US Coins

Stack’s Bowers Baltimore auctions offer classics

Stack’s Bowers Galleries is set to host the official auctions of the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expo, taking place Nov. 9 to 12 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The 253-lot Rarities Night session Nov. 9 features several noteworthy consignments and will present offerings from the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation, The Alexander Collection, The Murray Hill Collection — the latter consisting of just 17 coins but containing rarities like one of the finest known 1879 $4 Stella gold patterns — and several choice selections from the estate of dealer Catherine E. Bullowa.

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Q. David Bowers, co-founder of Stack’s Bowers Galleries, wrote in a preface, “If anyone wants to define a leading lady in the profession of numismatics, the story of Cathy Bullowa would be a good place to start.” Bullowa’s Philadelphia business, Coinhunter, hosted many mail-bid sales and was active at coin shows across the country, as she maintained an active presence in numismatics nearly until her death on May 15, 2017.

Balancing the negatives and positives of a problem coin”Astute collectors find that buying a ‘problem coin’ can be a bit of a balancing act, but the rewards can be great. Also in our Nov. 6 issue, Michael Fahey offers some tips on grading Mint State Barber half dollars.


Classic Early Dollars

Among the selections from the Bullowa estate are several quality early American dollars, including a 1798 Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle silver dollar graded About Uncirculated 53 by Professional Coin Grading Service, with a gold Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker that indicates that the coin could at least easily upgrade to the next grade level. The Bowers-Borkhardt 105 variety, with a Pointed 9 in the widely spaced date, is described as potentially among the finest known of the variety, with the description observing, “Vivid peripheral toning frames lighter gold and silver centers,” and “ample satin luster evident throughout as the surfaces rotate under a light.” In characterizing the softness in detail as a striking characteristic rather than wear from circulation, the description observes, “The focal features are softly defined, typical of the variety, but the detail sharpens appreciably toward fully and uniformly denticulated borders.”

The finest early dollar in the sale comes from the Cardinal Collection, a 1797 Draped Bust silver dollar graded Mint State 64 by PCGS that is the sole Mint State survivor of the BB-72 variety. The variety is the rarest of three known die pairings of the 1797 Draped Bust dollar and has 15 obverse stars (nine to the right of Liberty and seven to the left) with small letters in the inscriptions on the reverse.

The description points out, “Both sides exhibit lovely multicolored peripheral toning that frames brilliant, frosty white centers,” adding, “The strike is near-perfectly centered with full denticulation around both sides that is particularly bold on the obverse.”

It was most recently offered at Heritage’s November 2013 sale of Part II of the Eric P. Newman Collection where — then graded MS-64 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. — it sold for $381,875. Newman acquired it in the mid-20th century for $125 as part of his acquisition of the E.H.R. Green estate.

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