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All Posts Tagged With: "Pattern Coins"

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

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

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

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

I. Proof 1804 $10 Gold Coin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As I just became aware of Legend’s sale of a Proof 1804 Eagle on Tuesday morning, I have not had time to research this issue before this column was posted. I am almost certain, however, that the Baldenhofer Proof 1804 Eagle exists and is different from the Eliasberg-Bass coin.
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Legend Numismatics Adds Proof 1804 Gold and Silver $10 Eagles To Impressive List of Rare Coin Transactions

One of the three known proof 1804 Eagles made on behalf of President Andrew Jackson and a rare 1804 Eagle silver pattern have been acquired by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey and sold to a Texas collector. Both coins will be publicly displayed together for the first time at the upcoming American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money convention in Boston, August 10 – 14, 2010.

“The 1804 proof gold Eagle is a classic American rarity and the silver pattern is an amazing companion to it. Both coins are now part of the incredible collection being assembled by Bob R. Simpson of Texas, a connoisseur of numismatic quality and rarity, and a long-time client and friend,” said Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics (www.LegendCoin.com)

The gold 1804 $10 (Judd-33), graded NGC PF65 Ultra Cameo, was obtained by Legend from a private collector with the assistance of John Albanese of Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC). The silver 1804 $10 (Judd-34), graded NGC PF64, was purchased from Steven L. Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers in Irvine, California.

Graded NGC PF65 Ultra Cameo, this 1804 proof Eagle (Judd-33) was recently acquired and sold by Legend Numismatics, and now will be displayed at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston, August 10 – 14, 2010. (Photo credit: Numismatic Guaranty Corporation)

The coins will be displayed at the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation booth (#704) at the ANA convention (www.WorldsFairOfMoney.com).

“It’s beyond incredible to see these two coins side-by-side. A silver proof 1804 $10 redefines ‘coolness’ in my book, and I’ve handled an awful lot of world-class rarities. The gold 1804 $10 is so sharply struck it looks like a medal, and it’s one of the most beautiful coins I have ever seen,” said Sperber.

This rare 1804 proof silver pattern Eagle, graded NGC PF64 (Judd-34), was recently acquired and sold by Legend Numismatics, and will be displayed at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston, August 10 – 14, 2010. (Photo credit: Rare Coin Wholesalers)

The purchase and sale prices were not disclosed for these transactions. The 1804 gold proof Eagle made national headlines in 2007 when it was sold for $5 million, a record price at the time for a certified, encapsulated U.S. gold coin.

Although dated 1804, the coins were struck in 1834 or 1835 with the gold Eagle intended for use in overseas diplomatic gift presentation sets presented on behalf of President Jackson. The pedigree of this coin includes such famous collectors as Waldo Newcomer, former U.S. Treasury Secretary William H. Woodin and Col. E.H.R. Green. It was displayed at the opening reception for the Smithsonian Legendary Coins and Currency exhibit in 2005.

“The preparation of diplomatic presentation sets of United States coins circa 1834-35 prompted the minting of this proof-only edition. As no ten-dollar pieces had been issued since 1804, the Mint Director requested and received several proof examples from dies back-dated to 1804 but prepared for this occasion using technology of the 1830s,” explained David W. Lange, NGC Research Director.
The 1804 gold Eagle and 1804 silver Eagle are listed in the standard reference book, United States Pattern Coins (10th edition) by J. Hewitt Judd, M.D. The gold coin is described on the book’s rarity scale as R8 (two to three examples known) and the silver pattern as H7 (four to six known).

“Mr. Simpson’s patterns collection is unparalleled. Over the years, we’ve helped him assemble a collection that includes such famous rarities as the Amazonian set, a marvelous example of the 1792 silver-center cent (Judd-1) and two quintuple Stellas. His gold Bickford $10 will be displayed as one of the highlights in the Museum Showcase area at the ANA convention in Boston,” said Sperber.

