US Gold Coins
Chronology : 1780-1789 1820-1829 1830-1839 1860-1869 1933
1787 Brasher Doubloon
2021 SOLD for $ 9.4M by Heritage
Meanwhile, business transactions use large foreign gold coins, dominated by those from the Spanish colonies in South America. Banks and grand merchants are the only users of such coins. To deal against counterfeiting, they have their gold checked by specialists, the assayers, who put their own punch on the controlled pieces.
Ephraim Brasher is a goldsmith operating in New York City where he is a neighbor and supplier of George Washington, the President, known as a great lover of silverware. Brasher appreciates that he can play a role in the fight against the monetary anarchy, but his offer in early 1787 to carry out a copper coinage for the state of New York is rejected.
Brasher is an assayer. He knows well the doblon of Lima, a large gold coin worth 8 escudos and weighing 26 grams, whose name is anglicized to doubloon. Circa 1786, he produces in his workshop some Lima-type doubloons which are not fakes because their gold content is correct.
Brasher changes his theme in 1787 for producing doubloons and half doubloons to the use of New York.
The independence of the United States had created the need for a national emblem which will be affixed from an official seal. The project was accepted by Congress after six years, in 1782. It was double-sided, so that it could be printed at the end of a ribbon, but in practice only the face with the heraldic eagle would be used. The popular iconography seized on this patriotic symbol in 1786, with the engravings prepared by James Trenchard for the first two issues of Columbian Magazine.
The eagle with its outstretched wings, the thirteen stripes on the breast shield, the olive branch and the arrows also appeared in 1787 on the reverse side of the Cent and Half Cent from Massachusetts.
Brasher was a metallurgist and definitely not an artist, which had been amply demonstrated by his Lima-style doubloon prepared in 1786. In the meantime he partnered with the designer John Bailey. His new doubloon is superbly engraved on both sides. The centering is very good, with full readability all around.
Both sides are inspired by national emblems. The eagle has all of its attributes, including the constellation of thirteen stars around its head. On the other side, the Eye of Providence shines its radiant light from above a pyramidal mountain. The inscription conforms to the federal motto E Pluribus Unum but the production is located in Nova Eboraca (New York).
The pieces are stamped with his initials, EB, with two possible positions on the wing and on the breast of the eagle. Although their centering and cutting are rather awkward, they are beautiful coins whose design is sharp enough to discourage counterfeiting.
Brasher's Lima-type and New York-type doubloons were not documented in period, which confirms how limited their use was. The gold alloy had undoubtedly been recovered by the melting of some jewelry. Brasher assayer's punch EB gave these coins an authorization for circulation and they are considered regular by numismatists.
The finest of the seven known examples, graded MS65 by NGC, was sold for $ 9.4M by Heritage on January 21, 2021, lot 3934.
The only known Brasher doubloon with the mark on the breast was sold for $ 7.395M in a private sale in December 2011, although its condition is only graded AU50 by PCGS.
A half doubloon is kept at the Smithsonian. It was made with the same dies and a thinner planchet. Unlike the doubloons of the same year but in accordance with the two known Lima style doubloons, some trimming was required to adjust the weight. This half doubloon was perhaps an intermediate version for testing the dies.
Heritage Auctions will offer the Donald G. Partrick Collection in a series of auctions over the next year, making available one of the most historic collections of American colonial coins ever assembled.https://t.co/lZtpZzLOKC#Coins #DonaldPartrick pic.twitter.com/0a798TEqkh— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) August 11, 2020
Join us tomorrow for a little F-U-N!— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 20, 2021
It is a coin any collector would love to own, but only one will be able to possess. We could only be talking about the 1787 New York-Style Brasher Doubloon!
