The Atlanta ANA show was among the oddest coin conventions I have been to in many years. This show was, at times, an exercise in futility yet it featured crowds that were far greater than at any show in Atlanta since the heyday(s) of the great regional conventions that were held there back in the mid-1980’s. The pre-show activity was extremely strong with most dealers reporting very strong sales. The hot gold market was a major catalyst here, with many buyers seeking pieces like MS63 to MS65 Indian Head eagles, better date Saint Gaudens double eagles, New Orleans gold and gold commemoratives to fill orders. Nearly everyone I spoke with claimed that they would have happily spent double what they were able to write checks for at the show. The competition for the few available fresh coins was brutal and the quick lesson learned by most dealers was if you saw something you liked, you bought it first and worried about the price later.
The show was extremely crowded but there seemed to be very little actual retail buying taking place. I was so busy running around the bourse floor looking for fresh coins to buy that I was not able to spend as much time being my table as I would have liked. When I was there, I found most of the people to be new collectors who were either attending their first large-size show or who were looking for items such as Dahlonega half eagles priced at under $1,000. I must give the ANA some much-deserved compliments on their pre-show publicity as the crowds really were impressive from a numbers standpoint.
The highlight of the show for me was the sale of the Duke’s Creek collection of Dahlonega gold coinage. I was pleasantly surprised at the strength of this sale. I wound up purchasing ten lots which constituted around one-third of the dollar value. Three coins (the 1855-D and the 1861-D gold dollars plus the 1854-D three dollar gold piece) broke the $100,000 mark and a number of price records were set for individual dates. I am working on a detailed analysis of the sale results which I plan to have posted on my website by the end of the week.
On Saturday morning the area around Atlanta was hit by tornados and, in case you haven’t had the pleasure of being woken up by a screaming tornado warning siren at 4AM, it’s interesting to say the least.
Going into the traditionally strong Spring season, my best guess is that the coin market will continue to display a good deal of strength. I look for the rare gold coin market to be extremely strong due to the run-up of bullion prices to $600 and over, plus the upcoming releases of at least three potential classic books on United States gold coinage within the next few months.
On April 7, 2006 Heritage Auctions sold the Duke’s Creek collection of Dahlonega gold coinage at unreserved public auction. The prices that these coins realized give the advanced collector an excellent idea of values in this series. Going into this sale, I was not certain at how results would be. I looked at this sale as having two possible results: it would either be a complete disaster or it would be much stronger than expected due to the current bull market for all United States gold coins. My initial take on the results are that prices were, in most cases, very strong although a few items went very reasonably.
Here are the auction results as well as some quick comments regarding the coins and the prices they brought. Please note that the prices realized include a 15% buyers charge.
I. GOLD DOLLARS
DATE/GRADE TRENDS QUARTERLY BID PRICES REALIZED
1849-D N64 25000 16500 $17,250
Comments: I didn’t like this coin. I thought it went for a strong price given its level of quality.
1850-D N64 30000(63) 22500(63) $34,500
Comments: One of my favorite coins in the gold dollar section and an excellent value. I purchased this coin and would have paid quite a bit more.
1851-D N65 41000 ----- $37,375
Comments: Probably a bit overgraded but a very nice example. I thought it would bring 10% more.
1852-D N63 ----- 28000 $27,600
Comments: I was very happy to buy this coin right at quarterly bid. I liked the coin very much.
1853-D N63 35000 21500 $21,850
Comments: I didn’t care for this coin at all and it went fairly cheaply at well under 70% of Trends.
1854-D N62 20000 13500 $13,800
Comments: A very nice coin for the grade and a very good deal at less than 70% of Trends. I purchased this coin.
1855-D N64 ----- ----- $132,500
Comments: This was a very controversial lot. Many collectors were disappointed to see that the coin had been dipped by NCS and was now very bright. Had it been original I think it could have brought close to $200,000. As it is, this piece set an all-time auction record for any Dahlonega gold dollar.
1856-D N62 55000 39000 $40,250
Comments: I really disliked this coin and thought that the price it sold for was pretty amazing given its quality.
1857-D N62 18000 13500 $14,950
Comments: I thought this was a very nice coin and it sold for exactly the right amount. I purchased this piece.
1858-D N66 75000(65) 55000(65) $74,750
Comments: While $75,000 is hardly chump change, I thought this superb coin could easily have broken the $100,000 mark. Surprisingly, this coin sold to a book bidder and it was one of the few coins that did not get hammered to a live bidder at the sale.
1859-D N64 30000(63) 27000 $23,000
Comments: Very cheap and seemingly a real bargain but this piece had a major mint-made defect on the face which could make it hard to sell.
1860-D N64 ----- ----- $57,500
Comments: Probably my least favorite gold dollar in the collection; I thought the color was artificial and the coin was well overgraded. Despite this it set a record at nearly $60,000.
1861-D N65 125000 ----- $138,000
Comments: This was the most controversial lot in the sale. The coin had only recently been in an MS63 holder and its color had been lightened by NCS. But it was still the highest graded example of a classic rarity. Would the price reflect this? I think a crusty, original MS65 1861-D gold dollar could bring $250,000 in this market. The price realized for this coin was, in my opinion, very strong given its true quality.
GOLD DOLLARS FINAL PRICES REALIZED: $633,075 NUMBER OF GOLD DOLLAR LOTS: 13 AVERAGE PRICE REALIZED PER LOT: $48,698
II. QUARTER EAGLES
DATE/GRADE TRENDS QUARTERLY BID PRICES REALIZED
1839-D N64 50000(63) 48500 $63,250
Comments: This was an extremely strong price for this coin. The great popularity of Classic Head issues was clearly evident as this 1839-D brought approximately 30% over CDN Quarterly Bid.
1840-D N62 ----- ----- $74,750
Comments: This coin was a highlight of the collection and brought a record price. I was surprised at how many different people were bidding on it; I counted at least five different hands in the air after it opened.
1841-D N63 60000(62) 44000 $46,000
Comments: I did not like this coin as it had a detracting pinscratch on the obverse. I thought the price realized was extremely strong, considering that the much nicer PCGS MS63 Green Pond: 1017 coin sold a few years ago for $40,250.
1842-D N62 ----- 40000 $57,500
Comments: Here was an example of a finest known coin that sold for a very strong price. There were three bidders eagerly competing for this piece and I was somewhat surprised at the price realized.
1843-D Sm. D N62 25000 14000 $16,100
Comments: I thought this was one of the nicest MS62’s in the collection as it had superb color. I estimated that it would sell for $15,000 or so.
1843-D Lg. D N61 ----- ----- $12,075
Comments: Few people are aware of the fact that this major variety is excessively rare in Uncirculated. I purchased this lot for a collector who was very pleased to obtain it for 20% less than what the 1843-D Small D sold for.
1844-D N63 30000 21000 $25,300
Comments: This was a very impressive price for a coin that was not really that choice for the grade, in my opinion. The Green Pond coin graded MS63 by PCGS sold for $20,700 in January 2004.
1845-D N63 ----- 28000 $34,500
Comments: I’m not exactly sure what I missed on this coin. I thought it was very unappealing due to splotchy coloration and an overly-NCS’d appearance. Despite this fact, it sold for a very healthy $34,500.
1846-D N63 ----- 21500 $27,600
Comments: Here was another coin that brought around 20-30% more than I expected. If I had owned this coin, I would have been thrilled to see it sell for $22,000.
1846-D/D N58 ----- ----- $9,200
Comments: Yet another very strong price. I have seen these sell at coin shows in the $6000-7000 range. The Duke’s Creek pedigree appeared to add a considerable amount of value.
1847-D N65 ----- 55000 $74,750
Comments: I thought this was the strongest price of the night. This coin had formerly been the prettiest Dahlonega quarter eagle I had ever seen but it had recently been lightened and I no longer loved it. But the record-shattering price indicated that at least two bidders liked it. A lot.
1848-D N62 20000 12000 $23,500
Comments: Apparently someone saw this coin upgrading to MS63 (I didn’t) as it sold for well over MS62 Trends. Another very impressive price.
1849-D N62 35000 21000 $24,150
Comments: I loved this coin. It had great color and a terrific pedigree that went back over fifty years. I purchased it right at my upper limit and was very pleased with it. I was happy to see that this coin, unlike others in the collection, had not been lightened.
1850-D N61 16000(60) 12000(60) $17,250
Comments: A very average coin for the grade which sold for around $5,000 more than I expected. I have seen at least three or four NGC MS61’s sell at auction in the last few years for $9,000-11,000.
1851-D N65 ----- ----- $63,250
Comments: I had a client who wanted to purchase either the 1847-D or the 1851-D. Considering that the 1851-D is a much rarer coin and it sold for $10,000 less than the 1847-D, I think he got a great deal.
1852-D N64 40000(62) 40000(63) $57,500
Comments: This was a coin that I thought might slip through the cracks and sell for a reasonable number. It is the finest known example of a rare date and a coin with good eye appeal. It shattered all previous price records for the date and I was left in the dust.
