Eight of the top 10 highest auction prices realized for US coins in 2020 were achieved by Stack’s Bowers Galleries, emphasizing their role as a leading resource for world-class numismatic rarities. Among these eight exceptional results are six coins that surpassed $1 million, including two distinct examples of the famous 1804 Draped Bust dollar.
“We are thrilled to have achieved eight of the top 10 prices realized during this challenging year, an accomplishment that reflects our industry-leading innovation and expertise,” said Stack’s Bowers Galleries President Brian Kendrella. “What is most remarkable,” he explained “is that each of these coins are old friends that we had sold previously over our firm’s 85-year history. We are proud to be the consistent choice for auctioning top-tier rarities, and it has been a privilege to present these pieces to a new generation of collectors in 2020.”
The highest price realized this year was earned by the Proof-65 (PCGS) 1804 Class I Original Draped Bust dollar that sold for $3,360,000, setting a new record for this grade level. This coin was acquired directly from the US Mint in 1843 by collector Matthew Stickney and was presented in the Larry H. Miller Collection, Part Two by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in their December 2020 sale. The firm previously sold this coin in their April 1997 sale of the legendary Eliasberg Collection for $1,815,000; that was its last public auction appearance.
Earning the third highest price of the year at $1,920,000 was the 1854-S half eagle featured in the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part VII. Previously included in the Eliasberg Collection, this AU-58+ (PCGS) half eagle is the finest known of the three confirmed to still exist.
Fifth place on this list is shared by two coins that each realized $1,440,000 in Stack’s Bowers Galleries sales. The first of these coins was the Proof-55 (PCGS) Class III Restrike 1804 dollar offered in the March sale of the Pogue Collection, Part VII. It was previously sold in the firm’s 1980 sale of the Garrett Collection and before that had been held by the Garrett Family from 1883 to 1942 before being bequeathed to the Johns Hopkins University. A Proof-65 (NGC) CAC 1894-S Barber dime realized $1,440,000 in Part Two of the Larry H. Miller Collection, setting a new record for the grade. This dime, also once part of the Eliasberg Collection, was recognized by the founder of CAC, John Albanese, as his “favorite” of the nine known.
A Proof-64 (PCGS) 1885 Trade dollar from the E. Horatio Morgan Collection took seventh place when it crossed the auction block at $1,320,000. It is the second finest of five known and was first handled by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in their 1965 Sale of the Ewalt Collection.
Ranking at number eight is an historic MS-62 (NGC) 1794 Flowing Hair dollar that realized $1,050,000 as part of the Miller Collection, Part Two. Stack’s Bowers Galleries traded it privately several times before it appeared in their 1976 Willing Collection sale. Most notably, it is the only coin among the top 10 prices realized of 2020 that was struck for circulation by the Philadelphia Mint.
Ninth place in the 2020 rankings is occupied by the magnificent Miller Collection 1849 Mormon $10 graded AU-53 (PCGS) CAC that sold for $840,000, setting a new all-time record for the issue. Pedigreed to the famous collection of Col. E.H.R. Green, Stack’s Bowers Galleries previously offered it in their January 1984 sale of the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Family Collection, where it sold for $132,000.
Closing this list at number ten was the incredible MS-67 DMPL (PCGS) CAC 1886-O Morgan dollar that brought $780,000 in Part One of the Larry H. Miller Collection. It was called “the most spectacular Morgan dollar known” by specialist Wayne Miller and ranks as the sole finest example graded by PCGS.
In addition to these top eight results, Stack’s Bowers Galleries also auctioned 10 of the top 15 and 16 of the top 25 highest priced coins of the year, indicating their ability to attract superior prices across a wide range of numismatic material.
9 of Top 10 US Banknotes in 2020
Stack’s Bowers Galleries also auctioned 9 of the top 10 highest priced banknotes to cross the block in 2020, extending a trend of record-setting prices achieved in recent years. The firm’s history of presenting legendary collections includes their sale of the most valuable collection of paper money ever assembled, the Joel R. Anderson Collection which concluded in 2019. This legacy of success in the field was continued in March 2020 with Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ offering of currency from the D. Brent Pogue Collection, which brought many great results and prices realized totaling more than $9.2 million.
“Stack’s Bowers Galleries has a long history of presenting extraordinary paper money collections at auction, including those of Joel Anderson, Brent Pogue, John Ford, Harry Bass, and Drs. Joanne and Edward Dauer to mention just a few,” noted the firm’s Director of Currency Peter Treglia. “In a year when uncertainty was the norm, Stack’s Bowers Galleries affirmed its position as the premier auction house for elite paper money. Our success in showcasing paper money to a worldwide clientele of proven buyers is exhibited by the record prices we regularly attract for our consignors.”
High grade and rare higher denomination type notes attracted the greatest attention and brought the highest bids. The top price realized in 2020 for a United States currency note was $432,000 for the Pogue Collection 1863 $100 Legal Tender Note graded Gem 65 EPQ by PMG. This is often called the “Spread Eagle” $100 due to the large vignette of a bald eagle that dominates the front design. The third highest price for the year went to an 1890 $100 Treasury Note, nicknamed the “Baby Watermelon.” This note, graded 63 EPQ by PMG, sold for $372,000 at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries March 2020 auction. This price was closely followed by an 1891 $50 Treasury Note graded PMG 64 EPQ that was bid up to $360,000. High denomination 1869 “Rainbow” notes that featured a combination of rarity and great condition attracted strong bids as an 1869 $100 Legal Tender Note graded PMG 65 EPQ sold for $312,000, and an 1869 $50 graded PMG 65 EPQ brought $300,000.
Among National banknotes, two exceptionally high grade Serial Number 1 First Charter Series of 1875 examples from the First National Bank of Lincoln, Illinois performed well. The $100 note, graded PMG 55 realized $300,000, while the $50, also graded PMG 55 and the only example known for the Friedberg number, was bid to $288,000. A Series of 1880 $100 Silver Certificate graded PMG 65 EPQ sold for $264,000, the same price realized by a 1907 $1000 Gold Certificate graded PMG 66 EPQ.
In addition, Stack’s Bowers Galleries sold seven out of the next ten highest priced notes in 2020 (resulting in 16 of the top 20), including the following:
- 11: Fr. 2221-K 1934 $5000 Federal Reserve Note. PMG 65EPQ. Realized: $252,000.
- Fr. 187k 1880 $1000 Legal Tender Note. PMG 25. Realized: $216,000.
- Fr. 306b 1878 $20 Silver Certificate. PMG 50. Realized: $216,000.
- 16: Fr. 1216b 1882 $500 Gold Certificate. PMG 65EPQ. Realized: $216,000.
- 17: Fr. 328 1880 $50 Silver Certificate. PMG 65EPQ. Realized: $204,000.
- 18: Fr. 340 1880 $100 Silver Certificate. PMG 45. Realized: $204,000.
- 20: Fr. 2231-K 1934 $10,000 Federal Reserve Note. PMG 64. Realized: $192,000.
Some of the coins mentioned belonged to the Larry H. Miller collection. It was auctioned in December 2020, the preview can be found on CoinsWeekly. A review of the Stack’s Bowers March 2020 auction is also available online.