ICG is chosen to grade Parmelee/Reed Specimen of the 1804 Silver Dollar -Original (Class I)

The Reed 1804 Dollar – ICG PR64

ICG is chosen to grade Parmelee/Reed Specimen of the 1804 Silver Dollar -Original (Class I) for Durham Western Heritage Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.

ICG grades 30 rarities worth $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 for the Byron Reed Collection, including 3 rarities of which only 2 or 3 of each are known to exist. Also included are 3 finest known coins.

The 1804-Dollar has been dubbed “The King of American Coins.” ICG has recently graded and authenticated the Parmelee/Reed Specimen, which now resides in the Byron Reed Collection at the Durham Western Heritage Museum. Omaha, Nebraska (801 South Tenth Street). This coin will be on display beginning June 19″‘, 1999 as part of the grand opening of the new Byron Reed Gallery.

A grade of Proof-64 was assigned to this Original Specimen of the 1804 Dollar. The coin is noted for having beautiful blue and iridescent hues on the obverse and a lighter, mostly white reverse. The estimated value of this Dollar is 1.5 to 2 million dollars. The pedigree of this 1804 Dollar can be traced back to the late 1840’s, when an unknown woman reportedly purchased it from the U S. Mint for face value. It then became the cornerstone of the Lorin G. Parmelee collection from 1874 to 1890. Byron Reed purchased the coin from the Parmelee Collection sale in 1890 for $570. Since Byron Reed’s death in 1891, the coin has been held by the City of Omaha and has been displayed in the past at the Omaha Public Library. The Collection will be on display as part of the Byron Reed gallery at the Durham Western Heritage Museum beginning June 19th.

There are 15 known 1804 Dollars. The Reed specimen is one of eight known Class I specimens which are known as originals, but were actually struck in 1834. There is also one known Class II specimen, which is now at the Smithsonian. Additionally there are 6 known Class III specimens. These are known as Restrikes.

“The reason we chose ICG to authenticate and grade our coins is because of ICG’s consistent quality and expertise in the grading and authentication process, and their vast knowledge of numismatics,” said Larry Lee, the curator for the Byron Reed collection. “This exhibit was created with painstaking attention to detail and quality, and we wanted the same type of professionalism in the company we chose to help us assess the collection. These guys are professionals all the way.”

J.P. Martin, ICG’s Senior Grader and Authenticator, remarked, “In my 20 years of numismatics, I’ve examined a number of the ultra-rarities, including over half of the 1804 Dollars. The excitement never diminishes, and in fact, the Reed specimen is on the higher-end of surviving specimens. It certainly is fun to see in person how each of the 1804 Dollars compares to the others.”

Keith Love, President and Founder of ICG, stated, “The Reed 1804-Dollar deserves to be ranked in the upper-echelon of 1804 Dollars. I’m referring to the PR-64 and PR-65 specimens that represent the higher end tier of 1804 Dollars. It is fortunate that this coin and other spectacular coins will be on display for all to enjoy. ICG has come to be known with having a quality product so it is a pleasure to have graded a portion of a rare collection that contains coins of the quality of the Byron Reed coins.”

The highlights of the Byron Reed coins that ICG graded include the following rarities.

1804 Dollar PR64 Class I Original – Parmelee Specimen
1829 Half Eagle MS66 Tied for finest certified, less than 10 known total
1827/3 Quarter PR65 Restrike 20 known
1850 Half Eagle EF40 Dubosq and Co. 3 known
1826/5 Quarter Eagle MS61 Finest certified
1878 Half Eagle PR64 J 1575, Pollock 1768 2 known
1878 Eagle PR64 J-1579, Pollock 1772 2 known
1792 Disme VF30 J-10, Pollock 11 R6

Walt Armitage, ICG’s senior grader, stated. “A fabulous selection of coins, full of rarities! In addition to the 1804 Dollar there are 6 coins that are either the finest known or where less than 10 are known to exist. It was a pleasure to grade the pattern 1878 $5 and $10 gold coins of which there are only 2 of each known, and then to immediately examine an 1829 half eagle and an 1827/3 quarter. Rumors existed that some of these coins had been mishandled; quite to the contrary, many of these coins are of high grade and the pristine surfaces of the patterns are nearly flawless in some cases.”

Larry Wilson, a historian and numismatic researcher for ICG, visited in person the Byron Reed Gallery at the Durham Western Heritage Museum and commented, “The exhibit is an environmental museum where the visitors walk through a replication of the original Byron Reed Library. The coins are displayed in beautiful dark wooden cases that give the visitors the sense they are part of the exhibit. It gave me the feeling I was back in the 1880’s sitting in Byron Reed’s library examining his coins with him. The exhibit includes an abundance of historical information on Byron Reed and the times. I know visitors will be impressed with the quality of the exhibit and the magnificence of the coins displayed.”

