Coin Rarities & Related Topics: News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #327
A Weekly CoinWeek Column by Greg Reynolds ……
In Schaumburg, Illinois, a small city not far from Chicago, the annual CSNS convention will be held April 27-30. In the official auction, which will be conducted by Heritage, there are a wide variety of coins and other numismatic items. While there certainly are some fresh consignments, there are much less so than usual. A large number of newsworthy, rare, or conditionally rare, Classic U.S. coins and pre-1793 items have been in other auctions over the past three years.
A coin becomes fresh if it has not been openly offered, in the mainstream of the coin business, for at least five years. An open offering need not be in an auction. A coin, with a price tag, in a display case at a major convention or pictured on a dealer’s web site, is being openly offered. After waves of fresh material entered the coin community from 2011 to 2015, there does not seem to be very much so far in 2016.
I already covered the 1807 Draped Bust half in this sale that was earlier in the March 2015 ANA auction in Portland by Stack’s-Bowers. (Words in blue may be clicked to access references.) The NGC certified “Proof-65” 1839-O half in that Portland sale is also reappearing in this upcoming event at the Central States Convention.
In March 2015, it was in a holder with the same “Robison” pedigree noted and the same serial number. This Robison-Queller 1839-O then realized $193,875, an amount less than the astonishing price of $299,000 that this same coin reportedly sold for in February 2012.
Just when some collectors thought that it was too late to buy coins from the Gene Gardner Collection, more than forty-five of them are re-appearing in this upcoming Central States Auction, including many important rarities. There could be far more that are not identified as Gardner coins in the current catalogue. It would be a Herculean task to plate-match research all the Classic U.S. coins in this sale. As Gene Gardner formed the all-time greatest set of Liberty Seated coins, and seemed particularly enamored with quarters, some Gardner quarters are discussed in detail herein, and a few Gardner dimes are mentioned as well.
An apparently, very fresh coin in this auction is the Eliasberg Proof 1842 ‘Original’ half cent. According to the cataloguer, the consignor “purchased this piece directly from the Eliasberg sale” in May 1996. It is NGC certified as ‘Proof-64 Red & Brown.’ It was earlier in the epic collection of Matthew Stickney.
The “Indian Rocks Collection” of Buffalo nickels may be fresh and exceptional. I have not viewed this collection. Many highly certified representatives of key dates are included, several of which have CAC stickers.
Oliver Jung 1793 Half Cent
When Oliver Jung’s first type set was auctioned by ANR in July 2004, he fast became a living legend. A partial, second type set, including some extremely important rarities, was offered by Heritage in August 2014.
It is not mentioned in the current catalogue that the soon to be offered, PCGS graded MS-64 1793 half cent was earlier offered in the August 2014 ANA Convention sale by Heritage. Reportedly, it then sold for $146,875. That August 2014 listing indicated that this half cent was consigned by Oliver Jung. I doubt that it would receive a CAC sticker while certified as “MS-64,” though it is an attractive coin. It seems that it was earlier in the collections of Joseph Brobston and Charles Jay, which Stack’s (NY) auctioned in 1967.
Pre-1793 American Items
The 1787 New York Excelsior Coppers are among the most famous of all pre-1793 items. These are interesting parts of the history of New York State and relate to monetary policies and coin shortages in the newly independent nation. In November 2014, a NGC graded AU-50, Indian obverse, NY Arms reverse piece from the Eric Newman Collection was auctioned for $88,125. Before being consigned to this upcoming Central States auction, it ‘crossed into’ a PCGS holder with the same grade.
For a New York Copper, this is a rather appealing piece, with honest wear and minimal contact marks, certainly among the finest of the survivors of the Indian/ NY Arms subtype. Of the fourteen listed in the Heritage catalogue, several have been extensively worn and/or have serious problems. These were in many of the greatest collections of all time: Eliasberg, Parmelee, Garrett, Boyd, Mickley, Brand, Jenks, Stickney and Norweb.
Thomas Warner, John Mills and James Ten Eyck, each owned one as well. New York 1787 Excelsior pieces have clearly been cherished by leading collectors since the middle of the 19th century.
