IRVINE, Calif. (July 10, 2014) — A group of five unusual Peace dollars consigned to Stack’s Bowers Galleries August 2014 ANA Sale proves to include important Patterns, a unique Specimen, and a pair of coins from the early hub style trials for the regular issue 1922 Low Relief, shedding important new light on the development process for this important commemorative design.
The coins were originally part of the holdings of Raymond T. Baker, who served as the mint director from March 1917 to March 1922. During this time, he oversaw the end of the Morgan dollar era and the birth of the new Peace dollar. He was intimately involved with the process that led to the production of the new dollars, from design to large-scale striking for commercial use, and was essential to the approval processes along the way. He retained the coins sent to him for examination, and these five coins are part of that group.
Two additional pieces made news when they were sold in the Goldberg’s sale of June 2014. These also came from the Baker Estate, and were important for sorting out the mysteries of the entire group. Having the opportunity to consider all seven coins and their annotated original envelopes was very interesting. Study and consideration of the detailed story of the Peace dollar’s development in 1921 and 1922, as presented in Roger Burdette’s Renaissance of American Coinage, 1916-1921, completed the picture and brought new understanding to the process and to these rarities that have now come to light.
The five coins include a High Relief 1921, which has been graded Specimen-64 by PCGS. It is a unique Specimen that was sandblasted and antiqued specifically to submit to Mint Director Baker for comparison to a similarly treated 1922 High Relief. The 1922 was sold in the Goldberg sale, erroneously called a Proof. These two coins are specifically mentioned in a letter from Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint Freas Styer to Mint Director Baker, dated January 8, 1922. Both coins are unique.
The second and third coins included in the recently consigned selection are extremely rare Pattern coins for a proposed Modified High Relief design, identified as Judd-2020. One is a Satin Proof, graded Proof-67 (PCGS), which is unique, while the other is the final coin struck from the trial dies. It was saved, numbered by hand on the coin “3200” as the 3200th coin struck before the dies failed, and presented to the Mint Director. It is graded MS-65 by PCGS. It is also a unique piece as a specifically documented trial, though at least two other coins are known from this die pair. One is a Matte Proof last sold in our (Bowers and Merena’s) Four Memorable Collections Sale in September 1985. The other is a worn example plated in the Judd reference. Both of these important patterns are also mentioned in Mint documents.
The final two coins, both graded MS-67 by PCGS, are from the initial large-scale trial run from dies prepared with the new low relief hubs for 1922. At least hundreds of thousands of these coins were struck before these samples were sent to the mint director for his examination and approval. Approval was given, and on February 14th, 1922 direction was given for the trial coins to be circulated. The hubs in use at Philadelphia were changed, however, and early hub style coins are much rarer than those of the second hub style. This gives collectors a new piece to search for, and will likely result in a change to the Guide Book listings for the 1922 Peace dollar to reflect the difference between these dies. The easiest way to determine the difference is in the connection of the olive branch on the reverse to the eagle’s talon. The early hub style coins have the branch disconnected, while on the the later style it is connected. As far as we are aware, this is the first public offering of such pieces with proper identification and description. Since the coins from the trial were circulated, the two fabulous Superb Gem specimens in our present sale are quite possibly the finest known survivors, and adding their provenance to Mint Director Baker himself makes their offering historic.
About Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company’s 80-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, The Guia Collection, The Thos. H. Law Collection, and The Robert O. Ebert Collection.
Topping off this amazing numismatic history is the inclusion of the world record for the highest price ever realized at auction for a rare coin, the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar graded Specimen-66 (PCGS) that realized over $10 million, part of their sale of the famed Cardinal Collection. The company is headquartered in Irvine, California, with offices in New York, Wolfeboro, Hong Kong, and Paris. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is an Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic conventions, including American Numismatic Association events, the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Professional Numismatists Guild New York Invitational, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer and Winter Expos, and its April and August Hong Kong Auctions.