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  • Writer's pictureRon Guth

Ten Big Ones From The January 2019 Heritage Sale

By Ron Guth

A number of important numismatic rarities crossed the auction block at the Platinum Night Session of Heritage’s January 2019 sale at the Florida United Numismatists Convention. These are my personal observations and opinions post-sale.

1. Lot 4553. 1885 Trade Dollar, NGC PR66. Sale Price - $3,960,000

This coin is one of only five known examples, this one boasting a pedigree to the Eliasberg Collection. It has been off the market since 1997. The buyer of this lot was mega-collector, D.L. Hansen, who added it an impressive collection that already includes the finest known 1884 Trade Dollar in PCGS PR67. According to a source on the PCGS Message Boards, Hansen was a strong bidder on the NGC PR66 CAC 1884 Trade Dollar in the 2019 FUN Sale. Who doesn’t want a duplicate 1884 Trade Dollar?

1793 Chain Cent, PCGS MS64+BN Image courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Service

2. Lot 4312. 1793 Chain Cent, PCGS MS64+BN CAC. Sale Price - $1,500,000

This was the second highest price ever paid for a 1793 Chain Cent and the price was very strong for an MS64+BN. The consigner, Alan Weinberg, acquired this coin directly from Large Cent connoisseur, Ted Naftzger, on December 31, 1996, thus this coin never appeared in any of the later Naftzger sales, either public or private, where it would have been a highlight. Truly, an amazing coin.

3. Lot 4552. 1884 Trade Dollar, NGC PR66 CAC. Sale Price - $1,140,000

Louis Eliasberg purchased this coin for his collection in 1942 from Armin Brand, an heir to mega-collector, Virgil Brand. This coin last traded hands in 2006, when Heritage Auctions sold it to the owner of the Greensboro Collection for $998,750. That’s a slim profit for holding a million dollar coin for twelve years, but it is a profit nonetheless. It had been hoped that the Eliasberg 1884 and 1885 Trade Dollars would be sold as a pair but, as mentioned above, they are now going down their separate paths, as they have done in the past.

4. Lot 4651. 1879 Coiled Hair Stella, NGC PR66CAM. Sale Price - $1,050,000

With only a dozen or so known, the 1880 Coiled Hair Stella is a perennial favorite. This example appears to have been off the market since 1997, when it last sold publicly in a Bowers and Merena auction. The grade has gone up a point since then and the coin now has a Cameo designation, putting it about in the middle of the pack as far as condition goes. However, it appears to have sold for a new record price for a Judd 1638, just beating out the $1,040,000 paid for the Tacasyl Collection example in 2013. A true trophy coin.

5. Lot 4308. 1792 Silver-Center Cent Pattern, Judd 1, , PCGS SP58+ CAC. Sale Price - $750,000

Alan Weinberg considered this coin to be third finest known, and others have argued that it could easily have been graded Mint State. Weinberg makes a good case, as this coin is a lovely, problem-free example. The price of $750,000 seems just right in today’s market -- not too strong and not too cheap. Considering that it may be awhile before another one comes on the market, it may just turn out to be a bargain.

6. Lot 4309. 1792 Cent Pattern, Judd 2, PCGS SP53 CAC. Sale Price - $552,000

This coin, in my opinion, was one of the biggest bargains of the 2019 FUN sale. It is the finest example in collectors’ hands, easily beating the next best example (PCGS XF40) by a full thirteen points. Considering that a PCGS VF35 sold for $603,750 in a 2008 Heritage sale (though, admittedly, it later sold for a super-bargain price of $353,500), this coin should have brought much more. Try finding another one – at any price.

7. Lot 4446. 1827/3 Quarter, Original, PCGS PR65. Sale Price - $444,000

There are few comparables for 1827/3 Original Quarters, but the price of this one seems to be in line with the current market. This coin has a pedigree going all the way back to 1867, and it has graced some of the best collections ever formed: Thomas Cleneay, John G. Mills, Virgil Brand, Jerome Kern, and others. To this list, we can now add Bruce Morelan, the admitted purchaser of this lot (he also won the next lot -- the 1827/3 Restrike Quarter). Bruce titled his post about this purchase on the PCGS Message Boards, “Same Rarity as an 1804 $1…”

8. Lot 4321. 1792 Pattern Disme in Copper, Judd 10, PCGS SP55 CAC. Sale Price - $336,000

Another jewel from the Weinberg Collection (interestingly enough, five of Alan’s coins were among the ten most valuable coins of the sale). In 1982, Alan purchased this coin for $35,000. Now, thirty-six years later, it sold for almost ten times as much. When compared to the $360,000 paid for the PCGS AU58+ CAC Archangel coin in late 2018, Alan’s sale price of $336,000 seems strong but, once again, Alan’s coin is a well-balanced, problem-free example.

9. Lot 4320. 1792 Half Disme Pattern, Judd 7, PCGS MS63+. Sale Price - $288,000

In my image database of 83 different 1792 Half Dismes (ranging in grade from a completely worn-out AG to a monster PCGS MS68), this one – the Weinberg example – ranks thirteenth finest. In looking at past sales prices for 1792 Half Dismes, the selling price for this one seems right on the market, if not just a trifle weak. What I like about Alan’s coin is the very strong strike and the full planchet.

10. Lot 4442. 1818 25C, NGC PR67 CAC. Sale Price - $288,000

This is the only Proof 1818 Quarter in private hands (the other is in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution), thus one can throw away any expectations as to what it might bring in the market at any particular time. This one turned out to be a bargain at today’s price, because it sold at a significant discount from the $381,875 realized in the Eric P. Newman sale less than six years ago. Was this volatility the result of weakness at the high end of the market, a lack of players, or some other factor? One can only guess.

Send me your thoughts and comments below.

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