Morton & Eden, GB-London

06. March 2013

The Royal Mint Museum: United States 1859 Proofs

Strong bidding fight about US 1859 Proofs

A strong fighting arose at Morton & Eden’s Royal Mint Museum sale around the US 1859 Proofs between a Japanese dealer and US dealers and collectors leading to a sale that totalled over £400,000 for the eleven coins of sublime rarity and quality.

Auctioneer James Morton said he was delighted with this highly successful and historic sale of duplicates from the Royal Mint Museum. The sale proceeds will be used to develop further the museum’s active collection housed at Llantrisant in South Wales. The Japanese dealer, Gallery Precious of Tokyo, purchased consistently throughout the sale, encountering strong opposition from U.S. dealers and collectors on every one of the 11 lots. The final lot, the 1859 Eagle Proof, was purchased by one tenacious U.S. telephone bidder who was determined not to let it go.

The prices shown include the Buyer’s Premium of 20% (exchange rate £1=$1.51). The sale totalled £422,376.

Lot 601: COPPER-NICKEL CENT PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 1944; Breen Proofs, p. 112; PCGS No. 2247; Hocking 5147-8. Condition: PCGS PR65 [Certificate number 17250147].
1859 – the first year of Longacre’s Indian Head design – was destined to become a one year type, a shield being incorporated on a redesigned reverse with oak wreath in the following year. In Great Britain, decimal patterns of 1859 included a British ‘ONE CENT’ with a reverse very similar to this coin, coupled with the obverse portrait of Queen Victoria (cf. Peck, C.W., English Copper, Tin and Bronze Coins in the British Museum 1558-1958, London, 1964, pl. 41, no. 2004).
Estimate: £2,000-2,500. Sold for £2,640 ($3,994). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 602: SILVER THREE-CENT PIECE (‘TRIME’) PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 2928; Breen Proofs p. 112; PCGS No. 3708; Hocking 5139-40. Condition: PCGS PR63 [Certificate number: 17250145].
1859 marked the introduction of the Type III (and final) design. The three cent silver denomination was relatively short-lived (1851-1873) and part of its raison d’être is thought to have been to simplify the purchase of postage stamps. Owing to their very small size “fish scales”, as the coins were nick named, were easily lost and became unpopular with the public.
Estimate: £250-300. Sold for £576 ($871). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 603: HALF DIME PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 3095; Breen Proofs p. 112-113; PCGS No. 4438; Hocking 5136-5137. Condition: PCGS PR64 [Certificate number: 17250143].
The last year of this design before the Nation’s name was transferred to the obverse and the elements of the wreath changed to “Newlin’s Wreath of Cereals”. According to Breen the obverse hub was slightly modified this year for the half dime denomination only, and therefore it is a one year type. Breen notes a mintage of 800 pieces.
Estimate: £800-1,000. Sold for £1,680 ($2,542). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 604: DIME, PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 3311; Breen Proofs p. 113; PCGS No. 4748; Hocking 5133-5134. Condition: PCGS PR64 [Certificate number: 17250142].
1859 marked the last year in which the Philadelphia mint struck dimes with the laurel wreath reverse, retained by San Francisco for a further year. Breen notes a mintage of 800 pieces.
Estimate: £800-1,000. Sold for £1,920 ($2,904). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 605: QUARTER DOLLAR, PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 3311; Breen Proofs p. 113; PCGS No. 5555; Hocking 5128-5129. Condition: PCGS PR64 [Certificate number: 17250139].
In 1859, according to Walter Breen, James Longacre enlisted the help of Anthony C. Paquet to make minor alterations to the quarter’s design, somewhat opening its elements. Breen notes a mintage of 800 pieces.
Estimate: £1,000-1,500. Sold for £2,640 ($3,994). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 606: HALF DOLLAR PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 4888; Breen Proofs p. 113; PCGS No. 6413; Hocking 5123-5124. Condition: PCGS PR64 [Certificate number: 17250138].
Although the recorded mintage is 800 pieces, Breen noted that many were “melted as unsold” and that others were “poorly cleaned.” These figures are largely borne out by the PCGS Population Report (1/13) which records 38 examples graded PR64, with 10 finer (PR67 the finest). The example retained by the Royal Mint Museum weighs 12.438g and has also been graded PR64.
Estimate: £1,500-2,000. Sold for £3,120 ($4,720). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 607: SILVER DOLLAR, PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 5457 ; Breen Proofs p. 113; PCGS No. 7002; Hocking 5118-5119. Condition: PCGS PR64 [Certificate number: 17250135].
The Mint Cabinet Accounts and Memoranda 1857-1904 notes that the proofing charge was 8 cents per silver dollar (and, according to Breen, this cost was passed on even to the Mint itself for examples purchased after 1861 for its own cabinet).
Estimate: £3,500-4,500. Sold for £7,800 ($11,800). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 608: GOLD DOLLAR PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 6061; Breen Proofs p. 114; PCGS No. 87609; Hocking 5109-5110. Condition: PCGS PR65 CAM [Certificate number: 17250134].
Estimate: £7,000-10,000. Sold for £18,000 ($27,232). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 609: QUARTER EAGLE PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 6245; Breen Proofs p. 114; PCGS No. 87885; Hocking 5107-5108. Condition: PCGS PR65 CAM [Certificate number: 17250131].
Struck from the ‘old reverse’ with large arrow-heads (as are all known examples save one). The record ed mintage is 80 pieces, but all standard references (Breen, Akers, and Garrett and Guth) agree that the number of survivors is significantly lower, with estimates ranging between 8 and 20 examples. The combined total number of submissions to PCGS and NGC to date is 10.
Estimate: £20,000-30,000. Sold for £74,400 ($111,956). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 610: HALF EAGLE PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 6639, this coin cited; Breen Proofs p. 114; Akers, United States Gold Coins: Half Eagles, p. 182, this coin cited; Garrett and Guth, Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933, p. 292, this coin cited; PCGS No. 88449; Hocking 5103-5104. Condition: PCGS PR65+ CAM [Certificate number: 17250129].
Estimate: £50,000-70,000. Sold for £105,600 ($159,764). Purchased by Gallery Precious of Tokyo.

Lot 611: EAGLE PROOF, 1859. Reference: Breen 6931, this coin cited; Breen Proofs p. 114; Akers, United States Gold Coins: Eagles, p. 81, this coin cited; Garrett and Guth, Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933, p. 401, this coin cited [as (mistakenly) in the British Museum]; PCGS No. 88795), Hocking 5101-5102. Condition: PCGS PR65 CAM [Certificate number: 17250127].
Estimate: £70,000-100,000. Sold for £204,000 ($308, 636). Purchased by Goldberg Coins and Collectibles on behalf of a private collector.

You will find more information about Morton & Eden on their website.

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