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Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Cents, Dimes and Quarters in the Pre-ANA Platinum Night Event

A Weekly CoinWeek Column by Greg Reynolds
News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #117 ……

In early August, Heritage will conduct an extensive auction prior to the ANA Convention, which will be held the following week. For around ten days, rare coin related events will occur in Philadelphia. Stack’s-Bowers is conducting the official auction of the ANA Convention.

Last week, I wrote about the unique 1873-CC ‘No Arrows’ dime that will be auctioned by Stack’s-Bowers. (Clickable links are in blue.) I will write more about the official ANA auction. The depth of Heritage pre-ANA event, though, is extraordinary. This week, my focus is on cents, dimes and quarters that Heritage will offer during the Platinum Night event of Friday, Aug. 3rd.

I. 1792 Silver Center Copper Cent Pattern

In April, a 1792 Silver Center Copper Cent pattern was ‘in the news’ when one sold for $1.15 million. That one is PCGS graded “MS-61.” The one in this auction is of lower quality, yet there are just fourteen or so known of this very famous and historically important pattern.

This one is PCGS graded Very Fine-30. It was formerly in the epic, 19th century collections of Joseph Mickley and M. I. Cohen. Recently, it was in the Queller Collection of patterns, which Heritage auctioned on Jan. 7, 2009.

I wrote a three part series about the auction of Queller’s patterns. The Mickley-Cohen-Queller piece then realized $243,000, which I found to be a strong price in Jan. 2009. This is not one of the higher quality representatives of this issue. All Silver Center Copper Cent patterns are exciting, however, and have tremendous historical significance. Please read my commentary in April.

II. Cents

Chain Cents were minted only in 1793, and just for a few months. During this Platinum Night event, there will be offered representatives of all four varieties of Chain Cents. The most newsworthy of the four is a Chain Cent of the ‘With periods’ variety that is PCGS graded AU-58 and is CAC approved.

Chain Cents with periods after the word ‘LIBERTY’ and the numerals ‘1793’ (the “date”) are often collected ‘as if’ these represent a distinct date. The head of Liberty looks different on these as well. One that grades “AU-58” is an extremely important representative of this popular variety. In January 2012, I put forth a detailed analysis of the one that sold for $1.38 million in the FUN Platinum Night event. (Remember that clickable links are in blue.) That one is PCGS graded MS-65 and is worth much more than the PCGS graded AU-58 coin that will be auctioned on Aug. 3rd. Even so, as that $1.38 million result was astonishing, it will be interesting to find out how this PCGS graded “AU-58” coin fares at auction.

Like Chain Cents, Wreath Cents were minted just in 1793. These are not nearly as scarce as Chain Cents.

I have seen the NGC graded “MS-66” Wreath Cent in this auction. I was present when it was offered by Stack’s in January 2009, in Orlando. It is one of the highest certified Wreath Cents.

Also in this auction are quite a few large cents that are PCGS or NGC certified as Proofs. An 1821 that is graded 63 is notable. Although I was present when it was last auctioned in August 2009, I do not have a clear recollection of it.

I note an 1866 Indian Cent that was formerly in the collection of Joshua and Ally Walsh. It is one of five that is PCGS certified ‘MS-66’ with a designation for relatively ‘full’ original red color. Furthermore, it is CAC approved. In addition, a Proof 1864-L Indian Cent always commands attention. The one in this auction is PCGS certified ‘Proof-65’ with a designation that it exhibits ‘red and brown’ color (“RB”), meaning a mix of original mint red and natural brown. It is also CAC approved.

A different Proof 1864-L with the same certification, including CAC approval, was auctioned by Heritage in Oct. 2011 for $161,000. It is curious, though, that the PCGS blue label relating to this coin indicates that it is 93.6% copper, rather than 95% or more, and 4.3% tin. The listing of the composition of the remaining 2.1% is covered by a CAC sticker. Is this alloy surprising?

