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Malibu Collection Part II Anchors Bowers and Merena’s January 2011 Rarities Sale

Nearly 1,700 lots to cross the auction block in Tampa, FL immediately prior to  FUN

Bowers and Merena, one of the world’s preeminent auctioneers for rare coins and currency, will conduct the January Rarities Sale as its first event of 2011. The single-session sale on Jan. 4 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay will offer nearly 1,700 lots of rare and desirable United State and Colonial-era coinage.

“It is and honor and thrill to start my career with Bowers and Merena with such an important sale,” said Chris Napolitano, President of Bowers and Merena. “Our January 2011 Rarities Sale will be presenting a wide selection of United States, Colonial and Territorial coins which range from affordable collector coins to world-renowned absolute and condition pieces.”

Headlining the sale is Part II of the Malibu Collection. “The first part of this impressive Malibu Collection helped propel our Official Auction of the November Whitman Coin & Collectible Baltimore Expo to the forefront among numismatic events of 2010. Part II promises the same rarity, quality and eye appeal that we have come to expect from the collection,” said Napolitano.

Highlights from the Malibu Collection include lot 855, one of the finest-known 1866 Motto Seated Dollars in PCGS Secure Proof-66 Deep Cameo, as well as lot 594, an important strike and condition rarity 1918-S Standing Liberty Quarter certified MS-67 Full Head by NGC with a combined pop of just 2/0 by PCGS and NGC.

“From U.S. minors to patterns, bidders will also enjoy Part II of the G. Edward Reahl, Jr. M.D. Collection and the Abingdon Collection,” said Napolitano.

Additional highlights in the sale include:

* Lot 48, 1883 Hawaii Eighth Dollar, Proof-62 Cameo (PCGS), Secure Holder
* Lot 59, Undated (Circa 1616) Sommer Islands Twopence, BMA Type I, Small Star Below Hog, AG-3 (PCGS)
* Lot 73, 1776 Continental Dollar, CURENCY, Pewter, MS-63 (NGC)
* Lot 302, 1924-S Buffalo Nickel, MS-66 (NGC)
* Lot 304, 1925-D Buffalo Nickel, MS-66 (PCGS), Secure Holder (more…)

Coin Profile 1804 Bust Quarter, Single Finest Certified B-1, Ex: Colonel Green

Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green (better known as Col. E.H.R. Green or, more simply, Col. Green), was the son of Henrietta Howland Robinson Green, née Henrietta Howland Robinson (1834-1916). She, too, is known more simply as Hetty Green, and even more familiarly as the “Witch of Wall Street.” Hetty Green was connected on the Howland side of her family to one of the great merchant families of New England. She grew up in a Quaker household, noted for its austerity.

Upon their deaths in 1865, her father and maternal aunt willed to her a total of about $10 million. Even after her 1867 marriage to Edward H. Green, she kept her finances separate, managing them herself with single-minded monomania. Her father and grandfather had educated her in finance from early childhood, and she dedicated herself to expanding that fortune. As her wealth increased, she continued to live with her son and daughter in modest surroundings, avoiding all social contacts or displays of wealth. In time she became a major force on Wall Street, despite which she often appeared in public in shabby garb and sought medical treatment for herself at charity clinics. She left an estate valued at more than $100 million when she died in 1916, reputedly the world’s richest woman.

“Extremely rare grade and one of two finest known of just three, possibly four known in full Mint State. Certainly the most famous specimen and long thought to be clearly the finest.”

The most often-repeated story concerning her penury is that concerning her son Edward, whom she refused to take for medical treatment, resulting in the need for his leg to be amputated. Col. Green was born the year following Hetty’s marriage to Edward Green, during his parents’ tour of Europe.

By age 25, Col. Green had been admitted to the bar and become president of the Texas Midland Railroad (his mother Hetty had owned many railroad stocks during her lifetime). He was active in Texas Republican politics, served as chairman of the Texas Republican State Committee, and was a director of the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. In order to maintain a Texas residence, he kept a suit of clothes and one of his wooden legs in a “fine residence” in Terrell, Texas. He died at age 68 in Lake Placid, New York.

At the time of his death–with a total estate valued at more than $40 million–his coin collection was valued at an estimated $5 million, along with a stamp collection worth $3.5 million. Green’s numismatic holdings included at least seven different 1838-O half dollars, a Brasher doubloon, all five of the 1913 Liberty nickels, and a staggering hoard of 1796 quarters, said to number more than 200 pieces. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Stack’s auction of the W. L. Carson Collection of Proof Coins

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins and coin markets #26

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

The current topic is the W. L. Carson collection, which features Proof U.S. coins. It was auctioned by Stack’s in Baltimore last week. B&M also conducted a major auction in Baltimore, which included the Malibu Collection. Next week, I will discuss the Malibu Collection. This ‘Malibu’ collector formed one of the all-time best collections of Standing Liberty Quarters. He also had an excellent run of Liberty Seated Halves, as well as some important Liberty Seated silver dollars.

Some may wonder why I am focusing on collections rather than on the most expensive coins in these two auctions. I write about a wide variety of coins, not just expensive ones. For discussions of modestly priced coins, please see some of my recent columns: Advice for Beginning Collectors, The 1933/34 dividing line and Collecting Modern Coins.

Importantly, the most expensive coins in an auction are sometimes consigned by dealers or non-collecting speculators. In the grand scheme of the history of coin collecting, consignments from collectors (or the beneficiaries of deceased collectors) have much more significance than dealer-consignments. Moreover, collector-consignments tend to realize higher prices at auction, especially in instances where the coins consigned have been ‘off the market’ for seven years or more, and thus constitute ‘fresh material.’ Bidders become more enthusiastic about coins in very good collections than about coins that are consigned by dealers or entirely unknown parties. Noteworthy collections are central to the culture of coin collecting.

I. W. L. Carson Collection

Most (or all) of the coins in the W. L Carson collection have been ‘off the market’ for decades. This collection contained more than six hundred coins, including, but not limited to, early copper, circulated key-date Lincolns, and choice vintage commemoratives. The core of the collection, however, is Carson’s Proof sets dating from 1856 to 1915.

As best as I can tell, all of the pre-1916 Proofs in the Carson collection are PCGS certified. Most are PCGS graded and a large number have stickers of approval from the CAC, which approves or rejects coins that have already been graded by the PCGS or the NGC.

I hypothesize that Carson aimed to assemble Proof sets, from 1856 onwards, in copper, nickel and silver. Three of his sets included gold, 1888, 1906 and 1913.

Unfortunately, Carson’s level of knowledge was not great, at least not when he started buying Proof coins, and he bought some problematic coins, including non-Proofs that were probably represented to him as Proofs. I further hypothesize that he learned a good deal, received advice from an expert advisor and/or purchased many coins from honest, knowledgeable dealers, as he did obtain a large number of choice or gem Proof coins dating from the 1860s to 1915. Though Carson also had Proof sets dating from 1936 to 1942, and from 1950 to 1964, these are beside my discussion of the core of his collection. At the center of the core is a complete 1888 Proof Set.

II. 1888 Proof Set

Yes, W. L. Carson had a complete 1888 Proof Set, with copper, nickel, silver and gold coins. The Indian Cent is in a PCGS Genuine Holder. Carson probably did not know that it had problems when he acquired it. After all, other coins in the set are choice. (Coins that grade 63 or higher are termed ‘Choice.’ Coins that grade 65 or higher are gems.) (more…)

Coin Profile: Norweb Specimen of the 1796 15 Stars Small Eagle Half Dollar Highlights B&M Sale in Baltimore

A Prooflike NGC MS-63; Tied for Condition Census #3

The Half Dollars that the United States Mint delivered in 1797 differed from the previous issues for this denomination from 1794 and 1795. For in late 1796 Mint personnel adopted Robert Scot’s Draped Bust, Small Eagle design that had already been used in the production of 1795-dated Silver Dollars for use on the Half Dollar. The delivery of 1797 amounted to a mere 3,918 pieces, the first 934 or so examples having been struck from one of two 1796-dated obverse dies.

