Records Fall at Chicago Auctions

Posted on 4/23/2008

1804 Silver Dollar brings third highest price ever for coin at auction; Heritage Auctions and Bowers and Merena sales achieve record prices in their sales.

The Queller Family 1804 Silver Dollar NGC PF62 realized $3,737,500 when it sold on April 18 in Heritage Auction Galleries’ Central States (CSNS) auction. The figure is the third highest price every paid for a coin at auction. The Queller specimen is one of just nine Class I “Original” examples known. They were struck in 1834 and presented as gifts to foreign dignitaries. So-called Class II and Class III were struck decades later for sale to collectors.

Combining the rare coin and currency results, total prices realized in Heritage’s CSNS auctions exceeded $42.6 million, before the inclusion of post sale activity and their Final Session auction. In each of the last three years, Heritage sales at the Central States convention realized just under $25 million. President of Heritage Auctions, Greg Rohan commented that “Frankly, we were beginning to wonder when we were going to exceed that $25 million level! Well, we have decisively smashed that barrier in 2008, and any concerns about the overall economy were decisively rejected by astute collectors willing to pursue quality.”

The Bowers and Merena Chicago Rarities Sale, conducted before CSNS, included highlights of its own. The pre-convention sale featured a noteworthy collection of Buffalo Nickels. The centerpiece was lot 218, a MS66 example of the key date 1926 San Francisco issue, one of two 1926-S nickels graded MS66, and the only MS66 to receive a star designation for exceptional eye appeal. It realized $322,000.00 including the buyers premium. This is a record for a Buffalo Nickel at auction, and the first to surpass the $300,000 dollar mark. Lot 219, which immediately followed, was a 1927-S nickel graded MS66. An elusive coin in high grade, it realized $125,350.00, also a record for the issue.

Bowers and Merena Lot 218: 1926-S 5C MS66 NGC

Additional highlights from the Bowers and Merena sale include the following lots.

Lot 196: 1916 Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Obverse MS64 NGC.
Despite the heavy doubling on this issue, he first published account of this DDO was not made until July of 1962. The 46 years that separate 1916 and 1962 was sufficient to reduce the extant population of 1916 DDO Nickels to just 100-150 pieces in all grades. It is particularly elusive at this impressive level of preservation.
Realized: $276,000.00.

Lot 567: 1884-S Morgan Silver Dollar MS64 NGC.
A sizeable percentage of this issue’s mintage was distributed into circulation soon after striking, thus explaining the availability of worn examples in today's market. This sequence of events also explains the extreme rarity of the 1884-S in Mint State, rarity that has long confirmed it as a key-date Morgan Dollar.
Realized: $105,800.00.

Lot 711: 1851 Augustus Humbert $50 Gold, Reeded Edge, 880 THOUS., Target Reverse MS62 NGC.
Struck by the provisional mint that served as the predecessor of the full-fledged San Francisco Mint, the United States Assay with Augustus Humbert as United States Assayer of Gold. This is a condition census example.
Realized: $149,500.00


Additional highlights from the Heritage Auction Galleries sale include the following lots.

Lot 2274: 1804 Quarter, MS65 NGC.
This rarity is ex: Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green, better known as Col. E.H.R. Green -- the son of Henrietta Howland Robinson Green, née Henrietta Howland Robinson (1834-1916), a.k.a. Hetty Green or the “Witch of Wall Street.” Ex: Col. E.H.R. Green; Stack's (1945); Jerome Kern Collection (B. Max Mehl, 1950), lot 1385; Eugene Gardner Collection (Stack's, 2/1965), lot 1620; H. Philip Speir estate (Stack's, 3/1974), lot 2; 1975 ANA Sale (Superior, 8/1975), lot 352.
Realized: $310,500

Heritage Auctions Lot 2375: 1839 Quarter No Drapery PF65 NGC. Ex: Pittman-Kaufman.

Lot 2375: 1839 Quarter No Drapery PF65 NGC. Ex: Pittman-Kaufman.
The Kaufman 1839 proof Seated quarter is considered the only one of its kind in existence, and is the solitary example certified. It had been off the market for a decade, and before that for half a century. Ex: F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1945), lot 147; Numismatic Gallery (privately, 7/1947); John Jay Pittman, lot 1298; Phil Kaufman Collection.
Realized: $517,500

Lot 2313: 1861-O Seated Half Dollar SP64 NGC.
The 1861-O mintage quantity includes 330,000 struck under the U.S. government, 1,240,000 under the State of Louisiana after it seceded from the Union, and 962,633 after Louisiana joined the Confederate States of America. This is the only specimen certified. Ex: James A. Stack Collection (Stack's, 3/1975), lot 494.
Realized: $97,750

Heritage Auctions Lot 2112: 1855 $1 MS64 NGC.

Lot 2112: 1855 $1 MS64 NGC.
In 1980, this coin was described as “the finest Uncirculated 1855 Seated Liberty dollar that we have seen” and the certification services agree; it is still the single finest known! From The Queller Family Collection of Silver Dollars.
Realized: $149,500

Lot 2129: 1870-S $1 XF40 NGC.
The rarity and importance of the 1870-S Seated dollar is rooted in the building of the San Francisco Mint and the laying of its cornerstone on May 25, 1870. Ex: Matthew Stickney, sold privately. Likely Colonel E.H.R. Green; James Kelley; Jack V. Roe; James Kelley; Clint Hestor or Charles M. Williams; Menjou Sale (Numismatic Gallery, 1950) lot 2181; Abe Kosoff FPL 1955; Fairbanks Collection of Ben Koenig (Stack's, 10/1960), lot 617; Samuel Wolfson Collection (Stack's, 5/1963), lot 1431; R.L. Miles, Jr. Sale (4/1969), lot 1612, where it brought $19,000; Autumn Sale (Stack's, 9/1978), lot 345, where it realized $39,000; The Queller Family Collection of Silver Dollars.
Realized: $805,000