US Coins

1 of 9 1870-S Seated Liberty dollars up for sale

One of just nine confirmed 1870-S Seated Liberty dollars will be offered by Heritage Auctions at its Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 auctions in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The silver dollar is one of perhaps a dozen examples struck, possibly to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new San Francisco Mint. 

Graded Extremely Fine 40 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., it last sold at Heritage’s January 2015 Florida United Numismatists auction where it brought $470,000. Before that it sold for a massive $805,000 at Heritage’s April 2008 auction of the Queller Family Collection. 

Seated Liberty dollar

Seated Liberty dollar: It was just three years after the Seated Liberty design was used on the half dime that the Seated Liberty silver dollar was introduced, and the concept of a Seated Liberty with Liberty cap, pole and shield seemed to have run its course. How much are Seated Liberty dollars worth?

As Heritage observes, “When one examines the roster of the known 1870-S dollar specimens, it appears that is precisely what they were intended for — mementos — and most appear to have been used as pocket pieces. They certainly show evidence of many years’ ownership by non-numismatists. Only one of the nine known examples is Uncirculated. Other pieces are scratched, one shows a test mark, another is pitted, and still another tooled.” 

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The subject coin shows a brightness, with Heritage writing, “Both sides show the normally expected number of small abrasions that a coin would receive from circulation or as a pocket piece; the brightness is also consistent with several years’ residence in a pocket.” The description concludes, “The only larger mark that helps identify this as the Miles-Queller piece is located to the left of the O in OF,” on the reverse.

A different example, graded EF-40 by Professional Coin Grading Service, most recently went unsold earlier this year at Heritage’s January FUN auction after previously selling for $505,250 at a 2015 auction and bringing $763,750 at Heritage’s 2014 FUN sale. 

Rare Saint-Gaudens double eagles

Another highlight is a collection of Saint-Gaudens double eagles put together by noted plastic surgeon Eugene Cherny that includes a 1921 example graded Mint State 62 by PCGS. Though the issue had a substantial mintage of 528,500 pieces, all struck in the final months of 1921, today fewer than 200 are believed to survive in all grades. 

Saint-Gaudens double eagle

Saint-Gaudens double eagle: The early 20th century was a golden age of U.S. coin designs, and perhaps the most memorable of these classic designs is the contribution made by the famed sculptor-engraver Augustus Saint-Gaudens. How much are Saint-Gaudens double eagles worth?

Few were actually released and most went into storage. While rumors persist of examples that were exported to Europe and remain hidden, Heritages dispels this speculation, writing, “If any portion of the 1921 double eagle mintage was officially exported, it has not survived, as no more than a few handfuls of individual coins have turned up in overseas hoards.”

The rarity of the issue was not uncovered until several decades after its production and no substantial hoards have boosted the population since. 

Surprisingly, many did enter circulation and roughly half of the known examples show signs of wear. 

Examples of this issue are always expensive, with Heritage noting, “Any Uncirculated 1921 effortlessly climbs to or beyond the six-figure mark, and the tremendous aesthetic merit of the present MS62 coin has the potential to drive record bidding for the grade.” The description adds, “Wisps of tangerine, lavender, mint-silver, and peach-yellow swirl throughout each side. The strike is boldly defined, and the lightly scattered abrasions pose minimal distraction for the grade.” A recent comparable at auction was a different example graded PCGS MS-62 that sold for $94,000 as part of Heritage’s January 2015 FUN auction. 

Also from the Cherny Collection is a 1920-S Saint-Gaudens double eagle, graded MS-65 by PCGS with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. Alongside the 1921 coin, the 1920-S issue is one of the rarest collectible issues in the series. Like the 1921 double eagle, its rarity was only understood in the 1940s. 

The offered coin was illustrated as the plate coin for both David Akers’ United States Gold Coins and Q. David Bowers’ A Guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins. On this coin Akers wrote, “Of the relatively few uncs that I have seen, only two were gems, the Eliasberg specimen and the Unc-67 coin pictured above that is in a prominent Dallas bank collection.” Akers later wrote, “it is virtually perfect in all respects with great color and lustre and bagmark-free, satiny surfaces.”

When offered in 2001 at the Sotheby’s and Stack’s Dallas Bank Collection auction, it was called “The Finest Known, without question. A truly majestic example.” 

When describing this coin for the current offering, Heritage wrote, “We would add that a loupe fails to reveal even a single mentionable abrasion in the fields of either side, and Liberty’s gown and the eagle’s wing are virtually devoid of the faint slide marks and minor ticks that often appear on the high points of Gem-graded Saints. Lovely rose, peach, mint-green, and silvery hues swirl in the central regions, ceding to frosty yellow-gold peripheries. Liberty’s torch hand fingers are delineated, and the Capitol building is sharp.” PCGS has recorded just four submissions in this grade with only two finer. 

Heritage had previously sold Cherny’s collection of Indian Head gold $5 half eagles and Indian Head $10 eagles in 2006. As Cherny told Heritage in 2006, he selected eye appealing coins because “Beauty is my biz,” keeping his collecting focus on 20th century gold coins that are beautiful and aesthetically appealing. 

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