Panama-Pacific Coin Set, 1870-CC Double Eagle Featured in Bonhams’ September Auction

by Bonhams on August 28, 2011 · 0 comments

Bonhams (www.bonhams.com) is pleased to announce the addition of a highly sought after five-piece Panama-Pacific coin set to the September 4, 2011 auction of Rare Coins and Medals.

1915 Panama-Pacific Five-Coin Set

This Panama-Pacific Coin Set is a highlight in Bonhams’ September Rare Coins and Medals Auction. The set includes a 1915-S $50 Round, 1915-S 50C, 1915-S $50 Octagonal, 1915-S G$1 and a 1915-S $2.5. They are estimated to bring $90,000-100,000. (Click to enlarge image.)

Created to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and the workmen that created it, the coins graced the 1915 exposition in San Francisco in celebration of the monumental event.

Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Banknotes Department at Bonhams & Butterfields, said of the coin set: "The Panama-Pacific coin set is one of the highest-priced coin sets of this type to come to market. Many of the sets made by this mint have been melted down since 1915. Bonhams is pleased to offer such a pristine set."

Featured in the Panama-Pacific coin set are a 1915-S 50C, 1915-S G$1, 1915-S $50 Round, 1915-S $50 Octagonal and a 1915-S $2.5. It was during this time that many new devices were being tested on America’s coinage: matte proofing, rims without denticles, artistic lettering, textured fields, and the like. As can be seen, the coins struck for this exposition, such as the attractive quarter eagle, incorporate many of these innovations.

1915 Panama-Pacific coin set in case

The coins in the Panama-Pacific Coin set are offered in the original case issued.

Instead of a more traditional design, the artist of the 1915-S $2.5 proposed an unusual motif of Columbia seated on a mythological hippocampus, half-horse, half-sea serpent. The eagle, too, was styled in a new way, not seen before on an American production coin. It was modeled upon a similar eagle seen on one of the rare pattern issues.

The coins are offered with the original case of issue inscribed PANAMA-PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION COMMEMORATIVE COINS 1915 SAN FRANCISCO, U.S.A. and are estimated to bring $90,000-100,000.

1870-CC Double Eagle

Filled with rarities, the sale also contains a collection of gold coins from the Estate of Hellen and Charles Mapes, of Reno, Nev. Once owned by the famed hotel and casino mogul Charles Mapes, the offering includes a rarely seen, high grade 1870-CC Liberty Double Eagle coin.

1870-CC Double Eagle

This 1870-CC Double Eagle is another highlight in Bonhams’ September Rare Coins and Medals Auction. The rare coin is estimated to conservatively bring $150,000-$180,000.

This date and mint are well known to numismatists as the top Carson City rarity in the Liberty Double Eagle series. In fact, it is the rarest of all CC gold coinage. (Please read separate press release.)

Song continues: "We are estimating the Mapes 1870-CC Double Eagle to conservatively be $150,000-$180,000. This year marks the 50th year anniversary of Mr. Mapes’ purchase of this ultra-rarity and this example has not seen the light of day for the past 50 years, making this example in effect a coin of the highest importance being offered after a half century in the depths of a safety deposit box."

This particular coin has been in the Mapes Collection since it was purchased in February of 1961 from the fabled Kreisberg-Schulman Auction of February 16-18, 1961 held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, and can be considered a "discovery" piece due to the length of time since its last offering 50 years ago. Knowledgeable researchers estimate that approximately 35 to 45 1870-CC $20 coins exist, most in the Very Fine to Extremely Fine grade range. It should be noted there are no Uncirculated (Mint State) examples presently known to either of the major grading services.

Additional coinage of note from the sale includes a core of $20 gold pieces from a private collection (estimates range from $1,600-40,000); a complete collection of Indian Head $2.5 Quarter eagle coins (estimates range from $250-14,000) and a 1796 $10 AU50 NGC (est. $50,000-60,000), an outstanding example of the second year of the $10 gold eagle.

Timed to coincide with the celebration of Mexican independence on September 16th Bonhams is pleased to offer an extremely rare Mexico Centennial Gold Medal of Independence (est. $6,000-8,000). The gold medal was struck in 1910 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the independence of Mexico from Spain and remains a highly sought after piece of history.

Also of note within the medal section of the fall auction is the gold trophy from the first Pulitzer Air Race, awarded to Lieutenant Corliss C. Moseley in 1920. The obverse with relief design shows the Pulitzer Trophy itself, which was crafted by sculptor Mario Josef Korbel, and the words "Pulitzer Trophy." The reverse has a laurel-crowned propeller and inscription "Winner of First Place: Lt. C.C. Moseley,USA. Distance 116.0808. Time 44:29:57. November 25, 1920."

Struck in gold by the Gorham Company of New York, the trophy is marked 14 karat, measures 124 x 75 mm, and weighs approximately 375 grams. The Pulitzer Air Race occurred annually until 1925, and the large silver trophy itself now resides in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (est. $15,000 – 20,000).