I will not mention the 1909-S VDB and 1914-D Lincoln Cents in this auction as these dates are in almost every major auction of U.S. coins. When I was a little kid, I thought these were so rare and of extraordinary importance. It was very disappointing to later learn that there are tens of thousands of 1909-S VDB and 1914-D cents in existence. Gem quality key or semi-key date Lincolns with full original red color, however, are condition rarities. This auction contains a few that are highly certified.

Even a 1926-S that is certified as MS-64 with a full ‘red’ designation is a condition rarity, which has considerable value. Circulated 1926-S cents, in contrast, are very common. The PCGS certified ‘MS-64 Red’ Lincoln Cent in this sale is curiously, very valuable.

III. Bust Dimes

There is a noteworthy run of dimes in this Aug. 3rd Platinum Night event, the most interesting of them is a PCGS graded ‘Good-06’ 1796 dime. It was last auctioned by Heritage as part of the Ed Price Collection on July 31, 2008, at an ANA Convention in Baltimore. I was there.

This same dime then sold for $6900. A 1796 dime in this grade that is not of an unusual variety would probably sell at auction for less than $3000. U.S. Dimes were first struck in 1796.

This ‘Good-06’ 1796 dime has a CAC sticker. Ed Price collected dimes by die variety. The pair of dies that were used to strike this 1796 dime was also used to strike quite a few other surviving 1796 dimes. This one is special because it is one of only three recognized of the early die state, before the obverse (front) die slightly fractured. As a consequence of a slight fracture, there was a cavity in the die and a raised line from the rim to the 1 in ‘1796’ was imparted on all dimes struck from this pair of dies, after the fracture occurred.

There are collectors who seek coins struck from early die states, middle die states, and late die states of each pair of dies. In my opinion, it makes more sense to collect ‘by date.’

A collector would have to be very serious about varieties of 1796 dimes in order to pay a tremendous premium for an early die state. I will be very curious as to the price that this dime will realize.

I like this 1796 dime. It is especially appealing for a Good-06 grade 1796 dime, of any variety. Although it was lightly to moderately cleaned in the past, it has naturally retoned. Furthermore, this 1796 has very few contact marks and no serious problems. Its wear is even. The hairlines present are easily allowed for a Good-06 or slightly higher grade early dime. It is a coin that looks better in actuality than it appears in pictures.

While 1796 and 1797 dimes are both of the Draped Bust, Small Eagle design type, 1797 dimes are much scarcer. The 1797 dime in this auction will command attention. It is PCGS graded MS-62 and has a CAC sticker.

The 1801 dime in this sale was earlier in the “Joseph Thomas Collection,” which Heritage auctioned in April 2009. It is an epic collection of U.S. silver coins.

The “Thomas” 1801 is NGC graded MS-62 and is thus one of the highest certified. In all grades, 1801 dimes are very rare.

The 1802 is, more or less, as rare as the 1801. The 1802 in this sale is NGC graded AU-55. This exact same coin sold for $23,800 in a Heritage auction in Dec. 2010.

The 1804 dime is the key to the Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle design type. One in this auction is PCGS graded ‘Extremely Fine-45.’

An 1807 dime that was also previously in the Ed Price Collection is both a condition rarity and a U.S. Mint error. It was struck on a clipped blank (planchet). It is PCGS graded MS-66 and is CAC approved.

This Ed Price 1807 dime was also in the “Joseph Thomas” collection. It sold for $69,000 when coin markets were peaking in July 31, 2008 and for $25,300 around the time that coin markets bottomed out in April 2009. There are many variables, however, that affect the price of a specific coin at auction, not just overall market levels. (Please see my pertinent article, What Are Auction Prices?)

Among 1829 Capped Bust Dimes, those with a ‘Curl Base 2’ are much rarer than 1829 dimes in general. Indeed, fewer than one hundred 1829 ‘Curl Base 2’ dimes exist, in all grades. The one in this auction is PCGS graded ‘Fine-12’ and is CAC approved. It is from “The Rocky Mountain Collection.”

