This week I start a series on gold and gold coins. Emphasis will be
on American happenings, although of course gold has a worldwide appeal.
Gold more than any other metal has become synonymous with the
concepts of quality and value.
Gold coins have been high on the list of collecting interests since
our hobby (or industry) became widely popular starting in the 1850s.
Even before then we have Robert Gilmor Jr., scion of a Baltimore
merchant family, who was collecting American gold coins as early as
the 1830s and, among other things, eventually acquired two 1787
Brasher doubloons. The last are the earliest gold coins known to have
been minted within what is now the United States of America.
When I close my eyes and think of my career in numismatics I can
recall many great events that centered on gold. An early event was the
acquisition of my first gold coin, purchased when I was as a young
teenager in the early 1950s.
Common $20 double eagles cost about $36 to $39 each then, or not
more than the melt-down value. However, that was a lot of money in an
era in which, as a beginning dealer, I retailed gem 1909-S Lincoln,
V.D.B. cents for less than $20 each and in a memorable instance I was
the high bidder at $5 for a gem 1879 Seated Liberty half dollar. A
room at the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City, not far from Stack’s, cost
$16 for the night. The context is different today.
That first gold coin I bought was a lightly-worn 1855-S Coronet
double eagle. I considered it amazing to be able to hold in my hand a
coin made in San Francisco during the Gold Rush! As you know if you’ve
been a reader of my column, for me a coin is one thing, but equally
important are any aspects of art, history and romance that go along
I never dreamed then that years later I would be involved in the
sale of the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection, which held every gold coin
from the 1849 Coronet dollar to the 1932 Saint-Gaudens double eagle.
It would have had a 1933 $20, had not its owner turned it over to the
government. Oh well. I do have a shirt-tail connection to that issue
in that in 2002 Stack’s, which with which I am now connected,
auctioned a 1933 double eagle. I never dreamed that I would be part of
the sale of the golden treasure from the SS
Central America and write the definitive
book about it.
So begins my series on gold. See you next week.
More from CoinWorld.com:
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dime reverse hub changes alter perceptions
auction includes high-grade Franklin half dollar, 1796 Draped Bust cent
'Jefferson' cent: The saw-maker's patterns
of two known 2014 American Eagle, Narrow Reeds tenth-ounce gold
bullion coins sells for $28,650
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