The final Whitman Expo of 2014 was held in Baltimore, Maryland from October 30 to November 2. To coincide with this show, Stack’s-Bowers held an extensive auction covering US and world coins and currency in a number of different sessions. Of these, the Rarities Night, held on October 30, highlighted the US sessions. Consisting of 282 lots, the sale offered a wide variety of high-quality American coinage, including a few rare pieces seldom offered at auction. In this recap we will take a look at the catalog and some of the results.
The sale started with what Stack’s-Bowers called “The Incredible 1853 Collection” assembled and sold by an anonymous collector. This collection consisted of 100 lots, virtually all of them dated or related to 1853 in varying categories from Federal United States Coinage to patterns, medals and even some California Territorial Gold. While the collection was not complete (it was missing a few extremely rare proof coins, for example) the quality of the coins was outstanding.
The true highlight of the collection was one of just four 1853-O No Arrows Half Dollars known to exist (Lot #10026). A true American rarity, all known examples are well circulated, with one VF certified and three Good to Very Good coins. The coin, which traces its pedigree back to the 19th century, has been certified by PCGS as G-6, stickered by CAC and sold for $246,750.
Other highlights in the Federal coinage of the collection included a PCGS MS67 1853 No Arrows Quarter (Lot #10020) ($32,900), Proof Arrows & Rays Quarter (Lot #10021) (PCGS PR-64 CAC, $64,625) and Half Dollar (Lot #10027) (PCGS PR-64 CAC, $94,000), 1853 Seated Dollars in mint state (Lot #10031) (PCGS MS-66 CAC, $129,250) and proof (Lot #10030) (PCGS PR-66 CAC, $105,750), and the finest known 1843-D Half Eagle (Lot #10044) (PCGS MS64+ CAC, $70,500).
The patterns were highlighted by one of only a few known 1853 silver dollars struck in copper (Lot #10065), PCGS PR-64RB CAC, sold for $19,750. The patterns were followed by a number of California Territorial Gold pieces, including rare examples struck at the San Francisco Assay Office, such as the $10 (Lot #10066) and $20 (Lot #10068) gold pieces with “884 THOUS.” on the reverse, denoting the fineness. Much rarer than the more common “900 THOUS.” variety, the $10 (PCGS AU-53 CAC) sold for $38,187.50 while the $20 (PCGS MS-61 CAC) sold for $70,500. The collection ended with California Fractional Gold Pieces and a number of interesting medals and one counterstamp on an 1853 dated dime.
While the rest of the sale contained a number of pieces that did not meet the reserve or did not receive any opening bids, there were a few more highlights that are worth being mentioned here. A PCGS PR-67 CAC Three Cent Silver (Lot #10125), one of the finest known proofs for the date sold for $35,250, while an 1862 of the same denomination certified PCGS PR-67+ CAC (Lot #10127) sold for $30,550. The gold pieces in the auction saw a better sell-through rate, with an NGC PF-67+UCAM 1901 Quarter Eagle (Lot #10198) selling for $28,200, and a condition census 1885 Double Eagle (Lot #10246) certified PCGS MS-62 selling for $82,250, among other strong results. A number of ultra-high grade classic commemoratives failed to be sold, but 1925 Norse Medals in Gold (Lot #10266) (NGC PF-66 CAC, $21,150, another certified PCGS PR-65 failed to sell) and Copper (Lot #10268) (NGC PF-63BN, $32,900) did realize strong prices.
Overall the auction made clear that while truly original, hard to find coins in high grades that have been off the market for some time still sell well. Other pieces that are more common or have been sold relatively recently appear to have soften a little bit in price, which is in line with the overall market. Perhaps people are saving their money for some of the big auctions that will come up in 2015, or perhaps the market is due for a price correction as we have seen in the past. Only time will tell, but not matter what we will continue to provide auction coverage right here.