Jan. 20-24 FUN US Coins Auction #HeritageAuctions #coins https://t.co/Jq3TVG58jP pic.twitter.com/wysPjhL8uk
2014 SOLD for $ 4.6M by Heritage
This mercantile provenance strengthens the argument that the Brasher doubloon, earliest gold coin made for circulation in the United States, was designed to supersede the foreign currencies in large commercial operations. Other assumptions are however not rejected such as a promotional operation or a demonstration of know how.
It was sold privately in 2018 for a reported $ 5M.
1821 Proof Half Eagle
2022 SOLD for $ 4.6M by Heritage
Proof coins are generally presented from mint to amateurs or other persons who know their specificity and keep them safe. They thus remain in excellent condition. Everything is easier for recent issues which have of course a better traceability. For older pieces, the experts should use their best inspection equipment.
The 1821 Capped Head Left half eagle is rare with only 15 examples known in business strike.
Two 1821 proof half eagles survive, both in PR65 Cameo. One of them is kept at the Smithsonian after entering the Mint Cabinet at its inception in 1838. The other example, graded by PCGS, was sold for $ 4.6M by Heritage on September 29, 2022, lot 11052. Coming from the Harry Bass Core Collection, it had previously been owned by Randall, Woodin, Newcomer, Colonel Green, King Farouk and Norweb. Please watch the videos shared by the auction house.
The Capped Head Left Five 1821 is prohibitively rare. Two proof examples are known, one of those coins is in the National #Numismatic Collection at the #Smithsonian. Bidders took notice and drove the price for the only proof in private hands to $4,620,000. https://t.co/M5ao7FYZ1j pic.twitter.com/SQvYfzf5s6— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) September 30, 2022
1822 Half Eagle
2021 SOLD for $ 8.4M by Stack's Bowers
The half eagle in its draped bust design was produced from 1807 to 1834 through two small changes : the improvement of the figure in 1812 and a slight reduction to the diameter in 1829. The design with classic head takes over from 1834 to 1839.
1815 is highly rare due to the shortage of gold, the 1815 half eagle was sold for $ 820K by Stack's Bowers on February 9, 2016. No half eagle was released in 1816 and 1817.
In the 1820s the half eagle is an issue because its value in gold has become greater than its face value. For this reason, a large proportion of the coins was redeemed and melted. Its change from 1834 will aim to limit the consequences.
Another fact may explain the utmost rarity of the half eagle on the date of 1822. On that year, the recorded production was similar to the other years, probably insufficient for the dies to be worn at the end of the year. Most half eagles struck in 1822 have certainly been made with the tooling marked 1821, although no document confirms this hypothesis. The following year marked a return to normal.
The top collectors of US coins want to own an example of all the regular varieties. The earlier ones were not yet concerned with discriminating between the production sites. 1822 was known from a severely worn coin found by an executive of the Philadelphia mint who was already looking to fill in the gaps. The first craze applied to the 1815.
In 1864 the Seavey collection of gold coins was reputed complete. Parmelee acquired it en bloc, including an 1822 half eagle.
In 1890 Parmelee put his collection up for auction at the New York Coin and Stamp Company. His 1822 half eagle was to be the star of the event, symbolizing the sensational quality of his collection. Catastrophe : this highly desirable coin is a counterfeit.
A subterfuge is found. By chance, one of the managers of the auction house owns an 1822 half eagle, which is then somehow the only one in private hands. He substitutes it for the Seavey-Parmelee unit and auctions it to himself for $ 900. It is the most expensive lot of the sale, far ahead of the 1815 half eagle, already less rare at that time, sold for $ 235. The authentic 1822 will enter the Smithsonian collection in 1968.
Only one other 1822 half eagle has surfaced. It appeared in 1899, bought by Virgil Brand from a dealer. Louis E. Eliasberg acquired it in 1945 from a broker. It made the big dream come true : his collection is complete and unrivaled, since this authentic piece is the only one of its variety in private hands. Without it, it is impossible to assemble a complete private collection of US coinage.