Surprisingly for a denomination that otherwise proved extremely popular with contemporary bullion depositors, no more Half Dollars were ordered until 1801, at which time the Large Eagle variant of the Draped Bust type became current. The Draped Bust, Small Eagle Half Dollar, therefore, became an instant numismatic rarity–a two-year type with a combined mintage of just 3,918 pieces. Survivors of both dates are very scarce-to-rare in all grades, and they never fail to cause a stir among advanced collectors whenever the coins make an appearance at auction.

The 1796-dated Half Dollar delivery was achieved through the use of two obverse dies and a single reverse die in two marriages. O-101 is easy to distinguish from O-102 as the former variety exhibits only 15 stars at the obverse border. There are fewer than 100 different examples of the O-101 die marriage believed extant, an estimate that allows us to further estimate the mintage for this variety at just 569 pieces. The phenomenal Choice Unc that we offer here traces its pedigree to the fabulous Norweb Collection–as well as other important numismatic cabinets–and it is tied for Condition Census #3 for the die marriage with only two other MS-63s of which we are aware:

1. Ex: Benjamin H. Collins (1/1896); J.M. Clapp; John H. Clapp; Clapp estate (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 8/1997), lot 1673; Denver, CO Signature & Platinum Night Auction (Heritage, 8/2006), lot 5222. PCGS MS-63.

2. Ex: Four Landmark Collections Sale (Bowers and Merena, 3/1989), lot 1990; The Allison Park Collection Sale (American Numismatic Rarities, 8/2004), lot 418; Long Beach Signature Auction (Heritage, 6/2005), lot 6209; The Southwest Collection (Heritage, 2/2008), lot 528. NGC MS-63.

3 – Ex: Waldo C. Newcomer; Colonel E.H.R. Green; The T. James Clarke Collection (New Netherlands’ 47th Sale, 4/1956), lot 1195; The Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3024; The Dennis Irving Long Collection (Bowers and Merena, 1/1990), lot 256; 65th Anniversary Sale (Stack’s, 10/2000), lot 876; The Frog Run Farm Collection Sale (American Numismatic Rarities, 11-12/2004), lot 1236. NGC MS-63, the present example.

This coin is fully prooflike in finish and, in fact, the coin was cataloged as a “Proof” in New Netherlands’ 1956 sale of the T. James Clarke Collection. Numismatic scholarship having advanced considerably since the 1950s, we now know that this coin does not qualify as a proof in the strictest sense of the term. On the other hand, the fields are so well mirrored, the strike is so superior for a product of the early United States Mint and the surfaces have been so carefully preserved that we find it likely that this coin was specially prepared for presentation or other important purposes. (more…)

Bowers and Merena Nov Baltimore Coin Auction Features over 3500 Lots

Bowers and Merena will conduct the official auction of the November 2010 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. Scheduled for November 4-5 at the Baltimore Convention Center, the sale will present more than 3,500 lots of important United States coins and currency.

“We are thrilled to continue our long-standing and successful partnership with the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo,” said Greg Roberts, CEO of Bowers and Merena. “This year’s official auction of the November Expo ranks as one of Bowers and Merena’s most important Baltimore auctions of all time. With more than 3,500 lots, our catalog for U.S. coins and currency offers something for everyone, from collectors and dealers on a strict budget to advanced numismatists seeking the finest-known examples of some of the rarest and most famous coins ever struck in the United States Mint.”

Three consignments in particular stand out as defining the importance of the upcoming Baltimore auction. The Kupersmith Once-in-a-Lifetime Collection is a truly amazing offering, the likes of which is rarely seen in even the most prestigious sales, that has at its core six of the rarest gold coins struck in the Philadelphia in 1875. Nearly impossible to assemble such a collection in any grade, the consignor remained committed to quality and selected only the highest-graded examples that he could find, many of which are actually top-of-the-pop.

“Needless to say, it is difficult for us to single out one coin in this collection for each piece qualifies as a highlight, although special recognition must go to the 1875 Three-Dollar Gold Piece in NGC Proof-66 Ultra Cameo,” said Roberts. A pop 1/0 coin at both PCGS and NGC, this coin also ranks as the finest of perhaps just 10 original strikings of the proof-only 1875 Three-Dollar. Not to be overlooked and in addition to the 1875-dated gold set, the Kupersmith Collection will also be presenting a selection of rare proof and business strike Three-Dollar gold pieces, the proofs of which comprise the highest-ranked set on the NGC Registry.

The Malibu Collection offers the #2 collection of Standing Liberty Quarters with full-head designation on the PCGS Set Registry. “Nearly all of the Standing Liberty Quarters in the Malibu Collection are either top-of-the-pop or tied for finest certified, and plus-designated coins are figured prominently throughout the set. Of particular note are the low-mintage 1916 in PCGS MS-67 FH (Pop: 2/1), the conditionally challenging 1919-D in PCGS MS-66+ FH (Pop: 1/0) and the key-date 1927-S in PCGS MS-65+ FH (Pop: 1/2),” said Roberts. Other selections from the Malibu Collection include impressive runs of Seated Liberty Half Dollars and Silver Dollars that feature many key-date and/or conditionally rare pieces. (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:

Rare Coin Road Warrior – October 2010

Hi, my name is Vic Bozarth and I am a Rare Coin Road Warrior. I have spent most of my twenty plus years in the rare coin business at shows or on buying trips all over the continental U.S. My wife, Sherri Bozarth, and I own Bozarth Numismatics Inc. and our website is Bozarthcoins.com.

In my first Rare Coin Road Warrior column for September I talked about the ANA Convention in Boston, MA held in early August as well as the Illinois State Numismatic Association Show in Chicago, the Long Beach Show, and the newer Whitman Coin Expo in Philadelphia. This month I will write about some of the news from Long Beach and Philadelphia as well as previewing shows in Manchester, NH, St. Louis, MO, Portland, OR, Stamford, CT, Baltimore, MD, and Boston, MA. As you might have guessed the Fall season is very busy with lots of big coin shows. We try to attend all the major shows as well as most of the larger regional shows.

The coin business is very busy right now with the gold bullion price hitting an all time high with each new day. Currently gold is at $1356 as I pen this article from my seat (20C) on a Continental Airlines flight to Boston. Although we are at an all time high price for bullion many rare gold coins are trading at a smaller premium (over melt) than at any time in recent memory. Prices are rising with both the higher bullion prices and increased demand, but good values are still readily available.

The Long Beach Coin and Stamp Expo is one of the largest and most successful shows in the rare coin business. Dealers have been attending the Long Beach Show since the sixties when there were two shows annually. Since the seventies there have been three shows each year generally in February, June, and September. Personally I have attended over 70 straight Long Beach Shows and wouldn’t miss one for the world. We love to visit CA and the Long Beach Show has hundreds of dealers in attendance plus a major Heritage Auction at each show.

Over the last several years the Long Beach Show has had some challenges. Attendance has slipped and many smaller dealers were, to put it frankly, just priced out of the room. I was pleasantly surprised at the September show to see some ‘new’ dealers set up as well as healthy attendance by the public. Indeed, prior to the show, the management of the show did a good job trying to fill the bourse by offering some more attractive table prices to both new attendees and those who had not had a table recently. Long Beach is cool and a lot of dealers make it a better show for everyone.

The Whitman Philadelphia Coin Expo is only in the second year of existence, but these folks know how to run a show. Philadelphia is the home of our first, and for many years only, mint. Philadelphia and the Northeast comprise a large portion of the original thirteen states and ‘old’ coins come out of the woodwork there. After all, the ‘old’ coins were made there. Not only is Philadelphia a great coin town, but it is fun to visit also. The Convention Center itself is conveniently located with lots of lodging and dining options. Public transportation is available too. We really enjoyed the Reading Terminal Market and the dozens of vendors and restaurants available there. (more…)

The Gold, Silver and Rare Coin Market Report

By Laura Sperber – Legend NumismaticsBelow is a portion of the most recent Legend Market Report

GOLD

This is hard for us to believe that gold spot went up, yet ALL Generic $20’s came down! That is the most ridiculous thing we have ever seen. We have been told that the market makers here are flooded with coins. Plus, there seems to be a huge flood of gold coming from Europe. We have even heard some grumblings that the quality of these new arrivals have been poor (more gradeflation?). So no one wants to step out and make bids.

