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All Posts Tagged With: "Stacks"

LOOKING FORWARD TO A BIGGER 2011 – IS BIGGER BETTER?

Hot Topics by Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatics

Consolidation in reverse! I expected a few firms to fold and smaller dealers to shut. Out of the blue comes the mega merger of Stacks and Bowers and Merena. I was not so shocked because for the last 3 years it had been no secret I tried to talk the owners into selling Stacks to Legend. The apparent loss would have been too great and doing a deal this way, they get a shot at some stock that could go up. Regardless, I feel it was a tragic end to once powerful and glamorus dealership.

It is my strong opinion, in this mergers case, bigger is NOT better for the coin market. Why? We already have one mega monster firm who obviously has reached their limits-Heritage. They know they can’t expand any more with in coins, so they did the smartest thing, branched out into other areas. I give them tons of credit for that because it seems as they grow, they do not forget their roots and promote coins to this new crowd.

To satisfy two large auction companies with huge staffs, where are all the coins going to come from? These firms need expensive coins to generate large fees. If these firms on their own were not getting much prior, where are the coins going to come from after the merger? Think about how big each firms overheads are. Will fees rise? Will coin values artifically inflate because of excessive tiny demand with each auction?

This new mega merger concerns me. My goal in going after Stacks was not to make it bigger-just better. In my opinion, the potential of Stacks combining with Legend was huge. I believe it would have greatly benefited collectors. I do admit, I was nervous about where the consignments would come from, but Legend has sold OVER $600,000,000.00 RETAIL so we have some contacts. I have always viewed owning an auction company as a natural extension for us and our customers. Unfortunately, I do not have the time or energy to try again to enter the auction field from scratch. I saw the demise of Stacks as inevitable. I would have loved to have fixed it. It is frustrating to me ownership decided to end the misery this way. When I was told about it I was angry for one second and have moved on. Now I just wonder if bigger is really better? And how will it effect the marketplace?

I do wish The B+M team good luck in their merger. Greg Roberts, CEO of Spectrum is one of the sharpest executives in this business.

FUN

My prediction is that FUN will be a good show. Out of the clear blue, collectors were buying strong in December-a time when they normally fade away. Yet again, only supply was the problem. So if nothing else, dealers will need to replenish at FUN.

Gold coins are still screaming crazy hot. Prices are NOT moving up, but collectors do want them. We think 2011 will be the tell tale year for gold. It will be interesting to say the least. (more…)

Bowers and Merena Auctions and Stacks Announce Merger

BOWERS AND MERENA AUCTIONS TO JOIN FORCES WITH STACK’S TO CREATE STACK’S-BOWERS NUMISMATICS

Spectrum Group International, Inc. (SPGZ.PK) announced today that its subsidiary Bowers and Merena Auctions, one of the world’s pre-eminent auctioneers of rare coins and currency, has entered into an agreement with Stack’s, the oldest rare coin retail and auction company in the U.S., to combine their operations.

The new company, which will be known as Stack’s-Bowers Numismatics, with a world coin division to be known as Stack’s-Bowers and Ponterio, will be owned 51% by Bowers and Merena Auctions and 49% by Stack’s. The closing, which is subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions, is expected to take place in early 2011.

Greg Roberts, president and chief executive officer of Spectrum Group (SGI), commented, “We believe that this combination, once consummated, will create a major player in the coin industry. Stack’s had over $65 million in aggregate sales in 2010 and between them, the two companies have handled many of the significant coin collections that have sold at public auction, including the Eliasberg Sales, the Norweb Sales and the Ford Collections.”

Bowers and Merena Auctions president Chris Napolitano, who will serve as president of the combined company, said, “I am honored and excited to lead this new venture, which combines two of the leading names in our industry. We consider Stack’s to be the crown jewel of coin auction houses and with this partnership, we have assembled a numismatic team that we believe to be unequaled in the industry. We look forward to continuing and expanding Stack’s auction and retail locations in mid-town Manhattan, which serve not only the greater New York metropolitan area but also the entire east coast.”

Added Mr. Roberts, “A significant factor for SGI in pursuing this merger was the opportunity to partner with Charles, Joel and Harold Anderson and the rest of the Anderson family, who own a controlling interest in Stacks. For years I have enjoyed a strong personal and professional relationship with the Andersons and now look forward to a long-lasting association with the family through Stack’s-Bowers Numismatics. We intend to continue the long tradition that the Stack family developed over many decades in New York. For years it has been a goal of ours to have a presence in NYC. With this partnership, we will achieve that goal at one of the most famous and prestigious addresses in the numismatics industry: 123 West 57th Street, New York, New York.”

Joel Anderson commented, “We are looking forward with great enthusiasm to the successful combination of these two fine companies. Both have rich histories of service with integrity to the numismatic community and together their combined resources and talents will bring new levels of service and value to the numismatic market. In addition, Charles, Harold and I have assembled some nice collections and we are pleased that Stack’s-Bowers Numismatics will be there for us when the time comes to sell.” (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The Henry Miller Collection

News and Analysis on scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #32

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. FUN Auctions

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Jim O’Neal’s set of Indian Head Half Eagles ($5 gold coins), which will be auctioned during the Jan. 6, 2011 FUN Platinum Night auction in Tampa. During the FUN Convention, Heritage will auction a wide variety of items, including the Henry Miller collection. Miller specialized in Proof gold coins and many of his coins will also be sold during this Platinum Night event. He also had business strikes. The topic here is the Henry Miller collection.

To attain some understanding of FUN Platinum Night events, please see my column two weeks ago and my articles concerning coins auctioned in Jan. 2009 and 2010: The Jan. 2010 Platinum Night, $3,737,500 for a nickel, the O’Neal Collection of Indian Head Eagles, and Jay Brahin’s $20 gold coins.

II. Henry Miller

Henry Miller collected coins for decades before passing in 2009. He lived and worked in New York City. Miller collected Proof Liberty Head Double Eagles ‘by date’ and gold coins from many other series mostly ‘by type.’ Though Miller had a few pre-1834 Half Eagles and some early 20th century gold coins, he generally focused on U.S. gold coins of the second half of the 19th century. Additionally, he had an accumulation of ‘not rare date’ Liberty Head and Saint Gaudens Double Eagles. Also, Miller had a complete 1887 Proof Set, copper, nickel, silver and gold, which Eric Streiner regards as “a fantastic set.”

Eric Streiner remembers Miller’s coins though he has not seen any of them for more than a dozen years. Streiner “knew the guy quite well. Miller really liked his coins. He spent a lot of time looking at his coins,” Streiner recounts. Eric emphasizes that Miller was an enthusiastic collector.

Eric reports that “Miller bought most of his coins in the 1970s from dealers in the New York area, many from Stack’s. He bought some at auction, but mostly he bought coins privately,” Streiner says. “He bought a few coins in the mid 1990s,” Eric adds.

Streiner relates that, “in the late 1980s or early 1990s,” Eric arranged for Miller’s coins to be submitted to the NGC for grading and encapsulation. Streiner remembers that Miller contacted him through Stack’s. At the time, Eric was a very young dealer who had a reputation as a grading wizard. I (this writer) heard many stories, some clearly verifiable, of Eric spotting coins that were undergraded, or not clearly graded, by other coin dealers.

John Albanese recollects that, “a long time ago, probably in the late 1980s, [he] had lunch at a seafood restaurant with Eric Streiner and Henry Miller, who was a really nice guy.” Albanese is glad to have had the opportunity to view Miller’s Proofs again. Recently, Heritage sent many of Miller’s Proof coins to the CAC.