ICG examined a very small portion of this fabulous collection (the 30 coins represent less than 1% of the total coin count). This initial effort is the first step in a year-long assessment of the collection. It was important to get many of these 30 coins authenticated and graded now as the museum wanted them assessed before the coins are placed within the exhibit cases for the June 19th grand opening.

Wilson also commented on the manner in which the collection is being stored, “From preservation, to organization, to display, to security, the museum staff is doing an excellent job. I was particularly impressed by the curators who obviously have put a lot of thought and hard work into preservation. If the current preservation situation for these coins is maintained, this collection will he one of the finest on display in the world for years and years to come.”

For more information on the Durham Western Heritage Museum, the Byron Reed Exhibit, or the Reed 1804 Dollar please contact Larry Lee, Curator.  801 South Tenth Street, Omaha. Nebraska 68108 or Telephone (402) 444-5071 or Fax (402) 4445397.

The Reed 1829 Half Eagle – ICG MS66

Less than 10 known, this specimen is tied for the finest certified.


Unique 1915 Lincoln Cent Struck on 75/25 Cu-Ni Planchet (PCGS XF 45)

1915 Lincoln Cent Struck on 75/25 Cu-Ni Planchet PCGS XF 45 Unique. Provided by U.S. Mint error coin dealer Michael S. Byers of Byers Numismatic Corp

This is the only authenticated and certified Lincoln Cent off-metal prior to 1919. It was recently featured in a front page Coin World article and described as a possible Mint Experiment Test Piece. This was struck on a full-size planchet of Nickel composition. Pollock lists as #2028, “Nickel. Plain edge. Unique? Listed in Judd as being a Mint Error.”

S&N Labs analyzed this unique off-metal for elemental composition using scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive x-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDX). The composition was a copper-nickel alloy.

This is the same alloy that was used to strike the Buffalo Nickels during this time period. To view a unique 1920 Buffalo Nickel struck on a full-size copper planchet, authenticated and certified by NGC, click here.

This unique 1915 Lincoln Cent is on a full-size planchet as the rims are full and sharp. If it was struck on a foreign planchet, there would be weakness in the rims.

Provided by Michael Byers of Byers Numismatic Corp. (byersnc.com)

Martha Washington Quarter Pattern Discovered

An example of Pollock #2082, the Martha Washington Quarter, has been discovered and was purchased by Michael Byers of Byers Numismatic Corp. (byersnc.com). So far, this is the only known example in private hands. There is one set of a Dime, Quarter and Half struck by the Martha Washington dies that are permanently housed in the Smithsonian Institute, embedded in blocks of lucite. Click here for more info on the Martha Washington Quarter from USPatterns.com.

Michael Byers also purchased an example of Pollock #4100, a copper-zinc Cent struck by the Mint’s Martha Washington Dies. This Martha Washington Test Piece might have been used to test the new copper-zinc planchets for the U.S. Mint. Starting in 1982 the composition and weight of the Cent planchet changed. Instead of weighing 3.11 grams and having a composition of 95% copper and 5% zinc, the weight is 2.5 grams with a composition of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. Click here for more info on the Martha Washington Cent from USPatterns.com.

According to United States Pattern and Related Issues , by Andrew W. Pollock III, “the only trial pieces purported to have survived metallurgical testing in 1965 were the Dime, Quarter Dollar, and Half Dollar equivalent strikes in copper-nickel clad over copper.”

The only Martha Washington Dime Trial Piece in private hands is being offered for $100,000 by another coin dealer. NGC authenticated and encapsulated this Martha Washington Dime in April of 2000.

In August of 2000, Michael Byers purchased a Martha Washington Test Piece on a copper-zinc Cent planchet. This piece was struck by the Martha Washington Dime Dies. This piece was struck 10% off-center with a uniface reverse. This discovery was a front page Coin World article on August 7th, 2000. In a response to the discovery of this Martha Washington Test Piece that Michael Byers discovered, the Mint announced that “the dies are available to the Mint’s metal and blank vendors for testing.” This piece was originally offered for $39,500 and has been sold. Click here for more info on the Martha Washington Test Piece that sold.

These two recently aquired Martha Washington Test Pieces using the Mint’s Martha Washington Dies are now in private hands. The evolving story about the Martha Washington Dies, test strikes and the discovery of these pieces is among the most interesting Numismatic stories in decades.

