Late 19th century Coins
1861 The Scarcest Coin from Philadelphia
2014 SOLD 1.65 M$ including premium
The root cause of such a scarcity is known, but some details of the sequence of events still leave place for discussion. The Paquet of San Francisco is undoubtedly a regular coinage issued for circulation. The 1861 Paquet from Philadelphia could be patterns or, at the opposite, novodels. The current trend is to consider them also as regular coins.
In 1860 Anthony C. Paquet, assistant mint engraver in Philadelphia, prepares a new reverse for the $ 20 coin. Concerned about readability, he improves the letters and reduces the edges, thus increasing the effective area of the engraved figure. Dies are sent to the subsidiary factories of San Francisco and New Orleans.
In January 1861, Philadelphia prepares the mass production. It is a failure. A major change of the machine settings would have been necessary to adapt the pressure to the new figure. Philadelphia stops the Paquet coins and orders the other two plants to do the same.
The order arrives too late to San Francisco because of delays in delivery by the Pony Express. The California plant had been able to adapt the machines and nearly 20,000 acceptable coins had been produced. It is also assumed that Paquet had reworked his design after the shipping of dies to San Francisco, thereby increasing the difficulty of the settings in Philadelphia.
On August 7 in Chicago, Heritage sells one of the Paquet coins from Philadelphia, graded MS61 by PCGS with a perfect reverse. Two days before the live auction, it reached online $ 1.29 million including premium, lot 5702.
POST SALE COMMENT
This lovely specimen from one of the most interesting failures of the Philadelphia Mint was sold for $ 1.65M including premium.
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.
1879 The Metric Dollars
2018 SOLD for $ 1.5M including premium
To accompany the new dollar its new multiples are designed in 1879. The five-dollar quarter eagle should be replaced by a four-dollar coin 6 G, .3 S, .7 C (7 grams) nicknamed the stella for the star that adorns its reverse. The incentive of the four dollar denomination is to be directly exchangeable for eight florins.
At the top of the monetary range a die is created for the $ 20 coin 30 G, 1.5 S, 3.5 C (35 grams) known as the quintuple stella. It should be noted that the alloy of the stellas and quintuple stellas is too heavy in gold to be designated as a goloid.
The goloid patent stated an increased difficulty of counterfeiting. It was naïve : it was enough to remove the gold and increase the copper to obtain a cheaper piece impossible to distinguish from a real dollar coin. The government understands it in 1880 and stops the operation : the goloid, the metric dollar and its multiples are dead and buried.
The stella has never been released. Used as a gift to promote the project, it is not scarce and some examples have been worn by handling. This is not the case for the five known units of the quintuple stella from its unique 1879 strike : all of them remain in mint proof condition, graded PR 62 to PR 64+ by PCGS or NGC.
A coin was donated to the Smithsonian by Stack's. A collector still recently owned the two specimens in deep cameo condition. He keeps the best. The other, graded PR 64 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.88M including premium by Legend Rare Coin Auctions on May 19, 2016.
Another one of the five coins had been presented by the US Mint to Hubbell. Graded PR 62 by PCGS, it was sold for $ 860K including premium by Heritage in January 2007. Upgraded PR 63 Cameo also by PCGS it will be sold by Stack's Bowers in Baltimore on March 22, lot 2272.
#AuctionPreview—An 1879 “Quintuple Stella” from the Garrett Collection will be offered by @StacksBowers as part of the official Whitman Coins and Collectibles Baltimore Expo auction next month. https://t.co/pp3S4QahIj #coins #numismatics #gold #Stella pic.twitter.com/2MV6shXKqo— CCN & CSN (@trajanpublisher) February 9, 2018
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 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 $ 4M 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 $ 4M
1884 SOLD for $ 1.14M
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 :
1894 The Price of an Ice Cream
2019 SOLD for $ 1.32M including premium
A prominent collector wanted an uncirculated example of each denomination produced in San Francisco in 1894. His demand is satisfied except for the dime. The factory manager wrote to him on November 9, 1894 : "We have no coinage dimes 1894". This collector is tenacious : he will acquire before 1900 two of the best specimens, currently graded PR66 and PR65. The former was sold for $ 2M including premium by Heritage on January 7, 2016.
The currently known population is 9 units, including 7 in condition equal to or better than PR60. They were struck with the same dies and their surface condition is consistent. The planchets and dies were not specially polished, showing that the operation was not designed for prestige.
Obviously all the coins struck before June 9, 1894 had used the dies at the date of 1893. The best hypothesis is the realization of tests with the new dies of 1894, pending a production order that will never come. The 19 coins put into circulation were probably shared among several employees before their future scarcity could be identified. The November 9 letter means that they were already out of stock.
Two of the nine surviving pieces appeared together in the late 1940s, bought by a dealer to an old lady. This 1894-S dime was one of the most remarkable types of the regular US coinage. The purchaser generates a legend : the lady had three pieces when she was a girl but had innocently used one of them to buy an ice cream. This story has not been consolidated by direct testimony.
One of these two coins is graded PR66 by NGC. The other, graded PR63 by PCGS, will be sold by Stack's Bowers in Rosemont IL on August 15, lot 5178. Numismatists sometimes enjoy charming tales : a circulated coin in Good 4 condition has been nicknamed The Ice Cream Specimen.