​​
Featured Vid​eos
See More​​​​
​​
​​ ​​​
Social Media
Blog Feed

The January 2013 Americana Catalogs

Written by Q. David Bowers, Chairman Emeritus

Author: Q. David Bowers / Thursday, January 17, 2013 / Categories: From the Desk of Q. David Bowers
Welcome to my “walk” through our three catalogs for our Americana sale event in New York City, coming up very quickly. If you have a printed catalog you are holding three impressive publications, bound to be classics in their own time. If you are participating by Internet only, you have the advantage of seeing individual descriptions for each of the pieces (by scrolling down from the pictures) as well as high resolution photographs, the last not possible in a printed catalog. Either way, many nice things await you.

Our Americana event begins on Tuesday, January 22, continuing to the 23rd, and concluding with Rarities Night on January 24. Offered is a varied assortment of interesting items from early American numismatics onward. In the front of the printed catalog is a biography of Ted Craige by his son, showing Ted at work examining a coin. I remember Ted quite well -- the very definition of a gentleman and also the very definition of a numismatist. Intelligent, kind-hearted, and willing to share, Ted enjoyed his coins, studied them carefully, and liked discussing them with others. Back then -- and I am thinking of the 1960s -- Ted was a member of a relatively small group of colonial enthusiasts. We all knew each other and The Colonial Newsletter was the common point of communication. Today we not only have the Newsletter (now published by the American Numismatic Society) but also the Colonial Coin Collectors Club, plus many new references, plus the Internet. Things have changed and the circle has widened. Unfortunately, Ted is no longer with us. However, in his collection and in our present offering his legacy lives on.

The early part of the Americana catalog includes interesting tokens and medals, including Betts medals. Who would have ever thought years ago that Betts medals in 2013 would be one of the hottest areas of numismatics? Such pieces are fascinating, and they deserve any attention they get. Still, scarce and rare medals sell for only a fraction of what federal coins bring. Revolutionary era and related medals, including those honoring George Washington, follow, with many interesting opportunities. Indian Peace medals have always been of interest and importance. These are followed by various other specialties, including those issued by fairs, educational institutions, and more, after which will be found a nice selection of Hard Times tokens and some selected Civil War tokens.

Beginning with lot 10263 is the largest collection of sutler tokens in existence today and the largest ever offered at auction. This is one of the most interesting of all American specialties -- tokens that were struck by various coiners in Cincinnati, Chicago, and elsewhere, and used as money by sutlers -- licensed merchants who traveled with the troops on the battlefield. Such tokens, usually denominated in values such as five cents, ten cents, and twenty-five cents, occasionally higher, were used to buy games, cards, publications, clothing, stationery for letters to send back home, and more. These have a rich history. Numismatically such pieces are very rare as a class, as they were meant to be used, and were, and were scarcely noticed by numismatists at the time. Accordingly we do not have Proofs, special pieces and the like, but instead pure tokens of interest and importance. Our consignor, Raymond Bunt, spent many years collecting these. It goes without saying that here is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

So-called dollars follow, anchored by the famous 1826 Erie Canal Completion medal, after which will be found some struck copies of colonials and other pieces. The Raymond W. Dillard Collection of Elongated Coins then follows, with many opportunities, including one lot that has 1,280 pieces -- virtually a lifetime collection available with one bid. These are fascinating items and are an important branch of numismatics.

Colonial coins begin with lot10615, a splendid 1652 NE silver shilling, a newly discovered specimen, one that has never been auctioned before and is bound to attract a lot of attention. Other Massachusetts silver coins follow, scarce, rare and always interesting, after which are found Rosa Americana and Woods coinage, Virginia pieces including the rare “penny,” and a newly discovered example of the famous Higley coinage (lot 10659). French Colony coins, Massachusetts copper, Connecticut coppers, and others, with lot 10703 (I am teasing you a bit -- you will have to look it up!) bound to attract bids from every direction. Then follows lot 10704, again interesting and important. New Jersey coppers in due course, after which come Vermont coins, one of my favorite specialties due to the rich variety of designs. Other tokens follow, continuing through Talbot, Allum and Lee issues, a memorable 1776 Continental dollar, and a panorama of Fugio coppers. Washington pieces follow suit.

