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All Posts Tagged With: "Proof Gold"

Coin Profile: Roman Finish 1909 Half Eagle Gold Coin

The proof five dollar coinage of 1907 through 1909 provides quite an object lesson in the evolution of Mint technology and consumer tastes. The 1907 Liberty Head proof, last of the series, was produced in a mostly brilliant or “semibrilliant” proof format that was introduced in 1902; as a result, most proof gold from 1902-1907 lacks much cameo contrast–half eagles or otherwise.

The 1908 gold coins of the new Bela Lyon Pratt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens designs were launched with a new “matte” proof format that was all the rage in European mints of the era. The Robert Loewinger reference, Proof Gold Coinage of the United States, offers this:

“The [matte proof] process originally started in Belgium and was popularized in the Paris Mint. The finish was applied after striking and was made by sandblasting the coins at different forces and speeds with different sizes of grains of sand. Also pickling the coins in a weak acid was another technique that was used on these coins after striking.”

We are unsure how widespread the “pickling” was, but the sandblasting was a well-known, widespread Mint technique that produced a granular (sometimes fine, sometimes coarser), usually dark, subdued finish to the product, a function of the lack of normally reflective surfaces. The matte proof coins of 1908 are usually dark, brownish-gold to olive-brown, and they were extremely unpopular with collectors accustomed to a more brilliant finish.

The Mint in 1909 reverted to a lighter Roman or satin finish for proof gold. The updated Akers Handbook offers these thoughts:

“The proof 1909 introduced the Roman Gold proofing method in the Indian Half Eagle series, although at least one specimen was prepared using the dark matte finish of 1908. Despite having brighter, flashier surfaces than the proof 1908, the proof 1909 still failed to gain wide acceptance among the contemporary public The Mint melted many examples at year’s end. Interestingly, even though most survivors present as overall smooth, the issue has the lowest average grade in the entire proof Indian Half Eagle series.”

A  PR67 piece is being offering in the current 2010 October Stamford Coinfest Signature US Coin Auction #1145, and is one of the nicest survivors of the proof 1909 half eagle mintage, recorded as 78 pieces. It is one of six so graded at NGC, with but two coins finer.

Gold Dominates Coin Market as Records Fall

By Steve Roach
First published in the Nov. 1, 2010, issue of Coin World

Gold is currently the engine that is driving the rare coin market.

It seems that Coin World’s Market Analysis of late has been alternating between gold one week and everything else the next week. However, an emphasis on gold is appropriate as the market has never seen gold hit the levels that it is currently hitting.

On Oct. 11, the price of gold hit a record London PM fix of $1,351 an ounce and at one point during the day hovered at $1,360.

On Oct. 12, the banking investment firm Goldman Sachs raised its gold price forecasts to $1,400, $1,525 and $1,650 for three-, six- and 12-month horizons, citing falling interest rates and a slowdown of the U.S. economic recovery.

Other investment firms are similarly bullish on the prospects of gold to continue rising in value.

Gold is up nearly 25 percent in 2010, and if trends continue, gold will be heading for its tenth consecutive annual gain.

The U.S. Mint’s release of Proof 2010-W American Eagle gold coins in early October has taken pressure off the secondary market for earlier 1-ounce issues.

At an issue price of $1,585, the 2010 1-ounce coins are trading at the same level as older issues in the wholesale markets, where several dealers are paying up to $1,600 an ounce for coins available for immediate shipment to fill orders from wholesalers who still have customers demanding these coins for inclusion in Individual Retirement Accounts.

As of Oct. 12, the Mint’s Web site posts an expected delivery date of Oct. 27 for new orders of Proof 2010-W gold American Eagles.

The recent announcement that the Mint will produce Proof 2010-W American Eagle silver coins has also cooled off the market for earlier coins tremendously.

