A beautifully toned 1795 Draped Bust silver dollar will highlight
The Regency Auction XIV by Legend Rare Coin Auctions in Las Vegas,
Nev., at The Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino on Dec. 15.
On the colorful dollar Legend writes, “Its first traced auction
appearance was in 1956, and since then, only the most elegant
‘numisprose’ has been used to explain the outright gorgeous nature,
its technical quality, and physical attributes.
Bust dollar: Pick up one of the nation's first silver
dollars – whether it bears the Flowing Hair or Draped Bust design –
and take measure of its heft: This is a substantial coin! It's big
(39.5 millimeters in diameter) and heavy (26.956 grams). How much
are Draped Bust dollars worth?
In that 1956 New Netherlands auction, where it was offered as part
of the collection of T. James Clark, it was described as follows:
“Called ‘Unc. Gem’ and the ‘Finest Known’ by Mr. Clarke, this piece is
the closest to it. Fully struck up at hair, and almost so at eagle’s
breast, less so on left leg. A sharp, neatly impressed coin; free from
rubbing or friction, but close inspection reveals microscopic signs of
mishandling, particularly two minute border nicks at the lower l.
Reverse. Magnificent blue, pink, lavender and gold toning; both sides
somewhat mirror-like. Obtained from B.G. Johnson, and undoubtedly a
Brand item. Worth a generous bid!”
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Today, with 1 to 70 numerical grading replacing adjectival grading,
the dollar is still considered “Gem” and has been graded Mint State 65
by Professional Coin Grading Service and also bears a green Certified
Acceptance Corp. sticker. Though not numerically the finest-known, it
remains among the top.
Legend characterized the New Netherlands’ description as perhaps a
bit harsh, since the two border nicks are not visible, and concludes,
“The semi-prooflike luster, especially on the reverse makes this
exceptionally sharp coin really pop out. The look is dramatic and
memorable. Easily one of the most eye arresting early dollars in existence.”
Is listed as BB-51 in the book Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars
of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, by Q. David
Bowers, with Mark Borckardt and is often called the “Off-Center Bust”
since later dies feature the bust of Liberty shifted slightly to the
right to be more centered.
A sexy trophy coin
The dollar was consigned by Bruce Morelan, who is selling this as a
duplicate from his collections, since he recently purchased the finest
known example of the BB-51 dollar, graded Specimen 66. That dollar
brought $1,057,500 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s May 2016
auction of selections from the collection of D. Brent Pogue. As that
lot entry noted, “Judging from the population of surviving specimens,
the attractive and distinctive 1795 Draped Bust dollars were popular
souvenirs. More choice Mint State 1795 Draped Bust dollars have
survived than those of any other date. This ratio does not make them
common, however, and gems remain extremely rare.”
Legend concludes, “Type collectors, early dollar specialists, or
anyone wanting to own a sexy trophy coin will be contesting this GEM,”
before placing an estimate of $450,000 to $550,000 on the colorful
dollar. According to Legend, it previously sold at auction in 2005 at
a Bowers and Merena auction, then-graded MS-66 by Numismatic Guaranty
Corp., for $327,750.
Doubled Die Rarity
The sale is also noteworthy for its offering of high quality Indian
Head 5-cent pieces including a 1916 Indian Head, Doubled Die Obverse
5-cent coin graded PCGS MS-64 with CAC sticker. It is one of three
like-graded examples at PCGS and neither PCGS nor NGC has graded any finer.
Indian Head 5-cent
coin: The so-called "Buffalo nickel," which
features the design work of renowned sculptor James Earle Fraser, is
arguably the most "American" of all United States coins
and is a collector favorite. How much are
Indian Head 5-cent coins worth?
As Legend observes, “The clean, smooth surfaces have a moderate
satin frost that really shows off the delicate lavender, olive, tan,
gold, and powder blue patina.”
The variety was little-recognized until the 1960s. That relatively
late discovery means that none were specifically saved at the time of
issue and most examples known today are circulated.
The obverse is strongly doubled, with a strong spread on the date,
the ribbon ties, the feather tips, the braid, the neck, the nose, the
lips, and the chin. The Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error
Collectors of America listing categorizes it as a Class V doubled die,
or a pivot doubled die.
Coin World columnist John Wexler explains the doubled die error
in plain language on his website, writing, “A frequent misconception about
doubled dies is that they are produced when coins are struck twice by
the dies. This is definitely not the case.” He explains, “For a
doubled die coin to be produced, the doubled image must be on the die
itself, hence the term ‘doubled die.’ Doubled dies occur when there
are mishaps in making the dies that will be used to strike the coins.”
The auctioneer estimates it at $230,000 to $250,000, using its 2013
auction of a different PCGS MS-64 example for $253,0000 as a pricing
comparable. It concludes, “The addition of this near-Gem to any set
will automatically catapult you to near-Legendary status.”