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Welcome to our Baltimore Sale

Written by Q. David Bowers, Chairman Emeritus

Author: Q. David Bowers / Monday, June 18, 2012 / Categories: From the Desk of Q. David Bowers
With my catalog in hand for our official auction in connection with the Whitman Coins & Collectibles Expo, June 28-29, I am about to take a walk through it, so to speak. You can follow me either in a printed catalog or on line. The event will be a great one – certainly to be remembered as one of the most important auctions of the year. Highlighting it is a magnificent Superb Gem Proof MCMVII (1907) Ultra High Relief double eagle, one of fewer than 20 believed to exist, with none finer than this. While this coin is the stuff of which dreams are made, the majority of the sale comprises affordable items, ranging from the tens of dollars, through the hundreds of dollars and upward. Scarce dates and mintmarks, popular types, expanded offerings in certain series, and more await your contemplation.

The first session starts on Wednesday evening, June 27, at 6:00 Eastern Daylight Time. Beginning the event as a warm up, so to speak, are Proof sets, bullion coins, group lots, and the like, a nice chance to build a stock if you are a dealer or shop owner, or simply to browse our selection. Lot 329 begins the Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge Collection of early American medals comprising Indian Peace medals, Mint medals, medals of famous persons, decorations, art medals, and more, one of the most fascinating specialties within numismatics. Interest in these, while dating back a long time, has moved into the fast lane in recent years, due in no small part to some of the spectacular offerings of medals in our sales, highlighted by the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection. Most American medals of interest and importance sell in three-figure ranges, making them quite affordable. At the same time, each medal has a story to tell. Other Americana issues include silver items crafted by engravers with numismatic connections, merchant tokens, and others.

Thursday Jun 28 at 10:00 in the morning the second session starts with lot 1001. Soon out of the gate are Massachusetts silver coins, including examples of the famous Pine Tree shilling. There is room for one of these historic pieces in any collection, representing as they do the very essence of early American numismatics. Other colonial and related issues include Rosa Americana, London Elephant, Rhode Island, and other pieces, after which comes contract coinage of the states including Massachusetts, a very nice run of Connecticut coppers, New York, New Jersey and Vermont. Pieces relating to George Washington, a lovely 1776 Continental dollar in pewter, and Fugio coppers continue, followed by some interesting large lots from the estate of our fine friend, Michael K. Ringo.

Among the most beautiful, most admired designs in American coinage is the Walking Liberty half dollar. These were minted from 1916 to 1947 but not in all years. Front row, center will be our final offering of the Walking Liberty Tribute Collection, emphasizing Proofs from 1936 to 1942 in multiples – these being the only Proof years of the series – followed by Mint State “short set” half dollars 1941 to 1947. Gem preservation is the key aspect, and ultra Gem coins in 66 grade or higher are often in such numbers that the rare seems to become common! Not actually, as once this sale is over the pieces will become widely scattered, and finding ultra-grade coins will take some doing. Right now, as you read these words, all are available and it is an ideal time to build a full set of Proofs 1936 to 1942 and a full run of dates and mints from 1941 to 1947.

On Thursday Session Three begins at 6:00 in the evening. Throughout the auction sessions we will have beverages and “nibbles” on a sideboard for your enjoyment. Our auctioneers will be Melissa Karstedt and Marissa Lederman, numismatic favorites. Both ladies held forth at our recent auction in Hong Kong, thought to be the first women numismatic auctioneers in the country of China. The new session begins with half cents, the first year of issue 1793, and continues to include other interesting varieties and types, after which large copper cents take command and also include varieties and types. Small cents start with two of the famous 1856 Flying Eagle and continue onward through Indian cents and Lincoln cents. The latter category will be long remembered for not only its high quality key issues but for some absolutely fascinating die varieties from the Hiwassee Lincoln Variety Collection. We expect a lot of interest when this section crosses the block. All are attributed to the standard work in the series by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton, The Cherrypicker’s Guide to Rare Die Varieties.

Two-cent pieces come next with Mint State and Proof pieces, then two examples of the extremely rare 1856 Proof trime, a rare Proof of 1857, and several later Proof and Mint State pieces. Nickel three-cent pieces are next, followed by nickel five-cent pieces. One of the greatest American classics in Proof minor coinage is the 1867 With Rays, for which a single example would be a notable occasion. We offer two lovely pieces – an ultra quality Proof-66 and a Gem Proof-65, both in old PCGS holders, implying that they might be conservatively graded even at these high levels.

The Land of Smiles Collection of Liberty Nickels is beyond comparison. I have never seen anything like it. Starting with 1883 and continuing year by year through 1912, this features ultra high grades, Condition Census throughout, sometimes the very finest known, in both Mint State and in Proof format. If building a Registry Set is on your list of challenges you have come to the right place. I doubt if any offering like this will ever occur again. This is quite a statement considering the rarities that we handle. Wait! There is more! Then follow other interesting Mint State and Proof Liberty Head nickels, then a great selection of Buffalo nickels, one of America’s most famous motifs. A 1926-S in Gem preservation will surely bring bids from every point of the compass. Half dimes come next, then dimes from early to late, the early pieces including some marvelous items. I pause to mention an 1827 in MS-67 and a Cameo Proof 1835, but you must read through the listings so as not to miss other important items.

