By Ron Guth …..
Disclaimer: The author is an independent reporter. He has no affiliation with Legend Rare Coin Auctions and he has received no compensation from them (or anyone else) for this analysis.
On May 15 and 16, 2019, Legend Rare Coin Auctions conducted a sale in conjunction with the PCGS Members Only Coin Show in New Orleans, Louisiana. In a break from their traditional one-day sales, Legend held a separate Dollar Day sale on May 15 devoted exclusively to Silver Dollars.
On May 16, Legend conducted their usual Regency Auction of high grade and rare U.S. coins, including notable consignments from the Pug Collection, the Issiquah Estate, the Northern Lights Collection, and others.
The following commentary focuses on the five most expensive coins from the sale and includes supplemental information and analysis.
Lot 493 – sold for $282,000
1857-S $20 Spiked Shield, PCGS MS67 CAC
Dubbed the “Supernova” and described as the “Poster Coin” of the SS Central America shipwreck, this example came from the second salvage round. The coin retains all of the original crust and color acquired in over a century and a half at the bottom of the sea. Where most of the Central America shipwreck coins needed conservation because of unsightly discoloration and encrustations, this one toned perfectly in a stunning blend of colors and patterns rarely seen on a U.S. gold piece.
This coin was featured in the 2018 Ship of Gold display, on a cover of the PCGS Rare Coin Market Report magazine, and in one of the lengthiest descriptions ever seen in a Legend catalog.
The sale price of $282,000 was enormous and almost $130,000 more than any previous record for an 1857-S $20, proving once again that the right eye appeal and publicity attracts the big buyers. According to Legend’s post-sale press release, this coin is now part of the Black Cat Collection (“a world-class set of coins being built exclusively by Legend”).
Lot 144 – sold for $152,750
This was a reappearance of the Coronet Collection example, first sold by Legend in 2015, then bought back by them recently and resold here. This time it rose to $152,750, which is quite close to the record price of $161,000 set by a PCGS MS66 1893-CC dollar back in 2013.
There are a couple of things at play here.
First, there have only been six different PCGS MS65 1893-CC dollars sold at auction since 1995.
Second, many of the PCGS MS65 1893-CC Dollars are embedded in Registry Sets, so the supply of coins available on the market is extremely small.
Third, this is the only PCGS MS65 with a CAC sticker (even the PCGS MS66 has not been CAC’ed).
Simply put, this sale confirms that it takes big bucks to pull down a Gem 1893-CC Dollar in one of the most competitive areas of the U.S. market.
Lot 3 – sold for $141,000
1799 $1 Obverse Stars 7×6, B-12, BB-160, PCGS MS64+ CAC
This is a special coin because it is not only a very nice 1799 dollar, it is one of the finest of the variety. Numerically, it is third behind an NGC MS65 CAC (the Newcomer–Green–Clarke example that sold for $211,500 in 2013 – and, yes, it is a different coin) and an NGC MS65 (the Bolender-Ostheimer-Brown example that sold for $152,750 in 2015). However, images of the three coins indicate that they are very close in appearance and it would be instructive to lay them side-by-side for a direct comparison.
No matter where the rankings end up, this coin did very well in its latest outing, going up 36% over the past decade. By the way, it could have been purchased for $12,650 in 1995!
Lot 129 – sold for $141,000
While there are ample PCGS MS64 1889-CC dollars to go around, only a couple have received a CAC sticker. Added to the incredible demand for this date, it is not surprising that this example would continue the ever onward and upward march in prices realized. This example was not the Coronet I example that Legend sold in 2015, but both brought $141,000 (a record for the grade). According to Legend, the Coronet I example once resided in a PCGS MS64+ holder, so it is likely that both coins will be visiting PCGS again.
What’s the incentive? No PCGS MS65 1889-CC dollar has ever appeared at auction and NGC MS65s have brought as much as $287,500.
Lot 1 – sold for $129,250
1795 $1 Flowing Hair, 2 Leaves, B-3, BB-11, Silver Plug, PCGS AU55 CAC
Relatively speaking, this appears to be one of the best bargains in the sale. It is one of the nicest examples of the variety (if not the finest), it is perhaps fifth finest of all the Silver Plug 1795 Flowing Hair dollars, it has an impressive pedigree dating back to 1885, and it brought only $8,500 more than its previous record set in 2011 when it was part of the Dr. Hesselgesser Collection. The silver plug itself is oversized, clearly outlined, and almost the entire circumference of the plug is set ablaze (on both the obverse and the reverse) by a ring of color.
For more information about the rest of the coins in this auction, visit legendauctions.hibid.com.
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Ron Guth is an award-winning writer and researcher and an expert on United States numismatics. He can be reached at [email protected].