News and Analysis of scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #68
Special Monday Edition by Greg Reynolds
It is time to analyze the results of the first Spectrum-Stack’s-Bowers ‘Rarities Night’ auction, which was held on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the ANA Convention in Rosemont, Illinois. In part 1, I provided an overview. In part 2, I wrote about dimes, quarters and half dollars in this auction. In part 3, I covered U.S. gold coins. I am, though, devoting Wednesday’s column to pre-1860 silver coins that sold during Rarities Night, especially the Dick Osburn Collection of Liberty Seated Half Dollars. Here in part 4, I am focusing on auction prices for silver and gold Carson City coins, selecting a few copper coins for discussion, and mentioning the results for a variety of important U.S. gold coins. This first ‘Rarities Night’ event had considerable depth.
I. Proof 1975 ‘No S’ Dime
The most valuable items in an auction are not always the most interesting, nor the rarest. The Proof 1975 ‘No S’ Roosevelt Dime error, though, is among the rarest as there are only two known.
The Proof 1975 ‘No S’ Dime error brought an astonishing amount of $349,600. The only auction record for an error, of which I am aware, that is greater is the $373,750 paid for a 1944-S steel cent at a Heritage auction at the Summer 2008 ANA Convention.
There have been found ‘No S’ errors of other dates and denominations. Since 1968, all regular Proof sets have been minted in San Francisco with ‘S’ mintmarks. It is clear enough that this dime was minted in San Francisco. The 1975 ‘No S’ is just an error, not a separate ‘date’ in a series. Besides, in my opinion, there are many other modern errors that are more interesting.
In Jan. 2008, I wrote about an error involving a copper blank that had found its way onto the planchet (prepared blank) for a Proof 1973-S Eisenhower dollar, within a coining press prior to striking. The resulting error comprises of two parts. The small copper piece fits into the Proof Eisenhower dollar and most of Eisenhower’s head was struck on this small copper piece. The reverse (back) of this Proof Eisenhower Dollar is normal. Much of Ike’s head was struck on the separate copper piece, which must be inserted for the whole obverse (front) design to be seen. This is an exceptionally interesting error, which brought $40,250 in the Jan. 2008 FUN Auction.
For the 1975 ‘No S’ Dime, I was expecting a price in the $150,000 to $200,000 range, and I would have thought of a price in that range to be high in terms of logic. Nonetheless, I imagine, or at least I hope, an error collector is very happy with his or her purchase. A post-1968 ‘No S’ Proof Roosevelt Dime is certainly something that is unusual and extremely rare.
II. Copper 1792 Dime Pattern
Although dime is spelled as ‘DISME’ on 1792 dime and half dime patterns, there is no point in employing such an archaic spelling and pronunciation now. The term dime was probably employed by most people by the mid 1790s. Anyways, 1792 patterns of dimes are popular, historically important, and rare.
The 1792 dime pattern in this auction was previously in the epic collection of the Norweb family and was previously in the Norweb III auction in Nov. 1988. Further, it was offered in the Stack’s auction of October 2008. This pattern is PCGS graded AU-55 and it has a sticker of approval from the CAC. It sold for $362,250, which I take to be a strong price.
III. 1875 $10 Gold coin
As of Aug. 21st, the Stack’s-Bowers website indicates “Reserve Met” for the PCGS graded “AU-53+” 1875 Eagle and it indicates a final price of “$345,000.” If so, this is almost certainly an auction record for a business strike 1875 Eagle. Indeed, a business strike 1875 Eagle has never before even sold for as much as $75,000 at auction, as far as I know.
“The price for the 1875 eagle was impressive,” states researcher Saul Teichman. As Saul’s “earlier work on this date [demonstrates] that there are more than a dozen business strikes known,” Teichman does not value “it as highly as an 1875 Half Eagle” in a similar grade.
Even if, hypothetically, Teichman’s conclusion that twelve to fifteen business strikes exist is rejected, and the views of David Hall and Doug Winter that nine or fewer exist are accepted, a price of $345,000 for a business strike 1875 Eagle is strong. The Richmond 1875 business strike Eagle, which is NGC graded “AU-55,” is commensurable. This Richmond 1875 business strike realized $74,750 in a DLRC auction in March 2005. In the same month, Stack’s sold a Proof for $218,500, which is the previous auction record for any kind of 1875 Eagle, of which I am aware. I attended both these auctions in 2005.
IV. Carson City coins
This first Rarities Night event will probably be best remembered for Carson City (Nevada) Mint coins. Many Carson City rarities were sold, several of which came from the “William Porter” collection. As I have already discussed several Carson City coins, I focus here, in part 4, on the prices realized of the coins without repeating explanations of them.