John Albanese was the sole founder of the NGC in 1987. Mark Salzberg, the largest current shareholder in the NGC, joined Albanese as a partner in 1988. Ten years later, Albanese sold his shares in the NGC to Salzberg. In 2007, John founded the CAC, which evaluates the quality of coins that are already graded and encapsulated by the PCGS or the NGC. Submitted coins may be approved or rejected. Approved coins receive a CAC sticker.

Both Albanese and Streiner were very impressed by the quality of Miller’s coins. Streiner, “even around twenty years later,” recalls Miller’s coins “as great pieces, nice original stuff, mostly gem, definitely good eye appeal.” Indeed, John and Eric separately emphasized that Miller’s Proof gold coins tend to be “original,” meaning that these have never been dipped, substantially cleaned, or doctored.

Though Streiner “hates to say it,” Eric is concerned that “some of these coins might lose their original surfaces, after the auction”! Some dealers will dip or doctor them in efforts to get higher grades assigned. (more…)

Argentine Rarities to the Fore!

by Greg Cohen – Stacks

One of the many highlights of Stacks upcoming New York International Sale is a lovely and rare 1830 RA P 8 Escudos of Argentina. This is a key date example of the classic Sunface design, the second rarest date in the series.

This piece hails from the Porteño Collection, a small but high quality offering of Argentine coinage, and displays pleasing original gold surfaces with only light wear. This specimen was uncertified when offered in Heritage’s January 2007 sale, and was recently submitted to NGC for encapsulation where it was graded EF-45.

In his 1962 work, Argentine numismatist and researcher, Jorge Ferarri was able to track fewer than 10 examples of this date. In Calico’s “Onza” book, it is simply described as “Extremely Rare.” Even in the current information age, we can only positively identify two examples that have traded at auction in the past five years.

These include: the example in the October 2008 Spink-Smythe sale (which later appeared in the Ponterio New York International 2010 sale) and this example (ex Heritage NYINC 2007). Curiously, this date was missing from our (ANR’s) sale of the Eliasberg World Gold Collection, Goldberg’s sale of the Millennia Collection, our Kroisos Collection Sale, and other important recent sales of quality Argentine coins. While there are probably examples in museums in Argentina, the number available to the collecting public is quite small indeed.

Another stunning Argentine rarity offered as part of the Porteño Collection is an 1836 Rosas portrait 8 Escudos struck in silver. Called an “ensayo” or essay in Hector Carlos Janson’s book, research conducted by our consignor shows that the 1836 8 Escudos was supposed to be an 8 Soles piece, and thus the silver strikings (which are nearly as rare as the gold) are the officially struck coins.

There are four known examples struck in gold, including the Eliasberg-Clapp coin we offered in the Eliasberg World Gold Collection in 2005. Regardless of whether these are official strikes or essay pieces, they are extremely rare. The last silver specimen to sell at public auction was the AU-50 (NGC) that appeared in the Millennia Collection sale. The Porteño Collection example is sharper than the Millennia coin; unfortunately, it has been polished, and is now residing in an AU Details (NGC) holder.

Stack’s is proud to be able to offer these rarities to the collecting public—for the advanced Argentine coin collector, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

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…)

The Baltimore Coin Show – Legend Numismatics Market Report

Yeah, this is broken record: Mary Counts, David Chrenshaw, Lori Hamrick and team did it again. They put on one of the BEST shows. Our ONLY complaint (and we know many other people felt the same way) was out of their control: $13.00 for a sandwich and soda? That was DRECKY! We spoke to David Chrenshaw who pulled out a note pad of issues to work on and showed us he was on it. At no other show have we EVER seen managers who really want to absorb information to make it better. Guess that’s why we were told attendance was up a decent % this show.

Hidden GEM at the show: there is a full time massage therapist in the lobby. With all the stress on the bourse, taking a break for 10 minutes and getting a massage was so relaxing and helpful.

LEGEND SPENDS $2,000,000.00

We did not realize how much we spent until we got home and added it up. This figure includes The Stacks and Bowers Sales, and the spending damage we did on the bourse floor. Keep in mind, this is real money. Legend would not put up its own money or endanger our customers monies if we felt the market was weak or had issues.

At the Stacks sale there was an interesting group of fresh proof coins. Legend by far did the most buying. We proudly purchased (and saved them from the coin doctors) the $10 1913 PCSG PR66 CAC ($80,500.00)+$20 1913 PCGS PR65 CAC ($103,500.00). One day we would LOVE to tell you where they went as it would PROVE the depth and reach of the US coin market all over the world! Other highlight purchases: the $10 1888 PCGS PR65 Cameo and the $20 1906 PCGS PR65 Cameo. All these went to different collectors.

Prices were very strong at the Stacks sale. The nicer the coins, the stronger the premiums went. We saw some coins sell for prices as much as 3 grades higher! The marketplace is starved for fresh coins.

The Bowers Sale was crazy. We had sold many of the MS Seated Half Dollars to the collector who formed the Malibu Collection. We figured there might be a little softness and we could get some good deals. NOT! We bought ONLY about 3 halves-and the 43O PCGS MS65 CAC we sold to a collector at lot pick up! The prices were “moon” money and beyond. You had two clear cut collectors competing, us (we were buying for collectors NOT building sets), another high end dealer representing a collector, and at least one party who LOVES rare CAC stickered coins and is not specifically a Seated Half Collector (we did confirm this individual was bidding). It is interesting to note that a NON Seated half Collector would pay such strong prices. This party thinks “outside the box”. His coin purchases from this sale over the years will be as astute just as if he were building one of the finest collections of Seated Halves. He understands, you can’t be scared to stretch when great coins with low to no pops are available.

Our highlight purchases from Bowers included the monster 1851 PCGS MS62 Slug (ex Amon carter) $316,250.00. Of all of our auction purchases, this was the ONLY coin we really stole. We had been prepared to pay up to $400,000.00 hammer! We also purchased the ultra rare and grossly undervalued $3 1877 PCGS PR65 DCameo CAC. We’re helping build a PR $3 collection that is now only 4 coins short of completion! We had to pay up, but we bought just about ALL the CAC MS 64 Seated Dollars for addition to a collection we are exclusively building. The gorgeous 25C 1916 PCGS MS67+ CAC was one we lost on. It sold for $195,500.00 in Bowers. The same coin at the 2010 ANA Boston auction (less than 3 months ago) brought $149,500.00. It was simply a coin that fell thought the cracks at ANA (everyone thought it would go for crazy money, so why bother bidding). At BOTH auctions, Legend was the under-bidder! We still regret not buying the coin-for inventory! (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1796 quarter, San Francisco Liberty Seated Dimes, 1931 Denver Mint $20 gold coin

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #21

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Last week’s column was devoted to cents and half cents. This week, I am writing about a few silver coins and a 1931-D Saint Gaudens Double Eagle ($20 gold coin). Though 1931-D Saints may be extremely rare or almost so, the 1796 quarter and San Francisco Mint Liberty Seated dimes that I mention below are condition rarities rather than being extremely rare in absolute terms.

Recently, I have written about coins that are extremely rare in all grades, thus in absolute terms. In my column of Sept. 22, I wrote about the NGC graded “EF-45+” 1856-O Double Eagle that Heritage sold in September. It realized $345,000, which is a very strong price. Last week, I wrote about the 1795 Reeded Edge cent that the Goldberg’s auctioned for $322,000, even though it does not merit a numerical grade and is in a PCGS genuine holder. Early in the summer, in my column of June 30th, I wrote about Great Rarities that were then to be auctioned in Boston. I followed up with ‘news’ regarding these same Great Rarities in later columns, including my column of Aug. 11. As few collectors may own extremely rare coins, condition rarities, especially of coins that are scarce in absolute terms, should receive a great deal of attention and news coverage.

