By CoinWeek …..
Previously, CoinWeek covered three important modern coin lots that you need to know about from the Stack’s Bowers June 2017 auction at the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expo in Baltimore, Maryland. In this piece, CoinWeek’s editors will run down classic U.S. coin highlights that you will not want to miss.
Stack’s Bowers is offering more than 3,000 items for sale, with the first lots kicking off on Wednesday, June 21 at 4:00 pm Eastern. Session II, featuring the second offering of coins from the Blue Moon Collection, will commence on Thursday, June 22 at 5:00 pm. All lots can be viewed in person before the sale or online at www.stacksbowers.com.
Stack’s Bowers is the Official Auctioneer of the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expo.
Lot 9014: Complete Set of American Arts Commemorative Medals, 1980-84
We missed this when we published our modern coin highlights. But it’s a lot that’s worthy of note.
Before the American Eagle program launched in 1986, the United States Mint produced a series of gold medals in one-ounce and half-ounce sizes. The series, called the American Arts Commemorative Medals series, featured the contributions of great American actors, architects, artists, and authors.
The brainchild of North Carolina senator Jesse Helms, the series was intended as a domestically produced competitor to the South African krugerrand, which had been a dominant bullion coin globally since its launch in 1967. Helms’ idea had merit, but the United States Mint’s marketing plan failed miserably. A prevalent opinion for the failure of the program lays the blame on these issues being medals and not coins, but we fail to see any way that the Mint’s marketing strategy would have worked even if these pieces bore a legal tender face value.
Long considered discount bullion, the American Arts Commemorative Medals series may one day see the redemption it deserves. Due to the lack of care that many of these issues have received in the secondary market, premium grades for some issues are now revealed to be elusive. This complete 10-piece set is certified by PCGS, with many all pieces graded MS66 or better.
Lot 9202: 1803 Draped Bust Half Cent. C-2. Rarity-4. AU-58+
At the top end of the 1803 C-2 variety census, there are decisions for specialist collectors to make.
Goldberg Auctions described the Missouri Cabinet specimen as having been “Lightly cleaned, now retoned a glossy golden light brown and tan with bluish steel and sea-green overtones.” That example graded AU55 by PCGS, but according to Goldberg’s application of EAC standards, would fall between EF45+ net EF40+. For more information about how EAC grading differs from the grading standards employed by the major Third Party Grading services, watch this video:
The example on offer by Stack’s Bowers hues in color more representative of copper coins of the period. Fiery glimmers of orange peel envelope the protected areas around the devices and lettering. Characteristic of the grade, faint traces of wear can be seen on the high points, but significant amounts of metal have not been moved. PCGS does not register this coin in their discreet Cohen-2 variety population, but were it listed there, it would be the finest coin in their census by one-and-a-half grades. It’s worth noting that at least one and possibly two additional C-2 specimens would grade at the same level or near the same level as this example.
The Missouri Cabinet coin realized a price of $48,300 USD against an estimated value of $30,000+. At the time, the example was the finest-known example of the variety. Of course, bidding at that sale was exuberant and highly focused. It was one of the all-time finest sets and the copper community showered the coins with respect and dollars.
To get a better insight into the coin, we reached out to Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) president John Albanese, who had previously reviewed the coin in person, and asked for his take on the piece and what qualifies an AU58 coin for a CAC sticker. We give you the following CoinWeek Exclusive Expert Insight:
Lot 11102: 1806 B-9 25c. PCGS MS64+ CAC
The Browning-9 die marriage is the most plentiful variety of the 1806 quarter dollar. The variety is identifiable in this die state by the large bisecting die crack that runs up the coin from the bottom rim through the 1 and up through back of Liberty’s hair. There is also a prominent die cud above the “AT” in STATES that is typical of the die state for this die marriage. According to author Steve Tompkins’ excellent book on the subject, the obverse and reverse dies used in this marriage are unique to the variety. Neither die was reused for the 1807 issue and the quarter dollar went on an eight-year hiatus after that, only to return in 1815 with a new design.
Tracing back recent auction records, we see that this example was last sold at the July 2015 Stack’s Bowers Baltimore Auction, where it brought $44,062.50. Two facts are important to note about this sale: 1) the coin was then in a PCGS MS64 CAC holder, and 2) the coin at the time was held back in terms of eye appeal by a layer of olive and gold toning, with a few noticeable dark splotches. None of this is atypical for a 200-year-old coin, but as they say, “eye appeal is in the eye of the beholder (of the holder).”
In 2016, the coin was consigned to Stack’s Bowers again, this time, after careful preservation removed much of the undesirable spotting and toning, leaving behind a tasteful satiny surface with a tinge of golden highlights over a brilliant surface. With the benefit of the added eye appeal, the coin earned a MS64+ grade from PCGS and re-earned its CAC sticker.
After failing to meet a $55,000 reserve in a Stack’s Bowers May 25, 2016 auction, the coin returns to auction this week in Baltimore and it has already hit $50,000 in pre-live sale bidding.
The takeaway? The rare coin market for high-end material can be notoriously thin at times. The market has improved dramatically since a year ago, and coins like this will not linger.
LOT 11162: 1855-O ARROWS, WV-1, FS-501. PCGS MS66
What a beautiful coin.
Arrows were added to the exergue on both sides of the date of all U.S. minor silver coinage (except trimes) to denote a reduction in silver weight. In essence, the government debased its coinage to keep up with the rising cost of silver. For the half dollar denomination, the weight was adjusted from 206.25 grains to 192 grains. When coins of the new tenor were introduced in 1853, not only did the Mint employ arrows to denote the change in weight, but they also added a glory of rays that radiated from behind the eagle on the reverse. The rays gave the coin a cartoonish quality, but also posed some significant production problems, not the least of which was a reduction in die life.
In 1854, the rays were eliminated and the present type of half dollar Arrows, No Rays was born.
Of the three mints, New Orleans struck the most half dollars in 1855. Its mintage of 3,688,000 pieces, while low by today’s standards, was significant at the time. And while the vast majority of the coins from this issue have been lost, it is not unheard of to find a choice example with average eye appeal for less than $1,200.
In gem or better, the coin is decidedly more scarce. PCGS records only 31 grading events at MS65 and above, with just seven of those in MS66 and two in MS67. The present piece was graded MS66 by PCGS and approved by CAC. And even though it isn’t denoted on the holder, it is being offered as a WB-1, FS-501, Repunched Mintmark, O/Horizontal O variety. Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert vouch for the scarcity of this variety in their 1993 standard reference, The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Dollars.
While Stack’s Bowers’ in-house photography faithfully represents the coin, the PCGS TrueView offers tremendous clarity on the mintmark detail.
Stack’s Bowers last offered the coin in their July 2015 auction, where it brought $28,200. Current bid is $15,000.