Pre Long Beach GoldBerg’s Coin Auction June 5-8th.
US, WORLD & ANCIENT COINS featuring an important collection of United States Gold Coins from a prominent Midwestern family.
Lot 1638 – 1933 $10 Indian PCGS MS66
1933 $10 Indian PCGS MS66. PCGS graded MS-66. CAC Approved. The legendary 1933 Indian Eagle is represented by no more than 40 examples are estimated to have survived. This one is likely to be the very finest known, although one other exists at this grade level seen by NGC. That particular coin was last sold by Stack’s in October of 2004 for $718,750 and has not been seen at auction since that time. This coin being offered now, was not known to most of the numismatists of this generation, and had never been certified until just prior to this auction. It is the finest seen by PCGS. Well struck, very frosty, and the finest example we have ever seen.
The mintage in the early months of 1933 started off with a bang, a total of 312,500 pieces were struck. However, worldwide troubles were brewing that would alter the course of many countries. The price of gold had been set artificially low in the early 1920s for the amount of paper money in circulation. By the 1930s pressure was building on various countries gold reserves, the flow of gold lost all balance and international transactions saw a dramatic increase in the flow of gold away from country after country. In order to stem the tide, most of the European countries ceased to honor their prior pledges and “went off” the gold standard. This put further pressure on the countries that remained on a gold standard. In early 1933 the international pressure focused on the United States, whose tremendous gold reserves were under what seemed to be worldwide attack. Armoured cars lined up in New York to take the gold from the reserve banks to the nearby docks bound for overseas as demand for payment in gold bullion continued.
March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed the presidency of the United States and he took immediate steps to halt this flow of gold out of the country. The Great Depression was worsening, and something had to be done. By following other European countries, Roosevelt took America off the gold standard, calling in all non numismatic gold coins from the population. A bank holiday was declared and the gold reserves were revalued higher at the stroke of his pen.
The first shipment of 1933 eagles had taken place on January 19, 1933. Other shipments followed and some of these were released through the normal course of events, up to the day before March 4, 1933 when Roosevelt was inaugurated. This is the open window where people in America could have obtained a 1933 $10 gold piece and kept it, but given that only 40 so exist today, not many had the wherewithal, time or money to purchase one of these before the window was slammed shut.
Unlike the 1933 double eagle, which is illegal to own (other than the sinlge specimen from the Farouk Collection) it at least is possible to possess this issue. Additional reading can be found in the book Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed, and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle by David Tripp. Pop 1; none finer. Tied for the finest at either grading service. We feel it is even better than the NGC MS-66 (PCGS # 8885) Estimated Value $750,000-UP
Lot 2285 – Great Britain. Charles II pattern gold Broad, 1660 PCGS Proof 63
Great Britain. Charles II pattern gold Broad, 1660 PCGS Proof 63. North-2777, Montagu-818 (Sotheby, London, November 1896), KM-Pn30. By Thomas Simon. Reeded Edge, signed “S” beneath the portrait, 30 mm, The stunning reverse legend MAGNALIA DEI translates to mean “The Mighty Acts of God.” An astonishingly well-preserved specimen, likely finest known, and of numismatic importance as a gold pattern of similar statue to the famed Petition Crown struck in silver. The collecting opportunity of a lifetime to acquire this historically significant and beautifully made coin! PCGS graded Proof 63+ (Heavy Cameo not noted on grading insert).
When Prince Charles landed at Dover on May 25, 1660, he knelt down and kissed the English soil. It was far more than a merely symbolic gesture. It was a singular event in English history, the moment that set in motion the restoration of the monarchy throughout the land. A month before, Parliament had resolved to proclaim him King Charles II so long as he adhered to the Declaration of Breda pardoning many of his father’s enemies and relinquishing the historical, absolute powers of the monarchy. He arrived in London four days later, on his 30th birthday.
There was a great deal to forgive. When he was 18 years old, his father had been beheaded for “treason” in the winter of 1649. He was the only surviving son of his parents, natural heir to the Court of St. James. That right evaporated upon his father’s execution. As a teenager, he had accompanied his father during the late campaigns of the Civil War, and had witnessed the end coming. Charles and his mother, Queen Henrietta Maria, had been exiled in 1646 to France and protected by his first cousin, King Louis XIV, during the final years of the war, and all during the Commonwealth and then the disastrous reign of Oliver Cromwell. When Cromwell died, his son, Richard, had shown himself to be feckless. The nation stood in ruins. Cromwell had crushed royalist supporters but Charles II pardoned many who had ransacked the country, only taking revenge on a few dozen of Cromwell’s most offensive military and legal supporters.
Charles II was the first of a new breed of monarchs, and much of his passion was devoted to the arts despite the catastrophes of the first years of his reign, including the plague and the Great Fire of London, as well as external wars. He began building what eventually became the royal art collection of paintings, and he was a magnanimous patron of the flourishing sciences as well as of architects such as Christopher Wren. He took a particular personal interest in sculpture and in the engraving arts as well, to which the superb artistry of his wonderful pattern attests, for it was a departure from the medieval style of engraving that had been stereotyped in its lifeless style and flat imagery. Here, instead, we see a lifelike image of the king replete with touching details shown in considerable relief and with artistic flair.
