With the majority of the Heritage U.S. coin auctions in Orlando, Florida behind us, it’s time to take a look back at some of the highest prices that have been realized so far. The sale held this week was highlighted by two separate sales: Platinum Night and the Partrick Collection. Many sales were strong, realizing record prices for their respective times, and over the two sales combined there were a total of seven coins that realized over one million dollars, and an eight that came very close. In this after-auction review we will take a look at some of these pieces that were sold this week. Please note that all prices mentioned include a 17.5% buyers premium.
The highest price realized came from the Patrick collection and was offered as Lot 5504, the 1792 Pattern Birch Cent, graded MS65RB by NGC and stickered by CAC. The coin, the finest of this pattern type and very important as being among the earliest patterns made for the United States Mint in Philadelphia, realized $2,585,000. This is the only uncirculated example of this type that is available, with the second finest known graded AU58 by PCGS and a total population of seven or eight coins at most. Also of interest to collectors was the pedigree, which traces back to the first director of the United States Mint, David Rittenhouse.
Lot 4011 was the second finest 1793 Chain Cent graded by PCGS, certified MS66BN and stickered by CAC, which realized $2,530,000. The coin, which had not been offered at public auction since 1890 is one of the finest known examples of this important and short-lived cent types, which was produced for only a short period of time before the chain on the reverse was replaced by a wreath. The coin set a new price record for a cent sold at public auction, shattering the $1,380,000 that the Eliasberg Chain Cent sold for in January of 2012. That coin grades PCGS MS65BN and is generally considered the third finest known behind the MS66BN that just sold and unique specimen strike.
We go back to the Partrick collection and Lot 5511, the only Judd-12 copper 1792 Pattern Quarter Dollar that is available to collectors. The coin, which was one of two coins of the same design that sold, realized $2,232,500, while a white metal example of the same design Lot 5512 graded NGC XF45 and also the only one available to collectors realized a lot less than that, at $376,000. The difference is that of the copper example there are a total of two examples known (the other is in the Smithsonian Institution), while there are four examples of the white metal example known in total (two in the collection of the New York Historical Society and another in the Smithsonian Institution).
Platinum Night also saw perhaps the most storied example of the 1907 Ultra High Relief $20 Gold Piece (graded PR68 by both PCGS and NGC) being sold, as Lot 4412. The coin, which realized $2,115,000 traces its pedigree back to Augusta & Homer Saint-Gaudens, wife and son of the designer of the coin, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who passed away before he could see his design in circulation. The coin has the initials “ASG” scratched on the edge and was offered for the first time ever at public auction during Platinum Night.
The Partrick collection included a number of unique coins which were offered for the first time in years. Lot 5636 was the unique Higley Copper with “The Wheele Goes Round” reverse, the only known example with this reverse, realized $376,000. Other unique coins did not realize such prices: Lot 5672 is the unique 1776 dated “Janus” Massachusetts copper, unique and of curious origin, which realized $44,650. Another unique piece, realizing the same $44,650, was the only known silver example of the 1785 “inimical Tyrannis America”, which unfortunately is holed but important thanks to a possible link to Thomas Jefferson. The coin was offered as lot 5639 and had last sold in the mid 1990s.
Overall both Platinum Night as well as the Partrick collection included a large number of spectacular items, some of which sold for spectacular prices. The Partrick collection was sold unreserved, while some of the pieces in the Platinum Night sale did not meet the reserve, the truly fresh pieces sold, often at strong prices. This is a good indication of the overall market right now, where fresh material from collections is becoming harder and harder to find, while the more common material that has been around is much harder to sell. Yet, as some of these prices indicate, the noble hobby of numismatics is still strong, and should be for many years to come.