Immediately after the news about the Proof 2010-W silver coins broke, market makers reduced their buy prices for Proof silver American Eagles from $55 to $45, in line with the Mint’s $45.95 price of the Proof 2010-W coins when they go on sale Nov. 19 at noon with a household limit of 100.

The Mint has not given any indication of how many Proof 2010-W American Eagles silver coins may be produced.

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Great Coins at the ANA Convention in Boston

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #14

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

When people talk about an ANA Convention, they tend to emphasize the coins that they bought or sold, rather than about the overall impact of the event. At any first or second tier coin show, collectors with modest budgets can find appealing coins. Collectors can also socialize with other collectors at a wide variety of coin related events. The Winter FUN Convention, the Summer ANA Convention, and very few other first tier events, are special for other reasons. Of course, educational programs and the meetings of specialty clubs are among these reasons. Multiple mammoth auctions, during a six to ten day period, in the same neighborhood, offer material of a tremendous variety and of startling depth in particular areas. While I will put forth some remarks regarding bourse and auction activity, I focus here, however, on the great coins that were present at this year’s ANA Convention and in the accompanying auctions in Boston.

Yes, readers of this column are aware that, for weeks, I have been writing about rarities that were offered in Boston at the B&M, Stack’s and Heritage auctions. In last week’s column, I covered some of the prices realized for famous rarities in the B&M auction. As I will discuss below, the Boyd-Cardinal 1794 dollar traded again.

In my column of July 28, I wrote about the Simpson Proof 1804 Eagle, a Kellogg $50 gold coin, the two Half Unions in the B&M sale, and an 1854-S Quarter Eagle in the Heritage auction. In my column of July 21, I covered the Platinum Night offerings of the collections of Dr. Claude Davis and Dr. Brandon Smith. In earlier columns, I analyzed the offerings in these Boston auctions of one-year type coins and Great Rarities. Before I provide further coinage of coins in auctions, I wish to emphasize that there was an impressive assortment of important rarities on the floor of the ANA Convention, many of which could have been easily viewed by all those who attended.

I. Rarities in Boston for Everyone to See

There is a need for collectors to understand and appreciate coins that they cannot afford. To comprehend the coins that a collector owns, he (or she) has to have some understanding, often subconsciously, of the values and traditions of coin collecting in the United States. Furthermore, to fully enjoy coin collecting, there is a need to learn about Great Rarities, famous coins in general, supergrade representatives of non-rare issues, and/or beautiful classic coins. These are central to the culture of coin collecting. Would it make sense for an art enthusiast to only view paintings that he (or she) can afford to buy?

Many (though not all) dealers in sophisticated material are delighted to show rarities to collectors who cannot afford to buy them. I realize that there are non-affluent collectors who feel too embarrassed to ask dealers to show expensive coins.

There were many great coins for all to see at this ANA Convention in Boston. The Smithsonian Institution had the incomparable 1849 Double Eagle and other rarities on display. Further, a collector allowed for the public display of the finest of two known 1861 Philadelphia Mint Double Eagles with the distinctive reverse (back) that was designed by Anthony Paquet. Additionally, the NGC had the Simpson collection Proof 1804 Eagle ($10 gold coin) on display, along with an 1804 Eagle ‘pattern’ that was struck in silver! (Please see my column of July 28.)

At the PCGS tables, there was a simply astounding display of the Peter Miller collection of Proof Half Cents and Proof Large Cents. I spent some time viewing Miller’s early Proof Large Cents. Though I am very tempted to write about them here, the characteristics of these are just too complicated to discuss in a weekly column. Someday, I will write a series on Proof Large Cents. All collectors, however, may see images of Miller’s copper coins in the PCGS registry, which is available online. Before actually purchasing such coins, however, I would strongly recommend consulting an expert in 19th century Proof coins, rather than an expert in die varieties of half cents and large cents, though I would not rule out the possibility that someone could be an expert in both areas.

