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Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Teich Family Proof Sets and Southern Gold in Baltimore

News and Analysis on scarce coins, markets, and the collecting community #81

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

This week, the firm of Stack’s-Bowers Galleries (SBG) is conducting a mammoth auction at the Baltimore Coin & Collectible Expo. There are thousands of lots of coins and other numismatic items. It is not practical to cover all or even a large portion of the items here. I am focusing upon the Teich Family Collection. I also mention rare gold coins from the Charlotte and Dahlonega (GA) Mints. This auction will probably be best remembered for Teich Proofs and Southern gold.

I note that I am charmed by another consignment of fresh material, the George Dyer Collection, most of which has sold or will be sold today. From the 1930s until 2011, Dyer’s coins were stored in a cabinet that I had the opportunity to examine. The toning that resulted on his silver coins is vivid and often wild. His Liberty Seated Half Dollars, in particular, are richly colorful and curiously chromatic. I will write about these at some point.

This auction also contains a substantial number of important, classic (pre-1934) silver U.S. coins from several consignors, most of whom are not revealed. Key dates in Liberty Seated and Barber series come to mind. Sooner or later or both sooner and later, I will write about many of these.

I cannot resist mentioning one at the moment, the 1849-O quarter in this auction, even though it will ‘come on the block’ in a matter of hours. This is a key, or at least a semi-key date, in the series of Liberty Seated Quarters. The one in this auction is PCGS graded Very Fine-30 and I am impressed by it. This 1849-O has nice, stable, light gray toning, with blue and brownish-russet hints. The numerous very light contact marks are normal for a very fine grade Liberty Seated Quarter. This 1849-O is more than very attractive for its grade and is attractive overall.

I. Teich Family Collection

Dr. Samuel Teich bought started buying rare coins in the early 1950s and certainly continued through the 1960s. The Teich family 1856 Flying Eagle Cent was purchased at a Stack’s auction in 1985. Whether this was purchased by Samuel Teich or one of his sons, I do not know. At least one of his sons has shown tremendous interest in classic U.S. coins.

Samuel Teich attended many Stack’s auctions in the 1950s and 1960s, including epic events. About one-fourth of the Teich family collection was auctioned by Stack’s in New York in 1990 or ’91. Teich’s children consigned the balance of the Teich family collection for sale this week and in 2012.

The offering tomorrow night is the first part. The Teich family has an extensive run of Proof U.S. coins, dating from 1855 to 1915, and from 1936 to 1940.

The Teich family also consigned a 1921 Morgan silver dollar that is PCGS certified ‘Proof-64,’ with the designation that it is one of a few coins that was specially made for [Henry] Chapman. This coin is hard to explain, and it is different from the Proof Morgans that date from 1878 to 1904. I suggest that each prospective buyer consult an expert in Proof coins before bidding on it.

Mark Feld reports that he has “seen about a half a dozen” of these Chapman strikings of 1921 Morgans, including this exact coin. Mark “thought it was legitimate and highly original looking, as much or more so than any others [he] can remember.”

Like most of the Teich family Proof silver coins, it has appealing natural toning. While this 1921 Morgan stands alone, most other Teich family Proofs are part of complete or not so complete Proof sets.

Traditionally, in reference to Proof sets from 1858 to 1915, ‘silver’ Proof sets include copper coins, and nickels after 1865. For such a Proof set that includes all non-gold denominations, the archaic term ‘silver-minor’ may be more accurate, though I find this term to be irritating. In regards to the 1858 to 1915 period, the point that a complete ‘silver’ Proof set generally includes at least one non-silver coin is clear enough.

A complete 1868 ‘silver’ Proof set, for example, would include an Indian Cent (95+% copper), a Two Cent Piece (also 95+% copper), a Three Cent Nickel (25% nickel – 75% copper), a five cent nickel (also 25% nickel – 75% copper), a half dime, a dime, a quarter, a half dollar and a silver dollar. The silver coins consist of approximately 90% silver and 10% copper. Proof gold coins are in a separate category.

Rather than attempt to summarize all the Proof coins, from 1855 to 1940 that the Teich Family consigned, I am picking out specific coins from the 1855 to 1866 period. In this consignment, these tend to be more interesting and/or more newsworthy than the included post-1866 Proofs.

Most copper, nickel and silver Proof coins dating from 1866 to 1915, and from 1936 to 1942, are not especially rare, though they are scarce and often attractive. Information about such Proofs, including past auction results, is readily available here at CoinWeek, at the PCGS, NGC, and Numismedia websites, and at the websites of auction companies especially those of Stack’s-Bowers, Heritage and the Goldbergs. Therefore, it would not make sense to explain here, or even list, all such Proof issues, or to mention every such Proof in the Teich Collection.