I. Choice 1796 Quarter

I really liked the 1796 quarter in the most recent Stack’s auction, which was conducted a few days ago in Philadelphia. I would admit that I was more enthusiastic about the Norweb 1796 in the Heritage ANA Auction in Boston. This one, though, is livelier. (As always, clickable links are in blue.)

This 1796 quarter was formerly in the official auction of the Summer 1976 ANA Convention in New York, a convention that reportedly drew more than 25,000 people. At a later time, it was PCGS graded MS-63. I thought that it was undergraded. Yes, there are some very small, though of medium depth, contact marks in the field to the viewer’s right on the obverse (front of the coin). Further, there is a significant small scratch near the last star. Additionally, there are minor hairlines on the eagle on the reverse (tail of the coin). These, though, are imperfections that can be consistent with a 64 grade, especially for a coin that has a lot of eye appeal and other positive characteristics.

This 1796 quarter is very attractive and even more so when it is tilted under a light. It has full, naturally reflective surfaces. At some angles, this coin nearly dazzles. While it is not unusual for a 1796 quarter to be semi-prooflike and some are very prooflike, this one has more personality than most other uncirculated 1796 quarters.

Some experts wondered about the naturalness of the pinkish-russet, blue and green shades. I maintain that the toning is natural. This coin may have lived in several envelopes, cabinets and/or albums, since 1796. It may possibly have been dipped at some point in the middle of the 20th century. (more…)

Stack’s Pens Three Year Deal with the ANA to be Official Coin Show Auctioneer

Stack’s will be the official auctioneer for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money, ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd has announced.

“I’m very pleased to have received multiple strong bids for these prestigious auctions,” Shepherd said. “This reflects a renewed confidence auction companies have that the ANA can host high-quality auctions with exceptional potential.”

Shepherd was also pleased that Stack’s bid included a commitment to support the Association’s educational programs and seminars at the World’s Fair of Money and in New York City, where Stack’s is headquartered. “In a very competitive bidding process, Stack’s commitment to ANA educational programs was an important consideration,” Shepherd said.

“We believe strongly in the educational mission of the ANA,” said Stack’s President Christine Karstedt. “This is a great opportunity for Stack’s to deliver first-rate auctions in association with the hobby’s premier membership organization. We look forward to holding extraordinary auctions in Chicago and Philadelphia.”

Live auctions will be held during the 2011 Chicago World’s Fair of Money, Aug. 16-20; the 2012 Philadelphia show, Aug. 7-11; and the 2013 Chicago show, Aug. 13-17.

Stack’s, founded in 1935 by Joseph B. and Morton Stack, is holding its 75th Anniversary Auction in Baltimore this November. No other numismatic auction company has ever had such an anniversary. For more information, visit www.stacks.com.

Coin Profile: An Analysis of The Johnson-Blue Collection of Liberty Head Eagles

by Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Every few years, an auction takes place that gives me a bad case of “Dinosaur Syndrome.” By this, I mean the coins bring so much more than what I bid that I think to myself that I’m a dinosaur and am out of touch with current Numismatic Reality. After I talk myself out of this and take a deep breath or two, I find that analyzing the sale is a useful tool for my bruised psyche.

Just prior to the 2010 Boston ANA convention, Stack’s sold a specialized group of Liberty Head eagles that they named the “Johnson Blue” collection. These coins were interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, they were clearly fresh to the market and, I am told, many of them were purchased by the consignor back in the 1980’s. Secondly, the coins mostly had original surfaces with a nice crusty appearance; a welcome change from the usual processed better date Liberty Head eagles that one sees available in today’s market. Finally, there were a number of dates that you typically don’t see much anymore (such as 1863, 1864 and 1865) in grades that were above-average.

I had a feeling that this was going to be a strong sale, but the final results were pretty stunning to me. In some cases my bids were close to winning a lot; in other cases they were laughably distant from the eventual final bid. Let’s take a look at some of the more significant eagles in this collection and ponder on their prices.

1842-O, Graded MS61 by PCGS. Lot 1094.

Stack’s sort of underplayed this lot in the catalog, but New Orleans eagle collectors knew that this was a special coin. There are just three Uncirculated examples known to me and this fresh example had excellent color and surfaces. The last Uncirculated piece to sell was Superior 5/08: 103, graded MS61 by NGC and pedigreed to the S.S. Republic shipwreck. It brought $29,900 but I discounted this price as the coin was not attractive. But given this prior sales record, I bid $40,000 for the Johnson-Blue example and thought I had a decent shot of buying it. I wasn’t even close. The coin brought $74,750 which, to me, is an incredibly strong price and one that shows me the depth of this market.

1848-O, Graded AU55 by PCGS. Lot 1101.

This was a nice example of a date that isn’t really all that rare in the higher AU grades. I figured it would grade AU58 at NGC. There have been at least seven different auction records between $5,000 and $6,000 in the last six years for AU55 coins and a nice AU58 is worth $7,500 to $8,500. This coin brought $12,650, or around double what I would have paid. And results like this set the tone for the whole evening. (more…)

Stacks to offer a Curious Specimen 1914 Gold Eagle. Is it a Proof Coin without the Matte Finish?

The following is from the Stack’s Auction Catalog description offering this raw 1914 Gold Eagle as Lot 1228 in the upcoming August 8th Boston auction.:

“Here is a most curious coin. The strike is clearly that of a Proof, with a high fin or wire edge around most of the extreme edge and the familiar textured fields (imparted by finely acid etched dies) and bountifully struck devices. However, there is no matte finish that normally is present on Proof eagles of this year, none whatsoever.

Philadelphia Mint records note a mere 50 pieces were produced in Proof in 1914 of the eagle denomination, likely including the present coin. The finish is the Roman style finish that first appeared on the unique 1907 Rolled Edge, Periods example, popping up again on perhaps four of the Proofs of 1908 and on all the Proof eagles of 1909-1910 (aside from a couple of unusual Matte pieces coined in those two years).

Apparently the mint was trying out various finishes through the brief and fleeting run of Proof eagles. As noted in Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908 by Roger Burdette the method of Proof manufacture seems to point to a single step being left out on this particular coin; that of course being the matte process which imparts the darker finish to the coin through sandblasting, applied as a final step prior to sale.

Essentially, the gold Proofs of 1908 to 1915 were initially struck as Satin Proofs, using newly hubbed dies that produce lustrous non-mirror surfaces—the so called Roman Finish Proofs seen in 1909-10.

The Matte Proofs have an additional step, the application of a powder which produces the matte finish over the entire coin. Clearly this 1914 was a manufactured Proof struck in the normal Roman finish of 1909-10, but did not have the final matte process applied. Each coin was carefully inspected, and perhaps this particular coin was found faulty for some minor reason and set aside. Reportedly, excess Proofs that did not merit the sandblasting and matte process were placed in circulation. This may be such a coin.

Another possibility is that in 1914 one person requested a satin finish style and this particular coin was struck to fill the order, as this too would account for the present coin. Notice the edge of the coin, the chiseled stars and boldly defined edge characteristics are decidedly different than any Mint State coin, with a precision reserved only for Proofs. The devices and rims are full and sharp, the entire surface has the slightly textured appearance unique to Proofs. Compared with a normal 1914 Proof eagle, this lacks only the microscopic facets and the darker, coarser finish as produced by bronzing matte powder. It would seem unlikely that this unusual finish (for 1914) came about by some casual blunder by the coiner with such a small order to fill of 50 coins, and those being the all important Proofs, presumably this coin would not have escaped unnoticed.

