine Tree counterparts, and this piece is additionally an example of the very rare Noe-3 variety, with perhaps eight examples known to collectors.

Rare and Important About Uncirculated New England Shilling; Plated in Noe. The rarity and significance of the New England shilling can hardly be overstated. The NE pieces claim the title of first coins struck in British America. Few collections, including some of the most advanced cabinets of Colonial coins, have possessed a representative of the New England shilling, let alone an example that has the quality of the present coin.

Rare Libertas Americana Medal in Silver, MS61. This is only the second time in 20 years that Heritage has had the pleasure to offer an example in silver. These medals are so highly prized and rare that it may be many years before another silver Libertas Americana, particularly one in Mint State, appears at auction.This auction will post for bidding soon at HA.com/Coins, with previews available now!

Heritage June Long Beach Auction realizes more than $9.88 million

Rare Morgan dollars, gold lead the way with strong prices and competitive bidding

[CoinLink News] – More than 4,250 bidders lined up to take part in the offerings of Heritage’s June 3-6 Long Beach Signature® U.S. Coin Auction, sending a remarkable 1866 $1 Motto PR67 Cameo NGC, CAC to the top of the pile with a $69,000 final price in an auction that saw solid bidding across the board, the continuance of gold as the hottest sector of the market, and a total of more than $9.88 million. All prices include 15% Buyer’s Premium.

“Even without the presence of six and seven figure coins we still saw totals approaching the $10 million mark and a more than 95% sell-through rate by lot totals,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “The enthusiasm in the current numismatic marketplace is there at all levels, and it helped make this a strong overall event.”

An important 1944-D Lincoln Cent Error struck on a Steel Planchet, AU55 NGC, 2.8 gm., coming to auction from The Brenda John Collection, caught the attention of collectors of both error rarities and Lincoln cents, and subsequently roared to a $60,375 final price, while an astounding 1891-O Morgan Dollar MS65 Deep Mirror Prooflike, from the PCGS Tour – one of only two MS65 Deep Mirror Prooflike examples known to PCGS, with none finer – was much in demand with collectors before finally coming to a stop at $57,500.

A stunning 1892-O $1 MS65 Deep Mirror Prooflike PCGS, also from the PCGS Tour, continued the stream of superb Morgan Dollars in the auction, as this example proved one of the most popular in the whole of the Long Beach auction with a price realized of $57,500.

“For the knowledgeable Morgan dollar collector, the simple existence of this Deep Mirror Prooflike Gem is astounding,” said Rohan. “The 1892-O is one of the rarest of the Morgan dollars in prooflike condition. The price realized proves how much collectors value that rarity.”

The top gold highlight of the auction was an important 1796 $10 AU53 NGC, Breen-6832, Taraszka-6, BD-1, R.4, which realized $57,500. There is no accurate census of 1796 eagles that survive, although it is fair to say that the majority are in grades below AU, making this coin a special specimen indeed. (more…)

Rare Gold Highlights Platinum Night at Central States Auction

A 1921 double eagle, graded MS63 by PCGS and pedigreed to the famous Norweb Collection, is the signature rarity of the upcoming Heritage Auction Galleries U.S. Coin Auction, with floor sessions held April 28 – 30 in conjunction with the Central States Numismatic Society’s annual convention in Milwaukee, WI.

The Norweb 1921 double eagle, is an incredible coin in its own right but greatly aided by its pedigree. In our most recent auction in Fort Worth, the glamorous Norweb pedigree helped propel a 1911-D quarter eagle to the top of the Prices Realized chart, and the Norweb name is sure to aid this double eagle as well.

As with many later dates in the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series, the 1921 was never released to circulation in significant numbers, making it scarce today. The Norweb 1921 double eagle is the most important coin in The Carter Family Collection, which contains a broad range of rarities. Additional highlights include lot 2352, a 1920-S double eagle graded MS64 by PCGS, and lot 2370, a 1932 double eagle graded MS66 by PCGS.

Another marquee coin among the Platinum Night gold is Lot 2234, an 1879 Flowing Hair Stella in gold, graded PR66 by NGC. The unusual denomination of four dollars has made this pattern a longstanding favorite, accorded a place of honor alongside regular-issue coins in many collections and numismatic publications.

