HomeAuctionsStack’s Bowers Spring 2024 Rarities Night Preview – Gold Coins

Stack’s Bowers Spring 2024 Rarities Night Preview – Gold Coins

Stack's Bowers Rarities Night Spring 2024 Showcase Auction - Gold coin denominations

By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..

This is the third of three previews I have written to discuss the Stack’s Bowers’ Rarities Night sale in their Spring 2024 Showcase Auction. The auction will be held on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, and consists of more than 300 lots of raritiescondition rarities, and PQ eye appeal pieces.

In the first Rarities Night preview, I broke down six lots in the minor coinage categories, including rare Mint State examples of the 1793 Wreath cent and the 1916/916 Buffalo nickel.

In the second preview, I discussed an exciting selection of Liberty Seated half dollars and dazzling Washington quarters and Franklin halves.

In this part, I will focus on gold coins from the sale. The gold section offers an array of important pieces – including rarities like the 1841 “Little Princess” quarter eagle, which isn’t even my favorite coin in the sale.

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Stack’s Bowers Spring 2024 Rarities Night: Gold Coins

Lot 4227: 1884 Gold Dollar. MS-67+PL NGC CMQ-X

1884 Gold Dollar. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1884 Gold Dollar. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

Despite a mintage of just 5,230 pieces, the 1884 gold dollar is a type coin for the underappreciated gold series. Probably no more than one hundred examples of this date survive in Gem grades, but some of these Gem and Superb Gem coins are absolute monsters. This coin is graded MS67+PL by NGC has beautifully smooth surfaces, and is the finest PL in the NGC condition census, perhaps the second finest PL overall, and makes a solid case for being one of the 10 finest examples of the date. I reviewed this outstanding gold coin at the Stack’s Bowers viewing room in Baltimore, and I really liked it.

Lot 4236: 1841 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle. MS-60 PCGS CMQ

1841 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle. Image: SBG.
1841 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

For years, the 1841 Liberty Head quarter eagle was thought of as a Proof-only issue, but later studies by Dave Akers, David Hall, Doug Winter, and Ron Guth proved that this was not the case. More recent scholarship by Guth and John Dannreuther points to Chief Coiner Franklin Peale as the source for at least some of the coins being struck for collectors for a profit. Coin dealer Norman Stack gave the issue the name “Little Princess” in the 1940s. The name stuck after being used in Abe Kosoff’s catalog for the Adolphe Menjou Collection. The present example is graded PCGS MS60 and is CMQ-approved. When it was offered by Heritage in April 2012, the coin was graded PF55 by NGC. Interestingly, this piece’s first public auction appearance took place in 1985; then, the coin was described as Extremely Fine. Grading standards have evolved quite a bit since that time.

Grading aside, the overall rarity of the 1841 Liberty Head quarter eagle is indisputable. PCGS counts just nine examples in its population data, and NGC counts just three. Stack’s Bowers last sold the finest known example, graded PCGS PR64CAM in 2020 for $408,000. That example was the Newcomer-Eliasberg-Pogue coin. I expect the coin to bring between $150,000 and $225,000 USD.

Lot 4243: 1911 Indian Head Quarter Eagle Proof. PR67+ PCGS

1911 Indian Head Quarter Eagle Proof. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1911 Indian Head Quarter Eagle Proof. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

The United States Mint’s experiments with various Sandblast/Matte-Proof finishes in the early 1900s did not win over collectors at the time, leading to low mintages and the eventual termination of the Mint’s Proof coinage program. This is a real shame, as these pieces have a unique character and work well with these iconic coin designs.

In particular, I like the way the finish plays with the sunken relief of the Bela Lyon Pratt Indian Head quarter and half eagles.

This extraordinary example is graded PR67+ by PCGS and has outstanding eye appeal. It is one of five coins in that grade. PCGS reports one example at PR68+; that coin is the plate coin on PCGS CoinFacts, but I have not seen it in hand. The last two PR67+ coins sold for $69,000 in Heritage sales in 2018 and 2023. I can confirm that the example in the present Stacks Bowers gold offering is neither of those two coins.

Lot 4280: 1820 Capped Head Half Eagle. MS-62 PCGS

1820 Capped Bust Half Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1820 Capped Bust Half Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

Type coin collectors may look at the 1820 Capped Head half eagle as one of the more affordable dates in the series, as its reported mintage is a series-high 263,806 pieces. Specialists understand that collecting the 1820 is not that simple. For starters, this issue has three Guide Book varieties: the Curved-Base 2, Small Letters; the Curved-Base 2, Large Letters; and the Square Base 2. Nine die marriages were deployed to create these three major varieties, and the BD-4, of which this 1820 Capped Head half eagle is confirmed to be, is the rarest of all die marriages in the series, with just two examples certified. Both coins are in Mint State.

The Bass coin, graded MS63+, sold in 2022 at Heritage for $81,000. It’s possible that minor marks in the obverse field held this example back from the MS63 grade when PCGS reviewed it. CMQ believes this is a quality coin at the grade. I agree.

Lot 4285: 1866 Liberty Head Eagle. PR-65 PCGS CAC CMQ-X

1866 Liberty Head Half Eagle Proof. Image: SBG.
1866 Liberty Head Half Eagle Proof. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Within two years of the release of the two-cent piece, IN GOD WE TRUST started to appear on America’s silver and gold coins. The 1866 half eagle was the issue to include the motto, which was scrawled on a ribbon above the eagle’s head. For circulation, the Mint struck 6,700 pieces. In Proof, a reported 30 pieces were struck; of that total, perhaps 10 or so survive, and two are held in institutional collections. The present example was graded PR65 by PCGS and is CAC and CMQ-X approved. The coin was graded between 1990 and 1993, a time when PCGS did not attribute Proofs as having Cameo or Deep Cameo contrast. The degree of frost on the devices of this coin is apparent in the holder photographs published in the online lot description.

Lot 4384: MCMVII (1907) Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. High Relief. Specimen-63 PCGS CMQ

MCMVII High Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
MCMVII High Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

Graded SP63 by PCGS, this High Relief MCMVII Saint-Gaudens double eagle is not near the top of the condition census but it is an important example nevertheless, with a direct connection to the Theodore Roosevelt Administration. According to the lot description, this coin is from the estate of James Wilson, fourth United States Secretary of Agriculture, 1897-1913.

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That does it for my auction preview of the Stack’s Bowers gold coins in the Spring 2024 Rarities Night session. Beyond these examples, there were many coins that I did not cover that are worthy of your consideration. I hope these previews were informative and interesting.

We will soon turn our attention to Heritage’s Central States offerings, but until then, happy collecting!

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Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan is an award-winning numismatic author and the editor and publisher of CoinWeek.com. Along with co-author Hubert Walker, he has written for CoinWeek since 2012, as well as the "Market Whimsy" column for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing. From 2021-2023, Charles served as Governor of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), where he was bestowed the Glenn Smedley Award. Charles is a member of numerous numismatic organizations, including the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG).

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