1870 Demonstration of the Yen for Emperor Meiji
2021 SOLD for $ 1.56M by Stack's Bowers
Know-how cannot be acquired overnight. At the start of Meiji 3, 1870 CE, Japan commissions the British to prepare prototypes. This operation covers eight denominations : 10, 5 and 2 1/2 yen in gold, yen in silver, and four subdivisions in white metal or copper.
The prototypes are sent to Japan and a British engineer arrives in Osaka. The dies are kept in London, which probably explains why the designs will be changed. All subdivisions of the yen are replaced by multiples of the sen, the decimal value 2 yen replaces the fractional 2 1/2 and the 20 yen is added. In June 1871, the government formalizes the creation of the yen. In the meantime, Japan had bought from a trading house the production line abandoned by the British in Hong Kong in 1868.
These British prototypes are extremely rare. On September 12, 2011, Heritage sold a 10 yen for $ 276K including premium and a silver yen for $ 320K including premium.
There are only two complete sets of the eight British specimens. One of them is estimated US $ 750K for sale by Stack's Bowers in Hong Kong on April 6, lot 50043. All units have been certified by PCGS. The three gold coins are graded 67+, 67 and 67 and the others between 65 and 67. The yen is not in silver but in tin, confirming that it was a demonstration set.
The other full set is kept in Great Britain at the Royal Mint Museum.
The crown jewel of the Pinnacle Collection: the Japanese 1870 Pattern Set. This is one of two complete sets and is estimated at $750,000 to $1,500,000. View Lot 50043's Coins in Motion Highlight Video at https://t.co/Rg19OnsdhO. Bid on the lot here: https://t.co/bdifQaK7Ef pic.twitter.com/PHXjxOtQNx— Stack's Bowers (@StacksBowers) April 4, 2021
1873 The Nevada Coins
2012 SOLD 1.84 M$ including premium
A mint operated there from 1870 to 1893. The coins are identified by the letters CC.
An industrial activity in such an inaccessible region of the Wild West may seem surprising, especially as the population of this tiny capital did not exceed 4,000 inhabitants during this period. However, separating the years, 111 CC coin variants were created, covering seven values from the dime (10 cents) to the double eagle (20 dollars).
Two variants are known of the 1873-CC dime: with and without two small arrows, one on the left and one on the right of the date. These arrows are a somehow confidential code which attests for a change of normalization concerning the weight of the coin.
The 1873-CC dime without arrows is only known as a unique copy. As it is in mint condition (MS65), it is viewed as highly prestigious by the collectors of regular American coins.
It is not possible to build a full collection of the Carson City variants unless you own this specific coin. Its last owner has accomplished this feat, and sells his collection in separate lots at Stack's Bowers in Philadelphia on August 9.
Over the years, the price of this unique dime has always increased: $ 550K in 1996, 630K in 1999, 890K in 2004. It is of course not the only rare piece of this set. As soon as the auction opened online, the 1876-CC 20 cent coin has received a bid of $ 210K.
POST SALE COMMENT
Success was expected for several months for this dime of Carson City, a very exceptional case of a regular US coin known as a unique example. It was sold $ 1.84 million including premium.
The 20 cent coin of 1876 beautifully finished its run at $ 460K including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Stack's Bowers on YouTube to introduce the 1873-CC "no arrow" coin:
1879 The Immediate Failure of the Goloid
2016 SOLD for $ 1.88M including premium
The balance of a bimetallic system is weakened in the long term because it depends on the relative abundance of the two metals. The coinage act of 1873 is the attempt of a reaction by the US congress forced by low silver price to consider the adoption of the gold standard. The consequences of the repeal of silver had not been anticipated and the monetary crisis goes to a crash.
In 1877, a patent is filed for the goloid, a gold and silver alloy with some copper to improve the strength.
The 1879 stella is a development project for a partial substitution to the dollar in the high denominations. The US minister to Austria had suggested to calibrate the weight of the currency with the metric system extensively used in Europe. The stella of US $ 4 shall correspond to 8 florins.
Tests were made in 1879 with a new design that is the subject of a competition between the engravers. These gold stellas are certainly presented to congressmen to push the project. The final interruption of the stella in 1880 responds to common sense. Multiplication by 4 is not natural in the circulation of currencies and the dollar and the florin have no reason to maintain a parity in the long term.
