US Coins

Numismatic Auctions LLC offers Fraser cent plaster

The oak tree on this plaster model by James Earle Fraser (or perhaps his wife, Laura Gardin Fraser) would have made a handsome cent design. It sold for $4,348 at Numismatic Auctions LLC’s June 10 Auction Sale 62 in Michigan.

Original image courtesy of Numismatic Auctions LLC.

More than a dozen relatively small, specialized firms had sales in June, including Steve Davis’ Numismatic Auctions LLC in Michigan, Rago Auctions in New Jersey and Bonhams in Los Angeles.

Tying these three sales together were three items carrying the designs of sculptor James Earle Fraser (1875 to 1953).

Fraser, well known to coin collectors as the designer of the Indian Head 5-cent piece in 1913, also created many other beautiful objects, several, like the piece featured here, in cooperation with his wife, fellow-artist Laura Gardin Fraser. You can read about a James Earle Fraser medal in one of the auctions here

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The medal:

1951 James Earle Fraser cent design plaster model, ungraded

The price:


The story:

Numismatic Auctions LLC hosts several auctions a year in Okemos, Michigan. Its most recent sale, conducted June 10 and 11, included a typically diverse assortment of more than 2,500 lots of classic U.S. coins, world coins, tokens, medals, paper currency and everything numismatic in between. 

The top lot was a 1795 Flowing Hair half dime graded Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Mint State 65 that sold for $29,375, but of interest to specialists was a possibly unique plaster by James Fraser of an unrealized cent design that brought $4,348. 

The white alabaster plaster model with bronze powder coating measured 10.5 inches in diameter and featured a mirror image version of the design of an oak tree. The back of the plaster is dated July 27, 1951, and July 23, 1951, with CAST/FINAL stated. It was previously offered at Joseph L. Lepczyk’s Sale No. 36 in 1980 as lot 489 where it sold for around $2,400.

It remains unclear exactly what this design was intended for, although contemporary letters suggest that it was for a proposed cent, and some researchers believe that the design may have been executed by Fraser’s wife, Laura Gardin Fraser.

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