US Coins

Two popular key dates in top grades at Regency

Two classic 20th century key dates in top grades are among the highlights of Legend Rare Coin Auctions’ Regency Auction XXVI, taking place on May 16 and May 17 at Harrah’s in New Orleans in conjunction with the Professional Coin Grading Service Members Only Show.

Isn’t there more to talk about at a coin show than grades?Isn’t there more to talk about at a show than grades? Brad Karoleff laments the changing nature of conversations at shows, which have veered toward incessant discussions of grade. Also this week, some points to consider before bidding.

A PCGS Mint State 66+ red 1914-D Lincoln cent is the finest graded example of this key date. The issue’s mintage of 1,193,000 was more than double that of the 1909-S Lincoln, V.D.B. cent, but while 1909 represented the first year of Victor David Brenner’s new design and was saved by collectors and noncollectors as a novelty, the 1914-D cent saw a much lower survival rate. Mint State examples of 1914-D cents are rarely found with full original Mint red color, and this one is virtually flawless, with the only notable mark being a small tick behind Lincoln’s neck.

It was recently offered at Heritage’s August 2017 American Numismatic Association auction where it did not meet its reserve and failed to sell. More than a decade earlier it sold for $32,200 at Heritage’s 2005 Palm Beach auction, where it was then-graded MS-66 red by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. (prior to PCGS and NGC adopting Plus grading to recognize high-quality coins for the grade).

At the Legend auction it carries an estimate of $150,000 to $175,000 and the firm warns bidders, “If you are building the FINEST set or top ranking Registry Set, you cannot let this important opportunity pass you by!”

Few first year issues are more famous than the 1916 Standing Liberty quarter dollar. An example graded PCGS MS-67 full head is counted among the very finest known of the 52,000 quarters featuring Hermon A. MacNeil’s new design that were struck in December 1916. It is estimated at $150,000 to $170,000 in the Legend auction.

As Heritage noted in its sale of another PCGS MS-67 full head example in 2015, which realized just under $150,000, “The lack of sharpness in the figure of Liberty is one of the chief diagnostics of this issue, which makes this date one of the most difficult to obtain in Full Head grades.”

PCGS explains that unlike later Standing Liberty quarter dollars, defining what constitutes a full head on 1916 quarters is tricky. “Since there is not a great deal of detail in the original head design consisting mainly of very fine lines or strands of hair, one must look for overall sharpness in this area to determine FH status.” PCGS concludes, “As long as the hair is distinct and the strands do not blend into Miss Liberty’s head or cap, the coin will be designated Full Head.”

MacNeil’s design would be modified in 1917, and later that year Liberty’s bare breast would be covered with a sort of chain mail for the duration of the series, which lasted until 1930.

PCGS has certified just five in this grade, with a sole MS-67+ full head example that is considered the finest known.

Among the more unusual items offered is an 1878-S Trade dollar graded PCGS EF-40 that was struck 5 percent off center, with the unstruck margin visible on the left obverse (and corresponding portion of the reverse). Described as a “trophy” error coin by specialist Fred Weinberg, Legend speculates that it was carried as a pocket piece by the person who discovered it, adding, “Only light friction is noted, all the devices retain strong definition throughout.” It is one of perhaps three known off-center Trade dollars and is estimated to bring $35,000 to $38,000. 

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