At one point last week, the LARGEST market maker in MS65 Saints quoted us $2,000.00 as his “buy” on a day when gold went up $20.00 (MS65 BID did end the week at $2,200.00). In the meantime, we know dealers who badly need CAC MS 65 Saints and have open BIDS of $2,300.00-$2,400.00 per coin and are buying very few.The demand for NON CAC generics is obviously thin.

The demand for CAC coins is huge with many MAJOR Funds or financial advisers selling the coins easily. We know they cannot get enough, because we supply them and we haven’t bought squat. We will still buy ALL the PCGS /NGC W/M MS66 CAC we can get at $3,475.00 sight UNSEEN. We will pay $2,675.00 for NON CAC PCGS coins only on a SIGHT seen basis. BTW, for anyone who wants to cat call, the CAC market is NOT artificial, its as real and powerful as you get.

The CAC coins sell by demand, not dealers creating phony bids and trying to pump the market. With gold (especially generics) right now for sure there is a two tier market, and quality is what people want.

You know there is something seriously wrong when graded MS61 $20 Libs are priced at $100.00 OVER melt!

With $20’s, it also seems to us that the market feels they are too high (along with the price of gold). We doubt at the lower grade levels quality is the issue. Something has to give in that market. We believe there will be a correction in the price of gold sometime soon. But, its really the hedges who control the price of gold and it seems they want to take it up a little further.

Its totally bewildering to us why there are not stronger premiums since gold is climbing daily into record territory. Something is just not right with this picture.

Right now the BEST buys are $10 Indians and $5 Indians (no 09D) in MS64 and higher. You can not find them emass, and the grading seems to be OK. If you insist on playing the $20 generic market we still believe MS66’s are too cheap or, you can buy NICE MS61/62 $20 (if you can find them) for little over melt and hope one day the premiums expand. We still recommend building a Gold Type set. You can include ANY coin you want then.

SILVER

People are finally waking up to the fact silver is at its all time high. Here too, things like MS65 Morgans and Walkers have come down. That’s insane! How can such a huge market as coins show little demand for simple $100-$200.00 items that actually were popular? Where are all the collectors? (more…)

Cardinal Large Cent Collection To De Displayed Next Month At Whitman Coin Expo

The acclaimed Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation‘s large cents collection, the number one-ranked set of its kind in both the PGCS and NGC Set Registry listings, will be publicly displayed for the first time in the Baltimore-Washington area during the first two days of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo, November 4 and 5, 2010.

The exhibit, co-sponsored by Bowers and Merena Auctions (www.BowersAndMerena.com) and Collateral Finance Corporation (www.cfccoinloans.com), will be displayed at the Bowers and Merena booth, #1205, during the show.

“It is truly an amazing collection that includes some of the finest known examples of United States large cents struck from 1793 to 1857, said Greg Roberts, CEO of Bowers and Merena. “There are 77 large cents in the set, and many are the finest known for their respective date and type.”

This 1793 Chain Cent (S-2), graded PCGS MS65BN, is one of the highlights of the multi-million dollar Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation large cents collection that will be displayed August 10 – 13, 2010 by Bowers and Merena Auctions and Collateral Finance Corporation at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston.  (Photo by PCGS)

While supplies last, visitors to the exhibit can receive a free, 40-page illustrated booklet published by the foundation, “Portraits of Liberty,” that describes the history of U.S. large cents.

Highlights of the exhibit include:

  • 1793 Chain Cent (S-2) graded PCGS MS65BN that set a world’s record in 2005 as the most valuable U.S. cent at the time
  • 1793 Wreath Cent, PCGS MS69BN, the single highest-graded 18th century U.S. coin of any date of denomination
  • 1794 Liberty Cap “Head of 1793” Cent, PCGS MS64BN, described by Logies as “the single finest representative work of early Mint engraver, Joseph Wright”
  • 1803 Draped Bust Cent, PCGS MS66RB, acclaimed by the Early American Coppers society as tied for the finest known Draped Bust cent of any date or variety
  • the record-setting 1842 Braided Hair Cent from the Naftzger Collection, PCGS MS65RD, widely acknowledged as the finest existing “Petite Head” type
  • and another record-setting coin from the Naftzger Collection, an 1852 Braided Hair Cent, graded PCGS MS65RD, and acknowledged as the finest existing cent from its era.

“The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation is a non-profit educational organization that focuses on the study and publication of information about early coinage of the United States of America. With the valued assistance of Bowers and Merena and Collateral Finance Corporation, this will be the first opportunity for collectors to see these superb-quality, early American cents in person in the Washington-Baltimore area,” said Martin Logies, a director of the Sunnyvale, California-based foundation.

One of America’s leading rare coin auction houses, Bowers and Merena of Irvine, California holds three of the top seven world-record auction prices for U.S. coins. For additional information call (949) 253-0916 or visit online at www.BowersandMerena.com.

Collateral Finance Corporation of Santa Monica, California offers precious metals financing to dealers and collectors on a wide array of bullion and numismatics. For additional information, call (310) 587-1410 or visit www.CFCcoinloans.com.

The Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo will be held in the Baltimore Convention Center, One Pratt Street, Baltimore. It will be open to the public on Thursday, November 4, from Noon to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, November 5 and 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, November 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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…)

Stolen Coin Alert: St. Paul, Minnesota

Numismatic Crime Information Crime Bulletin/Alert

The South St. Paul Minnesota Police Department is investigating the September 26, 2010 vehicle burglary of coin dealer Lee Orr. At approximately 2:10pm in the afternoon the victim was loading his vehicle preparing to leave a local coin show in South St. Paul.

When the victim walked back inside the show to retrieve the last of his inventory two white male suspects smashed the windows in his vehicle and removed two cases of coins.

The following is a partial list of coins;
GOLD COINS: 2 1895 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1896 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 2 1897-S $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1900 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1901 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1904 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw 1 1906 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw D or S 1 1907 $20 Lib Au/Bu Raw D or S 7 1908 $20 Saint Au/Bu Raw 3 1910-S $20 Saint Au/Bu Raw 1 1913 $20 Saint AU Raw 1 1913-D $20 Saint AU Raw 1 1914-S $20 Saint Au/Bu Raw 1 1915-S $20 Saint Au/Bu Raw 4 1922

DOLLARS: 1 1903-S $1 NGC MS62 White 2 1903-O $1 PCGS MS63 White 1 1901-S $1 PCGS MS64 White 1 1894 $1 VF/XF Raw 1 1893-S $1 PCGS VG original 1 1892-CC $1 AU Raw – White Dipped out. 1 1885-S $1 PCGS MS63 White

HALF DOLLARS – CENTS: 1 1806 50c ANACS VF30 Deep Gray toning with blue between rims & stars 1 1806 50c VF Raw 1 1808/7 50c AU Raw 1 1809 50c AU Raw 1 1811 50c AU Raw 1 1839-O 50c XF/AU Raw – Cleaned & retoned 1 1872-CC 50c VF/XF Raw – Cleaned & retoned 1 1923-S 25c XF40 Raw 1 1896-S 25c AG Raw 2 1896-S 25c Good Raw 1 1913-S 25c Good Raw 1 1807 10c VF Raw – Obv 1 1812 1c AU Raw – Distinct Rim Nick showing bright copper color

4 Double Row Boxes Raw Collector Coins with many key dates 1 Double Row Box Slabs Dollars after 1880, Commemoratives, Gold.

Any dealer or collector having information regarding this offense should contact:
Det. Julie Bishop
South St. Paul PD
612-747-2409
Or
Doug Davis
Numismatic Crime Information Center
817-723-7231

The Numismatic Crime Information Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation established as a resource for dealers, collectors, victims and law enforcement during the investigation of a numismatic crime. All donations are tax deductible.

A Look at Early U.S. Gold Coins

By Jim Fehr – The Winning Edge

Gold Strengthens

The gold market is hot. Bullion prices are rising and driving gold coin prices higher. Economic conditions over the last two years have investors seeking a heaven against rising money supply/inflation. The government printing presses are running over-time as the treasury departments prints trillions of dollars to try revive a weak economy. Keynesian economic practices and an explosion in the size of the U.S. government should keep gold at healthy levels as prices flirt with $1,310 + an ounce.

