Liberty Head gold eagles are a favorite series at Douglas Winter Numismatics and we have a decades-old tradition of handling exceptional coins from this series. With the recent offering of the Harvey Jacobson Collection by Heritage Auctions in last month’s February 2020 Long Beach sale, we had the opportunity to purchase numerous important examples.
Figured against the overall prices realized of the Jacobson coins, we spent around 20% of the total value and were underbidders on another 20%.
It is difficult to narrow the list down to just two coins when discussing our favorite purchases from this collection but I’ll try.
1839 Type of 1838, PCGS/CAC MS63
1839, TYPE OF 1838. PCGS MS63 CAC. Images courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN)
The initial design of this type lasted for just two years: 1838 and 1839. The 1838 is a scarce, low-mintage issue which is all but impossible to locate in higher grades (the Jacobson AU58 was the nicest one I can recall seeing in some time), which leaves the 1839 Type of 1838 as the issue that appeals most to type collectors.
The 1839 Type of 1838 is a fairly common coin with a few hundred known. It can be located in the AU50 to AU55 range without a great deal of difficulty, although most in this range are bright from having been dipped or processed. Nice AU58 examples are scarce and this date is rare in Uncirculated with likely around 10 or so known to exist.
There are three really nice 1839 Type of 1838 eagles known. These are as follows:
- PCGS/CAC MS66: DL Hansen Collection, ex Gold Rush Collection (1/2005) for $402,500 USD.
- PCGS/CAC MS65: Oliver Jung Collection, ex Superior 2/1998 for $253,000.
- PCGS/CAC MS63: Heritage 2/2020: 3197, ex Stack’s 3/1995, James Stack Collection.
I remembered the Jacobson coin from the James Stack sale, although the Liberty Head eagle I recall most clearly from that auction was the incomparable 1848-O, now graded MS66 by PCGS. It brought $28,600 at the Stack sale and weaved its way through an undisclosed number of owners until it was purchased by Jacobson from New York Gold Mart via private treaty around a decade ago.
I really liked this coin and was prepared to bid on it for inventory until a client of mine indicated that he was interested. In a lengthy phone call, I described the coin to him in glowing terms and suggested a maximum bid of $95,000 hammer. I was given the okay, and then the wait began.
If I recall, this coin opened up at $75,000 and it quickly ratcheted up to $90,000. I waited until just before the lot was closing to up my floor bid to $95,000 and we were successful.
The coin is now owned by a Southern collector who is specializing in high-quality Liberty Head eagles. The James Stack 1839/8 became an immediate highlight of his set and I greatly appreciate his trust in allowing me to procure it for him.
1851-O PCGS/CAC MS64
1851-O $10.00 PCGS MS64 CAC
This is a very common date in circulated grades but it is surprisingly rare in Uncirculated with fewer than 10 believed to exist. There are only three known in grades higher than MS62+, and these are as follows:
- PCGS/CAC MS64: The Jacobson coin, ex Bass and Eliasberg and obtained by John Clapp, Jr. from dealer Elmer Sears in 1920.
- PCGS MS64: Tyrant Collection, purchased from me privately in 2005.
- NGC MS64: Unseen by me.
The owner of the New England Collection of New Orleans gold was interested in this coin as soon as he digested the lot listings in the Jacobson sale. It was a significant improvement over the NGC/CAC MS62+ he already owns, and it had the Eliasberg pedigree that is important to him (his collection of New Orleans gold contains around a dozen pieces which are ex: Eliasberg).
When we discussed values, I suggested that this coin would hammer in the 50,000-60,000 range, but my client thought this range was too light and he suggested I go up to 70,000-80,000+. As usual, he was right and I wound up buying the coin for $70,000 hammer (or $84,000 with the buyer’s premium).
As is befitting a coin that is the single-finest known of the date, the Bass/Eliasberg 1851-O set a new auction record for the issue.
I purchased two other New Orleans eagles in the Jacobson sale for the New England Collection: the ex: Eliasberg PCGS/CAC MS60 1849-O, and the PCGS/CAC MS63 1858-O.
I’ve been working with the New England collector for well over a decade and in the process, we have built far and away the finest set of New Orleans gold ever assembled. The set is 100% complete, and images of many of the pieces are the plate coins in the third edition of my book on New Orleans gold, published in 2018.
The Jacobson Collection sale was a lot of fun for me and it enabled me to buy a number of exceptional coins. If you’d like auction representation in the next great specialized US gold coin auction, don’t hesitate to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Doug Winter
Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.
In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare US Gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.
Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award-winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and the recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality and fair and honest pricing. Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small. He can be reached at (214) 675-9897.
Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues
In addition, he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
- Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
- Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
- Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
- The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
- Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
- An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
- The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
- A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
- The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
- Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis
Finally, Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.