Heritage’s various auctions, including its January 7 Platinum Night
sale held during the Florida United Numismatists convention in Tampa,
Fla., include many noteworthy collections. One significant holding
offered is the Jay Cline Collection of Standing Liberty Quarter Dollars.
Cline, known for his devotion to the series, wrote dozens of
articles and several editions of his essential book Standing Liberty
Quarters and was acknowledged as an expert.
He spent 31 years operating his own coin shop, Cline’s Rare Coins in
Dayton, Ohio, before moving to Palm Harbor, Fla. Cline passed away on
Jan. 8, 2015, and Heritage is selling Cline’s personal collection on
behalf of his wife, Vicky.
The lots in the printed catalogs are noted by a graphic of a top
hat, since, as Heritage wrote, “Recognized by all he met for his top
hat and ‘the beard,’ Jay was always quick with a smile and eager to
greet his many friends and associates.” Cline wrote on his website
that he “began collecting coins in high school with a few Indian Head
cents. His first Standing Liberty Quarter was a severely cleaned
1918-S from a friend who asked the great sum of 35¢ for the coin. He
bought that piece in the early 1950’s.”
Two of Cline’s quarters — the 1916 and 1927-S coins — are included
in Heritage’s Jan. 7 Platinum Night auction. Other coins from his
collection will be offered earlier that day during Heritage’s Session
Three U.S. coin auction, while others are included in an online
session on Jan. 10.
First year of issue
Representing the first year of issue for the Standing Liberty
quarter dollar series, Cline’s 1916 Standing Liberty quarter is graded
Mint State 67 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., with a green Certified
Acceptance Corp. sticker noting quality within the grade. Both sides
are enhanced by rich, satiny luster with deeper jewel colored toning
on the reverse. The 1916 Standing Liberty quarter dollar is a
low-mintage issue with just 52,000 struck.
As Cline wrote in his most recent edition of Standing Liberty
Quarters, “When 1916s come up at auction, the bidding is spirited and
all grades are strongly supported. With a mintage this low, Full Head
vs. non-Full Head is not so important on this piece.”
His example was last sold at auction in Heritage’s 2006 FUN sale
where it sold for $40,250, though the firm observes, “With a Full Head
Superb Gem recently garnering nearly $150,000 without a CAC
endorsement, this equally pristine and visually almost comparable
non-Full Head piece would be a sterling acquisition for the astute
Standing Liberty quarter specialist.”
The Mint issued two main design subtypes of the Standing Liberty
quarter. What is often called “Type I” was struck in 1916 and 1917 and
features a bare chested Liberty and no stars below the eagle on the
reverse. The design was modified in 1917 to give Liberty a coat of
chain mail, and three stars were moved below the eagle. This second
subtype design was used until the series ended in 1930.
Low mintage 1927-S
Another top lot is Cline’s 1927-S quarter graded NGC MS-66 CAC. The
issue is rare with a fully defined head of Liberty and on this
example, Liberty’s head is around 50 percent complete.
As Heritage observes, “The rarity of the 1927-S in this grade is
recognized by series students, but for the general collecting
populace, it falls in the shadow of the more widely heralded Full Head
coins, which make headlines on the rare instances in which they are
offered at auction.” In his books, Cline observed that less than one
percent are struck with Full Heads and the typical 1927-S quarter
dollar is weakly struck, particularly on the head and shield.
With a mintage of 396,000, it is the lowest mintage of a Standing
Liberty, Mailed Breast quarter. It was last offered at Heritage’s 2009
FUN auction where it did not meet its reserve and went unsold, and it
had previously sold at Heritage’s August 2004 auction where it brought $11,500.
One of the most attractive of Cline’s coins is his 1917-D Seated
Liberty, Bared Breast quarter dollar graded NGC MS-67 Full Head.
Heritage recognizes, “The 1917-D Type One Standing Liberty quarter
is several times scarcer in Superb Gem Full Head than its widely
collected Philadelphia counterpart.”
In terms of pricing comparables, a different, more heavily toned
example of this issue also graded NGC MS-67 Full Head sold for $4,230
at a June 2015 auction by Ira and Larry Goldberg.