Valuable assortment of Coronet $10 eagles highlight Rarities Night sale

Two 19th century Branch Mint issues in March 30 Stack’s Bowers sale stand out
By , Coin World
Published : 03/09/17
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The finest certified 1880-O Coronet gold $10 eagle will highlight the March 30 Rarities Night auction by Stack’s Bowers Galleries as part of the Whitman Baltimore Expo.

Graded Mint State 64 by Professional Coin Grading Service, it is the finest graded, with the auction description noting that the MS-64 listed on the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Census represents an earlier submission for this coin. The offered coin was, before that, housed in a PCGS MS-63 holder and realized $27,600 when presented at an August 1999 Heritage auction, where it was then-recognized as the finest known. Its description in that sale was prescient, with the cataloger recognizing, “A definite candidate for an MS 64 designation, this coin even possesses some claim to the gem grade level.”

Previously it was sold by Stack’s in its October 1988 sale of a “Rare and Important United States Gold Coins Collection,” where it brought $10,450.

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The 1880-O Coronet gold eagle comes from a low mintage of 9,200 pieces since the New Orleans Mint was focused on striking Morgan dollars at the expense of its gold coin production at the time. Most examples entered circulation, and PCGS and NGC have certified just 14 Mint State examples — though this number is likely inflated by resubmissions of the same coin — with the catalog entry suggesting a more reasonable number of 8 to 10 Mint State survivors.

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Of these, the subject coin is the finest certified by two full grading points, and as the description further observes, “Clearly this coin must have been set aside at the time of issue, either intentionally or by chance, for it bears no evidence of having been jostled around as part of shipments to and from foreign banks (the destination for many U.S. gold coins struck during the later 19th and early 20th centuries).”

Rare Mint State 1854-S $10

Another rare Mint State coin in the same series is the 1854-S Coronet gold eagle in the Rarities Night auction, graded MS-60 by Independent Coin Graders.

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The San Francisco Mint began operations as a Branch Mint that year and produced 123,826 1854-S Coronet double eagles. It would be the last large-scale production of the issue at the Mint until 1879. Most examples encountered today are in lower grades since the issue saw wide circulation in the western states.

As a result, the 1854-S Coronet eagle is elusive in Mint State grades, though About Uncirculated 58 examples are available. For reference, a solid NGC AU-58 example with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker sold for $5,170 at last year’s Florida United Numismatists auction. The sole recent certified Mint State comparable at auction is a PCGS MS-62 coin that realized $35,250 at that same Heritage sale, making the valuation of the subject coin a challenge.

The description of the coin offered by Stack’s Bowers Galleries notes “the complexion is dominated by rich medium-gold tones and the most subtle pinkish accents scattered about,” adding, “Satiny luster remains bountiful and distributed across virtually every region, as evidence of true friction is minimal throughout.” As MS-60 represents the lowest Mint State grade, some impairments are seen, including a thin horizontal scratch below Liberty’s chin and some reverse rim marks.

A few other highlights in the sale include three key Lincoln cents in high grades: a 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent graded Proof 66 red and brown by PCGS with a green CAC sticker, a 1913 cent graded PCGS MS-67+ red, and a 1914-D Lincoln cent in a PCGS holder, graded MS-66 red.

Two Proof gold standouts include a 1914 Indian Head gold $5 half eagle graded PCGS Proof 68 and bearing a CAC sticker, and an 1883 Coronet double eagle in NGC Proof 66 Ultra Cameo with an NGC Star designation.

The Rarities Night sale by Stack’s Bowers Galleries is scheduled for March 30 at 7:30 PM in room 308 of the Baltimore Convention Center. Earlier in the day the firm will present Part I of The Blue Moon Collection and on March 31 it will — along with Sotheby’s — offer Part V of the D. Brent Pogue Collection at Baltimore’s Evergreen Museum and Library.

The Whitman Baltimore Coin and Collectibles Spring Expo is set for March 30 to April 2 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

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