By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
The 78th annual convention of the Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS) took place from Wednesday, April 26 through Saturday, April 29, and Heritage Auctions served as the official auctioneer. The central States Signature Auction was held in multiple sessions starting on Wednesday and extended beyond the convention itself, with Internet Only sessions open for bidding Sunday, April 30 through Tuesday, May 2.
Several notable collections were sold, including the Siegel Collection, with its focus on American silver dollars; Part II of the Hutchinson Collection; the Mesquite Collection of gold coins; and the Terry Brand estate.
Heritage’s marquee Platinum Night session was held Thursday evening, on the 27th.
In ascending order, here are the five coins with the highest hammer prices at the CSNS 78th Annual Convention Auction:
1797 $5 Small Eagle, 16 Stars AU53 PCGS, CAC – $176,250
PCGS estimates that between 25-30 1797 $5 gold coins with the Small Eagle reverse, 16 Stars obverse variety survive. In the PCGS census, the certified population tops out at the typically undesirable grade of Mint State 61. Although technically uncirculated at that state of preservation, a coin in MS61 typically lacks eye appeal, may have lost most of its luster, and may come riddled with bag marks.
In About Uncirculated grades, coins can exhibit gem eye appeal and be relatively free of problems, save for the appearance of some slight degree of wear. The present example is a PCGS Plate Coin that exhibits a pleasing surface and variations in color consistent with original toning. PCGS has awarded the coin the grade of AU53 and at that grade, it has been CAC-approved.
The hammer price of $176,250 is approximately $15,000 less than Hilt Collection specimen in an NGC-certified example in MS61 brought in 2015 and a little more than 40% less than an NGC-certified example in an AU58+ holder brought at Heritage’s 2017 January FUN auction in Fort Lauderdale.
1875 $10 PR63 Cameo PCGS – $193,875
One doesn’t take on the task of assembling a complete set of 1875 Philadelphia gold coinage lightly. The year is known for a number of low mintage issues. Yet it is the 1875 $10 that is the date’s true stopper, with fewer than ten presumed survivors extant out of a business strike mintage of 100 and fewer than half of the reported mintage of 20 Proofs accounted for. It’s safe to say that the appearance of any 1875 $10 at auction is an event and a rare opportunity for collectors.
The specimen offered by Heritage has a fantastic pedigree that traces back to the important collections of Norweb, Farouk, and Dunham. Research conducted by Heritage Auctions and other numismatic scholars traces the coin back to its probable original purchaser, 19th century collector Major William Boerum Wetmore. The 1875 $10 was not Wetmore’s only major rarity. He also owned a Class I 1804 dollar, which was then called the Wetmore Specimen, but is today referred to as the Cohen Specimen.
PCGS certified this example PR63 CAM, which puts the coin at #3 in the PCGS Condition Census.
Three years ago, an impaired Proof of this issue brought $164,500. The coin was a bargain at the $193,875 hammer price.
1895 $1 PR67 Deep Cameo PCGS – $199,750
The 1895 Morgan dollar is a bit of an “Odd Bird”. Coveted by many and collected by the few that can afford them, the “King of the Morgans” is up to this point a Proof-Only issue. A reported mintage of 12,000 coins (presumably business strikes) has followed this issue over the years. When the great Treasury Rush on U.S. dollar coins ran its course no bags of 1895 dollars or loose examples turned up. Much intellectual capital has been expended to determine whether or not this was a phantom issue, or one lost to the melting pot as a result of the implementation of the Pittman Act.
For the intense interest that the 1895 dollar generates, the coin is not particular scarce as Morgan dollar Proofs go – both 1879 varieties have considerably lower mintages. But the rare coin market is not solely driven by numbers, it is driven by passion, interest, and the spirit of competition. It is here where the 1895 shines, as without it, one cannot complete a date set of George T. Morgan’s famous cartwheel.
The example offered by Heritage Auctions has an attractive blast white surface with just a hint of golden toning on the outer periphery. Deep Cameo contrast washes over the coin’s devices. PCGS reports a population of six in this grade and one finer.
1828/7 $5 BD-2, Unique as a Variety, MS63 NGC – $223,250
For all intents and purposes, the 1828/7 $5 gold coin is non collectible. Discovered by Andrew Pollock in 1996, only one example exists of the Guide Book overdate variety (also known as BD-2). An overdate is made when a die from a previous year is repurposed and elements of the date from the preceding year is still visible.
The hammer price of $223,250 shows continued strength in early U.S. gold, a segment of the market that seems to have been the least affected by the rare coin market declines of 2015-2016.
1866 $20 With Motto, PR65 Cameo NGC, Gold CAC – $517,000
Consignors at auctions are usually very eager to see the results of a sale, none more so than the congregation at a Valparaiso, Indiana church, who literally struck gold when a parishioner donated to the church a rare Proof $20 gold coin, one of only ten known surviving specimens dated 1866, the first year the motto “In God We Trust” appeared on America’s largest circulating coin.
The coin was submitted to NGC in 1992 and was awarded the grade PF65 CAM. As offered at the Heritage sale, the coin retains its vintage holder but has the additional benefit of having earned a gold CAC sticker, meaning that John Albanese’s firm deems the coin strong for the grade. At its current grade, the “Church” specimen is tied numerically with the finest certified example in a PCGS holder. That coin earned a Deep Cameo designation.
The $517,000 hammer price is a record for this elusive issue.
For more on the “Church” 1866 Proof $20 coin, read CoinWeek’s previous coverage.