The fabulous work of engraving art seen in this lot, struck only as a pattern, was largely responsible for the introduction of the “milled,” or machine-made, coinage as ordered by the King in Council on May 17, 1661, shortly after this piece was created. As the king is known to have taken a personal interest in his effigy, he may well have inspected this very coin, and it is known from contemporary sources that using Simon’s superbly engraved dies to make the hammered coins drew considerable dismay from the mint itself: hammering the dies could not bring up the details that distinguished the die-work. It is plausible that this pattern stood as proof that hammering was obsolete as a minting technique.
The short-lived milled coinage using Simon’s effigy of Oliver Cromwell and his shield, and struck by Blondeau, ended in August 1660 with removal from the mint of the milled machinery, no doubt partially as a result of jealousy by mint employees fearful of losing their positions as hammered workmen but also in response to the use of that machinery during the hated reign of Cromwell. Cromwell’s coins, however, showed that the hammering technique was old fashioned and unable to forestall counterfeiting and the illegal shaving of metal from the uneven edges. A sea-change was in the works.
Thomas Simon, born circa 1623, was one of the sons of Peter Simon of Guernsey, whose older brother, Abraham, was also a medallist. He first came to the attention of Nicholas Briot about 1635 and was engaged as an apprentice at the Royal Mint, his first work being the “Scottish Rebellion” medal of 1639. As was the rule of the day, he also worked as a gem-engraver. His talents caused him to be appointed joint-engraver to the mint in 1645, just as the Civil War was changing England’s greatest traditions. In 1648, he was authorized to engrave the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, and then in 1651 he engraved the new Great Seal of England, showing not a king’s image but instead an intricately detailed map of England and Ireland on its obverse and, opposite it, a portrayal of Parliament assembled without a monarch. The surrounding legend on this piece proclaimed “1651 IN THE THIRD YEARE OF FREEDOME BY GODS BLESSING RESTORED.” This sentiment surely enraged royalists, but in fact Thomas Simon only did as he was ordered, as an employee of the mint. During the Commonwealth, he mostly engraved seals and medals, and was politically neutral.
Simon came to Cromwell’s attention immediately after the defeat of the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar (September 3, 1650), a great victory for the Commonwealth army. Simon’s talent caused him to be ordered to make effigies of General Cromwell, to be used to strike gold and silver medals as awards to officers and soldiers who took part in the battle. This work was so well received that Simon was next selected to engrave dies for Cromwell’s coins, struck from 1656 to 1658, the pieces that were so stunning compared to the coins made by hammer. One feature of Cromwell’s coins that had never appeared before on any English coin was the cameo effect created by the frosted texture given to the portrait, and importantly this appears on our gold pattern of 1660 as well. Forrer’s Biographical Dictionary of Medallists (volume 5, page 521) quotes an earlier source, Lee’s Dictionary of National Biography, which stated that “The frosting observable on these coins appears to have been introduced by Simon.”
But Simon’s immense talent would not serve him ably enough during the Restoration. Thomas Rawlins was reinstated as chief engraver at the mint. In June 1660 he was ordered to prepare a new portrait of the king, but failed to do so on time, and Simon was given the assignment on August 10 of that year. His portrait was highly regarded but the hammering technique failed to produce coins that met with the mint’s approval. His work, however, was so well appreciated that he was given the job of engraving dies for all the new milled coinage. Then came the fateful contest between him and John Roettier, of Flanders, in February 1662. Simon produced the magnificent and now famous Petition Crown, with its stunning royal image and the spectacular edge engraving that petitioned King Charles II to select Simon’s work for the royal coinage. Perhaps remembering Simon’s medal of 1651, the king himself decided in favor of Roettier, effectively ending Simon’s employment at the Royal Mint. He died of the plague in June 1665.
Numismatics is an intriguing science, however, and research provides another explanation for Simon’s demise. Challis responded to the traditional view that the king’s bias caused Simon’s talents to be rejected. A New History of the Royal Mint (pages 349-350) discusses the quality of the puncheons and other minting tools used to produce coins. Challis notes that while Simon’s dies were splendid he “had demonstrated his inability to produce dies which would withstand the press” with its intense pressure, and in particular this was seen in puncheons that he produced for the Goldsmiths’ Company of London, which annually contracted with him to make a set of three puncheons showing the company’s mark, which included a facing leopard’s head. In the early 1660s, Challis continues, “Simon’s puncheons simply would not withstand normal use.” In the end, it was all about economy. Simon blamed the rejection on the poor quality of the silver to which his puncheons were applied by the company, but “the real trouble lay in the inadequacy of the metal from which they were made.” And here is the conclusion: “If such an explanation is correct it seems likely that it contains the key to why Simon, regarded by many from his own day to this as one of the finest engravers the Mint has ever had, lost out in the competition with the Roettiers. It was not that Simon was hopelessly disadvantaged at Court by his having willingly served the Protectorate. Rather it was that he could not match the Roettiers in being able to produce dies which, day in day out, would withstand machine production.”