An 1833 dime, from an unnamed consignor, is NGC certified “MS-68*.” I have not seen it. It was also previously in the “Joseph Thomas Collection” and it brought $34,500 in April 2009.

I have seen the Proof 1831 Capped Bust Dime in this sale, more than once. I will ‘look up’ my notes about it when I write more about Proof dimes. My impression is that it was PCGS certified Proof-66 more than twenty years ago.

In this sale, there is also an 1835 dime that is PCGS certified “Proof-64” with a CAC sticker. This same 1835 was in the Aug. 18, 2011, Stack’s-Bowers Rarities Night event and the Heritage Platinum Night event of Jan. 4, 2012, in which it realized $17,250.

IV. Liberty Seated Dimes

There is one 1846 dime being offered on Platinum Night and two others in a regular session. In March, I brought attention to “The Unrecognized Importance of 1846 Dimes” The 1846 that will be offered during this Platinum Night session was sold during the Platinum Night of Jan. 4, 2012. It is PCGS graded AU-55 and it then went for $11,500.

The 1859-S dime in this sale is of great importance. These are rare in all grades and, it seems that this is, by far, the finest known. This 1859-S is PCGS graded MS-65 and it has a CAC sticker. The NGC does not report an 1859-S dime in MS-63 or higher grades. The PCGS has graded one as MS-63, zero as MS-64, this one as MS-65, and zero at higher levels.

This 1859-S dime is bright and more than attractive. Some small contact marks are consistent with a 65 grade. It has been moderately to heavily, though expertly, dipped not that long ago. Personally, I prefer coins with a more original appearance, though this dime is naturally retoning with mild brownish-russet areas and light blue patches. The underlying luster is very bright and is cool. If it had a more original look, it would probably grade MS-66. Most expert graders would find, or have already determined, that this coin’s grade is at least in the middle of the MS-65 range.

This 1859-S was in ANR auction in 2004, in which it realized $75,900. It was offered by Stack’s in July 2009, March 2010 and Aug. 2011. I do not believe that Heritage has ever offered it before.

This 1859-S dime has been PCGS graded MS-65 at least since early 2004, maybe before then. It was CAC approved after March 2010 and before Aug. 2011.

It is one of a few rare San Francisco Mint issues in the series of Liberty Seated Dimes. The catalogue pictures of the 1867-S dime in this sale are not familiar. As it is PCGS graded MS-64, it is one of the highest certified of this ‘better date.’

I cannot read the catalogue description of an 1873-CC ‘With Arrows’ Liberty Seated Dime without thinking about the unique 1873-CC ‘No Arrows’ dime that I discussed last week. Collectors sometimes forget that the ’73-CC ‘WITH Arrows’ dime is extremely rare. The offering of one that is PCGS graded AU-53 is important.

The 1874-CC ‘With Arrows’ dime is even rarer than the 1873-CC ‘With Arrows.’ The 1874-CC dime in this auction is NGC graded “AU-50.” It was previously auctioned by Heritage in Jan. 2008. Admittedly, though, 1874-CC dimes are very hard to find, even with the sharpness of a Very Fine or Extremely Fine grade.

There are no Barber Dimes in this Platinum Night event. There are numerous Barber Dimes in a regular auction session, including a circulated 1895-O.

V. Mercury Dimes

The 1916 Denver Mint issue is the key to the series of Mercury Dimes. There are two in this Aug. 3rd Platinum Night event, the first is PCGS graded MS-62 and the second is graded MS-64 by the same service. The same PCGS graded MS-62 1916-D was auctioned for $13,800 in Aug. 2010 and for $14,950 in April 2008.

These two 1916-D dimes are designated by the PCGS as having full horizontal bands (“FB”) in the central reverse (back of each coin), “Full Bands”! In my view, whether a coin has such ‘Full Bands’ should not be a crucial issue. A magnifying glass is needed to notice the bands, which are not an important part of the design. Clearly, however, a Mercury Dime with a ‘Full Bands’ designation is often worth dramatically more than one of the same date and certified grade without a ‘FB’ designation.

