by Charles Morgan for CoinWeek….
Stack’s Bowers’ Baltimore sales offer a wide range of numismatic items for collectors looking to add important new specimens to their collections.
Continuing a series of historic paper money offerings, Stack’s Bowers will headline their impressive 13-session marathon sale with the third offering of the Joel Anderson Collection of Paper Money. This session kicks off on October 25 at 6:00 PM (EDT) and will be followed thirty minutes later with an impressive 225-lot Rarities Night sale.
Stack’s Bowers will then offer three additional named sales: the Caine Collection of Federal Essays and Proofs, Part I, on October 25th, the John E. Herzog Collection of United States Paper Money, Part II, on October 25th, and the Archangel Collection of Colonial Coins and 1792 Coinage on October 26th.
I have spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the contents of each sale and have prepared a four-part edition of Lots You Need to Know.
This series of articles will be published as follows:
- Part I: Modern Coins
- Part II (October 5th): Classic Coins
- Part III (October 9th): Joel Anderson Collection
- Part IV (October 11th): Caine, Herzon, and Archangel Collections
I will recap everything we’ve covered in these articles with a special “Lot Preview” edition of the CoinWeek Midnight Stream on Friday, October 5th at 12:00 AM EDT. If you are not a night owl, you can check out an archived version of the program on our YouTube channel. We will also publish it on CoinWeek. Watching live is the only way you get to interact with me as I will try to answer questions related to the sale as time permits.
With this housekeeping out of the way, let’s break down five of the modern lots from Stack’s Bowers October Baltimore Sale that you need to know about.
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Lot 2082: 1795 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. BB-27, B-5. Rarity-1. Three Leaves. AU-55 (PCGS).
With the 1794 dollar being beyond the means of most, the 1795 issue has long been the representative sample of the Flowing Hair type for generations of dollar coin collectors. The coin features a fabulous and underrated design, the work of Robert Scot, the first Chief Engraver of the United States Mint.
1795 dollars are scarce in an absolute sense, with most gradable examples encountered in grades below Extra Fine. The present piece is an attractively toned example that exhibits just a hint of wear, earning PCGS’ AU55 grade.
Other AU55s have traded hands in recent years at prices from $17,000 to $30,000. For issues of this vintage, the quality of the individual piece trumps the grade stated on the label (although it is an important factor that is baked into the buyer’s calculus, for sure). This particular piece excels in terms of eye appeal and we would not be surprised if it pushes well beyond the $30,000 when the final hammer rings at Stack’s Bowers October 2018 Rarities Night Session.
Lot 2039: 1916-D Mercury Dime. MS-66+ FB (PCGS). CAC.
In January 2018, Heritage Auctions sold a 1916-D Mercury dime graded MS67FB for $96,600. The coin was housed in a PCGS Old Green Holder (Cert# 654707) and was one of the centerpieces of the Burgess Lee Berlin, M.D., and J.D. Collections.
That sum, impressive in its own right, is less than half of the record price brought by the issue in this grade and attribution at public auction. The record price being $195,500 that a fiery toner, perhaps the condition census #1 coin brought in 2010.
The present coin is graded MS66+ by PCGS and is CAC-approved. It has tremendous eye appeal and in terms of quality, belongs in the same conversation as the example that sold in January and might be just a tick below the example that sold in 2010.
The value of the 1916-D is cemented by the fact that it this is the key date of one of the most iconic coin series in all of American numismatics. The coin’s design draws from the French Beaux Arts movement of the late 19th century and pays homage to symbols and figures from Greek and Roman history. It is the last American dime series to be released entirely in .900 silver and was replaced in 1946 by the Roosevelt dime.
The Denver mint’s output of 264,000 Mercury dimes in 1916 is dwarfed by the tremendous output of 22,180,080 put out the same year by the Philadelphia Mint.
Despite the low mintage, a majority of the 1916-D dimes that survive are well-worn pieces that saw years of circulation. The coin boom of the 1950s and 1960s saw most of these examples ferreted out of change and placed in coin boards and coin albums. Possibly fewer than 500 of this scarce issue survive in Mint State.
To date, PCGS has certified eight examples in MS67 with Full Bands and three in the grade of MS66+ with Full Bands. CAC does not differentiate between coins with or without the plus grade and has applied its green sticker to nine examples in MS66 with Full Bands and just three examples in the top population grade of MS67FB.
We expect strong bidding approaching $90,000 to $95,000 for this piece.
Lot 2022: 1840 Braided Hair Cent. N-8. Rarity-1. Large Date. MS-65 RD (PCGS).
Simply gorgeous, that’s what this coin is.
Although the 1840 “Large Date” large cent is not a rare issue, the variety is extremely rare in full red. This example earned the grade MS65 in its most recent trip to PCGS and at this grade is a Top Pop coin with a population of four.
