Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jim Neiswinter and Dan Trollan

Just a few weeks ago, the Early Copper community was jolted by the news that two of our superstar collectors plan to team up and offer coins from their collections for sale in early 2019.

Jim Neiswinter, a native of New York and a member of EAC since 1981 has pursued the CENTS OF 1793 since purchasing his first one in 1983. That first coin was a 1793 Wreath cent (a variety called Sheldon-11a). It was not until Feb. of 1986 that Jim acquired the 1793 cent that ultimately led to our meeting. On Feb. 1, 1986 Kagins Numismatic Auctions sold the Phillip Van Cleave collection. It was, at the time, the first complete Large Cent collection (by Sheldon numbers) sold at public auction. LOT 5017 was the famous (and rare) 1793 Sheldon-15 Liberty Cap large cent, and Jim was the winning bidder. Sheldon called the S-15 the "The aristocrat among the Liberty Cap cents, and therefore an aristocrat of aristocrats among the Large Cents". He called it thus due to the astonishing rarity of this coin. At the time Sheldon wrote Penny Whimsy (1958) there were just 5 examples of S-15 known. Today the census has expanded to 13 known. Jim's coin is the 7th finest (with the #1 coin permanently impounded in the ANS museum). This acquisition motivated Jim to do extensive research on S-15, and publish a wonderful book called "The Aristocrat" in 2013. Inexplicably, I waited until 2017 to visit Jim at his table at the EAC convention in Philadelphia to introduce myself, and obtain a copy of The Aristocrat (along with the author's autograph). This book has become one of the "keys" to my numismatic library. I now count Jim as one of my EAC friends. Jim ultimately obtained all of the Sheldon varieties for 1793 (16 specific die parings, and 3 distinct edge variations of Sheldon-11, called S-11a, 11b, and 11c).

Dan Trollan is a business man from Durango, Colorado, who happens to love Large Cents. He joined EAC in 1989 (just a few years before I joined in 1992). By the time I met Dan, which I think was at the 2001 EAC convention in Fredericksburg, VA, he was deeply involved with the CENTS of 1794. The two things that struck me most vividly about our first encounter was how doggone approachable Dan was, and how bushy his mustache was! Dan is a prominent member of an EAC sub-group known as "The BOYZ of 94". Dan went on to assemble a complete Sheldon set of 1794 cents, comprising not just the 58 collectible Sheldon-number varieties, but also the 11 Non-collectible (NC) varieties. Dan is just the third person to achieve this level of completeness for 94's!

The sale of the coins from these two esteemed members of EAC is scheduled for late Jan. 2019 in Los Angeles. Goldbergs, in collaboration with M&G Auctions are expected to conduct the copper auction on Jan. 27,2019. The occasion leaves me with some strong and conflicting feelings. On the one hand, it is going to be a very important auction, attracting bidders from all across the country, and promising many bidding highlights. On the other hand, it feels as if two of my "contemporaries" in the world of copper are preparing to "pass the torch" to a new generation of copper enthusiasts. This is certainly appropriate and timely. The economy seems strong, and the coin market has never been better poised to absorb coins of such quality and significance. And yet, it is hard to avoid the sense, that in some way an era is passing. However, I can look back to the Walter Husak sale in 2008. That auction produced at least as much "electricity" as any other copper sale I have attended. And, Walter remains very active in EAC. Likewise, Chuck Heck sold his wonderful collection of 1794 Cents in Feb. 2017, and he remains prominent in EAC affairs. I hope that the same can be said for these two fine gentlemen.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Apple Cheek Love

I rarely devote a post to just one coin. I want to make an exception this time, for the sake of one exceptional copper coin. Next week, Stacks Bowers will be offering this beautiful 1794 large cent (Sheldon-24, called the "Apple Cheek" variety by Dr. William Sheldon in his book on the subject of early cents).

The coin is graded MS-65 BN by PCGS. The provenance (as might be expected) includes numerous early copper luminaries, including T. Harrison Garrett, Walter J. Husak, and D. Brent Pogue.
Here is a link to the Stacks Bowers description (LOT 2176 in their Baltimore March sale).
This coin ranks CC#3 in the Early American Copper census for the variety. It is certainly a visual treat. I was lucky enough to see the actual coin at lot preview earlier this month. I will not be bidding for this beauty, but whoever ends up being the winning bidder can be proud to own a historic piece of Early American Copper.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Goldbergs Pre-Long Beach sale of the GREEN TREE half cents

The Green Tree half cents comprised the first 236 lots of the Goldberg's pre-Long Beach auction, held Sunday Feb. 18 in Los Angeles. These are my post-auction impressions from the sale.
The majority of the coins stayed relatively close to pre-sale estimates, and met expectations. However, as usual there were both upside surprises and also some coins that fell far short of their estimates. The general theme that emerged was that scarce & rare varieties that were in mid-to-low grades did not do very well (price-wise). Here are a few of the most notable examples:
  • LOT 15 was a 1794 C-7 (R5+) graded EAC F12 (PCGS F15). It was hammered for $2650 vs. an estimate of $5000.

