Coin collectors love knowing the provenance — or the ownership
history — of the coins in their collection.
An original Proof set offered at the Sept. 8 to 9 Heritage auction
at the Long Beach Coin, Stamp and Collectibles Expo in California
provided collectors a rare chance to acquire pieces from a nine-coin
set that was purchased from the Philadelphia Mint in 1910 and passed
down in the same family through the generations.
According to Heritage, the set was purchased by a Mint employee
with the last name Wesson, who left the set to his grandchildren.
These coins were passed down to the consignor who offered the coins as
individual lots, each graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.
For a Proof set including gold coins to stay intact for more than
a century in generally high grades is rare, and the set offered
something for collectors of more modest budgets as well as coins
appealing to the monied set.
Three pieces sold for less than $500 each: a Proof 65 1910 Liberty
Head 5-cent coin and a 1910 Barber quarter dollar graded Proof,
Environmental Damage, each sold for $460, while a Proof 63 Barber dime
sold for $488.75.
The noted “environmental damage” on the quarter dollar is perhaps
a consequence of the set’s original storage method — a paper envelope
likely high in sulfur that reacted with the silver over the years.
A Matte Proof 1910 Lincoln cent graded Proof 64 Red and Brown
brought $862.50 and a Proof 64 Barber half dollar sold for $1,322.50.
It was the gold coins that made the set special, and their
“freshness” to the market, combined with their quality and documented
ownership history, produced very high prices for these four admittedly
A Proof 67 1910 Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle realized $161,000,
a 1910 Proof 67 Indian Head $10 eagle brought $138,000, a 1910 Proof
66+ Indian Head $5 half eagle brought $77,625 and a Proof 64+ Indian
Head $2.50 half eagle sold for $27,600.
Collectors now covet “Roman Finish” Proofs of 1909 to 1910, as
they mediate between the dull Matte Proof finish of the prior several
years and the brilliant reflective Proofs of the 19th century. These
“Roman gold” coins demand connoisseurship from today’s collectors and
they have been called an acquired taste. Contemporary audiences were
resistant to purchase Roman Finish Proofs from the Mint, and the Mint
melted many of the examples it struck. While the Proof 1910 double
eagle has a published mintage of 167 examples, many were melted, and
today, less than half of the original mintage is available for
collectors to purchase.