Rare opportunities

Taking chances in collecting
Published : 06/18/12
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Some coins are so rare that the opportunity to buy one may never pop up in a collector’s lifetime.

Our cover feature tells the story of the only known example of the 1873-CC Seated Liberty, Without Arrows dime and the many colorful individuals who have bought, owned and sold the coin during its well-documented yet still mysterious history.

Numismatist John J. Ford wrote of the coin in 1957 that it is “the rarest regularly issued American silver piece,” and it remains unique.

Perhaps collectors can relate to Louis E. Eliasberg Sr., the “King of Coins” who was the only person in history to assemble a complete set of coins issued by the U.S. Mint. He was an underbidder when the coin was offered at auction in 1950 where it sold for $3,650. After losing out, he much regretted missing his chance. Five months after the auction, Eliasberg received the opportunity to purchase it at $4,000, a modest increase from the price realized at the sale. He jumped at it and the rest is history.

Few collectors have that kind of luck. When extraordinarily rare coins are offered at auction, it’s never certain when — if ever — the coin will change hands again.

The only known example will be offered as part of Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Aug. 4 to 12 auctions held in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia. The show is well-positioned to be the numismatic event of the year.

The last time the dime sold at auction, in 2004, it realized $891,250 — tantalizingly close to $1 million. Will it break the six-figure mark this time around?

Amusingly, the coin has been owned by two men named Waldo. Will a third Waldo be lurking in Philadelphia wanting to add this rarity to his collection?

The author, Carson City expert Rusty Goe, acknowledges that only a select group of well-heeled collectors will seriously think about bidding on the coin. He writes, “For Carson City Mint coin drumbeaters, this dime is their group’s heroic icon; it is their No. 1 entry to compete with the other heavyweight rarities in the numismatic world; and it is the king of their humble kingdom.”

Go forward and collect boldly!


Steve Roach


COIN WORLD ... anywhere, anytime!

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