US Coins

Baltimore sale’s Peace dollar pair unusual surprise

Pricing coins with few comparables can be a challenge or a headache depending on your perspective. At Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ recent Baltimore auctions, two unusual Peace dollars showed how expectations can be surpassed when multiple bidders covet the same coin.  

A 1923-S Peace dollar graded Mint State 65+ by Professional Coin Grading Service was offered during Session 8 on March 1. At $26,400, the price realized would have fit nicely in the Rarities Night session held the evening of Feb. 28, where the pricier coins are typically offered.

The San Francisco Mint dollar has a high mintage of 19.02 million pieces but becomes a condition rarity in the series in top grades, with PCGS certifying just 164 in MS-65. One of these sold for a low $1,440 at Heritage’s recent Long Beach Expo auction, although the $2,640 that a more appealing PCGS MS-65 example brought in the same sale is perhaps more typical of the market. 

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Above MS-65 the population thins dramatically, with PCGS grading just five in MS-65+, two in MS-66 and one MS-67 that is the finest certified. The most recent sale of one of the two MS-66 representatives, back at an April 2011 Heritage auction, for $31,050 is the only auction record on PCGSCoinFacts to provide guidance for bidders wanting a top 1923-S Peace dollar. 

With the three finer examples off the market for some time, bidders battled to add this MS-65+ to their registry set, and the offered example had a nicer than usual strike. The cataloger observed, “The luster quality is superior, and the surfaces have a smooth frosty texture that is free of the often seen granularity. The pale silver iridescence and virtually pristine appearance add appeal to this premium quality Gem.” In the absence of any finer available representatives, the $26,400 it brought in Baltimore was unexpected, but understandable. 

A few lots later saw a 1928 Peace dollar with highly unusual toning graded MS-63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. sell for $2,880. Peace dollars are rarely seen with rainbow colors. Stack’s Bowers wrote, “The obverse shows a medley of cool pastels, with powder blue and gold at center, and deeper red-orange at the rims. A more magnificent display paints the reverse, with a neon blend of emerald green, violet, and tangerine erupting from the peach patina.” 

Admittedly not to everyone’s taste, the 1928 Peace dollar is a key date in the series and typical examples in this grade sell at the $550 to $600 level. The chance for a rarely encountered toned example of this tough date proved irresistible to at least two bidders who sent it to a price one might expect for an average MS-65 example.

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