US Coins

1792 patterns lead CSNS sale bidding

Two 1792 patterns from the dawn of the Philadelphia Mint led bidding at Heritage’s April 28 Platinum Night auction, held at the Central States Numismatic Society convention, April 27 to 30, in Schaumburg, Ill. 

At $998,750, the top lot was a 1792 silver disme pattern that matched the price it brought last year when offered from the Donald Groves Partrick Collection at Heritage’s 2015 Florida United Numismatists auction. 

Graded About Uncirculated 50 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., it is the finest of just three examples known. The pattern was formerly in the collection of J. Hewitt Judd, who literally wrote the book on pattern coins with his United States Pattern Coins, Experimental & Trial Pieces, which remains the standard reference to the pattern coin series. 

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The piece in the auction is one of only three known examples of this type, classified as Judd 9. 

Surprisingly, all three examples have been offered at auction in the past several years. The next-finest known, graded Extremely Fine details by NGC, sold for $458,250 earlier this year at Heritage’s 2016 FUN auction. The other example, graded Fine 15 by NGC, brought $329,000 at that same auction. 

Of the CSNS coin, Heritage wrote, “The present coin has the most mysterious provenance of all the 1792 silver dismes, as its history has only been traced with certainty back to 1946,” though the auctioneer believes that it likely first surfaced in the collection of Massachusetts numismatist DeWitt Smith in the 19th century, while recognizing that some descriptions of that piece do not exactly match this example. 

1792 copper disme

The other choice pattern was a 1792 copper disme with reeded edge, Judd 10, graded Specimen 64 brown by Professional Coin Grading Service. Consigned by Texas businessman Bob Simpson, it traded hands for $705,000. 

Simpson’s coin is the finest of 18 reeded edge 1792 copper dismes known, with at least four Mint State representatives accounted for. The roster of all 18 examples shows a wide disparity of grades, ranging from the present example to one graded Poor 1 that brought $32,900 at a March 2015 Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction. A different example, graded Specimen 55 by PCGS, sold in 2014 for $499,375 as part of Heritage’s auction of the Eric P. Newman Educational Society selections. 

On the rarity of these issues, Heritage writes, “Invariably, each time we offer a 1792 pattern coin, someone asks how many were made. Those figures are unknown, and were likely never recorded. A survival rate is impossible to determine, so the original mintage will likely never be known. All we can say is that those varieties existing in higher numbers, Judd-1, 2, and 10, were probably struck in a large enough quantity to distribute to members of Congress. A dream discovery would be a personal journal of a member of Congress who recorded that he received a 1792 cent or disme on a certain date.” What an exciting discovery that would be, indeed!

Still available

The auction offered a few top coins that did not meet their reserves and failed to sell. An 1871-CC Seated Liberty dime graded Specimen 65 by NGC was still available after the auction for $381,875. The only example graded as a Specimen, and considered the finest known 1871-CC Seated Liberty dime, it had last sold at Heritage’s October 2014 sale of the Eugene Gardner Collection for $270,250. It was previously graded MS-65 by NGC and sold at Bowers and Merena’s March 2005 Baltimore sale for $230,000. 

Other pricey buy-ins included an 1854-O Cornet gold $20 double eagle graded About Uncirculated 55 by NGC that was offered after the auction for $305,500; a 1792 half disme pattern in NGC MS-63, offered post-auction for $258,500; and an NGC Proof 65 1839-O Capped Bust, Reeded Edge half dollar available post-auction for $235,000. 

A rare and beautifully toned Proof 1850 Seated Liberty quarter dollar offers a case study in the market’s response to a coin that returns to auction perhaps a bit too quickly. It had spent nearly 50 years in the collection of John Jay Pittman, selling in David Akers’s May 1998 sale of Pittman’s collection for $143,000. It next sold at Heritage’s 2008 auction of the Phil Kaufman Collection — graded Proof 68 by NGC — for $460,000. When offered at Heritage’s sale of the Greensboro Collection in 2013 it brought $258,500. It was offered months later at Heritage’s June 2014 sale of the Gardner Collection where it sold for $223,250. After the Gardner sale, it was crossed to a PCGS Proof 67 holder and earned a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. It was offered at Heritage’s January 2015 FUN auction and Heritage’s 2015 American Numismatic Association sale, where it failed to meet its reserve both times and was offered as a post-auction buy on April 29 for $188,000. 

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