1853-D N62 ----- 26000 $32,200
Comments: This was another coin that brought 20% more than I would have expected. It was fairly nice for the grade but I was very surprised it brought so much over Bid.
1854-D N64 60000(62) 65000(63) $80,500
Comments: I have been in love with this coin since I first saw it in 1999 but have never been able to own it. I was very excited when a new collector called me before the sale and told me to bid on it for him. I was even more excited that it went for what I feel was a reasonable number; after all it sold in 1999 for $63,250 in an MS62 holder.
1855-D N61 ----- 42000(60) $54,625
Comments: I was not wild about the quality of this coin and I think the price realized was extremely strong. I had a very nice NGC MS60 last year that I sold for nearly $20,000 less and it was a long struggle to sell it even at a discounted number.
1856-D N61 80000(60) 60000(60) $71,785
Comments: This coin really grew on me. At first I wasn’t that wild about it but the more I studied it the more I realized it was exceptional. In fact, I think it is the unqualified Finest Known example of the rarest Dahlonega gold coin. If you can’t already tell, I purchased it and I think it was my single best deal of the whole auction.
1857-D N62 27500 18000 $17,250
Comments: After the excitement of the 1856-D I sort of went to sleep for a few seconds and let this coin sell too cheaply. It was an excellent value.
1859-D N62 23000(60) 30000 $37,375
Comments: This final Dahlonega quarter eagle closed the denomination with a bang. I didn’t like this coin yet it sold more than double what a similarly graded NGC example brought in the Heritage January 2002 auction.
QUARTER EAGLES FINAL PRICES REALIZED: $920,500 NUMBER OF QUARTER EAGLE LOTS: 22 AVERAGE PRICE REALIZED PER LOT: $41,840
SUMMARY: I think the final prices realized for this collection was about 15-20% more than what I expected before the sale. This was a case of individual coins benefiting from the overall strength of a world-class collection. I think at least half the coins in this collection would have brought considerably less if they had been in another sale and had not had the benefit of the Duke’s Creek pedigree.
This collection has had a strong mystique about it for many years. When I viewed it carefully, I had mixed emotions about it. There were some pieces that were just remarkable. There were others that were not as nice as I remembered. And there were a few that had been overzealously conserved by NCS and which, in all honesty, I think had been ruined. This was clearly a collection that had been “maxed out” from a grading standpoint. I saw very coins in the set that weren’t aggressively graded and a few, like the 1861-D gold dollar, had been recently upgraded by two full points.
The bottom line is that truly high grade Dahlonega gold coinage is very rare and it remains in strong demand. When you consider how much certain areas of the market have risen in value in the past three to five years, very high quality Dahlonega coinage seems like a good deal when one considers that prices really haven’t appreciated that much since the robust days of the late 1990’s.
In April 2006 Heritage will be auctioning the incomparable Duke's Creek Collection of gold dollars, quarter eagles and three dollar gold pieces. I have been asked to write the descriptions of these coins. In this second part of a two-part series, I continue the write-ups of these issues. ONE OF THE FINEST KNOWN 1839-D QUARTER EAGLES
1839-D NGC MS64. Variety 1-A. This is the more common of the two varieties for this year and it is quickly identifiable by a weak olive branch. An estimated 8,000 examples of this variety were produced.
The 1839-D quarter eagle is one of just five one-year only issues from the Dahlonega mint. It is among the most popular quarter eagles due to its status as the first-year-of-issue as well as the only Dahlonega coin of this denomination that employs the popular Classic Head design. As many as 200 pieces are known and this includes perhaps as many as a dozen that qualify as Uncirculated by today’s standards. Clearly, some were saved as souvenirs and there are at least three known that grade MS64 or better.
This piece shows a nice strike for the date. The radial lines of the stars are nearly complete and there is just some minor weakness on the curls around the ear and face. The obverse is very clean with no marks of note; the reverse shows a small but somewhat deep planchet defect through the ER in AMERICA towards the shield. The luster is satiny and original with the soft luxuriant luster typical of higher grade 1839-D quarter eagles. Both sides have acquired attractive medium to deep orange-gold color and this is an uncommonly attractive example of this coveted type.
I regard this as the third finest known 1839-D quarter eagle, trailing the James Stack coin (graded MS64 by PCGS) and the Bass II: 314 coin (conservatively graded MS63 by PCGS) that is now owned by an Alabama collector. The Duke’s Creek coin is likely to be the finest available for some time and, as such, it represents a great opportunity for the sophisticated specialist or type collector.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Superior 2/98: 3334 ($31,900).
EXCEEDINGLY RARE UNCIRCULATED 1840-D QUARTER EAGLE 1840-D NGC MS62. Variety 1-A. Struck from a perfect reverse die without cracks; extremely rare as such. This is one of two varieties for the year and it is easily recognizable by the mintmark leaning towards the 2 in the fraction.
This is one of the single most important Dahlonega quarter eagles of any date. It is the only truly Uncirculated 1840-D of which I am aware and it is by far the best struck piece I have seen. I first saw the coin in Auction ’84 and was astounded by it then; as I have become more knowledgeable about this series over the years the true significance of this coin has become more apparent to me.
The strike is amazing for the date. Both the obverse and reverse shows virtually full detail with uncommonly sharp centers. As mentioned above the reverse shows no crack and I am aware of just three or four perfect die coins. There is some minor roughness in the obverse fields as made as well as a few ticks that are consistent with the assigned grade. But this coin is so head and shoulders above any other 1840-D quarter eagle in terms of eye appeal that it almost seems unfair to mention them. The luster is slightly subdued with some natural haziness; the obverse is just a bit reflective while the reverse is frostier in its texture. The color is a natural light green-gold. Did I mention the fact that I like this coin…?
The late Jack Hancock considered this coin to be a highlight of the Duke’s Creek collection and I believe this was one of his all-time favorite coins. The 1840-D is the single rarest Dahlonega quarter eagle in high grades and if you are a serious collector of Dahlonega quarter eagles (or quarter eagles in general) you should realize that this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime coin that is unlikely to be exceeded by any other 1840-D.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Stack’s Auction ’84: 1309 ($9,350), Dr. Arthur Montgomery collection, Hancock and Harwell, Stack’s 12/78: 86, Bareford collection, New Netherlands 11/56: 219. This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
ONE OF JUST FOUR MINT STATE EXAMPLES KNOWN OF THE VERY RARE 1841-D 1841-D NGC MS63. Variety 2-D. The mintmark is centered over the 2 in the fraction. There are thin die cracks going upwards from the top of the 1 in the fraction and the left of the R in AMERICA. This variety is extremely rare; I am aware of just two or three.
The 1841-D is one of the three very rare Dahlonega quarter eagles from the early part of the 1840’s. It is the fifth rarest issue of twenty produced. There were just 4,164 struck of which an estimated 75-85 are known. I know of exactly four Uncirculated 1841-D quarter eagles of which the present example is the second finest.
The obverse is very well struck with the exception of some weakness below the TY in LIBERTY and on the top of the hair; the reverse shows some flatness at the center. This is primarily due to the advanced reverse cracks mentioned above. This coin is quickly identifiable by a scratch on the obverse below the TAT in STATES. There is some minor mint-made roughness in the fields and a small diagonal mark on the reverse above the beak. A tiny rim nick on the reverse at 3:00 is barely visible within the NGC holder. Both sides are slightly prooflike with some areas of frost within the surfaces. The coloration is a medium to deep greenish-gold with some orange-gold seen on the reverse. Overall, this is a remarkable coin made more desirable by the fact that it is one of just two known of the 2-D variety.
In January 2004, the finest known 1841-D quarter eagle (graded MS63 by PCGS) was sold by Heritage as Lot 1017 in the Green Pond collection where it realized $40,250. I would expect that the Duke’s Creek example should sell for a comparable price or perhaps even more given the current status of the rare coin market, especially for important items such as this.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Michigan collection, Heritage 1993 ANA: 5508 ($25,300).
THE FINEST KNOWN 1842-D QUARTER EAGLE 1842-D NGC MS62. Variety 3-F. The only variety known for the year. Repunched 18 in the date; somewhat later die state without repunching seen on the 4. The reverse shows a series of die file lines above the AME in AMERICA.
Only 4,643 were struck with less than 100 pieces known today. This date is most often seen in the VF to EF grade range and it is not likely that more than a dozen or so exist in AU.
The strike is far above average for the issue and may be considered among the best I have seen on an 1842-D. The obverse is almost completely struck up with the exception of some weakness on the curl below the ear; the reverse has a nearly full center and this is very unusual for an issue that is generally seen with a sunken, incomplete appearance. The surfaces show a number of marks including a deep mark on the chin of Liberty, a shallow planchet flaw between stars eleven and twelve, a thin planchet flaw at the inside of the eagle’s neck and a depression on the cheek of Liberty that was caused by foreign matter adhering to the die at the time of striking. The luster is decidedly above-average for an issue that is generally seen dull and with minimal luster. Both the obverse and reverse are covered with light orange-gold color; this shades to a warm medium orange on the reverse. This is an exceptional coin for the grade with a wonderful appearance.
