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ANA Windy City Auctions to Deliver the ‘King’ of American Coins

by Jim Bisognani (08/04/13).

The “King of American Coins,” the 1804 Silver Dollar graded PCGS Proof 62, will be up for sale on Aug. 9 as lot number #5699 during Heritage’s Rosemont Signature Sale. The coin last sold in April 2008 for $3,737,500.

The American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money, scheduled for Aug. 13-17 in the Windy City suburb of Rosemont, Ill., is a time for excitement and jubilation for coin collectors and dealers, too. It’s also a time for camaraderie, stories and of, course, a chance to buy, sell and trade the finest coins available.

And while the show itself is the highlight of the year for many collectors, it is the pre-ANA action, a pair of powerhouse auctions spanning nearly two weeks and featuring more than 16,000 lots which will get a lot of buyers’ juices flowing. Heritage Auctions will host a sale on Aug. 8-10, while the ANA host auction by Stack’s Bowers will run from Aug. 11 through the 20th, and are sure to be the main focus of many ardent collectors and most numismatic professionals. There, of course, will be rare certified coins for virtually anyone’s budget, but highlight of the sales will be major numismatic must-sees, as marquee rarities—many of which will break high-six-figure prices and even reach into the vaunted million-dollar stratosphere at the auctioneer’s gavel.

One such coin is the numismatic icon 1804 Silver Dollar. Only 15 examples of the famed coin are known to exist. Interestingly, all so-called original 1804 dollars were struck either in 1834 or 1835 as presentation pieces and for foreign dignitaries and are known as the original strikings. The second issue of the coin—a restrike, so to speak—were struck beginning in 1859. There are eight 1804 Dollars known as originals, or Class I coins, and six are referred to as restrike or Class II examples. Lastly, a single coin with a unique plain edge is housed in the Smithsonian collection.

Of the 1804 Dollars, six are part of museum collections, leaving only nine of the coins that have the potential of appearing at public auction or other venue. So each time a coin of this heralded vintage comes to public auction—often referred to as the “King of American coins”—it attracts attention from collectors throughout the world, as well as being a darling of the main stream media.

Such a coin will be sold on Aug. 9 as lot number #5699 during Heritage’s Rosemont Signature Sale. The coin, a Class I specimen graded PCGS Proof 62, is pedigreed to: Joseph J. Mickley, the famed 19th-century numismatist extraordinaire; Reed Hawn, the well-known Texas collector and businessman; and David Cuellar, a colorful collector who purchased the coin back in 1993 for $475,000, the crowning achievement for he and his family’s holdings.

This stellar coin previously encapsulated and graded by NGC as a PF 62, last appeared for sale in April 2008 in a Heritage Signature sale, also in Rosemont, as a part of the Central States Convention auction, when it captured $3,737,500. Not surprisingly, this wonderful historic coin has already been a center of attention and as of this writing has been viewed thousands of times online and is currently pre-bid to $3,290,000.

Although five years between appearances may seem like a long time, as is the case with the 1804 Dollar, a condition rarity that is the 1861 Liberty Double Eagle graded PCGS MS 67 will appear in the Stacks Bowers sale (Aug. 11-20), making a return to public auction nearly 18 years to the day when it sold for $96,800 on Aug. 19, 1995. 

The incredible 1861 Liberty Double Eagle graded PCGS MS 67 is lot # 4585 in the Aug. 15 Stacks Bowers ANA Auction Rarities Night. She last appeared nearly 2 decades ago when the coin realized $96,800.

The stunning 1889-CC Morgan Dollar graded PCGS MS68 is lot # 4374, also slated for Aug. 15 Stacks Bowers Rarities Night, last sold for $531,875 at the winter FUN Sale in 2009.

This amazing coin is certainly a condition census anomaly and definitely the finest 1861 known to exist. Only four are designated as MS 65, all residing in the PCGS population report, which allows this MS67 to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Again, although a relatively plentiful issue to come by in lessor grades, the 1861 is very difficult to locate in gem condition or better. This is why the majestic PCGS MS67, now with CAC sticker, will be the center of attention for individuals desiring an upgrade or the ultimate coin to reside in the registry collection.

Without doubt, this coin will rival the finest-known representative of the Type I $20 Liberty anywhere. In fact, this is one of the most exquisite Liberty Double Eagles of any type. As of posting, the current bid is $317,250. To put this in perspective, the well-known dealer price guide Coin Dealer Newsletter quotes an MS 67 $20 Type I Bid at $90,250.

Another exciting coin for the Morgan Dollar collector—or any collector of rare dates, for that matter—is the 1889-CC Morgan Dollar graded PCGS MS 68. Pedigreed to notables such as Louis Eliasberg and the famed Jack Lee collection, this rare Carson City installment stands alone as the finest-known example of the coin by at least three full grading points at PCGS. Although the 1893-S may be the “king” of the regular circulation Morgan Dollars, the 1889-CC is definitely the “king of the Carson City contingent.”

Truly a scarce and popular installment of the 350,000, which were originally struck for general circulation, perhaps two thirds or more of that output were eventually melted at the Carson City facility. The coin up for auction here as lot number #4374 will be a coup for the Morgan specialist or a Carson City enthusiast. Her last appearance was in January of 2009 as a part of the Heritage FUN auction, when the price realized was $531,875.

Again, truly rare coins only get rarer and more difficult to locate as time goes by. Seemingly each and every year those coins which meet stringent collector/investor criteria and come to market are being purchased by savvy collector/investors and are being held by increasingly stronger hands, intent on keeping them off the market for the foreseeable future. Although rare today, the prices generated for coins such as the above trio generate in Illinois may appear as bargains not that long down the road.

Until next time, happy collecting!


Jim Bisognani has written extensively on U.S. coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He currently resides in New England and frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.

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