US Coins

Kagin's Auctions sale features Proof 1860 half eagle

One of nine documented surviving examples of the Proof 1860 Coronet gold $5 half eagle will return to the auction block after nearly 20 years off the market.

The example that once was part of the famous Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection is graded Proof 65+ Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service. The coin highlights the Kagin’s Auctions offerings in a sale to be held Sept. 15 in conjunction with the CoinExpo Santa Clara, Sept. 15 to 17, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California.

Numismatic experts consider the Proof 1860 half eagle — of which only 62 are reported to have been produced at the Philadelphia Mint — to be the second rarest Proof half eagle struck at that Mint after regular production of gold Proof coins began in 1858.

The auction catalog documents a detailed census of the issue’s remaining examples, tracing the six coins held by private collectors and the three pieces in institutional collections. 

Bass pedigree

The former Bass half eagle was last publicly sold in Auctions by Bowers and Merena’s Nov. 1, 2000, sale where the coin, then graded and encapsulated PCGS Proof 65, realized $57,500. Coin World’s Coin Values currently values the coin at $120,000 in PCGS Proof 65.

Previous to the 2000 sale, the former Bass coin appeared in the May 23 and 24, 1974, sale by Stack’s of the collection of Theodore Ullmer, where it was cataloged as “Gem Proof.”

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The former Bass coin is one of only two examples of the Proof 1860 Coronet half eagle graded by PCGS, the other being a Proof 64 example.

The roster of known examples in private hands includes:

??the Ten Eyck/Clapp/Eliasberg/Trompeter coin, graded Proof 65 Cameo by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

??the Garrett/Slotkin specimen, graded NGC Proof 64 Ultra Cameo.

??the Farouk/Norweb piece, cataloged as Proof 63 in the Norweb sale Oct. 12 and 13, 1987, by Auctions by Bowers and Merena Inc. 

??the Oliver/Lake Highlands coin, graded NGC Proof 64 Ultra Cameo.

??the Amon G. Carter Jr. Family Collection specimen, cataloged as “Brilliant Proof, hairlines” in the Carter sale conducted Jan. 18 through 21, 1984, by Stack’s.

The National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History holds the U.S. Mint Cabinet example of the piece. It became part of the national collection in the 1920s.

The Josiah K. Lilly example also became part of the National Numismatic Collection in 1968 as part of a multimillion-dollar tax write-off requiring congressional legislation before the Lilly collection of gold coins could be accepted.

The American Numismatic Society’s example was a part of the J.P. Morgan Collection, first donated to the American Museum of Natural History, then transferred to the ANS in 1908.

The Sept. 15 auction also features SS Central America gold ingots; a complete variety set of nine Augustus Humbert octagonal $50 gold “slugs”  by Kagin variety as attributed in Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States by Donald H. Kagin; hobo nickels; and other U.S. coins and Americana. 

For an auction catalog, email, or call 888-852-4467. 

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