In the most recent edition of my book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861,” I ranked the 1842-D as the second rarest quarter eagle along with the 1856-D. I would have to revise this figure slightly downwards as the liberalization of grading interpretations has made a number of “new” relatively higher grade pieces available. That said, the 1842-D is still an extremely rare coin in the higher grades and the Duke’s Creek is one of just three pieces ever graded Uncirculated by a major service. It is the single highest graded by NGC and it is clearly among the best known examples of this very rare issue.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Bowers and Merena 3/88: 1974, Norweb collection, Mehl 4/37: 145.
LOVELY NGC MS61 1843-D SMALL MINTMARK QUARTER EAGLE 1843-D NGC MS61. Small mintmark. Variety 4-F. Early die state with perfect dies. This is the most common of the four varieties of this year.
This is as pretty a coin for the grade as one can possibly imagine with superb deep, even green-gold color seen on the obverse and reverse. This color is clearly indicative of the fact that this coin has never been cleaned or lightened and it is one of the more attractive quarter eagles in this entire collection, despite its comparatively “low” grade. The surfaces are extremely clean and lack the marks typically associated with the MS61 grade. Nearly all of the detail is up and bold and this is really an impressive example.
Production of quarter eagles at the Dahlonega mint increased significantly in 1843 and there were more pieces struck this year than in the previous four combined. Of the 36,209 1843-D quarter eagles made, there are probably more than 300 known. This date is easily found in grades up to and including AU55 but it is very rare and much underappreciated in Mint State. I am not personally aware of more than a half dozen with the finest of these being the PCGS MS63 from the Green Pond collection that Heritage sold in 2004.
After the heady prices that the preceding four coins bring, this 1843-D will not seem like anything special but I feel it is one of the most cosmetically appealing coins in this collection and it is a true rarity in this grade.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection. This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
VERY RARE UNCIRCULATED 1843-D LARGE MINTMARK 1843-D NGC MS61. Large mintmark. Variety 4-H. This is an important, naked-eye variety which is among the rarest issues in the quarter eagle set. Only 3,537 were struck in October, 1843.
Sharply struck and mostly lustrous with typical quality surfaces for the grade. There is a short, thin mark located at the left edge of the eye that serves as a useful pedigree marker for the future.
I would estimate that this variety is at least five to six times scarcer than the Small Mintmark. It is now recognized by both PCGS and NGC and is included in expanded quarter eagles sets by a number of Dahlonega specialists. To the best of my knowledge there are only two that have been graded Uncirculated by the services: the Bass II: 349 coin (graded MS61 by PCGS) and the Duke’s Creek example offered here. While it is not likely that this piece will command a substantial premium over the more common Small Mintmark, it certainly offers the value-conscious collector an interesting opportunity to obtain a very rare coin.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection.
THE FINEST KNOWN 1844-D QUARTER EAGLE 1844-D NGC MS63. Variety 5-I. Reverse of 1844-45. Easily identifiable by the lack of feathers entering the opening of the mintmark as on the other variety of this year. This is the scarcer of the two varieties.
This is among the more visually appealing quarter eagles in the Duke’s Creek collection. Some examples of this date are found with weak strikes. This is not the case on this coin as it shows razor sharp detail at the centers and the borders. In fact, the hair detail above the ear and around the face of Liberty is almost complete, making this an unusual and desirable piece. The surfaces are exceptional as well with the only describable mark being a tiny nick on the reverse above the top arrowhead. The obverse is somewhat reflective at the center and it is framed by a frosty texture; the reverse is a bit more evenly frosty in texture. Both sides have attractive golden centers that are contrasted by deeper khaki hues at the edges.
The 1844-D is one of the three most common Dahlonega quarter eagles in higher grades. Of the 200+ pieces known, as many as a dozen Uncirculated pieces exist and this includes at least four distinct pieces that have been graded MS63 by one (or in some cases both) of the major services. The all-time auction record for the date is held by the Pittman: 1748 coin which sold for a staggering $30,800 as a raw coin back in 1998.
The Duke’s Creek example is listed as the finest known 1844-D quarter eagle in my Condition Census and I still have not seen it’s equal.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Hancock and Harwell, Stack’s Auction ’84: 1313 ($4,400), Hancock and Harwell, Dr. Arthur Montgomery collection. The plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
THE FINEST KNOWN 1845-D: EX BASS 1845-D NGC MS63. Variety 6-I. Reverse of 1844. The only variety currently known for this year.
Production of quarter eagles remained relatively high in the middle years of this decade. Just under 20,000 1845-D were struck of which around 200 are known today. I rank the 1845-D as the 14th of 20 issues in terms of its overall rarity but it jumps to the 11th spot in high grades. There are around three dozen known in AU but the 1845-D becomes extremely rare in properly graded Uncirculated. In fact, I am aware of only three Uncirculated pieces: the Duke’s Creek coin, the Green Pond: 1021 coin (graded MS62 by PCGS when it was last sold by Heritage in the January 2004 FUN auction) and the Chestatee: 7643 coin (graded MS62 by PCGS) that is now owned by a Kansas specialist.
This beautiful piece is characterized by soft yellow gold color atop clean, lustrous surfaces. It shows a typical strike for the date with some weakness at the centers; the borders are fully detailed. The surfaces show no marks of significance.
When last offered in the Bass sale in October 1999, this piece set an all-time auction record for the date, bringing $26,450. It will be interesting to see what it realizes today.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection via Hancock and Harwell, Bowers and Merena 10/99: 376 ($26,450), Harry Bass collection, Superior 1975 ANA: 376.
THE FINEST KNOWN 1846-D NORMAL MINTMARK 1846-D NGC MS63. Variety 7-K. This is actually a very late die state of the rare and popular 1846-D/D but with just the slightest amount of the errant mintmark showing below strong magnification. The obverse is actually a somewhat early state with repunching on the lower loop of the 8.
Nicely struck for the issue with just some minor weakness seen at the centers. The surfaces are extremely clean with no deep or detracting marks. The luster is semi-granular in texture with some semi-prooflike flash seen in the fields. Both the obverse and reverse have toned to a medium golden-orange shade which is slightly deeper about the periphery than at the centers.
The 1846-D quarter eagle has a similar mintage to the 1845-D but it is slightly more available. In Uncirculated, the 1846-D is very rare with probably no more than half dozen or so pieces known. NGC has actually graded a single example higher than MS63 (the Green Pond coin, which is now in an MS64 holder, was in a PCGS MS62 holder when it was sold by Heritage in January 2004) but I feel that the Duke’s Creek example is the finest known. The Green Pond coin sold for $18,400 and that figure appears to be the current auction record for an 1846-D quarter eagle. It will be interesting to see what the Duke’s Creek example brings when it is sold tonight.
One last note…this coin has been together with the MS63 1844-D quarter eagle above since the early 1980’s. It would be nice if they could be kept together by a Dahlonega collector.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Stack’s Auction ’84: 1315 ($8,250), Hancock and Harwell, Dr. Arthur Montgomery collection. This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
CONDITION CENSUS 1846-D/D 1846-D/D NGC AU58. Variety 7-K. The “D Near D” variety. Early die state with the mintmark widely repunched to the left. Reverse cracks as described in the Winter book.
Lightly worn with deep green-gold and steel color, in slightly different hues, on the obverse and the reverse. The strike shows some weakness, as always seen on this variety, with most of this located on the eagle’s legs and wings. Some luster can be seen in the protected areas and the surfaces are very clean for the grade.
This variety has been actively collected by Dahlonega specialists for at least a decade. It is recognized by both major services and it generally commands a significant premium over a normal mintmark. The 1846-D/D quarter eagle is unique in Uncirculated with the single piece known an MS61 graded by PCGS which is ex: Bass II: 383. I am aware of around three or four pieces that grade AU58.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection.
THE SINGLE FINEST KNOWN DAHLONEGA QUARTER EAGLE OF ANY DATE 1847-D NGC MS65. Variety 9-M. The only variety of the year. Intermediate die state with the 847 in the date lightly repunched at their bases.
In 2003, I wrote the following about this coin: “There are currently no Dahlonega quarter eagles that have been graded MS65 by PCGS or NGC. If one does achieve this coveted level, it will probably be the 1847-D in the Duke’s Creek collection.” Bang the drums, blow the trumpets…NGC has graded the Duke’s Creek 1847-D quarter eagle MS65.
The 1847-D is generally one of the best produced quarter eagles from this mint. The strike tends to be sharp and, for some reason, there are more pieces known with exceptional color than for any other date in this series. Even by these standards, this coin stands above any other Dahlonega quarter eagle that I have seen. The surfaces are nearly flawless and the strike is as sharp as one would expect to see on a Philadelphia coin of this era. Perhaps the most impressive aspect is the rich coloration which is a vivid deep gold with strong flashes of rose at the left reverse border. The eye appeal can really only be appreciated by a viewing in person.
