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A Walk Through The March Baltimore Coin Catalog

Written by Q. David Bowers, Chairman Emeritus

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / Tuesday, March 05, 2013 / Categories: From the Desk of Q. David Bowers
Welcome to my “walk through” of our catalog for the forthcoming official auction of the Whitman Coins andCollectibles Baltimore Expo. The sale is on line at our website -- complete with enlarged detailed color pictures -- and also in catalog form for those on our mailing list. The event is coming up quickly, from March 13 to 15 at the Baltimore Convention Center where the Expo is being held. This is one of the top most active shows of the year. If you plan to be there in person, you’ll enjoy participating in our auction, visiting the bourse of hundreds of dealers, and seeing the sights and enjoying the pleasures of the Inner Harbor section of Baltimore. Or, perhaps like most of our bidders, you will participate by Internet. Either way, a memorable auction awaits you.

The action begins with SessionOne on Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 with lot 1, a lovely silver example of the famous Libertas Americana medal, voted number one by electors contributing to the best-selling Whitman book, The 100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens.Silver examples are exceedingly rare. Colonial and early American coins are then the order of the day, including Lord Baltimore coinage, outstanding Rosa Americana and Wood’s coppers, two Higley coppers, several Chalmers silver strikings, and one of the finest offerings of French Colonies coins ever to cross the block. These early issues were gathered by the late Ted Craige, a customer and fine friend for many years. Ted was a true connoisseur and enjoyed not only possessing his coins, but also studying them in detail, learning as much as he could about their history. For some varieties to have one was a good idea, to have two was better, and to have several was better yet. In Vermont copper coins, for example, he often gathered many duplicates.

Session Two commences on Thursday at 1:00 in the afternoon. Medals of interest and importance begin with Betts issues, and continue to include Washington pieces, medals of various topics, and more, followed by tokens of various kinds, then into federal coinage. Half cents, large cents, Flying Eagle to Lincoln cents, silver and nickel three-cent pieces, nickels, dimes, twenty-cent pieces, quarters, and half dollars continue and round out the session.

Rarities Night, a tradition dating back many years, begins on Thursday at 6:00 in the evening. Another Libertas Americana medal, this in the more often-seen copper, begins the activity with lot 2001. These popular medals are widely collected by those who are not medal specialists -- relating as the design does to federal American coinage. The half cent denomination is represented by the key 1796, the most famous year in the series. Then follow several 1793 cents, the rare 1799/8cent, continuing into small cents, terminating with a superb Gem 1955 DoubledDie. Silver three-cent pieces, or trimes, come next, followed by nickel five-cent pieces heralded by a beautiful and rare 1867 With Rays. Liberty Head nickels and outstanding Buffalo nickels come next.

Lot 2025, the 1792 half disme in MS-64 grade, is among the nicest we have ever offered. This is a “story” coin par excellence. Normally a period of yearsmight pass between our offering high-grade Mint State coins. But, marvelously, only last January we offered a Gem. Nice things come in pairs, it is said, and the present coin, sharply struck and beautiful, will bring in bids from all directions.

Next up is a 1795 half dime from the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection. The coin, in Mint State, carries its own credentials, but without a doubt no pedigree can surpass that of being in the Eliasberg Collection, the only complete collection of United States coins ever formed -- from the 1793 half cent to the 1933 double eagle. If you are an old timer you remember our offering of the Eliasberg Collection in several sections, including the gold issues in 1982 and the copper, nickel, and silver pieces in 1996 and 1997, later followed by world coins and other items.

Dimes run from early to late, and conclude with several notable Mercury issues. Twenty cent pieces are next, followed by quarters, the last emphasizing some of the finest Standing Liberty pieces ever offered. For a museum or a fine private collection lot 2042 will be a showpiece, exhibiting a proposed design that never came to fruition. It is beautiful to behold.

Half dollars commence with the first year of issue, 1794, and continue to include many attractions. The 1815/2, the most elusive given date in the early series, is represented by an AU coin. This prompts me to remember that in the 1960s California dealer John Cobb, specialist in Capped Bust half dollars, set about hoarding these and acquired several hundred examples. Nearly all were in Very Fine grade, only a few in lower grades and only a few higher. Pardon the digression, but this is interesting to observe -- clusters within a certain category. In an unrelated series, the key 1893-S Morgan dollar, nearly all in the marketplace are in VF grade, again with lower grades elusive and higher grades rare. Interesting to contemplate!

Moving forward, lot 2065, an 1836 Reeded Edge half dollar, has always been a key issue. The 1859-S Liberty Seated half dollar, lot 2066, is not particularly rare in worn grades, but in MS-68 grade all bets are off -- this is the only one graded at this level, with none higher, by PCGS. Other Liberty Seated half dollars follow, including an old friend, so to speak, a special striking of the 1861-O which we sold in November 1954 as part of the Anderson-Dupont Collection. If you are a Barber half dollar specialist, lot 2072 will be of special interest. I won’t mention the date here -- so you will have to look it up! The PCGS population is given as eight, but I suspect that this number, actually representing certification events really only represents a small handful of different coins.

Silver dollars are next on the stage beginning with an attractive 1795 Flowing Hair dollar as lot 2073, and continue to include a nice selection of early issues, transitioning to the Liberty Seated series inaugurated by an 1838 Gobrecht. Of particular interest to advanced specialists will be lot 2082, an 1859-S dollar in the remarkable grade of Mint State. Morgan dollars include key issues such as 1879-CC,1889-CC, 1893-S and 1895 as well as high grade examples of other varieties. A Gem 1934-S Peace dollar, a grade seldom seen, is offered as lot 2097 and I guarantee will draw bids from every imaginable direction when it crosses the block. Trade dollars come next followed by some remarkable quality commemoratives. Mint errors and unusual coins follow, after which there is a nice selection of patterns.

Lot 2130 inaugurates federal gold coins with a remarkable choice Mint State 1852-C gold dollar, after which other scarcities and rarities of the denomination will be found, including a truly fantastic 1860-D and a gorgeous Gem 1863. Quarter eagles run from early to late and include Proofs and condition rarities. Three-dollar gold pieces include a Gem 1864 from the Harry W. Bass Collection -- one of many instances in which a coin in our Baltimore sale has a famous pedigree to go with it. Half eagles will please the connoisseur, as will eagles, the last including a remarkable circulation strike 1860 and a key 1870-CC. Double eagles are next and include condition rarities, a selection of the ever-popular MCMVII, an ultra-grade SandBlast Proof 1912, and other desiderata.

After the last lot of our Rarities Night offering finds a new home, Session Four starts off with silver dollars at lot 3001, continuing to trade dollars and commemoratives. On Friday morning, March 15, at 11:00 I will be giving a short talk and signing copies of our recently published book, The Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars 1794-1804. I invite you to attend. After that, Session Five beckons, starting at noon with lot 4001. Commemorative gold, another nice run of patterns, and gold coins from dollars to double eagles are offered in sequence, after which will be found private and territorial gold, Hawaiian coins, and others. But, wait, there is more! SessionSeven, Internet only, closes at 3:00 in the afternoon Pacific time on Tuesday, March 19th, equal to 6:00 Eastern time. This is a remarkable offering of coins in just about every category possible, including tokens, medals, store cards, an amazing selection of shell cards from the Tanenbaum Estate, elongated coins from the Raymond W. Dillard Collection and additional coins from the Ted Craige Collection.