By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
Stack’s Bowers Galleries is hosting a series of important U.S. coin, Americana, and paper money auctions from March 24 through 26 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, with additional internet sessions scheduled from March 29 through April 1.
Normally held in conjunction with the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore, this auction features thousands of lots to choose from, with hundreds of important rarities, including many condition census pieces, many seldom offered. A close study of the sale catalogs reveals why these sessions are some of the most anticipated of the year.
CoinWeek has looked over every lot to pick out this insightful auction preview. These are the Lots You Need to Know.
Unless the only legal-to-own 1933 double eagle hits the auction block later this year or someone tries to sell a full red Strawberry cent found stuffed in the horsehair plaster of a Federal-era home, the Stack’s Bowers offering of the only privately-held 1822 half eagle will be the numismatic auction event of the year.
Offered in May 2016 at the Stack’s Bowers/Sotheby’s sale of the D. Brent Pogue Family Collection, the coin failed to meet its unpublished reserve. Then bidding crept up to a staggering $6.4 million dollars before auctioneer Christine Karstedt announced that the lot had passed. The passing of the 1822 $5 and the Childs 1804 dollar were shocking developments that night, but they in no way diminished the Herculean effort that Stack’s put into offering the most expensive collection of U.S. coins ever brought to market.
Now a small handful of the hobby’s most affluent collectors and dealers will get another bite at the apple as the 1822 $5 headlines Stack’s Bowers March 2021 auction.
The Pogue coin has an unbroken pedigree dating back to the 19th century and was an important piece of the Virgil Brand and Louis Eliasberg, Sr. collections before being purchased by a young D. Brent Pogue in October 1982. Graded AU50 by PCGS, the coin has character even in its imperfections and is the finest of the three known (the other two are permanently impounded in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution).
The current bid of just over a million is a head fake, as we expect spirited bidding by at least two individuals. A certain Utah super collector being one likely candidate, as he would need an 1822 $5 to finish his “Super Eliasberg” Collection. Given the importance and rarity of the piece, he would likely have to fend off one or more early U.S. gold collectors and maybe even one or two high-end dealers.
Current Bid: $1,300,000
While a type coin, this colorfully-toned example graded MS67 by NGC is tied with three other coins at the top of the population report and is, according to Stack’s Bowers, the sole finest of the Overton-104 die varieties.
The pedigree of this example is traced back to the Samuel H. Chapman sale of the Davis S. Wilson Collection, on March 13-14, 1907. Wilson was one of the 19th century’s elite collectors. Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wilson was one of the few collectors of the period to consistently order four-piece gold Proof sets. His gold half eagle collection was notable as were his Proofs (obviously).
Not only is this coin well-struck and visually stunning. It also comes in a scarce early generation NGC holder, meaning this piece was graded between December 1987 and August 1989. This piece last sold at auction in the April-May 2009 sale of the Joseph C. Thomas Collection, where the coin brought $27,600. We do not believe the coin will reach this price level in 2021, but it will be a bargain if it sells for less than $20,000.
Current Bid: $4,200
If you enjoy Capped Bust half dollars, be sure to also check out the following lots:
- Lot 4099: 1827 Capped Bust half dollar. O-121. PCGS PR63. Six known in Proof.
- Lot 4100: 1829 Capped Bust half dollar. O-112. PCGS PR63. Unique in Proof.
Lot 1440: 1787 Massachusetts Cent. Ryder 3-G, W-6090. Rarity-3-. Arrows in Left Talon. MS-65+ BN (PCGS). CAC.
Massachusetts was late to the game when it came to striking copper coinage during the Articles of Confederation period. Its cent and half-cent issues did not appear until 1787, one year before the ratification of the United States Constitution. The Constitution gave the federal government a monopoly on producing coinage with the intention that a national coinage would increase trade amongst the states.
This beautiful example of the Arrows in Left Talon variety is graded MS65+ BN by PCGS and is CAC-approved. That PCGS considers the coin to be Brown is understandable, but intense fiery red survives to this day in the protected areas on the obverse and reverse. Well struck for the type and certainly problem-free–a rare quality on a 220+-year-old copper coin.
Stack’s Bowers notes its pedigree to the famous collection of specialist Donald Groves Partick.