This is the first public auction appearance of this coin. It initially appeared on the market in the late 1980’s and it has quietly resided in private collections since then. I would urge the advanced collector who truly wants “the best” to seriously pursue the Duke’s Creek 1847-D as it is very likely the single finest known quarter eagle of any date from this mint.
As a basis of comparison, the second finest known 1847-D is a very nice PCGS MS64 that was sold by Heritage in the Green Pond collection as lot 1024 where it brought $39,100. As one of only two certified MS65’s of any date (the other is an 1851-D which is offered later in this sale), this coin should certainly be worth considerably more and it may set an auction record for any Dahlonega quarter eagle.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection. This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
AN MS62 EXAMPLE OF THE 1848-D QUARTER EAGLE 1848-D NGC MS62. Variety 10-M. Reverse of 1847. This is the more common of the two varieties known for the year.
Very sharply struck with choice surfaces and medium to deep orange-gold color on the obverse and the reverse. This is another issue that tends to come with comparatively good eye-appeal, making it an excellent candidate for a type set.
In 1848, the Dahlonega mint produced 13,771 quarter eagles. There are around 200 known with close to three quarters of these in the VF to EF range. AU’s are scarce, although they are more available than most Dahlonega quarter eagles of this era. There are as many as a dozen known in Uncirculated with many of these in the MS60 to MS61 range. The best example I have seen is the Green Pond: 1026 coin which sold for $23,575 in Heritage’s January 2004 auction. In the Condition Census, I list the Duke’s Creek coin as the second finest known and it is clearly nicer than the other pieces that I have seen graded MS62 by NGC and PCGS.
This would make an ideal coin for the collector seeking a single higher grade, well-produced Dahlonega quarter eagle for a type set.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Bowers and Merena 1/92: 1359 ($13,200).
POSSIBLE FINEST KNOWN 1849-D QUARTER EAGLE 1849-D NGC MS62. Variety 12-M. Low date with the 1 very close to the denticles. This is the rarer of the two varieties of this year by a substantial margin.
The 1849-D is easily the scarcest of the late 1840’s quarter eagles from this mint. There were 10,945 pieces struck of which 125-150 are believed to exist. It is the 10th rarest of 20 issues in the series in higher grades. I estimate that around three dozen are known in AU. I am aware of just four or five properly graded Uncirculated pieces of which the highest graded is MS62. The current NGC population of seven in this grade is extremely inflated on account of resubmissions.
This piece shows a typical strike for the date with some weakness seen on the forehead of Liberty; the reverse is sharp overall with good detail on the legs and wings. The surfaces are lustrous and show some scattered light ticks and a few faint hairlines (not from cleaning). The obverse shows golden-brown color while the reverse is a bit lighter with some bluish overtones. Overall, this is a pleasing coin for the grade and an example with much better eye appeal than usually seen on this underrated date.
This is the first auction appearance for this coin since 1984 and it will, no doubt, bring considerably more than the $5,500 that it sold for over two decades ago. In my Condition Census, I list this as the finest known 1849-D quarter eagle.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Stack’s Auction ’84: 1318 ($5,500), Hancock and Harwell, Dr. Arthur Montgomery collection, Stack’s 12/78: 97 ($3,800), Bareford collection, Mehl 3/48: 3581, Renz collection. This is the plate coin in the first edition of my book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
NICE UNCIRCULATED 1850-D QUARTER EAGLE 1850-D NGC MS61. Variety 13-M. The only known die variety of this year. Struck from lightly clashed dies with a few clashmarks seen over the eagle’s right shoulder.
The obverse shows a nice amount of detail while the reverse has some minor weakness on the eagle’s left leg and right claw. There are just a few small, well-scattered marks on the surfaces and a few hairlines which are not the result of cleaning. For the sake of future pedigree information we feel compelled to mention a few very small abrasions over the tip if the coronet on the obverse. Both sides are toned in medium green-gold shades with some tinges of orange-gold on the high spots.
There were 12.148 examples struck of which an estimated 125-150 are known. This is the twelfth rarest of twenty Dahlonega quarter eagles in higher grades. Three to four dozen exist in AU and another four to six are known in Uncirculated. The NGC population figure is extremely distorted as the result of a naughty coin dealer (you know who you are…) resubmitting an example and then “forgetting” to turn in the old inserts. NGC currently shows twelve graded in MS61 but the actual number of distinct coins is probably more in the area of three or four. The present example is clearly among the finest known but it is not listed in the current Condition Census.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection.
INCOMPARABLE NGC MS65 1851-D: THE FINEST KNOWN OF THIS DATE AND THE SECOND FINEST DAHLONEGA QUARTER EAGLE KNOWN TO ME 1851-D NGC MS65. Variety 14-M. The only variety known of this year.
As a testament to the Duke’s Creek collection, consider this fact: there are only two Dahlonega quarter eagles of any date that have ever been graded MS65 by one of the major services. Both of them are in this sale and they are clearly the two best Dahlonega quarter eagles that I have ever seen.
The obverse is far better struck than on most 1851-D quarter eagles while the reverse has some weakness on the eagle’s left leg and right claw. The surfaces are extremely clean with no abrasions worthy of discussion while the luster is very frosty and far better than on any other example of this date of which I have seen. Perhaps the best feature, though, is the rich orange-gold color with some steel-blue overtones seen on the high spots. As one would expect from a Dahlonega quarter eagle accorded this mind-boggling grade, the eye appeal is really quite spectacular, especially for an issue that is generally not seen with a good overall look.
The 1851-D is the eighth rarest Dahlonega quarter eagle in high grades. There were 11,264 struck and an estimated 100-110 are known today. I am aware of exactly five Uncirculated and the second best is a PCGS MS62 in a Kansas collection that was once a duplicate in the Duke’s Creek collection.
If I was forced to choose between the 1847-D and the 1851-D quarter eagles in this sale I would probably pick the 1847-D as I like its appearance more. But, the 1851-D is a far rarer coin and it so far better than any other piece from the 1850’s that perhaps the true best choice would be to buy them both!
IMPORTANT FINEST KNOWN 1852-D QUARTER EAGLE GRADED MS64 BY NGC 1852-D NGC MS64. Variety 15-M. The only variety of the year. Very early die state with the 1 in the date repunched at it base.
Mintage figures for Dahlonega quarter eagles begin to drop precipitously with this issue and only 4,078 were produced in 1852. From this year through 1856, the Dahlonega quarter eagles are all quite rare and some, like the 1855-D and 1856-D, are very rare. The 1852-D is tied for the fifth rarest issue in the series in terms of overall rarity and it is the seventh rarest in high grades. Around twenty exist in AU and another six or so in Uncirculated. The Duke’s Creek collection specimen is far and away the finest known with the next best being a trio of MS62’s. One of these is in a Kansas collection and is ex: Heritage 1999 FUN: 7651 ($28,750), another is the Green Pond coin which Heritage sold as Lot 1030 in the 2004 FUN sale (where it realized $25,875) and the 2004 ANA: 7146 coin from the Harold Anderson collection that brought $28,175.
The Duke’s Creek specimen is wonderfully struck for the issue with uncommonly strong details seen at the centers; some minor weakness, as always, exists on the denticles. The surfaces are very clean with the only mark of note being a thin vertical abrasion behind Liberty’s hair bun. Both the obverse and reverse are very frosty with medium orange-gold and greenish color. This is a lovely coin for the grade and it represents the ultimate in quality for the date.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection via Winthrop Carner, Superior 5/90: 5429 ($27,500). This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
VERY RARE AND UNDERRATED UNCIRCULATED 1853-D 1853-D NGC MS62. Variety 16-M. The only variety of the year. The reverse die is the same as seen on all quarter eagles struck at Dahlonega from 1847 through 1859.
An average quality for strike for the date with some weakness seen on the curls around the face and on the reverse at the eagle’s left leg and right claw. The surfaces are somewhat grainy in texture as is common for the issue and a good deal of mint luster clings to lightly marked fields. There is one small mark at the base of Liberty’s neck while the reverse is quite clean. Both sides show orange-gold toning with rich blue shades on the high spots.
Despite a very low mintage figure of 3.178 the 1853-D is overshadowed by the 1854-D, 1855-D and 1856-D quarter eagles. Fewer than 100 examples of the 1853-D are known and the average specimen is a well-worn VF or EF with poor eye appeal. There are fewer than two dozen known in AU and five or six in Uncirculated. There are a total of three graded in MS62 between the two services but I am aware of just two of which this piece is clearly the finest. This exact coin is listed in my Condition Census as the finest 1853-D quarter eagle and I still have yet to see its equal. Another extremely important coin. It is interesting to note that this piece sold for nearly $20,000 all the way back in 1985; a time when you could buy some serious Dahlonega coins for this sum and have quite a bit of money left over.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Mid American 5/85: 1275 ($18,150), Jasper Robertson. The plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
INCREDIBLE NGC MS64 1854-D QUARTER EAGLE— EASILY THE FINEST KNOWN EXAMPLE OF THIS RARITY 1854-D NGC MS64. Variety 17-M. The only variety of the year. Easily identifiable by a number of thin diagonal die lines near the date and the last star. Struck from lightly clashed dies.