Similar one-off gold Proofs exist for 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1910 for the eagle series, and in the double eagles, multiple Proof finishes are known for 1907, 1908 and 1910 as well as a special striking as late as 1921.

Clearly unusual strikings were anything but unusual during this period. In our modern world the opinions of the third party grading services are highly prized. This particular coin was submitted to both NGC and PCGS in the past and neither service could render an opinion as to what to call it as it did not fit into the normal categories of the other known sandblast Proofs of 1914. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Specimen 1853-O Eagle, Duckor-Price 1893-O and 1895-S Barber Half Dollars

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #12

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

After covering rarities in the upcoming Boston auctions for weeks, I saved the most awestriking collection for last. Dr. Steven Duckor’s collection of Barber Halves is the greatest of all time for this series. Please read the two part series that I wrote about the importance and depth of this set. Click here to see Part 1, which was published yesterday. Part 2 will be posted soon. As those articles deal with the collection as a whole, with discussion of only a few specific coins, I will mention some additional Barber Halves in the Duckor collection in my columns, including commentary on the 1893-O and 1895-S below.

Just recently, I noticed that one of the most interesting Liberty Head U.S. gold coins will be in the upcoming Stack’s auction, which will be held on Sunday, Aug. 8 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. It is an 1853-O Eagle that is NGC certified as ‘Specimen-61.’

I. Specially Struck 1853-O $10 Gold Coin

This 1853-O Eagle (U.S. $10 gold coin) is incredibly interesting. I very much enjoyed examining it. I have never seen another coin that very much resembles the texture and other characteristics of this 1853-O Eagle. I wish to thank Adam Crum of Monaco Rare Coins for enabling me to spend considerable time viewing this coin in 2008. It is one of five or so 19th century gold coins that has received a Specimen designation from the NGC, and the only Liberty Head Eagle to be so designated.

As far as I know, the only other Branch Mint gold coin that has received a Specimen designation by the NGC is the 1856-O Double Eagle that has been certified as SP-63 by both the PCGS and the NGC, and has a CAC sticker of approval. It sold privately for $1.8 million in March, as I reported in my inaugural column. It is important to point out, though, that 1856-O Double Eagles are Great Rarities overall, and any 1856-O Double Eagle is worth more than $150,000.

There is a unique Proof 1844-O Eagle, though that coin merits a separate discussion. Earlier this year, I wrote an article about the Proof 1907-D Double Eagle.

The late researcher Breen strongly believed that this 1853-O Eagle is a ‘Branch Mint Proof.’ Breen is probably the foremost U.S. coin expert of all time. In my view, however, it is not a Proof, but is fairly termed a “Specimen” striking.

Breen declared that this 1853-O Eagle is a Proof in two different books, which appeared more than ten years apart. In 1977, is encyclopedia of Proof coins was published, and, in 1988, a giant book was published that covered Proofs and business strikes, and other strikings, of all U.S. coins plus many colonial and territorial issues. Many of the coins that are listed as Proofs in 1977 are not listed as such in 1988. Breen never saw a good number of the coins that he listed as Proofs in 1977. Later, he changed his view of the status of some of these when he actually saw them or when he heard more about them from reliable sources. Moreover, between 1977 and 1988, he may have changed his mind about the Proof status of some coins that he had seen before 1977. Breen certainly did not change his mind about this 1853-O Eagle. He was certain that it is a Proof.

It is true that most experts now have come to believe that some of the coins that Breen labeled as Proofs in 1977 are really just Prooflike. Coins that are clearly not Proofs yet have mirrored surfaces are often termed ‘Prooflike,’ especially if such coins are well struck and/or have extra-smooth fields.

Prooflike coins are usually early business strikes from new dies or later business strikes that were struck from worn dies after they were extensively polished. Even though this 1853-O Eagle clearly has reflective surfaces, Prooflike would not be a correct attribution for it. The dies employed to strike it were not just polished; they were prepared much differently from the ways in which dies were prepared for routine strikings.

This 1853-O is very sharply struck. Quite a few other New Orleans Mint Eagles of the period are sharply struck as well. The characteristics of the design elements of this 1853-O, however, go beyond being sharply struck. Many of the design elements are in relatively higher relief than the corresponding design elements on business strikes. (more…)

Stacks Holds The 52 Collection: Art and Security on American Paper Currencies Auction

Stacks hosted an American paper currency auction on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 in New York. 

The 781 lot sale was anchored by The 52 Collection: Part I. This collection was carefully assembled over two decades by Bruce Roland Hagen (currently a professional numismatistwith Stacks), which features American obsolete currency proofs, engraver’s sample sheets, Federal proofs and related items that emphasize the artistry and security of American paper currency from Colonial times to the 1920s.

Two highlights from the sale include:

Silver Certificate. 1895. Five Dollars. Face Essay Proof. Similar to Fr.268. Choice AU. SOLD $18,400


No plate letter. Printed on India paper, mounted on new card. Imprint of Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Virtually the same design used on the Series of 1896, series date at right and concealed in lower right filigree curl by Morgan’s signature. Wide full-length vignette of Electricity Presenting Light to the World engraved by G.F.C. Smillie. This version slightly different from the 1896 final version. Darker printing and the bulb held aloft is differently shaped. Hessler SCE16 FD, page 111.The Hessler Plate Note. Rarity-7. This is a complex series of proofs and essays. This example matches the Hessler Plate Note for this sub-variety best for the details around the light bulb. This is a very desirable essay from the earlier dated, 1895 series and a magnificently printed example. The note was last sold in November 1990 and has been off the market since that time, housed in this private collection. Very light central fold in the India paper and handling. Looks like a Gem. A showpiece and highlight in this collection of Federal Proofs.



The Bank of St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri. Ten Dollars. 1850s. Proof. Gem Uncirculated. SOLD $20700


Plate B. Printed on India paper, mounted on original archive book card. Imprint of Danforth, Wright & Co., Philad. & New York. Deep red lathe tint overall with protector TEN bottom center upon micro-lettered repeating TEN pattern. Top center, long line of steamships at the water’s edge being unloaded, amazing perspective running up the riverbank. Lower left, man dressing leather. Lower right, portrait of Col. O. Fallon. Upper left corner, X counter with snowflakes. Upper right corner, 10 counter with petal cycloidals. Haxby MO-50 G4aa Unlisted, different imprint and red tinting. Rarity-7. Certainly not the rarest full color proof in the auction, but debatably one of the central vignettes. Yet another classic American image of the 1850s period, a reminder of Mark Twain’s prose and legacy in the canon of American literature. Every feature of the note is in perfect harmony, from the rich color to the vignettes and intricate counters. There were only four examples on the original sheet this came from in the 1990 ABN sale, which was plated in color in the sale catalogue on page 140. One position is locked into a private collection. The “A,” top position proof from this former ABN Sale sheet realized $4,600 at Schingoethe Part 3 in Memphis, 2005. In the five years since that Memphis sale, stellar looking rarities such as this have generally shown some upside along the way.