Early U.S. Gold

Not too long ago I wrote about Early U.S. silver coins. Like the Early silver type, I wanted to break down the Early U.S. gold pieces in this issue. Hope you enjoy it. Prices are an approximation of your actual past and present acquisition cost. PCGS and NGC populations are based on their respective censuses reports.

Draped Bust $2.5 1796 – 1807

The first U.S. coin to have the heraldic (large) eagle on the reverse which was then adopted for all U.S. gold and silver coins from 1798 to 1807. There are two major design varieties for the 1796; the “with stars” and “no stars” obverse. Both of which are extremely rare. The populations listed are for all dates combined. Prices are an approximation of your actual past and present acquisition cost and are for a type coin (not better dates) in the series.

PCGS Circ. population: 392; NGC: 298
PCGS Unc. population: 89; NGC: 163

Prices have steadily climbed since 2002 and are still strong today. This issue is somewhat overlooked like most smaller denomination coins, but less so recently. The prices listed are for type coins in the series. Better dates like the 1796 no stars bring more. I like the issue in all grades at the current levels and believe they will continue to perform well.

In the next two groups Liberty is facing left as is true with most all U.S. coins after 1807. For the single year of 1808 the design had no denticles and was of the large bust type. Then none were minted until 1821. The new design included smaller stars and bust. After 1827 they reduced the coins size and denticles, hence the Capped Bust small size. Prices are an approximation of your actual past and present acquisition cost and are for a type coin (not better dates) in the series.

Capped Bust $2.5 1808 – 1827 large size

PCGS Circ. population: 115; NGC: 87
PCGS Unc. population: 72; NGC: 75

(more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1943-D copper cent, 1795 Reeded Edge cent, 1811/0 cent, and half cent errors

News and Analysis on  coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #20

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I had originally intended to write this week about a variety of coins that were offered in the recently concluded Southern California auctions by the Goldbergs and Heritage. News regarding auction results, however, has been superseded by a 1943-D copper cent selling privately for a reported price of “$1.7 million.” So, I will discuss this piece, some of the early copper in the Goldbergs auction, and the 1811/0 overdate large cent that Heritage sold. This column is devoted to copper.

I. 1943-Denver Mint Copper Cent

In 1943 only, in order to allocate more copper for purposes relating to World War II, U.S. cents were made of zinc coated steel and have a whitish-steely appearance. Probably by accident, a few were struck in copper, almost certainly on planchets (prepared blanks) that were leftover from 1942. Perhaps a few copper planchets were temporarily stuck in the hoppers and became loose over time. Likewise, some 1944 cents were accidentally struck on steel planchets dating from 1943.

I am very skeptical of claims that any of these off-metal strikings were intentionally made. It is possible that U.S. Mint employees may have discovered one or more such errors and intentionally released them from the premises. These are, though, probably true errors. In the 1940s, it would have been extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, for U.S. Mint employees to strike their own fantasy pieces.

Ten or eleven 1943 Philadelphia Mint copper cents and five to seven San Francisco Mint 1943 coppers are known. Curiously, only one 1943-Denver Mint copper cent is believed to exist. It is PCGS graded MS-64 and Laura Sperber sold it to a collector for “$1.7 million.”

Stewart Blay feels “the price has been inflated because the buyer seeking the coin is a billionaire. He loves coins. He wanted to own it and eventually paid what the owner was willing to accept.” Blay is the leading collector of Lincoln Cents and is a long-time participant in coin markets. Stewart also collects silver coins.

A price of “$1.7 million” is, by far, a record price for a Lincoln Cent and for a Mint Error of any kind. For the same collector, Sperber was responsible for the previous record of $373,750 that a 1944-S steel cent realized in the Summer 2008 ANA Auction, which was conducted by Heritage in Baltimore. Furthermore, a 1943-S copper cent was sold privately, a day or so earlier, at the Summer 2008 ANA Convention. I focus on both coins in a two part series that I wrote shortly after this convention ended (Part 1).

Sperber reveals that this “deal really was four years in the making. We agreed to terms in late July. The deal closed Sept 16th.” A total of $2 million, she says, was paid for three items, this 1943-D, a 1944 Philadelphia Mint steel cent and a 1942 pattern cent in “white metal.” This collector is “not seeking” patterns, Sperber relates, “the white metal pattern was just part of the deal.”

Sperber used to collect these off-metal strikings herself. The building of this set “started when” Laura sold this collector her “personal 1943-S PCGS AU-58” copper cent, “which he still has.” She and this collector “have been working on [a set of 43-PDS coppers and 44-PDS steels] for about five years.” Sperber maintains that “completing the 1944 [three piece steel] set was a very underrated piece of work.” I (this writer) point out that there are only two or three known 1944-S steel cents and Sperber acquired the finest 1944-S steel in 2008, as I then reported (in part 2).

Much background information regarding the rarity and importance of 1943 coppers and 1944 steel cents may be found in my two part series in 2008: part 1, part 2.  I also discussed then the reasons why 1943 coppers and 1944 steel cents are extremely popular.

To save time and space, I usually refer to all coins, patterns, and errors that are at least 90% copper as being ‘copper.’ The distinction between copper and bronze, which is usually 95% copper, is beside all points put forth herein. (more…)

Long Beach Coin Show and Market Report by William Shamhart

By William Shamhart – Numismatic Americana

Everyone wants to know: So how was Long Beach? In one word: HOT!

OH…you meant how was the coin show? Well if you’re an optimist, it was partly sunny; if you’re a pessimist, it was partly cloudy. Confused? So was I.

I’ve been going to Long Beach for almost 30 years now. And it never ceases to amaze me. This year’s fall show didn’t suffer the Long Beach curse of falling precious metal prices as most have. In fact gold is at an all time high. And? And generic gold was dead. No demand that I could see. While Christine and I don’t really make a market in bullion or generic gold, we do get some in deals at times, or from customers that are changing their collecting strategy. So we sort of deal in it I guess. Anyways, I would have thought that generics would have shown some sort of surge in demand. But alas, they didn’t. In fact we sold MS 62 Saint Gauden $20 pieces for $1,500. And that was with gold just shy of $1,300!

There was definitely a larger amount of no-show dealers this time. I blame that on the fact that as I write this, I am getting ready to leave for Whitman’s Philadelphia show. I heard that many of the East Coast dealers just didn’t want to do back to back major shows. I can’t say that I blame them.

Retail customers – There were several people that I expected to be there that were also no-shows. Maybe they are saving their money for this week. I guess next weeks show report will tell if I was correct or not.

So from what I am writing, you’d think that Long Beach was a bust, right? Wrong. While not as heavily attended as usual, those that were there, came to buy. Most of the customers we saw there were again (I’m seeing a trend here) carrying want list and would wait for just the right piece. Quality was paramount and price was secondary. Today’s collector wants quality, with no excuses. And they are willing to pay for it. Slightly off quality, and low quality weren’t really sought out. At least from what I could see. That’s not to say that they aren’t selling because we saw a lot of coins trade hands at some very attractive prices. Oh wait, that was wholesale.

So what was selling? Ready? Drum roll please…Proof Walkers and Mercury Dimes. Yes, it surprised me too. But then again, they are dirt cheap in comparison to some other series. And they can be downright pretty. Sound inviting?

Commemoratives – This series has a somewhat “cult” like following. Those that collect them never stop. Maybe they slow down, but they never stop. They just graduate to the “top pops”. Even seasoned veteran commem people were buying duplicates, and even triplicates, but only if the coins were “all there”. Don’t rush out and buy all the commems you can get your hands on though. Be picky, like our customers, and wait. When that special coin presents itself, then, and only then, do you pull the trigger.

Gem Gold – While the lower grade, i.e. MS 61-64, pieces weren’t as in demand as one would think, Gem specimens, were. We sold many at the show, and while we bought some to take home for customers there just are not that many around. Whether a collector is building a set of Gem $3 pieces, or just looking for a few MS 66 $5 Liberties, it can be a daunting task.

