By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek …..
Legend Rare Coin Auctions has kicked off the first of its three planned Summer Sessions. These internet-based, no reserve auctions feature coins that have been vetted by Legend Rare Coin Auctions and adhere to the firm’s high standards–the trademark of their Regency Sale series.
Bidding on the 100-lot sale opened on Tuesday, June 21 and ends on Tuesday, June 28. We’ve looked over the lots and present five of our favorites:
1906 Liberty V Nickel, PCGS PR67CAM, CAC
Generally speaking, for many 19th- and early 20th-century United States coin types, it is easier (not easy, mind you… easier) to assemble a high grade set in Proof than it is in Mint State.
The size of the coin hobby at that time was nothing like it is today. In 1906, fewer than 500 collectors had become members of the ANA and Proof mintages reflect an active collecting base of just a few thousand.
Fortunately for us, a sufficient number of these collectors took appropriate measures to preserve coins in as close to their original state as possible, so that attractive-to-excellent examples can still be had at reasonable prices more than a hundred years later.
Yes, many of these Proof coins have been messed with. A cautious eye, a bit of research, and the backing of PCGS, NGC, CAC and a reputable dealer is advised. But collectors interested in these now “classic” designs should absolutely consider the opportunity of assembling complete sets or type sets of Proof 19th- and 20th-century U.S. coinage, especially at today’s pricing levels.
The present specimen, Lot 21 in Legend Rare Coin Auction’s first Summer Session sale is one of the finest examples the firm has offered and is one of the best that PCGS has certified. Graded PR67CAM, the coin is just one of 21 graded and attributed as such. It also happens to have CAC’s approval. And there are presently a mere three coins graded finer with Cameo contrast in PCGS holders.
In September 2015, Legend offered a similarly-graded piece in its Regency XIII sale. Collectors have every reason to be of two minds about which example has more eye appeal. The former coin hewed closer to its original hue. This example, on the other hand, is alive with beautiful teal and goldenrod.
The recent trend line for quality PR67s has been above US$2,500, with the September 2015 piece bringing $3,642.50. Current bid at the time of this writing was just shy of $1,000 with two bids in.
If you decide to take a run at putting together a world-class “V” nickel Proof Set in PCGS holders, good luck. Collector Richard Groman has owned the top spot in the PCGS Set Registry since 2004.
1937, ’38, ’41 and ’42 Walking Liberty Half Dollars
Talk about short sets. The Walking Liberty half dollar’s Proof run started in 1936 and continued through until 1942 when World War II put the U.S. Mint’s Proof set production on hiatus until 1950.
Only seven coins comprise the entire set, the key date being the 1936. And for those that yearn to see as much of Adolph Weinman’s design as possible, Proofs are the only way to go… and even then, the center line from Liberty’s left hand to left knee remains flat and softly struck.
This short set has long been a popular area for numismatic collectors and investors alike. And Legend Rare Coin Auctions is offering more than half of the coins you would need to assemble a complete set, with four matched pieces in CAC-approved PCGS PR67 (the 1942 is actually a PR67+).
Pops and Estimates:
—1937 – 5,728 Mintage (PCGS 237 in 67, 23 finer) Estimate: $1,650 – $1,850 – Starting Bid: $1,650
—1938 – 8,152 Mintage (PCGS 220 in 67, 31 finer) Estimate: $1,200 – $1,350 – Starting Bid: $1,200
[Charles: Prices for this coin in 67 run the gamut from $850 to about $1,600. The key is eye appeal. Most Proofs of this date have turned cloudy or have toned in unattractively. This example is nearly black and white.]
—1941 – 11,279 Mintage (PCGS 311 in 67, 55 finer) Estimate: $1,050 – $1,250 – Current Bid: $750
—1942 – 21,200 Mintage (PCGS 60 in 67+, 58 finer) Estimate: $900 – $1000 – Starting Bid: $475
1887 Morgan Dollar, PCGS MS65, CAC
Monster toner alert!
