US Coins

New discoveries offered at next Ira & Larry Goldberg auction

A recently certified 1857-O Coronet gold $20 double eagle graded Mint State 61 Prooflike by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker carries the top estimate at Ira & Larry Goldberg’s Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 auction, at $250,000. 

One of only 30,000 examples struck, all from the same pair of dies, the cataloger suggests it should carry a higher grade, advising potential bidders, “Notice how clean and fresh the surfaces are, with classic random reddish specks seen on other untouched, uncleaned New Orleans gold coins from this era.”

While the mirrored fields are indicative of an early strike from the die pair, “Another feature that confirms this was an early strike is a trace of repunching below the lower right serif of the 1. This is not seen on most examples of this singular die pairing, and would have been worn or polished off the obverse die soon after coinage began,” the Goldbergs observe.

It was a recent discovery, emerging from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and recently graded by PCGS. “How it came to pass eight generations there remains somewhat of a mystery, but this elegant 1857-O $20 likely came over with a passenger of some means from New Orleans at the time it was struck and preserved as a family heirloom,” the catalog states. The description distinguishes the subject offering from other contemporary New Orleans double eagles recently recovered from shipwrecks like the SS Republic, noting, “The other Prooflike coins certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. are quite bright and now lack whatever their original patina was in the chemical processing to prepare them for grading,” while praising the “amazing patches of reddish orange tone and only the tiniest of handling marks” on the offered double eagle.

Exciting 1799/8 Draped Bust cent find

Another new discovery — the catalog states it was discovered by Henry T. Hettger — is a previously unrecorded 1799/8 Draped Bust cent graded Very Good 8 by PCGS, representing the rare variety cataloged as “noncollectible,” NC-1 in Sheldon’s reference to early large cents. Despite the extensive circulation, it features smooth, glossy medium chocolate brown surfaces with traces of dirt in some of the protected areas, mostly around the wreath on the reverse that speak to its originality. The cataloger adds, “The bottom edge of the date is weak but visible while the upper two-thirds of the date is strong. The legends are complete except for the usual weakness at ES-OF at the top of the reverse,” and observes that it lacks the surface problems and lack of eye appeal often seen on examples of the variety.

It is among the finest of fewer than 10 known; using the conservative grading standards favored by Early American Coppers, the Goldbergs grade it as Very Good 7.

Due to its rarity, the most relevant recent auction comparable is an NGC About Good 3 example that brought $18,800 at a January 2014 Heritage auction. The offered coin has an estimate of $15,000 and up at the Los Angeles auction.

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