Archive for August, 2012

Aloha! The 1847 Hawaiian Cent

Posted on August 21, 2012 by 1 Comment

The 1847 Hawaiian Keneta (One Cent) was commissioned by King Kamehameha III, ruler of the Hawaiian Islands, under a newly established monetary system. The Keneta was to be the equivalent of the United States Large Cent; it was, in fact, minted privately in America. The designer and engraver was Edward Hulseman, who is perhaps better known for his 1837 Half Cent token. An obvious error on Hulseman’s part was to misspell the denomination as “Hapa Haneri” instead of “Hapa Hanele”. Although the coin was a disappointment to the Hawaiians, the Keneta remained legal tender until 1884 and circulated even later. According to Breen, Wayte Raymond used to travel to Belmont, Massachusetts in the 1950’s to purchase Uncirculated examples from the descendants of the original minters!

In the May 20, 1953 issue of The Numismatic Scrapbook, Melvin Came offered Hawaiian Cents “from the hoard I discovered” at $3.50 for VF or better examples and $5.00 for Sharp Uncs!

The most common Mint State grade appears to be MS-63, followed by MS-62, then MS-64. Gems are very rare.

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Popular Obverse, Popular Reverse

Posted on August 9, 2012 by No Comments

Judd-184 – PCGS PR65

Judd-184 is one of several 1856-dated patterns with a Flying Eagle motif on the obverse. When it was first introduced as a pattern in 1856, the Flying Eagle Cent was an immediate hit, spawning not only a restriking of the original patterns, but the creation of a few new ones to help satisfy collector demand. This is one of those pieces. The reverse features an ornamental shield that first appeared on pattern coins in 1858 (J-193, 194, 195, 198, 199, 204, 205, 212, 216), then again in 1859 on J-227. Sometime in 1858 or 1859 (most likely in 1858), this reverse was paired with an 1856 Flying Eagle obverse to create a new an new collectible to sell or trade to eager collectors. The original mintage is unknown, but based on population reports, it was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen pieces.

Because of the 1856-dated obverse, J-184 is extremely popular with collectors today, and it commands a premium far in excess of most of the other patterns that share this reverse.

Of the known examples, the best one appears to be the single PR65 certified by PCGS (illustrated above).

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When Mintages Are Meaningless

Posted on August 8, 2012 by No Comments

1864 Double Eagle – PCGS PR64+ Came

The official mintage of the Proof 1864 Double Eagle is 50 pieces.  However, the number of surviving examples is probably less than a dozen.  Since 1982, only 16 examples have appeared at auction, but there are number of duplications included there.  Akers’ observation that this date is “more often available than any other proofs prior to 1881” was reasonably accurate, but today’s PCGS Population Report shows a couple of dates in the 1870s that have higher pops than the 1864.  Among the Type One Double Eagles, the 1864 Proof has the highest population, but only by a single example.  Regardless of the accuracy of past, present, and even future observations, there is no question that the 1864 Proof $20 is a rare coin, indeed.

Most of the examples certified by PCGS are Cameos, and the typical grade seems to be PR64.  PCGS has not graded any Deep Cameo Proof 1864 Double Eagles.

The price history for this date in Proof condition is quite impressive, advancing almost ten-fold since the mid-1980s.



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The 1930-S Double Eagle

Posted on August 6, 2012 by No Comments


Ex – Pittman? – Dr. Thaine Price Collection – Akers 5/1998 – Phillip H. Morse Collection of Saint-Gaudens Coinage – Heritage 12/2005:2080, $253,000 – Kutasi Collection – Heritage 1/2007:3307, $230,000

The 1930-S Double Eagle remains the rarest of the 1929 and later Saints. Here’s a comparative chart of the number of each date certified by PCGS as of August 2012:

1929 – 185 graded
1930-S – 45 graded
1931 – 76 graded
1931-D – 92 graded
1932 – 74 graded

Of all the regular issue Double Eagles from 1907 to 1932, the only date with a lower population than the 1930-S is the ultra-rare 1927-D.

Of the examples certified by PCGS, all but two are Mint State (curiously, the PCGS Population Reports shows a PCGS AG3 example!). The typical Mint State grade for this date is MS65. A few examples have been discovered in Europe, but the overall high quality indicates that the known examples were saved and preserved carefully by collectors.

The PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census contains nothing lower than a MS65 and, at the top end, several MS66 examples rank as the finest known for the date.

Several different dies appear to have been used on the known examples. One artifact not listed by Akers is a raised die chip on the middle, upper edge of the eagle’s top wing that appears on at least one of the known examples. All of Aker’s other comments from 1975 and 1988 about this date remain relevant today.

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What A Relief!

Posted on August 3, 2012 by No Comments

2009 Ultra-High Relief – PCGS MS70 Prooflike

The 2009 Ultra-High Relief was a reprise of the extremely rare, double-thick, small diameter patterns proposed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1907. Only two such patterns remain today, both of which are part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. The original patterns weigh as much as a normal $20 gold piece but they were struck to the diameter of a $10 gold piece. Thus, they are much thicker and smaller in diameter than a normal $20 gold piece. The 2009 version is slightly different than the original patterns in that the rim is slightly flattened and does not come to the sharp, knife edge as seen on the originals.

Public response to the new Ultra-High Reliefs was tremendous. Though considered bullion coins, they were sold by the Mint at a hefty premium over the value of the gold they contained. In 2011, the price of gold rose so high that many of the Ultra-High Relief coins were melted down. However, collectors rallied and the “ultras” are now commanding premiums over their intrinsic value, putting an end to their destruction.

The finish on the modern version is unlike the brilliant Proof finish on the original patterns. Though not quite matte, the surfaces have more of a satiny appearance. Because of the increased depth of the designs, the Ultra-High Reliefs sport a medallic appearance quite unlike that of a normal coin. The striking, unusual appearance is a large part of the coin’s appeal.

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The Lion, The Eagle, And The Beehive

Posted on August 2, 2012 by 1 Comment

1860 $5 Mormon – PCGS MS61

The 1860 $5 gold denomination was the last of the gold coins produced by the Mormons, then in the Utah Territory. The obverse shows the lion of Judah surrounded by a legend in the Mormon alphabet that reads: HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” The reverse shows an eagle with wings spread behind a beehive, the legend “DESERET ASSAY OFFICE PURE GOLD.” The reverse legend was a trfile misleading, as the gold for these coins came from Colorado, and it was less than 24 karat (100% pure).

The 1860 Mormon $5 had a reported mintage of only 472 pieces. Naturally, survivors are quite scarce, and it is difficult to locate examples in high grade, especially in Uncirculated condition. The lowest grades in the PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census are a reasonably high AU55, but the best grade is only a single PCGS MS62.

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If you can’t own the real thing…

Posted on August 1, 2012 by 1 Comment


1877 $50 J-1547 – PCGS PR64BN

Judd-1547 is the copper version of the legendary Judd-1546 (the unique gold $50 “Union” currently housed in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution). The copper version is a great rarity in its own right, and is highly prized by collectors as the only option to own this pattern design. Several examples have been gilt (or gold-plated), possibly at the Mint or done privately; these are listed on PCGS CoinFacts under PCGS number 861891.

William Barber designed two versions of the $50 Union both sharing the same reverse but differing slightly in the size and shape of Liberty’s head on the obverse. Though not as rare as some patterns, the copper and gilt-copper $50 Unions are exceedingly popular and quite difficult to locate The finest J-1547 appears to be the PCGS PR64BN example that once belonged to William Woodin, F.C.C. Boyd, and which last appeared at auction in August 2011.

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