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Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Large Cents, Silver Coins, and more, in the FUN Platinum Night Event

A Weekly CoinWeek Column by Greg Reynolds
News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #142 …..

During or just prior to major coin conventions, Heritage conducts two to four Platinum Night events each year, along with regular, live auctions. Since this tradition began in 2004, the flagship Platinum Night events have been held during FUN Conventions in January, in Florida. A Platinum Night event is planned for January 2013 at the convention center in Orlando, on Wed. the ninth or Thursday the tenth. The purpose here is to provide an overview of early copper and of some silver coins in this Platinum Night event, with emphasis on pedigrees and the reasons why specific coins are particularly important. Some other newsworthy items in this blockbuster event are mentioned.

The run of Proof Capped Bust Half Dollars in this auction is too extensive and astonishing to incorporate into a general overview and some of these will be discussed in upcoming columns. Indeed, in the future, a number of the coins in this auction, including gold pieces, will probably be discussed in detail. I note that the Farouk Proof 1907-D Double Eagle ($20 gold piece), which I analyzed in 2010, will be in this sale.

My discussion here is an overview, rather than a detailed analysis. It should not be assumed that I am endorsing many of the coins mentioned or that I am agreeing with all the grades assigned by services. As always, I recommend consulting experts before spending large sums on coins, on other collectibles, or on art.

I aim to give an impression of the scope and depth of this event. So far, it seems that, while a few exemplary gold coins will be included, this particular Platinum Night event will not be best remembered for gold coins.

In some past Platinum Night events, gold coins captured much of the attention. On Jan. 6, 2011, a fresh consignment of Proof gold from the Henry Miller Collection, and Jim O’Neal’s Indian Head Half Eagles, dominated the FUN Platinum Night event. In Jan. 2007 and again in Jan. 2012, second Platinum Night events were devoted to gold coins. In the Platinum Night event of Jan. 2013, silver coins will be the stars.

The lead consignment to this auction is the second part of the Greensboro Collection, which will be best remembered for 19th century silver coins that are certified as Proofs. His collection of 19th century half dollars is more than exceptional.

Also, the Greensboro Proof 1802 silver dollar was auctioned on Oct. 20, 2012, and his Proof 1803 silver dollar will be auctioned in this Platinum Night event. This 1803 is PCGS certified ‘Proof-66.’

I. 1876-CC 20c Piece

There is no doubt that 1876 Carson City (Nevada) Mint Twenty Cent coins are Great Rarities. The one that Heritage will offer in January is PCGS graded MS-65. The Heritage cataloguer suggests that this coin has not been offered at auction since it was in a Stack’s sale in Feb. 2002.

I have written, on several occasions, about 1876-CC Twenty Cent pieces. (Clickable links are in blue.) It would not make sense to repeat my past discussions of this issue here. I hope that interested collectors will please read my writings on 1876-CC Twenty Cent pieces. I have seen most of them, and have closely followed sales of these.

The Comstock 1876-CC was PCGS graded MS-62 prior to 2008 and later NGC graded MS-64 in late 2008 or early 2009. Superior auctioned it in 2008 and Heritage in 2009.

In Oct. 2007, Stack’s (New York) auctioned one from an unnamed consignment. It is (or was) PCGS graded MS-64.

In June 2009, Spectrum-B&M auctioned a PCGS graded AU-58 coin for $207,000. It was one of three that sold in the spring of 2009. (Please click to read about them.) I then estimated that fifteen to nineteen exist.

In my first Coin Rarities & Related Topics column, in May 2010, I reported on the sale of a fresh 1876-CC Twenty Cent piece, the Wagner Collection coin, which is in an NGC details holder. A collector in the West acquired it, privately.

As I reported in August, the Battle Born 1876-CC sold for $460,000. It is PCGS graded MS-64 and CAC approved. That was a strong price.

