By CoinWeek …..
On May 19, Legend Rare Coin Auctions will conduct the 17th Regency sale at Harrah’s in the Big Easy, New Orleans, Louisiana. The firm, which hand-selects superior quality US coins, will offer 472 pieces ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to over $1.6 million.
Headlining the event is Lot 377, an 1879 Quintuple Stella (J-1643).
A number of differences make this piece stand out over the $20 Liberty Head coin issued for circulation. The obverse features the following inscription:
* 30 * G * 1.5 * S * 3.5 * C * 35 G * R * A * M * S *
This denotes the issue as being struck at a weight of 35 grams in Dr. Wheeler Hubbell’s patented Goloid metal (30 grams of gold, 1.5 grams of silver, 3.5 grams of copper). Replacing IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse is the Latin phrase DEO EST GLORIA (To God Is the Glory). This inscription is carried over from the $4 Stella design.
As patterns, Stellas are one of the more common in the series; however, to think of them as “common” misunderstands the market that has developed for the two-year pattern. As much as the ersatz series has garnered the imagination of collectors, this Quintuple Stella is sure to excite collectors with the means to bid on this historic piece that is one of five known and one of only four in private hands.
Legend Rare Coin Auctions cites the recent pedigree of the piece as Virgil Brand – Amon Carter – Ed Trompeter – Bob Simpson. Most collectors will never own one example, but Trompeter and Simpson both owned two (Simpson retains the finest known in his collection). Virgil Brand, the “Dean of U.S. Numismatics”, amazingly owned three.
PCGS grades this great rarity PR64DCAM. Legend Rare Coin Auctions estimates the value of this piece at US$1,600,000 and expects strong bidding.
Other gold coins that caught our eye:
Lot 395 1900 $2.50 PCGS PR68+DCAM. This gold $2.50 proof has a Proof mintage of 205 pieces, but you can throw that number out the window because this example looks as if it was struck yesterday and falls near the top of PCGS’ Condition Census (five in PR68+, one finer (PR69). Honestly, if the PR69 is a marked improvement over this specimen, we’d be shocked. Fully-reflective mirrors with sparkling, razor sharp metal flow lines and deep cameo contrast make this coin resemble a modern gold commemorative and not one of the final gold Proof issues of the 19th century.
Lot 425 1907 $10 WIRE EDGE PCGS MS65. Augustus Saint-Gaudens is a giant among U.S. Medallic artists, and for our money it was his $10 gold design and not the eponymous “Saint-Gaudens” double eagle that was his true masterpiece.
His majestic “Liberty” sports a Native American headdress that effortlessly fans out. Former Chief Engraver of the United States Mint John Mercanti calls the style “Give and Take” as minor details are eluded to but not drawn. This is an allegorical approach to US coin design that is sadly lacking in today’s modern issues.
The piece on offer is a Gem and one of 61 examples PCGS has tendered the grade MS65. 500 examples of the Wire Edge version were struck in the issue’s inaugural year, before the Mint settled on a modified version with a rounded rim. Eagle-eyed numismatists will also note the presence of periods surrounding E PLURIBUS UNUM. Regular Rounded Edge issues (save 50 that survive from 1907) do not bear this feature around the motto.
Lot 432 1861-S $20 PCGS MS63. No collector has ever assembled a complete collection of business strike Liberty Head $20 gold coins in Mint State. Imagine that! With all of the great, historic collections of the 20th century no major collector has ever conquered one of the most difficult coin series in American numismatics.
The collecting culture of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries had much to do with this.
Collectors in past eras were satisfied with a Proof example, given the choice between a business strike and a Proof. Because of this, Proofs were collected and survived while Mint State examples had to be acquired through extraordinary means. $20 was a lot of money in 1861, so the fact that this or any example of its era survives in Mint State is a thing of chance.
The ghastly Pacquet reverse is the issue that most gold collectors think of when they see the date and mint mark 1861-S, but this example, tied for the finest certified, is every bit as rare and is an absolute necessity for whoever wishes to put a high grade uncirculated set of Liberty Head $20s together.
In our opinion, Legend Rare Coin Auction’s $50,000+ estimate reflects the fact that this series is so tough to assemble in Mint State that many won’t even try. If this series were more collector-friendly, this would be a six-figure coin.