US Coins

How many more are just waiting to be found?

At Heritage’s Feb. 22 Premier Session as part of its Long Beach Expo auctions, a humble looking 1817/4 Capped Bust half dollar graded Good 6 by Professional Coin Grading Service sold for a staggering $96,000. The clear overdate, with the 4 visible under the 7 in the date, is listed as Overton 102 in the series reference. 

Defining symbols and figures on paper moneyDefining symbols and figures on paper money. Allegorical figures on obsolete notes were often identified by their accessories. Also in this issue, we take a look at a few of the dozens of abbreviations in numismatics.

The variety was first published in The Numismatist in 1930 and examples still are discovered as interest (and prices) grow. The obverse die might have broken when the 7 was cut over the 4, which had been partially effaced by someone at the Philadelphia Mint. This could have weakened the die, causing premature failure, which could help explain the rarity.

The discovery of the offered coin was published in the Dec. 17, 2007, issue of Coin World, where Paul Gilkes reported that a Colorado woman received the coin from her father’s collection, which was an otherwise seemingly typical group of silver dollars and foreign coins that he received during military service in World War II. 

She took the group to a local dealer and was offered around $100. Thinking that the offer might be a bit low, she researched the coins and visited the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she was directed to Independent Coin Grading, then located in a Denver suburb. ICG authenticated this piece as the ninth known example and graded it Very Good 8, Obverse Scratch. It would sell at Heritage’s July 2008 ANA auction for $87,499 to the present consignor who then submitted it to PCGS. PCGS graded it Good 6, effectively providing a net grade that considered the prominent scratch that extends from the clasp to the left of the date. 

A tenth piece surfaced in 2012 that was graded Very Good 8 by PCGS and sold for $140,000 soon after. The most recent find had been listed by a dealer as an example of the more common O-103 variety, and was purchased by a buyer who suspected it might be “something else,” according to the lot description in Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ August 2014 ANA sale. That coin, graded PCGS Very Fine Details, Tooled, went unsold. 

Do others await discovery, one wonders?

In the Feb. 22 auction, a PCGS Very Fine 35 1794 Flowing Hair dollar provided solid evidence that problem-free rare coins of long-established rarity and desirability continue to be in hot demand from collectors, when it brought $303,000. The price was an improvement on the $207,000 it realized when offered at Heritage’s 2007 Florida United Numismatists auction, then-graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Of course, looking at the $150 that it sold for at Thomas Elder’s September 1910 auction puts everything in perspective. 

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