II. Large Cents

U.S. cents were first minted in 1793, and large cents of three different design types were produced in this one year. These are well represented in the Jan. 2013 Platinum Night event. There are four Chain Cents that are PCGS graded EF-45 or higher.

The Husak-Rasmussen Chain Cent of the first variety, where America is abbreviated as “AMERI.,” is PCGS graded AU-53. When Heritage auctioned Walter Husak’s Collection, on Feb. 15, 2008, this coin brought $172,500.

In this upcoming Platinum Night event, the PCGS graded AU-50 Chain Cent of the ‘With periods’ variety (S-4) was also formerly in the collection of Walter Husak. It sold for $138,000 on Feb. 15, 2008.

In this event, there are three Wreath Cents that are PCGS graded MS-62 or higher, and one that is NGC graded “MS-66.” Undoubtedly, Heritage will auction additional Wreath Cents during this same week.

The Liberty Cap Cents of 1793 are rare in all grades. Back in March 2008, when I wrote about the Husak Collection, I estimated that around three hundred exist.

Although Liberty Cap Cents were minted from 1794 to 1796 as well, those of 1793 have beaded borders, while the later Liberty Cap Cents have dentils at the borders, toothlike devices that protect the coin. As the borders are different, some experts regard the 1793 Liberty Cap Cents as being of a design type that is different from the Liberty Cap Cents of 1794 to 1796.

This 1793 Liberty Cap is PCGS graded Very Fine-25 and was formerly in the Naftzger and Dan Holmes Collections. Ted Naftzger assembled the all-time best collection of large cents, most of which was sold privately to Eric Streiner in 1992. No one has ever formed a collection of early large cents that is more complete than that formed by Dan Holmes.

The Holmes ‘Early Date’ large cents were auctioned by the Goldbergs in 2009 and this specific coin realized $112,125. It is of a die variety (S-12) that is much rarer than the varieties of 1793 Liberty Cap Cents (S-13 and S-14) that are usually obtained by those who collect large cents ‘by date’ or ‘by type.’

In Aug. 2009, I examined this Holmes-Rasmussen (S-12) Liberty Cap Cent and I really liked it. It exhibits more than one shade of mellow brown and is not too dark. The head of Miss Liberty has a slight russet hue. There are no serious scratches or other substantial contact marks. Furthermore, it was well struck on a pleasing planchet (prepared blank). It is really nice for its assigned VF-25 grade.

Several of the very valuable and noteworthy 1793 cents that Heritage will auction in January 2013 are from the collection of Wes Rasmussen. In Jan. 2005, in Fort Lauderdale, Heritage auctioned a comprehensive collection of large cents that Rasmussen had formed. The current consignment is smaller and more specialized.

Interestingly, the current Rasmussen consignment does feature a second 1793 Liberty Cap. It is PCGS graded VG-10, is also of a relatively rare die variety (S-16), and was also in the Dan Holmes Collection. Walt Husak’s collection, too, contained a 1793 Liberty Cap Cent that is PCGS graded VG-10 and is of this exact same die variety (S-16). This Husak coin sold for $46,000 on Feb. 15, 2008.

Like the Rasmussen PCGS graded VF-25 1793 Liberty Cap cent, the Rasmussen’s PCGS graded VG-10 1793 Liberty Cap Cent was formerly in the collection of Dan Holmes and was auctioned by the Goldberg firm, with the cooperation of McCawley & Grellman, in Sept. 2009. It was then not certified and graded “VG-07” by Bob Grellman. I noted that it is very attractive for a ‘Very Good’ grade, early large cent, with honest even wear and appealing color. It then realized $33,350.

In my view, 1793 Liberty Cap Cents are much more important than some of the more esoteric varieties of large cents from the 1790s. In the Jan. 2013 FUN Platinum Night event, there will be offered a “Jefferson Head” 1795 large cent that is PCGS graded VF-20. This is an extremely rare issue, which is mysterious. I strongly suggest that collectors consult a relevant expert before bidding on this piece.

