From August 11 to August 15 the American Numismatic Association will organize the World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. Considered the largest show of the year, the whole week is a gigantic happening of numismatics, attended by people from around the world. Several auctions are also organized, with United States and world coins on offer, as well as paper money. In this preview, we will cover Platinum Night held by Heritage Auctions on the evening of August 12th. On offer will be a wide variety of high quality and seldom seen United States coins, some of which we will take a look at in this article.
The first lot we will discuss is a coin that is a true testament to the first year of coin production at the Philadelphia Mint. Lot 3921 is one of the finest known 1793 Wreath cents, certified MS-66RB by PCGS. The coin is generally considered to be the fifth-finest known of this one-year type, and the finest known example of the Sheldon-6 variety. Of course, a copper coin struck in the 18th century that was meant to circulate is extremely difficult to find in Uncirculated condition—it is of the utmost rarity in gem Uncirculated condition with some mint red coloration still visible. The coin is pedigreed to the early twentieth century and is now offered as part of the Liberty Collection.
We stay with the cent denomination but jump forward to the twentieth century with our next lot, 3946, which features a PCGS MS-65RD certified 1926-S Lincoln Wheat cent. While not necessarily a rare coin in circulated grades, this date is the prime condition rarity of the popular and much-collected Lincoln Wheat cent series. Any example with original mint red coloration is a major rarity, and the number of full red examples that come to the market in any given decade can be counted on the fingers of one hand. A total of three gem red examples are known to exist, of which the coin offered by Heritage is, according to the catalog, a recent addition to the census. It has been almost seven years since the last gem red 1926-S Lincoln cent was offered at auction, guaranteeing much interest in this rarity.
The 1916-D Mercury dime is a classic key date that we have previously discussed in other preview articles. The coin offered at the Heritage auction, however, is an unusual one from a minuscule mintage of just 264,000 coins. Offered as lot 4000, the PCGS MS-67FB graded coin is one of the absolute finest examples of this well-known date. Fewer than a dozen have been graded at PCGS and NGC combined, and some of the ones that are reported as such doubtless no longer exist in an MS-67FB holder due to resubmissions. One of the most spectacular Mercury dimes in existence, this rarity should see spirited bidding from specialists hoping to add this coin to their collection.
Lot 4046 is a condition rarity that should also generate considerable interest from specialists. It is the sole PCGS MS-67FH graded example of the 1926-D Standing Liberty quarter, a coin that is already quite difficult to find in the lower uncirculated grades. Known for its soft strike, the coin is a rarity in any fully struck form, judged by specialists according to the detail found in Liberty’s head. Coins that exhibit full detail in the facial features are rewarded with a “Full Head” designation by the major grading services. Certain dates, such as the 1926-D issue, are virtually impossible to find with fully struck heads. Highly coveted by specialists, many collectors solely collect Standing Liberty quarters with this designation, which means that this coin could reach new heights when it hits the auction block.
A striking collection sold by Heritage at the ANA auction is the Duckor Family Collection of Gold Dollars. A high-quality, carefully collected and specialized collection of America’s smallest federal gold coin, it features many seldom-seen rarities. The highlight of the collection is, without a doubt, offered as lot 4291, the finest known 1849-C Open Wreath gold dollar. Previously offered at the Heritage April 2015 Central States auction in an NGC MS-63PL holder, the coin has now been graded MS-62 by PCGS, presumably at the preference of the consignor. The coin is a variety with an open-ended wreath on the reverse, compared to the more closed wreath on the common variety struck at the Charlotte Mint the same year. Only five pieces are confirmed to exist, of which the coin offered by Heritage is the only uncirculated example known, with the four others ranging from Fine to AU. It sold for $493,500 back in April, and we will see what effect the new holder will have on the price of this rarity.
Speaking of rarities, the pair of coins offered as lot 4449 and 4453 definitely count as such. Offered are 1854-O and 1856-O $20 gold pieces, both graded AU55 by NGC and both in the upper ranges of the condition census of their respective issues. The opening of the San Francisco Mint in 1854 meant that gold dust no longer had to be shipped to the Philadelphia and New Orleans Mints to be minted into Federal gold coins; the New Orleans mint in particular saw a substantial drop in gold received. This resulted in much smaller mintages of gold coins compared to previous years. The 1854-O double eagle had a mintage of just 3,250, while only 2,250 1856-O double eagles were struck. Most coins were lost and later melted, and approximately two dozen examples are known of both issues, with auction appearances few and far between.
The final lot we’d like to discuss is not just one but three coins, representing all known Proofs of this issue. Lot 4531 is a unique Matte Proof set of 1937-P, D and S Daniel Boone commemorative half dollars. The only known Proof set of this commemorative type, the offering is an important and very rare opportunity for commemorative coin specialists. Most likely all three coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint around the same time, perhaps for Mint Engraver John R. Sinnock, although details are sketchy. All three coins have been graded PF-63 Matte by NGC and are clearly something special.
Individual lots as well as complete catalogs of this and the other U.S. and world coin auctions held this week can be viewed at the Web site for Heritage Auctions.