This is a remarkable coin that was discovered by dealer Winthrop Carner at a small coin show in Georgia in 1996. It was sold to Paul Nugget who, in turn, sold it to collector William Miller. It entered the Duke’s Creek collection in 1999. It is easily the finest known 1854-D and it remains a coin that is considerably better than any other 1854-D that I have seen or heard of.
The strike is extremely sharp for the date with all of the details showing above-average clarity with the exception of the BE in LIBERTY and the corresponding area on the reverse. The denticles on both sides show some weakness as well and this is diagnostic to the issue. The surfaces are extremely clean with just a small mint-made planchet defect on the jaw of Liberty worthy of description. The luster is very frosty and there is a slightly prooflike finish seen in the fields which is far different from the typical dull, grainy texture on this issue. Both sides glow with a medium green-gold color and this coloration appears to be original and untampered with. The eye appeal of this coin is truly exceptional for the date.
Only 1,760 examples were struck. The rarity of the 1854-D has been exaggerated in the past but it is clearly a rarer coin than its more famous cousin, the 1854-D Three Dollar gold piece. Around 65-75 of the quarter eagles are known with a dozen or so in properly graded AU and another six or so in Uncirculated. In my Condition Census for the date, I listed the Duke’s Creek coin as the finest known by a large margin. Interestingly, at one time the Duke’s Creek collection contained two Uncirculated examples of this date. The lower quality duplicate, graded MS60 by PCGS, was last offered by Heritage as Lot 7856 in the 1999 ANA sale.
When this date was last sold at auction by Heritage in 1999 it brought $63,250. At that time it was very conservatively graded MS62 by PCGS. Today, with the NGC grade more in line with contemporary standards and with the market far more appreciative of exceptional one-of-a-kind coins, is possible that this piece could bring close to six-figures.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Heritage 2/99: 6177 ($63,250), William Miller collection, Paul Nugget/Spectrum Numismatics, Winthrop Carner.
VERY RARE UNCIRCULATED 1855-D QUARTER EAGLE 1855-D NGC MS61. Variety 18-M. only variety known of this year.
While not as distinctive in appearance as the 1856-D quarter eagle, the 1855-D is an issue with a “look” that is easily recognizable to even the casual collector of Dahlonega gold coinage. This piece has a strike that is typical for the issue with a good deal of weakness seen on the borders. Many of the denticles are not fully formed on both sides. The centers are actually relatively well defined with some good individual detail seen on the hair and feathers. The surfaces have a few light, scattered marks which are consistent with the grade. The most recognizable is a pinscratch located to the east of star eight. Two small raised die lumps on the reverse above the olive leaves are diagnostic and attest to the authenticity of this coin. Both sides display medium golden color with some bluish-gold undertones. This is a very pleasing example of a date not known for its eye appeal.
Only 1,123 were made. At one point I felt that the 1855-D quarter eagle was the rarest Dahlonega gold coin but I now feel this honor should be given to the 1856-D quarter eagle. That said, this is still a rare coin in all grades and a very rare one in AU or better. There are four to five dozen pieces known with perhaps a dozen in AU. I do not feel that there are more than two or three truly Uncirculated pieces known but the two major services have seen fit to encapsulate a few in MS60 and MS61 that, in my opinion, are not really “new.” I have regarded the Duke’s Creek specimen to be Uncirculated since I first saw it back in the mid-1980’s and in my Condition Census it is listed as the second finest known, trailing only the example in the Smithsonian that is originally from the Lilly collection.
In January 2004 Heritage sold a PCGS MS60 example of this issue as part of the Green Pond collection for $43,700. The Duke’s Creek collection coin, in my opinion, is much nicer and it should certainly realize a higher price.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Hancock and Harwell, Stack’s Auction ’84: 1324 ($9,075), Dr. Arthur Montgomery collection, Hancock and Harwell, Bowers and Ruddy 10/77: 1548, Lamborn (“Fairfield”) collection. This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
A CONDITION CENSUS EXAMPLE OF THE VERY RARE 1856-D QUARTER EAGLE 1856-D NGC MS61. Variety 19-M. The only variety of this year.
The 1856-D quarter eagle is among the most numismatically significant issues from this mint. It is the only Dahlonega gold coin ever produced with an original mintage figure of fewer than 1,000 and it is the single rarest issue from this mint in terms of the total number known to exist in all grades. It is also an issue that is notorious for being amongst the most poorly produced United States gold coins of any era.
Virtually every known 1856-D has a flat appearance with a somewhat concave “look.” For collectors who are not familiar with this issue, most coins, even if they are original, seem cleaned. I consider myself to be a pretty good grader of Dahlonega gold and I still have trouble accurately grading many 1856-D quarter eagles.
The present example shows a slightly better than average strike. The denticles on both sides are much more fully formed than usual while the wings and the reverse legend are fairly bold as well. On the obverse, there is decided weakness on the curls around the face and below the ear of Liberty. This weakness extends to the center of the reverse which has a somewhat sunken appearance. The surfaces show some mint-made roughness and there is a small spot below the eagle’s beak. Both sides have a slight amount of luster and are overlaid with lemon-gold hues which are even and consistent.
Of the 874 pieces produced it seems unlikely that more than 50 are known. This includes many unattractive lower grade pieces. There are around ten known in AU as well as a few with claims to a Mint State grade. As mentioned above, this is an incredibly hard issue to grade and a piece that one expert calls MS61 might be regarded by another as AU55.
In the Green Pond sale, a PCGS MS60 example of this date sold for a record price of $69,000. I can not recall another 1856-D quarter eagle graded Uncirculated by either service having been available since then.
The Duke’s Creek example is certainly one of the better 1856-D quarter eagles I have seen and in my most recent Condition Census I listed it as the fifth finest known. This is an important coin and it is certainly one of the finer pieces currently available to collectors.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Heritage 1999 FUN: 7657 ($44,850), Leon Farmer collection, Bowers and Merena 11/93: 1266, Heritage 1993 ANA: 5550.
ONE OF THE FINEST KNOWN 1857-D QUARTER EAGLES: GRADED MS62 BY NGC 1857-D NGC MS62. Variety 20-M. Late die state with a number of cracks through the date and the surrounding stars.
Struck in rich orange-gold and well struck, as is usually the case for this date, with a very sharply defined central obverse; the reverse has some minor weakness on the legs and claws. Both sides show rich grainy luster and are lightly marked. A small vertical nick in front of the tip of Liberty’s nose serves as ready identification.
The 1857-D quarter eagle is a curious issue. It has a very low mintage of just 2,364 and it is a fairly scarce coin in terms of overall rarity with around 110-130 pieces known. Surprisingly, a high percentage of these grade better than EF45 and this suggests that a hoard may have existed at one time. I believe that there are around a dozen or so known in Uncirculated with most of these in the MS60 to MS61 range. NGC shows a current population of three in MS62 and just one better. I regard the Duke’s Creek specimen to be among the finest known and I ranked it #1 in my most recent Condition census listing in 2003. At one time the Duke’s Creek collection contained what I believe to be two of the finest known 1857-D quarter eagles: the present example and a piece now owned by a Kansas collector (and in a PCGS MS63 holder) that was sold by Heritage as Lot 7960 in the 1999 ANA auction.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Mid American 5/86: 1869, George Elliott collection, Hancock and Harwell, Stack’s Auction ’84: 1326, Hancock and Harwell, Dr. Arthur Montgomery collection. This was the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
THE DUKE’S CREEK-FAIRFIELD EXAMPLE OF THE 1859-D QUARTER EAGLE 1859-D NGC MS62. Variety 21-M. The only variety of the year. This is the final use of the “M” reverse which was first employed back in 1847.
An average strike for the issue with some weakness seen on the curls along the face of Liberty as well as on the legs and right claw of the eagle. There are very few marks visible on the surfaces although a small, well-hidden mint-made lamination can be seen at 11:00 on the obverse. The fields are somewhat prooflike; an usual feature on a date that is not known for displaying good luster. Both sides are richly toned in medium to deep orange-gold hues. This is a lovely example of this popular issue and it is very possibly the finest known.
The 1859-D is the final quarter eagle produced at the Dahlonega mint. There were 2,244 struck of which an estimated 120-140 are known today. This date does not appear to have circulated as extensively as the issues from the 1840’s and it is almost never seen below EF. It is scarce in the higher AU grades and very rare in Uncirculated with around six to eight known which qualify by today’s standards. I am personally aware of three that have been graded MS62 by one of the major services and this includes the Green Pond: 1036 coin which realized a healthy $34,500 when it was sold by Heritage in January 2004.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Bowers and Ruddy 10/77: 1564, Lamborn (“Fairfield”) collection.
