I have on the table next to my laptop computer a printed copy of our Americana Sale catalog for our January 24-26 event to be held in New York City. You can view the catalog online, free of charge and instantly, on your iPad or on your computer. You can also bid on your computer. The pictures we post on the Internet can be enlarged, downloaded for study, giving you more information than was ever available in a printed catalog. I will be in New York City for much of the sale. If you plan to attend, our auction gallery is located at 110 West 57th Street in the Directors Guild of America building—diagonally across the street from our sales gallery at 123 West 57th Street.
Each January our Americana Sale is a numismatic event to be remembered. Along with many federal items there is always a wide and dynamic selection of tokens, medals, scrip, and other items—often very rare, always interesting, and typically much more affordable than United States Mint rarities.
In this commentary I skim through the catalog and add some of my comments that may be of interest. Please follow me!
In the Beginning on Tuesday
The sale begins on Tuesday afternoon at 5 p.m. with Lot 5001 in Session 4—Our Americana Sale starts with obsolete private, municipal, and sutlers’ (suppliers to traveling Civil War Union Army troops) scrip bills and paper money. The terms rare, very rare, and extremely rare become common in this offering of prize items from the Thomas F.X. O’Mara Collection gathered over many years. Even though most are estimated in the hundreds of dollars, many are so elusive that you may not see another offering in your lifetime. Our offering of the John J. Ford, Jr., Collection a few years ago set the pace for a hobby-wide appreciation of such bills, not only for New Jersey but for other states as well.
Obsolete notes from state-chartered banks come next. In the past 10 years, the interest in these has multiplied and they have appreciated in value more than just about any numismatic series associated with our country! Still, prices are very reasonable in comparison to many other series. Colonial and other paper notes round out this section.
Beginning with Lot 5226 there is an extensive offering of quantity lots from half cents through silver dollars, gold coins, and the like—some in lower grades and ideal if you want to get “a lot of coins for the money.” Mint errors come up for bidding starting with Lot 5476, and what an interesting offering this is. Such pieces are fun to add to a regular collection—such as buying some error cents to add to a Lincoln collection. Rolls of coins are next on the menu starting with Lot 5513 with, believe it or not, a roll of 1909 V.D.B. Lincoln cents. A spectacular offering of rolls of Mint State Franklin halves come next. This compact series, minted from 1948 only until 1963 (cut short by the advent of the Kennedy half in 1964), is very popular today. There are no rarities, so a complete set is quite affordable. Other rolls round out the section, ending a session with thousands of coins, hundreds of scrip and obsolete notes, nearly all in the affordable category.
Wednesday During the Day—Americana to the Fore!
The next session starts at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning. This entire session, continuing through the afternoon, is Americana deluxe! First out of the box is Lot 6001, starting a series of Betts medals with themes relating to American history in the colonial era. The attributions are to C. Wyllys Betts, American Colonial History as Illustrated by Contemporary Medals, (New York, 1894). He died before his manuscript was published, so it was issued posthumously. Marvelously, this 1894 book is still the standard reference today!
I suggest you look over the Betts medals described in our sale. Time and again in our sales I have seen many specialists in United States coins check out the background on these medals, then bid on them. Then follow other medals. I find Lot 6110 particularly interesting. If you collect trade dollars you might want to bid on Lot 6113, an Assay Commission medal. In 1876 this design was created by Chief Engraver William Barber to replace that currently on the silver trade dollar. The idea was not accepted, and it was used on the Assay medal instead!
Lot 6189 starts a fantastic offering of Washington inaugural buttons. This is a rather esoteric series for which a single button or two or three would be memorable. Here we have one of the greatest specialized collections ever to cross the auction block. If you like a combination of gold, an interesting motif, and great rarity check Lot 6293. It, by itself, will give you a treasure of gold metal together with great history. If you don’t collect Society of Medalists medals, here is your chance to start – see Lot 6338. Our own David T. Alexander wrote the standard reference on the series (available from the American Numismatic Society, New York City). I have a set of these acquired some years ago from Steve Tanenbaum and prize it highly. There are over 120 varieties made from 1930 onward by leading sculptors and medalists. So-called dollars, another popular specialty, will be found in wide variety, then some nifty counterstamps, then “hobo” nickels. I forgot to mention a lovely Libertas Americana medal, the issue voted No. 1 in The Top 100 American Medals and Tokens, which I co-authored with Katie Jaeger and which was released by Whitman Publishing.
Wednesday Evening—A Night to Be Forever Remembered
On Wednesday at 5 p.m. the next session begins and will extend well into the evening. Starting with Lot 7001 is a breathtaking offering of colonial and early American coins. A century from now this section of our auction will still be remembered and the catalog will stand as a standard reference.
