“Not every lot was a record,” reported Don Kagin, president of Kagin’s Auctions. “As a matter of fact there were several bargains in this unreserved auction. But almost every featured series registered a record for the coin or the grade!”
The just over 500 lot sale realized over $3.8 Million including the 17.5% buyer’s premium, on a pre-sale estimate of $3.1 million with every lot selling. One of the new price records was a $5 1860 PCGS PR65+ CAM which brought $138,062.50.This was the Harry Bass/Theodore Ullmer specimen recognized as the finest of just six specimens known.
Another record was reached by the Louis Eliasberg, Sr. example of the 1849 $16 Moffat & Company ingot graded PCGS AU-50. Issued during the California Gold Rush in May, 1849 just prior to the minting of gold coins by the venerable private minter, there are only 20 specimens known including at least five impounded according to the cataloger. The last example sold in auction, graded NGC AU-58 brought $199,750 in 2014. This piece soared past that figure and after much competition realized $240,875.
Another featured series offered was a complete set of all nine varieties of $50 gold pieces listed in the reference work, Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States, by Donald H. Kagin, Ph.D. These “slugs” were struck at the newly formed United States Assay Office in San Francisco under contract with Moffat & Co. by U.S. Assayer, Augustus Humbert. There was fierce bidding for all nine lots, especially the $50 1852 K-13 .887 THOUS. Graded NGC MS-62 CAC, this specimen brought a record $276,125.
The Xan Chamberlain #1 Registry set of Walking Liberty Halves comprising a number of varieties included a 1946 Double Die Obverse FS-101 PCGS 65 CAC which brought over double estimate for a record $1645.
A special Hobo Nickel section was highlighted by a classic George Washington “Bo” Hughes carving of a man with a full beard and a bow on a long brim hat. This record setting piece was knocked down at $4,465.
“The fact that the sale realized over 20% higher than pre- auction estimates might seem counter—intuitive when you realize that this auction was entirely unreserved. But that feature, among others, seems to have encouraged unusually high dealer and bargain hunters’ participation,” Kagin speculated.