The 1919 in this sale is the only “FB” designated 1919 Merc that is PCGS graded “MS-67+.” Furthermore, it has a sticker from the CAC. The CAC approval, however, pertains to a “MS-67” grade, not to a “MS-67+” grade; experts at the CAC ignore ‘plus’ grades assigned by the PCGS or the NGC.

Although a pedigree is not mentioned in the catalogue description, the PCGS certified “MS-67 FB” 1920-S in this sale is the same as the “Joseph Thomas” 1920-S that Heritage sold for $37,375 in April 2009. It has been CAC approved in the interim. A different PCGS certified ‘MS-67 FB’ 1920-S, also with a CAC sticker, was auctioned by Heritage for $60,375 in August 2010.

A PCGS certified ‘MS-67 FB’ 1925-S is another certification rarity. Additionally, there are two certified “MS-66” 1942/1 Denver Mint overdates in this Platinum Night event, one is NGC graded and the other is PCGS graded with a CAC sticker. The 1942/1 overdates are very popular with collectors.

VI. Quarters

I note the presence in this sale of an NGC graded MS-63 1807 quarter from “The Aberg Collection.” I have not seen it. It is a representative of the last year of the Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle quarter type, which lasted just from 1804 to 1807. Choice ‘Mint State’ quarters of this type are rare.

The first year of Capped Bust Quarters is 1815. No quarters are dated from 1808 to 1814.

The 1815 in this Platinum Night even is NGC certified “MS-66*.” Although a pedigree is not mentioned in the catalogue description, Heritage has auctioned this same quarter before. While the NGC assigned star for eye appeal is relatively new, this 1815 has been NGC graded 66 for a long time. It realized $15,525 in a May 2003 Long Beach sale. Four years later, in a May 2007 auction, also at a Long Beach Expo, it brought more than twice as much, $32,200. In Jan. 2009, Heritage sold it again, as part of the Scott Rudolph Collection, for $21,850.

When I saw it in Jan. 2009, I found this coin to be more than very attractive. It has a small number of contact marks. The shades of blue and green blend together in really nice ways. The patches of orange-russet toning are great. Indeed, the toning is definitely natural and is very appealing.

There are not many gem quality 1815 quarters. Three of them have each appeared at auction on multiple occasions over the last ten years. It will be interesting to see how much this 1815 brings on Aug. 3rd.

I look forward to viewing the 1820 ‘Large 0’ quarter in this sale. It is PCGS graded “MS-65+” and is CAC approved. The online images suggest that this coin’s toning is very appealing.

The Norweb 1820 that is PCGS certified Proof-64 is an important coin that requires a separate discussion. It has appeared in more than one somewhat recent Stack’s auction.

The 1821 that is NGC certified ‘MS-66 Prooflike’ is one of a few quarters in this sale that were formerly in the Scott Rudolph Collection. In Jan. 2009, Heritage auctioned it for $21,850. It was then in a different NGC holder, with a different serial number.

Although it is just semi-prooflike, I very much like this 1821. It features an excellent strike. The mellow brownish-russet toning is appealing. Moreover, this coin glistens overall. Soft reflective fields are complemented by some design elements that are really frosty. Plus, there are cool die finishing lines that could be mistaken for hairlines. I am accepting of the 66 grade, though I am not completely comfortable with the ‘prooflike’ designation. This 1821 is a really neat coin overall.

As for the Norweb 1822 that is PCGS graded MS-61, it has appeared in two or three recent auctions. It did not sell in the Stack’s-Bowers Rarities Night event of Aug. 18, 2011, nor did it sell in the Heritage Platinum Night event of Jan. 3, 2012, during which a bid of more than $62,000 would have been needed to buy it. Also, the overdenomination variety is distinctive.

