Two silver coins from the early 1870s are highlights in Bonhams’ Dec.
13 Coins and Medals auction in New York City.
The 1870s was a decade of experimentation at the U.S. Mint,
characterized by a rich variety of patterns struck, along with new
laws that altered the silver content of circulating coins.
Set within this framework is an 1873-CC Seated Liberty, Arrows at
Date dime graded About Uncirculated 53 by Professional Coin Grading
Service. As the description notes, the issue is “One of the great
rarities of the Seated dime series and a date that is just so hard to
find nice as the few survivors are so often found with surface
problems or damage.”
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The subject example has luster in the protected areas and some light
golden toning seen on both sides. It carries an estimate of $40,000 to $45,000.
While 18,791 pieces are recorded as minted, most have disappeared
and the survival rate is low. Bonhams points out that just 128
examples have been certified in all grades by PCGS and Numismatic
Guaranty Corp., before advising potential bidders, “That number is
undoubtedly high as some coins may have been submitted more than once
between both grading services.”
The Condition Census at PCGS CoinFacts records the piece in the
auction as the third-finest known example and only two Mint State
examples are recorded.
The Coinage Act of Feb. 12, 1873, ordered a slight increase in
weight for the dime, quarter dollar and half dollar. Arrowheads were
added to either side of the date on the heavier versions of the three
denominations to give them a distinctive difference in appearance from
the lighter pieces.
The issue is often considered to be overshadowed by the unique
1873-CC Seated Liberty, No Arrows dime that sold for $1.84 million at
Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ auction of the Battle Born Collection at the
American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia
on Aug. 9, 2012.
The Carson City Mint delivered 12,400 1873-CC Seated Liberty, No
Arrows dimes. Five of those were sent to the Philadelphia Mint in
compliance with the annual Assay Commission provision. According to
Carson City Mint researcher Goe, of Reno, Nev., “It is believed that
the only 1873-CC Seated Liberty, Without Arrows dime known to exist
survived from that five-piece parcel sent” to the Philadelphia Mint.
Another highlight in the Bonhams auction is an 1872 Amazonian
pattern silver dollar, listed as Judd 1205 in the reference to the
series, graded Proof 58 by PCGS.
The design by Mint Chief Engraver William Barber is among the most
popular in the pattern series. Fewer than 10 are believed to exist in
silver; however, examples of the design exist in copper and aluminum.
The popular design was recently revisited by Jared Grove’s Grove
Minting Co. in a commemorative silver medallion in 2014.
Barber created two sets of patterns, one for gold denominations and
the other for silver, with common reverse designs, but different
obverses. The gold pieces do not bear the Amazonian obverse, but bear
instead a Liberty Head portrait.
The Amazonian nickname (which references the Amazons, warrior women
in Greek mythology) stems from Liberty’s exposed breast, and her
sword, on the obverse of the silver pieces.
The lot description states, “The surfaces are bright and essentially
untoned; the fields still retain hints of the original reflective
proof surfaces. A few small handling marks are scattered over each
side with the most obvious being a small cluster above the eagle’s
head on the reverse, this providing an obvious pedigree identifier.”
The unusual pattern has an estimate of $48,000 to $55,000.
The pedigree markers on the offered dollar are consistent with an
example, then-graded Proof 58 by NGC, that sold for $20,700 at a May
2003 Heritage auction of the Frank O. Fredericks Collection. That
example was formerly in the Leon Goodman Collection offered by Herb L.
Melnick in 1982. It was later reoffered at Heritage’s 2013 ANA
auctions where it did not meet its reserve.