The ‘Ship of Gold’ exhibit contained numerous historical items relating to the shipwreck of the S.S. Central America. The largest known gold bar from the era of the California gold rush was featured. Years ago, Adam Crum sold it for a reported price of “$8,000,000.” Other than the private sale of the ‘King of Siam’ Proof set in 2005, a numismatic item has not sold for more than $8,000,000.

To anyone who expressed an interest, the staff at Legacy Rare Coins was delighted to show Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagles ($20 gold coins) that were recovered from the wreck of the S.S. Central America. For more information about the shipwreck and these coins, please see my recent article on Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagles. I admit that I was very curious about these Prooflike San Francisco Mint Double Eagles, which I had never thoroughly examined before, and that Legacy Rare Coins supported my research in this area. (more…)

US Gold Coin Profiles: Revisiting The 1841 Quarter Eagle

ByDoug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

A few years ago, I wrote a blog about 1841 quarter eagles that basically stated that the currently-accepted belief that all of the known examples were Proofs was wrong. After recently being able to examine no less than four 1841 quarter eagles at one time, I am now totally convinced that this issue exists in two distinct formats.

Numismatic tradition states that the 1841 quarter eagle was struck only as a Proof. This has never made sense to me. With as many as 15-17 pieces known, why would the Mint have made so many Proofs in 1841 when virtually none were struck in any other year between 1842 and 1853? And why would most of the survivors be in such low grades (EF40 to AU50) when most of the Proof gold coins from the 1840’s that still exist tend to be in reasonably high grades?

This enigma has become a semi-obsession of David Hall’s and when you are the head of Collector’s Universe/PCGS you can get things done. David was able to wrangle four different examples of the 1841 quarter eagle including a PR60 illustrated below. A few weeks ago, one of his security detail flew the four coins up to my office in Portland and I am now more convinced than ever that 1841 quarter eagles exist in two formats.

First, a few words about the Proofs. One of the main reasons that you can determine that a Proof 1841 quarter eagle actually is a Proof is that is “looks like one.” These coins are not weakly struck, nor is there any question about whether they have squared edges or incomplete reflectiveness to the fields. These coins look just like other Proof gold coins from the 1840’s. They may have some mint-made flaws such as pits in the planchet or lintmarks but their appearance is not much different than Proofs from the latter part of the 19th century either.

There appear to be just three or four Proofs known. The finest is a PCGS PR64 owned by a prominent Texas collector that is ex Heritage 6/04: 6204 where it brought $253,000; it was earlier in the Eliasberg sale and it sold for $82,500 in October 1982. The second Proof is owned by a customer of mine and it is graded PR60 by PCGS. I purchased it out of Bass II in October 1999 and paid $110,000 for it. A third Proof is in the Smithsonian. I have not seen the coin in person but it has been confirmed by Jeff Garrett whose opinion I respect. A possible fourth Proof is the ex Davis-Graves coin that was last sold as Superior 2/91: 2664 at $66,000. This coin might be the piece that appears in the PCGS population report as a PR62.

When I recently examined the Eliasberg and Bass Proofs, I made the following observations about them. I’m certain they apply to the other one or two Proofs as well.

*Proof 1841 quarter eagles have fully reflective fields that look like Proofs should. They are not “semi-prooflike” or “mostly prooflike.” They are Proofs, no ifs and or buts.

*On Proof 1841 quarter eagles, there is sharpness of strike on the curls below the ear of Liberty. This sharpness does not appear on business strikes. (more…)

Coin Profile: The Mystery of the Proof 1875 Gold Dollar

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

As I have mentioned before, certified population figures can be helpful but they can also be confusing. Take, for instance, the 1875 gold dollar in Proof. This is a coin with a reported original mintage of 20. But it has a combined PCGS/NGC population of 24 (twelve at each service). Something is obviously not right here. But, for once, the fault does not lie with the population reports.