Coming now from the D. Brent Pogue collection and graded AU-50 by PCGS passed at Stack's Bowers on May 24, 2016, lot 4026, and was sold by the same auction house for $ 8.4M on March 25, 2021, lot 4149. Please watch the short video shared by Stack's Bowers.
In the same 2016 sale, an 1833 half eagle exceptional in its condition, graded Proof-67 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.35M, lot 4044.
The Only 1822 Half Eagle Available to Collectors— Stack's Bowers (@StacksBowers) March 23, 2021
1822 Capped Head Left Half Eagle. BD-1. Rarity-8. AU-50 (PCGS).
"I have the only one not in the hands of the government." - Louis Eliasberg, on the 1822 half eagle, 1975
Bid on Lot 4149 at https://t.co/BoJzSFkF9P. pic.twitter.com/7PybjguHcM
1834 The Muscat Eagle
2021 SOLD for $ 5.3M by Heritage
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.
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.
The Plain 4 variety of the 1804 eagle is twice as scarce as the Class I dollar inscribed with the same year. Their stories are inseparable.
The 1804 eagles used for the obverse a spare die from the 1800s decade on which the engraving of the last digit of the year still had to be done. This 4 designed in the style of the 1830s makes it possible to distinguish between the Crosslet 4 variety produced in period and the Plain 4 variety produced for the Roberts mission.
The eagles prepared for Muscat and Siam are the two pieces from the first batch. No test eagle having been identified, they are the first two eagles to have been processed as proofs.
The Muscat specimens are the best in both varieties. The dollar is graded PR68 by PCGS. The eagle, graded PR 65+ Deep Cameo by PCGS, was sold for $ 5.3M by Heritage on January 20, 2021, lot 3049.
The second batch of two 1804 presentation eagles of the Plain 4 variety was minted in April 1835, They were intended for the emperors of Japan and Cochin China. The sets were never delivered due to the untimely death of Roberts during the expedition. One of these eagles never surfaced. The other coin, graded PR63 by PCGS, was sold for $ 2.3M by Heritage on September 29, 2022, lot 11066.
NEW RECORD: The finest of just three known examples of the 1804 $10 Plain 4, BD-2, JD-1, Judd-33, High R.7, PR65+ Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC brings $5,280,000 at the FUN US Coins Signature Auction – the most ever paid at auction for a coin! https://t.co/6sLPD6FYbz#AuctionUpdate pic.twitter.com/aD2ohJauuy— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 21, 2021
1861 Paquet Double Eagle
2021 SOLD for $ 7.2M by Heritage
The San Francisco Paquet is a well documented regular issue of 19,250 coins. The current survivors have been circulated and no mint state specimen is known. On the opposite the Philadelphia Paquet is one of the rarest numismatic varieties with only two examples known, both in mint state, respectively graded MS67 and MS61 by PCGS.
The story begins in 1859 with a concern about an excessive cracking of reverse dies during striking. In Philadelphia the assistant engraver Anthony Paquet manages to propose some modifications which are accepted for the 1861 strike, although the impact on the original die problem is questionable. Concerned about readability, he improved the letters and reduced the edges, thus increasing the effective area of the engraved figure.
Sets of dies including that reverse are shipped to the subsidiary mints in San Francisco and New Orleans in November and December 1860. They are accompanied by an instruction stating that the new reverse die "is presenting a larger face for the device without changing the diameter of the piece. They will require a slight change in the milling to suit the border".
When it comes to start the new millesime in Philadelphia, it appears that the striking difficulty is bigger than expected. On January 5 the Mint Director stops the use of the Paquet reverse and sends instructions to do the same at the subsidiaries. The mail forwarded to San Francisco by the Pony Express arrived too late, when the first releases had been made. Another issue was that the new coins did not stack properly. No coin had been released from Philadelphia where the production with the Paquet reverse was totally melted with no survivor known.
The two Philadelphia coins have a rearrangement of the reverse design clearly intended to deal with the technical issue. Indeed their strike is perfect, but it was certainly obtained with the higher pressure from a medal press. This operation is not documented at the Mint. It is now believed that they were pattern coins prepared for saving the design for the next year.