I have always liked this coin. It is more than attractive. The fields are considerably reflective. Moreover, the toning is pleasant and definitely natural. Unfortunately, this coin has gashes on both sides and at least a couple of substantially deep scratches on the reverse. Even so, the creamy blue-gray inner fields and the russet outer devices are appealing. The obverse on its own perhaps grades 61 or 62. Not all experts consider the reverse to be gradable. Certainly, the PCGS assigned grade of 61 is defensible. Calling this coin MS-60 would be fair enough.

Like many coins, the Norweb 1822 really has to be seen in actuality to be appreciated. In my view, the current consignor or someone else made a mistake this year by having PCGS put this coin in a new blue label holder. The previous green label holder, with the Norweb pedigree spelled out, is much more valuable and meaningful. Even without pedigrees mentioned, coins in old PCGS green label holders are often worth significant premiums.

All 1825 quarters are now regarded by some bust quarter researchers as 1825/4/2 overdates. The one in this sale is NGC graded MS-64. I have not seen it. This is a rare to very rare issue, in all grades.

As for the second type of Capped Bust Quarters, which is often called ‘Small Date’ or ‘Small Letters,’ this Platinum Night event contains two, a business strike and a Proof. An 1831 is NGC graded MS-66.

I have seen the Proof 1838 in this sale. The cataloguer lists three Proof 1838 Quarters and provides pedigree information regarding the other two. My very tentative impression is that this same Proof 1838 quarter appeared in April 2009, Sept. 2010 and July 2011 Heritage auctions. If so, in April 2009, this coin brought $46,000 and, in July 2011, $48,875. This 1838 is NGC certified Proof-64.

It was moderately to heavily dipped not long ago, and some ammonia may have been used after the dipping. Fortunately, it has begun to naturally retone in a nice manner, assuming that this is the same coin that was in the July 2011 Summer FUN auction.

If just three Proof 1838 quarters exist, this coin is extremely important. It will continue to retone. Further, it has cool, strong mirrors. It is definitely a dynamic coin.

The selection of business strike Liberty Seated Quarters in this event is not extensive. Some semi-key San Francisco Mint issues are represented. The Miles-Nevada 1864-S is PCGS graded MS-64. Stack’s auctioned silver coins in the R. L. Miles Collection in 1969. Heritage auctioned “The Nevada Collection of Seated Quarters” in Sept. 2008.

The Silbermunzen 1866-S is PCGS graded MS-66. I was present when the Silbermunzen Collection was auctioned at Long Beach in May 2008. It contained some wonderful quarters.

The Miles-Nevada 1868-S quarter is PCGS graded MS-64. Also, in this auction, there is an 1873-S ‘With Arrows’ that is NGC graded MS-65. I do not recognize it.

Four Proof Liberty Seated Quarters will be offered during this Platinum Night event, the most noteworthy of which is the “JFS” 1846 that is PCGS certified as Proof-64. An 1859 is PCGS certified ‘Proof-66 Cameo’ and has a CAC sticker. There are two 1884s that are each NGC certified ‘Proof-68 Cameo.’

Two Proof Barber Quarters will be offered as well. A 1907 is NGC certified ‘Proof-68+* Cameo’ and has a CAC sticker. The CAC approval refers to the 68 grade and to the cameo designation. The CAC approval does not necessarily relate to the plus grade or to the NGC awarded star for eye appeal.

Among Proof Barber Quarters, 1915 is a better date. The one in this sale is PCGS certified Proof-67 and is CAC approved.

Overall, the key date in the series of Barber Quarters is the 1901-S. There are two high grade representatives in this auction.  It is NGC graded MS-67. I have seen it before. Plus, I am almost certain that this same 1901-S was auctioned by ANR on Aug. 11, 2006, for $103,500.

It is definitely the same NGC graded MS-67 1901-S that Heritage offered in Jan. 2011, which realized $120,750. It is amazingly free of contact marks and hairlines, in my opinion has an unnatural white color.

The other 1901-S quarter is more impressive. I have seen it. It was sold by Heritage in October 2011, at which time it was in a very old NGC holder, probably dating before 1990. It was then NGC graded MS-64 and it had a CAC sticker.