Stack’s C.B. Slade Auction Realizes Nearly $2.6 Million

Stack’s Live Contributes to 90% Sell Through Rate

Stack’s June 15-16, 2010 sale of the C.B Slade, Jr. Estate and Other Important Properties yielded excellent results with a final tally falling just shy of $2.6 million after spirited participation from in-person bidders at the auction in Baltimore and live bidders on our popular internet site. Our new Stack’s live software received rave reviews from web participants, both buyers and sellers, alike resulting in a 90% sell through rate pleasing all involved. This new program offers a live video and audio feed from the auction gallery so you can participate as if you were there. Also soon to be released will be a mobile application for the Stack’s website for pre-

Session One highlights included Lot 39, an 1867 Doubled Die obverse two cents, MS-63 BN (NGC), which realized a strong final price of $4,140, indicating that the pursuit of scarce varieties is still “hot” in today’s market. Lot 42, an 1872 two cents, a low-mintage key date from the end of the series, realized $3,450 in MS-61 BN (PCGS), and a Proof-only Close 3 1873 of the same denomination, Lot 43, in lightly circulated Proof-58 (PCGS) garnered $2,530 after strong bidding activity.

Buffalo nickels were out in force with a pleasing 1918-D MS-64 (PCGS) specimen, Lot 137, bringing $4,025, while its counterpart, a 1918-S also in MS-64 (PCGS), Lot 139, brought a matching figure of $4,025. Lot 142, a Gem MS-65 (PCGS) 1920-D brought a resounding $9,200, and a 1920-S in MS-64 (PCGS), Lot 143, went for $4,025. Arguably one of the most popular of all U.S. error coins, a pleasing MS-64 (NGC) 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo, Lot 163, brought $6,325 after strong bidding competition.

Among half dime highlights was Lot 179, an 1832 LM-9.1 in a PCGS “Genuine” holder and called “Sharpness of Mint State,” a Rarity-7 variety that brought $3,450. Lot 182, an 1835 LM-12, a Rarity-7+ variety and only the third known example of the die pairing realized a strong $6,900 though called just “Sharpness of VF, cleaned” in the catalogue.

Among dime highlights was Lot 216, an 1860-O, a classic rarity in the series, which realized $6,900 in EF-45 (PCGS), a strong showing for the date. An 1891-O in MS-66 (PCGS), Lot 232, soared to $4,600, and an exquisite 1909-D Barber dime, Lot 238, tied for finest graded at MS-66 (PCGS), brought a solid $4,025. Lot 239, another example of the date, was called MS-65 (PCGS), and brought strong money at $2,990. (more…)

Stacks April Coin Galleries Sale Reaches Over $1.7 Million!

This past week marked the first Coin Galleries auction sale of the year, and it was a resounding success, with over $1.7 million worth of coins, medals, tokens, and paper money sold.

This immense sale featured nearly 4,000 lots and offered selections from the Estate of Louis E. Eliasberg, Jr., as well as items from other important collections such as the Arturo Collection, the Bob Lyall Collection, the Chester L. Krause Collection, the Estate of Cornelius C. Vermeule, the Estate of Michael K. Ringo, the Jerry Byrne, Sr. Collection, the Lawrence Feinberg Collection, the Sleepy Hollow Collection, and the Standish Collection.

Lot 178 – KINGS OF EGYPT. Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246-222 B.C.
AV Octodrachm. Nearly Extremely Fine.
Ancient coins featured the collections of Cornelius C. Vermeule and Lawrence Feinberg, and offered over 700 lots of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval coins punctuated by amazing pieces like a gold Octadrachm of Arsinöe II in Extremely Fine condition that brought $11,212. Two lots later was a lustrous, nearly EF Ptolemy III Euergetes Octadrachm that sold for $14,030.

Lot 347 – Anonymous, 211-208 B.C. AV 60 Asses.
Second Punic War issue. Extremely Fine.
Roman Provincial coinage comprised 130 lots of this section and led the way into the Republican issues, which boasted significant lots like an anonymous Second Punic War Issue Gold 60 Asses in Extremely Fine that brought $3,852. Rare Denarii included an extremely rare variety of a Mark and Lucius Antony issue in Good Very Fine that garnered $2,110 and a Julius Caesar example in the same grade with a superb portrait that sold for $3,392. Roman Imperial coinage featured a lovely pair of Sestertii, the first a pleasing Eastern mint example of Titus graded Extremely Fine that reached $4,945 and the second a Very Fine Pertinax issue in Very Fine with an excellent portrait that closed for $4,657.

Lot 555 – FRANCE. Carolingian Kings. Pippin III, the Short, 751-768 AR Denier. Good Very Fine.
Byzantine and Medieval coins followed the Imperial coinage, and Medieval French issues took center stage. The extremely rare silver Denier of Pippin the Short was a popular item; this Good Very Fine coin, once part of the Garrett Collection, sold for a strong $8,740. Immediately following this lot was a lovely Denier of Charlemagne, a nicely toned Very Fine example that sold for $6,325. (more…)

Stack’s Nashville Coin Auction Preview

On May 21, 2010, Stack’s will present the Nashville Sale in conjunction with the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Nashville Expo that will be held on May 20-22. The sale will feature U.S. coins and will also present the Q. David Bowers Reference Collection of Confederate States of America bonds. Rarities abound, as do other interesting and more affordable pieces.

U.S. coins begin the sale, and Colonial and early Federal coins get things rolling. Half cents feature an impressive 1793 C-3 example in MS-60 BN (NGC), a rich chestnut brown coin with smooth, evenly struck surfaces. Large cents include a decent example of the popular 1793 Chain cent that retains the details of an EF-45 coin, though some surface granularity is noted. This coin represents a good chance to acquire a sharp 1793 Chain cent at a much more affordable level than otherwise encountered! Other large cent rarities include a Fair-2 (PCGS) (CAC) example of the famous 1794 Sheldon-48 Starred Reverse example. One of the most popular and desirable varieties of early large cents, owning a Starred Reverse in any grade is a mark of distinction for any large cent collector. The present example is another chance for the serious collector to affordably add a significant rarity to their cabinet!

Minor coinage presents several beautiful Indian Head cents, the first a Gem 1867 example, a lovely representative of this semi-key date graded MS-65 RD by PCGS. The second coin is a gorgeous super Gem 1883 example in MS-67 RD (NGC), the finest certified by NGC in any color designation. Three cent nickels feature a splendid Gem Cameo Proof 1865 example, a coin tied for the finest certified by NGC in the lofty grade of Proof-67 Cameo.

U.S. nickels are highlighted by an exceptional 1919-S in the impressive grade of MS-66 (NGC). With none certified as finer, this important coin is surely destined for an advanced cabinet. Dimes do not disappoint either, and early issues come to the fore in this sale. A Choice Uncirculated 1796 JR-6 example graded MS-63 by NGC is a notable specimen, as is a splendid 1805 JR-2 4 Berries example. This amazing coin exhibits beautiful lustre and is essentially mark-free and, in the grade of MS-66 (NGC), will be a fabulous addition to any collection of high quality coins. (more…)

Kolbe & Fanning to Auction Part II of the Stack Family Numismatic Library on June 3rd

On June 3rd, 2010, Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers will offer for sale at auction the second part of the remarkable numismatic library carefully assembled over seven decades by the New York numismatic firm founded by brothers Morton and Joseph and ably carried on by Norman, Benjamin, Harvey, Susan, and Lawrence Stack.

For over fifty years, the fabled American portion of the library resided in antique bookcases lining one wall of Harvey Stack’s office, and along the opposite wall as well. Other portions of the library were, for many years, located throughout the main floor of the firm’s New York City retail location at 123 West 57th Street and many of the great classic works on ancient and foreign coins and medals were carefully arranged on the second floor in the Coin Galleries offices.

Covering virtually all aspects of numismatics and replete with rarities, it was one of the finest working libraries on numismatics ever formed in the United States.