Additional awards and accolades featured within the sale include the Gold Roosevelt Memorial Association Medal of Honor presented to Owen Wister for distinguished service. This rare medal has been in the possession of Owen Wister’s family since it was issued to him in 1929 by James Garfield, President of the Roosevelt Association. Garfield was the son of the late James A. Garfield and served as the Secretary of the Interior during the Roosevelt administration. To date, only 135 Theodore Distinguished Service Medals have been awarded. This medal is an extremely rare offering at public auction and is expected to bring (est. $18,000-25,000).

Song continues: "Bonhams is pleased to offer these rare to market medals and awards. They are rare pieces of history with great provenance that are not generally seen at public auction."

The illustrated auction catalog for the sale is available online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at www.bonhams.com/us. For more information about the department, please visit www.bonhams.com/uscoins.

NEWLY REDISCOVERED, ULTRA RARE 1870-CC $20 GOLD COIN FROM THE MAPES HOTEL AND CASINO COLLECTION ON THE AUCTION BLOCK

Bonhams & Butterfields is pleased to announce its sale on September 4, 2011 of gold coins from the Estate of Hellen and Charles Mapes, of Reno, NV. The eponymous Collection, once owned by the famed hotel and casino mogul Charles Mapes, includes a rarely seen, high grade 1870-CC Liberty Double Eagle coin.

1870-CC Double Eagle description

1870-CC Double Eagle description. The rare coin will be offered in Bonhams’ September Rare Coins and Medals Auction on September 4, 2011.

This date and mint are well known to numismatists as the top Carson City rarity in the Liberty Double Eagle series. In fact, it is the rarest of all CC gold coinage.

This particular coin has been in the Mapes Collection since it was purchased in February of 1961 from the fabled Kreisberg-Schulman Auction of February 16-18, 1961 held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, and can be considered a "discovery" piece due to the length of time since its last offering 50 years ago. Knowledgeable researchers estimate that approximately 35 to 45 1870-CC $20 coins exist, most in the Very Fine to Extremely Fine grade range. It should be noted there are no Uncirculated (Mint State) examples presently known to either of the major grading services.

Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Bank Notes Department, Bonhams & Butterfields, said of the coin: "I really enjoyed looking at this nice old group of coins which had clearly been from an ‘old time collection.’ I looked at the three 1907 High Relief $20’s and the two $50 California so-called slugs before I saw the 1870 $20.

It was encased in a very unpretentious looking Capital Plastics holder, but when I flipped the coin over to look at the reverse to determine the condition of the coin, the CC mintmark simply jumped out at me. It was a true surprise, and also for our client.

As this coin marks the 50th year of its purchase by Mr. Mapes, and is one of the legendary coins in all of United States Coinage, we anticipate the auction of this coin to be a historic event, and foresee this item going to another collector where it will be treasured for decades to come."

At the time this coin was brought into Bonhams’ offices, the client was unaware that this was in fact a classic rarity, and believed this coin to be the much more common 1870 $20, which is typically estimated between $1,500-2,000.

In addition to the 1870-CC $20, there are three 1907 (MCMVII) High Relief Double Eagles ranging in grades from About Uncirculated to Choice Uncirculated (estimates range from $8,000-10,000 to $12,000-14,000). Territorial Gold is represented by two important coins: 1851 Augustus Humbert $50 "Slug" 880 THOUS. Reeded Edge (est. $15,000-18,000), and an 1852 U.S. Assay Office $50 "Slug" 900 THOUS (est. $8,000-12,000).

Additional highlights from the Mapes Collection include a 1902 Great Britain 5 Pounds (est. $2,000-3,000), 1850 $20 (est. $1,550-1,750), 1855 $3 (est. $1,400-1,600), and a 1775-MJ Peru (Carlos III) 8 Escudos (est. $1,600-2,200). Mr. Mapes led a very prominent and colorful existence, and these coins reflect both his mercurial nature as well as his appreciation of the finer things in life.

About the Mapes Hotel and Casino

The Mapes Hotel and Casino was the first major high-rise hotel built in this country after World War II. When the twelve-story Mapes Hotel opened in the heart of Reno, NV., in December of 1947, it was the tallest building in the state. The hotel was significant in the development of the tourism industry and was the forerunner of the Nevada casino-hotels built specifically to offer gaming, guest accommodations, restaurants, bars and big name entertainment. When World War II ended, Charles Mapes, Jr., and his family decided to build their dream hotel using the blueprints chosen by his father, Charles, Sr., who had passed away in 1937.

The Mapes Hotel and Casino thrived throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, but began to face competition in the 1980s. The Casino closed on December 17, 1982. The building was allowed to decay, and finally, the Reno Redevelopment Agency took possession of the building in 1996. Despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was condemned and the building was demolished on January 30, 2000.

The illustrated auction catalog for the sale is available online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at www.bonhams.com/us. For more information about the department, please visit www.bonhams.com/uscoins.

About Bonhams

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America.

Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further seven throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston in the USA; and Switzerland, France, Monaco, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai.

Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 50 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, go to www.bonhams.com.

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