US Coins

Recapping the diversity at Heritage’s 2017 FUN sale

Heritage’s 2017 Florida United Numismatists convention auctions realized more than $42 million across more than 8,000 lots in its U.S. coin sessions held Jan. 4 to 9 in conjunction with the Fort Lauderdale show. While previously I discussed some of the top prices — as well as a few pricey lots that didn’t sell — in Coin World, the FUN auctions are noteworthy for their depth and the sheer volume of coins offered.

Within these thousands of lots are many coins with great stories, including a few very unusual pieces.

The single piece in Heritage’s 2017 FUN auctions that command­ed the most attention was a pattern 1942 experimental glass cent graded Proof 64 by Profes­sional Coin Grading Service that sold for $70,500. Heritage expected the pattern to bring $30,000.

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The glass cent represented an experimental composition used during World War II as the Mint searched for copper substitutes. The pattern was manufactured by the Blue Ridge Glass Company of Kingsport, Tenn., from tempered, yellow-amber transparent glass blanks produced by Corning Glass Co. The disc was made using compression molding and all pieces were manually smoothed on the edge.

Heritage wrote, “Blue Ridge had considerable difficulty making glass 1942 sample coins. For impressing a design into glass, both glass and the dies had to be very hot — just below glass melting temperature — then the glass had to cool quickly to preserve design detail. But Blue Ridge was not able to heat the die, and the resulting experimental cents were softly detailed and had many minute surface imperfections.”

Glass proved impractical for circulating coinage, and the other known example also listed as Judd 2069 — in the most recent edition of United States Pattern Coins by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers — is broken in half.

After the auction Mark Borckardt, senior numismatist at Heritage said, “Collectors love to own unusual specimens, and although glass failed as a substitute for U.S. coinage, this piece represents a unique artifact of the ingenuity and determination of U.S. Mint officials and private industry.”

Though not one of the most expensive offerings, a Judd 1293 1873 silver pattern for the Trade dollar that sold for $9,400 was one of the most beautiful; it was graded Proof 64 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and bears a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. It was formerly owned by The Harry Bass Jr. Research Foundation and was exhibited as part of a long-term loan to the American Numismatic Association Money Museum. When offered at Heritage’s 2014 sale of selections from the Bass Foundation’s collection, it sold for $17,640.28.

The design is similar to the adopted design used on the Trade dollar but with small variations, including Liberty’s hand resting on a globe and a different eagle in use on the reverse. Golden color at the rims, pale blue centers, and some magenta on the reverse make this pattern a visual treat.

An oddity among the patterns was not a coin at all, but rather a modern brass embossing die featuring William Barber’s Amazonian design used on various patterns in 1872. The brass die was likely used to foil emboss the June 1977 Superior Stamp and Coin Co. Inc. auction catalog cover for The Dr. Walter Lee Couch Collection. The unusual display piece sold for $881.25.

More 2017 FUN Auction Coverage:

1909 cent and 1916 dimeFUN 2017: The two classic-date coins that brought the same exact price: The breadth of Heritage’s FUN auctions meant that collectors had a wide-range of choices if they were looking for a key date to add to their sets.

1921 Morgan dollar error coin'FUN 2017: Wow-level errors sold include Morgan dollar struck off center: Other major errors included a double-take-worthy 1958 Washington quarter and a value-heightened 2014 American Eagle gold bullion coin.

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