Legend Rare Coin Auction Preview by Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
Legend Rare Coin Auctions’ Regency Auction 39 will be held on July 16 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The sale contains 536 hand-selected lots of certified US coins of all denominations, including multiple condition-census and CAC-certified examples. With lot pre-sale estimate values ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than $100,000, there are coins for collectors of all budgets.
So in a catalog with more than two dozen coins that made my shortlist, I present the following five lots that I think you need to pay special attention to if you are actively collecting these series.
With the threat of the dissolution of the Union hanging over the presidential election, Americans turned to the polls in record numbers.
It was a four-way race, with the ascendant Republican Party ticket of former Illinois Representative Abraham Lincoln and Maine Senator Hannibal Hamlin running against longtime Lincoln debate rival Stephen Douglas of the Northern Democratic Party, Vice President John C. Breckinridge of the Southern Democratic Party, and Tennesee Senator John Bell of the fragmented Constitutional Union Party.
Lincoln’s name did not appear on the ballot in 10 southern states, but he won a plurality of the popular vote and trounced all comers in the Electoral College. The impact of the election was felt immediately, with the South Carolina General Assembly calling for a People’s Convention to discuss secession. Behind the scenes, southern politicians laid the legal framework for the creation of an ad hoc southern government. By the time Lincoln took the oath of office on March 4, 1861, seven states were in rebellion. After the firing on Union troops at Fort Sumter on April 12-13, four more states–including Virginia, the birthplace of founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison–followed suit.
The United States Mint was keenly aware of the circumstances it found itself in. Three of its four regional branch mints were located in the South. The Mints at Charlotte and Dahlonega were constructed in the late 1830s to turn locally-sourced gold bullion into coins, while the branch in the port city of New Orleans was conceived at the same time as a facility that would take in foreign silver and gold coins and turn them into American legal tender. Coinage at Charlotte and Dahlonega had slowed considerably over the years, but the federal bullion holdings in New Orleans were significant. Mint officials remained in contact with their southern branches as the political situation worsened and tried unsuccessfully to secure the return of its bullion.
It’s interesting to think that despite having former U.S. Treasury Secretary Howell Cobb at the helm of the Confederate States Provisional Congress that no southern mint was able to execute a viable coinage for the duration of the war. In fact, 1861 was the only year that the southern branches produced anything and these coins were struck to the United States standard using dies prepared at the Philadelphia Mint.
For its part, Philadelphia tried to pick up the slack. Realizing that a prolonged war would have a dramatic impact on its ability to meet the economic needs of the country, the Mint ramped up production in the war’s opening year. In 1861, Philadelphia struck 4,853,600 quarters; a significant number but by no means a high watermark for the series.
By the war’s end, the Mint would only eke out 58,800 pieces of the denomination.
The high mintage of 1861 quarter dollars makes the issue accessible to most collectors. An About Uncirculated example can be had for a few hundred dollars and choice examples in Mint State through the grade of MS64 are available for less than a thousand dollars.
The present piece being offered by Legend Rare Coin Auctions is a superb gem with brilliant original surfaces in PCGS MS67 CAC. PCGS has graded only one example finer, a toned MS67+, and CAC has certified only three coins at the MS67 level.
At this grade level, the 1861 quarter appears at auction only a few times a decade. Legend estimates the sale price of the coin will fall between $12,000 and $15,000 USD, a price range within the parameters that the coin brought in the previous decade. When a similar brilliant example was sold for $12,650 in April 2009, the PCGS population sat at six pieces with none finer. Since then, the population has inched up only slightly. The target seems more than fair and at the time of publication, six bids put the coin within striking distance of the low end of the estimate.
For those interested in building a superlative 1861 set, this example from the Bigmo Civil War Collection presents an attractive opportunity.
A second coin from the Bigmo Civil War Collection is this standout 1861 Indian Princess Head gold dollar graded PCGS MS67+ CAC. With a tremendous Akers / Duckor pedigree, this example exhibits multiple clash marks on the obverse and reverse. The outline of the wreath can be seen to the left and right of Liberty’s head and a doubled impression of LIBERTY from the Indian headdress can is well-defined on the coin’s reverse below the date.
