US Coins

Indian Head 5-cent varieties appear at Las Vegas sale

Legend Rare Coin Auctions’ Regency Auction XXV is set for Jan. 25 at the Luxor Las Vegas in conjunction with the Professional Coin Grading Service Members Only show. Among the auction highlights are two key Indian Head 5-cent coins that are considered to be among the most noteworthy varieties in 20th century American numismatics.

Legend describes a 1918/7-D Indian Head 5-cent coin graded PCGS MS-65+ with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker as “The ULTIMATE Buffalo nickel available to collectors!” Combining a bold strike with clean surfaces, Legend observes, “A glowing satin frost brings out the vivid gold, peach, and lilac iridescent toning that is lightly dusted over the surfaces.”

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Though struck at the Denver Mint, the variety is a result of work at the Philadelphia Mint when a working die was hubbed with two different dates: 1917 and 1918.

The erroneous obverse die seems to have enjoyed a normal production life, since surviving 1918/7-D examples show various stages of die wear. Despite the error being obvious to the unaided eye, it was not widely known until 1930 and as a result, few examples were saved at the time of issue, making examples in all grades scarce and those in Mint State rare. The offered representative is counted among the very finest known, topped at PCGS by only a single MS-66 example. The coin carries an estimate of $350,000 to $400,000.

1916 Doubled Die Obverse variety

Another legendary mistake in the series is the 1916 Indian Head, Doubled Die Obverse 5-cent coin. Legend will offer one graded PCGS MS-64 with a green CAC sticker. Q. David Bowers writes in his Guide Book of Buffalo and Jefferson Nickels that the variety, with doubling especially prominent on the date, was not published until 1962 and did not achieve widespread fame until the 1970s. Few Mint State examples are known and Legend estimates that around 200 survive in all grades, with most being well-circulated.

The coin in the auction is tied with three others graded MS-64 as the finest graded at PCGS. Legend writes, “The clean, smooth surfaces have a moderate satin frost that really shows off the delicate original lavender, olive, tan, gold, and powder blue patina.”

It is estimated to sell for $230,000 to $250,000, and the auctioneer is optimistic about its potential, writing, “This coin will certainly sell for a strong price, perhaps even breaking a record in the process.”

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