In April 2006 Heritage will be auctioning the incomparable Duke's Creek Collection of gold dollars, quarter eagles and three dollar gold pieces. I have been asked to write the descriptions of these coins. In the first part of a two-part series, Douglas Winter Numismatics is proud to present the write-ups of these issues. CONDITION CENSUS 1849-D GOLD DOLLAR
1849-D MS64 NGC. Variety 1-B. Similar reverse die state to that seen on the Duke’s Creek: 1001 coin with a number of cracks on the reverse including a prominent one from the rim past the second S in STATES through this letter and down through the base of ATE in this word to the olive leaves at the left end of the wreath. This is the scarcer of the two varieties known.
This is a nicely struck example of a date that is not often found boldly impressed. The obverse shows a group of raised artifacts between the stars at 8:00 and 9:00 while the reverse has a bold date and mintmark. There is a small amount of weakness on the rear curls behind the ear as is typical for this date. The surfaces display some light old hairlines in the fields and we note one tiny nick on the face of Liberty; a few small marks at the center of the reverse do not readily detract. The luster is frosty and above average for the issue while the surfaces are covered with some orange-gold color. There is a band of contrasting color at the obverse border while some splashes of gold on the reverse enhance the appearance. The eye appeal of this coin is very respectable for the grade and this coin’s balanced appearance between the obverse and the reverse is unusual.
The 1849-D is the most common Dahlonega gold dollar both in terms of overall and high grade rarity. There are an estimated three to four dozen known in Uncirculated with most in the MS60 to MS62 range. In properly graded MS63 this issue is quite scarce and it is rare in MS64. We know of approximately three to five pieces that would grade as such by today’s standards. The Duke’s Creek coin is comparable to Green Pond: 1001 which realized $14,950 in our January 2004 sale.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection and obtained via private treaty from Hancock and Harwell; earlier ex: Heritage 1996 ANA: 8098 (as PCGS MS64) where it sold for $9,625. Listed in Doug Winter’s Condition Census as tied with a small group of other coins as the fourth finest known 1849-D gold dollar.
FINEST KNOWN 1850-D GOLD DOLLAR GRADED MS64 BY NGC 1850-D NGC MS64. Variety 2-C. The only variety of this year. Very early die state with minimal die clashing. Perfect dies.
While coins such as the 1855-D and 1861-D will garner more attention in the, I personally feel that this 1850-D is among the most important gold dollars in the Duke’s Creek collection. It is easily the finest known and it is remarkable for its sharpness of strike and high quality planchet.
The 1850-D is not typically found with a sharp strike but this piece is almost fully defined at the centers and very strong at the borders as well. I can not recall having seen another that showed detail which was comparable to the Duke’s Creek example and this is one of just a handful of pieces known that is not weak on the LLA in DOLLAR.
The surfaces are very clean with a few insignificant ticks seen in the obverse fields and one old, thin scratch that runs down from the ear to the throat. The reverse is nearly perfect and shows just a few light clashmarks as made. In fact, viewed on its own, I would call the reverse at least MS65, if not actually a touch finer. Another feature of this coin that deserves commendation is its blazing, frosty luster. This coin is original and has not been enhanced or “improved” like so many other 1850-D gold dollars. The coloration is a thrilling medium to deep green-gold and orange with some steel-blue tones at the obverse periphery. The color gives this coin a very high eye degree of eye appeal. I consider this coin to be the finest known 1850-D gold dollar by a fairly substantial margin despite the fact that it is tied with another example graded MS64 by NGC.
The 1850-D has long been one of the more underrated Type One gold dollars. It is the fifth rarest of 13 issues from the Dahlonega mint. Of the 8,382 struck there are an estimated 125-150 known with the typical piece grading EF40 or so. Despite the population figures from PCGS and NGC, there are no more than six to eight Mint State pieces known and nearly all are in the MS60 to MS61 range. The Green Pond: 1002 coin was graded MS61 and showed a typical weak strike on the obverse. In all of our years of selling great Dahlonega gold coins at auction, we have never offered an 1850-D gold dollar that graded higher than MS62 and only two at that level.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Doug Winter.
FINEST KNOWN 1851-D GOLD DOLLAR GRADED MS65 BY NGC AND PEDIGREED TO THE BAREFORD COLLECTION 1851-D NGC MS65. Variety 3-E. All four digits of the date are lightly recut with this showing most clearly below the upright of the first 1. Intermediate die state with some cracks on the reverse. There are two varieties known of which this is the more common; an estimated two-thirds of the 1851-D gold dollars struck employ this die pair.
This is among the more important condition rarities in the Duke’s Creek collection of Dahlonega gold dollars. It has long been regarded as the finest known 1851-D and it has a long pedigree that includes some of the more famous branch mint gold collectors from the past half century. It is also an important enough coin that the late Dahlonega specialist Jack Hancock bought and sold it at least four times (!)
The strike is extremely sharp for the issue with full radial lines noted within the stars. The hair has fully defined curls while the wreath is bold. Both the obverse and reverse show a number of clashmarks with the most prominent seen on the reverse. The surfaces are very clean, as one would expect from a Dahlonega gold dollar that has been accorded an MS65 grade by NGC (none has been graded this high at PCGS either). When the coin is tilted just right, it is possible to see a small cluster of thin hairlines below the bust; there are also a few small ticks in the obverse fields but none of these is deep enough to merit a description. Perhaps the best feature of this coin is its superb frosty luster. The 1851-D tends to have better luster than nearly any other gold dollar from this mint but even by this standard, the Duke’s Creek piece is remarkable. Both the obverse and reverse show light green-gold color with pale yellowish highlights. The overall level of eye appeal is very pleasing and this is truly a handsome coin that deserves to be called a Gem.
This has long been regarded as the finest known 1851-D and it ranks as one of the three or four nicest Dahlonega gold dollars of any date that I have personally seen. It would make a great type coin for the collector seeking a single very high quality Dahlonega gold dollar or it would greatly improve a specialist’s date collection. This is the only 1851-D gold dollar graded MS65 by either service.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Hancock and Harwell, Stack’s Auction ’84: 1297 ($9,900), Arthur Montgomery collection, Hancock and Harwell, Stack’s Bareford collection (12/78): 15, Hollinbeck 11/47: 1418. Plated in the first edition of Doug Winter’s “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
THE DUKE’S CREEK-ELIASBERG 1852-D GOLD DOLLAR: THE HIGHEST GRADED BY EITHER SERVICE 1852-D NGC MS63. Variety 4-F. The only variety of this year. Struck from strongly clashed and lapped dies as on all known examples. The diagnostic die scratch on the reverse past the second A in AMERICA is plainly visible.
This is one of the two or three best struck 1852-D gold dollars that I have seen. In spite of the fact that the dies had severely clashed, the details seen at both the obverse and reverse center are extremely sharp with full individually-defined curls seen on the head of Liberty, complete radial lines on the stars and a sharp date. Some slight weakness can be seen on the obverse and reverse denticles but this is the result of an improper collar and not actual weakness of strike. The surfaces show no readily distinguishable abrasions, just a host of clashmarks and roughness in the die as made. There are multiple clashmarks in the left obverse field but this appears to be a reasonably early die state. Under a magnification, some very light hairlines (not from cleaning, by the way) can be seen in the right obverse field and at the center of the reverse. The luster is frosty and far above average for the issue. Most 1852-D gold dollars are worn to the point that little natural luster remains and the higher grade examples that exist usually have a dull, grainy texture. There are splashes of intense orange-gold at the central obverse and around the stars; the reverse shows deeper and somewhat more even color which is a bit lighter in hue near the 1 in the value.
The 1852-D is the sixth rarest Dahlonega gold dollar in terms of its overall rarity and the eighth in high grades. Around 100-125 are known with perhaps seven to nine of these grading Uncirculated by today’s interpretations. Nearly all of these are in the MS60 to MS61 range and a properly graded MS62 is very rare. The present example was described by me in 2003 in the Condition Census of 'Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861" are being the finest known 1852-D gold dollar and it remains so today.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Hancock and Harwell, Bowers and Ruddy 10/82: 16 ($1,430), Eliasberg collection, John Clapp Jr. and John Clapp Sr. collections, Chapman Brothers 4/1897, M.H. Brown collection. Plated in the first edition of Doug Winter’s “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
HIGH GRADE 1853-D GOLD DOLLAR 1853-D NGC MS64. Variety 5-G. Easily identifiable by the presence of a die file mark on the obverse from the rim to the base of the star located at 9:00.
This is a very well struck example with a sharp obverse. The hair and stars and fully defined and this is not frequently seen on 1853-D gold dollars. The reverse shows some minor weakness on the 85 in the date but the overall quality of strike is reasonably sharp for the issue.
