US Coins

Flashy Proof 1892 double eagle tops Long Beach sale

A Proof 65 Deep Cameo 1892 Coronet double eagle with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker topped Heritage’s February 2017 Long Beach Expo auction, bringing $146,875. The flashy gold $20 coin — from a mintage of 93, of which perhaps a third survive today — was graded by Professional Coin Grading Service.

Heritage’s Feb. 16 to 19 auctions held in conjunction with the Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp and Sports Collectibles Expo brought, in total, more than $11 million. Other high-end gold $20 coins included a 1921 Saint-Gaudens double eagle graded PCGS MS-62 that brought $82,250 and an 1872-CC Coronet double eagle that sold for $67,562.50.

However, the sale was especially noteworthy for the strong prices that more esoteric rarities brought.

Classic Colonials

At $129,250, a silver 1785 Immune Columbia, Nova Constellatio issue graded About Uncirculated 53 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and bearing a green CAC sticker was the second-highest price in the February Long Beach auction. Approximately 12 to 15 examples are known in silver with another three struck on copper planchets. It previously sold for $135,125 when offered in November 2014 at Part V of Heritage’s offerings of the Eric P. Newman educational society. For reference, a different silver example, graded NGC AU-55, sold for $117,500 as part of Heritage’s offering of the Donald Groves Partrick collection at the January 2015 Florida United Numismatists. Still, the offering of two of the finest examples at strong prices within a three-year period shows the depth of the market for these classic Colonial issues.

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Another six-figure offering was a 1785 Inimica Tyrannis Americana, Confederatio, Small Stars copper graded NGC Extremely Fine 40 and having a green CAC sticker that brought $105,750. One of roughly eight known examples today, it is tied with one other example as the finest known and features “exceptional olive and chestnut-brown surfaces with hints of peripheral maroon toning,” while an upper obverse rim bump serves as a pedigree marker.

Coronet double eagleCoronet double eagle: The Coronet double eagle was introduced into circulation in 1850, and struck every year through the end of the century, into the year 1907 when it was replaced by the famed Saint-Gaudens designs. How much are Coronet double eagles worth?

The privately struck copper has a theme of resisting tyranny. A May 13, 1785, document titled Propositions Respecting the Coinage of Gold, Silver, and Copper describes the original vision for the obverse design as follows: “An Indian, his right foot on a crown, a bow in his left-hand, in his right-hand thirteen arrows, and the inscription MANUS INIMICA TYRANNIS.” The obverse legend as minted loosely translates to “America opposed to tyranny.”

The obverse design was paired with two reverse designs. One type, as seen on the offered lot, depicts stars contained in a small circle with large rays. The other type features larger stars in a larger circle with smaller rays.

Writing on this type in a May 22, 1995, issue of Coin World, researcher Michael J. Hodder opposed a viewpoint then favored by researchers that these were produced in England, writing, “Instead, we must search for an American maker of these historic, early American coins. The obverse legend (in its essence) derives from army ceremony and dates to 1776-78. The obverse type was described by Robert Morris in 1782, a year before the war between America and Great Britain ended. The Large Circle reverse type and legend were both drawn in 1785, possibly by Jefferson himself.”

It last sold at Heritage’s 2015 sale of the Partrick Collection where it realized $99,875. Another example of the enigmatic copper, graded NGC Very Fine 30, sold for $44,062.50 at Heritage’s November 2014 Newman auction.

A copper quarter?

Among the more unusual treats was an 1827 Capped Bust quarter dollar struck on a copper planchet rather than the typical silver planchet one would expect for a quarter dollar.

Graded Proof 65 brown by PCGS and bearing a green CAC sticker, it is one of just five known 1827 quarter dollars struck in copper. It was likely struck decades after the date on the obverse, and may have been struck as late as the 1870s.

The first auction appearance of a copper 1827 quarter dollar occurred in February 1877 (alongside other unusual issues like an 1836 Gobrecht dollar in copper), in an era when creating restrikes and fantasy pieces was common practice at the Philadelphia Mint. These pieces were probably struck to provide collectors of the day an example of a rare date or unusual variant.

All original 1827 Capped Bust quarter dollars were struck with the same pair of dies, with only around 10 known today.

As Heritage has written, “The 1827 Capped Bust quarter is one of the rarest and most mysterious issues in the U.S. silver series. It has been known as a fabulous rarity since 1857, and numismatists were cognizant of all examples we know about today as early as 1867. The coins were among the most valuable and sought-after issues in 19th century numismatics.”

Mint records show that 4,000 Capped Bust quarters were delivered on Dec. 29, 1827. However, no circulation-strike examples of the date have ever surfaced and all original 1827 quarters are Proof strikes. Today, it is generally believed that the coins delivered in late December were actually dated 1828, and the original Proof 1827 issues were struck for presentation purposes.

The restrike 1827 Capped Bust quarter dollars have a Square Base 2 in the denomination as opposed to the original strikes that have a Curl Base 2 on the reverse. On the subject coin Heritage observes, “The surfaces are undeniably copper, not silver-plated as is one of the five known examples,” adding, “Of course, heavy die rust is scattered over each side,” consistent with its status as a Restrike issue.

Capped Bust quarter

Capped Bust quarter: German engraver John Reich’s Capped Bust design first appeared on the half dollars and half eagles in 1807, then quarter eagles in 1808, dimes in 1809 and finally on the quarter dollars in 1815. How much are Capped Bust quarters worth?

The “pattern” is listed as Judd 48 in J. Hewitt Judd’s book United States Pattern Coins and this piece was included in a 1914 exhibit at the American Numismatic Society where it was exhibited by William Woodin, an avid coin collector who also served as the secretary of Treasury under Franklin Roosevelt in 1933.

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