By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for CoinWeek.com ……
Legend Rare Coin Auctions is keeping the season bright with The Regency Auction XXIV, which, in conjunction with the PCGS Member’s Only Show takes place on December 14, 2017 at the iconic Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. The headlining auction consists of 392 lots with estimated values ranging from only a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. The coins, all certified by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), hail from a variety of impressive cabinets such as the Bubbabells and York Collections.
Classic type coins are heavily represented in this sale, and the auction includes a decent mixture of gold and silver types – as well as copper and nickel minor denominations (the 24th Regency Sale has something for just about every collector). Yet, while there are many lots deserving of marquee mentions, we’d like to focus on four particularly stunning highlights that will cross the block at this much-anticipated event.
Lot 72: 1873-CC Seated Quarter Arrows PCGS AU-55
Estimate: $65,000+ USD
Carson City coinage continues to gain in popularity as more and more collectors realize how scarce “CC” coinage really is. It takes little more than a glance at mintage numbers in a coin reference guide to really grasp why so many Carson City coins are so rare. Yet, an academic peek beyond the mint-reported figures reveal these coins are much rarer than even production totals seem to indicate. Most Carson City coins went right into circulation. Many others were melted. “CC” survivors are few – and better-grade Carson City coins are fewer still.
Consider, for example, this 1873-CC Seated Quarter, Arrows at Date – a coin with a compelling story. Struck at the Carson City Mint in the heyday of the Comstock Lode silver rush, this 1873-CC quarter was made soon after Congress authorized a higher weight standard for silver coinage. The arrows on either side of the coin’s date indicate it was struck using the heavier planchets, which weighed 6.25 grams – a slightly higher standard than the previous silver quarter planchets weighing 6.22 grams. Only 4,000 quarters were made at Carson City in 1873 with the lighter planchets and are scarce, worthy collectibles in their own right.
Meanwhile, the Carson City Mint pumped out more than three times as many 1873 quarters with arrows at the date – 12,462 pieces, to be exact. But virtually all entered circulation, leaving a mere handful of better specimens for collectors today. PCGS reports only 50 survivors across the grading spectrum, and this AU-55 specimen is one of the finest-known examples of the 1873-CC Seated Liberty quarter with arrows at the date. Light friction is noted on the high points with problem-free surfaces and handsome eye appeal. Pleasing hints of pink and wine add kisses of color to the original gray surfaces.
The pedigree of this lightly circulated treasure traces back to Eugene H. Gardner, a celebrated collector who passed away in 2016 at the age of 80. Among PCGS-certified survivors, only two pieces are graded finer. Each of these have similarly impressive provenance, including an Eliasberg-Bolen-Battleborn-Gardner MS-64 example and a Norweb-Stellar MS-65.
Lot 131: 1914-D Lincoln Cent PCGS CAC RB MS-66
Estimate: $28,000+ USD
Ask a typical collector what the rarest Lincoln cent is, and many – if not most – will reflexively reply with this expected answer: the 1909-S VDB cent. But propose a similar inquiry to a well-studied registry set collector who specializes in Lincoln cents and the answer becomes far more complicated. Lincoln cent connoisseurs understand there are many conditional rarities far more elusive in the higher grades than just about any example of the 1909-S VDB cent. Among these is the 1914-D Lincoln cent, a widely recognized key date that is scarce in any grade and significantly more challenging to locate in the Gem range than a 1909-S VDB penny in similar condition.
As early mintmarked Lincoln cents are concerned, the circumstance explaining the scarceness of the 1914-D is hardly surprising. Few collectors concentrated on saving Lincoln cents when the 1914-D penny was newly minted. Collectors who did save quantities of pennies at that time were much more likely to preserve a Philadelphia specimen than a “D” example from Denver or one bearing an “S” from San Francisco. Consider, too, that the 1914-D Lincoln has a relatively small mintage of just 1,193,000. Uncirculated specimens are simply few and far between. PCGS estimates there are about 120,000 survivors across the grading spectrum. Of these, about 98.5 percent are in circulated grades.
