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HomeAuctionsSome Highlights in the Stack's Bowers December 2020 Auction

Some Highlights in the Stack’s Bowers December 2020 Auction

Consignment Highlights by CoinWeek ….
Here is a selection of rare and high-quality classic U.S. coins in Session 2 of the upcoming Stack’s Bowers Galleries December 18 auction, starting at 1:00 pm Pacific Time (4:00 pm Eastern).

1861 Indian Cent Proof-65 PCGS/CAC

This beautiful premium Gem Proof Indian cent is fully struck with a generally satin texture to the finish. Nonetheless, direct lighting calls forth endearing reflective qualities from the fields, especially on the reverse. That side of the coin exhibits a light golden-tan patina, the obverse more boldly toned in tannish-apricot with a tinge of pinkish-rose also evident at isolated viewing angles. From an estimated Proof mintage for the date of 400 to 500 pieces.

“Such estimates vary widely, and I have seen numbers as low as 100 and as high as 1,000,” notes Q. David Bowers in his reference on the series. One thing is certain — the Proof 1861 is a conditionally challenging issue with survivors as nice as this decidedly scarce in today’s market.

1909-S Indian Cent MS-66 RB NGC/CAC

  • Eagle Eye Photo Seal

Exceptionally “nice” for this key date Indian cent issue, this upper-end Gem sports a satiny texture to silky smooth surfaces. More Red than Brown, both sides exhibit light iridescent toning to otherwise dominant golden-rose mint color. Sharply to fully struck, this is an exceptionally well-produced and preserved example that is sure to sell for a strong premium.

The second mintmarked cent in U.S. coinage history, the 1909-S boasts the lowest mintage in the Indian series with a mere 309,000 pieces produced. These coins were struck in January and February of that year, after which production was halted as the San Francisco Mint prepared to receive the first of the new Lincoln cent dies from Philadelphia.

With contemporary numismatic and other interest focused on the new cent design, and especially the controversy surrounding the designer’s initials V.D.B., the 1909-S Indian cent was largely overlooked by speculators. Even so, enough Mint State examples were set aside to meet current demand in lower grades. As a premium quality Gem, however, the present example is decidedly scarce from a condition standpoint and represents a significant find for the advanced collector.

NGC Census: 11; 0 finer in this category.

1920-S Lincoln Cent MS-66 RB PCGS/CAC

An exceptional condition rarity to represent this challenging early date San Francisco Mint Lincoln cent issue. Lovely satin surfaces retain nearly full mint color in vivid medium rose-orange. The strike is superior with bold to sharp definition throughout the design. Smooth in hand and not all that far from pristine, advanced collectors specializing in this perennially popular series would be wise to pursue this offering with vigor.

The budget and staffing cuts at the Mint after World War I affected the San Francisco facility particularly hard. Production of Lincoln cents in 1920 dropped off by nearly a hundred million coins from the previous year, down to a comparatively small 46,220,000 pieces. Quality, too, suffered, as almost all known examples of the 1920-S cent were struck using heavily worn dies prepared from equally worn hubs, resulting in an issue with chronically poor striking characteristics and seldom found with even at all.

Here, then, is a rare coin eagerly awaiting inclusion in the finest of cabinets.

Provenance: From Heritage’s Long Beach Signature Sale of February 2005, lot 5468, where it realized $9,200.

PCGS Population: 2; 0 finer in any category. There are no examples graded finer than MS-65 in either the BN or RD categories at this service.

1872 Silver Three-Cent Piece Proof-66+ PCGS/CAC

A boldly and originally toned specimen, the most vivid undertones of cobalt blue, antique gold, and reddish-apricot are evident as the surfaces dip into a light. Such viewing angles also call forth mirrored reflectivity from the fields, which support satiny and fully impressed design elements.

The penultimate Proof in the silver three-cent series, the 1872 has a generous mintage of 950 pieces. Survivors are among the most frequently encountered of their type in today’s market, although we caution bidders that few of them are as carefully preserved and attractively original as this premium quality Gem.

PCGS Population: 4; 7 finer in this category (Proof-68+ finest).

1912 Liberty Head Nickel Proof-67 PCGS/CAC

Simply outstanding surfaces are virtually pristine with full, razor-sharp striking detail throughout the design. Vividly toned, as well, we note a delightful blend of blue-gray, reddish-apricot and golden-orange colors to both sides.

The 1912 is the final Proof in the regular issue Liberty Head nickel series, the mintage 2,145 pieces. Survivors are scarce in an absolute sense and rare in the finest grades, as here.

PCGS Population: 16; 10 finer in this category (Proof-68 finest).

