US Coins

Stack’s Bowers presents a collection assembled in the 19th century

Stack’s Bowers Galleries will present the coin collection of James Allaire Millholland at its March 21 to 24 auctions as part of the official auctions of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring Expo.

Millholland was born in 1842 and “was an active participant in the industrial explosion of the 19th century in western Maryland.” He became a master mechanic and later a railroad executive.

While the exact details of his collecting are lost to history, he appears to have actively collected from the 1860s until approximately 1894, 17 years before his death in 1911. Millholland kept a pocket-sized personal ledger where he recorded his holdings, focused on dates and major varieties, with Mint marks being of secondary interest, as his collection-building years largely pre-dated broad interest in Mint mark collecting.

The roughly 550 coins in the collection have been off the market for more than a century and many have especially gorgeous toning. A promotional brochure reads, “This holding takes the slang numismatic term ‘fresh’ to an entirely different level,” observing, “A truly wonderful aspect of the collection is the cabinet in which it was stored.” The catalogers said they were “stunned when we opened the custom cabinet and began to carefully examine each tray of coins, finding row upon row of gorgeously toned gems.”

The collector favored Proof coins, and three quintessential coins from his collection form a run of Seated Liberty dollars.

The first of the trio is an 1865 Seated Liberty dollar graded Proof 66+ by Professional Coin Grading Service and carrying a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. The distinctive color is the result of long-term storage in its coin cabinet with the obverse side up and is described as follows: “A rich mottling of olive-russet and pewter-gray is seen on the obverse, while the reverse has a target-like distribution to steel-blue, sandy-russet and silver-gray patina. The surfaces are highly reflective and reveal a veritable explosion of vivid blue, pink and gold undertones.”

The popular Civil War issue is from a relatively modest mintage of 500 and features die doubling on both the obverse and reverse. Doubling can be seen along the lower edge of Liberty’s gown and at the top of the letters UNI in UNITED.

Beautiful Proof dollars

The collection includes exceptional examples of the next two years of production, with the 1866 Seated Liberty dollar including the newly added motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse above the eagle. Graded Proof 66 Cameo by PCGS, it carries a green CAC sticker, and beyond its rich color, the frosty, razor sharp design elements are set against a backdrop of deep reflectivity in the fields.

The 1867 Seated Liberty dollar is also a visual delight, with toning highlighting details impressed by a razor-sharp strike, graded Proof 65+ Cameo by PCGS. Like many coins in the collection, it has a green CAC sticker.

Indeed, the catalogers are right to point out that beyond the Registry Set worthy Proof coins, “the collection includes denominations stretching from half cents through silver dollars, and includes many coins of entry level value, popular key dates, and plenty of circulation strike issues to go along with the Proofs.”

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