There were two rare Carson City Dimes in this auction, though both did not sell. In both cases, the reserves were a little high, in my view, about or close to levels that many participants figured that the coins would reach, if allowed to climb.
The NGC graded “MS-62” 1871-CC Liberty Seated Dime was subject to a minimum bid of $43,700, which would be a fair result. This amount is just too high for a starting point. For the NGC graded “AU-55” 1873-CC, a bid of at least $43,125 would have been required. This 1873-CC is hard to grade, partly because the holder is scuffed and scratched.
There were two 1870-CC Liberty Seated Quarters in this auction, both of which were judged not to be gradable. The reserve on the PCGS authenticated 1870-CC quarter was just too high, $34,500. An 1870-CC quarter would have to grade at least EF-40 to have a retail value of $34,500.
The other 1870-CC is determined by graders at the NGC to have the ‘details’ of an AU grade coin. It was offered without a reserve and sold for $24,438, about the retail value of a VF-20 grade coin, which is reasonable enough. As perhaps only one uncirculated 1870-CC is known, and this issue is very rare overall, paying $24,438 for an 1870-CC quarter that has the details of an AU grade is logical, as this specific coin’s problems are not too offensive.
There were three scarce Liberty Seated Dollars in this auction, all three of which are PCGS graded. An 1870-CC, “MS-63,” brought $28,750 and an “MS-61” 1871-CC, $126,500, a strong price. A “VF-20” 1873-CC sold for $18,400. I did not closely examine these.
I did carefully examine the 1893-CC Morgan Dollar that is PCGS certified ‘Proof-65,’ and I have seen this coin before in the August 2009 Spectrum-B&M ANA Auction in Los Angeles. I like it. It is a wonderful coin. The colorful natural toning and underlying mirrors are awesome. This time, it brought $149,500. This is not a weak price. Leading price guides have over-stated values for Proof 1893-CC Morgans.
In part 3, I discuss the importance of the early CC-Mint Half Eagles and Eagles in this auction. So, here, I am just putting forth prices realized. The NGC graded AU-58 1871-CC was one of the best deals in this auction at $20,700. The NGC graded “AU-58” 1872-CC went for $27,312.50. Someone who focuses on price guides may conclude that this is a very weak price; experts who have examined this specific 1872-CC may agree with my conclusion that this is a strong price.
The NGC graded “AU-50” 1873-CC is from “The William Porter Collection,” like the 1871-CC and 1872-CC Half Eagles that I just mentioned. This 1873-CC realized $24,150, a moderately strong price, well within a retail range.
The NGC graded “AU-50” 1870-CC Eagle ($10 coin) brought $57,500, a very strong price that is very much logically justifiable. The NGC graded “AU-58” 1871-CC realized $25,875, a fair price.
An NGC graded “AU-55” 1872-CC Eagle sold for $37,375, a very strong price, well above recent auction results for all 1872-CC Eagles. The 55 grade is acceptable to most experts, I imagine, though this coin’s grade is not close to the 55+ level.
As for Double Eagles ($20 coins), the 1870-CC did not sell. The PCGS graded “AU-53” 1871-CC brought $33,062.50.
The “Raji Collection” 1872-CC Double Eagle is PCGS graded “AU-55” and is one of very few Carson City Mint coins in this auction that is CAC approved. This issue is not nearly as rare as 1872-CC Half Eagles and Eagles. The $14,950 result is fair.
Another CAC approved Carson City coin is the ‘Raji Collection’ 1873-CC Double Eagle, which is PCGS graded AU-53. It sold for $12,650.
My favorite Carson City coin in this auction is an 1877-CC quarter that is PCGS graded MS-67 and is CAC approved. Yes, I realize that its grade is just barely in the middle of the 67 range. I know that this 1877-CC is not rare and it is not fresh. Even so, I really like it. It has never been cleaned and has probably never been dipped. Its natural toning is colorful and exciting. Moreover, it has no distracting hairlines or contact marks. This quarter is more than very attractive. The $16,100 result is moderately strong, and is a good value.
V. Copper and Nickel
As 1793 is the first year that half cents were struck in the U.S., and 1793 Half Cents are one-year type coins, any 1793 half cent is important. The NGC graded “MS-60” 1793 half cent in this auction is one of fewer than fifty truly uncirculated pieces known. Though I did not see this coin, I pointed out in part 1 that Mark Feld has a positive view of it. The price realized of $40,250 seems reasonable.
A PCGS graded “Fine-15” 1793 Chain Cent sold for $20,700. Chain Large Cents were the first cents struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
This auction contained a 1793 Wreath Cent that is PCGS graded EF-40 and has a CAC sticker. It is known as having a ‘Vine & Bars’ edge, as opposed to other varieties of 1793 Wreath Cents that have a ‘lettered’ edge. This coin brought $17,250, a very strong price. In June 2008, when coin markets were nearly peaking, another 1793 Wreath Cent, which was struck with the same pair of dies as this one, also PCGS graded Extremely Fine-40 and also CAC approved, sold for $14,375.
