By Ben Orooji – Senior Numismatist, Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……
When the E. Horatio Morgan Collection arrived in our offices, we knew we were looking at a special group of coins.
The collection comprised of a variety of types including rarities such as the 1894-S dime, the 1876-CC twenty-cent piece, over 100 pattern coins and other select coins like the 1793 Chain cent, the 1856 Flying Eagle cent, the 1796 quarter, the 1839 Gobrecht dollar and a Proof 1895 dollar. The bulk of the collection, however, centered on the collector’s love of the half dollar denomination. To that extent, he was able to build a nearly complete set, not only by date but by die variety from 1794-1836.
As we cataloged and readied the half dollars for auction this November, we began to expect prices realized commensurate with the quality and rarity offered. Our expectations were confirmed and even surpassed as the hammer dropped on each lot. In sum, 32 examples sold in excess of $10,000; we present a few of our favorites below:
The star among the half dollars by far was the 1838-O Reeded Edge half dollar in MS-63 certified by PCGS and approved by CAC. One of nine specimens known, this is a visually stunning example with distinctly sharp features and highly reflective surfaces. With an excellent pedigree, undeniable quality and eye appeal, we weren’t terribly surprised as bidders took notice and it brought $504,000.
The 1795 Flowing Hair Overton-119 certified by PCGS as MS-64 that is tied for Condition Census number one for the variety could not escape notice either. This breathtakingly beautiful representative of our nation’s first half dollar type offered highly lustrous surfaces and a superb strike with champagne-apricot and pinkish-silver iridescence. It sold for $144,000.
The exceptional 15 Stars, Small Eagle 1796 Draped Bust half dollar in AU-58+ toned in warm olive-gold, salmon pink and lilac-blue was another stunner. This highly appealing and scarce type coin in a premium grade realized $228,000.
The last highlight here, one of the author’s favorite coins, was the 1839 Small Letters Capped Bust half dollar; an exceedingly rare die variety with 12 or fewer specimens known. This specific coin was new to the census, and a case was made that it could be the finest example of the variety available. PCGS certified it EF-40, and it was awarded a CAC approval sticker; it is the only coin of the variety to have passed CAC. Multiple bidders were determined to add it to their collections, but the bidding finally settled at $90,000 and one collector prevailed.
Additional half dollars form the outstanding E. Horatio Morgan Collection can be viewed in our archives. We also invite interested parties to stay tuned to additional offerings of the E. Horatio Morgan Collection; the collector was also passionate about dimes, and these will be presented in our March Baltimore 2020 sale!
Specialty collections like the E. Horatio Morgan collection are our specialty! We love to offer the fruits of your labor as you have collected them, with personalized attention to your unique needs and desires. Numerous collectors have appreciated the legacy provided by our exceptional cataloging and have come to treasure the permanent archive of their collection.
If you would like to consign your items to be sold in one of our auctions, now is the time. Contact us now to speak with a numismatic representative to feature your coins in this exciting event. Call 800-566-2580 or email [email protected]. Also, download our mobile app to view and participate in our auctions via your Android or Apple device.