The coin graded MS67 was sold for $ 7.2M by Heritage on August 18, 2021, lot 3471. On August 7, 2014, Heritage sold for $ 1.65M the other Paquet coin from Philadelphia, graded MS61 by PCGS with a perfect reverse, lot 5702.
Interestingly the difference between the basic and Paquet designs did not disturb the users. The San Francisco Paquet coins were not differentiated until the 1930s while the two Philadelphia coins were first sold at auction in 1865 and 1875 respectively.
The 1861 Paquet Reverse double eagle is one of the rarest coins in American #numismatics, and this example stands at the absolute pinnacle of rarity and exquisite condition.— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) August 11, 2021
August 18 - 22 ANA WFOM US Coins Signature Event, No. 1333 https://t.co/MmkBNpnJan#HeritageAuctions pic.twitter.com/sQ6M1NKnYH
1870 San Francisco Three Dollar Coin
2023 SOLD for $ 5.5M by Heritage
In 1834 the 1 dollar and 1 eagle coins had not been authorized in production since 1804. The proof strikes of 1804 coins made in Philadelphia for the voyage of Roberts are some of the most famous US federal coins, second to the unique pre production 1794 dollar and to the unique non-illegal 1933 double eagle.
In May 1870 the construction of a new building is begun for the San Francisco Mint. The ceremony includes the sealing of a time capsule casket for hoarding inside the cornerstone. That set must gather "one of each denomination of the several coins of the United States of America, all struck off at the San Francisco Branch Mint in the year 1870."
Four of these denominations had not yet been minted. The special strike of the 3 dollar coins is known by only one surviving specimen. A hurried production is made of the 1 dollar silver coin of which 9 examples are surviving. There is no record of a 1870 half dime at the San Francisco mint, although the dies had been available in due time. The quarter dollar is still elusive.
The strike of the four 1870 denominations that were not yet minted at the time of the decision for the treasure casket is typical of a hurry.
It was observed during the preparation phase that the dies for the three dollar and one dollar gold coins had their S mint identification omitted by the Philadelphia Mint. New reverse dies were required by San Francisco. The chief coiner decided to strike the 3 dollar cornerstone coin with the incomplete die and punch the S. Nevertheless the delivery from Philadelphia arrived in due time. San Francisco got the authorization to release the unique 3 dollar as is and minted the 1 dollar gold with the new dies.
A 1870-S $ 3 coin surfaced in 1907. The building of the Mint had not been damaged by the 1906 earthquake and it was supposed that the casket was still out of reach in the cornerstone. No record could explain the new coin, supposed to be clandestine.
The additional coin has the numerals 893 scratched on the reverse plus the trace of a jewelry mount on the observe. It was decidedly not the cornerstone coin which was obviously pristine.
An assumption is that the San Francisco chief coiner minted it for pressntation to his wife in a necklace. The scratch assesses that he did not do it for collection or proffit. The meaning of the numeral is not known.The unique available 1870-S dime has a similar assumption with a presentation by the same coiner to greet a newborn.
The unique available $ 3 was avidly chased by the collectors. Louis Eliasberg passed it in 1944 and 1945 for a too high required price. He was so close to achieve a full collection of US regular types, mint marks and variants that he changed his mind and purchased it for an unprecedented $ 11,550 in 1946. The unique 1870-S half dime did not surface in Eliasberg's life time.
In the auction of the Eliasberg collection by Bowers and Ruddy in October 1982, a record price of $ 687,500 was separately achieved by both the 1870-S $ 3 and the 1822 half eagle.
The 1870-S $ 3, graded SP50 by PCGS, was sold for $ 5.5M by Heritage on January 5, 2023, lot 9013.