The current offering of Teich Family coins begins with a lone 1855 Proof, which is a very important coin. Dimes were struck with arrows on the obverse (front of the coin) from 1853 to 1855, and again in 1873 and 1874. The dimes in the 1850s with arrows, however, are of a different design type than those struck in 1873 and ’74, and are much rarer in Proof format. Few collectors will ever own a Proof ‘With Arrows’ Dime from the 1850s. Here is one that is available.

The Teich 1855 Liberty Seated Dime is PCGS certified ‘Proof-64.’ It was acquired by Samuel Teich at the Stack’s auction during the Metropolitan New York Coin Convention sale in May 1958.

This 1855 dime exhibits fully reflective surfaces and many other Proof characteristics. Indeed, there is much evidence that it was struck more than once. Furthermore, the natural blue toning is deep and appealing. When tilted under a light, the reverse (back of the coin) turns a lighter cool blue shade and glistens. Furthermore, there is no evidence that this coin was every dipped or significantly cleaned. In my view, it is very attractive overall and its grade is in the middle of the 64 range.

The Teich Proof 1856 Flying Eagle Cent is noteworthy largely because this issue is so popular. When I was a kid, I dreamed about owning a Proof 1856 Flying Eagle Cent. I was mesmerized when the proprietor of a local coin shop showed one to me. It is the key to the series of Flying Eagle Cents and to Copper-Nickel small cents overall, which were minted from 1856 to 1864. ‘Copper-Nickel’ cents are lighter in color and harder in composition than other cents because these are each 12% nickel. Half Cents, Large Cents, post-1864 Indian Cents, and most Lincoln Cents minted before 1982 are at least 95% copper.

There are also a few other 1856 Flying Eagle cents in this SBG auction event. The Teich 1856 Flying Eagle Cent is PCGS graded “64” and has a CAC sticker.

The Teich 1856 Three Cent Silver was acquired by Samuel Teich at one of the most famous auctions of the 1950s, the ‘Davis-Graves’ sale in April 1954. Last week, I wrote about Three Cent Silvers. (As before, clickable links are in blue.) This coin is graded “65” and has a CAC sticker. While the Proof characteristics of this coin are not exemplary, this is not unusual for certified Proof Three Cent Silvers of the mid 1850s.

This 1856 Three Cent Silver has great natural toning. Neat green shades are memorable. The toning on the reverse, in particular, is exceptional, and features multiple shades of green, orange-russet, yellow and apricot, among other colors, most of which are very evident when the reverse is tilted under a light. Indeed, the reverse of this coin is entertaining.

The third and last Teich 1856 Proof coin in this sale is a dime. It is deeply naturally toned, though it is not too dark. It has minimal hairlines that are consistent with a mid range 64 grade. It is an attractive, likable coin.

II. Teich 1857 Set

The Teich family has several 1857 coins that are PCGS certified as Proofs. If a Proof 1857 Three Cent Silver was included, it would be a complete ‘silver’ Proof set.

The only half cent in the Teich Collection, or the only half cent in this portion of the collection, is an 1857 that is generously certified as “Proof-63” by the PCGS. An 1857 large cent is PCGS certified “Proof-63 RB.” The large cent is also from a famous sale, the Stack’s auction in 1965 of the “Stadiem-Gardner” Collections, which is its most interesting aspect.

The Teich 1857 Liberty Seated Half Dime is enticing. It has neat mellow green toning. I like the fact that it has never been cleaned and probably was never dipped. Its “66” grade is CAC approved, and perhaps it reaches this grade mostly on technical grounds.

The Teich 1857 Liberty Seated Dime is more than very attractive and is impressive overall. In my view, its grade is in the middle of the 65 range and I expect that some bidders will agree.

Also, it seems that this dime shows compelling evidence of having been struck at least twice. The late researcher Breen emphasized that pre-1907 silver and gold Proofs were struck at least twice, and most experts agree. One researcher, however, has stated that most 19th century Proof coins were struck only once. In any event, the characteristics of the design elements on this coin and their junctions with the fields (relatively flat areas) are especially significant.

It is also noteworthy that this dime is from the Stack’s auction of the “Empire Collection” in Nov. 1957, which featured the epic collection of Charles Cass, though his name was not revealed. Was this dime part of the Cass Collection?

The Teich 1857 quarter is PCGS certified ‘Proof-64+ Cameo’ and has a CAC sticker. This coin has fully mirrored fields and a light cameo contrast. The pale blue and pale orange-russet tones are pleasing. Also, it is another that was probably struck three times.

The Teich 1857 half dollar has terrific natural toning, maybe at least partly from the original wrappers employed by the Philadelphia Mint. It is PCGS graded “64.”

