Our specialists at Stack’s Bowers Galleries present numismatic selections from our official June Coin auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Summer Expo. View these highlights and more at StacksBowers.com or contact us for more information today!
By James McCartney – Numismatist & Cataloger, [email protected] ……
As collectors, we often disregard the original purpose of coins as lubricants of commerce. They were intended to be handled and spent, thus becoming worn and circulated. Credit cards and digital transactions have made that less of a fact for many of us, although we can always look to our collections as evidence of this bygone era.
And while Proof coinage is struck specifically for collectors, it was not–and is not still–uncommon for specimens to get placed into circulation, either out of carelessness or desperation. Nothing demonstrates this point more clearly than the handsome Proof-58 (PCGS) 1901 Liberty Head double eagle offered in lot 343 of our June Baltimore sale.
As one of just 96 examples struck, this piece was clearly intended for an advanced collection, immune to the rigors and abuse of circulation. However, due to unknown circumstances, it now shows traces of gentle friction across the high points and the fields. Even so, the eye appeal remains strong, with vibrant yellow-gold color and considerable reflectivity throughout the fields. With only about 50 examples of this issue remaining, this piece is an important offering for collectors of double eagles and Liberty Head gold. The gentle, honest wear exhibited connects this piece to the very purpose of coinage.
It is commonly said to “buy the coin, not the holder”. This week’s Coin auction pick, however, provides an excellent opportunity to do both.
The Proof 1877 Twenty Cent piece has an estimated net mintage of just 350 pieces, and represents a Proof-only issue that is in perpetual demand from collectors. The exceptional survivor in lot 1301 of our June auction offers strong eye appeal, that pairs deeply reflective fields with richly frosted devices across both sides. The bold Cameo contrast is complemented by subtle pinkish and golden color at the borders. The coin is housed in a coveted Old Green PCGS holder, which was in use before the implementation of the Cameo designation by that grading service. Additionally, CAC has awarded it a green sticker of approval, endorsing that it is of premium quality for the assigned grade. This piece will be a true prize in this Coin auction for both type collectors and double-dime specialists.
Lot 1368 – 1840-(O) Liberty Seated Half Dollar. WB-4. Rarity-3. Medium Letters (a.k.a. Reverse of 1838). EF-45 (PCGS).
This beautiful 1840-(O) Liberty Seated half dollar, certified EF-45 by PCGS and offered in lot 1368 of the Coin auction, should appeal to both specialists and type collectors, combining strong overall eye appeal with a network of die cracks throughout the reverse. Though a mintmark does not appear anywhere on the coin, research has revealed that this variety was in fact struck at the New Orleans Mint, employing an unused die from the previous 1839-O Capped Bust issue. Additionally, this particular example is the plate coin for the Medium Letters variety in Walter Breen’s 1988 Encyclopedia, which enhances its desirability. The rich numismatic context and Choice EF preservation offers wonderful value at this collector-friendly price point, and I anticipate that there will be strong interest.
* * *
By Ben Orooji – Numismatist & Cataloger, [email protected] ……
Offering a fantastic provenance to 1950 and Condition Census quality, this coin auction delightful Capped Bust dime will appeal to type set and variety collectors alike. Along with full satin luster and vivid golden-red peripheral toning, this coin has design elements that are well struck throughout. Last sold at public auction in 1990, this piece hails from the Allen F. Lovejoy Reference Collection of United States Dimes: 1792-1945, a stellar set. Additionally, this is the plate coin in the 1984 early dime reference, The Dime Book, by the John Reich Collectors Society and is called therein “the finest seen”. Today, 34 years after that book was published, it remains as one of the finest known examples of the JR-1 variety. Type collectors will find this to be an ideal date for the wide border variety of Capped Bust dimes, and this near-Gem will fit the bill quite nicely for a discriminating Mint State collection.
This coin will be sold as lot 1261 in Session 2 of our June 2018 Baltimore coin auction. I’ve chosen it as one of my picks because it is an interesting coin, has a fantastic pedigree, is one of the finest known of the variety and remains obtainable for many collectors in today’s marketplace.
Among the most exciting aspects of numismatics are coins with a story, and the trade dollar series certainly fits that bill.
The trade dollar was born out of a need for a large silver coin to facilitate trade between American and Asian merchants. The coin needed to be available in large numbers without the premium of the Spanish-American 8 reales, which had been the preferred coin of international trade for several decades. Liberty Seated dollars had been produced since 1840, but never in quantities great enough to sustain business with the burgeoning ports and cities in the Orient, especially China. In 1873 the trade dollar made its debut, authorized at a weight standard of 420 grains (greater than the 412.5-grain Liberty Seated silver dollar) and intended to make it more attractive in the eyes of Asian merchants.
To that end, it was an instant success and more than 35 million traded dollars were minted in just 12 years. The vast majority were used for their intended purpose and were exported, handled without care and often counterstamped (chopmarked) by the local merchants. As such, today Mint State pieces are difficult to come by, particularly at the Gem level or finer.
This original, exceptionally well preserved Gem ranks among the finest 1874 trade dollars that we have ever offered. Both sides are richly toned, the obverse with vivid pink, apricot and powder blue undertones to dominant pearl gray patina. For the reverse, mottled pewter and olive-gray patina supports subtle powder blue and salmon pink highlights. The texture is smooth and satiny and all but a few isolated design elements are sharply struck. Only five examples have been graded at this level by PCGS with three graded finer. Adding to the appeal is the fact that it resides in an old green label PCGS holder and has been awarded a CAC designation. For high-grade type set collectors, this handsome coin would be an excellent addition.
This coin will be sold as lot 1563 in Session 2 of our June 2018 Baltimore coin auction. I’ve chosen it as my pick because of its fascinating history, originality, and overall appeal. If you would like to discuss this or any other rare coins in our auctions, feel free to email me. I’m always excited to talk coins.