Martha Washington 1759 Quarter Pattern

Head of Martha Washington

View of Mount Vernon

Obverse by Edward R. Grove
Reverse by Philip Fowler

±88 grains [±5.7 grams]


Provided by Michael Byers of Byers Numismatic Corp. (byersnc.com)

1913 Liberty Head Nickel NGC Graded PR66 (Finest Known)

The Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. Specimen Realized $1,840,000.00

1913 Liberty Head. NGC graded Proof 66. Finest Known of Only Five Struck. The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Specimen. Five were struck, and four accounted for, two of which are in museums: the finest certified known in private hands. The piece has glittering mirror surface and, perhaps, is the only specimen with this characteristic (the others exhibiting duller, more matte-like fields).

The famed Eliasberg specimen has been widely acclaimed and has been featured in more exhibitions than any other. More people have seen it than any other coin in American numismatics. Evidently, only five Liberty Head type five-cent pieces were struck in 1913. Of the five, the so-called Reynolds specimen (No. 2 in the Registry below, appended from the Bowers and Merena sale of the Eliasberg Collection), has not been examined by numismatists in recent decades. Its whereabouts are currently unknown, and may be the third or fourth finest of the five.

Another specimen that some believe may be the second finest known is in the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution, having earlier resided in the Ambassador and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb collection. This is listed as No. 3 in the Registry.

The Olsen specimen (No. 4), the grading of which has been variously described as from Mint State 60 to its current PCGS Proof 64 classification, is owned by Spectrum Numismatics. It is perhaps the third or fourth finest of the five, depending upon how it compares with the missing Reynolds coin.

The McDermott coin (No. 5), now in the American Numismatic Association Museum in Colorado Springs, is somewhat worn due to being mixed with pocket change.

More descriptive histories of the five specimens are given in the Registry below.

According to Bowers, in his May 1996 offering of the Eliasberg Collection, “in the early 1940s, Eric P. Newman, a St. Louis numismatist, bought some paper money from the numismatic estate of Col. E.H.R. Green that was being sold by Burdette G. Johnson, a well-known dealer of the same city. Upon asking if any coins were available, Newman was shown an inventory by Johnson. Listed were all five of the 1913 Liberty Head nickels, which had been acquired en bloc by Green in the mid-1920s, just as he had once bought the entire sheet of 100 1918 25¢ stamps with inverted “Jenny” biplane — representing the entire population of that famous stamp.

“Eric P. Newman in partnership with Johnson bought all five of the 1913 Liberty Head nickels, and later sold four of them, keeping the finest, one of only two with Proof surface, for his own cabinet.” (This glittering gem was later sold to Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., privately through Numismatic Gallery. Until 1996 it had never been featured or offered at auction.)

Story of the 1913 Nickel

Early in the year 1913, before the Indian or buffalo design was introduced in February, it has been postulated that just five 1913-dated nickel five-cent coins were struck at the mint at Philadelphia employing the still current Liberty Head that had been in production since 1883. Some point to the mint’s Medal Department as the likely source, where Proofs and other special strikings were made (including limited edition pieces such as the 1907 Ultra High Relief $20 Proofs). It appears one Samuel W. Brown, a numismatist who attended the American Numismatic Association Convention when it was held in Philadelphia in 1908, was an employee of the Mint at the time. He worked in the coining department and also with the Mint Collection. Brown is considered the mostly likely person who received the five pieces. He kept them in his possession until 1920 where they were openly shown and advertised.

Again, the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel is steeped in mystery: an enigma lost in obscurity muted by silence as to those responsible for making the dies, preparing the machinery, and striking the coins. Quite possibly Samuel Brown received them via engraver George T. Morgan, who produced rarities upon occasion for sale to dealers (in particular, Henry Chapman) and collectors (Cleveland industrialist Ambrose Swasey is an example), and who is believed to have been involved in making the famous MCMVII Ultra High Relief double eagles. The five 1913 Liberty Head nickels were displayed by Brown at the 1920 ANA convention.

“In early January 1913,” according, again, to Bowers in his catalog of the Eliasberg specimen, “it was perfectly legal to make a 1913 Liberty Head nickel at the Mint…under practices then inn effect at the Mint, all one had to do was to exchange another date of five-cent piece for a 1913 Liberty Head. Although none had been made in quantity for circulation, in early 1913 the Liberty Head motif was the standard design in use, the ‘Buffalo’ nickel not yet having been either perfected as to design or issued for circulation.”