In 2011, I noted that the toning is unquestionably natural and that this coin is extremely original overall. I very much like it. I then thought that maybe its grade was near the 65 border.

Later in October, I asked Matt Kleinsteuber about it. “Very nice coin, wonderful blue and red original toning, true gem, really grades 65,” Matt declared. It then realized $57,500, which is really more of a retail 64 level price than a wholesale 65 level price. Nonetheless, the PCGS has since graded it as MS-65, a grading event which Kleinsteuber implied might occur. I hope to view it again. All experts who have seen it seem to be in agreement that its toning is terrific.

While the 1901-S is the key for the series of Barber Quarters, the 1916 is the key for the series of Standing Liberty Quarters (SLQs). These are highly demanded in all grades.

During this Platinum Night, three 1916 Standing Liberty Quarters will be offered. The first 1916 SLQ is NGC graded “MS-62+” and the second is PCGS graded MS-65 with a designation that it has a ‘Full Head.’ The third 1916 SLQ is PCGS certified ‘MS-66 Full Head’ and is CAC approved. The images suggest that it has the kind of toning that would be both desired and expected to often appear on early Standing Liberty Quarters, mostly mottled russet and green with touches of orange-russet and red. I wish to emphasize, however, that I do not draw conclusions regarding toning from images of coins.

In this auction, a 1919 SLQ is NGC certified ‘MS-68 Full Head.’ The 1927-D in this sale seems to be more photogenic. It is NGC certified ‘MS-67 Full Head’ and is thus a significant condition rarity.

The 1927-D is a better date and the 1927-S is one of the keys. Indeed, in grades of AU-50 and higher, the 1927-S is one of the three keys of the SLQ series.

Two 1927-S SLQs will ‘come up’ for auction during this Platinum Night of Aug. 3rd. The first is PCGS graded MS-66 and is CAC approved. It lacks a ‘Full Head’ designation, though its head is not completely flat. It has a partial head. The second is PCGS graded MS-64 and does have a ‘Full Head’ designation. It is also CAC approved.

The second 1927-S with the ‘FH’ designation is more valuable than the first in this sale, even though the first is graded MS-66. Indeed, a PCGS certified ‘MS-64 FH’ 1927-S is worth much more than a PCGS graded MS-67 1927-S that does not have a ‘FH’ designation. It may make sense to buy SLQs that have heads that are each 50% to 80% full and are not designated as ‘FH.’

VII. Looking Forward

I plan to write more about this auction. Certainly, there are half dollars and silver dollars that merit discussion. Moreover, this Platinum Night event will be best remembered for gold coins, especially Quarter Eagles ($2½ coins). The PCGS graded, and CAC approved, MS-65 1921 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle ($20 gold piece) commands attention. Though I have never seen this 1921, I have heard a great deal about it.

I especially look forward to viewing the pre-1840 Proof gold coins in this event. A Proof 1839 ‘Head of 1838’ Eagle ($10 coin) may be the only privately owned, Proof ‘Type 1’ Liberty Head Eagle that I have never examined.

Both Heritage and Stack’s-Bowers are offering numerous exciting coins in Philadelphia. The coin auctions of August 2012 will be even greater than the coin auctions of August 2011.

©2012 Greg Reynolds

Greg Reynolds
Greg Reynolds
Greg Reynolds has carefully examined a majority of the greatest U.S. coins and most of the finest classic U.S. type coins. He personally attended sales of the Eliasberg, Pittman, Newman, and Gardner Collections, among other landmark events. Greg has also covered major auctions of world coins, including the sale of the Millennia Collection. In addition to more than four hundred analytical columns for CoinWeek and at least 50 articles for CoinLink, Reynolds has contributed hundreds of articles to Numismatic News newspaper and related publications. Greg is also a multi-year winner of the ‘Best All-Around Portfolio’ award from the NLG, as well as awards for individual articles, a series of articles on the Eric Newman Collection, and for best column published on a web site.

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