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All Posts Tagged With: "Pioneer Gold"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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