Heritage March Sacramento ANA U.S. Coin Auction Realizes $9.68 Million


It was a 1796 Half Dollar, 15 Stars AU58 PCGS, a stunning coin featuring one of the rarest designs in all of U.S. coinage, that emerged from spirited bidding as the top lot in Heritage Auctions’ March 17-20 Signature® ANA U.S. Coin Auction, with a final price realized of $207,000.

1796 15 Stars Half Dollar
This 1796 50C 15 Stars realized $207,000 at Heritage's Sacramento ANA US coin auction. The diagnostic die crack from the rim at 5 o'clock to Liberty's bust, where it then branches out along the drapery, is relatively light on this near-Mint specimen. While the right branch crack displays a faint connection to star 15, it does not extend to stars 14, 13, and back to the rim at about 3:30, as is seen on most 1796 15 Stars half dollars. Moreover, the semicircular crack on Liberty's neck above the shoulder that is usually visible on high-end VF and above coins is absent. The above indicate that this coin is from an earlier die state.

The auction realized more than $9.682 million, all told, not counting continuing After Auction sales. All prices include 15% Buyer’s Premium.

"These are excellent results," said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. "We’re especially pleased with the high sell-through rate, and the overall prices significantly exceeded expectations, bolstered by the fine performances by early American silver and copper, as well as a few key gold pieces that showed the enduring strength of that market."

More than 5,200 collectors competed for the 5,378 lots in the auction, adding up to the $9.86 total, which translates into a 93.410% sell-through rate by dollar value.

A famous Colonial rarity, the Breen example 1C Washington Roman Head Cent, PR64 Brown PCGS, occupied the second spot in the overall tally of the Sacramento auction, bringing $100,625 from an erudite collector.

1792 1C Washington Roman Head Cent
This 1792 1C Washington Roman Head Cent realized $100,625. The exact number of surviving Washington Roman Head cents is unknown although the total is clearly small, given the number of pieces that appear in auctions. In our own sales since the beginning of our Permanent Auction Archives in 1993, just four auction appearances represent three different coins. Most recently was a PR61 Brown specimen that we sold in our 2011 FUN sale for $66,125. The same coin appeared in our May 2008 auction, where it realized $92,000.

"This is an important coin and collectors clearly responded with a price that exceeded the $100,000 mark," said Rohan. "Given that the exact number of surviving Washington Roman Head cents is unknown, although the total is clearly small, this is a smart buy that will now occupy a prized spot in an advanced collection."

A trio of coins commanded $80,500 each in the auction. A 1796 Quarter Dollar, MS64 NGC part of the only issue of its denomination bearing the Small Eagle reverse, was the first among equals, while the Eliasberg specimen of the 1806 B-9 Draped Bust Quarter, MS66, the finest known of its type, a true numismatic prize with few equals, followed.

1796 Quarter Dollar
This 1796 25C realized $80,500. In 1796 the Mint produced the first examples of coinage in three new series: silver dimes, silver quarters, and gold quarter eagles. This year is noted for numerous rarities, including the two-year half dollar type of 1796-97 and the quarter eagle varieties. Besides being the first year for quarter coinage (and the last until 1804), 1796 was also the first year that all five silver denominations, from the half dime to the dollar, employed the Draped Bust, Small Eagle design.

Rounding out this valuable triumvirate was a Civil War-Era 1863 $3 Three Dollar gold piece, PR66 Ultra Cameo, similarly the finest of its kind, struck in Philadelphia the same year the Battle of Gettysburg was fought less than 150 miles away.

1863 Three Dollar Gold
This 1863 $3 also realized $80,500. The Civil War threatened to disrupt the nascent distribution system for proof coins to a mass numismatic audience, though history records that mintages persisted through the entire conflict. In 1863, for example, the year that Confederate forces reached the same state that houses the Philadelphia Mint, that facility struck a full range of proof copper, silver, and gold coins, including the little-used three dollar gold denomination. The mintage was not high, of course, and today, the proof 1863 three dollar gold is a valuable rarity regardless of condition.

Further Sacramento ANA US coin auction highlights include, but are not limited to:

1915-S Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS63 PCGS: Realized: $74,750.

1796 50C 15 Stars Fine 15 PCGS. CAC. O-101, R.5.: Realized: $74,750.

1794 H10C MS65 PCGS Secure. V-1, LM-1, R.6.: Realized: $63,250.

1793 Chain 1C AMERICA XF40 PCGS. S-3, B-4, Low R.3.: Realized: $63,250.

1862-S $2 0 MS63 NGC. CAC.: Realized: $57,500.

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.

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