In minor coinage, two prominent Featured Collections cater to different tastes: The Boca Collection, Part II is a continuation of the collection first offered in January 2010, containing a wide selection of proof coins to be sold individually. Important selections include Lot 2406, a Snow-9 1856 Flying Eagle cent pattern PR63 NGC, and Lot 2714, an 1895 Morgan dollar PR64 Cameo NGC.

Copper and silver coins offer plenty of choices outside of the Featured Collections as well. Lot 2033, a matte proof 1909 VDB Lincoln cent graded PR64 Red and Brown by PCGS, has great appeal for 20th century copper specialists. (more…)

1861-S Paquet $20 Gold Double Eagle to be offered at Central States Coin Show

Despite the common misconception, Anthony C. Paquet was born in 1814 not in France but in Germany–specifically, Hamburg–of French ancestry. His father, reportedly Toussaint François Paquet, was a bronze worker. “Anthony” could equally likely have been named with the German form “Anton” or the French “Antoine,” anglicizing his name upon coming to America in October 1848.

Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre was some 20 years Paquet’s senior, born in 1794 and having been hired at the Mint in 1844 after the death of Christian Gobrecht. Although evidence is sketchy, it appears that Longacre may have prevented Paquet from showing his true potential at the Philadelphia Mint.

Paquet worked as an engraver and/or die-maker in Philadelphia from 1850 through 1855 and in New York City in 1856-57. He was hired as an assistant Mint engraver in October 1857, moving back to Philadelphia where he lived at 402 Blight Street, according to an 1860 city directory. He worked for the Mint as assistant engraver until 1864, afterward completing occasional Mint assignments on a contract basis.

Paquet furnished letter punches for pattern coinage, possibly the same punches that were used on the 1857 Flying Eagle cents. Paquet’s lettering was extremely tall with thin vertical strokes, producing an unusual effect.

Andrew W. Pollock III in United States Patterns and Related Issues illustrates (Pollock-3131; Judd-A-1857-1) an interesting uniface experimental piece showing the varying diameters of the dime, quarter, and half dollar with the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA inscribed within each. Pollock notes that “the lettering is similar to that featured on many pattern coins attributed to Anthony Paquet.”

The Paquet Reverse double eagles of 1861 are among the few U.S. circulating coinage designs that can be definitively attributed to Paquet. The memorable Paquet design lacked a broad rim, making the coins prone to extensive abrasion, and the design was recalled soon after its inception. All but two of the Philadelphia Mint pieces struck were melted, but the San Francisco Mint struck some 19,250 pieces before news of the recall reached that distant facility.

The variety was promptly forgotten until 1937 when it was announced in Numismatic News. Today most certified examples are in the XF-AU range with a few dozen pieces each certified at NGC and PCGS, making it the rarest S-mint Type One double eagle.

This is one of the few high grade examples that have surfaced over the past 70 years. The surfaces are bright yellow-gold and noticeable traces of mint luster surround the peripheral devices. Each side is remarkably free from the distractions that normally plague these coins. The reason for the frequently seen abrasions is attributed to Paquet’s lowered rim, a design feature that allegedly gave the interior design features less protections from contact with other coins. The design motifs are sharply defined throughout. This is a rarely offered opportunity for the astute collector of 19th gold. Census: 16 in 50, 29 finer (3/10)

Offered as Lot 2306 in the Heritage 2010 April-May Milwaukee, WI CSNS US Coin Auction #1139

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…)

Unusual Items: 1913 Buffalo Nickel Struck on a Dime Planchet

1913 5C Type Two Buffalo Nickel–Struck on a Dime Planchet–MS66 NGC. 2.5 gm, which is exactly the expected weight of an Uncirculated silver dime.

This remarkable wrong planchet error is predominantly silver-white, but the centers display a whisper of almond-gold toning. Luster shimmers across the immaculate surfaces, which display the finely granular texture characteristic of first-year Buffalo nickels.

Well struck despite the undersized flan, although slight incompleteness is noted on the hair above the braid, the jaw of the Indian, and the flank of the bison.

The date, designer’s initial, E PLURIBUS UNUM, and UNITED are intact. Portions of the other legends are off the flan, although all are readable. Remarkably, all of the Indian’s head is present, as is all of the bison except for the tail. Just enough of the exergue beneath the E C in FIVE CENTS to confirm that no mintmark is present.