Session Two begins on Tuesday January 22 at 5:00 in the evening, lots 11001 to 11634, with colonial coins from the Ted Craige Collection, commencing with Massachusetts silver, continuing to Elephant tokens (a very memorable presentation), Massachusetts copper and more. I can close my eyes and imagine -- indeed recall -- the days in which Ted acquired these one by one, year after year, participating in auctions, visiting with dealers in New York City (mainly Stack’s and New Netherlands Coin Co.) and searching in other directions. Connecticut coppers from Ted’s collection then follow -- certainly one of the most interesting, rare, and comprehensive offerings in our own time. Today these are one of the most popular early American specialties.

Ted Craige’s New Jersey coppers begin with lot 11289 and include important types, rare varieties and more, a fascinating group that, again, offers once in a lifetime opportunities for certain issues. It is often the situation that today’s record price is tomorrow’s bargain. How we all wouldn’t love to go back to some of the early American coin collections sold a generation ago -- the Eliasberg and Norweb collections are examples -- and today pay double those “record” prices! While on the subject of colonials, we give a nod to Roger Siboni, important in the colonial field, who was recently honored by the American Numismatic Society at the yearly gala held at the Waldorf Astoria recently. Congratulations, Roger! Washington pieces then follow, again from the Craige Collection and again very memorable. Ted Craige’s Fugio coppers then follow, beginning with lot 11558 and continue in an impressive line up for many pages in the catalog or, if you are on the Internet, many changes of image. Scarcities and rarities abound, again with opportunities not likely to be presented for a long time.

At 10:00 in the morning, January 23, the third session of our Americana Sale begins with half cents, continuing to large copper cents, Indian and Lincoln cents, Buffalo nickels, dimes of different designs, and more, into quarters, half dollars, and dollars. Scarce design types abound, enough to fill in more than just a few empty spaces if you are in the medium stage of forming a collection by major types. If you are at an advanced stage, you still will see some opportunities. Morgan silver dollars, the most popular of all 19th century coins from a numismatic viewpoint, offer many opportunities as well, after which will be found a very nice selection of gold coins, followed by high grade commemoratives, scarce and rare patterns, territorial and California gold, and more.

Session 6 takes a jump on the calendar to the next week, Tuesday January 29, when an Internet only session will be presented. Beginning with lot 14001 is Part One of the Stephen Tanenbaum Collection of Shell Cards -- a magnificent presentation of over 100 pieces, the largest ever auctioned in the past century. As this is Part One, Part Two will be equal. To give you an idea of the elusive quality of these, the finest other collection in existence is the institutional holding of the American Numismatic Society, numbering about 100 pieces totally. A fine collection of shell cards would do well to have as many as 40 or 50 different.

These are a vital part of American tokens, coming after the Civil War series. Commencing in 1867 and continuing through the centennial in 1876, and a bit beyond, these pieces are of the general diameter of a Liberty Head double eagle or Liberty Seated silver dollar, both coins being used as motifs on one side of many issues. Another popular motif is a circular mirror, a hand mirror that gave the advertising token a permanent value, as such were not apt to be thrown away. The other side contains an advertisement of a merchant, service, or product, often imprinted on a hard circular cardboard disk in red, blue, green or some other color, or else in embossed brass. These were fabricated in the same manner as an encased postage stamp, a brass frame enclosing on one side a motif and on the other side an advertisement. In American numismatics these are among the rarest of the rare, and yet the typical rare piece is apt to sell in just the hundreds of dollars, not the thousands.

The Internet-only session follows with coins from half cents, large cents, small cents, nickels, dimes, quarters and onward in silver, federal gold, and then California Small Denomination gold. If you haven’t tried it, send your bids by Internet. The system works very well. From the comfort and convenience of your living room or office you can participate in this interesting and quite important section.

Next up on the agenda is the Cardinal Collection, a memorable, indeed a once-in-a-lifetime offering, that begins on the evening of January 24 at 6:00 sharp. If you have a copy of the printed catalog you will enjoy the reminiscences of the consignor, Martin Logies, “The Cardinal Collection, an Unending Journey,” which begins the catalog. Also you will enjoy his essay, “Some Thoughts on Large Cents as a Specialty.” That said, if you don’t have a catalog, then on the Internet you will certainly appreciate the parade of incredible rarities and the detailed descriptions concerning them. Certainly, this is one of the finest single owner collections to be offered in the history of American numismatics. The number of lots, however, is rather small, just 94 totally. But, what a gathering of treasures!

