US Coins

Gold error and Colonial issue included in Heritage sale

One of the most dramatic errors known on a U.S. gold coin is a highlight of Heritage’s Aug. 15 to 20 auctions held after the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money.

The 1904 Coronet $20 double eagle struck 15% off center ranks number 7 in Whitman’s 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins, where the authors relate that it was discovered in Geneva, Switzerland, and surfaced at the 1990 ANA convention. Mike Byers also included it in his book World’s Greatest Mint Errors where he called it “the farthest off-center error known for a United States gold coin” and provided a value of $250,000 in the 2009 book.

Coins struck off-center are popular because they can be visually dramatic, and the error type itself is easy to understand. Byers explains, “This type of error is created when a planchet is improperly fed into the press and is not seated perfectly in the collar.” The result is that when the dies strike the planchet, only the part that is between the dies receives the design.

Heritage observes, “The off-center strike affects S OF AMER, with the tops of those letters off the planchet. The reverse peripheral legend exhibits the bifurcation toward the rim typical of an off-center error, since no collar die is present to restrain metal flow toward the border.”

The coin in the auction is graded Mint State 63 by Professional Coin Grading Service.

It was previously offered at Heritage’s April 2014 Central States Numismatic Society convention where it brought $79,313.01.

Early Massachusetts issue

Various collections consigned under the name James E. Blake have populated Heritage’s auctions for the past few years, and the upcoming sales present a group of U.S. Colonial coins from the consignor. An undated 1652 New England shilling graded Extremely Fine 40 by PCGS with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker was discovered in 2012, selling for $352,500 the next year at auction.

The issues are considered the first coins struck in the English colonies in the New World, and the offered example is listed as Salmon 3-C in Christopher J. Salmon’s book The Silver Coins of Massachusetts. Heritage records 69 (1652) New England shillings in all grades, including 11 of the offered variety. The offered representative sits in the middle of the condition census and more recently sold at Heritage’s August 2019 offering of the Poulos Family Collection, where it realized a more modest $120,000.

Heritage’s catalogers noted, “The coin exhibits a blend of light silver-gray, antique gray, and steel on both sides, on a well-formed and nearly round planchet.” Both NE punches are bold, though the cartouche outlines are weak in places. The cataloger adds, “This piece, like perhaps all NE coins, is slightly wavy with a few small dents and microscopic hairlines.”

A quick return to auction

Some coins return to auction extremely fast, as seen with an 1854-S Coronet $2.50 quarter eagle graded Very Fine 30 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. that realized $288,000 at Heritage’s July 2022 Long Beach Expo auction, and then $252,000 when re-offered at Heritage’s January 2023 Florida United Numismatists auction.

The issue’s mintage at the San Francisco Mint in its first year of operations is legendarily modest at just 246 coins struck, of which Heritage’s roster shows a dozen known in all grades. The low production slipped under the radar of collectors at a time when collecting coins by Mint mark was not yet in vogue, and few were saved.

The finest known are two graded About Uncirculated 50, and Heritage ranks the subject offering as the seventh-finest, noting, “The overall presentation is quite attractive,” while, “A few traces of original mint luster remain intact in sheltered areas.”

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