The Teich 1857 silver dollar is also from the Stack’s 1957 sale of the Cass-Empire Collection. It is PCGS certified “Proof-63 Cameo.” Its grade is not in the middle of the 63 range, though it is an appealing coin.

III. 1858 Three Cent Silver

The Teich Family 1858 Three Cent Silver is one of the most interesting coins in this collection. It is PCGS certified “MS-63” and thus determined not to be a Proof by experts at the PCGS. My strong impression is that Samuel Teich was under the impression that it is a Proof when he bought it long ago. Moreover, I understand why most coin enthusiasts would probably think that it is a Proof. The star on the obverse is very well detailed and the obverse is fully mirrored.

In my view, it is a business strike. This 1858 has numerous raised die lines in the fields on the obverse and has very weakly developed design elements in the central reverse. Proof Type 2 Three Cent Silvers, however, tend to have some weak design elements. On this coin, though, the Roman numeral III is very poorly formed, including considerable rounding. Indeed, none of the reverse design elements are extremely sharp. Nonetheless, it is an appealing business strike and has a cool look.

Besides, many Three Cent Silvers that have been certified as ‘Proofs’ have some weakly formed design elements. For several issues of Three Cent Silvers, John Albanese declares that “it is hard to tell Proof from business strikes. The grading services are sometimes wrong.”

IV. 1864 ‘Small Motto’ 2¢ Piece

A Proof 1864 ‘Small Motto’ Two Cent Piece is one of the more important coins in the Teich Collection. For an explanation, please see my piece on Collecting Two Cent Pieces. It is the key to the short lived series of Two Cent Pieces.

All of the Teich Family Proofs that I remember seeing are certified and encapsulated by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Some have stickers of approval from the CAC. If a coin has been graded ‘X’ by the PCGS or the NGC and is later submitted to the CAC, experts at the CAC judge whether the grade of the coin in question is at least in the middle of the ‘X’ grade range, in their view. If so, it qualifies for a green sticker from the CAC.

This 1864 Two Cent Piece is PCGS certified ‘Proof-64+ RB’ and does have a CAC sticker. The ‘RB’ designation indicates that experts at the PCGS found that it has a significant amount of original mint red color. Experts at the CAC, evidently, concur.

Experts at the CAC ignore the ‘+’ aspects of plus grades assigned by the PCGS and the NGC. In another words, the green sticker relating to this coin indicates that experts at the CAC find its grade to at least be in the middle of the 64 range, possibly in the high end of the 64 range. A green sticker does not necessarily mean that experts at the CAC agree that it is in the high end of the 64 range, even if it is already PCGS graded “64+.” In contrast, the ’64+” grade demonstrates that PCGS experts found the grade of this coin to be in the high end of the 64 range.

In my view, it makes the 64 grade, though does not merit a ‘+.’ The fact, though, that it has original surfaces is important, as many 19th century copper coins have been artificially colored or brightened. This one definitely has natural color.

This 1864 ‘Small Motto’ is of interest to people collecting Two Cent Pieces ‘by date,’ to people who collect famous coins, to people who are assembling 1864 Proof Sets, and to people who appreciate classic rarities. This coin will certainly bring a healthy price.

V. 1864 Three Cent Silver

The Teich 1864 Three Cent Silver is terrific. Unlike some of the earlier dated Three Cent Silvers in this sale, and in general, this coin has powerful Proof characteristics. Many of the design elements are very well developed and have the right angled forms that are sharply evident of Proofs.

The Teich 1864 Three Cent Silver is PCGS certified ‘Proof-66 Cameo’ and has a CAC sticker. This coin has a light cameo contrast, along with full mirrors. Further, it has a very cool blue look. Its grade is certainly at least in the middle of the 66 range. This Three Cent Silver is more than very attractive. It is also from the sale of the Cass-Empire Collection in 1957. For the few coins that are in both, it would be interesting to compare the prices realized in the Cass-Empire sale to the prices realized in the auction this week.

VI. Proof 1866 Silver Dollar

While the 1866 is not significantly rarer than other Proof Liberty Seated Silver Dollars of the ‘With Motto’ type, the Teich 1866 grades 65 and has a CAC sticker. I grade it as 65.7 and I really like the coin. It would be a nice selection for someone assembling a type set of silver dollars. Additionally, there are people who collect Proof Liberty Seated Dollars ‘by date.’

In my view, an 1866 ‘silver’ Proof set is interesting. This is the first year that quarters, halves and silver dollars featured the motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ and it is also the first year that five cent nickels were minted.