Confused? I understand.

Like I said earlier, I will be attending the Whitman Show in Philadelphia this week. If you go, and have a chance, stop by the table and say hello.

US Coins: Those Magical CC Morgans

By Jim Fehr – The Winning Edge

Coins disappearing as collectors and investors buy rarities
Hello, all. This article has be updated with new PCGS and NGC census and pricing information as of September 2010. Hope you enjoy.

There are over one hundred and fifty new purchases in this issue of The Edge, so take a close look at this listing. There should be plenty to choose from whether you’re buying rare dates for your set or just starting out.

The market is good – stable prices and strong demand for rarities along with an expanding collector base. In fact, an 1804 Class 1 Draped Bust Dollar just traded for $3.7 million at the Central States Numismatic Society coin convention in Rosemont, IL. It was a record breaking price for this particular 1804 dollar. It last traded for $475,000 in 1993!

The Carson City Dollars

Politically, the pro-silver factions in this country have always been very strong. The Bland Allison Act and Sherman Act in the late 1800’s required the U.S. Government to purchase large quantities of silver and coin it into silver dollars that, at the time, were not being used in circulation. Therefore, Morgan silver dollars flooded into the treasury vaults. In 1918 the Pittman Act was enacted in part, to sell off the excesses holdings of silver in the treasury vaults, not more than 350 million silver dollar pieces were to be melted. But pro-silver factions helped convolute the Pittman Act.

Due to their influence, one provision of the Pittman Act required the U.S. government to buy domestically one silver ounce for each silver dollar ounce the Pittman Act required be melted and sold. The silver was sold to England at $1 per ounce. In other words, as the government was buying up all the silver dollars in circulation and melting them, along with what was stored in the treasury vaults, they were also forced to replace the melted dollars with domestically bought silver bullion – which they then coined into the new 1921 Morgan silver dollars.

Yet, because of the domestic silver purchase provision in the Pittman Act, many of the silver dollars were never melted and in this way the government unintentionally kept a hoard of about 155 million silver dollars for over 40 years. Since silver dollars during the early 1900’s were used frequently only in Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming, circulating Morgans dried up quickly.

Fast forward to Kennedy. From 1960 to 1964, the government suddenly released over 152 million silver dollars, at face value. The government was the last to learn that many of these coins were worth more than face value because they were prized by collectors. Three years later in 1967, silver prices were up enough to make any silver dollar worth over face value in bullion alone. Afraid to let go of any more too cheaply, the government held back 2.8 million of the lower mintage Carson City dollars.

Sen. Key Pittman – Nevada

On the last day of 1970, President Nixon signed into law the Bank Holding Company Act Amendments. The act authorized the General Services Administration to sell the 2.8 million Carson City dollars in any suitable manner, and thereby created the modern market for Carson City silver dollars. The treasury chose to market the CC dollars via several mail bid sales. There were five sales from 1972 to 1974, then two more in 1980. Minimum bid on 1882-CC, 1883-CC, and 1884-CC was $40-$42; minimum bid was $180 for 1880-CC, 1881-CC, and 1885-CC. (more…)

Some Further Thoughts on Carson City Double Eagle Gold Coins

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The Sept. Goldbergs Coin Auction in Southern California

News and Analysis on scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin community #18

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

For decades, the Long Beach (CA) Coin, Stamp and Collectible Expo has been a major event for coin collectors. The third Long Beach Expo of 2010 will start on Sept. 23 and end on Sep. 25. As usual, Heritage will conduct the official auction. Earlier, in Los Angles County, the firms of Bonhams and of the Goldbergs will also conduct auctions. The Goldbergs will offer a very wide variety of coins on Sept. 19th, 20th and 21st at the Beverly Hills Crowne Plaza.

I. Eliasberg 1893-S $5 Gold Coin

At the ANA Convention in Boston, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to closely examine some of the coins in the upcoming Goldbergs auction. One of my favorites is an 1893-S Half Eagle ($5 gold coin) that was formerly in the Louis Eliasberg collection, which is the greatest collection of U.S. coins that was ever formed.

Many gold coins with an Eliasberg pedigree are of tremendous quality, and this 1893-S is one of them. It is PCGS graded MS-66, and was certified at some point in the mid 1990s. I grade it as 66+. Furthermore, it has a sticker of approval from the CAC, which indicates that experts at the CAC determined that its grade is at least in the middle of the 66 range.

This 1893-S Half Eagle has great luster and an excellent strike. It is wonderfully brilliant. This coin has almost no contact marks or hairlines. The inner fields exhibit some pleasant, natural light green toning.

The 1893-S Half Eagle is somewhat common in grades up to MS-62, in which range it is valued only slightly higher than the most common Liberty Head ‘With Motto’ Half Eagles. In MS-63 and MS-64 grades, an 1893-S Half Eagle commands a substantial premium. In MS-65 and higher grades, it is an extreme condition rarity. At most, one half dozen true gems exist, and probably not even that many. This Eliasberg 1893-S is the only 1893-S that is graded MS-66 by the PCGS or the NGC, and none have been certified as grading higher than MS-66. There is certainly a good chance that it is the finest known.

In MS-66 grade, the PCGS price guide values this 1893-S at $22,500 and very common dates at $7500. A rival price guide at Numismedia.com values a MS-66 grade 1893-S, which must be this one, at $20,150. An old green PCGS label, an Eliasberg pedigree, and a CAC sticker all have the potential to bring about a price that is higher than would otherwise be realized. This coin, though, speaks for itself. It is exceptionally attractive and a delight to view.

II. Carter 1797 ‘small eagle’ $10 Gold Coin

In the upcoming Goldbergs auction, the re-appearance of the NGC graded MS-63 1797 ‘Small Eagle’ Eagle is newsworthy. Gold coins were first struck at the U.S. Mint in 1795. The major varieties of the first type of Eagles that are collected as if they were distinct dates are: the 1795 with thirteen leaves on the branch, the 1795 with nine leaves on the branch, the 1796, and the 1797 ‘small eagle’. This first type has a bust of Miss Liberty on the obverse (front) and a relatively small eagle on the reverse (back). The second type of Eagles, which date from 1797 to 1804, have the same general obverse (front) design along with a much different reverse (back) design. The new reverse features a large or heraldic eagle. It is not just the size of the eagle that is different; the style of the eagle and other reverse design devices are also different. (more…)

Pinnacle Rarities Trades Finest Known Walking Liberty Half

Elusive 1921-S PCGS MS66 is Placed through Private Treaty

Pinnacle Rarities is proud to announce the private treaty sale of the finest known 1921-S Walking Liberty half. The coin is graded MS66 and is the single finest graded at PCGS. The 1921-S is by far the rarest Walking Liberty half in the uncirculated grades, and is very elusive in the top gem grades.

Most of the early Walkers are tough, especially in gem or better. With the end of WWI, the early twenties saw a decrease in demand for circulating coinage. As such, the mintage figures for 1921 are low. The years surrounding the end of the war produced the series’ most prized dates.

For 1921 all three mint marks are elusive, and despite the slightly higher mintage from San Francisco, the bulk of them were heavily circulated or lost to attrition. Today surviving quality examples are scarce, Coinfacts gives this date a 9.1 in MS65 on a rarity scale of 1 – 10.

In relation to the other series keys, the 1921-S has a bit higher mintage. The lower circulated grades are more available than some more common dates. But as the condition reaches the extra-fine (XF) level, the date becomes increasingly tough. No date in the series has fewer coins graded in the uncirculated grades. Nothing is even close.

The 1919-D is considered by some the King of the Walker series. However, there are just 202 1921-S coins graded in the uncirculated grades and the next closest is the 19-D with 344. So, there are 142 more 19-D halves grading in MS60 or better then there are uncirculated 21-S halves.

In fact, Jeff Ambio author of Collecting & Strategies for Walking Liberty Half Dollars agrees, describing the date as “the rarest Walking Liberty Half in Mint State, (with) Choice examples having tremendous appeal in virtually any numismatic market.”