1796 Draped Bust Quarter VG-10 PCGS

  • B-2, Rarity-3
  • Classic 1796 Quarter
  • One Year Small Eagle Design Type

Offered is a handsome circulated example of the historic and elusive 1796 Draped Bust quarter. Richly toned in dominant charcoal-olive, both sides also exhibit intermingled antique gold, powder blue and pinkish-rose iridescence. The strike is ideally centered and, while the reverse is a bit soft at the lower left and upper right borders, the obverse retains bold outline detail to all design elements, as well as the denticles.

On the reverse, all design elements are readily appreciable with the exception of the letter A in AMERICA, which can be difficult to discern even with the aid of a loupe. Smooth in hand with no sizeable marks, this coin is sure to have no difficulty finding its way into a type set that includes all classic U.S. Mint series.

One of 6,146 examples of the date struck in the first year of the denomination, and the only year of the Draped Bust, Small Eagle design type; no quarter dollars were forthcoming from the Mint again until 1804, in which year the Large Eagle reverse was used to conform to the other circulating silver coins of the era.

1818/7 Large 8 Capped Bust Half Dollar MS-64 NGC/CAC

  • Vivid Target-Toned 1818/7 O-101a Half Dollar
  • O-101a, Rarity-1
  • High Condition Census

A supremely attractive coin, both sides exhibit bullseye toning in vivid cobalt blue, reddish-rose, and champagne-apricot colors — certainly the result of long-term storage in a numismatic album. The surfaces are lustrous with a satin texture that is just a few trivial marks away from an even higher grade. Well centered, the strike has imparted uniform denticulation around both sides as well as sharp detail to all design elements. Clash marks in the obverse field and at Liberty’s ear as are made, a faint planchet drift mark (also as made) behind the cap perhaps the most useful provenance marker.

This regal Choice Mint State example is tied for CC#3 for the 1818/7 O-101a die state based on the census listing in the Autumn 2020 revision to Stephen J. Herrman’s AMBPR for Bust half dollars. The finest early die state 1818/7 O-101 coins known to Herrman are certified MS-64. A breathtakingly beautiful and conditionally rare coin that will appeal to advanced Bust half dollar collectors as well as toning enthusiasts.

Provenance: From Heritage’s Sale of the Hamilton Collection, August 2016 ANA Signature Auction, lot 4564; Legend’s Regency Auction XX, January 2017, lot 181; Legend’s Regency Auction XXIV, December 2017, lot 232.

1885 Gold Dollar Proof-66 Deep Cameo PCGS/CAC

  • Stellar Proof 1885 Gold Dollar
  • JD-1, Rarity-4

Breathtakingly beautiful surfaces are silky smooth in texture with vivid reddish-orange patina. Reflective fields exhibit a subtle “orange peel” texture when observed with the aid of a loupe, and they form a splendid backdrop to fully impressed, satin-textured devices. Expertly preserved with eye appeal to spare, this delightful premium Gem Proof will please even the most discerning gold enthusiast.

The United States Mint in Philadelphia produced 1,105 Proof gold dollars in 1885. Writing in the excellent reference United States Proof Coins, Volume IV: Gold, Part I (2018), John W. Dannreuther states that 30 coins were delivered on January 17 for inclusion in complete Proof sets, followed by additional deliveries of 218, 106, 111 and 640 specimens before year’s end.

The author has identified two varieties for this issue using two obverse dies and one reverse die. The two die pairings are of equal rarity in numismatic circles with 100 to 150 coins believed extant for each. This puts the total surviving population of this issue at no more than 300 coins, the typical example encountered in today’s market with lower quality and far less eye appeal than offered here.

A phenomenal coin worthy of the strongest bids.

PCGS Population: 4; 5 finer in this category (Proof-67+ Deep Cameo finest).

1810 Large Date, Large 5 Capped Bust Left Half Eagle MS-64+ PCGS/CAC

  • Choice Mint State 1810 BD-4 Half Eagle
  • Popular Large Date, Large 5 Variety
  • BD-4, Rarity-2

A vivid and attractive condition rarity to represent this otherwise relatively obtainable die pairing in the Capped Bust Left half eagle series. This coin is well struck with most design elements sharply to fully rendered, though a few faint adjustment marks (as made) can be detected at the center of Liberty’s portrait. Bright yellow-gold luster throughout with faint accents of deeper reddish-rose iridescence on the obverse that further enhance the eye appeal. A significant and fleeting bidding opportunity for the collector seeking a high-grade example, as this variety is seldom offered above the basal MS-64 level. BD Die State a/a.

