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Top 5 Results From Stack’s Bowers Whitman Expo Coin Auction

Stack's Bowers Baltimore coin auction

Coin Auction Coverage By CoinWeek …..

The Stack’s Bowers June Baltimore coin auction of rare coins and medals has so far realized $4.7 million, with two internet sessions yet to conclude. The sale included a number of important $20 Liberty gold coins, including the infrequently offered Paquet 1861-S.

We have looked through the results and compiled a list of five coins that make up the top five highest prices paid in this coin auction. In this list you will see the coins and read our insights into the significance of each piece and how the prices realized stack up against recent coin auction results for similar coins of the same issue.

The Liberty $20 series is one of the most challenging series to collect in high grade and it is this challenge, spread over the course of a long series, that makes the series uniquely interesting and underrated.

With that said, let’s dig in…

Note: Coin illustrations are taken from the Stack’s Bowers online catalog and coin auction. All listed prices realized include the 20% buyer premium added to the final hammer price, which represents what the buyer actually paid.  

5 – $48,000

1871-CC $20 Double Eagle PCGS XF45 (Fairmont Collection)

PCGS reports a population of 48 grading events of the 1871-CC in XF45, the present coin’s assigned grade. Thirty-one grading events in AU communicate the upper-end of what is available in the marketplace in their holders, with a single example in Mint State 60. So why spend extra money for a 60, when coins in AU58 look better?

The NGC population report presents a much clearer picture of the condition census for this issue, where the finest known example is in an NGC MS64 holder. That coin sold in 2008 for $414,000. It’s unclear whether this coin was ever submitted to CAC for a second opinion, but to date no 1871-CC beyond the grade of AU53 has earned one.

That most surviving examples of this issue come so heavily abraded so as to be uniformly unattractive may make the issue an ugly duckling for numismatic aesthetes, but the true beauty of pieces like this lies with their rarity and historical importance.

The $48,000 hammer price is a great result and advances the market price for the issue in this coin auction.

Provenance: From the Fairmont Collection.


4 – $57,600

1879-O $20 Double Eagle PCGS XF45 (Fairmont Collection)

1879-O $20 PCGS XF45Collecting New Orleans $20 gold is challenging even for advanced collectors. Bookending the Civil War is a run of five issues that today are among the most challenging 19th-century gold issues to collect in Mint State.

The 1879-O was struck in very limited numbers in the first year of resumed operations following the mint’s closure in 1861. Of course, collectors are well familiar with the O-mint’s Morgan dollar production during this period, but its important to note that this is the only New Orleans $20 struck with the Type 3 reverse.

Mint State examples sell for $140,000 and above, with examples in the AU range bringing between $70,000 and $85,000 at auction over the course of the past several years. And while rare coins have seen sometimes dramatic declines in price over the course of the past three years, classic gold, as scarce as many issues are, has seemingly held its own.

Stack’s Bowers result of $57,600 for the Fairmont Collection example in PCGS XF45 illustrates quite clearly that scarce date gold in collector grades is still a good bet in today’s market. Heritage Auctions offered a piece in the same grade at Central States and realized $52,800.

Provenance: From the Fairmont Collection.


3 – $66,000

1859-O $20 Double Eagle PCGS AU53 (Fairmont Collection)

1859 $20 Double Eagle PCGS AU53PCGS and NGC account for a total of two Mint State grading events, both at PCGS and both grading out at MS60. CAC has approved three examples at AU58, one designated as a PL, or Prooflike.

In AU, the 1859-O is obtainable, but not without a significant investment. From a total mintage of just 9,100, fewer than 100-150 are believed to have survived. PCGS and NGC report a combined 69 grading events of the issue, but this number is likely inflated by duplicate submissions and crossovers. U.S. gold specialist dealer Doug Winter writes that he believes the number of AU examples to be between 20 and 28. We have no reason to question Doug’s years of experience on the matter.

The Fairmont piece realized $66,000. For a non-CAC AU53 in a PCGS holder, this is an excellent result that advances the price by about 10% from where recent examples in similar or higher AU grades have performed.

Provenance: From the Fairmont Collection.


2 – $78,000

1857-O $20 Double Eagle PCGS MS60


1857-O $20 Liberty Head Gold Double Eagle

In our write up of the 1879-O, we briefly touched on the fact that the New Orleans Mint’s pre-Civil War issues are among the scarcest of the series. The 1857-O was struck in a year of major change for US coinage and great financial pain for the United States economy. Despite the slowdown in the economy, a surprise bump in production saw 30,000 1857 $20 gold coins struck in New Orleans. Most have been lost to time, which is why the 1857-O is seldom offered in any grade, much less in Mint State.

This despite the fact that collectors, in recent years, have had the benefit of a small cache of 1857-O $20 gold coins turning up in the deep sea salvage of the SS Republic.

In this technically uncirculated grade, PCGS accounts for one grading instance in MS60 with two finer. NGC reports a population of six total grading instances in Mint State with the finest being one example in MS63.

Recent sales of AU58 examples saw prices in the $46,000 to $50,000 range. Heritage offered an NGC AU58* in January. That coin brought $48,000. In that context, Stack’s Bowers’ price realized of $78,000 is quite strong, far exceeding our pre-sale expectations and advancing the price for this issue.

This is the trend line for better date, better grade gold in this series coming just a few years after the publication of Bowers’ and Galiette’s excellent book on the subject. Is it possible that more advanced collectors are showing interest in climbing numismatics’ Mount Everest?

Provenance: From the Fairmont Collection.



1 – $96,000

1861-S $20 Double Eagle Paquet Reverse PCGS AU53 (Fairmont Collection)

1861-S $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle Paquet Reverse

The highlight of the Fairmont Collection was this Paquet reverse 1861-S $20 double eagle. Graded AU53 by PCGS. The crudely reworked Paquet dies, feature a number of modifications to Longacre’s original design, but were quickly rejected when it was discovered that they would not wear well. The Philadelphia Mint acted promptly to cease production of coins with new dies, but the San Francisco Mint did not receive guidance in time to avoid an emission of nearly 20,000 pieces.

That Paquet’s name is most often associated with this inferior reworking of Longacre’s original design is unfortunate. Over the course of a long Mint career, Paquet designed a number of patterns and medals that illustrate good technique and artistry. The enduring popularity of this piece, however, illustrates the point that some of the most enduring collectibles are born of failure and not success.

The Philadelphia $20 with the Paquet reverse is considerably rarer that the San Fransisco Mint issue, but both are high dollar coins that fall out of the range of the means of most collectors. In AU53, recent auctions put this issue at between $80,000 and $85,000. Stack’s Bowers $96,000 is considerably stronger than that and as we have said with each of the top five issues from this collection, shows that the market for gold $20s in better dates and better grades is advancing.

Let the naysayers take note, the market for nice coins and scarce coins is moving upwards again. Clutch your pearls and enjoy the ride.

Provenance: From the Fairmont Collection.




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