Unique Plain Edge 1907 $10 pattern – believed the only Saint-Gaudens coin actually seen by the artist – at Boston ANA auction

Historic pattern struck just before the artist’s death for his approval

The only known Plain Edge 1907 ten dollar coin with Wire Rim, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens – and likely the only example of his coinage that he ever saw – is among the most historically important pieces in Heritage’s upcoming U.S. Coin auction. It will be offered on Aug. 11, as part of the Official Auction of the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money in Boston, MA.

“At the turn of the 20th century, Augustus Saint-Gaudens was one of America’s most prominent artists,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “In 1905, during Theodore Roosevelt’s second term, Roosevelt convinced Saint-Gaudens to redesign the two largest American gold coins: the ten dollar, or eagle, and the twenty dollar, or double eagle. The results made Saint-Gaudens one of the most famous American coinage artists and secured his lasting fame.”

The coinage designs would be the artist’s final masterpieces. In July 1907, when Saint-Gaudens was going through the last stage of his terminal cancer, two early examples of the ten dollar coin were struck. The edges of these two coins were plain; later Wire Rim 1907 ten dollar coins have an edge design of 46 stars.

“The two Plain Edge coins were patterns, made to see how the coins looked,” said Rohan. “They were the coinage equivalent of an artist’s proof. After the two Plain Edge coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint, they were split up.”

One was sent to Treasury Secretary George B. Cortelyou, who forwarded it to the President, while the other was sent to Saint-Gaudens at his studio in New Hampshire. This was the only time Saint-Gaudens would see his work in coin form. He died on August 3, 1907, before further work could be done on either denomination.

Archived letters show that the coin Roosevelt saw was eventually sent back to the Mint, while the Saint-Gaudens coin disappears from the record. This coin’s history is largely unknown, and it is impossible to say with certainty whether it was sent to Roosevelt or Saint-Gaudens, but it is a coin of tremendous importance regardless of the answer. Either it was sent to President Roosevelt, whose dedication to coinage redesign had been vital to the whole project; or it went to Saint-Gaudens, the artist who had spent more than two years bringing the President’s ambition to life. (more…)

Simpson Collection of Bickford $10 Pattern Coins to be displayed at Boston ANA

A complete set of 1874 Bickford $10 Pattern coins will be exhibited at the American Numismatic Associations Boston Money Show August 11-14th. 

The set is part of perhaps the most complete collection of US pattern coins ever assembled and include all seven of the  variations attributed according to Judd numbers (US Pattern Coins, Experimental & Trial Pieces by J. Hewitt Judd, Edited by Q. David Bowers), include Judd-1373, one of just two known examples struck in gold.

Texan Bob Simpson is the ultimate numismatic connoisseur, desiring only those coins that meet his exacting standards. He knows what he wants, and nothing less will do. Facilitating his efforts is his longtime numismatic consultant, Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics. The old saying, “Know your coins or know your dealer” is particularly apt, as Mr. Simpson knows both, and this relationship has paid off with an epic collection of coins that compares favorably with the great named collections of the past.

Mr. Simpson’s premier passion is United States pattern and trial coins, and his collection of these is unparalleled. Comprising most of the entries found in Dr. J. Hewitt Judd’s standard reference work, United States Pattern Coins, now in its 10th edition, the Simpson Collection is the greatest assemblage of such coins since Judd’s own collection was dispersed some 50 years ago.

The coins in the collection include the following:

The Bickford pattern ten dollar gold pieces, Judd-1373, were not known to numismatists of the 19th century. The design was struck in copper, aluminum, and nickel compositions, as well as gold, with both plain and reeded edges. Examples of the design in copper appeared in various auction catalogs of the period, but even the greatest pattern collections of the era did not include an example of Judd-1373. Robert Coulton Davis published the first important work on U.S. pattern coins in the Coin Collector’s Journal in 1885, where he described both plain and reeded edge varieties of the design in copper, but he was unaware of the strikings in other metals. (more…)