Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 5

Lot 1303

1810 Small Date, Small 5 NGC Graded AU 50. NGC graded AU-50. This coin was recently discovered in the Midwest and sold in the Harold Rothenberger Collection by Superior Galleries in January of 1994. Long known as a rarity in any grade, this variety has been missing from most of the major collections offered the past several decades. The current NGC census notes 4 graded, one as MS-62, another AU-55, and two as AU-50. The PCGS Population Report notes 3 coins, two in EF-45, and one as AU-55. With crossovers and regrades, it is probable that some coins are counted twice between the services. Breen only noted two in his Encyclopedia and stated "fewer than 8 seen, none uncirculated". Today, it appears there are about 8 known of this important and sought-after Guide Book variety.

This particular coin is a middle die state, the obverse die broke very quickly, and the few known are usually found with a die crack horizontally through the date, and another heavier crack between the 18 of the date up through Liberty to the rim above the eighth star. The reverse lasted a bit longer, although it is also cracked through the denomination. Shortly after this coin was struck, the obverse cracked even further as evidenced by the recently offered Harry Bass example of this rarity, with additional cracks from the third star to the lower part of Liberty's nose, and a heavy die break from the twelfth star to Liberty's third curl from the bottom. The obverse die was then replaced with a Large Date obverse, and a few more Small 5 reverse coins were struck before the reverse die also cracked, failed and was replaced. Turning back to the particulars of this piece, the surfaces show numerous tiny abrasions from other coins, as the abrasions are located either on the devices or in the fields slightly away from the design elements, implying that other round objects were jostled in a small pouch, perhaps as some 1810 business person rode from one city to another on horseback. These are simply circulation marks, but there are more than one would expect for the grade. As to the color, it is splendid, in the fields near the stars and lettering there is a delicate orange gold tone which gives the coin an antique appearance. Original mint surface remains in the tiny field areas near the devices and lettering. Boldly struck on Liberty and the eagle, and conservatively graded for the amount of wear on the devices.

Here is a list of the known specimens we could locate:
1). NGC graded Mint State 62, not seen or auctioned that we could locate, but reported in the NGC Population Report. Possibly from Haseltine's sale of the W. J. Jenks Collection, June 6, 1883, lot 345 described as "Proof" earlier from Harold P. Newlin who purchased it from Phineas Adams, same as 3 below?
2). PCGS graded AU 55, early die state, identified by a rim bump on the obverse by the first star, and a tiny nick in the field below the last feather on the left wing of the eagle near its body, this coin appeared in Auction '88, lot 900; later in Heritage's Sale, 6-97, lot 6399, possibly the same as number 3) or 5) below. According to Stack's in the Kramer Sale, 11-88, lot 310, this specimen is from W. Elliot Woodward's sale of the J. Colvin Randall Collection, June 30, 1885, lot 914, described then as Extremely Fine, later in the George Earle Collection Sale, Henry Chapman, June 25, 1912, lot 2374; Stack's believes that William Woodin acquired the Earle specimen as Woodin displayed one during the 1914 ANS exhibition; Woodin's half eagles were purchased en bloc by Waldo Newcomer of Baltimore; Newcomer's Collection, in turn, was sold to B. Max Mehl, who sold virtually all of the gold to Col. Green in July 1932, Stack's notes they have a photo file of the Col. Green collection and this specimen appears to match the Earle photo. Col Green's half eagles were sold en bloc to Farouk in 1943, when that collection was sold in 1954, the Small date, small 5 piece appeared in a group of 1810 to 1812 half eagles, lot 232. Our thanks to Stack's for the above information on this coin as printed in the Kramer Sale Catalogue.
3). NGC AU 55, no auction appearance found. (Same as #1 or 2 above?)
4). This Specimen. NGC graded AU 50, middle die state, from Superior Galleries Rothenberger Sale, January 1994, lot 2408 which is believed to be this coins only prior auction appearance, according to Superior Galleries, the coin was a recent discovery from the Midwest in 1993.
5). NGC AU 50, not seen, probably this same coin which has been regraded after Dr. Kardatzke broke it out of the NGC holder to mount it in a Capital Plastics holder.
6). PCGS EF 45, the Harry Bass coin sold 10-99 by Bowers and Merena, very late die state, no previous auction appearance found but possibly the same as number 8 below.
7). Choice EF, Stack's James A. Stack Sale, 3-95, lot 465, fairly early die state, with the bisecting obverse crack light. Identifiable by a small dark spot right of the top peak of cap and a field tick right of the upper pair of leaves near the eagle.
8). EF, Stack's Grant Pierce Sale, 5-65, lot 1303, then Stack's Miles Sale, 10-68, #347, very late die state with the break from the third star to Liberty's nose. Possibly the Harry Bass coin #6 above.
9). EF 40, From Auction '80, lot 923, identifiable by a small tick mark near the rim above the B in LIBERTY.
10). EF 45 cleaned, Heritage 7-97, lot 5200, identifiable by a nick on the bridge of nose near eye and a mark on the central post of the D in the denomination.
11). Damaged EF, initials MIC in left obverse field removed in 1960. Possibly the first appearance of this coin at auction was B. Max Mehl's 4-49, #248, Dr. Charles Green as F/VF, no photo; Stack's Philip Straus Sale, 5-59, #2406 with initials MIC in left obverse field; --repaired-- New Netherlands 55th "Cicero" 12-60, lot 110; Gozan Collection to Kreisberg/Shulman 4-67, #761; Paramount's section of Auction '81, #1426, R.E. Naftzger Collection, Paramount's Fixed Price List at $22,500 in 1982; Paramount's session of Auction '82, #1927; Charles Kramer Sale, Stack's/Superior, 10-88, lot 310 as AU 55 with repair in field; Heritage's 6-97 Sale as AU 50 "whizzed" no mention of prior pedigree or damage, lot 5326, identifiable by a small planchet flake at the top of AT of STATES, and a small tick mark on the dentils above the L of LIBERTY. Remarkably, this same coin was recently offered by Superior Stamp & Coin as the "Large Date, Small 5" variety (!) and graded as AU 55 and described as "…while attractive appearing has been cleaned and buffed-up to give it a false sense of luster." We can only wonder if the next auction appearance this piece will have gone full circle and be offered as mint state!

With probable duplications above, it appears that perhaps 8 coins exist of this variety. Plate matching is challenging, especially with older catalogs and today's challenges of photographing coins through the various grading service holders. Nevertheless, the actual number of coins known is less than the number often reported, as coins are frequently consigned without any reference to what sale they came from, and the necessities of printing deadlines seldom allows time for research of even extremely rare varieties. A foremost opportunity and one of the rarest coins listed in the Redbook.

Realized $31,050

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