Under magnification, there are a few very small marks and light hairlines (not from cleaning) that are consistent with the grade assigned by NGC. The reverse is of Gem quality. Both sides exhibit rich frosty luster with a slightly grainy texture. The color is a light green-gold with some pale yellowish hues seen on the high spots. This is a very pleasing example for the grade and it is clearly among the finest known.
The 1853-D is the fourth rarest of the six Type One gold dollars from this mint and the ninth rarest overall of the thirteen issues. Only 6,583 were produced of which 125-150 are known today. This date is most often seen in EF and AU grades. It is very rare in Uncirculated with an estimated six to nine properly graded pieces known. There are a pair of Superb Gems from the Jackson, Tennessee hoard which first came on the market around five or six years ago. One of them, graded MS66 by NGC, is fully Prooflike and it is one of the two best Dahlonega gold dollars of any date that I have ever seen in person.
This piece is listed in the current Condition Census as being tied with a few other pieces as the fifth finest known for the date.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Hancock and Harwell, Stack’s Auction ’84: 1299 ($14,850), Arthur Montgomery collection, Hancock and Harwell, Paramount Auction ’81: 1332 ($8,200), NASCA 12/76: 2200, McNally collection. This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
ONE OF THE FINEST KNOWN 1854-D GOLD DOLLARS 1854-D NGC MS62. Variety 6-H. Obverse and reverse die scratches as seen on all examples.
The obverse is uncommonly sharp for this date with the stars showing strong radial lines detail and the hair nearly full with many of the individual strands visible. The reverse shows a more typical strike with a bit of weakness seen on the LLA in DOLLAR and the 54 in the date. I would still rate this coin as one of the better struck 1854-D gold dollars that I have seen in some time.
The surfaces have some light ticks and hairlines in the fields with the most visible of these present on the obverse. However, nothing can be seen with the naked eye that is deep or detracting. Unlike many pieces, this does not have clashmarks and it appears to be a fairly early die state. The luster is satiny and it is very slightly subdued in appearance; probably because of the depth of the orange-gold coloration which is seen on the obverse and the reverse. Almost every 1854-D shows poor luster and this piece is far above-average in this regard.
The 1854-D gold dollar is an issue which requires a bit of explanation to the non-specialist. It has a number of very distinct mint-made die characteristics. On the obverse there are always raised die scratches around many of the stars. Large, raised die scratches can also be seen on the reverse to the left of the mintmark and on up to the U in UNITED. Many neophytes have mistaken these for damage.
Just 2,935 examples were produced and this is the third rarest Dahlonega gold dollar, trailing only the 1855-D and the 1861-D. Fewer than 100 are known with around two dozen in AU and another dozen or so in Uncirculated. Nearly every Uncirculated coin known to me is in the MS60 to MS61 range and properly graded MS62’s are extremely rare. The Duke’s Creek collection specimen is clearly in the Condition Census and is certainly among the best to have come on the market in some time.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Hancock and Harwell, possibly ex: Stack’s Bareford (12/78): 26. This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
FABULOUS FULL DATE 1855-D GOLD DOLLAR GRADED MS64 BY NGC. THE FINEST KNOWN EXAMPLE OF THE ONLY TYPE TWO ISSUE FROM THIS MINT 1855-D NGC MS64. Variety 7-I. The second 5 in the date is positioned totally below the A in DOLLAR.A very early die state with a remarkable full date and lacking the reverse mintmark seen on later die states. 1855-D gold dollars with a full date are extremely rare and I doubt if more than nine or ten are known. The Duke’s Creek example is the finest of these and its sharpness of strike is easily the best I have seen on any 1855-D.
The 1855-D is the second rarest Dahlonega gold dollar in terms of its overall rarity but it is clearly the rarest in high grades. Of the 1,811 produced there are probably no more than 75-90 pieces known. I know of four that would qualify as Uncirculated by today’s standards. This piece is clearly the finest and it is one of just two Mint State pieces with a full date. A strong case can be made for calling this coin one of the two most desirable Dahlonega gold dollars in existence, along with the Duke’s Creek 1861-D which will be offered for sale in just a few minutes.
As mentioned above, this issue is plagued by weakness of strike. Nearly every known 1855-D shows considerable weakness on the 8 and, sometimes, on the first 5. Sophisticated collectors have long regarded full date examples as very rare and desirable and in the past decade those with very sharp dates have traded at premium prices over those with typical weak dates. The present example has a remarkably bold date. It is almost fully detailed on both the obverse and the reverse despite the fact that there are clashmarks on both the obverse and the reverse. It is ironic—and appropriate—that the finest known 1855-D gold dollar is also the best struck.
The surfaces are clean with just a few very fine hairlines (not from cleaning) in the fields. Under magnification there is some slight roughness as made. The aforementioned clashmarks are most noticeable at Liberty’s forehead and in front of the face; the reverse has some rather extensive and interesting clashmark patterns at the center.
Another amazing thing about this coin’s appearance is its luster. Most 1855-D gold dollars are worn to the point that no luster is visible and on the few higher grade pieces which are known the luster is typically dull and flat. This piece has bright, frosty luster with a texture more like a Philadelphia Type Two gold dollar than one from Dahlonega. The coloration is a light yellow-gold with some greenish tinges.
This is a truly remarkable coin which is certainly a highlight of the Duke’s Creek collection. We have been fortunate to sell many of the Condition Census examples of this date in the past few years. In the Platinum Night session of the January 2006 FUN sale the second finest known 1855-D gold dollar, graded MS64 by NGC, brought $109,250. While that coin was certainly a lovely example, it lacked a full date and, in our opinion is therefore not as desirable as this piece. We expect the Duke’s Creek 1855-D to set a record price for this date.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection via Hancock and Harwell, Bowers and Merena 10/99: 102 ($92,000), Harry Bass collection, obtained via private treaty from Manfra, Tordella and Brookes in December 1974.
VERY RARE UNCIRCULATED 1856-D GOLD DOLLAR 1856-D NGC MS62. Variety 8-K. This is one of just 1,460 examples produced. All were made from a single pair of dies in May, 1856.
The strike is fairly typical for the issue with the obverse not as well detailed as the reverse. There is some flatness on the hair above the ear and around the face and the U in UNITED is, as always, weak. On the reverse the bases of the 85 in the date are weak and the O in DOLLAR is filled. The detail at the borders is better than usual with most of the denticles fully defined and a good amount of the wreath can be plainly seen with the naked eye.
The surfaces are very clean for the date and grade. There are no very detracting marks visible to the naked eye. With light magnification, a tiny nick in front of Liberty’s nose can be seen. This is not a really important mark and is mentioned mostly for a purpose of future identification.The luster is satiny and somewhat subdued in its texture. This piece shows a good amount of luster for the issue. There are splashes of reddish-gold color on the obverse; the reverse is an intense reddish-gold shade that is most prominent from 4:00 to 11:00 at the border.
This is, overall, a very handsome example of this rare date. The 1856-D is the third rarest Dahlonega gold dollar in terms of overall rarity, trailing only the 1855-D and the 1861-D. In high grades, it is the second rarest issue, trailing only the 1855-D. The PCGS and NGC population reports both include some pieces in the MS60 to MS61 that are, in my opinion, enthusiastically grade. These numbers are also inflated by resubmissions. In my best estimation there are around four to six pieces known. The single best 1856-D gold dollar I have seen is the PCGS MS62 from the Green Pond collection that was sold as Lot 1009 in Heritage’s January 2004 for a remarkable $47,150. The Duke’s Creek collection example is high in the Condition Census and it is likely to be the best piece available to advanced collectors for quite some time.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection.
THE FINEST KNOWN 1857-D GOLD DOLLAR: PEDIGREED TO THE ELIASBERG COLLECTION 1857-D NGC MS62. Variety 9-L. The reverse used for this issue is likely the same as that found on the 1856-D gold dollar. It has a filled O in DOLLAR as well as raised segments on the reverse from 2:00 to 5:00, as struck.
The piece shows an average strike for the issue with some weakness on the hair of Liberty. Around half of the hair shows individual definition with the greatest amount of weakness seen on the curls around the face; the top of the head is sharper than usual. The date is nearly full with some minor weakness on the tops of the 85.
Most every 1857-D gold dollar that I have seen is abraded and has below-average quality surfaces. This piece is quite clean with just a few scattered marks and hairlines in the fields. The reverse center has a few ticks, none of which are deep or worth of specific mention. A small reverse planchet chip at the top of the ride side of the wreath is mint-made and clearly identifies this example. As mentioned above, what looks like small scratches on the reverse border are, in fact, mint-made die scratches which are diagnostic to the issue. The luster is far above average for the issue. Both the obverse and reverse are frosty and this is unusual as many pieces are dull and appear lifeless. There are splashes of reddish-gold coloration that are most prevalent at the edge of the obverse; the reverse has lighter and slightly more even color.