Bowers goes on to say, “The first ‘experimental’ Indian-Buffalo nickels were struck on January 7, 1913, but production for circulation did not take place until after February 15, as there were problems with the design. For someone in the Medal Department of the Mint to have struck a few 1913 Liberty Head nickels for cabinet purposes early in January 1913 would have been neither unusual nor illegal. The Liberty Head motif was the official design until it was replaced with the Indian-Buffalo motif, and this did not happen until well into February 1913.”

Curiously, had the design difficulties not been ironed out, Liberty Head nickels might have been made in large quantities for circulation in 1913. As it was, “the Mint had been told to do nothing with the nickel denomination until the new Indian-Buffalo design was perfected.”

(Bowers postulates an alternative source for the five 1913 nickels: they “could have been struck as test pieces in autumn 1912 when dies for the next years coinage were being made, and before it was decided not to use the design.”)

Whatever the circumstances of striking, the 1913 Liberty Head nickel remains today the most publicized of all American coins.

“Decades ago Texas dealer B. Max Mehl spent millions of dollars advertising in magazines and newspapers and on the radio selling copies of his Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia which listed prices he paid for coins. The idea was that if you were lucky enough to find a 1913 Liberty Head nickel in change, you could pay off the mortgage on the ranch or send Junior to college. The 1913 nickel captured the public’s fancy and become the focal point of his advertising campaign which extended over a period of many years. Along the way, the 1913 Liberty Head nickel gained incredible fame. It is said that traffic was slowed in big cities as streetcar conductors examined incoming nickels from passengers, seeking a prized 1913! It was front row center in the minds of just about everyone.

More than any other single individual, Mehl popularized the hobby of coin collecting. Despite his search for the 1913 Liberty Head nickel, B. Max Mehl was never able to buy one. During his lifetime, Col. Green retained possession of all five pieces.

Registry of the Five 1913 Liberty Head Nickels

The five 1913 Liberty, representing the total number believed to have been struck, were owned by Samuel Brown until, in January 1924, August Wagner, a Philadelphia coin dealer, advertised the five for sale. The buyer was Stephen K. Nagy, who then sold them to Wayte Raymond, who in turn sold them to Col. E.H.R. Green, the famous Fort Worth, Texas area collector. After Green’s death on June 8, 1936, his coins were appraised by F.C.C. Boyd of New York and sold in 1942 to Eric P. Newman and B.G. Johnson (St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.) who with Henry Chapman had participated earlier in the distribution of the Virgil M. Brand estate.

1. ELIASBERG SPECIMEN. Finest known. The presently-offered coin, graded by Numismatic Guarantee Corporation as Proof 66. In holder #999999-001. Said to be one of only two with Proof finish. Purchased by Louis Eliasberg from Abe Kosoff in 1948 by way of Eric P. Newman.

Provenance: Samuel W. Brown, August Wagner, Stephen K. Nagy, Wayte Raymond, Col. E.H.R. Green, Burdette G. Johnson and Eric P. Newman, Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg (Numismatic Gallery), Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Jay Parrino’s The Mint, to present consignor.

2. REYNOLDS SPECIMEN. Present whereabouts unknown. It has been conjectured this coin passed into the hands of George O. Walton, North Carolina collector and dealer who often obtained coins on consignment from dealers and sold them to customers by visiting them in person. Walton was killed in a car accident on March 9, 1962, after which it reached print that he had been the owner of a 1913 Liberty Head nickel. There has been no verification of this ownership by modern researchers.

Provenance: Samuel W. Brown, August Wagner, Stephen K. Nagy, Wayte Raymond, Col. E.H.R. Green, Burdette G. Johnson and Eric P. Newman, James Kelly, Dr. Copnway A. Bolt, R.J. Reynolds and family (North Carolina), possibly George O. Walton.

3. NORWEB SPECIMEN. The Norweb 1913 nickel is now in the Smithsonian Institution, where it is a showpiece. Earlier it belonged to the colorful King Farouk of Egypt. In the sale of the Farouk collection, it was included as part of a date collection of nickels, without any particular notice being made of it! In the 1970s the Norweb family made several important gifts to numismatic institutions including a 1787 Brasher doubloon and many other coins to the American Numismatic Society, New York, and the 1913 Liberty Head nickel to the National Coin Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. The coin almost went to the American Numismatic Association, but in the end Mrs. Norweb selected the Smithsonian.

Provenance: Samuel W. Brown, August Wagner, Stephen K. Nagy, Wayte Raymond, Col. E.H.R. Green, Burdette G. Johnson and Eric P. Newman, F.C.C. Boyd, Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg (Numismatic Gallery), King Farouk, partnership of Abe Kosoff and Sol Kaplan, Norweb family, Smithsonian Institution.