On January 9, 2010, 400 lots of key works from this magnificent library were sold by George Frederick Kolbe at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention. The total price realized, including the 15% buyer premium, was nearly $950,000, or an average of nearly $2,400 per lot. Added to that were 100 lots of duplicates from the American Numismatic Society Library, bringing the sale’s grand total to slightly over one million dollars.

Comprising 1072 lots, this upcoming second Stack’s sale is particularly rich in often-consulted standard reference works, although it also includes a number of rarities and particularly desirable items that did not find their way into the first sale.

Highlights among the 506 American lots in the June 3 sale include:

  • Stack’s 1930s Ledger and Daybook featuring accounting Information for their first auction
  • Coin Galleries’s special hardbound set of Stack’s auction sales, essentially complete from 1935 into the 1970s; the firm’s soft-cover set of Stack’s Fixed Price Lists
  • An original 1894 American Numismatic Association Convention Program, one of only three known
  • Several photocopy sets of The Barber Papers, a most important archive comprising personal and professional papers from U.S. Mint Chief Engraver (1879-1917) Charles E. Barber [the originals were donated to the Smithsonian Institution by the Stack Family some years ago] (more…)

Stack’s To Offer Coins and Currency from the Eliasberg & Krause Collections in Baltimore

On March 2nd and 3rd, Stack’s will present items from The Eliasberg & Krause Collections, along with many other important numismatics properties at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

The sale includes items from over 80 consignors and offers over 2,500 lots of coins, tokens, medals, and currency.

In addition to the pieces offered from the Eliasberg & Krause Collections, Stack’s will proudly feature the Peter Scherff Collection of Colonial Coins, the Alan Bleviss Collection of Civil War Tokens Part IV, and selections from the Collection of Jerry Byrne, Sr.

Session One: U.S. Tokens, Medals, and Americana; U.S. Coins

Lot 40 – Ohio, Ashland. (1861-65) Ella Buchanan. Watchmaker. Fuld Rarity-9. MS-62 (NGC).

A modest selection of Hard Times tokens leads us into Part IV of the Alan Bleviss Collection of Civil War Tokens. This particular offering from this immense collection features nearly 300 lots of Ohio store cards. One interesting piece is a rare brass Ella Buchanan token from Ashland that was struck over a McClellan for President token! Cleveland issues include a rare A. & H. token, a Rarity-9 copper piece that is graded MS-63 BN by NGC. Following this piece is a somewhat cryptic Brattin token in copper-nickel; these were probably issued by the watchmaker as repair receipts and not intended as a currency substitute. Urbana tokens feature a copper C. McCarty token in MS-63 (NGC) and an MS-64 RB (NGC) example of the rare Walker’s Ale Depot issue in copper.


Lot 505 – 1855 large cent. N-10. Rarity-5. Slanted 55.
Proof-66 BN (PCGS).

The second half of Session One is comprised of U.S. coins from half cents through quarters, silver and gold commemoratives, sets and errors. Half cents feature a wonderfully appealing and desirable 1794 C-2a example in AU-55 (PGS) from the Pittman Collection and large cents provide a startling high grade Proof 1855 N-10 example. This Slanted 55 variety is graded Proof-66 BN by PCGS, and no Proof of this date has been certified finer in any color designation by PCGS. (more…)

Stack’s Sells Two Important Dahlonega Gold Coin Rarities

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

In their recently concluded January 2010 Americana sale held in New York, there were two record-setting Dahlonega gold coins that I think are worth taking a closer look at. What were these two pieces and why did they sell for as much money as they did?

The first piece was an 1861-D gold dollar graded AU53 by PCGS. I had sold this exact coin a few years ago and was familiar with it. It was very high end for the date and grade and, by today’s standards, would probably grade AU55 to AU58. I expected that it would bring around $40,000 or so. It sold for $57,500. I believe that this is an all-time record price for a circulated 1861-D dollar.

This coin did so well for a number of reasons. The first, obviously, is that it was a nice coin. 1861-D gold dollars are not well-known for having good eye appeal and the last few that have been available have either been damaged or not terrifically appealing. The second is that there is currently an unprecedented demand for this date. The 1861-D dollar is an indisputably cool coin and a lot of people are looking for coins like this right now. Given the supply/demand ratio, it seemed likely that this coin would sell for a strong price but, again, I was pretty stunned at it bringing close to $60,000.

What would this coin have sold for in another environment? Probably a lot less. One thing about auctions is that it only takes two people to really want a coin and it can sell for a ton of money. If I had owned this exact 1861-D dollar and put it on my website, I’m sure my asking price would have been in the low $40’s and I might have not even expected to get that much money for it. But now that the bar has been raised for the 1861-D dollar, I expect that the next one offered will be priced enthusiastically, to say the least. (more…)

Stack’s Sells $5 Million in Americana Rare Coin Sale!

Over the last two days, Stack’s held its annual January Americana in its private gallery in New York City. The sale began with a packed auction room and saw spirited and competitive bidding throughout both sessions.

Over 3,000 lots were sold, and $5 million worth of material changed hands. Properties from over 125 consignors were showcased in this sale, and included items from the Manhattan Collection, the Maryland Historical Society, the Clinton Sherwood Ward Collection of U.S. Gold Coins, Clem Schettino Collection of New Jersey Coppers, the Museum of the Fur Trade, the Alan Bleviss Collection of Civil War Tokens, Part III, and medals from the family of Charles E. Barber.

American Paper Currency began the sale, and Obsolete Currency led the way. The second lot of the sale was an exceptionally rare California and Salt Lake Mail Line $10 note, a note that was not represented in the Ford Collection and is only the second of its kind that we have catalogued. This very rare type is in Very Fine condition and sold for $18,400. Hawaiian obsolete currency offered the rare six-piece set of Lahainaluna Seminary scrip notes, a beautiful set of “token” currency that sold for $14,375. Obsolete notes also featured the exceedingly rare and important Union Bank of Missouri $5 note issued from the branch in Kansas City that sold for $8,050. New York notes showcased a breathtaking Ontario County Bank $1 Proof note from Phelps, NY that was once part of the Ford Collection. This Gem Uncirculated note sold for an impressive $8,625.

Colonial currency lots boasted the extremely rare New York 1709 Twenty Five Shillings in Very Fine condition. Only 800 notes of this denomination were authorized, and competition for this prize was fierce to the tune of $17,250. Vermont colonials offered the newly discovered example of the 1781 Half a Crown note. This item, graded Fine-15 by PMG, came to us via the Museum of the Fur Trade and was reportedly obtained in the Washington, D.C. area in the 1960s before that. It joined a new collection after a top bid of $12,650. (more…)

Stacks to offer Amazingly Original 1860-D Half Eagle Gold Coin.

Recently CoinLink has been running a number of articles centered around both the concept and desirability of “Origianl Surfaces” on coins.

In the upcoming Stacks Americana Sale this week, there is a perfect example of the type of coin we have been talking about, Lot 3534 : an 1860-D Half Eagle PCGS MS-63. Below is the Lot description and history of the coin from The Stacks Catelog.

A sparkling condition rarity, and a beautiful coin, one of 10 pieces obtained at the Dahlonega Mint in 1860 in exchange for gold bullion and scrap and retained in the family ever since. Deep honey gold glistens with rich lustre, and the somewhat reflective fields glow with lively olive iridescence.

New to the numismatic marketplace after 150 years with fresh “skin” and natural color as yet untouched by today’s coin doctors!

No serious marks are present, though we note a few tiny disturbances; this piece was kept over the decades in a sock, of all places, along with several other coins—frankly, we’re surprised and pleased to report that this coin weathered its mixed company and awkward storage method admirably.

