Famous Coins: 1894-S Daggett Specimen Dime Purchased by Legend Numismatics
Legend Numismatics has purchased one of the most famous coins in US Numismatics, the 10C 1894-S PCGS BM PR64+ Daggett Specimen from David Lawrence Rare Coins, for a sum in excess of $2 million, a record price for any dime.
While helping fulfill a collecting goal of Legend partner Bruce Morelan, the firm also believes classic rarities like this are still undervalued in today’s marketplace.
“We have no problem stocking a classic rarity like this. A classic Mercedes racecar sold last week for nearly $29,000,000.00. Paintings regularly sell for $10-$30,000,000.00. So a classic major numismatic rarity like this is cheap. In all the years Legend has bought and sold great rarities like the 94-S 10C, none have ever gone down in value. This coin was a no brainer for us to buy,” said Laura Sperber, President of Legend Numismatics.
John Feigenbaum, President of David Lawrence Rare Coins, personally handled the transaction with Legend. According to Feigenbaum, “It was an easy negotiation and a pleasure because both parties believe in the rarity and extreme desirability of this historic coin. Laura and I have always treasured the 1894-S dime and it was logical to me that her firm would be a likely candidate to acquire this piece. I wish them great success with the coin.”
There are many theories as to why 24 proof Dimes were minted in 1894 at San Francisco. Only 10 are confirmed to exist today and this coin is likely the third finest known. The most widely accepted theory is that the Mint Superintendent, John Daggett, had high ranking visitors he wanted to impress with special coins.
No one knows for sure why he picked the Dime, except that he needed to balance a $2.40 deficit in the Mint ledger, so striking 24 dimes achieved dual purposes. After minting and distribution to his friends and guests, he gave 3 or 4 coins to his daughter, Hallie Daggett.
This story is one of the greatest in numismatic lore, and continues when Daggett’s daughter Hallie eventually sold a couple gem examples, including this very coin, to Earl Parker, a coin dealer in California, around 1950. At the time, she told Parker that she originally spent one of her prized dimes to buy an ice cream cone. That coin is known today in Good-4 as the “Ice Cream Specimen” but has not traded hands publicly since 1981.
1894-S Dimes have long been considered one of the top major classic numismatic rarities, along with the 5C 1913 Liberty Nickel, and the 1804 $1. In fact, the coin is currently ranked #4 in the “100 Greatest U.S. Coins” (Third Edition, Garrett, 2008) — behind the 1913 nickel, but ahead of the 1804 dollar, in importance.