US Coins

1804 dollar tops $2 million in Heritage auction

One of just 15 known examples of a silver dollar often called the “King of American Coins” sold for $2.64 million at Heritage’s June 14 Long Beach auction. The Mickley-Hawn-Queller 1804 Draped Bust dollar graded Proof 62 by Professional Coin Grading Service is one of just eight Class I dollars, sometimes called “Diplomatic Presentation Strikings.” 

It previously sold for $3,877,500 in an August 2013 Heritage auction in Chicago, and it brought $3,737,500 back at a 2008 Heritage sale. Several other high-profile rarities also sold for less than prior prices, showing that the air at the very top of the market might be a bit thin at the moment.

Two pre-Long Beach Expo sales showed the continuing demand for early U.S. issues. On June 10 at Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers’ sale, a 1797 Draped Bust, Small Eagle silver half dollar graded About Uncirculated 55 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. realized $150,000. 

On June 11 at a Bonhams’ sale in Los Angeles a 1792 Roman Head “cent” token graded Proof 65 red and brown by PCGS with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker brought $108,000. It was previously offered at Heritage’s November 2014 auction of the Eric P. Newman Collection, Part V, where it was photographed prior to slabbing and realized $102,812.50. 

George Washington objected to his depiction on a coin, but an early version of the Mint Act called for “an impression or representation of the head of the president of the United States.” This was later changed to call for one “emblematic of liberty.” The celebrated Roman Head token was produced in England by the Birmingham Mint. 

U.S. Mint heritage assetsInside Coin World: Mint’s heritage assets are slowly coming to light Some of the U.S. Mint’s greatest treasures, its “heritage assets,” are slowly coming out of the vaults and into the open for collectors to marvel over.

Walter Breen suggested the Roman themed depiction, “was to portray Washington on a coin as a degenerate, effeminate Roman emperor,” but others look to contemporary sculpture that celebrated Washington by presenting him in a classical tradition. Today around 20 are known and even well-worn ones are expensive, such as a Very Good example that brought $18,000 at a Heritage auction earlier this year. 

Another Washington issue from 1792 from Newman’s vast holdings is set to be the star of Heritage’s summer ANA auctions in Philadelphia. Heritage will offer a unique 1792 Washington gold piece in its Aug. 16 Platinum Night auction. Newman believed that it was struck for Washington as a pattern for a gold $10 eagle and was carried by George Washington, and research points to it being produced in Massachusetts, rather than England as traditionally thought. 

Newman purchased the coin privately in 1942 and it last sold at auction in 1890, so identifying comparables for pricing is a challenge. 

Fighting for top billing at the 2018 ANA auctions is Stack’s Bowers Galleries, who is offering the finest-graded 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent piece, graded PCGS Proof 66 with a green CAC sticker, at its Aug. 15 Rarities Night auction.

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