US Coins

Exciting half cents at auction

The Missouri Cabinet Collection of U.S. Half Cents brought nearly $18.3 million at auction, led by two $1 million rarities and dozens of other coins where estimates were wildly exceeded.

The Jan. 26 auction was held prior to the Long Beach Expo and was presented by Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers with Bob Grellman and Chris McCawley. It was described as the only collection ever formed that contains every variety of half cent struck for circulation and struck in Proof.

Some coins sold for extraordinary prices. An 1803 Draped Bust half cent graded Professional Coin Grading Service Mint State 66 red and brown with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker had an estimate of $25,000 and up, and sold for $287,500, a huge price for a variety that’s a common one for the date. It’s listed as Cohen 9 in the reference American Half Cents: The “Little Half Sisters,” by Roger S. Cohen Jr.

A handsome example of the famed “High Relief Head” C-9 variety of the 1794 Liberty Cap, Right half cent in MS-65 red and brown with a green CAC sticker demolished its $75,000 estimate when it sold for $402,500. It brought $2,300 when it was offered as the finest known example at a 1970 Stack’s auction.

Some lots that had “problems” performed below expectations.

A 1795 Liberty Cap, No Pole with Thick Planchet half cent graded PCGS Genuine, Uncirculated Details, Planchet Flaw carried an estimate of $25,000 and up, and brought $12,075. It had a detailed provenance and had been a part of the Norweb Collection, but the defective planchet proved to be a problem for bidders.

Such crude, often defective planchets are regularly seen for the thick planchet variety, and the catalog notes that the thick planchets appear to have been harder and more brittle than normal. The crack was inherent to the coin’s production.

Collectors looking for a souvenir of this great sale could find an 1854 Coronet half cent, C-1, in MS-64 brown with a green CAC sticker for $1,725.

Knowing the importance of the sale, the firm offered as the last two lots “super-deluxe editions” of the auction catalog bound in full Moroccan leather and including a special plate section. Proceeds of the lots benefited the Early American Coppers club and the American Numismatic Society. The catalogs sold for $6,325 and $6,038, respectively. ¦

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