4. OLSEN SPECIMEN. This is probably the most publicized of all 1913 Liberty Head nickels. It is the only example ever handled by B. Max Mehl, for whom the 1913 nickel was central to his lifelong advertising campaign. The Olsen Specimen has been widely featured in print and on television, including being the subject of an episode on the program Hawaii Five-0 in 1974. A few years ago, subsequent owner Reed Hawn exhibited it several times alongside his other world-class rarity, the 1804 silver dollar.

Provenance: Samuel W. Brown, August Wagner, Stephen K. Nagy, Wayte Raymond, Col. E.H.R. Green, Burdette G. Johnson and Eric P. Newman, James Kelly, Fred Olsen, B. Max Mehl, King Farouk (per Breen’s encyclopedia but probably an error), B. Max Mehl, Will W. Neil, B. Max Mehl, Edwin Hydeman, Abe Kosoff, WorldWide Coin Investments, Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, Inc. (Q. David Bowers and James F. Ruddy), Continental Coin Co., Superior Galleries, Dr. Jerry Buss, Superior Galleries, Reed Hawn, Stack’s, Spectrum Numismatics. Graded as Proof 64 by PCGS.

5. McDermott SPECIMEN. The fifth example is somewhat circulated. McDermott, a disabled veteran, was for many years the leading advertiser in the Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine. “He was fond of mixing it with change in his pocket, then taking it out and showing it to a bartender — often in a hotel where a coin convention was being held — telling the barkeep and anyone else within earshot that it was one of just five known and was very valuable.” After McDermott died in 1966, his widow Betts consigned it to James Kelly of Paramount International Coin Corporation.

Provenance: Samuel W. Brown, August Wagner, Stephen K. Nagy, Wayte Raymond, Col. E.H.R. Green, Burdette G. Johnson and Eric P. Newman, James Kelly, J.V. McDermott, Aubrey and Adeline Bebee, American Numismatic Association Money Museum.

The Big Event Approaches

Of the five 1913 Liberty Head nickels, two are permanently impounded, there is a third whose whereabouts is not known, there is the Spectrum Numismatics coin and this, the finest known, the illustrious Eliasberg specimen to be auctioned in the present sale, March 2001. The numismatic world will be eagerly anticipating to see who will be the next owner of the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., specimen of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel, the finest known example of a spectacular rarity whose fames increases each time any is offered.

Copyright © 2001. Superior Galleries, Inc. All rights reserved.

1913 Liberty Head Nickel NGC Graded PR66 (Finest Known)

1913 Liberty Head Nickel NGC Graded PR66 (Finest Known)

ICG Certifies “Previously Lost” 1861 Paquet Reverse Double Eagle

Coin is one of only two 1861 Paquet Reverse Double Eagles

ICG-Independent Coin Grading of Englewood, Colorado-recently certified one of only two known 1861-P Paquet Reverse Double Eagles. The coin was purchased at the Sotheby’s/Stack’s October 29-30, 2001 auction (lot 30) and was clearly that event’s superstar. The coin was featured on the auction catalog’s cover and included a 6-page history of its creation inside. ICG graded the ultra rarity MS62.

The coin is one of the greatest of all rarities in American numismatics and the rarest of all regular-issue double eagles. It is not considered a pattern. The coin was “lost” in 1877 and did not resurface until it was discovered nearly a century later in a bag of double eagles inside a Swiss bank vault. (The other Paquet reverse had been owned by such famous collectors as Lorin Parmelee, Virgil Brand, King Farouk and Henry Norweb.)

The Paquet reverse was the first attempt to refine the design of the reverse of the double eagle, however, because of technical problems, the effort was quickly scuttled by the Mint Director and all but two of the Philadelphia coins ended up being melted.

Anthony C. Paquet, who was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1814, became Assistant Engraver to James Longacre in 1857. After proving himself with numerous assignments at the Mint, he was given the task of redesigning the double eagle’s reverse in 1859. He looked first for inspiration at ancient Roman coins, but it was Paquet’s second design-a simple, but elegantly executed version of Longacre’s original concept as originally drawn, with cleaner, more elegant lettering–which was selected. A few 1860-dated copper patterns were struck along with one in gold (now in the Smithsonian) and the new reverse design was ready for regular production as 1861 began.

The new Paquet reverses began being struck immediately in the new year, but by January 5 production halted. According to the Mint Director, “In preparing the new dies for 1861, a slight deviation in the diameter of the double eagle was inadvertently made.” The Mint was under a great deal of pressure to get the new coinage struck and into circulation, so, rather than fixing the problem, the order was given to use the old reverse design.

