Chronology : 600 BCE-CE 1790-1799 1830-1839
409 BCE Just before the Fall of Agrigento
2012 SOLD 2.3 MCHF before fees
About 2423 years ago (409BC in our calendar), this coinage reached its artistic zenith with a beautiful silver decadrachm. The detail of the carving is superb, so much that experts are still wondering if this coin was actually intended to circulate. However, we must also consider that even at this distant time the officials were certainly wary of fakes.
We see on one side a quadriga in full motion. More original, the other side shows a remarkably realistic flying eagle carrying a rabbit.
An almost perfect example of this decadrachm was sold $ 570K by Sotheby's on June 19, 1990, an exceptional price for that time. It comes back at auction on October 17 by Numismatica Ars Classica in Zurich, with an estimate of CHF 1.75 M. The image of the quadriga side is shared by Artdaily. Here is the link to the catalog on the specialized online platform Sixbid.
This model is extremely rare for a good reason: as early as 406BC, Akragas was destroyed by the Carthaginians. I told very recently in this group that this terrible defeat, coupled with the installation of anarchy in Athens in 404BC, would pave the way for the highly effective tyranny of Dionysius in Syracuse.
POST SALE COMMENT
The pieces which are exceptional in their category have no price limit! This coin was sold CHF 2.3 million before fees.
405-400 BCE A Sicilian Tetradrachm
2014 SOLD for CHF 2.3M before fees by NAC
2019 SOLD for CHF 1.7M before fees
Syracuse is one of the main cities of the antique Greek world. The Greek process for silver coins is transferred in that city 2,500 years ago. The highest denomination is the decadrachm. The first tetradrachms of Syracuse are illustrated on the reverse by the head of the nymph Arethusa in profile and on the obverse by a quadriga with its driver and a winged victory that brings the wreath.
Around 415 BCE the image becomes dynamic. Horses that were previously static are now featured in full gallop and the victory crowns the man rather than the horses. At the same time the prestigious models are beginning to be signed, certainly to bring a guarantee on the purity of silver. These assayers of the old times are quite numerous but the best pieces are the work of Kimon or Evainetos.
Kimon's masterpiece is a tetradrachm in high relief made between 405 and 400 BCE. Each side is known from two variants of dies and three of these dies are signed. None of these dies have been paired for another use, which confirms that this edition was for prestige.
On both sides the clarity of the graphic style is excellent. This piece is one of the very rare Sicilian coins of that period to show an effigy in full front. The brutal action of the hammer weakens the reverse. Kimon transfers Arethusa to the obverse to improve the portrait. The perfection of this model will be admired by Goethe.
The finest known specimen of Kimon's tetradrachm, perfectly centered, was sold for CHF 2.3M before fees by NAC on May 26, 2014. It will be sold on November 18 in Geneva by NGSA (Numismatica Genevensis), lot 1 here linked on the Biddr auction platform.
1740 The Ioann Ruble
2012 SOLD 3.6 MCHF before fees by Sincona
narrated in 2020
The Saint-Petersburg mint prepares the coins for the future reign. The pattern silver rubles dated 1740 bear on the obverse the Cyrillic inscription Ioann III by the grace of God Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia. On the same side, the traditional imperial effigy is replaced by a large 3 interlaced with two I. The reverse is illustrated with the two-headed eagle with its attributes : the crown, the shield, the scepter and the orb.
This design is immediately obsolete : the child's reign name is not Ioann III but Ivan VI. Only five units have been identified. One of them was sold for CHF 3.6M before fees by Sincona on October 9, 2012, lot 227 here linked on the NumisBids auction platform. The location of the other four has not been established.
In 1741 the child grew up and the new rubles are minted with his effigy at one year old. His father overthrew the regent. The Russians fear the return of the German influence and overthrow the child and his mother by a coup d'état in December 1741. Ivan VI's coins are redeemed and their possession is made illegal.
Another difficult succession will generate in 1825 the other top rarity of the Romanov numismatics, the pattern ruble prepared in the name and effigy of Grand Duke Constantine before he formally refuses to ascend the throne. Eight units are known.
2013 SOLD for $ 10 M by Stack's Bowers
A further pair of dies is created to insert the fifteen stars in the circumference around the head of Liberty. A copper trial piece is kept at the Smithsonian.
