MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – The September 21 Coins & Currency auction at Skinner was a collector’s delight, offering many pieces from ancient Greece and ancient Rome and strong selections from American history in both silver and gold. Under the direction of Skinner Coins & Currency department Director David Donahue, the online catalog featured a greater number and variety of high-resolution images, drawing the interest of collectors.
The top seller was an 1812 Half Eagle that realized $20,000. A gold piece with a face value of five dollars, the coin was minted in a young country still establishing itself on the world stage. Daily life was disrupted by the War of 1812, and coinage suffered from the war efforts and the ensuing decades. A great majority of early gold coins were either lost, melted, or otherwise destroyed. The 1812 Half Eagle offered here is in Uncirculated condition, suggesting that the coin was purposely preserved as the conflict with Britain erupted.
An 1879-CC Morgan Dollar achieved $13,750. With highly reflective fields, earning itself the designation of Deep Mirror Prooflike, a condition that routinely brings top-dollar results in any sale. It was also graded by ANACS, the first grading service for coins, and resides in one of the first holders issued by that company. The combined rarity of the date and type of holder ensured a successful result for this coin.
A twenty dollar gold piece dated 1856-S led the sale, with a series of other so-called double eagles also included. A denomination created as a result of the California Gold Rush, in its day had the purchasing power of more than $600 in today’s currency. Graded MS-62 by the authentication service NGC, the coin garnered $11,250. The 1856-S Double Eagle was graded and encapsulated by NGC in the first few years of the company’s existence and before the discovery of the S.S. Central America wreck, when double eagles of such spectacular quality were scarce on the market. Many produced before the ending of the private ownership of gold in 1933 were melted, and the whereabouts of the horde lost with the famous ship were still unknown.
With a limited mintage of 144 pieces, the 1905 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle in Proof-65 was specially made to order to represent the highest capabilities of the U.S. Mint. A proof coin is sometimes referred to as a presentation piece. This proof example in gold is scarce as gold proofs were only made for the more ambitious collector. The coin realized $10,625.
Similarly, the 1880 Morgan Dollar in Proof-65 was explicitly made for collectors to the best standard the U.S. Mint could produce. Since being struck 141 years ago, the coin has been well-preserved, keeping its intricate level of detail and extraordinary luster. The eye appeal of the coin drew in $10,000, double the original high estimate.
An 1853-C Half Eagle further drove collector interest, claiming $8,750. The Charlotte Mint in North Carolina has been obsolete since the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Its coinage was always somewhat limited, and the quality of the strikes was lackluster compared to contemporary coins minted at Philadelphia, resulting in excellent demand for surviving coins in the current market. Any coin with the “C” mint mark, regardless of its denomination or condition, is guaranteed to perform well in any sale, and the coin offered on September 21 was in phenomenal shape for the type, with good detail and flashy surfaces.
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