Clearly, it was Samuel Teich’s intention to assemble an 1866 Proof set. The Teich collection includes an 1866 Indian Cent, an 1866 Two Cent Piece, an 1866 Three Cent Silver, an 1866 Three Cent Nickel, an 1866 Shield Nickel, an 1866 half dime, dime, quarter, half dollar and the already mentioned silver dollar. These are not all Proofs and I am not recommending every one of the Teich family’s 1866 dated coins. My point here is that building an 1866 Proof set would be exciting. All the denominations of the era are represented, and very attractive coins can easily be included.

Yes, there are many excellent coins in the Teich family collection that date from 1867 to 1915. As I stated, most of these are not newsworthy as individuals and it is not practical to discuss them all. For some reason, though, I just happen to clearly remember the Teich Family’s 1915 half dollar, which is PCGS certified ‘Proof-65’ and has a CAC sticker. It is a great coin that exudes originality and has neat natural colors. I look forward to viewing more of the Teich Family Collection in 2012.

VII. Southern Gold

Over the past fifteen years, many collectors have been drawn to the U.S. gold coins that were minted in the South, in New Orleans, Charlotte (NC), and Dahlonega, Georgia. These three Branch Mints began operations in 1838. The Charlotte and Dahlonega Mints were closed in 1861 and never re-opened. The historical circumstances regarding the seizure of all three Southern Branch Mints by Confederate forces are interesting. In this auction, there is a very important selection of Liberty Head Half Eagles ($5 gold coins) that were minted in Charlotte or Dahlonega.

An 1838-D Classic Head Half Eagle is notable. It is scarce and popular, though this particular coin is not gradable due to ‘altered surfaces.’

An 1840-C Half Eagle may be one of the prizes in this auction. It is PCGS graded ‘MS-63’ and has a CAC sticker. It seems to be one of the three finest known 1840-C Half Eagles. It is mostly original and barely makes the 63 grade, in my view. It is, however, superior to many other Charlotte Mint Half Eagles that have been PCGS or NGC graded as “MS-63.”

Charlotte and Dahlonega gold coins often have moderate to severe problems. This 1840-C is relatively problem-free. Moreover, this coin’s nice color and lack of friction on its highpoints are strong points in its favor. I recommend this coin. For the most part, I am here reporting the PCGS or NGC grades of coins and not necessarily agreeing with the assigned grades.

The 1842-D ‘Large Date’ in this sale is regarded by the PCGS as being the finest known. It is graded “MS-61.” I did not see this coin. For those buyers who cannot afford the highest certified, another 1842-D ‘Large Date’ Half Eagle in this sale is PCGS grade “VF-35.”

“From the M. B. Tucker Collection,” the 1843-D in this auction is NGC graded “MS-63.” Another, from an unnamed consignor, is NGC graded “MS-61.” The 1843-D is rare coin in all grades. In total, not that many Dahlonega Mint gold coins survive.

This auction also contains two 1845-O, one 1846-C, two 1846-D, and two 1847-C Half Eagles. An 1848-C is one of the highest certified by the NGC, “MS-63,” though I did not grade it as “MS-63.” The M. B. Tucker Collection 1848-D, which I did not see, is also NGC graded “MS-63.” Zero 1848-D Half Eagles are graded higher than 63.

There are four 1852-C Half Eagles in this auction. A mini-hoard of these appeared a few years ago.

An 1854-D Half Eagle is one of the most important coins in this auction, though I have mixed feelings about it. It is PCGS graded “MS-64+.” Despite some issues, it is well struck and very lustrous. I did not grade it as “MS-64+.”

A very small number of 1854-D Half Eagles have been certified as grading MS-63 or higher. Further, the CAC has only approved nine 1854-D Half Eagles, none of which grade above AU-58.

The 1854-D is rare in all grades, and uncirculated coins are extremely rare. While the 1854-D in this auction has significant imperfections, it is attractive, dynamic, and unquestionably uncirculated. I enjoyed viewing it. Are any of the other 1854-D Half Eagles that are certified from “MS-63” to “MS-65” better than this one? At the moment, I can think of just one or two.

The two 1859-C Half Eagles in this auction are especially newsworthy as well. The first is PCGS graded “MS-63” and the second, from the “M.B. Tucker Collection,” is PCGS graded “MS-61.”

Experts do not expect 1859-C Half Eagles to be problem-free. A large percentage of these have been subject to tampering at one time or another. The CAC has only approved five, one AU-55 grade 1859-C being the highest.

Although I am not completely comfortable with the assigned grades, the two in this auction are among highest graded surviving 1859-C Half Eagles. This issue is rare in all grades and extremely rare in uncirculated (‘MS’) condition. These two are uncirculated and are very important as such.

Next week, there will be further coverage of coins in this auction. There are many newsworthy or otherwise interesting rare silver and gold coins to discuss.

©2011 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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