For Paquet, the problem was devastating. Mint engravers, despite their talents, were expected to produce workable dies. He was, after this incident, used sparingly at the Mint and in 1864 resigned his position.

The 1861 Paquet reverse gold eagle that ICG graded MS62 has as nearly an interesting pedigree as the history behind the coin itself. The coin is believed to have first been auctioned in 1875 as part of the collection of Col. Mendes I. Cohen. Cohen, from Baltimore, was an explorer and was the first American to sail the length of the Nile. The coin (lot 1314) was described as one of only two such coins and sold for $26, a $6 premium! It went to the collection of George Cram who sold it at auction two years later for $22.25. From there it disappeared for nearly a century. In the mid-1960s the coin was discovered in a bag of double eagles that had sat for years in the vault of a Swiss bank. In 1965 the coin was sold for $7,500. Ten years later was sold again–this time for more than a quarter of a million dollars-to Jeff Browning.

To view this and other ultra rarities that ICG has graded, simply go to ICG’s website at www.icgcoin.com and click on Paquet Reverse Double Eagle. For more information about how you can have your coins graded by ICG contact James Taylor toll-free at 877-221-4424 x203 or on-line at

The United States Government Famed 1933 Double Eagle

The Most Valuable Gold Coin In The World

Famed 1933 Double Eagle

New York, NY – February 7, 2002 – On July 30, 2002 Sotheby’s and Stack’s offered for sale for the first time, on the behalf of the United States Government, the most valuable gold coin in the world, the fabled and elusive 1933 Double Eagle twenty dollar gold coin.

This is the first time that the United States Government has authorized private ownership of a 1933 Double Eagle. After it was struck in 1933, President Roosevelt, in one of his first acts as President, took the United States off the gold standard in an effort to help the struggling American economy out of the Great Depression. All of the 1933 Double Eagles were ordered destroyed, but ten specimens are known to have escaped into private hands. However, as they had never been officially “issued” as United States coinage, they cannot be legally owned. As a result, nine of the ten specimens were seized by, or turned in to, the United States Secret Service in the 1940s and 50s and were subsequently destroyed. The remaining 1933 Double Eagle, which will be offered, surfaced in 1996 and was seized by the United States Secret Service. The coin was returned to the United States Mint as a result of the Department of Justice’s settlement of a forfeiture action, and in that landmark legal settlement, this one coin became the only 1933 Double Eagle now or ever authorized for private ownership by the United States Government. The coin will be sold in a single lot auction at Sotheby’s York Avenue premises in New York on July 30, 2002, and carries an estimate of $4/6 million.

“This storied coin has been the center of international numismatic intrigue for more than seventy years, said Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore. “The Mint has certified the authenticity of this legendary 1933 Double Eagle. We will officially transfer full, legal ownership of the coin to the highest bidder at this historic sale.”

“We expect that this coin may become the most valuable coin in the world and one of the most sought-after rarities in history” said David Pickens, Associate Director, United States Mint.

David Redden, Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s, and Lawrence R. Stack, Managing Director of Stack’s, said, “The story of this coin is one of the great numismatic mysteries of all time whose final chapter will be written with this auction. Currently held at United States Gold Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the coin has an intriguing history which includes seizure by the United States Government, a five-year trial with a landmark resolution and a possible connection to a royal Egyptian Collection dispersed in the 1950s. It is an enormous privilege to be asked by the United States Government to undertake the sale of the ‘Holy Grail’ of the coin collecting world.”

1933 Double Eagles

The twenty dollar gold coin, known as a Double Eagle, was a child of the California Gold Rush, and the massive shipments of ore sent back East. The first Double Eagles were issued to the public in 1850.

 In 1907, at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt, the denomination was radically redesigned by famed American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. These were struck until 1933 when production of the Double Eagle was discontinued along with all other United States gold coins as a result of Executive Order 6260 issued by President Franklin Roosevelt which, in an effort to aid the struggling American economy, prohibited banks from paying out gold. According to the United States Government, any Double Eagle struck in 1933 could not be legally owned, because none were officially released to the public.

In early 1944, prior to the government’s discovery of the missing 1933 Double Eagles, the Royal Legation of Egypt presented a 1933 Twenty Dollar Double Eagle to the Treasury Department, seeking a license to export the coin to Egypt for King Farouk’s collection. The export license was required for virtually all gold coins under the extensive gold restrictions that had been in effect since March of 1933. Not yet recognizing the significance of an unissued 1933 coin, the Department of the Treasury inadvertently issued the export license and the King Farouk specimen was exported out of the United States. Within weeks Government officials came to recognize the significance of the 1933 Double Eagle, and discovered the existence of nine other 1933 Double Eagles that illegally left the Mint without ever being issued. Over the next ten years, these nine 1933 Double Eagles were seized or voluntarily turned in to the Department of the Treasury, and were subsequently destroyed.