A PCGS certified ‘Proof-64 Brown,’ and CAC approved 1821, Matron Head Large Cent sold for $37,375, a solid retail price. Of the three 1856 Flying Eagle Cents offered during Rarities Night, two sold, a PCGS certified “Proof-65” went for $25,875, a moderately strong price for this specific coin. Not all PCGS certified “Proof-65” Flying Eagle Cents are equal. A PCGS graded “MS-63” 1856 brought $21,275, which is a very strong price, certainly in the middle of the retail range.
A 1937 Buffalo Nickel of the popular major variety with just three legs fared well in this auction. This three-legged nickel is PCGS graded MS-65 and has a sticker from the CAC. It sold for $46,000, a strong price. Heritage has auctioned three PCGS graded “MS-65” three-legged nickels in 2011. Two of these three have CAC stickers, one that sold in March for $48,875 and one that sold in June for $40,250. The third, without a CAC sticker brought $34,500 in January. Given the overall weakness in markets for gem grade Buffalo Nickels, any price above $40,000 for a certified “MS-65” three-legger is strong.
The PCGS graded “MS-68” 1851 Gold Dollar in this auction brought an exceptionally strong price, $63,250. The Numismedia.com retail price estimate is about $34,000. The PCGS price guide value for this coin is “$45,000.”
An 1855-O Type II Gold Dollar is significant. This is a representative of the only New Orleans Mint Type II Gold Dollar and all Type II U.S. Gold Dollar pieces are scarce. Curiously, there are no New Orleans Mint Type III Gold Dollars. This specific coin is PCGS graded MS-63 and is CAC approved. In my view, its grade is in the high end of the 63 range. It brought $37,375, a very strong price. I would have expected a result around $28,000, which would itself have been a strong price.
The NGC graded MS-60 1796 ‘No Stars’ Quarter Eagle ($2½ gold coin) went for $161,000, which is not a strong price. The NGC certified “MS-63*” 1796 ‘With Stars’ Quarter Eagle realized $287,500, which I take to be a very strong price. Yes, I realize that price guides value this coin at higher amounts. Nevertheless, other than the lone NGC graded “MS-65” coin, I cannot, at the moment, remember any other 1796 ‘With Stars’ Quarter Eagle ever realizing as much as $250,000 at auction.
Spectrum-B&M auctioned this exact same 1796 ‘With Stars’ Quarter Eagle in August 2009. It was then from the “Sun Valley Collection” and sold for $163,875. So, it brought 75% more in 2011, just two years later.
In the Rarities Night auction, both an 1806/4 and an 1806/5 are PCGS graded AU-55 and both are CAC approved. All 1806 Quarter Eagles are overdates; there are no ‘normal dates’ of this year. The 1806/4 brought $25,875, a solid retail price, much more than I expected it to bring.
This 1806/5 Quarter Eagle is one of my favorite coins in the sale. It is much rarer than the 1806/4. I wrote about this particular coin in part 3. The price realized of $69,000 is not as strong as $25,875 is for the 1806/4 in this sale. Nonetheless, $69,000 is a solid retail price, certainly well above the wholesale range.
The extremely fresh Raji Collection 1843-O ‘Large Date’ Quarter Eagle sold for $8625, a strong price, though not quite as much as I had expected. It is PCGS graded MS-61 and has a CAC sticker.
There were several pre-1860 Branch Mint Quarter Eagles in this auction. A PCGS graded “MS-62” 1844 Dahlonega Mint coin sold for $10,925. An 1848 Charlotte Mint coin, also PCGS “MS-62,” brought $13,800.
The 1854 San Francisco Mint Quarter Eagle is a Great Rarity. I mentioned the one in this auction in part 3 and I have written about it before. It met its reserve and sold for $201,250, a strong price for an ungradable 1854-S. Consider that a PCGS graded ‘EF-45′ 1854-S sold for $345,000 at the Feb. 2007 Long Beach auction and a really exceptional NGC graded VF-35 1854-S brought $253,000 on July 30, 2009 in a pre-ANA Platinum Night event.
The post-1850 business strike Liberty Quarter Eagles in this sale were not that great. The Proof Liberty Head Quarter Eagles, in contrast, are very appealing and tend to be ‘solid’ for their respective certified grades. These brought strong prices.
Two 1911 Denver Mint Quarter Eagles, each PCGS graded MS-64 and each CAC approved, brought $28,750 and $29,900, respectively. The one that brought a higher amount is in a PCGS Secure holder and, for reasons unrelated to the holder, I regard it as superior to the other one.