Quarter dollars include a Proof 1847 – when have you seen another? – followed by interesting Liberty Seated issues, a nice array of Barber Proofs and Mint State pieces, then into the Standing Liberty and Washington series. Half dollars are next in the menu, with many highly important early pieces, including gorgeous Proofs. Barber coins are memorable, as are Walking Liberty quarters and some high grade Franklins. After this it is time for a good night’s sleep! Hopefully you are the proud owner of pieces you have been keeping your eye on.

Session Four begins at 1:00 in the afternoon on Friday, which means that if early silver dollars are your specialty you will be present and accounted for. First to cross the block is that great American classic, the 1794, one of only about 125 to 135 known in all grades. Other early dollars continue, including some seldom-seen high grade varieties. After which it is into the Gobrecht series, with 1836 and two of the scarcer 1839 date. Liberty Seated dollars are next up, with an 1851 Original sure to attract attention, followed by Proofs of the 1850s onward. Morgan silver dollars, always a specialty in our sales, contain something for everyone – popular Carson City and Philadelphia issues in Choice and Gem grades that are quite affordable, changing now and then to ultra rarities, of which the 1892-S in MS-67 will be long remembered. Watch this one go! The 1893-O at the top of the PCGS Population Report will probably mean that the sky is the limit and the room will be up for grabs. Wait and see. A lovely Proof 1895 comes down the line a few lots later, as do others. In a separate section is a very nice consignment of Carson City dollars attributed to the GSA (General Services Administration) series of sale in the 1970s. Opportunities galore! Trade dollars follow including some very nice Proofs. Commemorative coins, one of my favorite series but somewhat overlooked in the marketplace, offer the chance to buy many choice and rare items, some of them off the market for a long time.

On Friday evening, June 29, a parade of exceptional items is in the offing, beginning with an 1860 Proof set offered individually, ditto for 1869, 1883, 1891, and 1903. These sets are matched in their toning and are thought to have been kept together since the very year of issue. Consigned by the Winecrest Collection the combination of high quality and eye appeal has few comparisons. Commemorative gold coins come next, including one of just 100 Proof 1903 Louisiana Purchase gold dollars with the McKinley portrait, the rarest of all American commemoratives (the 1915-S Panama-Pacific $50 in round format) and others. Then come pattern coins where the word rare is the standard, not the exception. Many fascinating pieces await your selection, including a transitional silver 1864 pattern, various Standard Silver issues, a Superb Gem 1870 double eagle in aluminum, and more. Private and territorial gold coins and related pieces cross the block next, then some shipwreck coins and ingots.

The curtain opens for gold dollars next, beginning with a lovely 1849-C, and continuing to include a number of wish list pieces such as an incredible Gem Proof 1867, an ultra Mint State 1870, and others. Quarter eagles begin with the seldom seen 1826, continue to include a magnificent 1827 (tied for finest certified by NGC), on into the Classic Head and Liberty series. Charlotte and Dahlonega coins abound, offering a proverbial field day if you are a specialist. Not only is the selection extraordinary, but the grades are finer than typically seen. Later quarter eagles include rare dates, a superb Gem Proof 1899, a Sand Blast Proof 1908, several examples of the key 1911-D and others.

In the crème de la crème category is Lot 4244, a marvelous Gem Proof 1854 $3 gold, the first year of issue. This is a prize for the specialist as well as a marvelous acquisition opportunity for anyone building a type set. This offering will be long remembered. Other $3 pieces are interesting and important including a seldom seen Proof 1872.

One of the finest 1879 Flowing Hair Stellas is next, in Ultra Cameo Proof-68. Read our description, savor the experience, and then if your bank account permits bid for one of the finest ever offered.

$5 half eagles come next starting with a Mint State example of the very first die variety, BD-1 of 1795, issued in August of that year. This is a fitting beginning to a run other interesting early half eagles, transitioning to the Liberty type and onward, concluding with an exceptional grade 1929 rarity, the last year of the denomination. Eagles include interesting dates and mintmarks, a superlative cameo Proof 1885, a gorgeous Proof 1907, and others. The Indian Head series includes an exceptional 1908 With Motto and seldom seen Mint State 1908-S.

Double eagles, always a popular series, include the three different Liberty designs within which are high quality pieces, including a nostalgic 1857-S in Gem preservation from the S.S. Central America. Among later double eagles a Proof 1899 and a companion Proof 1903 are of importance. Then comes the highlight of the evening – the beautiful and rare Ultra High Relief MCMVII, Proof-69. This offering is beyond spectacular, is described in detail in the catalog or on our website, and will ever echo as one of the most important auction presentations of our era. Other Saint-Gaudens double eagles follow including some “regular” High Relief pieces, a Sand Blast Proof 1911, and others.

The curtain comes down on our Baltimore sale giving you a chance to rest and to take your time bidding on Session Six, internet only, which closes on Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 Pacific Daylight Time (note the difference).

That concludes my walk through the sale. My next “walk” will be for the World’s Fair of Money sale, our official auction for the American Numismatic Association Convention. See you then!