Martin enjoyed collecting large copper cents -- certainly one of the most interesting of American specialties and one of the most popular. Indeed, the Early American Coppers Club is perhaps the most dynamic of all specialized organizations, or certainly in the top tier. It was Martin’s objective to acquire the very finest grade of each Guide Book-listed cent from the first year of issue, 1793, to the end 1857. Working over a period of years he was able to accomplish much, but not all. What he did accomplish will forever live in the annals of numismatics, as noted. The collection begins with lot 13001, a 1793 Chain cent, Sheldon-2, in Mint State, the very finest known of the variety! Its pedigree is traced back many years. Then comes lot 13002, which has been the focal point of much attention for quite awhile. It is an S-9 Wreath cent graded by PCGS as MS-69 BN, the onlylarge copper cent of any date or variety 1793 to 1857 to be given the MS-69 grade by either of the two leading services. I could readily envision that this coin all by itself might make an interesting catalog. Needless to say, history will be made.

Among the three major cent types of 1793, the rarest is the Liberty Cap, and the Cardinal Collection offers a truly outstanding example. The finest known S-148B Liberty Cap cent of 1794 follows, as do the other coins, in succession, with incredible quality. I paused to linger on 13011, a 1799 cent that traces its pedigree to the famous Lorin G. Parmelee Collection, which when offered at auction in 1890, was the second finest cabinet in all of America, exceeded only by the collection of T. Harrison Garrett (which, I cannot resist the temptation of mentioning, we offered at auction in a series of four sales from 1979 through 1981). Continuing onward, rarity after rarity, Condition Census after Condition Census coin is up for bidding competition. Among later cents the 1823 is the most difficult date to achieve, with the Cardinal Collection piece being of exceptional quality. The impressive cents continue into the 1830s, then the transitional and unusual varieties of 1839, into the Braided Hair type beginning in 1839 and continuing through 1857. Full Mint red is the norm, not the exception. Amazing!

Concluding the Cardinal Collection are some related pieces of interest, including the curious Dickeson “1792 pattern,” a superb Gem 1837 Feuchtwanger cent, and some interesting patterns and later Proofs. One of the great “sleepers” in American numismatics is the 1857 Flying Eagle cent in Proof, of which the Cardinal Collection offers a beautiful Gem. In this year many if not most Proof sets were sold early, at which time recipients received large copper cents and not the new Flying Eagle cent. How many were struck is not known, but 100 or so is probably a good estimate.

Next comes another American landmark, a 1792 half disme graded MS-68, the finest certified of this historic Mint issue. As if this were not enough, it is pedigreed directly to the estate of Mint Director David Rittenhouse. About 1,500 pieces were struck in July 1792 before the Philadelphia Mint was a reality (the cornerstone was laid later on July 31). A coining press was set up in the shop of John Harper nearby and these, the first federal issues, were made from silver said to have been supplied by President George Washington. In his annual speech to Congress held on December 6, he specifically mentioned the half dismes as a beginning in American coinage.

The grand finale of the Cardinal Collection is lot 13094, a superb Gem 1794 Flowing Hair dollar, the first variety, graded Specimen-66 by PCGS and also with the prized CAC sticker. With a prooflike surface and with the earliest die state observed, this may well have been the very first specimen struck of the very first American silver dollar. Talk about American numismatic treasures -- this one is unique considering all of its aspects and will automatically place its next owner in the Hall of Fame, so to speak. It is a legendary coin.

The third catalog of our Americana event is our Rarities Night presentation on Thursday evening, following the sale of the Cardinal Collection. Such events have been a tradition dating back many years. Some of you may remember the so-called Apostrophe Auctions of the 1970s and 1980s, of similar venue, in which leading firms showcased scarce and rare items -- Stack’s presenting 500 coins in each event. History was made. This continued to our own later “Rarities Sale” events, and down to our present Rarities Night. The legendary contents of past such sales still echo in the halls of numismatics.

Rarities Night begins with lot 13101, a Betts medal, followed by 13102, the Libertas Americana medal which, to describe its importance, needs only this comment: In the voting to determine the order of pieces in the Whitman book The 100 Greatest American Tokens and Medals, the Libertas Americana medal was number one! High grade half cents of 1793, later half cents of importance, early large cents in high grade including an incredible 1839/6 Overdate, memorable Flying Eagle cents including a Choice Mint State 1898/7, a wonderful Gem 1877 Indian cent, and notable Lincoln cents continue the parade. Then will be found nickel five-cent pieces beginning with a wonderful Gem 1867 Shield without rays, a classic. Memorable Buffalo nickels follow, after which the scenario changes to half dimes, including one of my favorite issues, the historic 1796/5. A splendid 1803 half dime traces its pedigree to the John Jay Pittman Collection. The 1829 half dime is a glittering Proof, quite possibly struck for the cornerstone ceremony held on July 4th of that year, but who knows? Some coins, including this, keep their secrets well. Among Liberty Seated half dimes the key Philadelphia date is 1846, represented here by a Proof. Dimes begin with the early years, continue onward, and include quality rarely seen.