The ‘Raji Collection’ Proof 1911 Quarter Eagle, which exudes originality, went for $31,625. It is PCGS graded ’66’ and CAC approved. This is fair price, though a little less than I expected. I am concerned that some buyers, knowingly or unknowingly, tend to prefer chemically altered Matte Proofs and do not fully appreciate the originality of this one.
This auction did not contain a wonderful group of Three Dollar Gold pieces. Further, the reserves for several of these were unrealistic. Every ANA or FUN auction seems to have two or more Flowing Hair type Four Dollar Gold pieces, as do many other coin auctions. I do not spend a lot of time on them. In my view, these are not as rare or as important as many buyers seem to think.
Though I was not thrilled by the Bust Right Half Eagles ($5 gold coins) in this sale, most of them brought strong prices. A sum of $40,250 for a 1795 is newsworthy. A PCGS graded AU-53 1798 with a ‘Large 8′ (and 13-star Reverse) went for $18,400, a very solid retail price. The ‘Raji Collection’ 1800, which is NGC graded AU-55 and CAC approved, sold for $10,350, much more than I expected. An 1805 that is PCGS graded “MS-64” brought a very strong price of $66,125.
The six Bust Left Half Eagles did fairly well. Two or three of them brought very strong prices.
I already mentioned the Raji 1821 Capped Head Half Eagle in part 1 and again in part 3. It sold for $138,000. From a logical standpoint, this was one of the best values in the whole auction, though prevailing price guides would suggest that $138,000 is a very strong price.
The 1823 Half Eagle did not sell. The minimum commitment of $69,000 was a little aggressive. The 1831 did bring $69,000. Both this particular coin and its price are difficult to interpret.
The PCGS graded 1832 Half Eagle is also hard to evaluate. I like it more than the just mentioned 1831. While I am not completely comfortable with a 62 grade for this coin, I am willing to accept it. The CAC did so. Certainly, it would be hard to find a better 1832. The $86,250 result is a full retail price. As for the 1843-O Liberty Head Half Eagle that I discuss in part 3, the $69,000 result is exactly the same amount it garnered when Heritage auctioned this same coin in April 2008.
I cannot practically cover all of the Liberty Head Half Eagles, Eagles and Double Eagles in this sale. There are many scarce dates in these series in more than a dozen coin auctions every year. Also, none of the Saints that sold are exceptionally newsworthy.
The Eliasberg-Raji 1909 and 1911 Proof Indian Head Half Eagles are really special, as I mentioned in my column of Aug. 3rd. Each is PCGS certified Proof-66 and each is CAC approved. The 1911 brought $46,000, a strong price, though not as strong as I imagined. The buyer should be happy. As I said last week, this coin is ‘just indescribably cool.’
The 1909 sold for $92,000, a very strong price, though well worth this amount. The Eliasberg-Raji Proof 1909 is original and fabulous. It looks better and more interesting in actuality than it appears in the catalogue images.
The 1795-Nine Leaves Eagle sold for $218,500, more than the $207,000 amount that this exact same coin realized in June 2008 when coin markets were at higher levels. In my view, this $218,500 result is a moderately to very strong price. Yes, the Magnolia coin sold for $379,600 on May 3, 2011. As I suggested in my review of the auction of the Magnolia collection, that coin is vastly superior to almost all other 1795-Nine Leaves Eagles. It may be the third finest known. This one is not in the top five.
Some of the Bust Eagles in this auction were either stale or score very low in the category of originality or both. The PCGS graded “MS-64” 1899 Eagle scores high, though, in several categories. It is very fresh, mostly original and has outstanding eye appeal. Furthermore, it is sharply struck on a better than average planchet (prepared blank). Though it perhaps barely qualifies for a 64 grade, I like the coin. The $207,000 result is very strong and a little higher than I expected. Even so, I understand why collectors who see this coin would very much like to have it. It is especially well suited for a type set.
An 1856-O is a Great Rarity. (Click to read more about this issue.). The PCGS graded “VF-20” 1856-O in this auction brought a very strong price of $184,000. A PCGS graded “AU-50” 1860-O garnered $40,250, an extremely strong price for this specific coin. All PCGS graded 1860-O Double Eagles are not equal.
In Wednesday’s column, part 5, I will discuss the results for pre-1860 silver coins. Dick Osburn certainly had one of the most complete collections of Liberty Seated Half Dollars, including many coins that are high in the condition rankings for their respective dates. Viewing, analyzing, and reporting upon the coins in this ‘Rarities Night’ event has been an enjoyable experience that is not over.
©2011 Greg Reynolds