FINEST 1794 DOLLAR SALE PUBLICITY
The E-Sylum (5/30/2010)
It was an extraordinary week for rare coins and stamps, with two of the worlds most valuable specimens being sold within days of each other.
If anyone doubts the enduring appeal of American currency, a sale completed Thursday of a sparkling 1794 silver dollar should put that to rest. The coin, believed by some experts to be the first United States dollar ever minted, was sold to a nonprofit educational group for $7.85 million, a world record for any coin.
This is a national treasure, said the seller, Steven L. Contursi, a California coin dealer who has owned it since 2003. He has exhibited it at a museum in Colorado and at collector events. The buyer, the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation, is expected to continue publicizing the coin.
Silver coins up to a dollar were authorized by Congress partly to show off the young nations economic prowess. Of the 1,578 dollars made that first year, all by hand presses, about 140 have survived. This coin is considered the finest of them, with crisp, lustrous details still visible on the allegorical Lady Libertys flowing hair. What appear to be heavy scratches across the coin are actually file marks, made when the coin was struck to ensure its weight in silver was precise.
On Saturday, the worlds most valuable stamp changed hands. The sale, in a secretive auction in Geneva, was between unidentified parties for an undisclosed amount. The auctioneer, David Feldman, would say only that the buyer was an international consortium and that the seller was a financial firm auctioning the stamp to collect on a debt by its former owner. The consignor was very pleased with the result, he said.
The Swedish stamp of 1857, accidentally printed in yellow instead of green, became the worlds most valuable in the 1990s, in a series of record-setting sales approaching $2.5 million.
The stamp has a glamorous past. The only one of its type ever discovered, it was found by a Swedish schoolboy in 1885, later seized by the French government as reparations after World War I and has since belonged to famous collectors including the king of Romania.
To read the complete article, see: $7.85 Million for U.S. Coin, and Extra for a Stamp (www.nytimes.com/2010/05/24/us/24record.html)
We knew it was a matter of time before something like this would happen. You had a hungry collector with funds who cherished a unique coin. He didnt really have many choices for the date. So it was matter of passing or paying the price. We do know for a fact, there were at least TWO other seriously interested collectors as well who wanted to own it. The new owner simply paid more than the others.
For those who feel the price is extreme, we do not. The coin is unique, high quality, and wildly historical. There is nothing else like it. We strongly believe should the new owner have the long term holding power, when sold, this coin will yet again break all pricing records.
Also, we strongly believe within the next year, the $10,000,000.00 price barrier will be broken. There are two coins that will easily do it when they come to market (not if-Legend has made an offer on one for much more).
Having a gigantic sale that creates a record price just adds to consumer confidence in the high end market. The DOES trickle down to ALL levels as well (Im sure well read on the chatrooms how the typical eBay buyer does not care-but it does affect them). Collectors love auctions because they believe they were only one bid on top of someone else's. In this case, buyers of the rarest coins like seeing the highest levels have activity and move up in value.
To read the complete article, see: Legend Numismatics Market Report (www.coinlink.com/News/us-coins/legend-numismatics-market-report/)
Two major studies on the elusive 1794 dollar, one by Jack Collins, the other by Martin Logies, each agree that the coin is the top of the condition census. Some earlier remarks by catalogers who handled it as well as the Lord St. Oswald specimen, acquired at the Philadelphia Mint in the fall of 1794, lean toward the other as superior.
In any case, the test of which grade is the greater is measured in infinitesimal calibrations and the one owned by Steve Contursi (and formerly Amon Carter, Jr.) makes the case for a spectacular history that goes back more than 60 years, and in the process shows how a true rarity has fared.
The coin that broke all prior records including the previous high of $7.59 million for the King Farouk specimen of the 1933 $20 gold piece makes its first modern appearance when Col. E.H.R. Greens collection was acquired by Burdette G. Johnson and the St. Louis Stamp & Coin Company.
Its not every day that a major rarity is sold, and it doesnt always go up. The Neil-Carter-Contursi coins next auction appearance was in 1986 at the Hoagy Carmichael sale by Superior, where Anthony Terranova was the buyer at $209,000. It then evidently passed through several familiar hands: Ed Milas and Marvin Browder (for RARCOA), Andy Lustig (1988) at $375,000, and in 1991, Superiors May, 1991 sale of An Amazing Collection of U.S. Silver Dollars, where it brought $506,000.
There were some intervening owners including Jay Parrino, but it is Steve Contursi who held it for the last several years, when he finally agreed to sell it to the Cardinal Educational Collection at $7,850,000.
All told, the Mint records show that 1,758 silver dollars were made in the first year of manufacture. About 120-140 specimens are known today, and ironically, it turned out that another of this early silver dollar date became the first rarity to cross the Rubicon of an auction where a single coin received a $100,000 bid.
To read the complete article, see: Price Jumps for 1794 Silver Dollar (numismaster.com/ta/numis/Article.jsp?ArticleId=10894)