US Coins

Market Analysis: Gold from Heritage Bass Foundation sale

Off the market for 35 years, this Proof 65 Cameo 1821 Capped Head gold half eagle led bidding at Heritage’s September 29 Part I offering of the Bass Collection, bringing $4,620,000. It last sold in 1987 for $198,000 and carries a green CAC sticker.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Heritage’s first offering of the Harry W. Bass Jr. Core Collection realized nearly $20.5 million on Sept. 29. The proceeds will benefit Dallas-area nonprofits supported by the Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation.

Leading bidding in the 106-lot offering was an 1821 Capped Head gold $5 half eagle graded Proof 65 Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service, with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, that realized $4.62 million. It is one of just two Proof examples known, with the other residing in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Bass acquired it at Bowers and Merena’s 1987 offering of the Norweb Collection, Part I, where it realized $198,000. There it was described as “one of the foremost rarities in the present catalogue, a coin which, if not purchased in this sale, may forever elude the grasp of unsuccessful bidders,” and many thought it would be off the market for another generation.

While exact circumstances of its 19th century striking remain unknown, Heritage praised its eye appeal, writing, “Razor-sharp definition is evident on all design elements of this delightful Gem proof, with full radials on all the stars and intricate detail on Liberty’s hair and the eagle’s feathers. The well-preserved orange-gold surfaces include deeply reflective fields that contrast boldly with the frosty devices to create a dramatic cameo effect,” before adding, “A tiny planchet flaw between stars 11 and 12 serves as a pedigree marker.”

An 1804 Capped Bust, Plain 4 gold $10 eagle graded Proof 63 by PCGS was another pricey rarity in the sale, realizing $2.28 million. Of the four documented Proof strikes struck at the Philadelphia Mint, just three survive of these eagles produced alongside 1804 Draped Bust dollars for inclusion in diplomatic Proof sets.

Other standouts include an 1860 Coronet gold $20 double eagle in PCGS Proof 65+ Cameo and an 1854 Coronet gold dollar in PCGS Proof 65 Deep Cameo, both with green CAC stickers, that realized $1.2 million and $720,000 respectively.

The session included some magnificent pattern coins including the most budget-friendly issue in the session — an 1868 pattern 10-cent piece listed as Judd 657 in the pattern reference that uses the obverse design of the Coronet cents. Graded Proof 55 by PCGS it sold $2,640 and is one of perhaps two dozen known from an unknown mintage.

The next installment of the Bass Collection will be offered in Heritage’s Jan. 4 to 9 Florida United Numismatists auctions.

The collection was previously on long-term loan to the American Numismatic Association’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

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