US Coins

Three 19th Century Numismatic Rarities Anchor Long Beach

A variety of 19th century rarities — from an 1808 quarter eagle to an 1839-O branch mint proof half dollar and an historic 1860 Mormon five dollar coin — will highlight Heritage’s February 2-5, 2012 Long Beach U.S. Coins Signature Auction (


The first of the chief highlights, chronologically speaking, is an 1808 quarter eagle graded MS63 NGC. The 1808 quarter eagle is one of the two rarest type coins; its design was struck in only one year, from a single pair of dies. This coin is one of the two great obstacles to a complete gold type set, along with the 1796 No Stars quarter eagle. There is some debate as to their relative merits, but both are very scarce at a minimum, regardless of grade. This MS63 example of the 1808 quarter eagle is tied for third-finest known, and we expect strong competition between serious gold collectors for this lot.


Of lesser face value but greater rarity is an 1839-O half dollar graded PR65 NGC, the single finest of just four confirmed proof examples for this issue. The extremely rare 1839-O proof half dollars have been in the shadow of the famous 1838-O half dollars for many years. Yet the 1839-O proofs are significantly rarer and are poised for a breakout auction performance. This is the finest certified example and connoisseurs of branch mint proofs will want to keep a close eye on this numismatic delicacy.


A third prominent 19th century highlight is an 1860 Mormon five dollar piece graded MS62 by PCGS. It's the single finest PCGS-certified example of the issue, famous for its religious iconography and unusual script. The Deseret alphabet was created by Mormon scholars and promoted by Brigham Young. As one of the few surviving uses of the Deseret alphabet, the 1860 Mormon five dollar is not only a collectible coin but an irreplaceable historic artifact.


The 18th century has a pair of high-grade highlights as well, both dating to 1795, the first year of gold coinage at the U.S. Mint: Lot 4748 is a 1795 half eagle with Small Eagle reverse, BD-8 variety, graded MS63 Prooflike NGC. Exactly 100 lots later, lot 4848 is a 1795 eagle with 13 Leaves reverse, graded MS64 NGC. Both are among the finest known examples of their important early issues.

Community Comments