#HERITAGELIVE The 1870-S three-dollar gold piece is among the rarest and most enigmatic coins in the U.S. federal series. Only a single example of this classic numismatic rarity is known to collectors. And it just hammered for $5,520,000! □https://t.co/IFjq9xGJLh pic.twitter.com/3zRTpN8Fbf— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 6, 2023
1907 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle
2023 SOLD for $ 4.3M by Heritage
For his second inauguration in 1905, Roosevelt required Saint-Gaudens to design a medal in parallel of the version traditionally handled by the official mint departments. He realized his models as high relief medallions from 28 to 36 cm in diameter.
The result pleased that stubborn President. He commissions in January 1906 Saint-Gaudens to prepare a new design inspired by the high relief of the antique Greek coins that they both admired in the collections of the Smithsonian.
Experienced in the design of medals, Saint-Gaudens knows nothing about industrial production. The conduct of the project will be marked by his bad relationship with Chief Engraver Charles Barber.
The double eagle in Ultra High Relief prepared by Saint-Gaudens is featuring on the obverse a standing figure inspired by the Victory of Samothrace and on the reverse the Gobrecht flying eagle.
Already hit by his terminal cancer, Saint-Gaudens stubbornly began this task, starting with the top gold coins : the eagle ($ 10) and the double eagle ($ 20).
The first trial of the double eagle, in February 1907, fails : one of the dies breaks, preventing the fourth and last unit from being completed, its edge being left plain. A coin from that first group, graded PR58, was sold for $ 1.06M by Heritage on August 3, 2012, lot 5434. It is recognizable by a sans serif typography on the edge, from a design used at the Mint on the previous year which will be soon abandoned.
After repair of the tooling plus some minor modifications, a second campaign is carried out, in two variants : several parts have an inverted position of the edge inscription. About thirteen coins were minted between March and July 1907
The process had taken seven strikings in the high pressure hydraulic press, normally used for very small quantities..Between two strikings, the piece was annealed and then washed in nitric acid to maintain the highest possible purity of the gold surface. The result was superb from the viewpoint of the color and brilliance of gold but it was impossible to consider such a technique for producing the big quantities needed for currency.
Saint-Gaudens dies in August 1907. Barber knew from the start that this Ultra High Relief which Roosevelt liked so much was impossible to industrialize. 361,667 double eagles are finally minted in December, reusing the Saint-Gaudens design with a flattened relief.
On December 31, an additional production of three UHR pieces is carried out at the request of the Mint Director.
The UHR coins were initially distributed to government officials and Mint personnel. A reconciled Barber finally acquired eight of them.
A UHR double eagle was sold for $ 4.3M by Heritage on August 10, 2023, lot 9082 in the fourth sale of the Harry Bass core collection. Please watch the videos shared by the auction house.
This near perfect coin features a razor sharp definition with a semiprooflike reflectivity.
It bears a provenance from the Clapp collection which had been acquired in its entirety by Eliasberg in 1942.
1927 Denver Double Eagle
2022 SOLD for $ 4.4M by Heritage
From one year to another, the produced quantity could vary considerably, depending on available reserves. The top rarities are 1927-D and 1921.
During the 1920s, the US government met increasing difficulties to maintain the fixed exchange rate between dollar and gold. Americans lost confidence in paper money and filled the vaults of their banks with gold for hoarding, making a huge financial mass unavailable for economic activities.
The government had no incentive to increase the circulation of gold, for the above reason and also because the USA, being a leading gold producing country, managed at that time a policy of export supply.
The Denver plant continued to produce double eagles but stopped to release them after 1923. The 180,000 pieces with the 1927 year mark remained in storage. A small quantity was sold at face value to collectors. A similar policy was applied in San Francisco, leaving Philadelphia as the only center of double eagles for immediate circulation.
In 1933, President Roosevelt took strong monetary measures to tackle the crisis. It was now illegal for individuals to own gold and the government melted the reserves. In 1934 the Gold Reserve Act overvalued gold by 40% for increasing the earnings at export.
