The US coin auctions at the 2012 Philadelphia ANA show concluded on August 9 with the Rarities Night, featuring the Battle Born collection of Carson City coinage. Reportedly only the second collection ever to include all 111 different coins minted at the Carson City Mint between 1870 and 1893, the collection included such highlights as high grade examples of all 1870-CC coinage, an 1876 CC twenty cent piece (one of only a dozen or so known) and one of five known 1873-CC No Arrows Quarters. But without doubt the highlight of the night was the unique 1873-CC No Arrows Seated Liberty Dime, graded PCGS MS-65 (previously NGC MS-65) hammering at a record-breaking $1.84 million.
The unique 1873-CC No Arrows Dime is the only survivor from a reported mintage of 12,400 coins. Struck early in the year, the coins were all to be melted when the weight of the silver denominations was slightly increased, but this coin managed to escape. The most likely scenario is that this coin, together with four others, was sent to the Assay commission in Philadelphia to be tested in early 1874, after which the coins were supposed to be melted. A Mint employee or collector managed to save this coin from the melting pot, making it the only known no arrows dime from the Carson City Mint that year.
After it had been traded from the Mint collection in 1909, the 1873-CC No Arrows Dime eventually became part of the Eliasberg collection, which sold at auction in 1996, where it realized $550,000. Eliasberg had bought the coin on November 7, 1950, completing his collection of United States coins. It then ended up in the Bolen collection of 1873 coinage until it sold again in 1999 for $632,500. Finally, it reappeared for the last time prior to this week’s auction when it was sold in 2004 as part of the “Tim Gray’s North Carolina Collection” (even though the coin was actually consigned to the sale by a Missouri dealer named Jasper “Jay” Parrino), selling for a then record-breaking $891,250. It had been purchased by noted Carson-City expert Rusty Goe, who placed it in the Battle Born collection.
The auction catalog of the Battle Born catalog features an excellent write-up about the history and the provenance of the coin which does not only make the catalog a good read, it will also serve as a major reference of Carson City coinage for many years to come. The Battle Born collection was put together by an anonymous Nevada collector who shared his passion for Carson City coinage with the numismatic greats. Flipping through the catalog the observer sees highlight after highlight, with many coins to be either the finest known or close to that level, with virtually all having excellent eye-appeal. Without doubt, this coin and many others sold as part of the Battle Born collection will be true “trophy coins” for the new owners.