This exact piece last sold in a January 2019 sale. Then the piece was in a PCGS MS65BN CAC holder and realized $24,000. We expect a stronger price today.
Current Bid: $6,500
Lincoln cents were not produced at the Philadelphia Mint in 1922, but this pretender (in actuality a later die state 1922-D with an effaced mintmark) has filled that hole in the imaginations of Lincoln cent collectors since the “variety” was popularized in the 1920s by Corpus Christie, Texas cent hoarder Maurice Scharlack. Scharlack’s main claim to fame would come in the 1930s when he tried to single-handedly corner the market in the low-mintage 1931-S.
The present example is graded MS63RB by NGC and retains much of its original red with hints of salmon color in the protected areas along the rim. As with most 1922 No D cents, this example shows considerable die wear on the obverse. A relatively fresh reverse differentiates this die pairing. The weak reverse is less desirable and sells at a discount.
Current Bid: $4,800
Lot 2275: 1932-D Washington Quarter. MS-66 (PCGS).
Every Washington quarter collector covets the 1932-D. That this low mintage issue is scarce is no surprise, its mintage was a paltry 436,000 pieces. But what’s really impressive about the issue is that gem examples are actually scarcer than 1916-D Mercury dimes with Full Split Bands. NGC has graded but 24 at MS65 and none finer. PCGS has certified 94 at MS65 and just two (the one and one other) at MS66.
This example is mostly brilliant with just a hint of whispy toning. The surfaces exhibit a thick layer of mint frost. The strike is solid throughout. Those unfamiliar with the early issues may see some softness in IN GOD WE TRUST. This feature is struck as designed and the Mint experimented with medium and heavy lettering in 1934 to correct this issue.
We last saw this piece come up for auction at an internet auction held in March 2020. At that sale, this piece realized $64,500.
Current Bid: $2,200
If you enjoy silver Washington quarters, be sure to also check out the following lots:
- Lot 2276: 1932-S Washington quarter. PCGS MS66. Brilliant.
- Lot 2286: 1937-D Washington quarter. PCGS MS67+. Rainbow toning.
- Lot 2296: 1941 Washington quarter. PCGS MS67+. Dramatic obverse toning.
- Lot 2317: 1948 Washington quarter. PCGS MS68+. Dramatic obverse toning.
- Lot 2352: 1962-D Washington quarter. PCGS MS67+ CAC. Dramatic obverse toning.
- Lot 4077: 1952-D Washington quarter. PCGS MS67+ CAC. Rainbow toning.
- Lot 4078: 1959 Washington quarter. PCGS MS67+ CAC. Rainbow toning.
Lot 2275: 1891 Seated Liberty Quarter. MS-66 (NGC) CAC.
Charles Barber was hard at work preparing new models for the dime, quarter, and half dollar to replace Christian Gobrecht and Robert Ball Hughes’ Seated Liberty designs. It was a project that Barber stubbornly took on by himself, even though he had the more competent George T. Morgan in his employ and despite the fact that he was impaneled, along with Augustus Saint-Gaudens, to conduct a competition to select replacement designs from outside of the Mint.
Barber asserted that only Mint engravers were qualified to design coins; Saint-Gaudens held that he was the only American up to the task. The panel dissolved and Barber got busy developing a trio of workmanlike designs which have long been underrated and underappreciated by generations of numismatists who found themselves in the Morgan or Saint-Gaudens camp. Life can be unfair like that and historical narrative is not always born from fact.
With all of this going on, the Seated Liberty design took its final bow in 1891. The quarter dollar denomination was struck at Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The New Orleans issue is an underrated rarity. With nearly four million struck, the Philadelphia issue is a type coin.
The example offered by Stack’s Bowers in Lot 2275 is a brilliant uncirculated example graded MS66 by NGC and CAC-approved. It retains its original satiny surface luster, a strong strike with full star details, and light clash marks on the obverse and reverse. Ten years ago, this was a $2,500 coin. By the 2014-2015 time period, prices had dropped to $1,400 – $1,500. Recently, however, type Seated Liberty quarters have rebounded and a piece like this could reasonably except to hammer at about $2,000. The CAC sticker and strike will help. Seated Liberty collectors should watch this lot closely.
Current Bid: $1,500