Possible King Farouk Provenance

In 1954, a 1933 Double Eagle appeared at auction in Cairo, Egypt; Sotheby’s, acting on behalf of the new Republic of Egypt, was selling the astonishing collections assembled by the deposed King Farouk. King Farouk was one of the greatest coin collectors of all time, though it was not until this auction that the world learned of his remarkable achievement – the collection comprised more than 8,500 gold coins and the sale itself took nine days. Lot 185 in that auction contained a 1933 Double Eagle. Learning of the offering, the United States Treasury successfully requested that the coin be withdrawn from the sale. After this, the whereabouts of the coin remained a mystery for nearly half a century. It has been suggested, in sworn depositions, that the present coin is the King Farouk coin, and there is significant evidence that it was part of the famed collection, including the fact that no other 1933 Double Eagle is known to exist or has ever been identified.

The location of the present coin, since its minting in 1933, had been a mystery until 1996 when it was seized at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York as respected and leading British coin dealer, Stephen Fenton, attempted to sell it to Secret Service agents who were posing as coin collectors. The legal proceedings which lasted five years, ultimately resulting in a ground-breaking settlement which specifically allows this particular Double Eagle, nearly seventy years after its production, to be the only 1933 Double Eagle permitted to be privately owned.

The Auction

Part of the intrigue surrounding the coin is the fact that it has existed in limbo for nearly seventy years. In the eyes of the United States Treasury, up until now, the coin has had no monetary value and its possession could result in a possible imprisonment. Associate Director Pickens confirmed, “upon auction the coin will be officially released for private ownership and it will become official U.S. coinage. At the sale, the final purchase price will be increased by $20, which will go to the United States Treasury General Fund. In other words, the United States Government will be “issuing” one 1933 Double Eagle for the first (and only) time at this historic sale.”

The new owner of the coin will be given an official Certificate of Transfer that makes the coin legal to own. Given the complex issues surrounding the elusive 1933 Double Eagle, this Certificate of Transfer, will be itself historically significant.

Sotheby’s and Stack’s

This sale represents a partnership of Sotheby’s, whose history of coin auctions stretches back to 1755, and Stack’s, an American numismatic firm whose first coin sale was held in 1935. Most recently, in October 2001, Sotheby’s and Stack’s worked together to sell the fabled Dallas Bank Collection for $7.8 million.

For More Information, Please Contact Sotheby’s Press Office, 212 606 7176

1920 Buffalo Nickel struck on a full size copper planchet

This is a Discovery Coin and is now being offered for sale. A 1920 Buffalo Nickel struck on a full size copper planchet of the same diameter, thickness, and weight of a Buffalo Nickel!! Its composition is 89% CU, 8% ZN and 3% SN. The weight is 4.96 grams which is 76.54 grains. This unique Off-Metal Buffalo Nickel is unreported in Breen, Judd and Pollock.

Buffalo Nickels struck on Cent Planchets are very scarce. Buffalo Nickels struck on Dime Planchets are extremely rare. This is the first and only reported Buffalo Nickel struck on a Full Size Copper Planchet. There is a possibility that it is a unique copper test piece and was never melted and destroyed.

Type Coin Mint Errors have been undervalued for over 20 years and have just started to realize their true value. I just offered Fred Weinberg, a well known Mint Error Dealer, $20,000 for his Buffalo Nickel struck on a Dime Planchet… and he passed.

This unique Copper Buffalo Nickel is being offered for less than what a Buffalo Nickel on a Dime would sell for.

Pedigree. Originally in the Mike Chambers’ world famous collection of U.S. Off-Metal Mint Errors. It was sold to a well known East Coast dealer, who specializes in Patterns, exotic coins and other rarities. He submitted it to NGC for authentication, and upon certification I immediately purchased it.

Provided by Michael Byers of Byers Numismatic Corp. (byersnc.com)

Historic “first silver dollar” of the Americas confirmed after 464 years

(Beverly Hills, CA) – Coin dealer cousins, Ira and Larry Goldberg of Beverly Hills, California, have confirmed the discovery of a centuries’ old treasure – a (1538) 8 reales of Spanish rulers Charles and Johanna, the first silver dollar-sized coin minted in the Americas. It is a numismatic missing link, and the first one publicly confirmed.