Legend Rare Coin Auctions has gone after and won the PQ Morgan toner market. We can’t think of a single Regency sale where this type of material didn’t bring strong interest. Before the fourth session of the D. Brent Pogue sale, Laura Sperber expressed her satisfaction in how this segment of Regency XVII fared. That sale, we felt, marked an uptick in the market and was one of several data points that we’ve seen recently that reinforce our thoughts that the rare coin market is beginning to show promise.
She must have known at the time, and since then Legend has announced that they will be offering the Northern Lights Collection, perhaps the finest toned Morgan dollar collection ever assembled.
The present example, an MS65 CAC-approved toner from 1887, may not have made it into that collection, but it’s safe to say that it would be a major attention grabber in virtually any other Morgan set.
Legend rates the color 8.5+ on their 10-point scale. The coin’s obverse is too colorful to be accurately described, but its vivid hues of gold, magenta, and green are clearly evident. Dipped out or mired in gallimaufry toning and this is a $150 coin. With this color, multiply that number by a factor of 8 to 10.
Estimate: $1,500 – $2,000 – Current Bid: $750
1927 Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Double Eagle, PCGS MS66, CAC
You know who hated the design of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle? Third president of the American Numismatic Association Augustus G. Heaton, that’s who. In the March 1908 issue of The Numismatist, Heaton wrote this about the coin:
[Saint-Gaudens’] models offered were not only in bad taste but in such high relief, as a consequence, that pieces could not be stacked and the relief had to be much reduced to make the pieces available for any use. At times high art goes crazy and the claque of a celebrity will rave over everything, but true high art ever conforms to nature, reason and purpose.
So we know how Heaton feels. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of coin collectors then and now viewed the Saint-Gaudens design as a bold masterpiece. Yes, the relief was lowered to deal with the realities of early 20th-century minting technology, although the Mint ultimately tried to make good with an Ultra High Relief collector coin version in 2009.
Legend’s example, struck in 1927, represents one of the finer issues of the series in terms of eye appeal. It’s essentially the 1881-S Morgan of the $20 Saint world and if you were looking to assemble a 20th century type set, then a nicely-struck, lustrous, and major hit-free example would be a good way to go.
When dealing with Saints or virtually any gold coin, CAC certification is a must. Grade inflation saw tens of thousands of Saint-Gaudens gold coins cracked out and resubmitted. We kid you not, at one point the click-clack of slabs being broken on bourse floors across the country was inescapable.
We mention this coin for the type buyer as it beams with luster and Liberty’s major features (head, knee) are not obliterated by hits. These detrimental shortcomings, sadly, mar a number of MS66 Saints from both major services.
Current Bid: $3,100.
1925 Stone Mountain Commemorative Half Dollar, PCGS MS67+, CAC
Another monster toner!
There are a handful of classic commemoratives that almost never come nice.
The Pan-Pac 50c is usually milky, softly struck, and bathed in ugly color. The 1923 Monroe was so badly struck that the coin’s motif is hardly recognizable for what it is. And don’t get us started on the Columbian Expo half.
Also on our list of classic commemoratives that don’t tend to come nice is the 1925 Stone Mountain half dollar. It’s not that great coins in this issue don’t exist – they do! It’s just that that the majority of the coins that we’ve seen, even in grades above MS65, have either been dipped out or have ugly dark toning. The lineup of PQ pieces with TruViews reads like the Rogers Horsny/Babe Ruth wing of the Hall of Fame compared to what is more typical for the issue.
This piece is radiant and boasts gold, red, and green color on the obverse – apropos for a military-themed design. The gold and red carry over on the coin’s reverse.
A bidder has already stepped up to the plate and bought in at the opening bid of $1,100. Legend Rare Coin Auction estimates the value at $2,200 to $2,500. It brought $2,232 last August at Heritage’s ANA US Coins Signature Auction.
Hat Tip to the present auctioneer for the improved imaging.
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Legend Rare Coin Auctions (LRCA), based in Lincroft, NJ, is a boutique-style rare coin auction firm. The principles of Legend Rare Coin Auctions have made consigning a simpler process. Call or email Julie Abrams at (845) 430-4378 ([email protected]) or Greg Cohen at (732) 935-1168 ([email protected]).
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