What started as a hobby shared by Eric Lane and his father grew into a lifelong passion.
A Walking Liberty half that Lane acquired at just 8 years old led to a lifetime of collecting one of the finest collections of U.S. coins ever assembled. His trove of every date and type of early dollars will be among the top draws in Heritage’s February 8-11 Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature® Auction February 8-11.
Lane’s assemblage of early dollars was possible, in part, only after Heritage Auctions helped him sell his extraordinary collection of Walking Liberty half dollars.
"Someone told me in 2009 that early dollars and early eagles would be great investments, since virtually no new coins had been found in over 50 years in either one of these series," Lane says. "I set a goal of completing both sets with all major types in PCGS graded coins only."
Lane says he is offering his early dollars collection through Heritage in large part because of previous success of the partnership. The world’s leading auctioneer of numismatics was just as eager to renew the relationship.
"Eric Lane is one of those collectors who continued his father’s passion for numismatics into a new generation," says Todd Imhof, Executive Vice President at Heritage Auctions. "Heritage has been honored a few times over the decades to handle the sale of their previous achievements – from Eric’s father’s estate to one of the finest known Walking Liberty half dollar collections to vintage firearms to a magnificent assemblage of early $10 gold to this current impressive set of early silver dollars that is sure to exceed $1 million.
"These early Bust dollars are a perfect reflection of Eric’s connoisseurship. Most of the coins are not finest known on a Registry but each coin is solid for the grade and possess the kind of eye appeal and technical attributes that collectors and dealers want to see in coins of this era."
Among the top draws in Lane’s 41-lot collection is a 1794 B-1, BB-1 Silver Dollar, VF30 PCGS. Other silver coins, like the 1804 dollar, are more famous, but the 1794 silver dollar’s status as the nation’s first silver coin sends its significance soaring.
A 1798 Draped Bust Dollar, Large Eagle, Pointed 9, Close Date, B-27, BB-113, R.2, MS65 PCGS, perhaps the finest of all 1798 silver dollars, was listed in the 2013 Bowers encyclopedia with a conservative grade of MS60+. But this magnificent piece is possibly the finest known based on its PCGS MS65 grade, and top ranking in the Stephen Herrman census. It is one of just two 1798 silver dollars that PCGS grades MS65 with none finer. Long Beach marks just the fourth auction appearance of this example during the last 70 years.
A 1798 Draped Bust Dollar Small Eagle, 15 Stars, B-2, BB-81, R.3, MS61 PCGS from the Eric Lane Collection is the third-finest example known and is formerly from the Eric P. Newman Collection. Heritage Auctions experts know of three Mint State examples of the 15 Stars Small Eagle variety. PCGS and NGC have certified just six Mint State Small Eagle dollars between them – both varieties included — a minute population that leaves advanced collectors with few options when selecting an example for a date or major variety collection.
Another important collection represented in the auction is the 82-lot Brighton Collection, a trove assembled over 60 years with a focus on high-grade Buffalo nickels, Walking Liberty half dollars and Standing Liberty quarters, as well as paper currency. Most of the lots in the collection grade MS65 or higher with numerous Registry Set quality examples. Arguably the top attraction in the collection is a 1926-S Buffalo Nickel, MS65 NGC. The 1926-S Buffalo nickel is the rarest non-variety issue in the series and boasts the lowest mintage overall with only 970,000 coins struck, making it the only production total in the series below 1 million coins. Only a few handfuls of coins are known in MS65, and only three finer pieces – all NGC-certified – exist.
The auction features 28 lots from The James F. Holloway Collection that average MS65 grades, among them a 1918/7-S Standing Liberty Quarter MS62 Full Head PCGS, CAC. The 1918/7-S Standing Liberty quarter is the clear favorite variety of the set, so much so that most collectors don’t pursue any others. Cherrypickers’ Guide lists a few lesser varieties, but those languish in total obscurity compared to the 1918/7-S, the only Cherrypickers’ variety in the Guide Book.
Another premier series rarity that comes to the auction from the Holloway Collection is a 1927-S Standing Liberty Quarter MS64+ Full Head NGC. The 1927-S is one of the great rarities of the Standing Liberty quarter series with Full Head definition, many times rarer than the 1916 and equally as rare as the sought-after 1918/7-S overdate. Its survival rate was not helped by the fact that it had the second-lowest production figure of the series: 396,000 pieces. It is estimated that no more than 10 Full Head specimens survive at the Gem grade level, and PCGS and NGC’s combined population shows only 47 Full Head pieces in all grades – a total possibly inflated by resubmissions.
The auction also is packed with premier lots that are not part of any collection, including:
- An 1876 Three Dollar Gold Piece, PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC – a sought-after proof-only rarity. This example represents the scarcer JD-2 variety, the surviving population of which John Dannreuther estimates is no more than 16-20 examples in all grades.
- A 1797 Capped Bust Right Quarter Eagle, AU55 PCGS – a rarity from an official mintage of just 427 pieces. There was little commercial demand for quarter eagles in the national economy in 1797, as the face value of the coin was too small to be useful in settling large accounts in foreign trade, but too large to be convenient in everyday transactions.
- An 1867 Half Eagle, PR65 Cameo PCGS that is one of the finest of a surviving population believed to be only 14-16 pieces. This specimen can be traced to elite collections, including the Garrett and Bass Collections.
- A 1792 Washington Roman Head Cent PR61 Brown PCGS. Baker-19, W-10840, Musante GW-21, R.6, which is among the most desirable Guide Book Washington types. Several Washington patterns were produced between 1791 and 1792 as part of an attempt to secure a Federal coinage contract with the nascent American government. These patterns came to naught when President George Washington decided upon a Federal mint.
- An 1867 Rays Shield Nickel PR66 Cameo PCGS. CAC. JD-3, R.7 – an example of clandestine Mint delicacies that Mint director Dr. Henry Richard Linderman made for himself and his connections. The appointment of Linderman as a replacement for William Millward had a direct impact on the production of the 1867 With Rays Shield nickel proofs (and many other coinage issues), which were recognized as rarities within a short time after their production.
- An 1895 Morgan Dollar, PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS – from a tiny mintage of 880. No business-strike coins have ever been seen by numismatists, leaving only the tiny supply of proofs to satisfy the intense demand from Morgan dollar collectors seeking an example for their sets.
- An 1826 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, MS60 PCGS from a modest production of 18,069 Capped Head Left half eagles in 1826. Two die varieties are known for the date – this coin represents the rare BD-1 variety, with a surviving population of just 30 to 40 examples in all grades. Dannreuther estimates the BD-1 dies were used to strike 12,500-17,500 pieces of the reported mintage.
Images and information about all lots in the auction can be found at HA.com/1372.
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