Early U.S. coins lead Long Beach auction

Heritage’s Long Beach Expo Auctions, Sept. 17 to 20, include MS-65 1799 dollar
By , Coin World
Published : 09/03/15
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Eighteenth century rarities from the early Philadelphia Mint will highlight Heritage’s auctions at the Long Beach Expo, Sept. 17 to 20. 

The Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp and Sports Collectible Show hosts public hours from Sept. 17 to 19 and again will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center in that California community 

A top lot is a 1799 Draped Bust, No Berries silver dollar grading Mint State 65 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. that is double struck. 

The variety’s name refers to the absence of berries on the reverse’s branches in the eagle’s talons, and it is cataloged as BB-160 in Q. David Bowers and Mark Borckardt’s reference to the series. 

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Heritage notes, “Not only is this splendid coin struck from the latest state of the obverse die known, it is double struck over a previous impression of the same variety, with the evidence of the initial striking clearly discernible on both sides of the coin.” The description explains that this dollar, which was struck on a screw press, encountered a problem with the original strike. The coiners then struck the coin again, and the second strike was bold, although details of the understrike are visible on both sides. 

This intriguing dollar has been off the market for a generation, as it last sold in 1976 when offered in Pine Tree Auction Galleries Inc.’s sale of the John Carter Brown Library Collection. The finest known 1799 dollar — of a different variety and graded MS-67 by NGC — sold for $822,500 at Heritage’s November 2013 auction of selections from the Eric Newman collection. 

The description for the coin being offered adds, “The true rarity of Gem Uncirculated Heraldic Eagle dollars is often underestimated by even experienced collectors and series specialists, a function of the larger mintages and the longer duration of the series.” Heritage President Greg Rohan said in a press release, “The survival rate of Gem or finer Heraldic Eagle dollars is significantly less than that of either the Flowing Hair or Small Eagle types in terms of Gem or finer coins.”

A coveted type coin

Another Draped Bust rarity in the auction is a 1797 Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollar graded Fine 15 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker indicating quality within the grade. 

It is classified in Amato 422 in researcher Jon Amato’s reference book, which records all of the 281 known examples of the 1796 and 1797 examples of this short-lived type. 

With this low of a surviving population for a distinct type, Heritage observes, “It is little wonder that the 1796-1797 half consistently reveals a higher value than any other type coin (with the possible exception of the one-year types 1796 No Stars and 1808 quarter eagles) in most levels of preservation.”

This example is textbook for the grade, with Heritage suggesting that it has attributes of a Very Fine grade when considering the remaining detail on Liberty’s hair, face and drapery. 

Also unusual is the long pedigree that traces back to Thomas Elder’s September 1910 sale of the Peter Moughey Collection and then moves to six different sales in the past decade, ending with Heritage’s July 2009 Los Angeles Signature sale where it sold for $51,750. 

Other highlights of Heritage’s Long Beach offering include a pattern 1792 copper disme graded Extremely Fine 40 by PCGS. It was last offered as part of Heritage’s offering of the Donald G. Partrick Collection at this past January’s Florida United Numismatists auction where it brought $211,500 and has an ownership history tracing back to 1914 when it was exhibited at the American Numismatic Society’s Exhibition of United States and Colonial Coins. 

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