To our knowledge, it has not been pointed out before that, on this magnificent pattern, a work of art struck in gold, Thomas Simon placed the Goldsmiths’ Company’s mark, the face of a leopard, at the base of the king’s throat, peering at the world in a silent petition to “remember me” centuries after King Charles and all his contemporaries perished – perhaps another artistic way of saying Magnalia Dei! Estimated Value $100,000-UP.
Lot 1372 – 1934 $10,000 Federal Reserve Note. CGA Gem Uncirculated 65
1934 $10,000 Federal Reserve Note. CGA Gem Uncirculated 65. Fr-2231a. The $10,000 was the highest denomination issued by the United States government for general circulation. While most were redeemed when they were pulled from circulation many decades ago, a few hundred individual pieces have survived. In addition, a group of 100 examples was saved by the Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas, in their famous “$1,000,000” display. Most high grade examples that survive today are either from the Binion’s hoard, or are a result of sheer happenstance.
This example, which is from the Boston district bank, was not included in the Binion’s display. It is well centered, displays excellent margins, and has terrific overall eye appeal. While CGA has since disappeared from the grading scene since the emergence of the two major third-party grading services that dominate the market today (PCGS Currency and PMG), at the time this note was graded more than 17 years ago ago CGA was the only major grading service available.
While the “market grading” primarily seen on CGA-graded notes has since fallen out of favor today, replaced by a more sensible combination of both eye appeal and technical grading, it was essentially the only option back then. This note appears very nice through the holder, and, no matter what it might grade today by one of the other services, it is plenty impressive as a high grade example of a popular note that will never cease to amaze non-collector friends who have never seen any issued note above the current zenith of $100 denominated Federal Reserve Notes. Estimated Value $125,000-UP.
Lot 2 – 1652 Massachusetts Willow Tree Shilling Noe 1-A Rarity-6+ PCGS graded MS62, CAC
1652 Massachusetts Willow Tree Shilling Noe 1-A Rarity-6+ PCGS graded MS62, CAC. PCGS graded MS-62. CAC Approved. Frosty light to medium steel and lighter silvery gray. The surfaces are smooth and attractive, void of any flaws or marks other than a nick-like depression in the planchet affecting a few of the tree limbs under SA in MASA (probably as struck) and a pair of faint hairline scratches from the D into the 1 in the date.
The planchet is more oval than round (28.5 x 26.3 mm), and both sides are dramatically double struck (perhaps more than double). Both of these features are normal for the variety. The date is complete and clear, and most of the legends are readable in spite of the conflicting impressions.
The Willow Tree is a jumbled mass of sharply detailed limbs thanks to the double strike. A wonderful example of the very rare Noe 1-A Willow Tree Shilling, the variety considered to be the first one struck of the “Tree” designs that followed the crude New England (NE) pieces. In fact, Willow Tree Shillings are rarer than New England shillings.
Obviously the people responsible for striking these coins were going through a learning process, and it took a while to “get it right.” Weight 75.3 grains. Listed on page 38 in the “Redbook” where the EF grade is valued at $295,000 while values are not included for mint state pieces because they are extremely rare.
Collector’s Universe has placed a value of $525,000 on a mint state example–should one become available for sale. Well, here it is. The attribution and Double Struck feature are noted on the PCGS Secure label. PCGS population 1, none finer. The only Mint State example graded by PCGS and the finest graded at both NGC and PCGS. Estimated Value $250,000-UP
Lot 1953 – Julius Caesar. Silver Denarius (4.10 g), 40 BC. Nearly Mint State
Julius Caesar. Silver Denarius (4.10 g), 40 BC. Nearly Mint State. Rome. Q. Voconius Vitulus, moneyer. DIVI IVLI before, laureate head of Julius Caesar right; behind, lituus. Reverse Q VOCONIVS above, VITVLVS in exergue, bull-calf walking left. Crawford 526/2; HCRI 329; Sydenham 1132; RSC 46. Boldly struck and well centered on a full flan. An exceptional portrait of Caesar! Lovely toned surfaces with hints of iridescense. Nearly Mint State.
With the exception of a short period during the principate of Augustus, it is with the coins of Q. Voconius Vitulus and his colleague, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, in 40 BC that the long tradition of a college of moneyers producing currency at the Capitoline mint ended.
The year before with the outcome of the Perusine War between Octavian and Lepidus still to be decided, the moneyers hedged their bets by using purposefully ambiguous types on their coins: M. Arrius Secundus’ denarii (Crawford 513/2 and 513/3) used an ancestor’s portrait that resembled Octavian; C. Numonius Vaala’s aurei (Crawford 514/1) employed the head of Victory, the portrait of which is clearly Fulvia, Mark Antony’s wife; and L. Servius Rufus’ denarii (Crawford 515/2) have an ancestor’s portrait which is most obviously Brutus.
In each case the choice of types could be argued to favor the winning side, whichever side that may be. By 40 BC, however, the Perusine War was safely behind Octavian who was now firmly in control of the West, and perhaps angered by these shenanigans at the mint he decided to bring it firmly under his own authority. Estimated Value $70,000 – 80,000