At major auctions like the recently concluded sales held by Heritage in conjunction with the Central States Numismatic Society convention in Schaumburg, Ill., at the end of April, some coins are expensive and easy to discover and write about.
For this sale, it was a terrific collection of Mint State Morgan silver dollars and a stellar collection of pioneer gold coins. Both of these collections were profiled in the May 19 issue of Coin World.
But major sales have many more coins — often very expensive ones — that have their own unique stories to tell and provide useful teaching lessons.
Here are three of my favorites.
Undated (1670 to 1675) St. Patrick halfpenny, Very Fine 20, $1,997.50
Colonial coins are challenging to many newer collectors because they’re subject to odd striking characteristics and often come on less than perfect planchets. Due to the varying manufacturing quality and eye appeal, prices can be all over the place.
This St. Patrick halfpenny is undated, but dates from 1670 to 1675 and is listed in A Guide Book of United States Coins. It’s typically associated with Mark Newby, who came to America from Dublin, Ireland, in 1681 with a supply of copper coins in farthing and halfpenny denominations.
This halfpenny features a brass “splasher” on the crown that was likely an early anticounterfeiting device. It serves an aesthetic second purpose as well, providing a rich golden accent on the crown.
This Very Fine 20 example also has a Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, indicating quality within the grade. It sold for nearly $2,000, in large part due to the strong eye appeal. Much less attractive, well-worn examples with problems like corrosion can be found for less than $100 with some searching.
1875 20-cent piece pattern, Proof 66 red, $19,975