At Pinnacle Rarities, nothing gets sold on our website that we don’t want to buy back. Pinnacle Rarities takes pride in the fact that after decades of placing some of numismatic’s finest material, many of these rarities come back through our offices. This is a prime example. We have been lucky enough to trade this coin several times. We originally purchased this example from late numismatic icon – Jack Lee. We then placed it into the PCGS Hall of Fame GBW Collection. Although retired, that set still ranks as the all-time finest.

In 2004, we were fortunate enough to buy that collection. We again sold this example privately. When it was time to sell, that collector knew to call us first. And again, we found it a home in a very astute collector’s cabinet. We are unlikely to see this superb example again anytime soon. But rest assured, it has found a good home – no a GREAT home.

The coin has fabulous in hand eye appeal. It is the sharpest struck 1921-S example we’ve encountered. While there is some weakness evident in the central devices, it has great detail with good hand definition and crisp eagle leg feathers. The surfaces are extremely clean with only a couple light hits on the obverse.

The reverse is faultless. Some light toning in the peripheries provides a pleasing palette of color represented along the rims. This coin has been the centerpiece to every collection it’s been in, and will likely never find an equal.

Legend Offers Suggestions on Building Sets in Coin Collecting

Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatics

There is no magic wand or crystal ball that can tell you when the coin market will turn red hot again or when prices will finally rise across the board. Until then, there are many areas you can explore that we feel have awesome potential-and are actually completable.

GOLD BUGS READ THIS:

Its very interesting that we see the masses buying Saints in MS64 and higher. People have always enjoyed the feel of bigger gold. Because of this, many Gold Type coins have been drifting and actually have come down in value. WE SUGGEST YOU BUILD AN MS64 AND HIGHER GOLD TYPE SET. You can put in it whatever you want. So buy a slight better Gold Dollar for very little premium or buy an MS65 $3 Gold piece-of which we have seen so few around recently. All Indian Gold in GEM has actually fallen recently-and they are NOT easy coins to find.

ALL PROOF BARBERS

HELLO! We KNOW these are incredible values. For years we preached about PR64’s. They have since gone up and are ok, but you can do better in the higher grades. BUY PR 65-67 coins. You can build a COMPLETE 24 coin PR Barber 10C set in 66 for UNDER $60,000.00. Or how about a PR barber Quarter set in PR65? That about $50,000.00. The beauty is the coins look great and MOST have mintage’s of UNDER 1,000 pieces. We only own maybe one or two PR Barbers total-so do NOT accuse us of manipulating pr hyping a market to our benefit!

PROOF LIBERTY NICKELS

Do a PR65/66 Set. Even a semi mixed set of them should cost SUBSTANTIALLY UNDER $25,000.00! These are beautiful coins! You can’t go to a major show and finish the set in day, but you can build a set over a few months.

PROOF TWENTY CENT SET

There are ONLY 4 coins in this set-two of which are Proof ONLY! This set supplies it all: rarity, obsolete, beauty,and affordability. A set in PR64 can be built for UNDER $25,000.00. Or, go for the BEST and do a PR66 set: $50,000.00. Its all up to your tastes and budget.

WALKERS

We have learned from our McClaren Collection that the short set of Walkers (1941 PDS-1947 PD) in MS65/66 is probably one of the most popular collected areas in all of coins. Stunning GEM MS66 Walkers can be purchased for around $225-$275.00. Even the rare 1941S PCGS MS66 will only cost you $2,250.00 or so.

OUR ALL TIME FAVORITE RECOMMENDATION:

Build a Type set. A Type set is a representative of a series. It can contain the 50C 1905 PCGS MS68 we recently bought and sold for over $135,000.00, or it can contain an MS66 PL Morgan for $225.00. You simply pick the BEST examples you can afford and like. By building a Type set, opportunity does NOT pass by you. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The rise in the number of collectors of rare U.S. coins and the importance of the PCGS & the NGC

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #15

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Today’s topic relates to the number of people who collect rare or scarce U.S. coins, and, at least once in a while, spend more than $1000 on a single coin. The number of such collectors has grown tremendously since around 1998.

At various times since Sept. or Oct. 2008, a substantial number of collectors have stopped buying, not because of lack of interest, but rather because of their own personal financial circumstances. After all, in the middle of 2008, a rather severe recession began that negatively affected almost everyone. Further evidence of my point regarding the increase in numbers and in interest of coin collectors is found in the fact that rare U.S. coins went down in value to a much lesser extent than almost all other categories of assets.

There has only been a modest amount of attrition since coin markets peaked during the first seven to eight months of 2008. (Please see my remarks about coin markets in the following articles: O’Neal’s Eagles – Part1, Part 2; Queller’s Patterns; August 2009 Market Report – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3; and my Review of the Jan. 2010 Platinum Night event.)

Why is there is a reason to put forth such points now? After all, I could, and had planned to, write more about the terrific coins that I saw at the ANA Convention in Boston. (Please click to read last week’s column.) Unfortunately, very recently, in a print publication (CW), a widely recognized commentator (QDB) has put forth a theory that most “serious” collectors are well over fifty years old and that the number of coin collectors has not been increasing. This poorly reasoned theory needs to be addressed.

I. Young Adults and Coin Conventions

Without research, it can be logically deduced that most young adult collectors do not have the time to attend many first tier coin conventions or expos. Further, because of the growth of the Internet and other advances in technology, there is less to be gained, than before, by attending major conventions, though I still recommend attending them. If a majority of the collector-buyers at major events, like the ANA and FUN Conventions, are over the age of fifty, this does NOT prove that a majority of collectors who are seriously interested in expensive U.S. coins are over the age of fifty.

It should be obvious that most collectors between the ages of seventeen and fifty just do not have the time to attend ANA or FUN Conventions, or Long Beach Expos. Surely, many young adults in their twenties, thirties and forties, are busy with their careers and/or busy running their own businesses. A lot of people work ten hours a day to further their business or occupational pursuits, especially many of those collectors who spend more than $1000 per coin. It is also true that collectors in their twenties or thirties may be focused on their respective families.

In general, it is unrealistic to expect a thirty-three year old entrepreneur to be staying up at night thinking about locating a Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollar, completing a set of Three Cent Nickels, or assembling a type set of Proof Liberty Head gold coins. Of course, there is an occasional thirty-three year old, very affluent collector who devotes ten to twenty hours a week to studying coin related materials and to building his coin collection. Clearly, though, few thirty-something collectors will have the time to attend ANA or FUN Conventions. Therefore, QDB and also Doug Winter are correct in that collectors in the fifty to eighty year old range are more likely to engage in BOTH spending on rarities and extensive travel to coin events. It is indisputable, however, that there are many unseen coin collectors in their twenties, thirties and forties. (more…)

ANA Coin Show Recap by John Feigenbaum

by John Feigenbaum – Stella Coin News

Well, another ANA Show has come and gone. I think this was my 22nd consecutive ANA and they all have a similar flavor no matter what the outcome. In a word…”long”. They have always been too long because there have always been “pre ANA” shows the weekend prior with important auctions, so we’ve always attended both shows and stayed the duration.

“Ok, enough whining” you say. “I feel your pain. It’s sooooooo hard being a coin dealer. You are forced to visit exotic cities, stay in fine hotels and eat out at top-notch restaurants and all you can do is complain.” Yes, that’s all true but it is indeed very hard work and staying away from home for extended periods of time has never been my strong suit. So, I always have high expectations for ANA shows but they rarely match up.

This show (I will combine the two shows for convenience), like others, was a marathon rather than a sprint — but is especially noteworthy because we came back with the best set of new purchases that I ever recall.

I have read on other dealer’s blogs that “great coins are red hot, yada yada yada”. But if you carefully read between the lines, you will still see that the majority of “great coins” are generally cheaper today than they were a couple years ago. It’s a very selective market, as all collector markets are, and the reality is that some collectors need to sell some big coins for reasons other than profit. I don’t recall ever having been to an ANA show where I saw more great five- and six-figure coins available for sale. We sold some great coins like our 1932 Saint PCGS MS66 and we bought even more great coins because I think this is one of those rare, historic moments when cash is king — and one cannot find these coins at anywhere near reasonable levels in a hotter market.