The last two times this coin has appeared at auction, it has sold for $12,650 and $14,100 respectively. In both of these instances, the coin was housed in a PCGS Gen 4.1 (used from 2002-2004) holder and graded MS64RD. The coin’s eye appeal and color have not diminished one bit in the more than one decade since.
As for the uptick in grade? Eh, that’s how things go in the numismatic marketplace. Tens of thousands of coins, if not more, are now housed in holders bearing higher numerical grades. Sophisticated late date copper cent collectors will look past the number on the holder and will judge the coin based on their version of the merits. Stack’s Bowers in their listing of this piece says as much when they point out that copper expert Mark Borckardt grades this specimen MS64 by EAC Standards.
Provenance: From Heritage’s sale of the Burning Tree Collection, March 2009, lot 154; our sale of the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation, January 2013, lot 13060; our sale of the Collection of Thaddeus A. Tatum III, August 2018 ANA, lot 1058.
Lot 2101: 1901 Morgan Silver Dollar. VAM-3. Top 100 Variety. Shifted Eagle, Doubled Die Reverse. MS-62 (PCGS).
The Philadelphia Mint’s output of Morgan dollars in 1901 would have been sufficient to satisfy generations of dollar coin collectors were it not for the Pittman Act’s call for the culling of over 270 million coins. While these staggering numbers were known to numismatists at the time, it wasn’t until decades later, once all of the Treasury’s Morgan dollar holdings were exhausted, that those involved in the hobby got a true sense of the scarcity of this issue and others like it.
In Mint State, possibly fewer than 3,000 1901 Morgan dollars exist, and many of these tend to suffer greatly from a lack of eye appeal and weak luster. The present piece is, according to Stack’s Bowers, tied for the Condition Census #2 of the popular VAM 3 “Shifted Eagle” variety.
The variety gets its name for the naked-eye visible doubling that is most visible around the eagle. You can see in the close-up photograph above (courtesy of PCGS), that a second outline of the eagle and the arrows and the olive branch appears underneath the main impression, this is the result of a misalignment of the working die early in the production process.
A 1901 Morgan dollar of a common die marriage would bring between $5,000 and $6,000 in MS62 with good eye appeal. This variety commands a significant premium over that. In 2013, Heritage Auction sold a PCGS MS62+ with subpar toning for $41,125.
This example is already drawing interest from VAM enthusiasts.
Lot 2219: 1936 Cleveland Centennial/Great Lakes Exposition. MS-68+ * (NGC). CAC.
The classic commemorative coin series is a U.S. coin series that has been maligned and unfairly treated for years.
The series, which had a rather disjointed beginning that coincided with the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and limped along until a slew of releases flooded out of the Mother Mint and its branches in 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, only to meet an ignoble end in the early 1950s, with a four-year issuance of a glut of half dollars featuring the likeness of African-American icons Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, contains within its 144-piece silver set and 13-piece gold set, some of the finest examples of coin art in U.S. history.
This is not just my opinion; it is an opinion shared by most coin dealers, many of whom bemoan the series’ stagnant performance over the course of the past two decades.
What are the reasons for this weak showing?
There are many, likely reasons. The series was overhyped and overpriced by promoters in the 1980s and early 1990s. The prices for even common classic commemoratives reach stratospheric levels as these beautiful coins, then available in quantity, were encapsulated and sold to eager buyers. Initially, low populations were reported for each issue in the series at the two major grading services.
Gradually, the populations filled out and it became evident that anywhere between 50% and 75% of the mintages for each issue survived, with many, as one would expect for a non-circulating issue, surviving in Gem or better grades.
As a result of this, quite a bit of arbitrage was erased as declining interest in the series as an investment took hold amongst collectors and the telemarketers that promoted them.
Despite all of this, the unvarnished truth is that the classic commemorative coin series still offers a viable path for those, who are interested in phenomenally well-preserved examples with superior eye appeal.
Stack’s Bowers is offering several examples like this in this sale, including a fantastic P-D-S set of 1939 Oregon halves in MS68, all with plus toning.
The present piece is a 1936 Cleveland Centennial struck in conjunction with the Great Lakes Exposition of 1936-1937. 50,000 examples of this coin were struck and distributed at a cost of $1.50 to exposition goers. The survival rate of the issue likely falls between 50% and 60% of the original mintage and both major grading services combine to report a certified population of just over 12,000 pieces.
The typical Cleveland half survives in a state of preservation between the grades of MS63 and MS66, with a majority of these coins grading between MS63 and MS65. In MS67, the issue is quite scarce, with fewer than 150 grading events recorded.