Although referred to in 16th century Spanish documents, until now researchers had not publicly confirmed or published information about any surviving examples of the coin that links the Old World of Europe and the New World of the Americas. But the Goldbergs have acquired and verified the first one in 464 years.

“Hand-made under Spanish colonial rule in 1538 at the Mexico City palace formerly used by conqueror, Hernando Cortez, this coin is the first of the famous ‘pieces of eight’ produced in the New World,” according to the Goldbergs who are third generation coin collectors and dealers.

At their request, the coin was examined by Lawrence J. Lee, museum curator of the merican Numismatic Association, and also verified by the Professional Coin Grading Service which designated it as PCGS XF40.

“It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the confirmation of the first large silver coin produced in colonial America,” said Lee. “This is one of the most exciting single finds in American numismatics. That the coin was hand-struck literally in the former home of Hernando Cortez underscores the point that this piece is of great historical importance.”

“The coin has been struck multiple times. In fact, the technical problems of minting such a coin using the available technology mentioned in the early Spanish reports are borne out by the crudeness of this coin and its planchet,” Lee stated.

“Unless the Mexico City mint could be technically more proficient than this coin indicates, they could never have made a successful 8 reales coin with the equipment they had; the invention of the coin screw press being still several decades in the future. It would also have been too large of a denomination for the local economy.”

The coin weighs 26.0872 grams and the specific gravity, 10.2673, is equivalent to .850 silver, according to ANA measurements.

“This eight-reales denomination coin is about the size of a U.S. silver dollar, and was just too big and cumbersome to be easily produced in a colonial mint. Only a few pieces were struck in 1538, and none previously were known to still exist,” explained Ira Goldberg who acquired the coin earlier this year with Larry, his cousin and rare coin business partner.

Although well documented by Spanish officials when it was made, this historic coin’s whereabouts were publicly unknown for four centuries until the Goldbergs unquestionably confirmed its existence and pedigree this summer.

“This was acquired from an estate where it had been for decades; never researched and unpublished. With the expertise and consultation of top Latin American authorities it was recently recognized and attributed. We acquired it; the ‘missing numismatic link’ of the Americas,” said Ira Goldberg.

Ira and Larry’s grandfather started a Los Angeles coin and stamp business in 1930. Over the years the cousins have bought and sold some of the world’s greatest numismatic rarities including more than $100 million worth of recovered California Gold Rush sunken treasure from the legendary “Ship of Gold,” the S.S. Central America.

“We’ve handled virtually everything in the ‘Red Book,’ but this is the most exciting single coin we’ve ever encountered. It was the first of its kind produced in the Americas, and it symbolizes the enormous economic and social changes that would unfold in the following centuries,” said Larry Goldberg.

Although the coin has no discernable date, it was confirmed as minted in 1538 because documents indicate it was commissioned by the King in late 1537 and also confirmed by prominent design features, explained Ira Goldberg, a former president of the Professional Numismatists Guild.

“The initials of the assayer, Francisco del Rincon, appear on the coin, and we know from official documents he only served a short time when the small mint first opened at the massive home of Cortez in Mexico City. Also there are other design elements only found on coins struck under the royal edict of the Spanish King, Charles the First (Carlos), and his mother, Johanna.”

Extensive documentation about the production of the coin dates back to the meticulous records made in 1545 by the King’s emissary, Francisco Tello de Sandoval. He went to Mexico City to investigate alleged corruption and theft of silver ore, and conducted extensive interviews with mint officials and workers. His handwritten notes are preserved today in the Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain, and translated into English in 1947. A 1955 monograph for the American Numismatic Society by Robert I. Nesmith, “The Coinage of the First Mint of the Americas at Mexico City, 1536 – 1572,” focuses on Sandoval’s detailed report.

While only a limited amount of 8 reales coins were produced in 1538, Spanish officials made smaller 4 and 2 reales denomination pieces; known as four bits and two bits. Those coins led to the slang term for today’s quarter-dollars, “two-bits.” Eventually, thousands of “pieces-of-eight” silver treasure coins were made over the centuries in Latin America and circulated worldwide. They were commonly used as pocket change in the United States until the mid-1800s.

“Stylistically, the coin is a combination of Nesmith’s early and late styles. The shape of the cartouche and the re-cutting of the letters to a less gothic shape, as well as other indicators, would place the coin around 1538. Our consensus is that the coin is a die trial,” said Lee.

The newly authenticated coin is not for sale; the Goldbergs want to enjoy the pride of ownership for a while.