US Coins

Glittering gold at next Stack’s Bowers Rarities Night sale

Some top-graded gold rarities are set to lead Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Aug. 16 Rarities Night auction, including one of the finest-known representatives of an issue that many consider the first U.S. commemorative coin.

The Philadelphia Mint struck 1,389 1848 Coronet, CAL. $2.50 quarter eagles from around 230 ounces of newly discovered California gold that was shipped to the Philadelphia Mint. The letters CAL. were punched into the reverse field above the eagle’s head on each of these coins at the mint.

The coin is popular both with series specialists and to collectors with an interest in U.S. pioneer gold issues.

This one is graded Mint State 68 by Numismatic Guaranty Co. with an NGC star.

Stack’s Bowers praises the frosty devices, bright yellow-gold color, and nice strike, though observing some weakness in the eagle’s left leg feathers, consistent with many examples.

One of the nicest ‘Stellas’

Virtually every major auction has at least one $4 “Stella” pattern, and the Rarities Night session has one of the top-graded 1879 Flowing Hair gold $4 issues. Graded Proof 67 Star Cameo by NGC, it is one of only two to receive the star designation. The cataloger wrote, “This exceptional grade is quickly confirmed upon reviewing the coin in-hand, where pristine surfaces and intense Cameo contrast dominate the complexion,” while “lovely golden-wheat color enhances the satiny complexion.” The coin was issued as part of a proposal for a denomination that could compete in global trade with coins like France’s 20-franc coin, Italy’s 20-lira coin and Austria’s 8-florin coin. However, most were produced as delicacies to meet demand from government officials, who ultimately failed to secure legislation to authorize it as a regular issue.

Newly found 1870-CC Coronet eagle

In contrast to the first two coins described, which are flashy, the sale’s 1870-CC Coronet $10 eagle is more modest in appearance. The coveted Carson City Mint rarity, graded About Uncirculated 58 by Professional Coin Grading Service and bearing a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, is the finest-certified of the 60 to 75 that are thought to survive in all grades from a mintage of 5,908.

The coin is a new discovery in the marketplace, and Stack’s Bowers shared that it recently resurfaced from a Canadian family in Canfield, Ontario, who held it for more than a century. The catalog created a possible backstory for it: “Canfield was a recognized stop on the Underground Railroad, and it is likely the coin first crossed the border sometime in the late-19th century after the American Civil War. The family also owned and operated a grist mill in the region during the 1920s and the Great Depression, and it is possible the coin was taken as payment for flour or other staples during that time.”

With no Mint State survivors known, this one is the finest example of one of the rarest Carson City Mint coins of any denomination.

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