The spectacular 1914-D Lincoln cent offered in the Regency sale is graded as an RB, or Red/Brown. However, the brownish surface toning comes in traces, barely holding this 103-year-old relic back from a potential full-Red grade designation. The coin bears no visible evidence of carbon spots or flyspecks, and the coin’s golden-brown hues impart a warm, radiant glow on this numismatic antique. Obverse and reverse details are robust, giving the coin an overall sharp appearance. The Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) recognizes this piece among the finest specimens it has seen of its MS-66 RB grade, duly beaning the coin’s slab with a seal of approval.
Few 1914-D Lincoln cents match the splendor of this piece. PCGS reports a population of just four such examples. Meanwhile, CAC has given its endorsement to just two. PCGS notes six grade MS-66 Red, with no representatives of the date grading higher.
Lot 181: 1956 Jefferson Nickel Proof-68+ DCAM
Estimate: $6,000+ USD
Collectors of modern coins are sure to fancy this crisp deep-cameo proof. Boasting deep-black, mirrored fields and rich, frosty-white devices, this proof 1956 Jefferson nickel sets the bar for registry set collectors who are looking for a superb specimen to add to their holdings. The surfaces of this beauty appear flawless, with only a hint of bluish field tone on either side of Jefferson’s head on the obverse. This specimen is one of only 10 such pieces graded by PCGS, and only one grades higher as a Proof-69 DCAM.
Jefferson nickels as a series are egregiously underrated, and pre-1970 deep cameo proof nickels such as this one are no less under the radar of many collectors. Yet, stunning mid-century proof coins exemplify the beauty and conditional rarity of many modern coins – a body of coinage that many collectors (still) mistakenly assume is common and of little numismatic value.
Perhaps in the coming years Jefferson nickels (and other post-1950 United States coins) will gain much-deserved appreciation among the body of American coin collectors. Until then, coins like this 1956 proof Jefferson nickel will be bought and sold with relatively little media fanfare, crossing the block in the shadows of early Draped Bust and Seated Liberty types. Not that classic U.S. coins haven’t earned their just place in numismatics. But low-population modern coins have an equally important place in the hobby, and the estimated value of this piece – more than $6,000 – suggests this coin is trophy material.
And, all things considered, it is.
Lot 330: 1911-D Strong D Indian Head $2.50 Quarter Eagle PCGS CAC MS-64
Estimate: $21,000+ USD
Indian Head gold quarter eagles are, as a series, relatively common coins. Many collectors who consider building a complete date-and-mintmark collection of the series, which ran from 1908 through 1929, may open a coin price guide and see that a complete collection comprises only 15 different pieces. Many can be acquired in circulated grades for a nominal amount over spot value. But every series has its key date, and in the case of the Indian Head $2.50 gold coins, the “biggie” is a real doozy: the 1911-D Indian Head quarter eagle, which even in circulated grades runs well into the four digits.
Only 55,680 pieces were made, and according to PCGS just 8,000 survive today across all grades. Collectors also recognize two major die variations for the 1911-D quarter eagle: one type bearing a “Strong D” mintmark and another with a “Weak D”. Collectors place emphasis in value and desirability on the “Strong D” version, and it is that type that is represented here in Lot 330.
This 1911-D Strong D Indian Head quarter eagle is categorically scarce, as PCGS lists a population of only 298 examples grading in MS-64. This specimen is especially pleasing to the eyes with its orange-rose accents and robust strike. CAC rewards the overall eye appeal of this coin with a sticker of approval – one of only 80 such CAC-approved 1911-D MS-64 Indian Head quarter eagles.
Registry set builders could actually do marginally better with the purchase of an MS-65 or MS-66 specimen; PCGS says there are 22 of the former and two of the latter. But with prices for those specimens easily crossing the $50,000 and $160,000 thresholds, respectively, any connoisseur of pre-1933 gold coins could take great satisfaction in snapping up this gorgeous rarity for only a fraction of those prices.