US Coins

Why this coin auction catalog sold for nearly $3,000

A key Thomas Elder 1911 auction catalog of the Woodin Collection, right, housed in a later leather clamshell box, left, sold for $2,937.50 at Kolbe and Fanning’s Oct. 21 live online auction.

Images courtesy of Kolbe and Fanning Numismatic Booksellers.

Collectors continue to seek out the rarest examples of numismatic literature to help build their libraries and add depth to their collections. Kolbe and Fanning Numismatic Booksellers held its most recent auction of important numismatic literature on Oct. 21 to 22.

The top lot, an 1884 German auction catalog featuring the first known photograph of the Dexter 1804 Draped Bust dollar, sold for $4,700. Other auction catalogs featured heavily among the top lots, as collectors value owning physical records of rare sales. 

Here is one of three notable lots we're focusing on in this week's Market Analysis:

The Lot:

Thomas L. Elder’s March 1911 auction catalog of the William Woodin Collection

The Price:


The Story:

In the early 20th century, coin auction catalogs with photographic plates were expensive to produce. This key March 2 to 4, 1911, catalog by Thomas L. Elder of the auction of New York City collector William H. Woodin’s collection was described by Kolbe and Fanning as “extremely rare, with the remarkable photographic plates painstakingly executed by the multitalented Edgar Adams, one of the most prolific American numismatic researchers and photographers of the early twentieth century.”

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Just 20 copies are believed to have been produced with plates. Few survive, and Kolbe Fanning counts six that have come to sale in the past 25 years. Woodin put together one of the finest collections of U.S. coins ever assembled including the unique 1870-S Indian Head gold $3 piece.

Indian Head three dollar coin values

Indian Head $3 coin: The coin's portrait of Liberty garnered its share of criticism for designer James B. Longacre. Some have pointed out that the figure hardly represents the facial features of an American Indian. That may be due to a story that says Longacre's blonde, 16-year-old daughter Sarah was his inspiration. How much are Indian Head $3 coins worth?

The well-worn auction catalog was formerly in the famed library of Armand Champa. Champa paid $2,000 for the catalog on Sept. 10, 1981, from dealer Frank Katen. Champa’s name is stamped in gilt on the leather book box, produced later to encase the treasured volume.

Keep reading about Kolbe and Fanning's sale of rare catalogs:

Bowers and Merena catalogHow much a lot full of hardcover Bowers and Merena catalogs brings at auction: The group was described as “arguably the most important series of American numismatic auction catalogues of the 1980s and 1990s.”

King Farouk collection catalogKing Farouk’s 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle in 1954 catalog that just sold: In 1954 Sotheby’s held a London auction titled “The Palace Collections of Egypt” containing the numismatic holding of Egypt’s King Farouk.

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