This seems to be the same “Jefferson Head” that Stack’s-Bowers auctioned on Aug. 9, 2012. If so, it was in an ANACS holder at the time and sold for $86,250. That piece is characterized by corrosion and other issues.  Denis Loring notes that “it is of typical quality for Jefferson Head Cents.”

Those who prefer high quality large cents may wish to bid on some of the Proofs in the Greensboro Collection. An 1822 cent is PCGS certified ‘Proof-62.’ It was formerly in the collection of John Pittman. Only a handful of 1822 cents have been certified as Proofs. After being auctioned by the firm of David Akers in Oct. 1997, it was sold in the Stack’s-ANR sale of Nov. 2008, in which it realized $44,850. In general, Proofs from the 1820s are rare.

The Greensboro Collection also contains an 1829 that is NGC certified as “Proof-64.” Moreover, this collection contains large cents of the following dates that are PCGS or NGC certified as Proofs: 1831, 1838, 1840, 1841, 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1847, 1848, 1849, 1854 and 1855. It is likely that all of these will be offered during the upcoming Platinum Night event.

A high grade 1793 half cent in this sale should be mentioned. After all, 1793 was the first year for half cents, too, and half cents of this year are one-year type coins.

This 1793 half cent is PCGS graded AU-58. Though struck with the same pair of dies, this coin is different from the PCGS graded AU-58 1793 half cent that failed to sell in Heritage auction sessions om April 19 and on Aug. 3, 2012. It is also different from the one that Heritage auctioned for $46,000 in Aug. 2010 in Boston. Although I have seen several PCGS graded AU-58 1793 half cents, I do not recall ever seeing this one. I am curious about it. It seems to be fresh.

III. 1792 half dismes

Yes, “dime” is spelled “disme” on the reverse (back) of each 1792 half dime. On more than one occasion, I have cited leading researcher R. W. Julian as part of an explanation that ‘disme’ is just an archaic spelling of dime and has always been pronounced as ‘dime’ is now pronounced. The ‘s’ is silent.

Don Taxay, too, in his epic reference on the history of the U.S. Mint, made clear that ‘disme’ and ‘dime’ are pronounced the same. While it does not make logical sense to include the ‘s’ in current spellings, I do so because it would be distracting to challenge the tradition here.

There are five 1792 half dismes in this auction event. The finest of these, the Floyd Starr piece, is PCGS certified ‘SP-67’ and will be the topic of another article. This piece is now in the Greensboro Collection and sold for $1,322,500 when Heritage last auctioned it in April 2006.

In this Jan. 2013 Platinum Night event, the Starr piece will be accompanied by four other PCGS certified 1792 half dismes with the following grades assigned: VG-10, AU-50, AU-58 and MS-64, respectively. Prices for 1792 half dismes have risen dramatically over the last twenty years. It will be interesting to see how these five fare in January.

These 1792 half dismes are not the only noteworthy small silver coins in this Platinum Night event. An NGC certified ‘Proof-65’ 1854 Three Cent Silver coin is deserving of mention. Proofs of this date are extremely rare.

This 1854 trime was earlier in the epic Garrett Family Collection, one of the all-time greatest collections of U.S. coins and patterns. Moreover, it is part of a collector consignment, “The Walter Freeman Collection of Three Cent Silvers.” The total number of Proofs of all dates in the second type of Three Cent Silvers is not large, certainly less than five hundred. All such dates are demanded by collectors of Proof type coins.

IV. Dimes and Quarters

U.S. dimes were first minted in 1796. Those of 1796 and 1797 constitute a two year, Draped Bust, Small Eagle, design type. There is a corresponding two year design type for half dollars, which are much rarer.

The 1796 dime in this auction is NGC graded MS-63. It was formerly in the type set of Haig Koshkarian and in the specialized collection of dimes that was formed by Ed Price.

