As part of the Long Beach Coin Expo held in Long Beach, CA during the last week of January, Heritage Auctions held a signature auction of United States coins. More than two thousand widely varying lots were offered, ranging from 20th century grade rarities to coins that were struck at the very first United States Mint in Philadelphia in the last decade of the 18th century. In this auction recap we will take a look back at a few of the noteworthy prices realized in this auction. Please note that all prices mentioned include a 17.5% buyers premium.
The highest price realized at the auction was for one of the finest known proof 1869 Double Eagles, one of approximately a dozen pieces known to exist, graded PR65UCAM by NGC. The coin realized a healthy $229,125. The coin is a very rare proof example of the short-lived type 2 Liberty Double Eagle, a type that was struck for about a decade in the 1860s. Very few collectors at the time could afford to collect twenty dollar gold pieces, and the mintage of this particular date has been recorded at just 25 pieces, making it even for this series a very low mintage proof date.
Another very rare gold coin that was offered for sale was a PCGS MS61 example of the historic 1861-D Gold Dollar, struck at the Dahlonega mint under the authority of the Confederacy. The coin had a mintage of an estimated 500 to 1,000 coins, of which only a small number survive. Most of these survive in XF to AU condition (gold coins rarely circulated during the American Civil War, but very few were cared for, making uncirculated examples very scarce). The coin was the last gold coin struck at the Dahlonega Mint before it was closed as a result of the Civil War, never to be opened again.
There were also earlier coins that were struck at the very first Mint in Philadelphia in the late 18th century. One of the most notable examples of this was lot 3238, an NGC XF40 graded example of the 1796 no stars Quarter Eagle, the very first coin of this denomination struck at the Philadelphia Mint. The coin realized $61,687.50, which is a few thousand dollars less than what a similar graded coin sold for in August of 2014. Despite its rarity, this is one of those coins where the eye-appeal has a tremendous effect on value, coins graded at the same level by PCGS have sold for over $100,000 before.
So far we have only looked at gold coins, but of course there were silver coins sold as well. Lot 3122 was an NGC MS66 graded example of the 1807 Draped Bust Half Dollar, the last year this type was struck, before it was replaced by the Capped Bust design that would be struck until the late 1830s. An important coin for high-end type collectors, the coin is one of just four examples of this type that have graded that high. The coin realized $82,250.
Twenty Cent pieces were struck for only a few years, and besides the very rare 1876-CC of which only a small number of pieces are known, there are no rare dates. In high grades, however, this is a different story, as attested by the PCGS MS67 CAC 1876 graded example sold as lot 3088, which realized $44,650. The highest graded example of the date at both PCGS and NGC, this is another important type coin, which had a mintage of just 14,400 coins, of which many were melted when the denomination ceased to be struck.
Overall the auction had mixed results, with quite a few coins selling for prices lower than what they would have realized a year or so ago, which is a trend of the current market. The rest of the year should show if this trend will continue, or if the market will pick back up to earlier levels.