Bonhams to auction U.S. Proof gold collection

Firm predicts 1880 Stella to surpass $1 million
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Published : 04/03/13
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An 1880 Coiled Hair Stella gold $4 pattern, one of no more than 10 to 15 examples struck, may become the first of the $4 patterns to surpass $1 million when it crosses the auction block Sept. 23, according to the firm selling the coin.

Bonhams (www.bonhams.com) is slated to offer the coin in Los Angeles as part of the 27-coin Tacasyl Collection of United States gold Proof coins. The coin is graded Proof 67 Cameo by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

All 27 coins in the Tacasyl Collection have been graded and encapsulated by NGC.

The collection’s 27 coins constitute a nearly complete collection of every major gold design type issued in Proof in the United States between 1836 and 1915, according to Bonhams.

Paul Song, Bonhams’ director for coins and medals, said March 22 that Tacasyl is an acronym formed from initials of the collection’s consignor and his family. The consignors wish to remain anonymous, according to Bonhams.

Collector started 10 years ago

The consignor began assembling what he considers to be the finest Proof U.S. gold type set roughly 10 years ago, reaching his goal five years later, Song said.

The 1880 Coiled Hair gold $4 pattern to be offered, cataloged as Judd 1660 in United States Pattern Coins, Experimental & Trial Pieces by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers, last crossed the auction block Jan. 12, 2005, when this same example sold for $977,500 in the Heritage Auctions sale of the Gold Rush Collection.

The 2005 price realized is still the highest price paid for any of the 1879 and 1880 Coiled Hair and Flowing Hair Stellas. All Stellas are considered Proof pieces.

When offered in the 2005 Heritage sale, the 1880 Coiled Hair Stella was graded NGC Proof 66 Cameo.

Ten examples extant?

Depending on the research resource, up to 10 examples have been confirmed as extant of the 1880 Coiled Hair Stella, without duplication of pieces.

The $4 Stella patterns were struck in preparation for a possible international coinage. The 1880 Coiled Hair Stellas were struck at the Philadelphia Mint “from shaved half eagle planchet stock resulting in the coins having striated surfaces,” according to USPatterns.com.

The sale will also include:

➤ An 1879 Flowing Hair Stella, Judd 1635, NGC Proof 67 Cameo.

➤ 1879 Coiled Hair Stella, Judd 1638, NGC Proof 67 Cameo.

➤ 1880 Flowing Hair Stella, Judd 1657, NGC Proof 67★.

1836 coins earliest in collection

The earliest dated coins in the Tacasyl Collection are among the rarest U.S. gold issues — the 1836 Classic Head $2.50 quarter eagle and 1836 Classic Head $5 half eagle. The two denominations were the only gold issues struck by the U.S. Mint that year.

According to Bonhams, the two 1836 coins are believed to have been owned by an anonymous Philadelphia family from their date of issue until their rediscovery by American numismatist Brian Hendelson circa 1996.

The 1836 quarter eagle is graded NGC Proof 66★ Ultra Cameo. The 1836 half eagle is graded NGC Proof 67★ Ultra Cameo.

Six 1836 quarter eagles and four 1836 half eagles are known to exist in Proof, according to Bonhams.

The 1891 Coronet gold $20 double eagle to be offered, graded NGC Proof 68★ Ultra Cameo, is not only the finest known for the date, but also for the entire Coronet series from 1850 to 1907, according to Bonhams.

The coin last sold at auction in Heritage’s Jan. 5, 2006, sale for $299,000 when it was offered as part of the Clausen Family Collection.

All 27 coins comprising the Tacasyl Collection will be exhibited at Bonhams offices in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The coins will also be shown at major coin shows in 2013, including the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Ill., in August. Private viewing will be available by appointment.

The illustrated auction catalog for the sale, to be held at Bonhams, 7601 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, will be available online at www.bonhams.com/us for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale. ■

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