By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com ……
CoinWeek Content Partner
Heritage Auctions conducted a massive sale last month in place of what would have been the annual Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS) show. I didn’t count the number of lots, but I know it took me about five minutes (plus a handmade organizational chart… sigh) to figure out which coins were selling on which afternoon or evening and at one time.
Let’s take a semi-random look at a few individual and paired lots and explore how they fared.
1. 1851-O and 1855-O Gold Dollars, PCGS MS66 and PCGS MS64+
Both of these high-grade gold dollars were from the exceptional Bob Simpson Collection. As with nearly every coin from this source, the quality was significantly above-average.
1851-O $1.00 PCGS MS66. All images courtesy Heritage Auctions (HA.com)
The 1851-O sold for $22,800 USD, which is a fairly weak price considering that another PCGS MS66 1851-O gold dollar brought $25,875 as Heritage 12/2005: 1048. But it was a good sale for the owner, as the coin had been purchased for just $8,225, as PCGS/CAC MS65+ in the Heritage 2015 sale of the Duckor Collection of Gold Dollars.
1855-O $1.00 PCGS MS64+
The 1855-O, graded MS64+ by PCGS, was the single best example of this essential one-year type which I have seen and it crushed the previous record price for this date which was $38,188. It had been years since a nice (MS63 or MS64) example of this date had been available. I bid $40,000 hammer but got smoked – it sold for $57,600. I regard this as a strong price.
2. 1796 Stars and 1808 Quarter Eagles, PCGS EF45 and PCGS EF40
1796 STARS $2.50 PCGS EF45
The 1796 Stars is a rare and overlooked issue that appears less often than its better-known counterpart, the 1796 With Stars. Heritage had a PCGS EF45 up for bids in the April 2021 sale; an unusual collector-grade example. The coin was very underwhelming with questionable color and noticeable marks in the left obverse field, but you can’t be too fussy with this issue in EF45 as it has a population of just two in this grade. I expected the coin to bring around $85,000 but it sold for a strong $105,000.
1808 $2.50 PCGS EF40
The one-year type 1808 is probably the most popular early design of this denomination. The PCGS EF40 in the Heritage auction was not an especially high-end coin but it still brought a strong $96,000. With “No Grade” examples of this rare issue now bringing as much as 40-50k and a nice PCGS/CAC AU53 bringing a stunning $204,000 in the 2021 FUN sale, there isn’t much available midway between these two points. Hence, the reason for this strong price.
3. 1833 Large Date Half Eagle, NGC PR61
With just three or four Proofs known for this date (one impounded in the Smithsonian and another untraced, although supposedly graded PR63 Cameo by NGC) the advanced collector of very early Proof gold could choose between this ugly example or the staggering Pittman/Pogue Gem—graded PR67 by PCGS. Given that the Gem sold for $1,351,250 in 2016, that left little to choose from.
1833 LARGE DATE $5.00 NGC PR61
This coin had last sold for $146,875 in October 2012. In April 2021, it brought $240,000 which I think is a really strong price given its quality. This shows me that the current market still appreciates true rarity and you really can’t get much rarer than a Proof 1833 Large Date half eagle!
4. 1870-CC Half Eagle NGC/CAC VF35
Ironically, I had just written in a blog on Carson City gold that this important first-year-of-issue half eagle had finally come into its own. I really liked the NGC/CAC VF35 in the Heritage 4/2021 sale. It was really original and would grade 35 at any reputable service. Given that a pretty nice PCGS/CAC VF25 had just sold for $31,200 in Heritage 1/2021 auction, I expected this coin to bring around $45,000 all-in. It smashed the record price for a VF 1870-CC half eagle at $56,400.
1870-CC $5.00 NGC VF35 CAC
This shows that Carson City gold is extremely strong right now and that CAC-approved examples of the key dates (in all three denominations) are in very strong demand. It also tells me that if a really nice CAC-approved 1870-CC half eagle (say a 55 or a 58) were to come on the market it would bring a solid six-figure price.
5. 1880 Eagle, NGC PR66DCAM
This is likely the finest known example of an obscure but very rare Proof issue. There were 36 made, and less than a dozen are known. Only three examples had sold at auction since 1999 and this exact piece had sold in an October 2004 ANR auction at $54,000. My best guess of a value for this coin was in the $90,000-100,000 range. Instead, it brought a stunning $180,000 – which is far and away a record price for the date.
1880 $10.00 NGC PR66DCAM
This sale proves that even with coins that very few people collect by date, it is possible in this market to see very strong prices. Given the fact that the example in the Tyrant Collection was “only” and NGC PR64 (obviously ex Heritage 4/2015: 5405 at $44,650) my guess is that this coin was acquired as an upgrade to this unsurpassable set of Ten Dollar gold.
6. 1870-CC Double Eagles, NGC EF40 and NGC EF45
Carson City gold is currently a very hot market and there is no better way to gauge the degree of heat than to analyze the rarest single gold coin from this mint: the 1870-CC double eagle. There were two examples in the Heritage sale, both graded by NGC, and both showed the inferior eye appeal which plagues this issue. The coins sold for $360,000 and $384,000, respectively.
1870-CC $20.00 NGC EF40
The last three EF40 1870-CC twenties had brought $240,000 (8/2019; for a PCGS coin), $228,000 (8/2018; PCGS), and $235,000 (1/2017; also PCGS). In fact, the price realized for this broke the previous record for an EF40 set by Stack’s 6/2008: 2108 at $299,000.
1870-CC $20 NGC EF45
The price realized for the EF45 was also extremely strong. The last two coins in this grade to sell at auction brought $276,000 (8/2019; for a PCGS coin), and $300,000 (1/2018; also PCGS).
These prices make me wonder what a nice-for-the-issue PCGS EF45 or AU50 would bring.
7. 1878 Pattern Quarter Eagle (J-1566) and Half Eagle (J-1570), graded PCGS PR67 CAM and PCGS/CAC PR65+CAM
1878 PATTERN $2.50 PCGS PR67CAM
There were many amazing Patterns in the sale thanks to the dispersal of the Simpson Collection, but two of my personal favorites were the beautiful Morgan design quarter eagle and half eagle struck on large, thin planchets. With few exceptions, gold patterns are extremely rare and are almost never offered for sale. The quarter eagle, which had been off the market since 1993, was unique and it sold for $384,000. The half eagle, which was also unique, had last sold for $402,500 in January 2007. A decade-and-a-half later, it brought $456,000.
1878 PATTERN $5.00 PCGS PR65+CAM CAC
In my opinion, these sums are pretty reasonable considering the rarity and beauty of the two issues. But the pattern market is thinly traded and even extremely desirable issues such as these two don’t have the broad base of support that a regular issue shows.
The Heritage April 2021 sale was even stronger than I expected. There were record prices all over the place, and the coins I focused on in this blog show if the item was rare or choice (or ideally, both) it was hotly pursued by collectors.
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About Doug Winter
Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.
In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare US Gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.
Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award-winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and the recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought-after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality, and fair and honest pricing. Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small. He can be reached at (214) 675-9897.
Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues
In addition, he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
- Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
- Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
- Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
- The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
- Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
- An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
- The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
- A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
- The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
- Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis
Finally, Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.