For collectors of New Orleans and Carson City gold coinage, the Stack’s January 16-17, 2007 Americana auction offered an important selection of high grade coins. Billed as the Morgan Collection, these were pieces which I sold to a Midwestern collector between 1992 and 1999. Many were listed in the Condition Census in my books but had never appeared for sale at public auction. In the gold dollar section, the most important piece by a substantial margin was a superb 1850-O graded MS64 by NGC. I had sold this coin to its owner over ten years ago and, like all of the coins in this collection, it remained in an old holder. I purchased it for $16,100 which I thought was very reasonable for the unquestioned finest known example of the rarest New Orleans gold dollar.
A nice PCGS MS62 1840-O quarter eagle sold for $18,400 against a current Trends value of $17,000 in this grade.
One of the most interesting coins in the sale was not part of the Morgan Collection. This was an NGC MS62 1854-O Three Dollar gold piece which I thought was one of the two best examples of this issue that I’ve seen. It brought $74,750 which is easily a record auction price for this date but which fell short of the reported high five figure price which a PCGS MS62 example traded for via private treaty in 2006.
A number of lovely New Orleans half eagles were offered. I purchased a superb NGC MS63 1840-O for $34,500, a high end 1843-O Large Letters in NGC MS62 for $18,400 and a dazzling fully Prooflike NGC MS63 1844-O for $16,100. Two coins I liked but was outbid on were a PCGS MS61 1854-O which sold for $11,500 and the Pittman 1855-O in MS61 which brought $21,850; a record price for the date.
The Carson City half eagles in the Morgan Collection included a number of very important pieces. A choice AU55 1870-CC was sold for $37,375 and a really nice NGC AU50 example of the very rare 1873-CC realized $28,750 which is surely a record price for an 1873-CC in this grade. My favorite coin in the collection and certainly one of the single neatest coins I’ve ever owned was a glorious 1875-CC in PCGS MS63. It sold to a New York dealer for $103,500 and I think it was an extremely good value. Another lovely and important coin was an 1881-CC in NGC MS63. Like the 1875-CC it was the finest known example and it sold for $57,500; again, a reasonable price considering this coin’s rarity and significance.
Other notable prices realized for Carson City half eagles in the sale include $29,900 for the finest known 1884-CC (a PCGS MS61) and a strong $13,800 for a PCGS MS64 1891-CC.
The set of Carson City eagles in the Morgan Collection was complete and it rivaled the set sold in ANR’s Old West sale this summer as the finest group offered at auction since the Bass sales of 1999-2001. A PCGS EF45 1870-CC went strong at $46,000 and an impressive NGC AU55 1872-CC brought $34,500. One of the strongest prices in the sale was the $43,700 realized for an 1873-CC in PCGS AU50; Trends for this date is $30,000 in this grade. A lustrous but heavily bagmarked 1875-CC in PCGS AU53 brought $29,325 and an 1876-CC in PCGS EF45 realized $12,650 against a Trends value of $12,000 in this grade.
I was very happy to purchase a choice AU55 NGC 1877-CC for $27,600 as I thought it was comparable to the Bass coin which had sold for $41,400 back in 1999. Among the latter date Carson City eagles, a PCGS MS61 1881-CC with superb original color sold for $10,350, a gorgeous NGC MS64 1891-CC was bid to $17,250 and a fresh, attractive 1893-CC in NGC MS60 went very reasonably at $8,625.
There were not many New Orleans eagles in the collection but the star attraction, the only Uncirculated example known of the rare 1879-O, was a coin which I felt was one of the most important gold coins of this mint ever offered for sale. I was shocked to buy it for what I thought was an extremely reasonable $52,900. I also purchased a very choice 1880-O in NGC MS61 (I think it is the second or third finest known) for $16,100 which was also considerably less than what I would have paid. An NGC AU55 example of the rare 1883-O was bid to $20,700 and a choice NGC MS63 example of the vastly underrated 1899-O sold cheaply at $5,750.
My overall take on this sale is that prices were mixed. I think there were some incredible bargains and I think some prices were considerably higher than what I would have expected. I think this sale was hurt by the fact that it occurred less than two weeks after the mammoth FUN auctions and that the lots were not available for viewing during the FUN convention at Stack’s table as ANR used to display lots for upcoming sales.
When I communicated with the owner of this collection about his selling it, I suggested that he allow me to resubmit the coins for grading as I thought nearly every piece in the group would upgrade; some considerably. He didn’t take my advice and I wonder if this cost him money or not. It’s hard to say but when I start seeing how I did on these coins I bought after they’ve been resubmitted, perhaps I’ll have a better idea.