Gold and silver sizzles at Bonhams - Rarities lead Memorial Day auction in Los Angeles

27 May 2012, Coins and Medals

Bonhams is pleased to announce a strong result for its Memorial Day auction of Rare Coins and Medals that took place on May 27. The 730-lot sale brought more than $1.353 million and offered a diverse group of fresh to market rarities from various owners, as well as coinage from the Estate of television and business pioneer, Maria Helen Smith and the Estate of a Northern California Private Collector.

Paul Song, Director, Rare Coins and Banknotes, Bonhams, said of the sale: "A vast majority of the $20 Double Eagle gold coins in the May sale found buyers. This attests to the continued strength in the market for gold and silver US coinage. The fresh to market material drew new bidders, both in the saleroom and online, throughout the various sections of the auction."

Memorial Day weekend sizzled at Bonhams in Los Angeles with two sparkler coins that far surpassed their pre sale estimates. The first was a 1908-S $20 Double Eagle from a Northern California Estate, which sold for $18,720 more than three times it pre-sale estimate of $4,000-5,000 and a 1892-CC $1 Morgan dollar from another Northern California Estate, which sold for sold for $15,795, more than nine time its pre-sale estimate of $1,500-1,800. This Morgan dollar has been off the public market for more than 45 years.

As noted by Song: "Although bidding was competitive throughout that sale this holiday weekend, I was surprised by the fierce challenge for two lots in particular: a 1908-S Double Eagle and an 1892-CC $1 Morgan. Bonhams continues to bring prices that are consistently over estimate for Morgan dollars. We look forward to offering additional coinage of this type in the future."

The top lot of the auction was a collection of 40 Liberty $20 Double Eagles (pre-sale estimate $70,000-75,000, sold for $ 70,200) from a long-standing private estate. Spanning more than 30 years, the collection ran from 1870-1907 and featured conditions from very fine to the highly sought after brilliant unirculated.

Additional gold coins of note included a collection of Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagles (pre-sale estimate $35,000-38,000, sold for $37,440); a high-grade 1911-D $2.5 MS64 NGC, known as the 'king' of the Indian quarter eagle series for its rarity (pre-sale estimate $18,000-22,000, sold for $21,060) and an early, surviving 1798 Large 8, 13 Star Reverse Large Eagle $5 (pre-sale estimate $20,000-25,000, sold for $22,230). This rare coin is the most frequently encountered pre-1800 issue in the half eagle series, and BD-4 is one of the die marriages typically seen among survivors.

An extremely rare pattern or experimental 1838 Gobrecht Dollar, Judd-84 Restrike, Pollock-93 was also featured during the May sale. Of the three years that these dollars were produced - 1836, 1838, and 1839 - today, the 1838 is the date least often seen. The present coin is an attractive one, displaying the newly designed obverse with stars surrounding, and with the engraver's name removed from the base. All details are needle sharp. While J-84 is primarily known as a pattern, the listing of the 1838 Gobrecht dollars in "A Guide Book of United States Coins" has vastly increased the desire for it because it was never in circulation. While hardly anyone will ever obtain a full collection of Guide Book listed varieties, acquiring one of each date of the distinctive Gobrecht dollar is a possibility. As noted, the 1838 is the most elusive in that regard (pre-sale estimate $45,000-50,000, sold for US$ 49,140).

An unusual 1871 $3 Proof 63 Cameo NGC was also among the auction highlights (pre-sale estimate $20,000-30,000, sold for $21,060). Mint records indicate 30 proof $3 coins were minted in 1871; however, very few have survived the ravages of time. Numismatic authorities estimate 15-20 known examples of this coin but recent findings indicate only 12-15 pieces now exist. The last time an example was offered at public auction was in 2007.

Additional coinage of note included an 1800 $5 MS62 NGC (pre-sale estimate $14,000-16,000, sold for 16,380); an 1800 $10 BD-1, high relief (pre-sale estimate $14,000-15,000, sold for $15,210), among others.

Sales of Rare Coins and Banknotes will continue on September 2. The illustrated catalog for this sale will be available online for review and purchase at www.bonhams.com/us in the weeks preceding the sale.

Preview: August 31-September 2, Los Angeles

Auction: September 2, Los Angeles
Press Contact: Jannelle Grigsby, jannelle.grigsby@bonhams.com, (310) 567-7990


NOTES FOR EDITORS

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com