US Coins

Heritage auctions lightly worn keys in October sale

Circulated rarities from the first years of the Philadelphia Mint are among the highlights in Heritage’s upcoming U.S. coins auction set for Oct. 3 to 5 in Dallas. 

A 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar from the Walter Freeman Collection graded Very Fine 25 by Professional Coin Grading Service has a unique tie to Heritage, in that Heritage co-founder Steve Ivy included it in his first public auction. It sold as part of Steve Ivy Numismatic Auctions’ August 1976 Gateway Sale and had traded hands the year before at Stack’s February 1975 offering of coins from the collection of the Essex Institute in Salem, Mass. The institute merged with the Peabody Museum of Salem in 1992 to form the Peabody Essex Museum, which does not actively collect coins. 

Flowing Hair dollar

Flowing Hair dollar: The Flowing Hair dollar was struck dated 1794 and 1795 only. The coins were the first precious metal coins struck within the walls of the new Philadelphia Mint. It's also the heaviest U.S. silver coin struck for circulation. How much are Flowing Hair dollars worth?

Heritage observes, “This piece exhibits the usual strike that shows weakness at the lower left obverse and corresponding reverse,” and notes that it is the usual middle die state referred to as State III in the recent publication The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794. All 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollars came from a single pair of dies and most show some type of weak strike. 

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The coin is cleaner than many examples in comparable grades, and Heritage further notes an absence of major planchet adjustment marks and handsome steel and pewter-gray surfaces. It is one of perhaps 150 or so examples known today from the 1,758 dollars delivered from the first year of silver dollar production at the Philadelphia Mint (actual mintage was a bit higher, but not all of the pieces struck were deemed acceptable).

Another important early coin from the Freeman Collection is a 1796 Capped Bust, No Stars gold $2.50 quarter eagle graded Extremely Fine 45 by PCGS. 1796 marked the first year the U.S. Mint struck gold quarter eagles, and the mint’s overall production in 1796 was its most diverse yet, consisting of copper half cents and cents; silver half dimes, dimes, quarter dollars, half dollars and dollars; and gold quarter eagles, $5 half eagles and impressive $10 eagles. 

Capped Bust quarter eagle

Capped Bust quarter eagle: The early quarter eagles, dated from 1796 to 1834, do not make frequent appearances on the market. For some dates, appearances on the market may be several years apart. How much are Capped Bust quarter eagles worth?

Like the quarter dollar also struck for the first time in 1796, the gold half eagle denomination would not be struck again until 1804. The quarter eagle’s obverse design would change dramatically to the Draped Bust design in 1804, making the 1796 quarter eagle a coveted one-year type for collectors. Heritage describes the offered coin’s specifics as follows: “The pleasing antique-gold surfaces show the expected number of minor abrasions, but the surface features that stand out the most are a couple of lint marks, one in the lower right obverse field and the other near the L in LIBERTY. There is also a distinctive planchet flaw beneath the 9 in the date.” 

Heritage had previously sold Freeman’s collection of silver 3-cent pieces at the January 2013 Florida United Numismatists auction. 

19th century gold coins for sale

Among the 19th century coins of note in the Dallas auction are two gold pieces from the 1870s. An 1871-CC Coronet gold double eagle graded About Uncirculated 55 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. is an always-popular example of the largest denomination struck at the Carson City Mint. The 1871-CC double eagle is exceptionally rare in Mint State and of the mintage of 17,387 coins, fewer than 250 are believed to survive today. 

Coronet double eagle

Coronet 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?

Another coveted piece that is always-popular is a gold 1879 Flowing Hair Stella $4 pattern, listed as Judd 1635 in the reference to the series. The Flowing Hair motif and an alternative, Coiled Hair, design were used on patterns in 1879 and 1880 as prototypes for an international gold coin to compete with Austria’s 8-florin coin. The international appeal was limited and the coin was not struck for circulation, but it had a larger-than-usual production for a pattern and is often collected alongside regular issue gold coins. 

The offered example was likely a pocket piece — after all, a $4 coin would not circulate in a traditional sense — and as such it has even wear on both sides. With most examples of this issue in circulated grades showing issues like cleaning, polishing, and repairs from prior use in jewelry, a problem-free $4 Stella in a lightly circulated grade is a rarity. 

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