Coins & Medals

16 Dec 2014, starting at 10:00 EST .

Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

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Buyer's Premium for this auction is equal to 17% of the bid price, payable by the purchaser.

Storage Notices

Handling and Storage

Bonhams will hold all purchased lots in our New York office until 5pm on Tuesday December 16.

With the exception of buyers in NY, NJ, and CT, all other purchases not collected at this time will be shipped to our Los Angeles office and will be available there for collection or shipment on Friday December 19, Monday December 22, or Tuesday December 23 if needed before the holidays. Otherwise, lots may be picked up in the new year starting Monday January 5, 2015.

1851 Humbert $50 Slug, Reeded Edge, .887 THOUS., Target Reverse
K-6, R.4. The U.S. Assay Office would produce what became the highest denomination U.S. gold coin to circulate, octagonal-shaped $50 gold coin-ingots, often referred to as "slugs." On the reverse, the design appears as a series of concentric circles in the center, surrounded by overlapping lines or perhaps a better way of putting it is a series of wavy, concentric circles (found on the reeded edge slugs). These concentric circular lines are known to mechanics as "engine turning," the design is similar to the web-like engraving in the vignettes on paper money or on watchcases, and unique to Territorial Gold struck at the Assay Office of Gold in the early years of the Gold Rush. The Kagin-6 Humbert "slug" was a small stepping stone along the West Coast economic evolution from simple gold dust to 1854-S double eagles. Its K-5 immediate predecessor also had a reeded edge, but its fineness was 880 thousands. K-6 increased the fineness to 887 thousands. The scrollwork reverse design, an anti-counterfeiting measure, was retained from previous varieties.

A compromise of sorts took place with a coinage act of Sept. 30, 1850, establishing not a branch mint, which the California business community had requested from the U.S. government, but a federal Assay Office of Gold in San Francisco, authorizing issue of ingots of $50 to $10,000 value, "to be struck of refined gold, of uniform fineness, and with appropriate legends and devices, similar to those on our smaller coins with their value conspicuously marked, and the inscriptions LIBERTY and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." This wording concealed what the California authorities and Mint Director R. M. Patterson well knew: The ingots would circulate as money, with inscriptions conforming to the Mint Act of April 2, 1792, differing primarily in denomination from normal federal coins. As a stopgap, the $50 slugs served their purpose. Hundreds of thousands of them were produced, but subsequently a huge percentage of the issue was turned in to the federal Mints and melted.

Appealing olive-gold color with exceptionally sharp details and a near-perfect edge. This example, illustrative of near-Mint State quality (only rarely seen) in its grade class, has bright color and reflective surfaces indicating this to be an early strike from freshly prepared dies. The strike is medium-strong for the date, with just brief softness at the base of the obverse affecting the outer legend which reads: AUGUSTUS HUMBERT UNITED STATES ASSAYER OF GOLD CALIFORNIA 1851. An outstanding, well preserved example of this highly collectible Territorial issue. (PCGS 10214)
Sold for US$ 44,460 inc. premium
1794 H10C MS63 NGC
V-2, LM-2, R.5. Valantine-2 is the second rarest variety of four known die marriages for 1794. It was struck second in the V-1 to V-4 sequence. On the obverse, digit 1 is under the right center of curl 1, while the reverse exhibits two inner and no outer berries on the wreath under the eagle's left wing, confirming the identity of the variety. The flowing hair half dimes of 1794-95, a key two-year type, were designed by Robert Scot, the chief engraver of the Mint. His design differs from that found on Birch's 1792 half dismes (the spelling of "disme" would gradually change to "dime" in the writings of the period. On the 1792 coins, the denomination is spelled HALF DISME).

Scot's design features a head of Liberty facing to the right with distinctive flowing hair. Fifteen stars, arranged 8x7, surround the head with the date below and LIBERTY above. On the reverse, an eagle stands amid an olive branch with the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounding. There is no indication of this coin's value on either side, nor would there be until the Capped Bust design was adopted in 1829.

All Flowing Hair half dimes dated 1794 were actually struck in March of 1795. The 1794-dated half dime is a scarce coin in any grade, in Mint State it is a major rarity, although a group of a dozen or so extremely Choice Uncirculated pieces exist from a hoard found and dispersed around 1880, possibly the source of this fully original specimen. Deep charcoal-gray toning blankets most of the obverse with lighter silver to the left; the reverse is similar with silver-gray at the center and charcoal-gray at the rim. There are no singular marks of note. Conditionally rare and highly collectible as a premier issue date. (PCGS 4250)
Sold for US$ 15,210 inc. premium
1652 Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling, Large Planchet, AU58 PCGS
68.36 grains. Noe-2, Crosby-4F, R.5. Identifiable by the diamond-shaped, linear tree, LA above 5, and a straight, pointed 6. A most interesting and attractive specimen centered slightly to the top on the reverse. The tree is well defined with each branch and leaf clear. The reverse is equally bold and both sides are handsomely toned in bluish gray with the occasional golden highlight. Slight evidence of die clashing and reworking of the dies. Die steel for coinage was quite scarce in early America, thus dies were used and re-used to strike desperately needed coinage. When a die cracked or broke, it was repaired by either lapping down the surfaces or re-engraving the devices.

One of the first colonies established during the colonial period was the Massachusetts Bay Colony. As the population grew, the need for coinage as a circulating medium grew. In the 1630s, a loose barter system prevailed, any hard currency (copper, silver or gold) was siphoned off to Britain through both taxes and by selling the colonists goods at inflated prices. Purchases were made by trading goods for goods: furs, fish, grain, musket balls, wampum, shells, etc. The only coins in circulation in Massachusetts at the time were outdated English farthings and some Spanish silver, which would have been used by passing merchant ships stopping by Boston as a port of call. King Charles I of England was executed, and his forces were defeated by 1651, thus the royal regulations governing the Colony were no longer relevant. The General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony authorized John Hull and Robert Saunderson to strike greatly needed silver coinage in the denominations of XII Pence (one Shilling), VI Pence and III Pence in mid-1652. The first coinage was the NE coinage, followed a year later by the Willow Tree pieces, later the Oak Tree coinage and finally the various Pine Tree issues. The date 1652 was continuously used for decades, as the Colony had no authority to continue to strike its own coins. Later, when King Charles II was restored to the English throne, he allowed the coinage to continue after paying the taxes due. Many of the large size Oak Tree and Pine Tree pieces were bent and toothmarked as witch tokens, as the superstitious local citizenry of the time believed that carrying such a coin would offer protection from witches. Clipping and shaving for illegal profit was also rampant. From 1675 on, coiner Hull made the planchets smaller and thicker, to make the coins harder to bend and clip, though shaving continued. Massachusetts silver coins are among the most important colonial issues, as they were the first silver coins struck in the continental United States. They circulated widely, including Canada and were obliquely involved in one of the earliest colonial revolts against the mother country when in 1684, the British revoked the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and with it their coinage right. PCGS Population: 21 in 58, 20 finer (64+ finest). (PCGS 23)
Sold for US$ 13,806 inc. premium
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Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

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If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

Buyer's Premium for this auction is equal to 17% of the bid price, payable by the purchaser.

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit, charge or debit card. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

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For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Storage Notices

Handling and Storage

Bonhams will hold all purchased lots in our New York office until 5pm on Tuesday December 16.

With the exception of buyers in NY, NJ, and CT, all other purchases not collected at this time will be shipped to our Los Angeles office and will be available there for collection or shipment on Friday December 19, Monday December 22, or Tuesday December 23 if needed before the holidays. Otherwise, lots may be picked up in the new year starting Monday January 5, 2015.

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