Production of Denver in 1927, or 1927-D, has almost completely disappeared. It would be only 13 surviving plus 2 non located coins of this type. No circulation was released but it was not banned in period.
A 1927-D double eagle graded MS66 by PCGS in a sharp strike and beautiful yellow gold was sold for $ 4.4M by Heritage on August 22, 2022, lot 3417. It is third in the condition roster. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The top graded example, certified MS67 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.9M by Heritage on November 3, 2005. A 1927-D graded MS66 by NGC and later MS65+ by PCGS was sold for $ 2.16M by Heritage on January 9, 2020, lot 4046. The + recognizes its magnificent strike and color.
Two examples of the 1921 double eagle are known in the MS66 grade. They were respectively sold by Heritage for $ 1.1M in November 2005 and for $ 750K on January 5, 2012. A 1933 $ 10 eagle from 30 surviving was sold for $ 820K by Heritage on April 23, 2015, lot 5419.
'Legendary Rarity' 1927-D #DoubleEagle Leads Latest Bob R. Simpson Collection Offerings at Heritage's U.S. #Coins Auction.— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) August 9, 2022
August 22-28 event also features collections of James R. McGuigan, Christopher J. Salmon and Tom Bender.
□ https://t.co/pEql8LFVjJ#numismatics pic.twitter.com/vGgOcDCj0u
#HERITAGELIVE For all intents and purposes, the 1927-D is "truly the king of all 20th century #GoldCoins." We are proud to announce that this spectacular Premium Gem example of this celebrated gold rarity just joined a new collection for $4,440,000.— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) August 23, 2022
□ https://t.co/blBlsUZq79 pic.twitter.com/yahswvAVtW
1933 Double Eagle
2021 SOLD for $ 19M by Sotheby's
The crisis had lasted since 1924 and the production of eagles and double eagles was considerably slowed down. The production of the 312,500 eagles of 1933 was finished before April 5 and this denomination was legal at that time. The production of the double eagles, which was in progress, was not interrupted : this batch was the last US gold coin struck for circulation.
On September 13, 1934, all gold coins in federal stocks were declared obsolete (uncurrent). In the following month two 1933 double eagles were sent to the Smithsonian for the National Collection as non-monetized samples. 445,469 pieces were in the vaults. This stock was melted in 1937.
Ten pieces escaped that melting, certainly stolen by the cashier of the Mint who will be jailed in 1940 for another scam. All of them were recovered and destroyed by the government except one that King Farouk had managed to acquire in 1944. The King had obtained for this piece an export license issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, either simply by mistake or to please that powerful sovereign. This license being federal, the Farouk specimen became the only 1933 double eagle with some legal US status. Any other example is illegal to own.
Removed at the request of the US government from the auction of the Farouk collections in 1954, the double eagle resurfaced in 1996, brought to New York by an English dealer. He was caught in the act by the FBI during his negotiations with his American customer.
The coin of the English dealer was with no doubt the ex Farouk specimen. A judicial compromise was found in 2001. The double eagle was listed for auction on July 20, 2002 by Sotheby's and Stack's. In order to declare for the first time the official release of this specific coin, the buyer was required to pay to the federal government its face value of $ 20 in addition to the auction final price : it was sold for $ 7,590,020. Here is the link to the catalog in the website of Stack's Bowers, successor to Stack's.
This coin was sold for $ 19M from a lower estimate of $ 10M by Sotheby's on June 8, 2021, lot 1. Its highly essential 2002 Certificate of Monetization is joined to the lot. It had been re-inspected in March 2021 by PCGS and graded Gem brilliant uncirculated MS 65.
Take a closer look at three pocket sized treasures from the collection of famed shoe designer & fashion entrepreneur Stuart Weitzman. On offer in a live sale on 8 June, the historic auction features the world's most rare & valuable coin & stamp specimens. https://t.co/M9FTbFdy2X pic.twitter.com/3kMSIUUYdE— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 27, 2021