Examples of new purchases from the ANA Show:

1794 $1 PCGS XF40

1796 No Stars $2.50 PCGS XF40

1848 CAL. $2.50 PCGS AU50 (sold @ show!)

1796/5 $5 PCGS XF45

1930-S $20 PCGS SecurePlus MS65+

As you can see these are great coins. Of course, we didn’t limit ourselves to major rarities, and we have scores of other exciting collector coins that have been untouchable these past few years. Please keep an eye on the web site as these coins appear. (Or send me an email if you want more information on any of these.)

The Mood of the Show

“Ok, you say. Enough shameless promotion of your new purchases at the ANA show. Any dealer can do that and it’s not informative.” Ok, you’re right. Somehow we have to pay the light bills around here so please forgive me the transgression…. The show came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. Plain and simple. The pre show was entirely dealer-driven and dealers came to the show very tentative. Everyone wanted to see if anyone else was buying so it was generally a hot, boring affair. We slogged it out and did a fair amount of business, but it was the same business we’d do at ANY show, so that’s not exciting. (more…)

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…)

Over $22 Million in Coins Changes Hands in Boston Platinum Night Auction

The results are in from Platinum Night at the Boston Worlds’ Fair of Money! Nearly $22.4 million of high quality rare coins changed in our Platinum Night festivities, with strong bidding being seen throughout.

Overall, Heritage’s three Boston auctions are expected to realize over $40 million for thier happy consignors. (They may change this number; and actually wind up at $43-45mm total because they’re at $39.4mm now)

Leading the way in Platinum Night was the Eliasberg specimen of the 1851 Humbert $50 Lettered Edge slug, a coin that appeared on the catalog cover when that legendary collection was auctioned in 1996. Graded MS63, this standout coin, which sold for $40,700 in 1996, realized $546,250 in Platinum Night.

Two significant 20th century pattern gold rarities from The Jarosi Collection also lit up the podium in Boston. A Panama-Pacific Half Dollar struck in gold without a mintmark (3742), one of two known, sold for $460,000, with a unique 1907 Plain Edge Indian eagle with wire rim (3561) bringing in $359,375.

Additional highlights included:
* New England Shilling AU50 PCGS. CAC. From Dwight Manley’s NE Silver Collection. Sold for: $416,875.
* 1931 $20 MS67 PCGS. From The Dr. Brandon Smith Collection. Sold for: $322,000.
* 1796 25C MS65 PCGS. Ex: Norweb. Sold for: $322,000.
* 1797 50C AU58 PCGS. CAC. O-101a. From The Dr. and Mrs. Claude Davis Collection. Sold for: $253,000.
* 1652 Willow Tree Shilling VF35 PCGS. CAC. From Dwight Manley’s NE Silver Collection. Sold for: $230,000.
* 1797 $5 Small Eagle, 15 Stars MS60 NGC. Sold for: $218,500.
* 1817/4 50C VF20 PCGS. O-102a. From The Witham Collection of Capped Bust Half Dollars. Sold for: $184,000.
* 1836 Gobrecht Dollar struck in copper, Name Below Base, Judd-59 Restrike, PR64 Brown NGC. Sold for: $184,000.
* 1876 $20 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. From The Bob Simpson Collection. Sold for: $184,000.
* 1796 $2 1/2 No Stars AU58 PCGS. From The Dr. and Mrs. Claude Davis Collection. Sold for: $161,000.
* 1652 Oak Tree Shilling MS66 PCGS. CAC. From Dwight Manley’s NE Silver Collection. Sold for: $161,000.
* 1920-S $20 MS64+ PCGS Secure. CAC. From The Bob Simpson Collection. Sold for: $161,000.

More reviews and analysis of all the Heritage Auctions will be posted next week on CoinLink

Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagle Gold Coins from the Shipwreck of the S. S. Central America

by Greg Reynolds

In 1987, there was the greatest discovery of a shipwreck relating to the history of the United States. Yes, other shipwrecks may be especially important to the history of Spain and Latin America. The loss of the S.S. Central America in Sept. 1857, however, had an impact on the history of the United States. Although a recession had already started in 1856, and a major insurance company failed in August 1857, the loss of this ship caused upheaval in financial markets and exacerbated the “Panic of 1857.”

The Library of Congress website reveals that the S. S. Central America “had aboard 581 persons, many carrying great personal wealth, and more than $1 million in commercial gold. [This ship] also bore a secret shipment of 15 tons of federal gold, valued at $20 per ounce, intended for the Eastern banks”. In this context, the Library of Congress website cites several pertinent, recognized 19th century books and other contemporary sources. “As banking institutions of the day dealt in specie (gold and silver coins instead of paper money) the loss of some thirty thousand pounds of gold reverberated through the financial community.” In October, many banks suffered terribly or failed altogether. There were ‘runs’ on many banks by depositors.

The crisis reached its worse point on Oct. 14, about a month after the sinking of the S. S. Central America, which was “Suspension Day, when banking was suspended in New York and throughout New England [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/aug24.html.” The U.S. economy did not fully recover for years.

In the wreckage of the S. S. Central America, there were thousands of 1857-S Double Eagles ($20 gold coins), which were very scarce before the salvaging of the S.S. Central America. Of all the Double Eagles found in the wreckage, however, only fifty were designated as being Prooflike, and only seven as Deep Mirror Prooflike, by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). In late 1999 and/or early 2000, the PCGS certified and graded most of the coins found in this shipwreck. As far as I know, these fifty-seven PCGS certified 1857-S Double Eagles and one NGC certified 1858-S Double Eagle coins are the only reliably certified, Prooflike gold coins from the early years of the San Francisco Mint, which formally began striking coins in 1854.

I. The Rarity of Type One Prooflike Double Eagles

The 1857-S Double Eagles that the PCGS has designated as Prooflike are unusual in that it is generally the policy of the Professional Coin Grading Service to not designate gold coins as being ‘Prooflike.’ In a Dec. 2000 Christie’s auction, it is stated that a PCGS certified ‘MS-65 PL’ 1857-S is “Tied with two others for finest of 50 PL examples from the S.S. Central America treasure certified by PCGS.” According to the Christie’s cataloguer, who is an expert regarding the histories of coins found on shipwrecks, nineteen 1857-S Double Eagles are (or then were) PCGS certified as ‘MS-64 PL.’

Sources indicate just seven of the S. S. Central America 1857-S Double Eagles were designated as Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) by the PCGS. The NGC has not designated any 1857-S Double Eagles as PL or DMPL. Before the finding of the wreck of the S. S. Central America, it is likely that no Prooflike 1957-S Double Eagles were known to exist. Furthermore, probably all (or almost all) of these certified Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagles are in PCGS holders with their respective original gold foil inserts (labels) that were specially designed for coins found in the wreck of the S.S. Central America. Therefore, it seems that there exist fifty-seven Prooflike (PL) or Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) 1857-S Double Eagles. Only a handful of these have been publicly sold since the initial offerings in 2000 when coins from the S.S. Central America appeared in coin markets. (more…)

Official ANA World’s Fair Of Money Starts Today in Boston Featuring Amazing and Historically Significant Numismatic Exhibits

More than 1,100 of the nation’s best coin dealers with the best inventory of coins, paper money, medals, tokens and other numismatic items will gather in Boston August 10-14 at the Hynes Convention Center for the largest coin show in the world.

Sponsored by the nonprofit American Numismatic Association, the show will feature museum-quality exhibits from the Smithsonian Institution, the ANA Edward C. Rochette Money Museum and private collectors. As many as 20 mints from around the world will give visitors an opportunity to collect coins from five continents, and a number of family activities and educational programs make this an attractive event for anyone with an interest in history and money.

The Bebee Collection of United States Paper Money. A spectacular and comprehensive view of United States paper money. The 904 notes in the complete collection include a remarkable series of high-grade large-size national bank notes from virtually every state and territory. A wide range of the premier specimens will be on display in Boston.

The 1874 Bickford $10 Patterns:From the Collection of Bob R. Simpson. This exhibit features a complete set of 1874 Bickford patterns struck at the Philadelphia Mint as part of a proposed plan for an international coinage. The exhibit includes seven Bickford patterns comprising Simpson’s signature set, as well as two duplicates to allow for side-by-side viewing of obverse and reverse.

