By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com …… CoinWeek Content Partner
Lost amidst all the hoopla at the recent 2020 FUN Show and auctions was the sale of one of the most remarkable US gold coins I have seen in a while. This coin was a totally fresh-to-the-market 1872-CC Liberty Head eagle graded MS62 by NGC, and offered as Lot 4470 in the Heritage 2020 Winter FUN sale.
According to the Heritage cataloger, this coin was said to have been in a “private European collection since before 1940… (and that the coin) had been off the market for more than 100 years.” The coin sold for a stunning $240,000 USD, which I believe is an all-time record for any Carson City eagle.
But let’s take a look at the early $10 date run from Carson City before we look specifically at the 1872-CC.
Carson City struck eagles every year during the 1870s in very limited quantities. Mintages ranged from a low of 1,762 in 1879 to a high of 16,767 in 1874. Only one issue from this decade is reasonably available in terms of overall rarity (the 1874-CC), and even this issue is exceedingly rare in Uncirculated. In fact, for the entire decade, only a handful of Carson City eagles exist in Uncirculated and these are as follows:
PCGS- and NGC-certified coin population totals for Uncirculated Carson City $10 eagle gold coins. Courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN).
Seven coins total. That’s rare. And it should be noted that the majority of these are coins which are either upgrades from AU58 or which have been known for years. Very few truly fresh pre-1880 Carson City eagles are likely to ever show up and this 1872-CC was a really special coin.
1872-CC $10.00 NGC MS62. Images courtesy Heritage Auctions (HA.com)
I first noticed this piece as I browsed the Heritage lots online in December and my first reaction was “Wow!” I was anxious to see it in person and it did not disappoint.
The coin was, by a huge margin, the best 1872-CC eagle I had ever seen. I have handled two PCGS AU58s that were pretty nice but they showed obvious wear and had light contact marks in the fields.
A Quick Overview
Only 4,600 1872-CC eagles were made and this date is rare in all grades. Around 65 to 75 exist, with most in lower grades. I doubt if more than 10 About Uncirculated pieces exist, with most in the AU50 to AU53 range. This date is very rare in properly graded AU55 and AU58 and until the discovery of the NGC MS62, the best I had seen was the Bass III: 702 coin, graded AU58, which I purchased and it then later sold for $63,250 as Battle Born: 11022.
If you take a careful look at the accompanying images of this coin, you’ll note that it is very frosty and has lovely natural color. The only thing “wrong” with the coin, in my opinion, is a short but noticeable contact mark on the chin of Liberty. The images fail to show a few wispy hairlines on the obverse (the result of handling, not a past cleaning), but this coin is absolutely exceptional. I grade it a solid MS62 and fully expect it to cross at that level if the new owner decides to send it to PCGS.
I expected the coin to set a record price for the date but, to be totally honest, I underestimated the final selling price. I won’t embarrass myself and tell you what I figured it at… but suffice to say the first digit was a “1”.
As I mentioned above, the coin sold for $240,000 including the 20% buyer’s premium. It is interesting to note that the consignor of the coin appeared to get cold feet as the auction approached and requested a $140,000 reserve. This was indicated by Heritage and I commend Heritage for their transparency. They also noted that if the coin didn’t hit its reserve, the consignor would be required to pay an aggressive buyback fee. I thought this would hurt the sale of the coin, but its quality spoke for itself.
The previous record price for any Carson City eagle was $199,750, set by the Eliasberg-Bass-Battle Born PCGS MS63 1874-CC, which was offered as Lot 11024 in Stack’s Bowers 2012 ANA auction.
Is this 1872-CC the single most valuable Carson City eagle in existence? I actually don’t think it is. I would give that honor to the NGC MS65 1874-CC – the only pre-1880 Carson City eagle to achieve a Gem grade. I’d also figure the unique NGC MS62 1879-CC at a higher level than the 1872-CC based on its greater degree of rarity.
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About Doug Winter
Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.
In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare US Gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.
Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award-winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and the recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality and fair and honest pricing. Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small. He can be reached at (214) 675-9897.
Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues
In addition, he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
- Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
- Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
- Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
- The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
- Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
- An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
- The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
- A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
- The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
- Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis
Finally, Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.