US Coins

Rare 1992-D Close AM cent realizes $20,700 at auction

The 1992-D Lincoln, Close AM cent realized $20,700 in Heritage’s summer FUN convention auction. The reverse is of the style adopted for use in 1993, but was used in 1992 to strike a small number of pieces.

Original images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

A 1992-D Lincoln, Close AM cent, graded Mint State 64 red and brown by Professional Coin Grading Service, sold for $20,700 during Heritage Auctions’ sale at the Florida United Numismatists summer convention.

The coin was struck from a reverse die that had been prepared for use on circulation strikes of 1993 but was used prematurely in striking a few pieces in 1992. Specialists call the design Reverse 7 or Reverse G, and consider a 1992 cent struck with the 1993 reverse to be a transitional design.

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The cent was one of more than 2,200 lots of Colonial coins, United States coins from half cents through gold $20 double eagles and more offered in three public sessions July 12 and 13 in Orlando, Fla., by Heritage. The auction brought total prices realized of $7,808,821. Lots totaling 93.1 percent of those offered were reported sold.

The prices realized for the auction include the 15 percent buyer’s fee added to the final hammer price of each lot won.

Transitional cent

The 1992-D Lincoln, Close AM cent, graded Mint State 64 red and brown by Professional Coin Grading Service, was among the highlights in the auction.

The price of $20,700 carries an enormous premium beyond the price of a common Wide AM variety. For example, a PCGS MS-64 1992-D Lincoln, Wide AM cent sold in an Aug. 19, 2003, Heritage Internet-only sale for $7, including the buyer’s fee.

The distance between the feet of the A and M in AMERICA is a pick-up point. A clear space appears between the two letters on the normal circulation strikes (struck from Reverse 6), as identified by Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America. The spacing is much tighter on the Reverse 7 design, with the two letters nearly touching.

Another pick-up point is found at the FG initials of U.S. Mint Engraver Frank Gasparro. Both the shapes of the letters and the distance between them and the Lincoln Memorial differ in the two designs.

The loop of the G on the Reverse 6 (with the Wide AM) is flared, with serifs, while G on the Reverse 7 is straight.

In addition, the initials are more widely separated from the base of the Lincoln Memorial on the Reverse 7 (Close AM) design than they are on the Reverse 6 (Wide AM) design.

The Reverse 6 design was introduced on circulation strikes in 1988 and on Proof cents in 1989. The design became the standard reverse for the circulation strikes in 1989 (A slightly different design, Reverse 5, was also used in 1988 for circulation-strike cents). Reverse 6 was the standard reverse for circulation-strike 1992 and 1992-D cents, and for Proof 1992-S Lincoln cents, according to CONECA.

Reverse 6 was also used on Proof cents from 1994 to 2008, according to CONECA, and in error on a few circulation-strike 1998, 1999 and 2000 Lincoln cents.

Reverse 7 became the standard design for the circulation strikes from 1993 to 2008, but was used on Proof cents in 1993 only, according to CONECA.

One Reverse 7 die was inadvertently used for Denver Mint strikes in 1992, and due to the high attrition rate of modern cents, only a few Close AM examples have surfaced.

A Reverse 7 die was also used to strike a few circulation-strike 1992 cents produced at the Philadelphia Mint. An example of one of those transitional errors was offered in an auction on eBay with a closing date of July 30. As of Coin World’s deadline July 27, the coin had been bid to $10,000.

Additional auction highlights

Additional highlights in the Summer FUN auction included a 1776 Continental Currency dollar, with CURRENCY spelling in the inscription; a 1795 Flowing Hair, Three Leaves silver dollar; an 1854 Indian Head gold dollar; an 1848 Coronet, CAL. gold $2.50 quarter eagle; and a 1799 Capped Bust, Heraldic Eagle, Small Stars gold $5 half eagle.

The 1776 Continental Currency dollar is the Newman 2-C variety (1776 Continental Currency Coinage & Varieties of the Fugio Cent by Eric P. Newman), in pewter; it realized $54,625.

The coin is graded and encapsulated PCGS About Uncirculated 55.

Numismatic researcher Michael Hodder believes the Continental Currency coins were produced in the late summer of 1776 in New York before British capture of the city in September.

“It is thought that these pieces were made to replace the paper dollar, and in fact, the New York paper money issue of August 13, 1776, omitted that denomination,” according to the auction lot description.

Graded Mint State 61 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the 1795 Flowing Hair, Three Leaves silver dollar in the auction, the BB-27 variety (Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States, A Complete Encyclopedia by Q. David Bowers, with Mark Borckardt), brought $51,750.

The coin is from the most common of the 1795 dollar die marriages. Still, the coin is attractive to type collectors whether or not they pursue subvarieties such as the Two Leaves or Three Leaves coins. The other five known Three Leaves die marriages are all rarer than the BB-27 variety.

Stickered by Certified Acceptance Corp. for being superior within the grade, the PCGS MS-66 1854 Indian Head gold dollar brought $54,625.

The Indian Head gold dollar represents the beginning of an attempt by Chief Engraver James B. Longacre to rectify problems associated in 1849 with the introduction of the Coronet gold dollar. Among the problems, its small size and light weight resulted in the gold dollar being easily lost.

Not only was the diameter in 1854 increased to 14 millimeters, a 1-millimeter increase, but the thickness was reduced and the motif changed from the Coronet design to the Indian Head design introduced simultaneously on the gold $3 coin.

The 1848 Coronet, CAL. gold $2.50 quarter eagle, graded NGC AU-58, brought $53,187.50.

The CAL. quarter eagle is one of 1,389 quarter eagles struck in 1849 at the Philadelphia Mint from 230 ounces of gold shipped from the gold fields during the first year of the California Gold Rush (it was the first shipment of gold from California the Philadelphia Mint received). The 1,389 quarter eagles were counterstamped on the reverse in the field above the eagle’s head.

The 1799 Capped Bust, Heraldic Eagle, Small Stars gold $5 half eagle is the BD-4 variety (Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties: A Study of Die States, 1795-1834 by John W. Dannreuther and Harry W. Bass Jr.). Graded NGC MS-62, the coin brought $40,250.

Only 10 to 12 examples of the variety are known, according to Dannreuther, although the cataloger believes fewer pieces actually exist, finding just eight auction records over the past 30 years, including an earlier sale of this example.

The example just sold is the first example of the BD-4 variety to have appeared in a Heritage auction since the firm began its permanent auction archives in 1993.

For more details about the auction, visit Heritage Numismatic Auctions, write the firm at 3500 Maple Ave., 17th Floor, Dallas, TX 75219-3941; or telephone Heritage either at 800-872-6467 or 214-528-3500. 

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