Heritage Stamford

02. November 2010

COINFEST auction

'Washlady' cleans up at November coin auction

1879 ‘Washlady’ dollar brings $161,000 to lead $9.42 million Heritage COINFEST auction in Stamford, CT.

Rare U.S. Coins continue to provide for steady, even stellar prices in a crawling national economy, as evidenced by Heritage’s $9.42 million COINFEST Signature® U.S. Coin Auction, held Oct. 27-30 at the Marriot Hotel & Spa in Stamford, CT, and by the auction’s top lot, a magnificent 1879 Washlady dollar, which brought $161,000. “These results are 20% percent higher than our pre-sale projections,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “The market for rare coins is, simply put, very strong. The best examples continue to command top prices and the top collectors are more than happy to acquire these examples.” More than 4,380 bidders participated in the auction, both live on the auction room floor and via Heritage LIVE!™, the company’s proprietary live internet auction platform. The auction boasts a sell-through rate of 92% by value and 97% by number of lots.

Judd-1603, Pollock-1798, High R.6, PR66+ NGC, Designer: Charles Barber.

Judd-1603, Pollock-1798, High R.6, PR66+ NGC, Designer: Charles Barber.

Recent Heritage coin auctions have mostly seen examples of rare gold coinage taking the top slot, but the stunning 1879 $1 Washlady Dollar, the finest known specimen, handily took top honors, finishing at $161,000 after a fierce bidding between advanced collectors. Between 12 and 15 examples are believed known of the Washlady dollar in both copper and silver. There is also one example known in white metal. The famous design of the coin was not well received by dealers and collectors in the late 19th century and therefore fetched it the nickname of Washlady. It shows a portrait of Liberty faces to the left with her hair tied behind her head. The reverse depicts an eagle holding an olive branch and three arrows.

1785 COPPER Connecticut Copper, African Head VF30 NGC. M. 4.2-F.6, W-2360, R.8.

1785 COPPER Connecticut Copper, African Head VF30 NGC. M. 4.2-F.6, W-2360, R.8.

The equally rare and collector-coveted 1785 COPPER Connecticut Copper from The W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials, took the second spot on the auction podium in Stamford, realizing $115,000. There are two distinct die pairs of 1785 Connecticut copper described as the "African Head." The first, Miller 4.1-F.4, is a common variety that offers considerable supply to meet the demand. The Miller 4.2-F.6, on the other hand, is extremely rare. The present example is a glossy brown coin with reddish-gold overtones and a small planchet flaw to the left of the lips. Moderate wear has left all of the essential features intact.

1882 $20 AU53 PCGS.

1882 $20 AU53 PCGS.

A famous 1882 $20 AU53 PCGS, one of only 571 pieces struck – a coin so rare that even the Smithsonian Institution, keeper of the National Numismatic Collection, lacks an example of the issue – piqued the interest of numerous collectors of important gold with a final price realized of $80,500. While there are numerous double eagle issues from the late 1870s through early 1890s that boast extraordinarily low mintages, the 1882 is the absolute lowest-mintage of them all. Any representative of this issue, in any grade, is an extraordinary rarity. The 1882 double eagle is not only an issue with a remarkably low mintage, but its rarity is compounded because so few were saved.

1904 $20 PR65 Cameo PCGS.

1904 $20 PR65 Cameo PCGS.

A remarkable 1904 $20 PR65 Cameo PCGS was close behind the 1882 example with a final price of $74,750. In 1904 the mintage for proof twenties fell back into the double digits after reaching a then-high 158 pieces the year before. The production of 98 specimens in 1904, in turn, would not be reached again in the Liberty double eagle series. The moderate contrast on this Gem specimen sets it apart. Gold-frost devices are exquisitely detailed and surrounded by deep mirrors that sport rich honey-gold and orange hues. Occasional hints of light clouding in the fields and a few small peripheral defects combine to account for the grade, but the overall visual effect is remarkable. Between the impressive preservation and the uncommon level of cameo contrast, this proof gold beauty is a winner in every respect.

1879 $1 Metric Dollar, Judd-1622, Pollock-1818, Low R.7, PR68 Cameo NGC, Designer: George Morgan.

1879 $1 Metric Dollar, Judd-1622, Pollock-1818, Low R.7, PR68 Cameo NGC, Designer: George Morgan.

The mark of the 1904 $20 PR65 Cameo PCGS was equaled in the auction by the finest known 1879 $1 Metric Dollar, Judd-1622, Pollock-1818, Low R.7, PR68 Cameo NGC, a highly desirable coin of great beauty and peculiar metallic composition, containing silver, copper, aluminum, and white metal that drew considerable enthusiasm from collectors at the auction. Metric dollar pattern designed by George Morgan, featuring a rarely used head of Liberty with hair brushed back and fastened in a bun and with a wide ribbon at the top of the head. The reverse is the standard Metric dollar design with DEO EST GLORIA featured prominently above the composition in the center. Of the 1879 strikings, it is estimated that approximately a dozen are known of the silver and copper pieces, about four are known of the aluminum composition, and the white metal piece is believed unique. This particular coin combines rarity and high grade. Of the Judd-1622 pattern dollars that have been certified at both services, this piece is the finest known. The PR68 Cameo grade tells a great deal about the near-perfect preservation of the surfaces. There are no discernible marks on either side. The fields display light die striations which have imparted the brightness to the mirrored fields. The devices are noticeably frosted, yielding the white-on-black cameo contrast on both obverse and reverse. The surfaces appear to be brilliant, but close examination reveals just the slightest hint of rose patina on each side.

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