In circulated grades, the 1861 gold dollar is common as Type III gold dollars go, but this being the finest of all known examples sets the coin apart. Scarce in grades above MS65, this example brought $32,900 at Heritage Auctions’ August 2015 US Coins Signature Auction. Legend Rare Coin Auctions set its pre-sale estimate at $30,000 to $33,000. We anticipate the final bid will exceed this conservative price range.
The 1861 Indian Princess Head gold dollar is a great coin, no doubt.
This 1864, however, is a show stopper.
A paltry 5,000 gold dollars were struck in 1864 – a significant decline from the 1.3 million struck in 1862 but by no means a low watermark for the series. This example, the second we’ve highlighted from the Bigmo Civil War Collection, is also a Duckor/Akers coin (add Virgil Brand for good measure) and is the second-finest known. The coin features a gorgeous satiny finish and was a stand out gold dollar when we last viewed it in person at a lot viewing before Heritage Auction’s August 2015 ANA US Coins Signature Auction, where it realized $70,500.
Legend Rare Coin Auctions’ presale estimate is $65,000 to $70,000 and with eight bids already registered, the current bid sits at $62,500. This lightly clashed coin belongs in a top-tier collection.
There are so many great gold dollars in this sale that it’s a shame we can’t spend more time on them. But sticking to the rule of three, I present you the one coin from the sale that I’d be completely remiss for not mentioning.
The 1855 gold dollar Proof is a great rarity, with 10 struck and possibly seven to eight known. Amazingly, this is the more “common” of the Type 2 gold dollar Proofs. The other issue, the 1854, has only four known examples out of an estimated mintage of five.
All 1855 gold dollar Proofs feature two small die gouges on the coin’s obverse above and to the right of Liberty’s headdress and a pair of die gouges to the left of the “1” on DOLLAR and another just to the right of it. There is visible “Longacre” doubling on the large one and the “8” in the date is typically bungled.
Legend Rare Coin Auctions identifies this piece as the J.F. Bell Specimen. Bell was the pseudonym of early 20th-century collector Jacob F. Shapiro, who assembled a highly coveted collection of gold coins. Stack’s sold a portion of his collection in 1944 and then again under their Numismatic Gallery imprint in 1948. After Shapiro’s death, RARCOA dispersed the rest of his numismatic holdings at their 1963 Central States Numismatic Society Convention sale.
This example was lot 9 in Stack’s 1944 sale, where the firm marketed it as a perfect gem and one of only two known to be struck. The coin brought $155, which was $35 less than the estimate. That buyer, presumably George H. Hall, seemingly got a bargain, although he let it go less than a year later when the coin brought $160 at auction (again under a $200 estimate). Those were the good old days of American numismatics, when great rarities such as this did not necessitate one being a multi-millionaire to purchase one.
The most recent appearance of this example–April 2020, then in an NGC PF66 Ultra Cameo holder–saw a price realized of $282,000. Previously the coin was in a PCGS PF65 “Old Green” holder, where it realized $287,500 in 2005. The difference between today’s NGC and PCGS grades is negligible. The plus grade puts this coin at #3 in the PCGS Condition Census. It is one of the finest known of a coin in which there are very few known to begin with. Legend’s estimate is fair: $280,000 to $300,000. The difference between the two is more or less in line with Stack’s estimates versus price realized in the 1940s. Just add several zeroes. Oh, how times have changed.
I close out my preview of Legend’s phenomenal Regency Auction #39 with this great Mint State Sheldon-31 1794 Large Cent. The Liberty Caps are by far the most attractive and collectible 18th-century U.S. coin. Known for its idiosyncrasies and myriad die marriages, this example features the Head of 1794 that first appeared on Sheldon-30 with a reverse that appears on this variety alone.
This example ranks fourth in the PCGS Condition Census and comes from the famed collection of Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. It features a pleasing reddish-brown color with clean surfaces, minor clashing, and a prominent die chip to the left of Liberty’s hair (indicative of the variety).
Legend Rare Coin Auctions estimates the coin’s value to be between $35,000 and $40,000. An early bid of $21,000 has already been placed.
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