The strike is somewhat typical for the date, with some lightness of design at Liberty’s hair and the eagle’s neck feathers on the reverse. Douglas Winter’s reference on Dahlonega gold notes the following regarding this date: “The 1860-D half eagle is a relatively obtainable coin which is most often seen in Extremely Fine grades. It is more available in the lower About Uncirculated grades than its small mintage figure would suggest. It becomes rare in the higher AU grades and it is extremely rare in full Mint State.”

According to the current (11-’09) PCGS online Population Report, the present piece is the only MS-63 example of the date certified thus far, with but a solitary MS-64 piece the only finer example of the date recognized by that firm.

We note that NGC has not certified an MS-63 1860-D half eagle, though they do note a single MS-64 example of the date in their online Census. If you are one to put stock in individual population reports, this equates to the present piece being the third finest certified example of the date in a third-party grading service holder.

It is worth noting here that the finest of the four Harry W. Bass, Jr. specimens of the date offered in B&M’s sale of October 1999 was graded MS-62 (PCGS) and was the Farouk-Norweb specimen; the present coin outshines that piece in all regards. Not only is the present 1860-D half eagle one of the finest survivors from its mintage of 14,635 pieces, but it is a coin with a uniquely American story to tell: (more…)

Stacks to offer 1792 Half Disme at Americana Sale

The first silver coin of the new United States. This denomination is one of the 1792 coins struck before the cornerstone of the new Philadelphia Mint was laid. Researchers Joel Orosz and Carl Herkowitz did considerable research on this issue and their findings were published in the ANS American Journal of Numismatics 15 in 2003.

half_disme_stacks_012610George Washington himself provided silver coins or bullion to provide the silver for this issue, approximately $100 in value of which $75 in face value in half dimes were produced (the mintage of 1,500 is believed true), the balance of the silver was likely scrap and its disposition is unknown.

These were struck in the cellar of saw maker John Harper as the new Philadelphia Mint was still under construction at the time these were coined. Finished coins were reported by Adam Eckfeldt to have been given to President Washington who distributed them as gifts to friends, many ending up going overseas.

The actual planchets were prepared and delivered to the mint by Thomas Jefferson, who made records of these actions in his personal journals.

As some were given out to dignitaries and friends, this accounts for the number of high-grade examples that are known today. However, the vast majority did circulate and like other early half dimes from that period are often found with considerable surface challenges.

The present example is among the finest known. NGC has certified six in this grade, only three finer, the highest MS-68. The obverse has minor adjustment marks on the rim where every precious grain of silver was measured and any planchet deemed too heavy was filed just enough to get to the correct weight. (more…)

Stack’s January 2010 International Coin Sale Starts Monday

A truly memorable opportunity awaits you as Stacks will offer the Vermeule, Ward and Mexico Maxico Collections. Showcasing ancient and world coins and medals.—with most coins being “new to the market.” Our title could be expanded to a full paragraph, so fine and so memorable are the consignments!

ITALIAN STATES. VENICE. Alvise Mocenigo IV, 1763-1778.

The late Dr. Cornelius Vermeule, once on Stack’s staff, went on to have an internationally recognized and honored career as curator of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He collected widely, and with a connoisseur’s eye and outlook. During his lifetime he favored us with many important items from his personal collection, including his United States coins which we sold for record prices in 2001. His biography appears on page 6. In this sale we offer the first part of his collection of Roman Provincial Coins and Medallions, including an unpublished bronze Medallion of Severus Alexander from Aegae in Aeolis. Further offerings from the collection will be offered in our April 2010 Coin Galleries sale.

The Clinton Sherwood Ward Collection of ancient and world coins is, in a word, remarkable. This was chiefly formed in the 1960s, with some acquired earlier and others added after that decade. The collection includes a wide offering of gold coinage of the ancient and modern worlds, with some ancient silver included for good measure. The United States coinage from the collection will be offered in our January 2010 New York Americana Sale. Highlights include a wonderfully high-grade gold Octadrachm of Arsinöe II of Egypt, numerous mid-grade but rare Roman aurei, and representative gold coins of the world.

The Mexico Maxico (Magical Mexico) Collection includes gold treasures from the Mexican Republic. Other distinguished consignors and important estates have furnished other ancient and world coins as well as an important presentation of world paper money.

Included from the estate of Vera Easling are ancient and world coins and medals, including the impressive, nearly 3-ounce gold Catherine II Russian medal of the St. Petersburg Foundling Home. Earlier we auctioned the United States portion of this highly important collection. The Georgia Sea Islands Collection of French 40 Francs Coins is a comprehensive offering of over 50 third-party graded coins from Napoleon to Louise Philippe I, including a wide variety of dates and mints. (more…)

January 2010 George Frederick Kolbe Public Auction Sale: The Stack Family Numismatic Library

On January 9th, 2010, George Frederick Kolbe/Fine Numismatic Books will offer for sale at public auction the remarkable numismatic library carefully assembled over seven decades by the New York numismatic firm founded by brothers Morton and Joseph and ably carried on by Norman, Benjamin, Harvey, Susan, and Lawrence Stack. For over fifty years, the fabled American portion of the library has resided in antique bookcases lining one wall of Harvey Stack’s office, and along the opposite wall as well. Other portions of the library were, for many years, located throughout the main floor of the firm’s New York City retail location at 123 West 57th Street and many of the great classic works on ancient and foreign coins and medals were carefully arranged on the second floor in the Coin Galleries offices. Covering virtually all aspects of numismatics and replete with rarities, it is the finest comprehensive working library on numismatics ever formed in the United States.

Key works from this magnificent library will be sold at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention this coming January. The profusely illustrated catalogue will be arranged in two parts: rare and classic works on American coins, medals, and tokens, and key works on ancient, medieval, and modern numismatics. Copies of the catalogue may be reserved by sending $35.00 to George Frederick Kolbe, P. O. Drawer 3100, Crestline, CA 92325. Telephone: (909) 338-6527; Fax: (909) 338-6980; Email: GFK@numislit.com. The catalogue will also be accessible free of charge several weeks before the sale at the firm’s web site: www.numislit.com. (more…)

Stack’s January 26th – 27th Americana Sale to Feature Paper Money

stacks_vermont_half_crownOn Tuesday, January 26, all eyes in the paper money world will be focused on the first day of Stack’s New York Americana Sale. Held at the firm’s auction gallery at 110 West 57th Street, the sale (which continues with coins, tokens, and medals, through Wednesday), will commence with over 500 lots of paper.

Obsolete notes come to the fore, highlighted by major rarities, extensive proof notes, Haxby SENC and unlisted issues, and more. In addition there will be many popular and highly affordable lots—something for everyone in the field of paper money.

Among these are some highly interesting and very rare Hawaiian issues including a set of the Lahainaluna Seminary Money, and notes of New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts that include many items off the market for a long time.

Early American paper money includes Continental Currency as well as issues of the various colonies and states. Of all of the colonial issues, none is more prized than that of Vermont, which actually was not a state until 1791. A newly discovered Vermont half a crown will cause the temperature to rise in the auction room as it crosses the block. Any Vermont paper money is extremely rare, and this particular note is especially so. Lot 2559 Vermont Half Crown

Interesting fiscal paper follows, combining history and rarity, and the same can be said for a nice offering of lottery tickets. A small but interesting selection of federal notes then follows, including multiple “Bison” notes, a “Lazy Deuce,” a rare Colorado National and more. (more…)

Stack’s Sells Millions at 74th Anniversary Coin and Currency Sale in Baltimore!