The present piece is graded MS68+* by NGC. The plus indicates that the coin is on the high end for the grade and the * designates that the coin has exceptional eye appeal. Previously, the coin resided in a PCGS MS67+ holder. An image of the coin is still posted on PCGS CoinFacts. PCGS reports one coin in the grade of MS68. It would take quite a bit of convincing for someone to change my mind that the example in the Stack’s Bowers sale is not the better coin. And it’s not just me, a CAC sticker confirms that that service agrees with NGC’s appraisal and this is the only Cleveland in MS68 to earn the said sticker.
So what will the final hammer price be? PCGS CoinFacts posits that an MS68 Cleveland has a value of $20,000. They base this on no public auction, but instead, I presume, on expert opinion. This opinion may be 100% correct. We will see in a few weeks when this fantastic example crosses the auction block.
If I were building the greatest classic commemorative set, I can think of no reasons why I wouldn’t want this coin. On the basis of color though, I’d probably take the PCGS MS68, too.
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Stack’s Bowers’ Official Sale of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore, Maryland
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 1 – U.S. Coins Part 1 – Lots 1-560
OCTOBER 24, 2018 • 4 PM EST • BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER • ROOM 308
Session 1 – U.S. Coins Part 1. Exonumia and Half Cents through Half Dollars. The live auction session begins at 4 PM EST on Wednesday, October 24 in Room 308.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 2 – U.S. Coins Part 2 – Lots 1001-1692
OCTOBER 25, 2018 • 10 AM EST • BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER • ROOM 308
Session 2 – U.S. Coins Part 2. Silver Dollars through the End. The live auction session begins at 10 AM EST on Thursday, October 25 in Room 308.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 3 – Rarities Night – Lots 2001-2226
OCTOBER 25, 2018 • 6:30 PM EST • BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER • ROOM 308
Session 3 – Rarities Night. The live auction session begins at 6:30 PM EDT on Thursday, October 25 in Room 308.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 4 – The Joel R. Anderson Collection of United States Paper Money Part III – Lots 3001-3054
OCTOBER 25, 2018 • 6 PM EST • BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER • ROOM 309
Session 4 – The Joel R. Anderson Collection United States Paper Money Part III. The live auction session begins at 6:00 PM EST on Thursday, October 25 in Room 309.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 5 – The Caine Collection of Federal Essays and Proofs Part I – Lots 4001-4113
OCTOBER 25, 2018 • 6:30 PM EST • BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER • ROOM 309
Session 5 – The Caine Collection of Federal Essays and Proofs Part I. The live auction session begins at immediately following the conclusion of Session 4 on Thursday, October 25 in Room 309.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 6 – The John E. Herzog Collection of United States Paper Money Part II – Lots 5001-5062
OCTOBER 25, 2018 • 7:00 PM EST • BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER • ROOM 309
Session 6 – The John E. Herzog Collection of United States Paper Money Part II. The live auction session begins immediately following the conclusion of Session 5 on Thursday, October 25 in Room 309.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 7 – Early American Coins – Lots 6001-6351
OCTOBER 26, 2018 • 11 AM EST • BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER • ROOM 308
Session 7 – Early American Coins. The live auction session begins at 11:00 AM EST on Friday, October 26 in Room 308.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 8 – The Archangel Collection of Colonial Coins and 1792 Coinage – Lots 7001-7155
OCTOBER 26, 2018 • 6:30 PM EST • BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER • ROOM 308
Session 8 – The Archangel Collection of Colonial Coins and 1792 Coinage. The live auction session begins at 6:30 PM EST on Friday, October 26 in Room 308.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 9 – U.S. Currency – Lots 8001-8509
OCTOBER 26, 2018 • 5 PM PST • BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER • ROOM 309
Session 9 – U.S. Currency. The live auction session begins at 5:00 PM EST on Friday, October 26 in Room 309.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 10 – Internet Only – U.S. Currency – Lots 9001-9412
OCTOBER 29, 2018 • 9 AM PDT • INTERNET ONLY
Session 10 – Internet Only – U.S. Currency. The live auction session begins at 9:00 AM PST on Monday, October 29.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 11 – Internet Only – U.S. Coins Part 1 – Lots 10001-10621
OCTOBER 29, 2018 • 9 AM PDT • INTERNET ONLY
Session 11 – Internet Only – U.S. Coins Part 1. The live auction session begins at 9:00 AM PST on Monday, October 29.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 12 – Internet Only – U.S. Coins Part 2 – Lots 11001-11716
OCTOBER 30, 2018 • 9 AM PDT • INTERNET ONLY
Session 12 – Internet Only – U.S. Coins Part 2. The live auction session begins at 9:00 AM PST on Tuesday, October 30.
October 2018 Baltimore – Session 13 – Internet Only – U.S. Coins Part 3 – Lots 12001-12788
OCTOBER 30, 2018 • 9 AM PDT • INTERNET ONLY
Session 13 – Internet Only – U.S. Coins Part 3. The live auction session begins at 9:00 AM PST on Wednesday, October 31.