Eliasberg Prices Stun Numismatic World

Posted on 4/22/2005

Sale Nets Over $10 Million; Bidders from 37 Nations; New Records Set.

American Numismatic Rarities of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire is proud to announce the results from their sale of the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins and Medals, sold in New York City on April 18 and 19th. In four sessions held over two full days of bidding, the sale realized a total of $10,118,246.25. Bidders from every inhabited continent registered by the hundreds in the event at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, each anxious to compete for the thousands of prizes in the Eliasberg collection that had been off the market for 60 years or more. The superb attendance and worldwide marketing of the collection certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) yielded fierce bidding competition, record prices, and more than one surprise.

“The energy in the auction room was electric, and we are so proud of the way this sale turned out,” said ANR President Christine Karstedt. “Our staff worked very hard, along with the staff at Spink, to bring this collection to market, and we are delighted to have been a part of this historic and memorable event.”

“Many of these coins were the finest known for the date or type. The opportunity to acquire another example might be years or even decades away,” said Ken Krah, world coin grader at NGC. “The sale of this collection will be remembered as truly history making.”

The highest individual price was $379,500, paid by a well-known dealer bidding for a client for the Venice 50 zecchini of Doge Alvise Mocenigo IV (1763-78) graded AU 55. The excitement was palpable leading up to this lot, described as “a centerpiece of the Eliasberg collection and a singularly impressive coin.” The bidding opened at $40,000 on an estimate of $45,000 to $75,000. Several bidders remained active well past $100,000 as those in attendance watched with interest and anticipation. The final bid represented a new world record for an Italian coin struck after the Roman Empire.

The sale began Monday morning with remarks from ANR President Christine Karstedt and Q. David Bowers, ANR Numismatic Director. The first lot sold was also the oldest, a tiny 50 litra from Syracuse dating to about 400 BC. It brought $5,060, more than twice the high estimate and an indication of things to come.

Most lots surpassed their estimates, some by leaps and bounds – as much as 10 times their posted estimates. Bidding on the internet and phones was active, while the floor controlled the bidding and often shouted huge increases well in excess of standard bidding increments. Asked about the strong prices in the sale, one dealer noted “look at any page and they’re all record prices.” The atmosphere was compared to other great sales of the past, including Pittman in 1999 and Hammel in 1982.

Two of the top four coins were from Korea, with the 1908 5 won graded MS 66 bringing $287,500 and the 1906 20 won graded MS 65 selling for a strong $184,000. The 1906 10 won graded MS 66 sold for $97,750. Many collectors and dealers from the Far East were active in the sale, either live or on the phone, and strong prices prevailed for all three Korean coins. The group was purchased at a 1961 Henry Christensen auction by Louis Eliasberg for $1,800 – in 2005, they brought $569,250! Among Chinese coins, the leader was a 1906 K’uping tael graded MS 64, selling for $109,250, more than 4 times the high estimate.

A unique coin found in the Eliasberg collection and described by John Kraljevich of the ANR staff brought the third highest price in the sale, $218,500. Once included in the Clapp and Eliasberg collections under the coinage of Peru, the coin was determined to be a counterfeit produced by famous Baltimore, Maryland silversmith Standish Barry, who is known to have struck silver tokens in 1790. The coin had never before been described or sold at auction, and sold for vastly more than its modest $15,000 to $25,000 estimate. The coin was sold at the beginning of Session III, which included the most impressive run of counterstamped gold coins used in the West Indies and United States since at least the 1989 Ford sale. Among other highlights of this American section were a newly-discovered Brazilian 6400 reis with the mark of New York smith Lewis Feuter graded FINE ($48,300) and a similar piece marked by John Burger of New York and Robert Cruickshank of Montreal (a fact discovered after the catalogue went to press) graded EXTREMELY FINE for the realized price of $48,300.

In total, 9 lots brought more than $100,000. Aside from the five already mentioned, all were from Latin America. A possibly unique 1756 Guatemala 8 escudos graded XF 45 brought $149,500, and a specimen of the extremely rare 1836 General Rosas portrait 8 escudos of Argentina graded XF 45 brought the same sum, each well in excess of pre-sale estimates. The 1915 Cuba Proof set, consisting of 6 gold coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint, sold for a surprising $126,500. The newly discovered 1755 4 escudos of Colombia, the topic of world-wide press coverage, graded AU 53 set its first auction record at $103,500, more than expected by most pre-sale commentators and more than predicted by the $30,000-50,000 estimate.

Other highlights included the unique Curacao piece with 6 countermarks graded EXTREMELY FINE, opening Session 3 at $97,750, and the gem 1852 Adelaide pound of Australia graded MS 65 that sold for the same sum. Among Russian coins, the leader was the rare 1898 Proof 25 roubles graded Proof 62, surpassing the $40,000-70,000 estimate on its way to $86,250. The top piece from Mexico was a rare and historic 1732 8 escudos graded XF 40 at $80,500, estimated at $15,000-25,000. An impressive 1805 ingot from Sabara graded EXTREMELY FINE, Brazil led all pieces from that nation at $77,625. The top Polish piece, a 1614 5 ducats graded MS 62, sold for more than 5 times high estimate at $59,800. All pieces from Honduras, Ecuador, and Guatemala brought remarkable sums as nearly every specialist dealer from Latin America was in attendance or represented. The top pieces from Honduras (a 1889 10 pesos graded EF-45) and Ecuador (a 1845 8 escudos AU 53) brought the same sum: $74,750. In each case it was well in excess of published estimates.

The top seller in a strong English section was the uniface 1825 5 pounds pattern graded Proof 63 cameo at $41,400.

American Numismatic Rarities is a team of professionals with over 250 years combined experience in numismatic auctions: Christine Karstedt, Q. David Bowers, Dr. Richard A. Bagg, John Pack, Frank Van Valen, John Kraljevich, and photographer Douglas Plasencia, among others. Founded with a goal of presenting the finest numismatic auctions in America, the next ANR event will be held in Atlanta on May 25th in conjunction with the Whitman Expo, followed by a series of spectacular auctions in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Beverly Hills. Consignments are now being accepted. For more information about the auction or for details on how to consign to a future event, contact American Numismatic Rarities at Box 1804, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, 03894 or call 866-811-1804. The American Numismatic Rarities website, including full photos and text from all previous ANR sales, is available online at www.anrcoins.com.

This article courtesy of American Numismatic Raritites.

View some of the coins from this collection at the NGC gallery page.

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