Another encore performance for the Dan Holmes large cent collection was held on Jan. 30, 2011 by Ira & Larry Goldberg, with cataloguing assistance from M&G Copper Auctions.
Dan Holmes part-4 featured the late-date large cents from Dan's legendary collection (1840-1857). 689 lots were hammered down during a marathon auction session that stretched to about nine hours.
Live attendance at this sale was a little above average, but not door-busting. I do not think this indicates any lack of interest in these coins. Rather, the high costs associated with travel to the L.A. area, and the continued improvements that have been made in on-line bidding software made it realistic for early copper nuts to participate in the sale in the comfort of their own home, and many decided to do that. On-line bidding was a bigger factor in this sale than any other recent Goldberg auction that I can recall. In fact, many lots came down to an on-line bidding war, while the floor bidders became spectators. The increase in on-line participation is a boon to consignors, because it can improve the hammer price for lots that are not valuable enough to get a photo in the printed catalogue, and would likely sell at a discount to a floor bidder.
The sale contained many finest-known and condition-census-level (cc) coins, and yet there were not a lot of upside break-out bids to report. The average hammer price was about double the estimate (consistent with past copper auctions by the firm), and there were even a few coins that went for less than their pre-sale estimates!
With that brief introduction, I will describe a few of the lots that surprised me during this sale:
LOT 104 was an 1845 N9 (R2) graded MS64 RED by PCGS. The full red color and intense luster proved irresistible, and this coin soared to a winning bid of $11,500 vs. the pre-sale estimate of $2000-UP!
LOT 115 was an 1846 N1 (R1) graded MS64 BN by PCGS. However, the coin exhibited impressive proof-like surfaces (medium mirrors), and was even called PROOF-50 by Denis Loring. The hammer price was $2900 vs. estimate of $500-UP.
LOT 142 was a scarce variety (1846 N10, R5-) in a rare die-state (LDS, with rim cud break at 9:00 on the obverse. Though graded just VF20, this coin brought a winning bid of $390 (vs. est. of $50-UP).
This theme of strong bids for rare die-states continued through the entire sale. Other examples include: LOT 155 (1846 N15), LOT 164 (1846 N19), LOT 227 (1847 N26), LOT 302 (1848 N27), LOT410 (1850 N17), and LOT 521 (1852 N20).
LOT 179 was a beautiful mint-state 1847 N2 (a very popular 7-over-small-7 variety), with a provenance that included Robbie Brown. The winning bid of $6000 was 6x the estimate of $1000-UP!
LOT 244 was an 1847 N34 (R5+) graded AU50 (cc#3). The coin also had once been owned by Ted Naftzger. However, the top bid of $2600 was only half the pre-sale estimate of $5000-UP. The winning bidder must be very happy with that result!
Just a few lots later, LOT 256, the only-known 1847 N43 (R8+) was bid up to $12,500 (vs. est. of $5000-UP). For a unique variety, this does not seem like too much to pay (in my humble opinion).
LOT 531 provided another highlight. The coin was an 1852 N24 (R8- proof-only variety) graded PROOF-64 by PCGS. The high bid was $41,000 vs. an estimate of $20,000-UP.
I really enjoyed attending this sale, and getting a chance to chat briefly with Dan and his wife. At the end of the night, I had snagged 6 of Dan’s coins to add to my own modest late-date collection. Most important, a good time was had by all!