By Ron Guth …..
Legend Rare Coin Auctions styles itself as a boutique auction house, specializing in high-end certified coins, especially Top Pop and Finest Known coins. Their auctions are smaller than most, but they are highly focused on coins with superior eye appeal, color, and quality.
Their January 2019 sale was no exception. Highlights included the Maybach Collection of Buffalo Nickels, the Formula I Collection of Barber Half Dollars, the Star City Collection of Morgan Dollars, and the Sand Hill and Symphony Collections of United State Type Coins.
The following five coins garnered the highest prices in this sale.
Lot 454 – sold for $329,000
This remarkable coin broke onto the “modern” numismatic scene in 1982, when it appeared as part of Louis Eliasberg, Sr.’s “United States Gold Coin Collection”. Since then, the price trajectory for this coin has been onward and upward – from $37,400 in 1982 to $329,000 in 2019, with no backsliding in price in any of its auction appearances. This is one of only two PCGS MS67 examples, both of which are at the top of the population report (the second PCGS MS67 1909-D Saint has yet to appear on the market and, until it does, this is the only superb example available to collectors).
Lot 172 – sold for $123,375
It is hard to beat the cachet and pedigree of this piece. The far-sighted collector, John M. Clapp, obtained this piece directly from the New Orleans Mint in August 1896. It remained in his family’s collection until 1942, when Louis Eliasberg (another far-sighted collector) purchased the collection intact. In the Legend auction, it was presented as part of the Formula I collection, an array of top-tier Barber half dollars.
Today, this coin ranks as the single finest example known of the date, with no other challengers at the MS67 level. Also, this is another coin that just keeps going up in price, illustrating the resiliency of Top Pop and Finest Known coins. As of this writing, this coin is in the collection of Dell Loy Hansen, another far-sighted collector who is attempting to recreate Eliasberg’s feat of a complete U.S. coin collection.
Lot 411 – sold for $102,812.50
This coin is not a Top Pop, but with an original mintage of only 20 Proofs, this is a decidedly rare coin. Estimates of as many as 12-15 Proofs exist today, but after reviewing the auction prices realized and matching plates, I’m beginning to believe there are only around 10 survivors, at most. $102,812.50 is a new record price for this date, easily beating the $86,250 realized by a PCGS PR66DCAM in the January 2012 Heritage sale (lot 4821). Perhaps buyers are finally realizing the true rarity of Proofs of this date.
Lot 80 – sold for $96,937.50
This was a bit of a bargain at $96,937.50, as at least seven other PCGS MS65 examples have sold for more during the 2003-2013 time period. On this date, strike is everything and, even at the MS65 level (where the strike is expected to be strong), there are variations that can affect value. This coin was part of the Maybach Collection, which included a nice run of high-grade Buffalo Nickels.
Lot 212 – sold for $96,937.50
What a difference a plus sign makes. Besides elevating this coin to the unique, Top Pop condition, the plus sign added a significant amount of value. When this coin sold as a PCGS MS66 (no plus sign) as part of Dr. Steven Duckor’s collection just over a year ago, it realized $60,000 (a record price for the date). This time, it set another new record, partly because the cataloguer thinks the coin has a shot at MS67 and because it was pursued (and purchased) by the mega-collector, D.L. Hansen.
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Ron Guth is an award-winning writer and researcher and an expert on United States numismatics. He can be reached at [email protected].