Nickels struck on dime blanks are much scarcer than cents struck on dime blanks, but when the error combination is encountered, it is almost always on Jefferson dies.

The Buffalo nickel on silver dime planchet combination is priced at $12,000 in the 2010 Guide Book on page 403, the highest specified price on the page with the exception of the Walking Liberty half on a silver quarter planchet.

However, such prices are for examples in typically encountered grades, which for century-old issues usually imply brief circulation before a fortunate finder realized the uncommon color and diameter. A flawless MS66 certainly demands a considerable premium.

The invaluable Heritage Permanent Auction Archives, which date back to 1991, contain 8,277 lots of error coins. None of these are Buffalo nickels struck on dime planchets, although Buffalo nickels on cent planchets have occasionally appeared at auction. The present error category in such outstanding preservation may never surface again in a Heritage Signature, and the opportunity is fleeting.

To be sold By Heritage as Lot 2039 as part of the 2010 April-May Milwaukee, WI CSNS US Coin Auction #1139

Unusual Items: 1853/4 25C Arrows and Rays Seated Quarter: A Strange Overdate

For Walter Breen to call a variety “strange” it must really be unusual, and the 1853/4 quarter does not fail to deliver.

Such a coin simply should not exist. Overdates, by their very nature, are always rehubbed over the previous year. And yet, here is irrefutable evidence that the earlier year was actually hubbed over the later year. Here is how Breen (1988) explained it:

“One of the strangest vars. in U.S. coinage is the 1853/1854, which I discovered in the Hirt collection (1976). This obv. must have been made during fall 1853, when dies were being prepared for both this year and 1854; an obv. die intended for 1853 was first given a blow with the 1854 logotype (whose arrows were differently placed), then several heavier blows with the 1853 logotype. Later states show only part of upright of 4 within 3; rarer earlier states show also part of the extra 85 and both sets of arrows.”

Because of the rarity of early die state pieces, some researchers have doubted the existence of the 4 beneath the 3. This coin should put any doubts to rest. Three major and minor points on the 4 underdigit can be seen on this coin, all of which add up to a convincing digit. First the main upright of the 1 is seen in the entire top loop of the 3 and extends downward slightly into the lower loop. From the bottom of the top ball of the 3, there remains a trace of the diagonal of the 4. On the right side of the 3, between the upper and lower loops, are traces of the vertical bar of the serif at the right side of the 4. Of course, the usual diagnostics are visible as well: repunching on the 8 and 5, and the profound doubling of the right arrowhead.

The 1853/4 is unsurprisingly the only quarter known to have been punched over the following year. When examples of this rare variety are located, they are usually well-worn and in later die states; often only the doubling of the shaft of the arrow is visible. This is the earliest die state we have observed, and light die clashing shows. This is significant as the die was lapped relatively early in order to remove the clashing. As Breen stated, “The latter [early die states] show heavy rev. clash marks, suggesting that obv. regrinding effaced both clash marks and the more obvious traces of overdate.” (more…)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Historic 1793 S-3 Chain Cent To Be Sold by Heritage

This Chain cent appeared on the April 1869 Levick plate, the first photographic plate of large cents that appeared in the American Journal of Numismatics.

This lovely 1793 Chain cent, like most early coins, has considerable character and individuality. It combines outstanding technical quality with an historic provenance that dates back nearly 150 years, one of the longest ownership records of any Chain cent known today.

This Chain cent appeared on the April 1869 Levick plate, the first photographic plate of large cents that appeared in the American Journal of Numismatics. The Levick plate was also the first systematic attempt at the classification of large cent varieties. Twelve obverse dies and 10 reverse dies were illustrated in an arrangement of 15 different varieties. The photography was by Joseph N.T. Levick, with the descriptions and arrangements by Sylvester S. Crosby. The achievement was remarkable for the time, as only seven additional die marriages have been discovered in the 141 years since that publication.

R.W. Julian wrote in an article on the 1793 cents in the May 1990 issue of Coins magazine: “There is probably more fascination with the 1793 issues of the Philadelphia Mint than any other coinage of this country, yet the average collector knows little of this far-off year.”