Regarding silver, a unique coin has the characteristics of a specimen as defined by PCGS : superior minting quality and shiny appearance. It has been compared with the Smithsonian prototype : the state of the dies is exactly the same, with no added wear, and the sharpness of the line is perfect.
This coin is certainly the first federal silver dollar. It was struck in October 1794 at the Philadelphia Mint before the very last limited rework of the dies and the launch of the first production batch.
Graded SP66 by PCGS, it was sold for $ 7.85M in private sale in May 2010 and then for $ 10M at auction by Stack's Bowers on January 24, 2013, lot 13094. It passed on October 8, 2020 at Legend Rare Coin Auctions, lot 11.
1,758 units were supplied to the cashier on October 15, 1794. Technically, this lot was premature. The available press was not suitable for the required diameter, larger than the previous silver dime. The alignment of the dies did not resist, weakening the strike and limiting the output.
In the opposite the preparation of the specimen had been extremely careful. The silver planchet had been fitted with a plug and the weight of the specimen is almost perfect, only 0.24 grains (15 mg) above the 416 grains prescribed by the Coinage Act. Its splendid reflectivity has no equivalent among the 135 surviving units. It may be the sample presented to President Washington by Secretary of State Edmund Randolph. It surfaced in 1942 in the deceased estate of Colonel Green with an earlier provenance from the Virgil Brand collection.
The world’s most valuable US coin, that last sold for $10,000,000, is set to appear in an auction again later this year. @LegendAuctions has announced the sale of the Bruce Morelan Collection, an assemblage of #coins valued in total at over $20,000,000. https://t.co/418pbp9URE— PCGS (@PCGScoin) June 17, 2020
ex Strickland and Lord St. Oswald
2021 SOLD for $ 6.6M by Heritage
Ingots are bought to cover $ 2,000 in the new coinage. The production is done in one day, 15 October 1794. 1,758 pieces are released.
This yield below the target is due to a drift of the strike during the operation, in part because that coin was too large to enable a repetitive adjustment of the weight. Manufacturing is suspended. There will be no further 1794 $ 1 coin.
On September 30, 2015, Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's sold for $ 5M from a lower estimate of $ 3M the best silver dollar of the 1794 production batch, lot 2041. graded MS66+ by PCGS. It was sold for $ 6.6M by Heritage on August 18, 2021, lot 3021.
It had been the winner 35 years ago of a friendly confrontation by direct inspection with the only other example in the same grade.Its provenance explains its exemplary preservation.
The war with the former colonial power has been over since November 1783. English visitors are welcomed. A gentleman farmer named William Strickland later 6th Baron of Boynton arrived on September 20, 1794. This economist who comes to study prices and wages in the American agriculture is introduced in the best circles.
Strickland left back for England in July 1795 with a small collection including 35 federal coins that were most likely obtained by him directly at the US Mint.
Fallen in oblivion inside a Chippendale cabinet since the early 19th century, the Strickland collection remained in its original state without any addition. His two 1794 flowing hair dollars were among the best preserved of that type. The group surfaced in 1964 in an inventory by Christie, Manson and Woods in the property of the 4th Baron St. Oswald, descendant of Strickland's son-in-law. The dates of the coins stored in the box match the time spent by Strickland in the USA.
The 1794 #FlowingHairDollar is a storied rarity that requires no introduction. From a tiny mintage of only 1,758 coins comes his amazing PCGS MS66+ example with CAC approval.— Heritage Auctions - Coins (@heritagecoins) August 11, 2021
Lot No. 3021 I August 18 - 22 ANA WFOM #USCoins Signature Sale No. 1333 https://t.co/qcsEAGrCyw pic.twitter.com/o5QtxpmqE1
The 1804 Dollar
Among the diplomatic gifts, the Americans define a box that will contain an example of each of the coin denominations in circulation. The cumulative face value of the ten samples is derisory : $ 19.415. The double eagle did not yet exist.
The target is indeed to demonstrate the quality of proof coins produced in the United States. This prestige finish had been used sparingly since 1801 for silver, 1817 for copper and 1820 for gold. A 1821 quarter eagle graded PR64 Cameo by PCGS was sold for $ 240K by Heritage in January 2007.
For the largest silver and gold coins, $ 1 and $ 10 respectively, President Jefferson suspended production in 1804 to curb speculation, while maintaining their circulation. For these two denominations, the Philadelphia Mint decides to supply coins inscribed 1804 rather than 1834 which would be illegal. These coins will necessarily be a new build, to display the proof finish in mint condition.
