Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Heritage Auctions are again sharing
official auctioneer duties at the upcoming American Numismatic
Association World’s Fair of Money in Anaheim, Aug. 9 to 13. Both firms
will be offering a wide range of coins and paper money from the United
States and the world.
Stack’s Bowers says: “This year’s sale will be monumental, with a
staggering 52 percent increase in the number of live auction lots
versus the 2015 ANA sale held in Chicago. Clearly, the market
continues to endorse Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ recent technological
advancements, including the roll out of the firm’s Auction Mobility
platform earlier in 2016.”
Among the firm’s U.S. coin highlights is a handsome 1796 Draped Bust quarter dollar graded Mint
State 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. The issue is desirable as a
one-year type and as the first regular issue quarter dollar produced
at the Philadelphia Mint.
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The firm writes, “Both sides of this piece are beautifully toned in
iridescent magenta, reddish-gold, powder blue and olive-copper — a
real treat to the eye. Modestly reflective with simply outstanding
technical quality and eye appeal.”
The entire mintage of 6,146 quarter dollars comes from just two
obverse dies and a single reverse die. This example, classified as
Bolender 1, is the scarcer of the two die marriages. It is one of the
finest known and is the plate coin for the B-1 dies in the 2008 book
Early United States Quarters: 1796-1838 by Steve M. Tompkins
where it ranked third on the Condition Census for the variety.
As the auctioneer concludes, “This coin represents an ideal example
— the very best that most collectors could realistically hope for in a
The auction will also feature a Libertas Americana medal in silver
graded MS-62 by NGC. It is one of fewer than 30 silver strikings of
this medal — dated 1781 but likely struck in 1782 — known. The
obverse’s depiction of Liberty by Augustin Dupré is a well-known
precedent for the flowing hair designs favored by the Philadelphia
Mint’s early artists and this piece is regularly coveted by collectors
of American coins.
This medal was ranked number one — by a significant margin — in the
book 100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens by Q. David Bowers
and Katherine Jaeger. In the book the authors said, “[The beauty of
this medal], its rich history, and its inspiration for federal Liberty
Cap coinage combine to make this an object of desire for many numismatists.”
In his description, Bowers presented this lot, and medals more
generally, as a possible value, observing, “The lure is that medals
often cost tiny fractions of the prices of even medium-scarce federal
coins. For the cost of an MS-65 1893-S Morgan dollar, if you could
find one, you could build a wonderful collection of hundreds of
different American medals, each with a fascinating story.” He
concluded, “Possession of a Libertas Americana medal in silver is a
mark of great accomplishment in the field of numismatics.”
Meanwhile, two 1794
dollars will be available from Heritage
Heritage will also be hosting extensive auctions during the ANA
show, with a wide range of material that is also particularly rich in
items stuck during the first decade of the Philadelphia Mint.
The firm’s 2016 ANA auction features two 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollars. It is a rare
and desirable issue as the first regular issue U.S. silver dollar
struck for circulation and just 150, or so, are left from a delivered
mintage of 1,758 pieces.
Most have problems such as cleaning or repairs, as seen in the 2010
book The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794 by Martin Logies,
which documented all then-known examples.
One of the two is graded Extremely Fine Details, Altered Surfaces,
by Professional Coin Grading Service. Known as the Westchester example
since it was offered in a 1987 Bowers and Merena auction as part of
the Westchester Collection, it was then-graded Extremely Fine 40/40 by
ANACS with a certificate dated Oct. 17, 1986.
Before the widespread growth of third-party certification and
encapsulation in the late 1980s, individually dated ANACS paper
certificates would often provide grades for both the obverse and
The dollar was described in that sale as follows: “An attractive
specimen of one of America’s great numismatic classics, albeit with
the usually seen peripheral weakness (at lower left of the obverse and
corresponding part of the reverse) and mint-caused adjustment marks.
The centers are well struck, especially so, with the hair detail, eye,
lips, nose, ear, and other features of Miss Liberty bold.”
On the PCGS assessment of Altered Surfaces, Heritage writes, “There
are no overt signs of surface alteration other than a silver-gray
patina that is perhaps overly light for a 1794 dollar. Some faint
hairlines indicate an old cleaning, but they are barely visible on the coin.”
Providing an interesting contrast is another 1794 Flowing Hair
dollar, this one graded Extremely Fine Details, Obverse Repaired, by
NGC. It has a long ownership history that traces back to the Michael
Moore Collection, offered by Edward Cogan, May 1 to 2, 1879.
On the damage, Heritage observes, “This particular coin is whizzed,
and stars 13 to 15 are affected by a repair. A planchet flaw near star
8 has been wiped, and a second (and lesser) planchet flaw is concealed
within the lower hair curls.”
Yet, the rarity and desirability of this issue means that collectors
are willing to look past these types of defects and pay near
six-figure amounts for even problematic examples.
The latter 1794 dollar recently sold for $85,187.50 earlier this
year at Heritage’s Florida United Numismatists January auction, so its
quick return to market is a bit surprising.
For those less willing to compromise in quality, Heritage is
offering a 1795 Flowing Hair, Small Eagle, Three Leaves silver dollar
graded PCGS MS-61 that is one of the finest known examples. Heritage
notes bold luster and an absence of planchet adjustment marks, but
also assorted small marks that limit the grade.
This dollar was previously offered at Bowers and Merena’s November
1991 Frontenac Sale where it was graded About Uncirculated 58 by PCGS,
its upgrade the result of changes in the market’s understanding of
what constitutes wear on these early U.S. coins.
U.S. coins mentioned
in this article:
1796 Draped Bust quarter dollar
- — Coin Values estimates (as of July 25, 2016):
AG-3 - $7,500; AU-55 - $65,000; MS-65 - $400,000
- — Although the quarter dollar was authorized under the Mint
Act of April 2, 1792, the denomination was not issued until four
years later with the release of the Draped Bust, Small Eagle
quarter dollar. Read more.
1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar
- — Coin Values estimates (as of July 25, 2016):
AG-3 - $40,000; AU-50 - $450,000; MS-60 - $675,000
- — The
first 1794 Flowing Hair dollars were struck on Oct. 15. The coins
were the first precious metal coins struck within the walls of the
new Philadelphia Mint. A total of 1,758 1794 dollars were
delivered by the coiner, the total mintage of the coin for the
year. Read more.