A simply stunning 1851 $50 LE Humbert Fifty Dollar, 880 Thous. MS63 PCGS, no. 50 on Reverse, K-2, R.5, the standout territorial gold piece from the renowned Eliasberg-Oakwood Collection, added to its legend on Wednesday night, Aug. 11, when it brought $546,250 to lead Heritage Auctions’ Boston, MA Signature® & Platinum Night ANA U.S. Coin Auction.
The total prices realized for the U.S. coin auction reached $34,065,984, including 15% Buyers Premium, for the 7,133 total lots in the auction, translating into a sell-through rate of 93.310% by lot.
The total of all three Heritage numismatic category auctions — U.S. Coins, World Coins and Currency — that took place throughout the week of the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money, was more than $46 million, a new record total for a Heritage ANA event.
"I’d categorize the auction results as quite strong indeed," said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. "We had rarity, history and beauty all in large supply and collectors took full advantage of the offerings. Rare coins continue to be seen as a good market to be in as the record totals would indicate."
The amazing Humbert Fifty, an Eliasberg cover coin from the May 1996 sale of that famed collection, is perhaps the most stellar example of these time-consuming, difficult to produce coins — made in "hand-crafted style," to borrow the Eliasberg catalog’s phrase — whose dies were originally created for flexibility in value, explaining the enigmatic "C" for "Cents" in the denomination, yet which proved, in practice, to be dominated in production by the $50 denomination dominated.
The Farouk-Norweb 1915 P50C Panama-Pacific Half Dollar in Gold, Judd-1960, formerly Judd-1793, Pollock-2031, High R.8, PR64 NGC, one of only two known, was the second highest selling lot of the auction with a $460,000 tally coming amidst spirited bidding, while a very rare and important 1652 SHILNG New England Shilling, AU50 PCGS, CAC, Noe III-C, R.6., from the Dwight N. Manley Collection, did not disappoint as one of Platinum Night’s most hotly anticipated coins, rising to a final price of $416,875.
The coin that generated the most pre-auction buzz — even generating a pre-auction story on New Hampshire Public Radio — was the 1907 $10 Wire Rim, Plain Edge, Judd-1902, formerly Judd-1774A, Pollock-1996, R.8, PR62 NGC, believed to be unique with the Plain Edge, possibly the first Indian Eagle ever struck and likely the only Saint-Gaudens coin that Augustus Saint-Gaudens himself ever laid eyes upon.
The hype proved to be worth it as at least two collectors vied for this historic coin before it finally went to a determined bidder for the figure of $359,375.
"We believe this specimen is the sole surviving representative of the plain edge 1907 Indian eagle pattern, although a second example may still exist," said Rohan.
"We know that two plain edge patterns were struck in July 1907, with one sent to Treasury Secretary George B. Cortelyou and forwarded to President Theodore Roosevelt, and the other sent to Saint-Gaudens.
Although we are unable to say which of the two coins the present specimen is, it is highly likely that this is the coin sent to Saint-Gaudens, which gives it the special cachet of being the only actual coin of his design that the sculptor personally saw. All other Indian eagles and all of the Saint-Gaudens designed double eagles were struck after the artist died on August 3, 1907."
If, on the other hand, this is the example sent to Cortelyou and forwarded to Roosevelt, then it is also historically important. Heritage coin specialists, however, believe it was more likely that the Roosevelt example was eventually returned to the mint and melted down.
"In any event," said Rohan, "the second, while it may well still be extant, has never surfaced."
Another principal highlight of the auction was the incredible 1796 25C MS65 PCGS, B-2, R.3, Ex: Norweb, High 6, which provided its share of fireworks before going for $322,000 to an advanced collector.
The 1796 quarters were the first of their kind, featuring the Draped Bust obverse modeled from the work of Gilbert Stuart, and the Small Eagle reverse that would soon be replaced with a Heraldic Eagle design. These are one-year type coins, the first quarter dollars ever minted, with a low-mintage issue and scarce a dozen examples thought to still exist.
Further highlights include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Important Superb Gem 1931 Double Eagle, Second Rarest Late-Date Saint, Finest Known, Ex: Morse, MS67 PCGS: The 1931 is one of the foremost rarities in the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series, and one of the most important gold issues of the 20th century. The coin offered here is considered the finest known specimen, without a serious challenger. Realized: $322,000.
- Important 1797 Half Dollar, AU58, O-101a, Granberg-Atwater-Hawn Specimen, High R.4: Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollars, bearing the dates 1796 or 1797, come from a paltry mintage of 3,918 pieces, about 250 of which have survived the ravages of time. This is one of the finest. Realized: $253,000.
- Boldly struck 1652 Willow Tree Shilling, Noe 3-E, VF35, Discovery Coin for the Type, Noe Census #22, Plated in Noe, CAC. Ex: Ford-Manley: This variety is extremely rare, with only a handful of examples known to collectors. Realized: $230,000.
- Momentous 1797 Small Eagle, 15 Stars Five Dollar, BD-2, R.7, Finest Certified, only Mint State example, MS60 NGC, Breen-6419: The 1795 half eagles were the first U.S. gold coins, produced in the third year of official U.S. Mint coinage and under the second and third Mint directors, William Henry DeSaussure and Elias Boudinot, respectively. This piece appears to be the finest of any of the eight examples Heritage is aware of. Realized: $218,500.
- Gorgeous 1916-D Mercury Dime, MS67 Full Bands, tied for Finest Certified: Among regular issue U.S. 20th century coins, the 1916-D has a remarkably low mintage of only 264,000 pieces. Only a few other key date issues have similar or lower mintages, and all are rarities in high demand. The 1916-D Mercury dimes were all released in November 1916, with production halted so that a sudden request for quarters could be filled. Realized: $195,000.
About Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.