There was certainly no shortage of significant numismatic offerings throughout the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Auction of the Whitman Coins and Collectibles Expo, held at the Baltimore Convention Center in the final week of March.
Anchored by the exceptional Blue Moon Collection, Part I, and the Collections of Dr. Gordon Shaw and Anthony Bettencourt, this event featured numerous fresh and high quality assemblages that elicited strong bidding in every session. With a total prices realized of over $15.9 million in United States coins and related issues crossing the auction block, this showcase event marked a successful inauguration of the auction season for the Santa Ana-based firm. All prices realized to follow include the 17.5% buyer’s premium.
Session One began with a delightful selection of Numismatic Americana, with the excitement building quickly in lot 4 with a 1776 Lightning Averted Tyranny Repell’d medal. Having spent time in the cabinets of F.C.C. Boyd and John J. Ford, Jr., this piece realized $39,950.
An expansive offering of Indian Peace medals was highlighted by a silver 1829 Andrew Jackson medal in lot 35 and a silver 1845 James K. Polk medal in lot 42 that brought $13,512 and $47,000, respectively.
Other presidential-related items also saw strong competition, as a silver 1801 Thomas Jefferson Inaugural medal was bid up to $14,100 in lot 73.
The second portion of Session One was bolstered by rarities from the collections of Anthony Bettencourt and Dr. Gordon Shaw. The Bettencourt Collection offered a selection of legendary early American issues from nearly each series listed in the Guide Book. A lovely 1739 Higley copper, certified Good-4 by PCGS and stickered by Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC), was presented in lot 168 and realized $36,425. A similarly iconic 1783 Chalmers shilling in lot 179 was bid up to $25,850. Lot 189 featured an incredible 1785 Immune Columbia/Nova Constellatio muling in silver that is the finer of just two confirmed to exist. Assigned a Rarity-8 rating, this piece brought an astounding $51,700, matching the price realized for lot 417, a 1776 Continental dollar in pewter also from the Bettencourt cabinet.
The Collection of Dr. Gordon Shaw featured both scarce issues and rare die marriages, adding to the excitement throughout Session One. An AU-58 (PCGS) St. Patrick farthing from the Shaw cabinet performed splendidly in lot 155, realizing $23,500. Lot 220 showcased an incredible 1786 Immunis Columbia/ New Jersey copper muling of a similar fabric to the Bettencourt lot, and garnered an astounding $42,300. Specialists seeking scarce varieties and choice examples eagerly pursued the New Jersey coppers of the Shaw Collection. A lovely AU-55 (PCGS) Maris 6-C in lot 221 that once belonged to Dr. Edward Maris and T. Harrison Garrett, realized $32,900, falling just shy of the $35,250 earned by the EF-45 (PCGS) Maris 19-M in lot 248, which had the same impressive pedigree. Claiming the highest price of the session was an elusive Maris 24-Q in lot 259. Assigned a Rarity-7+ rating as one of just five known examples, New Jersey copper collectors bid that piece up to $57,575 in celebration of its first public offering in 25 years.
The Blue Moon Collection, Part I in Session Three presented an impressive array of rare and high grade United States coins, all of which had been off the market since the 1970s and 1980s. Among the coins offered from original Proof Sets dated 1865 through the mid-20th century, a gorgeous Proof-66 Deep Cameo (PCGS) 1870 Liberty Seated dollar in lot 2039 realized $37,600. An 1889 Liberty Seated half dollar graded Proof-67 Cameo (PCGS) in lot 2153 brought $35,250. The gold denominations included in the Proof sets of 1907 and 1908 attracted much excitement as they crossed the auction block. The beautiful Proof-64 (PCGS) 1907 Liberty double eagle in lot 2251 realized $39,950, a price nearly doubled by the $67,562 garnered by the stunning Sand Blast Proof 1908 Saint-Gaudens double eagle in lot 2265, certified Proof-64 by PCGS and approved by CAC.
Gold coins from the Blue Moon Collection continued to impress beyond the Proof sets, with notable rarities included in a nearly complete assemblage of half eagles. Examples dated 1795 and 1796/5, each graded AU-58 (PCGS), were offered in lots 2309 and 2310, respectively. The inaugural year garnered $54,050, while the overdate drew great excitement, realizing $73,437. The challenging Capped Head Left series was well represented, with such highlights as an 1820 BD-2 in MS-63+ (PCGS) CAC (lot 2328) that brought $56,400 and an 1820 BD-8 in MS-62 (PCGS) in lot 2329 that realized $70,500. Later half eagles also attracted much enthusiasm, as an 1887 Liberty half eagle certified Proof-64 + (PCGS) and approved by CAC garnered an astounding $76,375 in lot 2452.
The highlight of the Blue Moon Collection, Part I was the magnificent 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar showcased in lot 2534. Certified AU-58+ by PCGS and approved by CAC, it ranks among the finest-known survivors of this scarce and desirable issue. Representing its first public offering in nearly 40 years, bidders rallied up to $910,625 before the hammer fell.
Of similar rarity and appeal were the Gobrecht silver dollars offered several lots later, many of which were among the finest of just several known. The 1838 Restrike, Judd-85 in lot 2551 and the 1839 Original, Judd-104 in lot 2553 performed superbly, each earning $164,500. However, the 1838 Restrike, Judd-88 in lot 2552, one of just three known, was clearly the favorite as it realized $199,750.
Session Five featured the exciting Rarities Night Auction.
An enthusiastic following for Lincoln cents was demonstrated by the $41,125 earned by the Proof-66 RB (PCGS) CAC 1909 V.D.B. in lot 3016, followed quickly by $35,250 for a MS-67+ RD (PCGS) 1913 example in lot 3019.
Among larger denominations, a gorgeously toned 1795 Flowing Hair half dollar graded MS-62 (NGC) in lot 3052 was eagerly pursued up to $643,625. Lots 3089 and 3090 presented a pair of matching trade dollars with deep indigo and violet iridescence. The 1877 Proof-67+ * Cameo (NGC) example and 1878 Proof-68 (NGC) piece sold for strong sums of $32,900 and $37,600, respectively, demonstrating that originality is still very popular in today’s coin market.
Higher denomination gold coins continued to attract strong prices as the finest known 1880-O Liberty eagle graded MS-64 (PCGS) in lot 3120 earned $129,250 while the equally astounding MS-66 (PCGS) 1915-S Indian eagle in lot 3128 brought $99,875.
Totaling over $15.9 million across seven sessions of United States coins, the March 2017 event continues the Stack’s Bowers Galleries tradition of successful and exciting auctions at the Whitman Coins and Collectibles Expo. All lot descriptions and images for the Stack’s Bowers Galleries March 2017 Baltimore Auction can be viewed online on the firm’s website or in the printed catalog.
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