When only the best will do …
It’s a catchphrase that has been used in a multitude of ways, perhaps none more appropriately than when applied to a magnificent 1899 Double Eagle PR67 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. JD-1, R.5 that will be among the top attractions in Heritage Auctions’ Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature® Auction September 14-17.
The offered coin stands atop a list of rarefied numismatic prizes: PCGS Coinfacts lists just 32 surviving examples in all grades, with only 10 in Gem condition or finer; in fact, only one Cameo is graded in PR66. The coin offered here is one of three that NGC has graded PR67 Ultra Cameo; none carries a higher NGC grade.
"This auction features coins of exceptional quality throughout, and this Liberty Head double eagle is as appealing as any," says Todd Imhof, Executive Vice President at Heritage Auctions. "Very few were created in the first place — the recorded original mintage was just 84 — and the number of surviving examples is significantly lower, around 30. This coin carries the highest grade of any survivor, including the one that is in the Smithsonian Institution. It’s the kind of trophy-level coin that can become an immediate centerpiece and demand a spotlight of its own in any collection."
This 1899 double eagle is one of 11 lots in the auction’s Premier Session from the Mercury Rising Collection, from which other highlights include, but are not limited to:
- A 1870 Type Two Double Eagle PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. JD-1, Low R.7 — one of five or six survivors confirmed in private hands from an original mintage of just 35 examples struck, CAC-approved
- An 1867 Half Eagle, PR65 PCGS — the former Garrett-Bass example
Among other highlights in the auction is an 1854-D Three Dollar Gold, AU58 NGC, an infamous coin from a mintage of just 1,120, and the only three dollar issue struck at the Dahlonega mint. Demand understandably climbs for examples graded above XF, making a high-end AU coin like this one, which comes from one of the key dates in the series, a must-have prize for serious collectors. Only 13 have been graded between NGC and PCGS in Mint State, and resubmissions mean there might even be some duplication within that paltry total.
A 1796 Capped Bust Right Eagle, AU50 NGC is more elusive than its 1795 counterpart, which has five known die varieties. This beauty is one of what John Dannreuther estimates is a surviving population of 125-175 examples in all grades.
Another collection featured in the auction is the Samuel Winans Collection, a compilation focused on Liberty Head double eagles, including several with challenging dates and mint-marks. The 73 lots from the collection, all in collector-friendly grades, include:
- An 1861-S Paquet Double Eagle, AU55 PCGS — created by an assistant Mint engraver who never became a chief engraver, but was referred to upon his death as "one of the most skilled engravers and die-sinkers employed by the government." It is one of just eight graded in 55, with only nine carrying a higher grade.
- An 1862 Double Eagle MS63+ NGC. CAC is an appealing example of a coin that served little domestic commercial purpose but were more actively shipped abroad for international trade and payments. Early numismatic disinterest resulted in an issue that is scarce today. The offered example is not believed to have been offered at auction before, and is one of just three graded in 63, with only one finer.
- An 1871-CC Double Eagle, AU55 NGC is an example — one of just 55 — of the second-rarest Carson City Twenty. A Mint gold specialist noted that many 1871-CC double eagles have been cleaned, increasing demand for a minimally abraded example like the example offered in this auction, an exceptional coin for the AU grade range that shows very little wear.
- The Stuard Collection of Morgan Dollars includes 30 Premier Session lots among its 86 lots that features an exceptional selection of silver dollar dates and grades. The top attractions in the collection include, but are not limited to:
- An 1889-CC Morgan MS64 NGC is from a mintage that either went almost entirely into circulation or was melted to support the Pittman Act, the 1918 legislation that led to the melting of more than 270 million silver dollars. Part of the reason for the low mintage, beyond the millions of San Francisco Mint dollars already stored — unwanted — in Treasury vaults, was that the Carson City Mint closed in in 1885 and did not reopen until 1889. This issue is virtually impossible to obtain at the Choice level, except for occasional offerings like the one offered here.
- An 1893-S Morgan Dollar, AU55 NGC is a beautiful example of the rarest Morgan Dollar in Mint State, thanks to its low mintage of 100,000 and considerable circulation.
- An exceptionally rare 1904-S Morgan Dollar, MS66 PCGS is fairly scarce in any Mint State grade — far more so at the Premium Gem level. PCGS reports only a single Prooflike coin this fine, and finer non-Prooflike pieces are exceedingly rare; the offered coin is one of 21 graded in 66 (three in 66+), with just two finer.
The James E. Blake Collection of U.S. Colonial Coins & Tokens is featured in a month-long Showcase auction (bidding ends Sept. 5) in addition to the 10 lots in this auction, in which highlights include:
Images and information about all lots in the auction can be found at HA.com/1365.
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