One of the all-time best collections of pre-1973 items was formed by Donald Partrick. In January 2015, Heritage auctioned a large part of the Donald Partrick Collection. Many Partrick pieces, which were then sold, re-appear in this upcoming auction, including two Willow Tree Shillings, two Oak Tree Twopence coins, an Oak Tree Sixpence, two Oak Tree Shillings, and Pine Tree Massachusetts Silver coins.
This is now the third time that Heritage has recently handled the Craige-Partrick 1783 Chalmers Threepence, which is NGC graded as MS-61, for auctions in January 2015, January 2016 and April 2016. The Craige-Partrick 1783 Chalmers Sixpence is re-appearing too. It is NGC graded as EF-40.
Partrick had two 1792 silver disme patterns. The NGC graded AU-50 piece is to be offered again, after having sold for a record price of $998,750 in January 2015.
An 1814 ‘Large Date’ dime was PCGS graded as MS-65 when Heritage sold it in January 2016 for $8225. It is now PCGS graded as “MS-65+” and is in the Central States sale.
A dipped white, Gardner Collection, NGC graded “MS-66” 1866-S dime re-appears again. On May 12, 2015, it sold for $14,100. In December 2015 in Houston, it brought $11,750. It should have sunk into the minds of interested bidders by now that this is a 65 grade coin; it has been bringing 65-level prices all along. In some cases, it is important to think beyond plastic holders to understand auction results.
The re-appearance of the JAS-Gardner 1871-CC dime is mysterious. It was NGC graded MS-65 when it sold in Gardner II on October 27, 2014. It then brought a strong price, $270,250!
The PCGS graded MS-63 ‘Battle Born’ 1871-CC, which is commensurable, sold for $97,750 on August 9, 2012. That price was strong. The MS-65 grade for the JAS-Gardner piece was controversial; no one I know seemed very accepting of that assignment. Surprisingly, it has been re-certified by NGC as “SP-65”! I am not commenting upon it.
Although business strike 1844 dimes are much more famous than Proofs, a Heritage cataloguer reports that just seven Proofs are known. The Pittman-Kaufman-Gardner coin is PCGS certified as Proof-65 and has been approved at CAC.
While NGC certified as Proof-66 and part of the Phil Kaufman Collection, the Pittman-Kaufman Proof 1844 brought $103,500 on January 10, 2008, a time when markets for rare coins were booming. Evidently, it was purchased by the collector known as “Greensboro.”
In October 2012, it realized $64,625. Either then or shortly afterwards, it became part of the Gene Gardner Collection. By October 2014, it had been downgraded and was PCGS certified as Proof-65. On October 27, 2014, it sold for $44,062.50.
I wonder how much it will bring this time? By this point, I have seen the Pittman-Kaufman-Gardner 1844 a few times. It has bold Proof characteristics and is very attractive overall. The hairlines in the left obverse field are consistent with a 65 grade. The cameo wreath on the reverse is noteworthy. This is a really neat coin, which scores very high in the category of originality.
Gene Gardner’s 1859 transitional dime was PCGS certified as Proof-64 and CAC approved. In May 2015, it sold for $16,450. It is now being offered in the Central States auction after being upgraded to Proof-65 by PCGS. It no longer has a CAC sticker. I graded it as 64. Large numbers of upgrades are not healthy for the coin community.
A Gardner Proof 1891 dime was NGC certified as Proof-68 and had a CAC sticker when sold for $12,925 on May 12, 2015. There are errors in the current catalogue regarding the sale of this coin last year. It sold in May not October. It now has the same numerical grade assignment as it did last year; it is currently PCGS certified as ‘Proof-68 Cameo’ and once again has a CAC sticker.
Gardner’s second 1894-O dime was PCGS graded MS-64 and CAC approved. In October 2015, it brought $8812.50, a price in between the ranges for 64 and 65 grade 1894-O dimes. It has since been upgraded at PCGS to MS-65, and does not have a CAC sticker.
