The most popular gold pattern of all time, the 1879 $4 stella – or rather a pair of them – led the way at Heritage Auction Galleries’ $9 million Summer FUN auction in Palm Beach, Fla., July 9-12.
“We’re quite pleased with the results,” said Greg Rohan. “Collectors responded well to the fine American coinage we offered.”
The auction also showed that the demand for quality numismatic offerings continues to be strong with erudite collectors, as evidenced by the strong sell-through rate and the high number of participants.
“As usual, our sell-through rate was 20-30% higher than recent auctions conducted by our major competitors,” said Rohan. “A full 85% of the value offered in the Summer FUN auction found new homes – and 91% by total number of lots. Then figure in that, even though this was our smallest U.S. Coin Signature auction of the year, we still had 3,401 bidders. That says a lot about Heritage’s customers and our ability to find buyers for a wide range of numismatic items.”
The two Judd-1635 1879 Flowing Hair Gold stellas were a single grade point apart, one a PR64 Cameo and the other a PR65 Cameo, and the lots brought similar sums: The PR65 Cameo example brought $166,750, while the runner-up checked in at $155,250. All prices include 15% Buyer’s Premium.
The enduring popularity of the Morgan dollar was also on display in Palm Beach, as a rare 1886-O MS65 PCGS example – one of only five known Gem specimens of this rarest of New Orleans issues – kept pace with the top two lots by bringing in $149,500 when all was said and done.
“This 1886-O Morgan Dollar comes from a very exclusive fraternity, indeed,” said Rohan. “The landmark offering of this example may well represent one of the few appearances of this rare Gem issue in our lifetimes.”
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
1859-O Double Eagle, AU58:
Every New Orleans double eagle coined after 1853 is elusive. Douglas Winter, in the second edition of Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint (2006), calls the 1859-O the fourth rarest New Orleans twenty, trailing the 1855-O; the ultra-rare 1854-O and 1856-O issues lead the pack. PCGS and NGC combined have certified fewer than 110 1859-O $20s, and rate a mere three coins as Mint State. This near-Mint State example exhibits a better strike than ordinarily seen.
1915-S Panama-Pacific $50 Octagonal MS62:
Although their round counterparts are slightly rarer, the $50 octagonal Panama-Pacific commemoratives are more prominent to non-specialists. There is no other issue like it in the American commemorative series, classic or modern; only the $50 round pieces match the octagonal coins’ sheer size, and there is no substitute for their singular eight-sided shape.
1831 Original Half Cent, PR60 Brown:
No die states are recorded in Walter Breen’s Half Cent Encyclopedia or in Ronald Manley’s The Half Cent Die State Book. The present piece from the Norweb Collection was graded AU55, prooflike, in that catalog. Walter Breen listed the coin as first in his Condition Census of business strikes, the only AU example known. In 1987, Bowers and Merena described this piece in the Norweb catalog as: “AU-55, prooflike. Earlier considered by some observers, including Mrs. Norweb, to be a Proof, and inventoried as such in the Norweb Collection. This is the piece which Walter Breen in his Condition Census designates as the finest known business strike original 1831 half cent.” Today, many believe that all 1831 half cents were struck as proofs. The jury is still out regarding the true status of these coins.
1800 $1 MS63, B-13, BB-193, Perfect Dies:
Bowers-Borckardt Die State I, perfect dies without clash marks or the die crack through the tops of the letters in AMERICA; this is the “original” B-13, since the later die states of the BB-193 were previously described in Bolender under a separate number, B-18. Q. David Bowers wrote in his 1993 reference Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: “For many years, Bolender-13 was considered to be one of the rarer varieties of 1800, while Bolender-18 was one of the more common issues. Auction data suggest that ‘old’ B-13 coins were about three and one-half times rarer than ‘old’ B-18 coins. As might be expected ‘old’ B-13 coins were considered to be great rarities in high grades.”
1848-C Half Eagle MS64, Second Finest Known, Ex: Bass:
A fairly substantial number (by Charlotte Mint standards) of 1848-C fives were minted, but the vast majority of the original production of 64,472 pieces have been either lost or reduced in eye appeal as a result of circulation. It is estimated that there are a total of 250-350 pieces extant today in all grades. Only three to five pieces are believed to grade Uncirculated. This coin is listed as second finest on Doug Winter’s most recent Condition Census, and it is numerically tied with the Eliasberg coin, which is also graded MS64.
1796 O-102 Half, Fine 15 O-102, High R.5:
Collectors attempting to complete a type set of U.S. coinage ultimately are faced with the acquisition of a 1796 or 1797 half dollar. While not the rarest U.S. type coin (the 1796 No Stars and 1808 quarter eagles have that distinction), the Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollar is certainly the most pricey grade for grade. This beautiful example lived up to that billing.
To see the full catalog of this auction, read detailed descriptions of each lot and to download fully enlargeable, hi-res color images, go online to www.HA.com/PalmBeach.
For more information about Heritage’s auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.ha.com.