Despite being created with the best of intentions, the PCGS and NGC population figures are full of inaccurate information which can be misleading to collectors. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the grading services. It is the fault of dealers (and collectors) who resubmit coins and do not send in their extra inserts. I’ve rambled on (and on) about this in the past and do not plan to offer my two cents this time on how I think that dealers who do this are doing themselves and the coin market a major disservice.

In the case of the Proof 1875 gold dollar the disconnect between the number struck and the number graded has to do with information from the Mint which is not necessarily accurate.

We know for a fact that 20 Proof gold dollars were struck on February 13 as parts of complete gold proof sets. For a number of reasons (some of which will be discussed below), the demand for Proof 1875 gold dollars was higher than expected and it is likely that another 20 or perhaps even a few more were made later in the year and sold to collectors. These appear to have been struck from the exact same dies and cannot be distinguished.

Looking at auction records for Proof 1875 gold dollars over the last few decades, it looks like the actual number known to exist might be as high as 20-25 pieces. Given the fact that survival rates for small denomination Proof gold coins of this era is typically around 50%, this is in line with an original mintage figure of around 40-50 coins. (more…)

Astonishing 1907 Denver Mint Double Eagle ($20 gold coin) Sells for More Than a Half Million Dollars

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

I. The Sale of this 1907-D $20 Gold Coin

During the course of the January 2010 FUN Convention in Orlando, arrangements were finalized for the sale of a 1907-Denver Mint Double Eagle that is possibly unique in Proof format. It is NGC certified as “Proof-62” with a “Farouk” pedigree noted. It is thus indicated that it was formerly in the epic collection of King Farouk.

In November 2009, Carlos Cabrera, Executive Vice President of Park Avenue Numismatics, acquired it from a collector. This coin became the star of the FUN bourse floor. Cabrera then finalized the sale and handed it to a buyer of rare and important coins. Cabrera reports that the price “was well above a half million dollars.”

There is no evidence of another specially struck 1907-D Double Eagle ($20 gold) existing. It has been suggested that Proof 1906-D Double Eagles exist. I have seen the 1906-D that the PCGS has certified as “Specimen-66.” While that 1906-D Double Eagle is a wonderful coin with a very distinctive appearance, I find that this 1907-D Double Eagle fulfills the criteria for a Proof and that 1906-D does not. (more…)

New Book: “King of Eagles” The Most Remarkable Coin Ever Produced by the U.S. Mint

kingofeagles_bookBy Dean Albanese – Albanese Rare Coins

The 1804 Plain- gold Eagle is without a doubt the most remarkable coin ever minted by the U.S. Min; it is indeed, the “King of Eagles.”

Only four specimens of this quintessentially rare coin were minted – but not in 1804, as the date on the obverse suggests. Instead, these near-priceless coins were minted by special order of President Andrew Jackson during the period 1834 – 1835 as diplomatic gifts to a king, two emperors, and a sultan.

1804_proof_eagle_100609The story begins in 1832, when Edmund Roberts sailed aboard the U.S.S. Peacock on a diplomatic mission to establish trade relations with Muscat (modern-day Oman), Siam (modern-day Thailand), Cochin China (modern-day Vietnam), and Japan. He succeeded with Muscat and Siam and returned to the United States, where complete sets of new gold, silver, and copper coins, neatly arranged in a morocco case, were made as princely gifts. These sets included the 1804 silver Dollar and the much rarer 1804 Plain-4 gold Eagle.

The return trip to the Far East was an adventure that has been the subject of many books, the sort of tale that can arouse one’s imagination and inspire movies. Men may fantasize and dream about high adventure, but the King of Eagles is a true story that is more exciting than any fantasy could be. It is a story about politics, greed, and courage that includes attacks by pirates, a shipwreck on a desert island, daring rescues, strange-but-true encounters with exotic natives, and, finally, tragedy.

Today the saga is told as never before, and the King of Eagles continues to be the ultimate prize for collectors of American coins and for history enthusiast.
(more…)