US Coins

Seated Liberty dime rarity in Heritage January sale

A unique 1873-CC Seated Liberty, No Arrows dime, called “The King of Carson City Coins,” will be a highlight at Heritage’s January 2023 FUN auctions. A die crack is seen through the Mint mark.

Images courtesy of PCGS Coin Facts.

A unique 1873-CC Seated Liberty, No Arrows dime graded Mint State 65 by Professional Coin Grading Service will join an already-announced unique 1870-S Seated Liberty half dime in Heritage’s Jan. 11 to 16 Florida United Numismatists auctions in January 2023.

The coveted Carson City Mint issue was offered a decade ago at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’s Aug. 7, 2012, Philadelphia American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money from the Battle Born Collection where it realized $1.88 million. In that offering it was described as “fully lustrous, satin to softly frosted surfaces are further adorned with delicate reddish-gold and powder-blue highlights in isolated peripheral areas,” with cataloger Jeff Ambio praising its razor-sharp strike.

It is now offered as part of the Prestwick Collection, Part II.

Heritage points out that it is rarer than better-known issues like the 1894-S Barber dime or the 1913 Liberty 5-cent coin.

Rusty Goe calls it the “King of Carson City Coins” in his recently published first volume of The Confident Carson City Coin Collector, writing, “Something stoked the smoldering coals of discontent amid the employee ranks at the Carson City Mint during the transition period in spring 1873 when the U.S. government replaced Without Arrows coins with ones barring arrowheads on either side of their dates.” Goe wrote that the lone 1873-CC Seated Liberty, No Arrows dime is the solitary existing example of a lone day’s production run “at an isolated mint in a small village in a sparsely populated region of a state destined to become more famous for gambling than for anything else …”

It survived from a production of 12,400 1873-CC Seated Liberty, No Arrows dimes delivered on March 3, 1873, struck from the same pair of dies. The reverse diagnostic seen in the Mint mark as a slightly curved, diagonal die crack line starting in the field to the left of the first C, running through the center and extending through the center of the right C before branching to the wreath on the reverse.

Some researchers believe the sole survivor was from the five-piece group sent to the Assay Commission, though its production was also accompanied by turnover in the staff at the Carson City Mint at the time. The first appearance of the issue was during a May 1878 auction where it was included among dimes, described as “1873 Old style. C. C. Mint. Fine impression,” with “Old Style” distinguishing it from the new “Arrows” obverse. The term “Fine” relates to a handsome overall impression, not necessarily related to the idea of a Fine 12 or Fine 15 grade coin with significant wear that collectors might use today.

Last coin to completion

Perhaps the most famous prior owner is Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., who acquired this coin on Nov. 7, 1950. The purchase completed “The Eliasberg Collection,” which is considered the most complete collection of U.S. coins ever assembled, and it sold for $550,000 at Bowers and Merena’s May 1996 offering with selections from the Eliasberg holdings. Adding to its allure is that it is the only Carson City Mint coin of any denomination that is unique.

Goe questioned in his book if another could exist reporting on several false alarms at grading services that included a second example by error in population reports and that the offered coin was at one time graded Mint State 64 by Numismatic Guaranty Co., further causing confusion. The author also lamented that one dealer did not bid on it in 2012, saying that the dime is not “ ‘sexy enough’ insofar as its physical appearance is concerned,” though Carson City Mint specialists and those who appreciate rarities might disagree.

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