  • LOT 21 was a 1795 C-3 (R5+) graded EAC F15 (PCGS VF25). It was hammered for $4250 vs. an estimate of $8000.

  • LOT 90 was a 1805 C-2 (R5) graded EAC VG10 (PCGS F12). It was hammered for $3750 vs. an estimate of $8000.

  • LOT 100 was a 1806 C-3 (R6) graded EAC G4+ (PCGS G4). It was hammered for $3000 vs. an estimate of $6000.

  • It was apparently a good day to be bargain hunting among rare half cent varieties!
    As I mentioned above, there were also some surprises on the upside of prices. A few of these include:
  • LOT 125 was a 1809 C-2 (R3) graded EAC VF35 (PCGS AU53). It was hammered for $2100 vs. an estimate of only $600!

  • LOT 172 was a 1825 C-3 (R1) graded EAC MS64 (PCGS MS65RB). It was hammered for $4000 vs. an estimate of only $2000.

  • LOT 201 was a 1849 C-1 (R2-) graded EAC MS63 (PCGS MS64RB). It was hammered for $3000 vs. an estimate of only $1000!

  • LOT 205 was a 1851 C-1 (R1) graded EAC MS65 (PCGS MS66BN). It was hammered for $4000 vs. an estimate of only $2000.

  • Note that all these coins rank very high in the condition census. The trend that emerges from these high-side surprises is that Quality is still King!
    I will try to share some impressions from the large cent portion of the sale a little later.

    Sunday, February 11, 2018

    The Goldbergs FEB 2018 Pre-Long Beach auction preview

    It is that time of year again. Time to shake off the snow from winter, and head to sunny Southern California for a week of coin activity. The Long Beach coin convention begins Thur. Feb. 22. In addition to the huge bourse floor (over 400 dealers attending), Heritage will hold a big coin auction. But, the Sunday before Long Beach, copper collectors will have a chance to participate in the Goldberg's pre-Long Beach sale.
    Goldbergs have a great lineup of more than 600 lots of U.S. copper coins (and hundreds of coins in other U.S. series as well) up for sale. The headline collection for the sale is a large high-quality collection of half cents, called the Green Tree Collection.
    The Green Tree Collection comprises 236 lots of half cents (1793-1857), and an additional 16 lots of U.S. cents. Many of the Green Tree coins are in stellar condition, but there are also a number of mid-grade and collector level coins that should entice a lot of online bidding action.

  • LOT-1 is a choice 1793 C-1 (PCGS AU50 / EAC 40+). A real beauty.

  • LOT-18 is a choice AU 1795 C-1 (Lettered Edge / PCGS AU58 / EAC 55)

  • LOT-144 is a nice looking 1811 C-1 with the famous 4-star break (PCGS F12 / EAC 10)

  • While the Green Tree Collection lacks a 1796 half cent, there are two opportunities to obtain a 1796 C-2 (with-pole) in the session that follows.
  • LOT-267 is a 1796 C-2 (PCGS F15 / EAC 12).

  • This would make a welcome addition to any half cent collection.
  • LOT-287 is an example of the ultra-rare 1811 C-1 half cent with a 2-star die-break

  • Moving to large cents:
  • LOT-303 is a high-grade 1794 Head-of-93 S-11b (NGC MS61 / EAC 50+)

  • LOT-404 is a beautiful 1817 N-16 (The famous 15-star variety) that is an obverse brockage. This is a real conversation-starter!

  • LOT-470 is a high-grade 1839/6 N-1 (PCGS XF45 / EAC 35)

  • LOT-488 is a well-preserved PROOF 1843 N-12 (PCGS PF65 BN)

  • LOT-490 is a nice PROOF 1844 N-1 (PCGS PF63 BN)

  • There are three 1799 cents (S-189) to choose from in the sale, and a single 1804 (S-266a). Opportunities abound for half cent and large cent collectors in this sale. Unfortunately, the selection of colonial coins is very limited (only 11 lots).

    I plan to attend the Goldberg sale. I will be very interested in seeing how well the coins do with regard to price realized. The market for copper has been fairly quiet for the last 6 months. The last large copper auction was the Heritage Padula sale (SEP 2017). That sale featured a full Sheldon set of large cents. However, many of the coins were in low grade, and they sold at modest prices. This Goldberg sale should have a different character, since there are a number of high-grade coins that have appeal to both copper addicts and type collectors. Check out the sale on-line at the Goldberg web site, and have fun bidding in the sale!