US Coins

Alexander Collection yields 1896 Coronet gold

Old-time collections provide rich lessons for today’s collectors. Stack’s Bowers Galleries recently offered the Alexander Collection of U.S. Coins at its November 2017 Whitman Baltimore Expo auctions. The unnamed collector began collecting in the 1920s and purchased coins from many of the hobby’s leading dealers in the 1930s.


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He was especially fond of Proof gold coins and his collection remained intact for more than 50 years. A dozen Proof Coronet $2.50 gold quarter eagles — most in lower grades — provide a rare opportunity to look at this specialized market.

Here's one of three Proof gold coins that changed hands in Baltimore:

The Lot:

1896 Coronet gold $2.50 quarter eagle, Proof, Uncirculated Details, Spot Removed

The Price:

$13,200

The Story:

Because of their deeply mirrored surfaces, Proof coins are especially susceptible to showing evidence of handling. The Alexander Collection offered an 1896 Coronet gold $2.50 quarter eagle graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as Proof, Uncirculated Details, Spot Removed. Strong contrast between the frosted devices and mirrored fields is evident, and Stack’s Bowers wrote, “Evidence of minor tooling associated with a faint alloy spot in the right obverse field explains the PCGS qualifier, but the overall quality and eye appeal are worthy of praise.”

While other impaired Proof coins in the sale sold at the $3,000 to $4,000 level, this one soared to $13,200, leading one to wonder if it will reemerge in the marketplace with a different grade in the future. It was acquired by the Alexander Collection back in 1948 at Frank Katen/Milford Coin & Stamp Co.’s American Numismatic Association convention auction in Boston and the tag from that auction accompanied the lot.

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