The 1793 Chain cents, beginning with the famous Chain AMERI cent, were the first federal coins actually struck at the U.S. Mint early that year. The entire production of 36,103 coins (of all five known varieties), took place in early March, although R.W. Julian, Walter Breen, and others speculated that some may have been minted on February 22, marking President Washington’s birthday. (more…)

The Frederick Collection of Bust Half Dollars to be Offered in Milwaukee by Heritage

Heritage Auction Galleries is proud to present the astonishing Donald R. Frederick Collection of Early US Coinage: Bayside Part Two including 443 Bust Half Dollar varieties at the 2010 April-May Milwaukee, WI CSNS US Coin Auction, April 28-May 1 in Milwaukee.

The Frederick Collection will be featured in a dedicated catalog, and will feature both exceptional pedigrees (and many prior auction flips) and his extensive notes on his varieties.

The late Mr. Frederick was an enthusiastic and long-standing member of the Bust Half Nut Club (BHNC), which was established in the late 1960s, and he took very seriously their dedication to collecting, studying, and sharing information about Bust Halves.

He also shared that group’s fascination with die states. Incidentally, owning 100 different Bust die marriages is required for BHNC membership; Mr. Frederick had no problems on that score! With 443 varieties (including two specimens and the discovery coin of the 1833 O-115), his collection ranks third currently in the BHNC census by completion and overall grade.

In a tradition that we would like to encourage with such variety-based collections, Mr. Frederick’s working copy of the Overton reference will be sold after his coins!

Don Frederick was born in Manhattan, grew up in Bayside, New York, and attended Tufts University in Boston. The fascination with rare coins that started as a young boy lasted his entire life. Even though he was clearly dedicated to Bust halves, he loved all coins, especially the early Federal issues, and this auction also includes more than three hundred of them.

Heritage was honored to sell Bayside Part One, Mr. Frederick’s collection of 120 halves minted 1794-1807, in our 2008 Baltimore ANA Auction; the Bust Halves in Part Two equal the earlier offerings in beauty and rarity.

Gold Ingots from the S.S. Central America Pace Heritage Auction Results in Long Beach

All four gold ingots from the S.S.Central America made the Top 10 list in the auction results from Heritages Long Beach Signature Sale.

The top performer was the 55.05-Ounce Harris Marchand Gold Ingot. Recovered from the S.S. Central America. CAGB-135, serial number 6526. 55.05 ounces, 875 fineness, stamped value $995.73. Sold For $172,500

From Q. David Bowers, A California Gold Rush History: “Large size ingot. All inscriptions on face with bar horizontally oriented. $ leans sharply left. Reverse finessed or dressed by tapping.”

Though the firm Harris, Marchand & Co. did not last into June 1857, the gold bars stamped that way did, and three dozen bars from the Sacramento office received an unexpected gift of numismatic immortality: they were loaded onto the S.S. Central America, and instead of going to New York to be melted down, they landed at the bottom of the ocean, and over the course of more than a century, they transformed into historic treasures.

Like the majority of known Harris, Marchand & Co. ingots, this example shows irregular punching on the serial number, weight, fineness, and value. The arcing HARRIS MARCHAND & CO imprint and circular MARCHAND / ESSAYEUR stamp, however, are precise and elegant as ever.

The runner-up was the 48.65 Ounce Kellogg & Humbert Gold Ingot. Kellogg & Humbert Assayers, serial number 947, 48.65 oz, 780 fineness, $784.43 face value. Medium to large size, per the classification system by Q. David Bowers in his A California Gold Rush History. Sold for $103,500

Bowers devotes a solid paragraph to the unusual characteristics of this ingot (italics his):

“Inscriptions on face. 48 in weight double punched. Fineness first punched as 87, then corrected to 78 ($784.42), with erroneous under digits still visible. $ sign high, leans right, and touches upper left of 7. Vertically oriented. Reverse stamped with repetition of serial number, but in different font. One of the most amateurishly punched of the many Kellogg & Humbert ingots.”

The top face also shows numerous air bubbles and weakness on the “Kellogg & Humbert Assayers” stamp. Bowers does allow, however, that the S.S. Central America ingots’ individuality is core to their appeal, noting that “[s]uch idiosyncrasies make them fascinating to study.” (more…)