Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Al Boka 1794 Large Cents - Post Auction Commentary

The Al Boka Collection of 1794 cents was sold by Heritage Auctions in Long Beach, CA on Sept. 8, 2016. A specialized collection assembled with great passion and devotion (plus a little hard cash) over more than 10 years, The Boka collection is memorable for both the high quality of the coins and the extraordinary provenance that accompanies each coin. The names associated with these cents include virtually all the legendary figures from early copper collecting. Names like Maris, Garrett, Newcomb, Downing, Sheldon, Paschal, Halpern, Adams, Naftzger, Brown, Robinson, Loring, Husak, Rasmussen, and Holmes can all be found. The thrill of owning a coin that once graced the collection of any of these numismatic giants goes well beyond the mere pleasure of holding a beautiful object of historical importance. Al well understood the value of provenance, which is the central theme of the book he devoted to this collecting specialty, titled "Provenance Gallery of the year 1794".
I was not able to attend this sale in person, having made an earlier, unfortunate decision to go on vacation in Europe during the week of the auction. However, I watched the results with much interest, and would like to report here on the results for the 5 special coins that I mentioned in my prior post about Al's collection.

  • LOT 5302 1794 S-18b PCGS AU58. This wonderful "Head of 93" cent was sold for $176,250. While this is not a price record for the variety, the price reflects both the high quality of the coin, and its solid provenance, going back to 1945.

  • LOT 5320 1794 S-35 PCGS AU50. The 2nd finest known S-35 (and finest available to collectors) was sold for $64,625. The price reflects not only the scarcity of this piece (the variety is rated R5, with fewer than 75 known to exist), but a stellar provenance dating to 1965.

  • LOT 5333 1794 S-48 (Starred Reverse) PCGS VF35. This famous cent is the "Discovery Coin" for the variety, tracing its ownership back to 1878 when the Chapman Brothers found it. It sold for $258,500. This price is not a record for the variety (that record is held by the Walter Husak coin, which Heritage sold in 2008). However, the new owner can revel in having acquired a beautiful and important historical artifact.

  • LOT 5343 1794 S-58 PCGS MS62. A beautiful coin with a short history of ownership - Al Boka purchased this coin from a collector who inherited the coin from his great-uncle, who had purchased it in the 1950's. This finest-known coin for the variety was sold for $51,700.

  • LOT 5351 1794 S-66 PCGS VF30. Although this example of the scarce "Split Pole" variety is a modest grade of VF30, it is the finest known. Furthermore, its provenance reads like a who's who of large cent collecting, and runs all the way back to 1914. It sold for $82,250. That price is an accurate reflection of the desirability of this beauty.

  • The entire Boka collection of 1794's (58 coins) brought $1,857,381. Of course, this is just a number (although it is a pretty big number). It is safe to say that this is the last time all of these unique coins will be together in one place. For all of the Al Boka 1794's, the odyssey continues!