US Coins

San Francisco Mint rarities await bids in Los Angeles sale

Two key dates from the San Francisco Mint are among the prizes at Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers June 13 to 16 auction in Los Angeles.

An 1896-S Barber quarter dollar graded Mint State 64 by Professional Coin Grading Service is one of the finer survivors from a low mintage of just 188,039.

Both sides of the offered quarter are frosty, “with copious amounts of luster and generous eye appeal,” according to the cataloger.

Along with the 1901-S and 1913-S issues, it is one of the “Big Three” key dates in the Barber quarter dollar series. Considering a PCGS MS-65 example brought $40,800 at a Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction last year, the subject lot seems to offer a solid value with an estimate of $17,000.

The description praises its eye appeal, writing, “Close examination of the obverse finds very few signs of handling on this near gem quarter, matching the reverse too where no noteworthy marks are present. Thus the eye appeal and quality remain high and this sparkling jewel will undoubtedly be the highlight of an advanced collection of Barber Quarters!”

Another San Francisco Mint stunner is a 1921-S Walking Liberty half dollar graded MS-65 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. that carries an estimate of $70,000.

The Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints all struck 1921 Walking Liberty half dollars and of the three, the 1921-S coin is considered the key date, though others are rarer in certain grades. Few were saved at the time of issue.

In top grades, the 1921-S Walking Liberty half dollar becomes the rarest and priciest date in the series, with only the 1919-D coin competing with it at the top of the price guides in the finest grades.

Both PCGS and NGC have graded few 1921-S half dollars finer than MS-65.

This one is described as “a virtually white coin, with glittering and resplendent luster, and just a hint of light tone on both sides,” with the cataloger celebrating the sharper than usual strike, “with Liberty’s thumb well outlined and clear to the unaided eye.”

The cataloger adds, “Handling marks are diminutive, of course none are worthy of note, as expected for the gem level grade — particularly on this key condition rarity. As such, this is one of the finest certified, and most sought after issues of this glorious series.”

In terms of recent market comparables, Stack’s Bowers Galleries sold a similarly graded example with a bit more toning from the Larry H. Miller Collection in November 2020 for $78,000.

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