The ‘crossing’ of the Gardner 1903-O dime is newsworthy, as 1903-O dimes are extreme condition rarities in grades above MS-65. It was NGC graded as MS-67 and did not have a CAC sticker. The $8812.50 result in May 2015 did not suggest that leading bidders thought that this coin would ‘cross’ into a PCGS holder, as registry set competitors would desire a PCGS graded MS-67 1903-O. Even so, it crossed. Grade-inflation is more of a problem than it is thought to be by many rare coin enthusiasts. Around the time of the Gardner III sale, no one I know thought of this as the finest known 1903-O dime and no one talked about it crossing.
One of the most important dime errors of all is an 1895-O die cap. It is sort of shaped like a thimble. It has been PCGS graded as MS-64 since before 2007. This is a key date in general and die caps of Barber coins are rare.
The cataloguer accurately notes that this error was in the January 2007 FUN auction. It is not noted, though, that it was recently auctioned by Heritage for $19,975 in February 2014. The toning is natural and this is a really cool piece overall.
The Lily Nicole 1895-S dime is PCGS graded as MS-65+ and CAC approved. It sold for $4935 in the 2015 Central States auction and is now re-appearing.
Although it is in a different holder, the Garrett-Gardner 1806/5 quarter has the exact same serial number now that it had when it was auctioned in the Gardner I sale on June 23, 2014, 05877055. Further, in both cases, the Garrett name appears on the printed label (‘insert’) inside the holder. In 2014, the PCGS label was a faded blue color. The current label is a different shade of blue and features the PCGS Secure logo. In 2014, it had a CAC sticker, and it does not have one now. The serial number, however, continues to be connected with CAC approval in the CAC database.
In 2014, I found it to be an excellent coin, which scores very highly in the category of originality. Unless it has been modified in the interim, it should continue to qualify for a CAC sticker. The $55,812.50 result in 2014 was strong and logical. This coin is a prize.
Coin enthusiasts may have under-appreciated the Newman-Gardner 1840 quarter. This is an awe-striking coin. I cannot perceive how someone could challenge the NGC grade of MS-66. I do not know why it does not have a CAC sticker. This coin has a few lines, though has incredible eye appeal.
This Newman-Gardner 1840 quarter brought $17,625 on May 12, 2015. In November 2013, it sold for $35,250, partly because of the hysteria that characterized the Newman sale of U.S. coins in New York. Bidding went wild that night.
One reason why there was not much maniacal behavior at the Gardner sales is that many of the coins had been ‘on the market’ not long before the Gardner sales commenced in June 2014. A coin becomes fresh if it has not been openly offered for at least five years. While many of Gene’s coins were not fresh or not super-fresh, Newman’s U.S. coins were incredibly fresh; most had not been seen publicly for more than sixty years.
The Gardner 1853 ‘No Arrows’ Repunched Date quarter was NGC graded MS-65 when it was auctioned last October, for $9400. Surprisingly, it has since been upgraded by NGC to MS-66!
The Richmond-Gardner 1858-S quarter, which sold in Gardner III, is re-appearing at auction for the third time in less than twelve months. In Gardner III, while NGC graded MS-62, with a CAC sticker, it sold for $35,250. Later in 2015, it crossed into a PCGS holder with the same MS-62 grade and sold for $28,200.
The Gray-Gardner 1860-S quarter is an unrecognized rarity. Indeed, the whole 1860-S issue is rarer than most collectors realize. The PCGS CoinFacts figure of “275” is an overestimate. Probably around sixty-five different 1860-S quarters have been PCGS or NGC graded, and maybe another 150 exist, if that many. An estimate of 210 could be too high. The Gray-Gardner piece is likely to be the finest known, and is a pleasing piece with medium natural toning.
This 1860-S was NGC graded MS-61 when it was auctioned in July 2004 by Spectrum-B&M as part of the Jim Gray Collection, for $48,300. The Gray-Gardner 1860-S was still NGC graded MS-61 and had a CAC sticker when it sold in Gardner II for $55,812.50. Before March 2015, it ‘crossed’ into a PCGS holder and was offered in last year’s CSNS auction, in which it did not sell.
The next highest graded 1860-S quarter by PCGS is at the AU-50 level. The NGC graded AU-58 Richmond 1858-S brought $31,050 in March 2005.
