US Coins

Small denominations big attraction at Regency Auction 55

Legend’s Regency Auction 55 on Oct. 20 has some very high-quality, lower denomination coins among its highlights, including a group of choice Shield 2-cent coins.

Among them is an example of the final year of the short-lived series that started in 1864. Two distinct types of dates were used in 1873 — an open 3 and a closed 3. An 1873 Shield, Open 3 2-cent coin graded Proof 66+ red by Professional Coin Grading Service and bearing a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker in the auction is the finest graded at PCGS with full red color.

Scholars including Walter Breen used to characterize the Open 3 coins as “originals” and the Closed 3 coins as “restrikes,” though the presence of restrikes made with the Open 3 date type have dispelled this clear dichotomy.

The example in the auction was previously offered at Heritage’s Jan. 20, 2021, sale of the Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part III, where it sold for $23,400. At Legend’s upcoming sale at its New Jersey headquarters, it hopes to improve on that with an estimate of $30,000 to $35,000.

Like the 1873 Shield 2-cent coins, two prominent types of the final digit were used on 1865 2-cent coins and Legend offers high-grade representatives of both types.

An 1865 Shield, Plain 5 2-cent coin graded PCGS Mint State 67 red carries a high estimate of $25,000 and is the single finest of this type at PCGS. Legend writes, “WOW!” before praising the cartwheel effect and the glowing, fiery red color, along with the bold strike.

Presented in the following lot is an 1865 Shield, Fancy 5 2-cent piece also graded MS-67 red by PCGS, which has a top estimate of $28,000. The “Fancy 5” variety is distinguished by a flip to the point of the 5, where the digit is flat for the first half and then dips, followed by a sharp upward curve. The top edge of the 5 appears generally flat on the “Plain 5” variety.

Two top Liberty 5¢ coins

The Liberty Head 5-cent coin was issued from 1883 to 1912, with five struck dated 1913 that were not intended for circulation.

A particularly high-grade example of the type is seen in the auction: a 1909 Liberty Head 5-cent coin graded Proof 68 Cameo by PCGS and bearing a green CAC sticker that has an estimate of $22,000 to $25,000.

Legend calls it “a truly WILD beast of a SUPERB GEM Proof. The mirrors are the ultimate in clarity, and FLAWLESS surfaces offer deep and super flashy reflection,” adding, “You can use a strong glass and look forever and find NO flaws. When you twirl the coin the mirrors look like a freshly made sheet of glass. The contrast is bold. Ms. Liberty and the details are pinpoint sharp and have thick creamy white frost. It has unforgettable quality and the eye appeal is jaw dropping!”

Also benefiting from a fully bold strike, it is bested by two finer with a plus designation at PCGS, but from an aesthetic viewpoint, the offered example is nearly unimprovable.

Since Proof coins are made for collectors and not intended for circulation, well-struck and beautifully preserved circulation strike issues are visually less flashy, but often rarer. A 1902 Liberty Head 5-cent coin graded PCGS MS-67 and with a green CAC sticker has a top estimate of $7,000 and is characterized by exceptional luster.

Even among examples of the type in this very high grade, Legend positions this one among the top 5% of those in the grade, challenging potential bidders. An absence of marks, satiny luster and a bold strike — rather unusual on this type struck in nickel, an unforgiving, hard metal — prompted a description from Legend’s cataloger that may have  bidders reaching for their sunglasses:

“A total luster bomb! We marvel how this coin has survived 120 years in the highest state of preservation possible!”

Legend adds: “If you think we are exaggerating the coin’s quality-just come to lot viewing and see it for yourself! This is a very REAL and PERFECT specimen. Both sides are satiny and have NO marks anywhere or any size. A monster full booming luster nearly blinds you. This is a totally ORIGINAL GEM and not a dipped coin. Miss Liberty and the details are exceptionally struck and stand out boldly. The eye appeal is PHENOMENAL and then some!”

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