By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
A collection of rare and unique gold medals and personal papers once belonging to United States Mint Chief Coiner Adam Eckfeldt far exceeded pre-sale estimates, bringing $270,250 USD at Goldberg’s June 2017 Pre-Long Beach Auction. The sale, the company’s 98th, was held June 4-7 at the firm’s offices in Los Angeles, California. Additional bids were executed by mail, by phone and over the internet. The six-session sale features U.S. coins, paper money, world coins and ancient coins – including an important selection of ancient Judaean coins from the Brody Collection.
Lot 1224: Eckfeldt Collection, First Family of the U.S. Mint, Including Likely-Unique Mint Medals, an 1803 $10 MS61, and Mint-related Presidential Documents.
Ira Goldberg provided CoinWeek just a taste of this immense lot when we caught up with him at the January FUN Show. The lot, a collection of items (many unique), was assembled and kept as an heirloom by the Eckfeldt family, whose service to the Mint traces back to the 1790s and crosses multiple generations.
Included in the offering was a likely unique 50mm, 104.1 gram gold medal struck in 1839 and presented to Adam Eckfeldt (1769-1852) on the event of his retirement, second Chief Coiner of the United States Mint. The medal depicts Adam Eckfeldt on the obverse and words of appreciation on the reverse. The design is the work of U.S. Mint engraver Moritz Fürst (1782-1840).
Also present were two gold medals given to Adam Eckfeldt’s grandson, U.S. Mint Assayer Jacob B. Eckfeldt. The first medal was presented in 1925 to mark his 60th year of employ at the Mint. This likely unique medal measures 50mm, weighs 76.19, and features a an eagle soaring over the Seal of the United States Treasury on the obverse, and a wreath motif on the reverse that encircles the inscription: 1865 ·JACOB · B · ECKFELDT · 60TH ANNIVERSARY 1925.
The second gold medal presented to Jacob Eckfeldt is “tombstone” shaped, 40mm wide, and weighs 91.16, and was struck to mark his retirement in 1930. The obverse features a left-facing portrait of the bearded Eckfeldt, with JACOB B. ECKFELDT / ASSAYER-U·S·MINT-1831 to 1930 inscribed in the exergue. On the reverse, a laurel branch and the inscription: FROM YOUR ASSOCIATES IN THE UNITED STATES MINT IN SINCERE APPRECIATION OF LONG AND DISTINGUISHED SERVICE / ASSAY DEP’T. APR.15.1865 / DEC.31.1929.
Among the rest of the effects were documents concerning the Eckfeldt’s work at the mint signed by four U.S. Presidents (Madison, Jackson, Taylor, and Arthur) and an 1803 Draped Bust $10 gold eagle (Small Stars Reverse) that was obtained by the family in 1807. The coin was certified MS61 by NGC but retained its original paperwork to provide provenance. Without the impressive provenance, the coin alone has an estimated value of $30,000 to $40,000.
Lot 2872: Great Britain. Crown, 1551. S-2478; N-1933; Lingford dies E10; Dav-8245. Edward VI. NGC MS63 WINGS.
When last we saw this impressive 1551 British Crown, it had crossed the block at the historic Slaney Collection Sale in 2003, where it shattered the pre-sale estimate of £8,000-10,000, bringing an impressive £36,000 ($79,258 in 2017 inflation adjusted dollars).
With a fabulous pedigree tracing its provenance back to the late 18th century, this historic coin features the monarch on horseback, a first for the English series, and represents the finest-surviving example of an important type that represents a return to form of good money issued by the English monarchy under the reign of the boy-king Edward VI. After the fiscally unsound reign of Henry VIII, English coins had become so debased that they lost much of their prestige even amongst the crown’s subjects. This trend was reversed by the young Tudor successor, as evidenced by the number of well-circulated survivors of this series that have survived through the centuries.
Scarce in grades above XF, this is the only example certified by either PCGS or NGC in Mint State, it hammered at $141,000, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $75,000 to $100,000.