Front row center is the Collection SLT cabinet of Connecticut copper coins 1785-1788, comprising more than 300 different varieties. Not since our offering of the John J. Ford, Jr., Collection has such an offering been available to auction bidders. I would not be surprised if in the lifetimes of everyone reading this catalog no collection of comparable breadth will be offered.
Connecticut coppers were minted by private contractors for the state plus some counterfeits made by the curious Machin’s Mills mint near Newburgh, New York. To learn more about Connecticut coins in general check out the appropriate section in the Guide Book of United States Coins. Sharing the limelight is the New Jersey part of Collection SLT. You will find coins common and rare (remembering that for any collection to be comprehensive it must contain easily-found issues as well as landmark rarities). The catalog gives much history on both of these state series.
Massachusetts silver coins dated 1652 and some of copper dated 1787 and 1788, coins issued 1785-1788 by the Republic of Vermont (not to become a part of the Union until 1791), Bar coppers, and more await you. Check Lot 7739, a famous Washington rarity, and Lot 7751, a not-so-famous rarity. I learned quite a bit when reading the descriptions of lots 7768 and 7769—curious, historical, and rare.
Thursday—Federal Coins Front Row Center
Starting at 10 a.m. in the morning and continuing into the evening the Americana Sale concludes on Thursday. Regular or federal coins from half cents to double eagles, plus commemoratives (which are legal tender), and other popular items are showcased—plus some interesting additions such as private and territorial gold coins, and I see a Gold Rush assay receipt (Lot 10520).
Among half cents you will find two of the key rare date—the 1796, both of the with-pole variety, and others, continuing into large cents of 1793, going on to later varieties. Lot 8063 is a new discovery—a lovely 1803 found in Europe. A Mint State 1811 (Lot 8086) is worthy of notice. Also check Lot 8096, one of my favorite coins (and very affordable). And, at the AU level this coin is in the top 10 percent of those known quality-wise.
Small cents start with the famous 1856 Flying Eagle and continue into the Indian Head series. Then come Lincoln cents with many key and high grade issues. Two-cent pieces and trimes follow. Leading nickel three-cent pieces is a beautiful Gem Proof 1865, the rarest in the Proof series. Both types of three-cent pieces, silver (trimes) and nickel, have no impossible rarities and can be fascinating to collect.
Nickel five-cent pieces, one of my favorite denominations, include many interesting and rare coins with the ultimate being a Gem 1918/7-D offered as Lot 8420. Dimes weigh in with many attractions including a memorable Gem 1916-D. Our offering of the short-lived twenty-cent piece series reminds me to mention that the Battle Born Collection has a famous and rare 1876-CC to be offered as part of our official auction to be held with the World’s Fair of Money Convention (summer ANA show), generally considered to be the most important of the year. Right now there are openings for you to consign. But, I digress. Back to the Americana Sale:
Quarter dollars include important “type” coins, a seldom encountered Proof 1854, a Choice 1896-S rarity, and more. Half dollars include a pleasing mix of mostly affordable early varieties by Overton numbers, after which highlights will be found in the Liberty Seated series, followed by Barbers. Lot 8724 begins the Walking Liberty Tribute Collection—without a doubt the largest auction offering ever of Gem Mint State and Proof coins from the last decade or so of this beautiful series. All are certified and all have great eye appeal. If you want to put away a dozen gems, or a hundred—you will be in the right place at the right time.
Continuing into Thursday evening our Americana Sale offers early silver dollars by die varieties, then transitions into the Liberty Seated issues of which the famously rare 1851 Original is the highlight. Morgan dollars, the most popular late 19th and early 20th century series, include scarce and rare issues with a 1921 (Henry) Chapman Proof meriting special notice. Then follow Peace silver dollars, another of my favorite series.
After a modest but nice selection of trade dollars you will find commemorative coins, including coins put away generations ago by the Guttag Family. How often is it that you can bid on a commemorative that was bought from an issuing commission years ago and has never been in a collection before? Patterns, always interesting to contemplate and even nicer to own, include many different varieties. The same comment can be made for private and territorial gold coins.
Federal gold coins go from dollars to double eagles and include Superb Gems, a number of Proofs (including double eagles), and many pieces that will be ideal to add to a type set. The MCMVII (1907) High Relief twenty is represented by two Gems—each a showcase example of what many consider to be America’s most beautiful coin. A selection of interesting ingots brings down the curtain.
Plan to Participate
A more diverse offering than our Americana Sale cannot be imagined. That there is “something for everyone” goes without saying. Spend a few hours online looking at the lots, checking the enlarged pictures, and reading the descriptions. Then plan to join me in this sale—bidding online, by telephone (by advance arrangement), or in person in New York City.
Thank you for your interest.