The Smithsonian Institution’s “Good as Gold: exhibit America’s Double Eagles” The exhibit tells the story of the $20 gold coin, the largest gold coin to circulate in the United States. Rarities on display include 20 coins from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection, including the first (1849 pattern) and last (1933) double eagles ever produced as well as a 1907 Saint-Gaudens ultra high relief pattern that President Theodore Roosevelt gave his daughter Ethel as a Christmas gift in 1907.

The Ship of Gold exhibit displaying Gold Rush-era sunken treasure from the 1857 shipwreck of the SS Central America will be in Boston courtesy of Monaco Rare Coins. Highlights include a Kellogg & Humbert ingot – the largest surviving gold ingot of the California Gold Rush, 13 octagonal $50 gold pieces produced by the U. S. Assay Office of San Francisco and remains of a wooden cargo box still containing approximately 110 double eagles.

Mexico, 1810 & 1910: Coins of the War of Independence & the Mexican Revolution An exhibit that celebrates the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Mexican War for Independence and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. This marks the first time since the early 1970s that any part of Banco de México’s extensive historical collection has been displayed in the United States.

Coin Rarities, Paul Revere Silver & Rare Broadside of the Declaration of Independence. From the collection of Brian Hendelson, the first-ever display of a 1861 Philadelphia Mint Paquet reverse gold double eagle and 1921 Proof Roman Finish Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Each coin is one of two known specimens, and each is the finer-known specimen. The Paquet $20 was once owned by Egypt’s King Farouk and Ambassador and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb, while the 1921 proof was not known to exist until 2006. (more…)

All-Time Greatest Collection of Barber Half Dollars to be Auctioned in Boston, Part 2

by Greg Reynolds

In part 1, I introduced Dr. Duckor’s set of Barber Halves, mentioned the last two coins that he added, focused on his 1904-S half, and discussed the building of his set of Barber halves. Here in part 2, the historical and cultural importance of this set will be analyzed, with references to other landmark sets of Barber Halves. In my last weekly column, on Wed. Aug 4th, I discussed two other halves in Dr. Duckor’s set, both of which were previously in the Thaine Price collection, his 1893-O and 1895-S. (As usual, clickable links are in blue.)

IV. Gem Sets of Business Strike Barbers

Only a small number of collectors have attempted to assemble a set of gem quality Barber Half Dollars. These were minted from 1892 to 1915. Barber Dimes and Quarters were also first minted in 1892, though these continued until 1916. In low grades, Good-04 to Fine-12, a set of Barber Halves is easy to complete. Without consideration of the 1892 Micro O variety, Numismedia.com suggests that a whole set, in Good-04 grade, could be assembled for around $2500.

Generally, many collectors choose Barber Halves over Barber Quarters because a set of Barber Halves is easier to complete. An 1896-S quarter may cost as much as $1000 in Good condition, while a 1901-S quarter could easily cost more than $5000. So, kids and other beginners are often discouraged from Barber Quarters because they are concerned that they will never be able to complete a set. In grades of MS-65 and higher, though, Barber Halves are much more expensive than the quarters overall.

In many instances, when a collector becomes wealthy, he (or she) returns to some of the series that he collected when he had far less money, often to coin types that he collected as a kid or as a relatively young adult. As sets of circulated Barber Halves have been completed by so many collectors, I am surprised that so few advanced, wealthy collectors have sought to complete sets of gem quality Barber Halves. Such a quest may be very exciting.

Yes, gem quality Barber Halves have been worth significant sums of money since the late 1980s. From then to the present, however, it has often been type coin collectors and speculators that have demanded gem quality Barber Halves. Over the last century, there have been very few collectors, who strongly focused upon completing sets of gem quality, business strike Barber coins.

A perusal of catalogues of auctions of especially great collections from the 1940s to the 1970s demonstrates that minimal attention was given to Barber Halves. It seems that, in decades past, collectors of half dollars felt an obligation to include Barber Halves because traditional rules stipulate that a collection of classic half dollars should include all the dates that the respective collector could afford. In the traditions of coin collecting in the U.S., completion is a value of a high order.

Only in rare instances was a collection of business strike Barber Halves a focus. In addition to being the foremost researcher of U.S. Patterns, Saul Teichman has engaged in a tremendous amount of general research regarding great collections. “One point to remember is that Barber Halves were no big deal in the 1960s and early 1970s,” Teichman remarks, “many of these were under $100 in gem grade back then.”

Several of those who built the greatest U.S. coin collections of all time did, in fact, very much appreciate Barber Halves. Their respective collections featured numerous gem quality Barber Halves. (more…)

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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Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Collections of Claude Davis and Brandon Smith, Coin Pricing and Government Regulation

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #10

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

After writing about two collections in the Boston ANA auction to be held in August, I will address the topic of ‘overpricing.’ A vocal U.S. Congressman has called for government regulation of rare coin and bullion businesses. He has attacked one prominent seller of bullion and modern coins as having overpriced some of their coins and he seems to imply that the Federal Government should combat overpricing, presumably with price controls. In my view, while such overpricing of bullion coins and of other common coins occurs, his approach is flawed and counter-productive. Moreover, government regulation of prices would make trading less efficient and would not substantially lessen the extent to which careless, or mentally incompetent, coin buyers are harmed. Please see my discussion below.

I. The Collection of Dr. Davis

Please read last week’s column for general remarks regarding upcoming events in Boston and prior columns for discussions of very rare coins that will be auctioned. Furthermore, I will soon write about Dr. Duckor‘s collection of Barber Halves, which is, indisputably, the all-time best collection of this series. Duckor’s halves will be auctioned during Heritage’s Platinum Night event on Wed. August 11, as will many coins from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Claude Davis. In my column of July 7th, I discussed a few of the coins in the Davis collection. There are many more in the ANA auction.

Todd Imhof, Executive Vice President of Heritage, relates that Dr. Davis “started collecting coins in the 1930’s!” Further, Imhof remarks that Dr. Davis “is perhaps best known for putting together the famous Foxfire Type Collection that sold intact a number of years ago.” My (this writer’s) impression is that the Foxfire type set consisted mainly of coins that were (and mostly still are) NGC graded from MS-65 to MS-67. Indeed, some or all of these were placed by the NGC in holders with the name ‘Foxfire’ on the respective inserts. I have seen only copper and silver coins that are pedigreed to the ‘Foxfire’ collection. I remember the “Foxfire” NGC graded MS-66 1818 quarter, for example, that Heritage auctioned in Feb. 2008 and, again, in May 2009.

Dr. Davis has consigned a much more extensive type set and other coins to the upcoming Boston ANA auction. Imhof reveals that “Dr. Davis, after completing and selling the Foxfire collection, went back into collecting Type coins in a more moderate grade range. He loves high-end AU specimens and felt that grade often represented super value.”

There are many coins in the Davis collection that are graded AU-55 or -58 by the PCGS or the NGC. One example that imaged well is an 1829 half dime that is PCGS graded AU-58 and has a sticker of approval from the CAC. Likewise, the Davis 1815 quarter is PCGS graded AU-58 and CAC approved. The online images of this quarter look marvelous. It is necessary, though, to view a coin in actuality, or have an expert do so for you, to draw firm conclusions about its physical characteristics.

One of the most important coins in the Davis collection and in this ANA auction overall is the Atwater-Hawn 1797 half dollar. The Draped Bust obverse (front), Small Eagle (reverse) halves of 1796 and 1797 are the rarest silver type coins. The William Atwater collection, which B. Max Mehl sold in the mid 1940s, is one of the twenty greatest U.S. coin collections of all time.

The eminent collector Reed Hawn assembled landmark collections of several series, especially quarters and halves. The 1913 Liberty Nickel that was auctioned in January was previously owned by Reed Hawn. (Please click here to read my article about it.) Hawn’s halves were auctioned by Stack’s in 1973. Like the two Davis collection coins just mentioned above, this 1797 half is PCGS graded AU-58 and has a CAC sticker.

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