1874 Three Dollar, 1873 Liberty Eagle reach record-smashing six-figure results; rare 1841 Quarter Eagle leads event at $150,000
More than 40 bids were offered for a prized rare coin, one of just 15 examples traced, until it climbed all the way to $150,000 USD to lead Heritage Auctions’ Long Beach/Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction to $12,546,757 July 20-23.
The event marked the first time in 45 years that the 1841 quarter eagle VF35 PCGS. Struck from the JD-1 dies, High R.6 had reached the auction block; numismatist Norman Stack tagged the coin with the “Little Princess” nickname in the description for a 1954 Davis-Graves auction, and the moniker has remained ever since.
“This is a magnificent result for a magnificent coin,” says Todd Imhof, Executive Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “After former Mint Director James Ross Snowden mentioned the 1841 quarter eagle in his 1860 report on the Mint Cabinet, numismatic author Edgar Adams said that he knew of two examples, a revelation that sparked a surge in popularity and demand.”
The 1841 quarter eagle was challenged for top-lot honors by an 1874 Three Dollar, PR66 Cameo that drew a winning bid of $144,000. This beauty has one of the lowest Proof mintages in the entire era of publicly sold Proofs; 20 Proofs were struck for this issue, of which only 12 to 14 are believed to remain today, according to John Dannreuther. This example sits atop Dannreuther’s list of Significant Examples, and is the finest at both PCGS (in the Cameo category) and at CAC. None at NGC carries as fine a grade.
A third coin reached six figures when an 1873 Liberty Eagle, Closed 3, MS61, tied for the finest certified example, climbed to $102,000, breaking the previous record of $78,000, which was set at Heritage Auctions in October 2022. The 1873 Liberty eagle is one of the most elusive issues of the series today, and high-grade specimens are exceptionally rare. Only three have been certified in Mint State between PCGS and NGC; this example and another MS61 at NGC are tied for the finest certified.
A 1799 Capped Bust Right Eagle, MS64 closed at $99,000. The 1799 Capped Bust Right eagle is an example of an important coin that was a favorite among early collectors; this example represents the BD-10 variety, with Large Stars on the obverse and the leaf touching the foot of the “I” in “AMERICA,” with an estimated surviving population of just 300-400.
Competitive bidders drove a trio of coins, an 1878 Three Dollar, PR65 Deep Cameo, a 1927-D Peace dollar, MS66+, and an 1864 quarter eagle, MS60, to $93,000. The 1878 Three Dollar is one of just 20 Proof examples, after more than 82,000 pieces were struck for circulation in anticipation of a surge in demand because of a demand for gold; this piece is one of just 12 to 14 remaining Proof examples, according to Dannreuther. The 1927-D Peace dollar is tied for the finest known among only a handful of known survivors. The 1864 quarter eagle is one of the four rarest circulation strikes within the Liberty Head series and an absolute rarity in Mint State; fewer than two dozen 1864 examples are confirmed in all grades, with only four certified Mint State pieces certified and the remaining examples in lesser grades.
Two coins drew winning bids of $90,000: an 1879 Three Dollar Gold, PR65+ and a 1929 half eagle, MS65. The 1879 Three Dollar Gold, which broke the previous record of $84,000 that was set last year at Heritage, is from a miniscule mintage of just 30 Proof examples for collectors that year, of which Dannreuther estimates no more than 14-18 examples remain in all grades.
This example once was a highlight in the collection of collector Walter H. Childs, who bought it, along with many other 19th-century Proofs, directly from the Philadelphia Mint. Three dozen bids came in for the 1929 half eagle, which once was a highlight in the renowned collection of Jim O’Neal. The 1929 half eagle is the single rarest issue in the entire Indian Head series when all grades are considered. A large percentage of the original mintage never was released; surviving examples are mostly those coins that contemporary collectors purchased from the Mint or ordered through their local banks. Since many of those coins were preserved in collections through the years, typical survivors are in lower Mint State grades today. Only a few circulated pieces are known.
Complete results can be found here.