Among mintmarked silver coins, the 1876-CC twenty-cent piece is a classic. From all around the nation, indeed all around the world, eyes will be focused on screens as lot 13170 comes up for bidding -- a beautiful Gem. In addition to the attributes of this coin delineated in fascinating detail in the description -- read it on the Internet or in the catalog -- this has the advantage that if you purchase this coin it will not be difficult to build a complete collection of twenty-cent pieces, as the series only extended from 1875 to 1878, and the several other varieties, while not necessarily common in MS-65 or Proof-65, can be obtained without difficulty. Linger on the description and contemplate it, and if it is in the cards for you, surely a possession desire will arise.

Quarter dollars include outstanding pieces from early years onward, including a beautiful Gem 1901-S Barber, key to that series. Half dollars start with the Flowing Hair type, continue onward into the early 19th century (a Proof 1836 Reeded Edge must be mentioned), Liberty Seated coins of quality and rarity, Liberty Walking halves and more. A bit of nostalgia surrounds lot 13202, sold by us in 1954 -- in a sale that at the time was a sensation. I suggest that you read the description.

Silver dollars include the Flowing Hair and Draped Bust types, transitioning into Gobrecht silver dollars of 1836 and 1838, then Liberty Seated, then a truly memorable offering of Morgan dollars. Highlighted among the last is lot 13227, an 1895-O in Specimen-65 grade, the likes of which you will probably never see again! Continuing on past silver dollars you will encounter some incredible quality commemoratives from the classic era, including multiple examples of the famous 1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific issues in round and octagonal formats.

Next comes the section of the catalog, which on its own would make a fine publication -- an incredible, indeed unprecedented and unique opportunity that includes not one but two examples of one of the most famous “popular rarities” in American coinage, a 1943 “Lincoln penny struck in copper” per the popular parlance. Many pages have been written about these coins. We offer an AU-55, an incredible grade on its own and, sweeping most everything else aside, a marvelous MS-63! Following that are some other world-class errors of the same era. Watch for fireworks! Also offered is a really special 1964 Special Mint Set -- not to be redundant with adjectives, but certainly deserved here -- followed by a unique pattern Indian cent, other memorable patterns and more.

Rarities Night continues with some highly important private and territorial gold coins, moving into federal gold dollars, which are memorable as expected. Then come quarter eagles including, incredibly, a Mint State 1808 -- the very rarest of all major design types of United States coins including copper, nickel, silver, and gold. An incredible 1824/1 quarter eagle, a splendid 1826, and a Gem Mint State 1831 follow quickly, after which will be found others of importance, including the famous 1854-S. Three-dollar gold pieces include memorable Mint State and Proof coins, after which Rarities Night continues with an example of the first federal gold coin. This is the 1795 half eagle with Heraldic Eagle reverse, of the type released in late summer 1795 inaugurating the gold series. Earlier, only copper (since 1793) and silver (since 1794) pieces had been made at the Philadelphia Mint. Half eagles include rare varieties as well as condition rarities. Ten-dollar gold eagles follow, from early years onward, then double eagles, including of course (would a Rarities Night be complete without one, two, or several?) MCMVII High Relief issues as well as treasures within later Saint-Gaudens types, bringing down the curtain with a wonderful Gem 1930-S.

Numismatic history will be made in New York City from January 22 through 24. If you plan to be there, track me down and say hello. Equally or more important, the rest of the staff will be there also, as most of what I have done has been behind the scenes during the catalog preparation. You’ll enjoy meeting our officers, employees, and auctioneers, a nice gathering.

However, if you are typical, you will be among the thousands of people worldwide following the sale on the Internet. I would never have expected 20 years ago to say this: Even if no one attended the sale in person, the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Internet program is so dynamic that the sale is bound to be a success!

In person in New York City or on the Internet I wish you the very best in competing for and obtaining some very special coins to add to your collection. Thank you very much.