The double eagle is the common multiplier between the dollar and the stella since 5 stellas are worth 20 dollars. Tests were made also in 1879 by changing the wording without changing the picture. The goloid offers no advantage over the pure metal and will not be used in a regular coinage.
The 5 specimens of quintuple stellas remained in mint condition, graded between PR 62 and PR 64+. One of them graded PR 62 by PCGS was sold for $ 860K including premium by Heritage in January 2007.
A collector owned the best two units, both in deep cameo condition. He keeps the coin graded PR 64+ by PCGS. He now sells its duplicate, graded PR 64 by PCGS also. It is listed for sale on May 19 in New Orleans by Legend Rare Coin Auctions. It is estimated $ 1.6M, lot 377.
1880 Four Times Four Dollars
2013 SOLD 2.6 M$ including premium
Most specimens entering this category remained in mint condition, and their low quantities favour the special visual quality of the "proof coins" struck with brand new dies.
In 1879, the U.S. government observed that the $ 5 coin is slightly heavier than the British sovereign, the 20 lire from Italy or the Spanish 20 pesetas. They developed a $ 4 gold coin with the naive idea that an international alignment may promote the circulation of US currency.
The two best designers present their project of the future Stella which is centered on one side with a big star. Barber designs a Miss Liberty with flowing hair and Morgan a Miss Liberty with coiled hair. In total, less than 500 units are made in 1879 and 1880.
The Bonhams sale includes four Stellas, each one graded PR67 by NGC. Their 1880 coiled hair is probably the best surviving specimen of all Stellas with its pleasant warm color and cameo surface, this term designating a genuine mirror-like effect without polishing. This one is estimated $ 1M and shown in the press release.
It had been sold for $ 980K including premium by Heritage on January 12, 2005.
POST SALE COMMENT
The 1880 coiled hair was definitely the best coin in this set: it was sold for $ 2.6 million. Excellent results also for the 1879 coiled hair at $ 1.04 million and for the 1880 flowing hair at $ 960K. The 1879 flowing hair has been sold for $ 280K. These results include the premium.
1880 The Bun of Liberty
2021 SOLD for $ 1.86M including premium
The 20 francs Napoléon is worth about 4 dollars. A new currency of that value could replace the three dollar and the half-eagle coins. It will be named the stella. A quintuple stella will exactly match the double eagle.
For the stella, prototypes were made with a single reverse but two variants of the obverse. The choice fell on the Liberty with flowing hair. Several hundred stellas were minted on the date of 1879 to promote the project, which was immediately rejected by Congress : to be easily exchanged with LMU coins, the stella should have been worth $ 3.88 ! They could have thought about it before.
Stellas were also produced in three other variants : with flowing hair dated 1880, and according to the rejected design with coiled hair in 1879 and 1880. These three releases have not been documented. They were perhaps only intended to please a few collectors.
The rarest variant is the 1880 coiled hair, with nine known pieces. The three finest are graded PR67 Cameo by NGC. A coin with a perfect color was sold for $ 2.6M including premium by Bonhams on September 23, 2013. Another was sold for $ 1.82M including premium by Heritage on April 23, 2015. The third, which had belonged to Eliasberg, will be sold by Heritage in Dallas on February 24, lot 3754.
1880 The Collections of the Four Stellas
2015 SOLD for $ 1.82M including premium
In a great momentum of globalization, a five-pointed star replaces the eagle while on the other side the figure of liberty must be selected in a competition between two engravers.
The Congress accepted the figure of flowing hair proposed by Charles Barber, the son of the recently deceased chief engraver. A few hundred coins were struck in 1879 in a marketing operation to facilitate the promotion of the new standard. They were not enough and a few extra units were struck in 1880.
The coiled hair coins prepared by George Morgan are limited to the unaccepted strikes of 1879 and very few additional samples made in the following year, perhaps because the designer did not accept his defeat. They are among the rarest pieces in nineteenth century US numismatics. The stella project was abandoned in 1880.
