CoinWeek Staff Reports….
The sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection has brought renewed attention to a period of federal coinage that has always been popular with collectors and investors: early U.S. – specifically, coins struck from 1792 through 1838.
For better date, better grade or top-end material, this area has continued to bring strong prices. Quality material is limited and collectors are well aware of the possibility that pieces, once they emerge, might not be available again for years if not decades.
Auctions may be the most visible way for ultra rare coins to change hands in recent years, but some collectors and sellers desire more privacy when buying and selling some of the nation’s most desirable coins. These “private treaty” sales are often the only way to acquire some of the ultra-rare and numismatically important material.
Such was the case in March of this year, when numismatic advisor Jeff Sherid was granted exclusive rights to market and sell the ultra-rare 1838 Proof Gold Eagle.
“The coin was in the possession of an investor, who had purchased it along with a select number of other high-priced rare coins.”
“I presented the coin and information about it to three potential buyers,” Sherid told CoinWeek. “Ultimately, it was sold to a buyer, who did his due diligence and saw the coin for what it was–an opportunity. After it was sold, the others I had talked to called me back to ask if the coin was still available. It wasn’t. The coin sold that fast.”
Sherid declined to state the sale’s price of the 1838, but said that it sold in excess of $2 million dollars. Another individual, familiar with the transaction, confirmed this number.
How rare is the Proof 1838 Eagle? Most collectors and dealers have never even seen one.
The first $10 gold U.S. coin was struck in 1795. The issue continued to be produced through 1804, at which time the Mint stopped producing them. This design is commonly referred to as the “Draped Bust” or “Turban Head” type. It wasn’t until 1838 that the Mint resumed production of the gold eagle denomination with a new design. That design is commonly referred as the “Liberty Head” type.
When the Liberty Head type gold $10 debuted, the hair detail covered the top and middle portion of Liberty’s exposed earlobe. Midway through 1839, this design element was changed as Liberty’s hair underwent a major modification.
However, circulation-strike Type 1 Liberty Head $10 coins are rarely encountered in any grade, but especially in Mint State. No gems are known to exist.
In Proof, the coin is a legendary rarity, with a purported 3-5 struck and three known. One of the three is at the Smithsonian Institution; a second is in the possession of a collector from California. The third, a coin once belonging to some of the most famous names in United States numismatics–including the likes of Parmelee, Brand, Green, Woodin, Farouk, and Pittman, is the one brokered by Sherid.
“This really was the coin of my dreams,” Sherid said. “All my life, I’ve been dreaming about handling a coin like this. When I was informed that it was available. I couldn’t speak… I was in shock.”
Of the buyer, Sherid wouldn’t say much. He’s a Wall Street investor. A non-collector, but someone who researched the coin, the market, the certification services that graded and approved it, and Sherid himself. Oh, and did we mention, this was the first coin the buyer had ever purchased?
“This is someone who is smart about money and wants to try new things. They feel this is the right place to be and they know this is a coin with a strong upside,” said Sherid.
“The last one that sold, sold in 2007 for $2.6 million. This was a great price for the best one that is known…. and it’s going away for a very long time.”
So as you can see, not all of the finest coins in U.S. Numismatics pass over the auction block under the glare of lights with the accompanying publicity. Some great rarities are quietly traded among individuals in private settings where knowledge, trust and large price tags are the order of the day.