US Coins

9 classic coins that headlined Rarities Night sale

Classic collector coins dominated the Aug. 11 Rarities Night auction by Stack’s Bowers Galleries held during the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Anaheim, Calif. 

Here's a quick rundown of nine classic coins that brought large figures. 

A 1918/7-D Indian Head 5-cent piece graded Mint State 64+ by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker indicating quality within the grade sold for $111,625. The overdate coin (actually, a doubled die obverse variety) was notable for its beautiful toning, with the auctioneer observing, “Were it not for the tiniest spot on the Native American’s neck, which upon inspection appears to be associated with the most minor planchet flaw in that area, this coin would undoubtedly have received a full Gem rating from PCGS.”

The overdate — while obvious to collectors today — was not recognized by collectors until 1931, and as a result, it is rare in higher Mint State grades since few were saved at the time of issue. 

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A 1798/7 Capped Bust gold $10 eagle with the seven-by-six obverse stars configuration graded About Uncirculated 58 by PCGS sold for $352,500. Classified as BD-2 in John Dannreuther and Harry Bass Jr.’s reference Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, it is the second of two die marriages for the year that employ two distinct overdate obverse dies with the same reverse die. The seven-by-six star pattern refers to the seven stars at the left of the obverse and six stars to the right of the obverse. Though it is often reported that there were 842 1798/7 Capped Bust, Seven-by-Six eagles struck, Dannreuther suggests that many of these may be actually 1797-dated coins, with a mintage of 300 pieces for the subject coin perhaps more likely. Of these, only 20 to 30 are known to collectors today. 

The coin in the auction had a provenance tracing back to the 19th century and was most prominently in the collection of Louis E. Eliasberg Sr.

RELATED: Heritage had an ANA sale, too! Read about their top lots

Another coin formerly in the Eliasberg Collection, an 1898 Coronet gold $10 eagle graded Proof 66 Deep Cameo by PCGS with a green CAC sticker, brought $111,625 in the auction. Its companion in the Eliasberg Collection, an 1898 Coronet gold $20 double eagle grading Proof 65+ Deep Cameo by PCGS with a green CAC sticker, brought $258,500 on Aug. 11. On the double eagle the cataloger noted, “The fields are highly reflective with the rippled ‘orange peel’ texture that advanced Proof gold collectors find so appealing.”

Other highlights included an 1879 Flowing Hair Stella gold $4 pattern graded Proof 63 that sold for $146,875. 

A 1908 Indian Head gold $5 half eagle from the Bull Run Collection graded Proof 66 by PCGS sold for $88,125. The Sandblast Matte Proof finish of the coin was a departure from the Brilliant Proofs used on the Coronet series, and as the description notes, “The texture is of the sand blast type that is delicate and easily marred; this finish readily reveals ‘shiny spots’ on lower quality coins.” This example lacked those spots and was among the finest known from this first year of Bela Lyon Pratt’s new and innovative sunken design. 

Following a pattern observed with increasing frequency in today’s auctions, several coins returned to auction very quickly, including a 1795 Flowing Hair, Two Leaves half dollar, Overton 116, that sold for $129,250. It bested the $123,375 it brought last year at the firm’s July 2015 auction of the Douglas C. Kaselitz Collection. 

Despite the successes, some expensive lots did not meet the reserves set by the consignors, including two rare 1792 pattern coins. A Judd 1 1792 pattern Silver Center cent graded Very Fine 30 by NGC was reserved at $260,000 but failed to sell. It had last sold at Heritage’s August 2012 Philadelphia auction where it sold for $305,500. 

A Judd 10 1792 Flowing Hair disme pattern graded PCGS VF-25 and described as a “wholesome example of this important early American type,” went unsold at an unmet reserve of $150,000. 

Another overdate from 1918 — this one a 1918/7-S Standing Liberty quarter dollar graded PCGS MS-64 full head by PCGS — did not meet its reserve of $110,000.

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