It is logical that the happy owners of a 1880 coiled hair stella gather around it the other three variants. The four coins sold by Bonhams on September 23, 2013 were all graded PR67 by NGC. In order of rarity, they fetched $ 2.6M for the 1880 coiled hair cameo, 1,04M for the 1879 coiled hair, 960K for the 1880 flowing hair and 280K for the 1879 flowing hair. These prices include premium.
History repeats itself with other specimens at Heritage in Schaumburg IL on April 23. The 1880 non-cameo coiled hair graded PR67 by NGC is at lot 5301, the 1879 coiled hair graded PR65 by PCGS at lot 5299, the 1880 flowing hair graded PR66 by PCGS at lot 5300 and the best of the 1879 flowing hair in that sale, graded PR67 cameo by NGC, is lot 5297.
RESULTS including premium :
1880 coiled hair : $ 1.82M
1879 coiled hair : $ 880K
1880 flowing hair : $ 520K
1879 flowing hair : $ 305K
1885 Extra Time for the Trade Dollar
2019 SOLD for $ 3.96M including premium
In 1878 the drop in price of silver bullion generates speculation and the commercial applications of the Trade dollar are halted. Until 1883 a limited activity is maintained at the Philadelphia Mint for the use of collectors. The Trade dollar is abolished in 1887.
The existence of 1884 and 1885 Trade dollars was not revealed in period. The production of 264 units in January 1884 is recorded in the archives of the Mint. In February the government forbids these pieces to be offered to the public and they are melted. The dies are scraped at the beginning of the next year. For 1885 there is no record of a similar activity.
Ten 1884 Trade dollars appeared on the market from 1908 in the circle of John Haseltine, a dealer specializing in coins from the special operations of the Mint.
Colonel Snowden, Superintendent in Philadelphia from 1877 to 1885, had legally acquired prototypes and rare pieces during his mission, for the purpose of hoarding. He sold in 1909 through Haseltine the two unique gold prototypes of a $ 50 coin from 1877, prompting the disapproval of numismatists.
The State gets the return of these two gold coins. Five 1885 Trade dollars then come out of Snowden's hoard, no doubt by way of compensation so that he could repay the owner of the returned coins. The only plausible assumption for these previously unheard Trade dollars is a limited strike in 1885 on the initiative of the Superintendent. Produced in Philadelphia before the cancellation of the Trade dollars, the 1885 Trade dollar is classified as a regular coinage. It has the same rarity as the 1913 Liberty nickel.
The best 1885 Trade dollar was sold for $ 910K including premium in the sale of the Eliasberg collection by Bowers and Merena in April 1997. At that time only the 1804 dollar and the 1913 nickel both from the same collection had exceeded $ 1M. Graded PR66 by NGC, it will be sold by Heritage in Orlando on January 10, lot 4553. In the same grade the second best 1884 Trade dollar, which had also belonged to Eliasberg, will be sold as lot 4552.
Please watch the videos shared by the auction house.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
1885 SOLD for $ 3.96M
1884 SOLD for $ 1.14M
1885 Trade Dollar
2021 SOLD for $ 2.1M including premium by Heritage
narrated in 2020 before the sale of another coin by Stack's Bowers (see below)
The ban on continuing to produce the 1884 trade dollar came just after the January delivery to the cashier of a first batch covering about a quarter of the annual quantity needed for silver proof sets. The 1884 dies, however, were not destroyed until January 1885, as if the factory had been waiting for a government counter-order. There was a precedent, the 1878 muddle, when the production of circulation trade dollars was restarted on bad arguments after being banned.
Five 1885 trade dollars have survived. Unknown to the factory cashier, they were probably test pieces for a production that was never authorized, which would explain the omission of internal records. Meanwhile the Democrat Grover Cleveland had become president, and the position of the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint, the Republican A. Loudon Snowden, was becoming untenable. He resigned, or was forced to resign, in June 1885.
In 1908 the dealer John Haseltine announced at the ANA Convention the existence of the 1884 trade dollar, which some numismatists close to the factory had supposed. The 1885 trade dollar was still unsuspected at that time.
Snowden used to keep samples from plant operations during his superintendence. In 1909 he needed money and sold to the collector William Woodin through Haseltine the jewel of his treasure, the only two $ 50 gold coins made in 1877 for a project of union ($ 100) and half union ($ 50) in the context of the development of the gold standard. The project had been abandoned for reasons of technical feasibility.