Two dollars and two eagles were thus minted at the end of 1834. Both sets were delivered by Roberts in 1835 at their scheduled destination. The monarchs did not handle their gifts, of course. Their dollars are graded by PCGS PR 68 for the Muscat and PR 67 for the Siam which is still in its presentation box.
Meanwhile the Secretary of State had decided that Roberts must extend his mission up to Cochin China and Japan. Two additional sets are assembled in April 1835 just in time before his departure. Of course two new 1804 eagles and two new 1804 dollars are minted. A tiny defect in the eagle die has been repaired in the mean time. It is not known what happened to these two sets after the death of Roberts in Macau in June 1836. It is probable that a member of the crew caught them discreetly.
Another strike of 1804 dollars is made in an unidentified year. They are made with the same pair of dies. Four of these coins survive. There will be no further 1804 eagles, which is supporting a recent hypothesis that the four supernumerary 1804 dollars are patterns unrelated to the Roberts mission and not a mere additional strike for the archives of the Mint.
These eight silver dollars are together designated as the 1804 Class I dollars. They are a flagship of American numismatics by the quality of the execution of the Roberts specimens. The wear of the reference image of Liberty, designed in 1795, is not a numismatic defect.
The reason for the Class II and Class III restrikes of the 1804 dollar in the late 1850s is not clear.
1834 The Muscat Dollar
2021 SOLD for $ 7.7M by Stack's Bowers
The Sultan of Oman is an important Arabian monarch who controls the trade in the Horn of Africa which is a major passage to the Orient. His capital is Muscat.
The silver dollar is the symbol of the American currency and should be the focus of the gift. New dies are created from the punches that began to rust after three decades of storage. The date 1804 is selected because it is the latest that is legal.
The first class I 1804 dollar is struck in November or December 1834 with great care so that this brand new piece of silver shall dazzle the Sultan of Muscat when he opens the box. The government is enthusiastic about the project of Roberts and a similar gift is simultaneously prepared for the King of Siam.
Roberts presented the box to the Sultan on October 1, 1835, the day following the signing of the treaty of friendship between both states. This exceptional coin has been kept in mint condition. It is graded Proof 68 by PCGS. The image below has been downloaded a few years ago from Wikimedia.
The prestige of this piece with coin collectors is further increased by the fact that it is the very first silver dollar on the date of 1804. At the time of the Jefferson's 1804 suspension the dollars produced earlier in that year were still using the dies dated from the previous year.
Please watch the videos shared by Stack's Bowers in 2018 and 2021.
1804 Dollar possibly prepared for Roberts' second batch
2017 SOLD for $ 3.3M by Stack's Bowers
This coin had surfaced in Germany in 1884 with no identified history and was at that time the subject of a dispute of authenticity closed by an official statement in its favor issued by the US Mint. Moreover the hues of its patina and the perfect condition of its reverse suggest that this coin has long been preserved in a box identical to those offered to the two sovereigns. It is therefore probably one of the last two silver dollars of Roberts' voyage.
1831-1836 1804 Dollar for the use of the Mint
2020 SOLD for $ 3.36M by Stack's Bowers
In 1842 two managers of the Mint, DuBois and Eckfeldt, publish an illustrated manual devoted to gold and silver coins. The collector Matthew Stickney is puzzled. Plate II includes, among other coins, without further explanation, a 1804 dollar. According to official records, 19,570 dollars were minted in 1804. Stickney had never found a mere one.
In the following year Stickney manages to obtain a specimen kept at the Mint in exchange for a lot containing a 1785 Immune Columbia gold cent. This dollar, graded PR 65 by PCGS, is one of the two finest 1804 Class I after the copies offered to the kings. It was sold for $ 1.8M in April 1997 by Bowers and Merena, and for $ 3.36M on December 17, 2020 by Stack's Bowers, successor to Bowers and Merena, lot 1094.
It became evident after Stickney's intervention that dies from earlier years had been used in 1804 until it was ordered to stop this denomination, and that no dollar with the date 1804 was minted before the 1831 restart authorization.
1831-1836 1804 Dollar for the use of the Mint
2013 SOLD for $ 3.9M by Heritage
Please watch the video shared by Heritage. The image below has been downloaded a few years ago from Wikimedia.
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 $ 4M
1884 SOLD for $ 1.14M