By Antoinette Rahn
Coin auctions may seem to some to be about as far from a spectator sport as one can get, but if you've ever observed a bidding battle between two coin or note collectors passionate about a specific lot, you know just how competitive auctions can be.
Although in-person bidding remains largely nonexistent or limited to very small numbers, online and phone bidding continue to drive a robust coin auction universe. With that, I spent some time this week perusing the catalogs of U.S. auction houses to see which lots piqued my interest in the unique, uncommon, and intriguing. Here are five lots I find interesting for one reason or another. Let me know what you think of my choices!
Did You Know: This uncommon coin, issued annually between 1854 and 1889, was a convenient denomination as the price of a first-class postage stamp (a hot commodity at the time) was three cents, according to Ron Guth, courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts. Therefore, laying down a $3 gold piece would result in a postage purchaser leaving the post office with 100 stamps, if they so desired.
This featured $3 gold piece from 1888 commanded $4,080 during Stack's Bowers' January 2021 Collectors Choice Online Auction. See more lots from this sale >>>
Did You Know: The term toning refers to the result oxidation has on the surface of a coin. At times, toning can be a welcome sight to collectors seeking something unique to include in their collection. In contrast, other instances of toning may be among the reasons the value of a coin decreases.
This featured Morgan Silver Dollar brought $9,560 during a February 2021 auction presented by GreatCollections. See more sales of Morgan dollars >>>
Did You Know: Despite the uniqueness of Mr. Benjamin Franklin appearing on the obverse of a coin, which he did on the half dollar between 1956 and 1963, what makes this coin uncommon is a small but distinct difference on the wings of the eagle shown on the reverse. Type I Franklin half dollars present an eagle with four feathers instead of the standard three. The three and the four feather designs were used intermittently over the years, according to Ron Guth's details at PCGS CoinFacts.
This featured coin saw $1,920 before the gavel fell during Stack's Bowers' February 2021 Collectors Online Auction. View more lots in this sale >>>
Did You Know: Lettered edge, in the case of the 1793 Wreath Cent coin, refers to the variety of historic large cent coin that boasts the words "ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR" along the edge of the coin.
This featured example of the storied coin appeared before bidders during GreatCollections' Jan. 10, 2021 sale and sold for $29,101. View More Wreath Coins >>>>
Did You Know: There are times when you can find even an 1838 coin in uncirculated condition? Such is the case of the 1838-O Half Dime, No Stars variety, which sold through Heritage Auctions recently. With only 70,000 coins minted, the No Stars variant is highly sought after, and an example in uncirculated condition, to boot? Wow!
Check out more lots featured in Heritage Auction's 2021 February 9 Steve Studer Collection Part 2 >>>
Don't forget to take a little time to check out auction action - it's a great way to learn, to pick up bidding tips, and to enjoy a little friendly competition among bidders.