In absolute terms, the 1864-S is even rarer than the 1860-S. Choice uncirculated 1864-S quarters, however, exist. The Eliasberg 1864-S was NGC graded MS-68 long ago, perhaps soon after it was auctioned in April 1997.
Gene had two 1864-S quarters, each of which sold for the exact same price, $28,200. The first was PCGS graded as MS-64.
The second was NGC graded as MS-64 and CAC approved when it sold in October 2015. It has since been ‘upgraded,’ and is now PCGS graded as “MS-64+.”
It is a really nice, mostly original coin. While not exciting, it does not have any problems or particularly bothersome imperfections. The second Gardner 1864-S, which is currently being offered, is much better than the first Gardner 1864-S, the one that sold on June 23, 2014. I could not grade the first one as MS-64. It might not qualify for a CAC sticker if it was downgraded to MS-63.
The Eliasberg-Gardner 1878-S quarter sold for $19,975 in Gardner II. It seems to be in the same PCGS holder that it was in since the 1990s, with a MS-66 grade and the Eliasberg pedigree noted on the green label. In January 2016, it brought $12,925 in the FUN auction.
Though a very likable coin, with neat natural toning. Its grade is perhaps in the lower part of the MS-66 range. Even so, it is likely to be the finest known 1878-S quarter, which is a rare coin. The 1878-S quarter tends to be overshadowed by the 1878-S half dollar, which is extremely rare.
There are no Classic U.S. coins that have fallen further in value than pre-1860 Proof Liberty Seated coins. Since markets for rare coins peaked in early August 2008, prices for these have fallen dramatically.
The Pittman-Kaufman-Greensboro-Gardner 1841 quarter is in the upcoming CSNS auction. It has been NGC certified as Proof-66 since before 2008, maybe since 1998?
In January 2008, as part of the Phil Kaufman Collection, it realized $345,000, a record that is likely to stand for a while. In January 2009, it brought $299,000. The collector who bought it in January 2009 decided to sell his rarities during the following summer. On July 31, 2009, this coin went for $207,000. “Greensboro” was the buyer.
In April 2013, it brought a little more than it did in July 2009, $235,000. In Gardner I, however, on June 23, 2014, it garnered just $141,000. It appeared most recently in the Heritage Platinum Night event of January 7, 2016, and did not sell
The Pittman-Kaufman-Greensboro-Gardner 1844 quarter has a similar history. It does, though, seem to be the only available Proof 1844 quarter. Moreover, unlike the just mentioned 1841, it has had a CAC sticker since before January 2009. It was NGC certified as Proof-66 until 2014.
In January 2008, it brought $322,000. In January 2009, with CAC approval, it sold for $299,000. On July 31, 2009, it brought $276,000. In August 2013, it was auctioned for $258,500. On June 23, 2014, it settled at $182,125. It was then still in a NGC holder.
In August 2015, it re-appeared in a PCGS Secure holder, with a Proof-65 certification and a CAC gold sticker. It did not sell in 2015. It will be offered in that same PCGS holder this month. A CAC gold sticker indicates that experts at CAC find it to be undergraded.
The puzzling saga of the Pittman-Kaufman-Greensboro-Gardner 1850 quarter is relevant and continues, as it is being offered again. In May 1998, this quarter became one of the most famous of all U.S. silver coins. I wrote an article about it in 2013 and discussed its later history in 2015.
The auction history of the Rudolph-Gardner 1896-O Barber quarter is curious, too. Until recently, it was NGC graded as MS-67. In August 2007, as part of the “Belle Glade Collection,” Heritage sold it for $80,500. In January 2009, as part of the Rudolph Collection, it brought $37,375. By that point, it had failed to be CAC approved.
In November 2009, Spectrum-B&M auctioned this same 1896-O quarter for $43,125. In Gardner II, on October 27, 2014, it brought $22,325. Its grade is around the border between MS-66 and MS-67, maybe.
Undoubtedly, this coin has been submitted for ‘crossover’ at PCGS in the past. It is surprising that it is now in a PCGS holder with a MS-67 grade. It will be interesting to note its price realized later this month.
Much can be learned by studying auction and grading histories of individual coins. It is really necessary, however, for collectors to discuss coins with straightforward experts to understand them.
©2016 Greg Reynolds