The elephant and castle badge located just below the bust truncation of the English guinea denotes the mark of the Royal African Company. The firm, founded by the King’s house (the House of Stewart) in 1660, was heavily involved in the African slave trade and mineral extraction from the Gambian gold fields in West Africa.
The coin was struck in 1688 and bears the likeness of King James II, described on the coin under his Latinized moniker JACOBUS II. Unbeknownst to the minters of the coin, 1688 would prove to be the final year of the Roman Catholic king’s reign. An uprising led by the Dutch-born William of Orange and his wife Mary saw the controversial Catholic monarch abdicate the throne, throwing the Great Seal of the Realm and other personal effects into the Thames as he attempted to elude detection and flee the country.
William would eventually break the Royal African Company’s monopoly, though the corporation continued to engage in the slave trade until 1731 and wage wars against the Dutch West India Company over access to the region. The Royal African Company went out of business in 1751.
This historic example, one of the finest known in PCGS MS61 (WINGS approved) is a beautiful coin in its own right, and as a historic object it connects a turbulent period in English history with the royal family’s shameful role in exploiting the “dark” continent. In 2014, Heritage Auctions offered a 1688 five guineas (S.3997 variety) in PCGS AU55. That coin sold for a respectable $38,187.50.
The present piece, a scarcer variety and finer by two grades, far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of $60,000+, bringing $108,688 with buyer’s premium.
Lot 1152: 1934, $5,000 Federal Reserve Note. Chicago. Fr-2221-G. PMG graded AU-55. Serial number G00001163A
$5,000 was real money then. Now it takes a considerably greater sum to pick up one of these astonishing large denomination notes now. When this note was printed, $5,000 had the equivalent spending power of $92,701 today! Interestingly, had the note sold for the pre-sale estimate of $75,000, the note would have lost over $17,000 in hypothetical value from 1934 to the present. Fortunately for the consignor, the note brought a healthy sum of $120,438.
The note Goldberg Auctioneers had on offer was from the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago. While the note is an absolute rarity, the Chicago issue is the most prevalent of all 1934 $5,000 notes on the market. Population 4 in AU55, with 10 finer (PMG 64EPQ finest).
Every great gold nugget has a fish story behind its discovery. And this monumental nugget, which we held in our hands at the January FUN Show in Fort Lauderdale, is no different. According to the cataloger, the nugget was uncovered in a chance encounter in 1939 involving an Irishman in Australia, a Canadian Gully, a stranded car, and a tire iron. Also imbibed upon was an unspecified amount of alcohol.
However many grains of truth there are to the story, we can’t say. But there are quite a few grains of gold contained in this 78.39 ounce piece, which brought a modest premium over spot.
Fish tale included.
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Top Ten Prices Realized
- Lot 1224. Eckfeldt Papers, Medals and Gold $10. $270,250.
- Lot 2872. Great Britain. Crown, 1551. S-2478; N-1933; Lingford dies E10; Dav-8245. Edward VI. NGC MS63 WINGS. $141,000.
- Lot 1152. 1934, $5000 Federal Reserve Note. Chicago. Fr-2221-G. PMG graded AU-55. $120,438.
- Lot 2430. Great Britain. Five Guineas, 1688. S.3398; Fr-293; KM-460.2. James II. PCGS MS61 WINGS. $108,688.
- Lot 1328. Monumental Natural Gold Nugget Weighing 78.39 Ounces. $108,100.
- Lot 1537. Judaea, Bar Kokhba Revolt. Silver Sela (13.47 g), 132-135 CE. Year 1. $88,125.
- Lot 499. 1803 S-264 R4+ Large Date, Small Fraction. PCGS graded VF-25. $70,500.
- Lot 1268. 1899. PCGS graded Proof 64+DCAM PQ. CAC. $68,150.
- Lot 2453. Great Britain. Proof Sovereign, 1818. S.3785A; WR-198. PCGS PR65DC WINGS. $58,750.
- Lot 2457. Great Britain. Proof Sovereign, 1832. WR-263 (Rarity-7); S.3829. PCGS PR63CA WINGS $56,400.
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