The four different die pairings used for the 1810 half eagles have been listed separately in the Red Book thanks to the readily discernible differences between the date and denomination logotypes. Only two of the four, BD-1 (Small Date, Tall 5) and BD-4 (Large Date, Large 5), as here, are regularly available to collectors. All told, 100,287 half eagles were struck from these die pairs, at least three-quarters of which were coined using the BD-4 marriage. Somewhere between 500 and 750 specimens are believed to reside in numismatic holdings, helping to make this one of the most popular type candidates for the entire series. In fact, its relative availability has made the 1810 BD-4 half eagle among the most popular of all the early U.S. gold varieties across all denominations. Sure to see spirited bidding.

Provenance: From our (American Numismatic Rarities’) Allison Park Collection sale, August 2004, lot 1001.

PCGS Population (Large Date, Large 5 variety only): 2; 5 finer (MS-66+ finest).

1882-CC Liberty Head Half Eagle AU-55 PCGS/CAC

  • Winter 1-A, the only known dies

Handsome rose-orange surfaces also reveal blended olive highlights as the coin rotates under a light. Ample luster remains, both sides also retaining sharp to full striking detail throughout the design.

Unlike the previous year, 1882 proved to be quite productive at Carson City. A modest increase in bullion coming out of the Comstock combined with a full uninterrupted year of operation allowed the Mint to increase its output significantly. Striking quality improved, as well; the 82,817 coins produced for the 1882-CC half eagle were struck from a single pair of dies, a different story from just a decade earlier. Thanks in part to the more generous mintage figures, around 500 examples are believed to exist for present generations to appreciate.

The 1882-CC is actually moderately available at the AU level as compared to many earlier issues in this series. Mint State examples remain elusive, but not prohibitively so, making this a broadly popular issue. This Choice AU is an outstanding example that will draw the attention of gold type collectors, Carson City Mint specialists, and aficionados of Western gold.

1905 Liberty Head Half Eagle Proof-63 Cameo NGC/CAC

  • Premium Quality Proof 1905 Half Eagle
  • JD-1, the only known dies; Rarity-5
  • Noteworthy Cameo Finish

Vivid rose-orange patina and highly reflective fields are perhaps the first features to greet the viewer from both sides of this lovely Choice Proof. Little additional effort will be required to appreciate the strike, which is razor-sharp to full throughout the design.

Finally, the more persistent viewer will notice that the surfaces are uncommonly smooth for the assigned grade, a quality that they retain even under close scrutiny with a loupe. Premium quality for both the issue and the assigned grade, there is much to recommend this lovely specimen to discerning Proof gold enthusiasts.

A scarce to rare issue in all grades, the Proof 1905 half eagle was produced to the extent of just 108 pieces. The vast majority of survivors — which John W. Dannreuther (2018) estimates at just 60 to 75 coins — display the all-brilliant finish that characterizes the United States Mint’s Proof Liberty Head gold coinage of the 1902 to 1907 era. Very scarce with a Cameo finish as confirmed by NGC, this is an impressive strike rarity worthy of the strongest bids.

NGC Census: 3; 12 finer in this category (Proof-68 Cameo finest).

1901 Liberty Head Eagle Proof-63+ Cameo NGC

  • Vivid Choice Proof 1901 Eagle
  • JD-1, the only known dies; Rarity-5-

Beautiful deep orange-gold patina blankets both sides of this scarce and inviting Proof Liberty Head eagle. Sharply to fully struck, both sides also exhibit a boldly cameoed finish with good contrast between the fields and design elements. Free of singularly mentionable handling marks with superior quality and eye appeal for the assigned grade.

The United States Mint struck 85 Proof eagles in 1901, the coins delivered in four batches from March 26 to December 30. John W. Dannreuther (2018) observes:

This is the last year that the second Philadelphia Mint struck Proof coinage. In October of this year, the third facility was occupied and the production of Proofs was moved into the new medal room.

Given the delivery dates, it would seem that Proof 1901 eagles were struck in both facilities. With only 45 to 55 coins believed extant, this is an obviously scarce issue any offering of which represents a fleeting opportunity for advanced gold enthusiasts.

1851-O Liberty Head Double Eagle AU-55 NGC

  • Reverse Wire Struck Thru

Plenty of semi-prooflike reflectivity remains in the fields on both sides of this boldly defined, vivid medium gold example. NGC has mounted this coin with the reverse up in the holder to focus attention on the prominent strike through on that side that arcs toward the eagle’s head from the border outside the first letter T in STATES. Major Mint errors of any kind are rare on double eagles regardless of design type, especially from the earliest years of the Liberty Head series, and especially from the New Orleans Mint. A significant find for the advanced collector.

Provenance: From Heritage’s CSNS Auction of April-May 2009, lot 3925, where it realized $12,650.

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