The fact that the two half unions were still in private hands caused an uproar, and the sale was canceled after a legal action. Snowden took back the two pieces which were immediately returned to the Mint by donation or confiscation. After an amicable settlement, Snowden, unable to pay Woodin in cash, gave him his hoard in 1910.
This transaction was not the subject of an inventory but there is no doubt that the four 1884 trade dollars which had not belonged to Haseltine and the five 1885 trade dollars were part of the lot. All of these pieces were brought to the market by associates of Woodin between 1911 and 1915.
The highest ranked 1885 trade dollar, graded PR66 by NGC, was sold for $ 3.96M including premium by Heritage on January 10, 2019. A coin graded PR64 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.32M including premium by Srack's Bowers ion March 19, 2020, lot 3216. A coin graded PR63+ Cameo by PCGS was sold fot $ 2.1M including premium par Heritage on January 20, 2021, lot 3030.
#HeritageLive: The 1885 T$1 Trade PR63+ Cameo PCGS. CAC, one of the greatest and most coveted rarities in United States coinage, soars to $2,100,000 at our FUN #US Coins Signature Auction. https://t.co/we3GkoJhCy#auctionupdate #Numismatics #HACoins pic.twitter.com/ChHd9rqkVt— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 20, 2021
1886 Ruble Patterns for the Tsars
2014 SOLD for CHF 1.5M including premium
On 9 October 2012, Sincona sold for CHF 3.6 million before fees a pattern coin made in 1740 with the figure of the baby Tsar Ivan VI. A coin dated 1766 for Catherine II was sold for $ 800K before fees by Baldwin's on January 5, 2012.
Catherine's successor, Paul I, interrupted the tradition of offering the portrait of the Tsar on the coinage.
However, during the confusion that followed the death of Alexander I in 1825, a test piece was struck with the effigy of the apparent heir, Grand Duke Constantine, who had not yet confirmed his refusal to reign. This Constantine ruble is the most prestigious currency in the Russian numismatics. One of them was sold for $ 525K before fees by Baldwin's and M & M on January 15, 2004, a very high price for that time.
In the second specialized Sincona auction from 14 to 16 October 2013, the highest results were achieved for pattern rubles with the two-headed eagle: CHF 1M before fees for the 1808 coin and CHF 2.05 million before fees for the 1827 coin.
In 1886, the portrait of Tsar Alexander III will come back onto the silver rubles and two medalists are in competition. A pattern coin from one of the non accepted models is for sale by Sincona in Zürich on 13 and 14 October. Both sides of this beautiful piece are shown in the article posted by Numismatic News.
1894 The Legend of a Barber Dime
2016 SOLD for $ 2M including premium
No less than fifty collectors contact the San Francisco branch in 1894 for acquiring specimens of all denominations in mint state. Regarding the silver dime worth ten cents, only one response is made: San Francisco does not produce that value in 1894.
However, the plant's records indicate that a minuscule amount of 24 dimes was delivered on June 9, 1894. This information goes unnoticed at first glance. The 1894-S dies with a Barber-type figure had been prepared but the decision for a mass production has not been taken.
On the next year, an official says that he had to close the fiscal accounts of the silver stock and that the very small remaining volume could only be used for dimes.
The 24 units manufactured with the new tools have not benefited from the perfect setting usually applied when beginning an actual series but they may nevertheless be considered as proofs. 5 coins have undergone destructive assays. The other 19 were probably mixed in a bag with dimes of previous years for their release into circulation.
The hunt for this scarcity is launched in 1900 when Heaton reveals the existence of the 24 coins in a specialized magazine. It later became legendary when collectors told fancies on the fate of these coins of which only eight or nine units have surfaced.
One of the two 1894-S dimes that had belonged to Eliasberg is the best example, graded PR66 by PCGS. It will be sold by Heritage in Tampa FL on January 7, lot 5317. It had been sold for $ 1.32M including premium by David Lawrence in March 2005. Another coin graded PR64+ by PCGS was sold for $ 1.55M including premium by Stack's in October 2007. The price of each of these two units was later considerably increased in private sales.
I invite you to watch the short video shared by Heritage.
The image is shared from PCGS on Wikimedia.