By CoinWeek …..
Beginning on Wednesday, January 9, Heritage Auctions will conduct their first U.S. Coins Signature Auction of the 2019 calendar year. Heritage’s FUN sale is a bellwether event for the rare coin hobby and all eyes will be focused on not only the price performance of the lots in this sale but also whether collector interest in Orlando might entice others to offer their high-quality coins and collections to the market in 2019. Strong markets beget the opportunity to buy some of the hobby’s most prized specimens, although, in markets both good and bad, coins of the highest quality are always in short supply.
The sale features more than 5,700 lots, including seldom-seen colonials, early coppers, Trade dollars, Morgan and Peace silver dollars, and semi-key and key-date issues from across the entire spectrum of American numismatics.
We have combed through the catalog and present you the following Lots You Need to Know.
Never intended for American commerce, the coin was struck to facilitate trade with Asia, a region of great economic import for traders on the western coast of the United States. Slightly heavier than the Seated Liberty dollar, the coin made its way into American commercial channels as the price of silver fell dramatically following Germany’s unification and adoption of the gold standard. This made the trade dollar worth less than its face value, a fact not lost upon the unscrupulous businesses that opted to pay employees’ wages with the coin. This led to considerable hand-wringing in Congress and ultimately to the discontinuation and demonetization of the denomination.
For all practical purposes, production of the Trade dollar came to close in 1878. The Carson City Mint struck 97,000 pieces and San Francisco put out a mintage of 4,162,000. Thereafter, Trade dollars were struck only in Proof finishes for collectors.
Proof Trade dollars are collectible through 1883 and modestly priced, given the fact that surviving populations for most dates fall between 50% and 75% of their original mintages (mostly in the high hundreds or low thousands). Trade dollars struck in 1884 and 1885, the final two years that Proofs were made, is another story. Only 10 pieces were struck in 1884 and just five in 1885, making these two issues extremely rare and important for collectors of 19th-century silver coinage.
In this auction, Heritage is offering several important Trade dollars, including one of the finest known 1883 Proofs, a beautiful 1884, and this, the Eliasberg Specimen 1885. NGC grades the coin PR 66. It is the finest known example and last traded hands in 2006, where it sold in a private treaty sale for $3.3 million.
Current Bid: $2,750,000
It took several years, but the United States Mint was finally done with Dr. William Wheeler Hubbell, inventor of Goloid and perennial menace. Hubbell and his witting accomplice, Georgia Congressman and one-time Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens, who now served as head of the Committee of Coins, Weights, and Measures, found common purpose in pursuing a number of crackpot schemes devised to bring a solution to the country’s long-standing gold-silver dispute. Goloid, a patented alloy that blended silver, gold, and copper, was not an ideal solution despite Hubbell’s claims, and the Mint was compelled to make a number of patterns using the composition. None carried the gold and purple hue that Hubbell claimed would come from proper preparation.
With the Stella pattern program, Hubbell had one final chance to have a hand in the reshaping of American coinage. The idea of the Latin Motto “DEO EST GLORIA” was his; he felt the English “In God We Trust” was not fit for an international coin.
While the Flowing Hair Stella patterns are among the most plentiful of America’s pattern coinage (it is collected as a regular issue, and in this context is viewed as scarce), the Coiled Hair design of 1879 is genuinely rare. Heritage Auctions accounts for 13 examples known, with this example (NGC PR66 Cameo) denoted as the fourth finest.
Heritage last sold an 1879 Coiled Hair graded Proof 66 in 2014, where one without a Cameo designation brought $851,875 (with Buyer’s Premium). A year later, a CAC-approved Proof 65 brought slightly more. The present piece was graded Proof 66 Cameo by NGC. It resides in an old-style (Generation 7) holder, meaning that the coin was last graded in the 1997-2000 timeframe.
Bidding is still early, but if you want in on it, the price currently sits at $460,000.
New coin design often requires a bit of tinkering in the first years of production, and this proved to be the rule for the coinage of the United States’ “golden age” of coin design. Anthony de Francisci’s Peace dollar design, which depicted a modern and youthful Liberty, still needed the steady hand of U.S. Mint Chief Engraver George T. Morgan to render it suitable for mass production. The high-relief versions, struck at the end of 1921, have long been sought after by collectors, but few were aware that the Mint struck and distributed a small number of high-relief examples in 1922.
The present example, Heritage reports, comes from the estate of former U.S. Mint Director Raymond T. Baker. Baker came into possession of this example in 1922. It was sent to him along with a high-relief piece struck in 1921 by Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Freas Styer, who sought the return of both coins after Baker had reviewed them. That Baker held onto it may be the only reason why this sandblasted high-relief pattern striking survives to this day. This piece is the finest known of three specimens and is graded SP64 by PCGS.
Current Bid: $120,000.
The earliest days of the United States Mint were marked by hardship and scandal. On the hardship side, matters of life and death came to the fore after a city-wide outbreak of Yellow Fever claimed the lives of more than 5,000 Philadelphians, including Chief Coiner Joseph Wright and his wife Sarah. This tragic loss changed the artistic direction of the U.S. Mint and is partly the reason why so many early U.S. coin issues are exceedingly rare.
Another setback was the difficulty the Mint had in securing bond money for its employees. This issue delayed the production of silver and gold coinage and was only resolved by an Act of Congress.
On the scandal side, depositor John Vaughan nearly brought down the Mint after he discovered that the Mint’s silver coins were being struck using an illegal fineness. He claimed that he took a loss on his deposit. The subsequent public outcry led to the resignations of one, and possibly even two Mint directors. Luckily, the ship was quickly righted and the Mint has endured for more than 225 years.
This beautiful chain cent retains hints of original mint red around the periphery of the lettering and inside the coin’s controversial chained wreath on the reverse. This specimen is reported as the second-finest known of the AMERI. Type, the first U.S. cent struck for commercial purposes. Its pedigree begins with 19th-century dealer Thomas Elder, whose son-in-law sold the piece to Ted Naftzger, Jr. in 1947 for a reported sum of $1,000. The current consignor acquired the coin from Naftzger a 1996 private treaty sale.
The coin has appreciated greatly since Naftzger and Weinberg both acquired it. In terms of quality, it is an early copper coin with few rivals in quality or historical significance.
Current Bid: $575,000