This Koshkarian-Price 1796 dime sold for $25,300 when ANR auctioned Dr. Haig’s type set in March 2004. In the Heritage ANA Platinum Night event of July 31, 2008, when markets for rare U.S. coins were, very literally, peaking, this dime brought $43,125.

In 2008, I viewed this 1796 dime. It has been moderately dipped in the past. Its grade is in the middle or high end of the 63 range. It has naturally retoned and is moderately brilliant, with much luster. The reverse in particular, when tilted under a lamp, really comes alive. Furthermore, it is sharply struck. Overall, the Koshkarian-Price 1796 dime is an attractive and desirable coin.

The 1797 dime is much scarcer than the 1796 dime. The 1797 in this auction is PCGS graded MS-65 and was formerly in the epic collection of John Pittman. It is from the same collector-consignment as the 1796 half dollar in this sale, which is PCGS graded AU-55. Spectrum-B&M auctioned that same half dollar, in Jan. 2005, in Fort Lauderdale, for $172,500.

Of the Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle type, 1804 dimes are key dates. Indeed, 1804 dimes are very rare and very famous. Some have thirteen stars on the reverse (back) and others have fourteen stars on the reverse. The thirteen stars and fourteen stars issues are each very rare in their own right and the total known of all 1804 dimes is certainly less than three hundred. Not gradable pieces are not incorporated in the data published by the PCGS and the NGC. The 1804 dime in this auction is of the thirteen stars variety and is PCGS graded Extremely Fine-45, which is an exceptional grade for an 1804 dime.

An 1855 dime in this auction is NGC certified “Proof-67 Cameo.” This same coin was recently auctioned by Heritage for $43,125 on Aug. 3, 2012. The fact that it is of the 1853 to 1855 ‘With Arrows’ type is important, as some people assemble type sets of Proof coins.

Like dimes, quarters were first struck in 1796. Quarters of the Draped Bust, Small Eagle design type, however, were struck only in 1796, and these are the only U.S. quarters with an 18th century date. There is a PCGS graded MS-60 1796 quarter in this event.

An 1838 Liberty Seated Quarter to be offered during the Jan. 2013 Platinum Night will attract more attention than the just mentioned 1796 quarter. As it is of the ‘No Drapery’ type, the fact that it is PCGS certified as a Proof is extremely important and very much newsworthy. The cataloguer indicates that this specific coin has not been publicly offered since it was auctioned by Stack’s (New York) in 1957. I will probably discuss it in the future, after I have seen it.

As a business strike, the 1886 Liberty Seated Quarter is a semi-key date. This leads to slightly higher demand for Proof 1886 quarters. The Proof 1886 in this auction is PCGS certified ‘Proof-68 Cameo’ and is thus at the forefront of published population data for this issue.

The 1896-S is one of three keys in the series of Barber Quarters, which were minted from 1892 to 1916. The 1896-S in this auction is NGC graded MS-65.

V. 1868 Aluminum Proof Set

Yes, in 1868, several Proof sets were struck in aluminum. These fall into the category of patterns, broadly defined. Each of these sets contains (or contained) all copper, nickel, silver and gold denominations of U.S. coins, though in aluminum.

Of the surviving aluminum sets, the Garrett set is the most famous. It will be offered in this Jan. 2013 Platinum Night event. It contains sixteen pieces that are certified as Proofs by the NGC, with grades ranging from 63 to 67. I was captivated when I first saw this set. Plus, this set is accompanied by a neat, original case.

This specific set was auctioned with much fanfare in 1979 in one of landmark Garrett sales by Bowers & Ruddy. This set was handled by Park Avenue Numismatics at the Jan. 2008 FUN Convention.

For a sophisticated collector of patterns, of 19th century U.S. coins of various denominations, or of type coins, a fully complete set in aluminum is like a wonderful fantasy that surprisingly exists in reality. I am delighted that I have been able to examine two such sets. A collector friend owns the Fewsmith-Newcomer set, which I had encouraged him to obtain in 2007.

©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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