The 1857-D has a mintage of 3,533 and an estimated 120-130 are known. This is a very rare coin in Uncirculated with no more than five to seven properly graded examples known. The Duke’s Creek coin has long been regarded as the finest known and it has a wonderful pedigree to go along with it.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Hancock and Harwell, Georgia collection, Hancock and Harwell, Bowers and Ruddy 10/82: 36, Eliasberg collection, John Clapp Jr., John Clapp Sr., B. Max Mehl 11/22, Rawson collection. This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s book “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
INCREDIBLE NGC MS66 1858-D GOLD DOLLAR: THE FINEST KNOWN AND THE HIGHEST GRADED GOLD DOLLAR IN THIS COLLECTION 1858-D NGC MS66. Variety 10-M. This is the only variety for the year. It is characterized by thick lettering on the obverse with the second S in STATES joined solid. The date is well centered and evenly placed while the mintmark is large and well centered.
There are two Gem 1858-D gold dollars known of which this example is the best. In fact, it is among my personal favorite Dahlonega gold dollars of any date and it has a simply wonderful appearance that will be discussed in greater detail in just a minute.
This coin has a lot going for it and its best attribute is its “freshness.” It has the sort of look that is hard to describe. It has obviously been carefully preserved since it was made and it has thick, frosty luster and superb rich coloration that is almost never seen on a Dahlonega coin, regardless of date or denomination. With the exception of some weakness on the ER in AMERICA, the strike is quite bold for the issue. The tips of the bonnet are sharper than usual while the milling at the obverse border is nearly complete. On the reverse, all of the detail is very strong with a full date, sharp wreath detail and bold milling. There is one very small mint-made flake below the E in UNITED. This is the result to a piece of foreign matter sticking to the die at the time of strike and it is seen on nearly all 1858-D gold dollars. With the exception of this trivial mark, the surfaces are nearly perfect and really “as struck.” The luster is phenomenal. It is ultra-thick in texture with an aura in front of Liberty’s face and behind her head that is reminiscent of that seen on certain frosty Gem Three Dollar gold pieces. The coloration is a subtle orange-gold hue with some greenish tinges on the high spots of the obverse; the reverse is a bit deeper with an area of rich coppery-gold at the center.
From the standpoint of aesthetics, this could well be the best Dahlonega gold coin in the entire sale. It has everything going for it: clean surfaces, great luster and color and that je ne sais quoi which makes certain gold coins special. If you have been seeking a very high grade gold dollar from this mint as a type example, here is a piece that you should give very strong consideration to.
The current auction record for an 1858-D gold dollar was set in February 1999 when we sold the ex: Miller collection coin (then graded MS65 by NGC) for $46,000. Look for this record to be broken when the Duke’s Creek collection is sold.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Gene Sanders, David Akers session of Auction ’90: 1825 ($33,000), David Akers session of Auction ’89: 1345 ($15,400).
NGC GRADED MS64 1859-D GOLD DOLLAR— ONE OF THE FINEST KNOWN EXAMPLES OF THIS DATE 1859-D NGC MS64. Variety 11-N. Higher date than on the other variety of this year with the 9 under the left foot of the A in DOLLAR. Late die state with unusual clashmarks on the reverse from 7:00 to 8:00. Other clashmarks, which are more typical for this issue, can be seen around the bust and at the central reverse.
This is a very well struck coin for the issue. On the obverse, most of the hair is clearly visible while the border is nicely defined. The reverse has some minor weakness on the 85 in the date and the OLL in DOLLAR while the border is sharp. The surfaces are reasonably clean with a few very faint light scratches visible below the bust; these can only be seen when the coin is tilted into a light source. More noticeable, and serving as clear identification, are a shallow curved lintmark on the lower portion of Liberty’s cheek as well as a small mint-made lamination that is located in the same general area. The luster is frosty and undisturbed while the coloration is a natural light to medium rose-gold with some greenish tinges in the right obverse field. For all intents and purposes this coin is a virtual Gem by today’s standards but it has been slightly net graded on account of the aforementioned lamination on the cheek. It is the second finest 1859-D gold dollar known to me, trailing only the Green Pond: 1012 coin. It is the second finest graded at NGC (exceeded only by a single MS65 coin of which I am not aware) and none have been graded higher than this at PCGS.
The 1859-D is a relatively common issue in higher grade by the standards of Dahlonega gold dollars. There may be as many as twenty known in Uncirculated including a few reasonably choice examples.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Superior 1/93: 1272, Heritage 11/92, Dr. Richard Appel, Steve Contursi, Stack’s 10/90: 1010. This is the plate coin in the first edition of Doug Winter’s “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”
THE HIGHEST GRADED 1860-D GOLD DOLLAR: AN NGC MS64 EXAMPLE 1860-D NGC MS64. Variety 12-P. This is the only known die pair for this year. It has an extremely small date and a very large mintmark.
Only 1,566 examples of this date were struck. In the past, the rarity of the 1860-D has been way overstated and it is actually somewhat overrated in terms of its total rarity. But in higher grades it is a very rare coin and it trails only the 1855-D, 1861-D and 1854-D in AU and above. It is an extremely rare coin in Uncirculated with around seven to nine pieces known.
The 1860-D is the worst struck gold dollar from the Dahlonega mint. That said, the Duke’s Creek example is the best struck 1860-D I have ever seen. It has a good amount of detail on the U in UNITED and much sharpness on the periphery of the obverse. Equally strong and also worthy of description is the hair which shows much better definition than on any other 1860-D that I have seen. The date is nearly full and OLLA in DOLLAR lacks all but the slightest amount of weakness. This is truly remarkable for an issue that is usually seen with such a poor strike. There are two light scrapes on the obverse in front of Liberty’s nose and a few small hairlines (not from cleaning) on the surfaces. The reverse has some minor mint-made roughness at the center that appears to be the result of a few small flecks of foreign material on the die at the time of striking. The luster is slightly steely in texture and has a typical “hard” appearance as seen on the other high grade 1860-D gold dollars that are known. As usual it is a bit more pronounced on the obverse than on the reverse. Both sides are covered with rich orange-gold color.
This is the only 1860-D gold dollar to have ever been graded MS64 by either service and it is listed in the current Condition Census as the finest known. It is an extremely important coin and, obviously, one of the highlights of this remarkable collection of Dahlonega gold dollars.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, New York Gold Mart (Ron Karp).
THE FINEST GRADED 1861-D GOLD DOLLAR— AN NGC MS65 AND A HIGHLIGHT OF THE DUKE’S CREEK COLLECTION 1861-D NGC MS65. Variety 12-Q. The only dies of the year. The obverse is the same as on the 1860-D. On the reverse the date is small and positioned somewhat to the left.
The 1861-D is the rarest and most famous gold dollar from this mint. It is also the single most coveted coin from Dahlonega as it is the only regular issue that was produced entirely by the Confederacy. After the Mint was seized in April 1861, between 1,000 and 1,500 examples were struck by the Rebel forces. It is unlikely that more than five to six dozen are known today. Interestingly, more of these exist in high grade than one might expect and there are probably more than a dozen in Uncirculated. This is almost certainly due to the fact that examples were saved as souvenirs.
This issue has a very distinct appearance and this is, in my opinion, part of its charm. It is always found with a weak strike on the obverse and this example is no exception. The UN in UNITED are weak but they are actually more distinctive than usual. The IC in AMERICA is also weak but, again, they appear more fully defined than on nearly any other example of the 1861-D gold dollar that I have seen. There is also some weakness on the left side of the denticles; this is diagnostic to the issue. The reverse is remarkable and has probably the fullest strike I can recall having seen on an 1861-D. The date and mintmark are full while the word DOLLAR is complete except for the O which shows some softness. There are multiple clashmarks which are heaviest near the R in DOLLAR. These clashmarks can also be seen along the portrait on the obverse but they are not as strong. Some of the field near the left side of the portrait is semi-reflective and this is very likely due to someone at the mint attempting to remove the clashmarks The surfaces of this coin are very clean and suggest that this coin has been carefully preserved since it was produced almost 150 years ago. There is one tiny shallow tick in the left obverse field and another shallow, unobtrusive mark on Liberty’s cheek. These serve as excellent identifiers for future pedigree information. The luster that this piece shows is exceptional. It literally “drips” off the surfaces and is far above average for a date that, surprisingly, can be found with good luster. The obverse is graced by rich orange-gold color with some steel highlights at the center and towards the edge; the reverse is slightly lighter with deepening to an olive hue at the border.
In my opinion there are three really great 1861-D gold dollars known: the Ullmer-Pierce coin (graded MS64 by PCGS) which is in an Alabama collection, the Green Pond/Eliasberg coin (graded MS63 by PCGS) which was last sold by Heritage in January 2004 and the Duke’s Creek coin which is being offered today. It would not surprise me to see this coin set an all-time record for a Dahlonega gold coin, given the demand for rare coins with great stories.
Ex: Duke’s Creek collection, Hancock and Harwell, Leon Farmer collection, Stack’s 1/90: 1594 ($31,900), Tony Terranova, Superior 1/89: 274 ($24,200), Dr. Philip Weinstein. This is the plate coin in the first edition of “Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861.”