Last week, Stack’s celebrated its 74th anniversary with a tremendous three-day auction sale of U.S. coins, tokens, and paper money. Significant realizations abounded in every category and the sale realized a total of nearly $5 million!

1937-D_3leg_stacks_112309The auction included selections from the Alan Bleviss Collection, the Jerry Byrne, Sr. Collection, the David Hickson Collection, the Chester L. Krause Collection, the Maryland Historical Society, the Mayflower Collection, the Minot Collection, the Robert A. Vlack Collection and much more.

Session One began with U.S. tokens and, after a nice selection of high quality Hard Times Tokens, presented Part II of the Alan Bleviss Collection of Civil War Tokens. This amazing collection is one of the most extensive holdings ever assembled, and the offering here provided more than 500 tokens from over 20 states. Highlights included the rare P.L. Geissler token from Evansville, Indiana that was overstruck on a McClellan presidential token, an R-9 example in MS-62 (NGC) that sold for $11,500.

The rare Logansport, Indiana token of H.C. Eversole, also an R-9 example in MS-62 (NGC), brought $4,600, and the gem Plainfield, Indiana M. Osborn token, an R-8 in Zinc graded MS-65 by NGC, garnered $5,462.50. U.S. Medals boasted the rare 1799 George Washington Funeral Medal, a gold uniface oval medal in AU condition that sold for $17,250.

U.S. coins offered a modestly sized section of Colonial and Early American Coins that featured several fantastic pieces. One of these items was the rare 1790 Standish Barry threepence. Graded VF-30 by PCGS, this item was formerly part of the collection of the Maryland Historical Society, and sold for a hearty $43,125. Another impressive piece was the remarkable 1797 Theatre at New York token, one of just 15 collectable pieces available today. This extraordinary item was graded Proof-64 RB (PCGS) and sold for $28,750. (more…)

The Rare and Undervalued 1826 Quarter Eagle

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

In my opinion, the 1826 is one of the rarest and most underrated early quarter eagles. Most every “fact” that is traditionally associated with this issue is incorrect.

1826_250_dw_112409I recently purchased a lovely PCGS AU55 example (see the photo below) from the Bowers and Merena Baltimore auction acting as an agent for a collector who is attempting to put together a high quality date set of early quarter eagles. It had been quite a while since I had owned a nice 1826 quarter eagle and this inspired me to gather some facts about this issue.

For many years, the 1826 quarter eagle has been called an “1826/5” overdate. This is clearly wrong and there is a very easy way to prove this. The 1825 obverse die employs large stars while the stars on the 1826 are far smaller. In addition, there is no evidence of an overdate when the date is examined with light magnification. I believe there is either some minor recutting or a small die defect. This issue should more properly be called an 1826/6.

The mintage figure has long been reported to be just 760 coins. Given the fact that around thirty or so exist, I feel that this figure is incorrect. It is probable that some of the quarter eagles struck in early 1827 were dated 1826. The actual mintage figure is more likely in the area of 1,250-1,500; possibly as many as 1,750.

One thing that is certain about this date is its rarity. It is the third rarest early quarter struck after 1797, trailing only the extremely rare 1804 13 Stars and the 1834 No Motto. As I stated above, there are an estimated thirty pieces known. Most are in the lower AU grades, indicating that this issue did not see much actual circulation. I am aware of two or three Uncirculated pieces and none of these, with the possible exception of one coin, appears to be finer than MS61. (more…)

Stack’s 74th Anniversary Coin Sale Starts Today in Baltimore

Stack’s eagerly invites you to take part in our 74th Anniversary Sale, held this year in Baltimore, MD November 9-11, 2009. Stack’s is proud to celebrate our 74th year in the auction business by holding a star-studded auction event, replete with dazzling rarities at every turn. This auction will include U.S. coins, tokens, medals, and paper money, and includes selections from the Alan Bleviss Collection, the Jerry Byrne, Sr. Collection, the David Hickson Collection, the Chester L. Krause Collection, the Maryland Historical Society, the Mayflower Collection, the Minot Collection, the Robert A. Vlack Collection and much more!

1861 Confederate States of America Cent. Original. Breen-8005. Genuine (ANACS). Choice Proof.Session One begins at 2:00pm on Monday, November 9th and leads off with U.S. tokens and medals, including over 500 lots from the Alan Bleviss Collection of Civil War Tokens.
U.S. medals offer a selection that is modest in size only. U.S. coins comprise roughly the second half of this session, and provide a truly wonderful array of Colonial and Early American issues, many of which hail from the Maryland Historical Society.
Federal issues hold their own among these exceptional colonial pieces, and small cents through nickels finish out the session, with lovely runs of Proof cents and nice quality Buffalo nickels capping it off.

Session Two begins at 2:00pm on Tuesday, November 10th and covers half dimes through double eagles, patterns, and gold commemoratives and offers exceptional pieces in every category, as well as fine runs of early examples in most denominations.

Session Three will commence on Wednesday, November 11 at 11:00am and will begin with silver commemorative coins. From here, we move through modern commemoratives, bullion issues, Proof and mint sets, and miscellaneous U.S. coins to the section of United States Currency.
Finishing out our 74th Anniversary Sale is the Robert A. Vlack Collection of Advertising Notes, comprising over 150 lots.

If you cannot attend in person, be sure to send us your bids by U.S. mail or fax, or place your bids on our website, either before the sale or by bidding online during the sessions. If you have yet to do so, take a moment to familiarize yourself with our new Stack’s at Home™ program, an improved online bidding experience which allows bidders to watch and participate in the auction in real time through live audio and video feed. You can find us at 123 W 57th Street, New York, NY 10019 or at Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894. To contact us by phone, please use 800-566-2580 (NY) or 866-811-1804 (NH), or email us.
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Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Pattern to be Sold by Stack’s: One of Just Two Known

Stack’s is holding their 74th Anniversary Sale this year in Baltimore, MD from November 9-11, 2009. One of the impressive highlights of the sale is an Ultra High Relief Pattern, One of just two known.

stacks_20uhr_J1907From the Stacks sale of the Morrison Family and Lawrence C. Licht collections, March 2005, Lot 1538, this coin was described as follows:

“Discovered in the early 1990s, this extraordinary Ultra High Relief Double Eagle was struck inside the 3-segment collar created by Charles E. Barber for his unique 1906 Pattern Double Eagle (Judd-1773) no residing at the Smithsonian. This collar bore the nation’s Latin motto in small sans-serif letters separated by 13 stars: E*P*L*U*R*I*B*U*S*U*N*U*M*. The normal edge device used on all succeeding Ultra High Relief Double Eagles was the Roman-style serif-lettered motto, *E*PLURIBUS*UNUM**********. Comparison with Ultra High Relief specimens in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution, expedited by the late Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, revealed that 1906-style lettering was also used on the experimental extra-thick piéfort Double Eagles with the diameter of a Gold Eagle (Judd 1779 [now J-1917]), also housed in the national collection. This coin’s edge lettering is ‘inverted,’ upside down if examined while the coin is horizontal with the obverse up, more properly described as Alignment I. Alignment II with lettering right side up was the one actually adopted for the later strikes.”

There are only two known examples of J-1907. As detailed below, this piece is the discovery specimen for the J-1907 variety; it first came to light as a new type in 1992. Pollock in his United States Patterns and Related Issues provides the following historical note about the specimen: “Discovered by Paul Song of Sotheby’s while examining a ‘small estate collection,’ and was authenticated by David Tripp and J.P. Martin.” A second example turned up in 1995, which is also described as having an “inverted” edge letters arrangement. (more…)