Precious Metals

High-quality gold among auction highlights

Gold shines throughout the 3,151 lots of United States coins to be offered June 27 to 29 by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in conjunction with the Whitman Baltimore Coin & Collectibles Expo.

The auction will be held at the site of the expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. The five auction sessions are scheduled for 6 p.m. June 27; at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. June 28; and at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. June 29.

A 17.5 percent buyer’s fee will be added to all winning bids. Buyers who purchase a combined total of $50,000 or more in lots won will have a discounted buyer’s fee of 15 percent.

Contact Stack’s Bowers Galleries on the East Coast by telephoning toll free 800-566-2580 or on the West Coast, 800-458-4646. Email the firm at or visit the company’s website at

Among the gold highlights are an 1827 Capped Head $2.50 quarter eagle, the Bass-Dannreuther 1 variety (Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties: A Study of Die States, 1795-1834 by Harry W. Bass Jr. and John W. Dannreuther), Lot 4127, graded Mint State 65 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.; an 1854 Indian Head gold $3 coin, Lot 4244, graded NGC Proof 65 cameo; an 1879 Flowing Hair $4 Stella, Judd 1635 (United States Pattern Coins, Experimental & Trial Pieces by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers), Lot 4265, NGC Proof 68 Ultra Cameo; 1899 Coronet $5 half eagle, Lot 4304, NGC Proof 69 Ultra Cameo; and a 1907 Saint-Gaudens, Roman Numerals, Ultra High Relief, Lettered Edge $20 double eagle, Lot 4438, Professional Coin Grading Service Proof 69.

The 1827 Capped Head quarter eagle is tied for the finest example certified by either NGC or PCGS. The mintage for the issue could be lower than the 2,800 reported, since mintages from the U.S. Mint during the 19th century did not always match with the dates on the obverse dies. Current research suggests 20 to 30 examples are known in circulated grades, primarily Extremely Fine and About Uncirculated, with the number of Mint State examples extant numbering close to 15 pieces.

Struck during the first year of the denomination, the 1854 Indian Head $3 coin is known by 10 to 12 surviving examples. Gold coin specialist Douglas Winter concludes the first 15 1854 Indian Head $3 coins produced were Proof pieces. NGC identifies eight submissions graded and PCGS just two.

The 1879 Flowing Hair Stella offered in the auction is the finest known example graded by either NGC or PCGS. Actually a pattern for an international coinage, the Stella derives its moniker from the five-pointed star on the reverse. The Stellas were produced in two years — 1879 and 1880 — in two obverse design types, Flowing Hair and Coiled Hair. The Flowing Hair type, by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber, was the intended pattern for the coinage envisioned by John A. Kasson, U.S. minister to Austria, as a means of international monetary exchange. Approximately 15 to 20 examples of the 1879 Flowing Hair Stellas are believed to exist out of a production estimated at 415 to 425 coins.

The Coiled Hair type, by Assistant U.S. Mint Engraver George T. Morgan, seems to have been made only as a “numismatic delicacy,” according to the auction cataloger.

Numismatist David Akers estimates that only 10 of the 1879 Coiled Hair Stella were struck, with a very small quantity being restruck, probably in 1880, along with the 400+ pieces of the 1879 Flowing Hair Stella.

Among half eagles, the 1899 Coronet $5 coin in Proof is among the rarest. The example offered is the finest known for the date.

According to the auction lot description: “During this period, the Philadelphia Mint perfected the high degree of contrast created by the Proof dies, with more Ultra Cameo and Deep Cameo coins appearing in the 1890s than prior decades. Hence collectors seeking such a high degree of eye appeal and contrast often find such a piece in this decade. As the new century unfolded, new designs and the French style of a Roman or Matte finish was applied to Proof gold coinage and the visually contrasting styles were retired for the time being as the [Bela Lyon] Pratt and [Augustus] Saint-Gaudens designs were adapted for coinage in later years.”

The 1907 Saint-Gaudens, Roman Numerals, Lettered Edge, Ultra High Relief double eagle in the auction, certified by PCGS at the Proof 69 level, is tied for the finest certified by PCGS or NGC.

The Ultra High Relief (sometimes called Extremely High Relief) is the precursor to the regular circulation strikes struck in High Relief at the Philadelphia Mint in December 1907 and from the same dies in January 1908. ¦

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