John Kutasi had the number one finest set of Indian $10 gold coins, ?Circulation Strikes (1907-1933)? in the registry of the Professional Coin Grading Service. This set, and other gold coin coins from Kutasi?s collection, all PCGS certified, were auctioned by Heritage in its mammoth FUN auction extravaganza in Orlando, which totaled around $75 million.
Kutasi?s collection alone realized $7.79 million. The topic here is Kutasi?s set of Indian eagles, though the collection included Saint Gaudens $20 gold coins as well.
The rarest Indian $10 coin is the 1933. Kutasi had one of only eight that have been PCGS graded MS-65, pictured at left. Though PCGS has never graded one MS-66, one of the early PCGS MS-65s, the Kruthoffer example, was later graded MS-66 by the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. It is the only one so certified. The Kruthoffer piece was auctioned by Stack?s in October 2004 for $718,750 and is clearly finer than the Kutasi 1933, and could be the finest known.
The Dannreuther-Garrett compilation, 1994-2004 edition, lists eleven auction appearances of 1933 eagles. After the $718,750 Kruthoffer piece, the next highest auction price is for the Richmond piece, NGC MS-64, that DLRC sold for $276,000 in July 2004. In November 2005, Heritage sold the Philip Morse 1933 eagle, also PCGS MS-65, for $517,500. Though I was unable to attend the Morse sale, I viewed that coin at an earlier time. I tentatively recollect that the Kutasi 1933 is of higher quality than the Morse example. The $546,250 price for the Kutasi piece is about right.
The PCGS population of eight 65s probably only includes six different coins and Kutasi?s 1933 is certainly better than most of them. It is fair to assume that it ranks in the top five, maybe third.
PCGS officials concluded that the Smithsonian?s 1933, if submitted, would be likely to grade MS-65. Likewise, PCGS founders attended the David Akers auction of the Thaine Price collection in 1998, and have concluded that the Price 1933 also would be likely to grade MS-65. Are they sure that it is not one of the eight that have already been PCGS graded MS-65?
The 1933 eagle, PCGS MS-65, that Certified Assets Management sold privately in 2004 is a solid 65. Is it equal to Kutasi?s? It has cooler colors, but it also has a few more contact marks.
More research needs to be done to determine a roster and condition census for 1933 eagles. I suspect that the population reports include considerable duplication. Auction catalogs do not have that much information about them. There is not even much of a consensus regarding the total number that are known.
The second rarest Indian $10 is believed to be the 1907 Rolled Rim. PCGS refers to it, incorrectly, as a ?Rolled Edge.? Kutasi?s example, pictured at right, grades MS-67, one of three so graded by PCGS. Further, it is estimated by PCGS that the Smithsonian also has a MS-67 example. Likewise, it is so estimated Thaine Price possessed a MS-66 Rolled Rim eagle.
At pcgs.com, Price?s set is listed as the second all-time finest set of Indian $10 gold coins. W. T. Michaels had the third all-time finest.
Michaels? 1907 Rolled Rim is NGC graded MS-67. PCGS officials estimate that it deserves a PCGS grade of just MS-66. It realized $184,000 at the Stack?s auction of the Michaels collection in January 2004. Also, an NGC MS-67 example was auctioned by B&M in October 2004 for $270,250.
Dr. Steven Duckor, holder of the fourth all-time finest set, has a PCGS MS-66 example. Who then has the other PCGS MS-67s? Do they have complete sets?
While researcher Walter Breen and others determined that just forty-two 1907 Rolled Rim eagles left the mint, PCGS and NGC list a total of sixty-nine. Could there be that many resubmissions or could more than forty-two have left the Mint? Perhaps a combination of both factors account for the discrepancy?
The Kutasi Rolled Rim eagle sold for $402,500 to telephone bidder 480, who was personally represented by Heritage President Greg Rohan. As far as I know, this price is a record for a 1907 Rolled Rim eagle.
Another telephone bidder 619, also represented by Rohan, bought a group of Kutasi?s eagles: 1908-D with motto, MS-66, $48,875; 1911-D, MS-65, $195,500; 1913, MS-66, $19,550; 1914, MS-66, $32,200. All prices realized incorporate the 15% buyer?s fee.
The Kutasi 1914-S is the only one to be PCGS graded MS-66, and PCGS has never graded one higher. Laura Sperber was the successful bidder, at $161,000.
The leading bidder for Kutasi?s eagles was a cheerful man who is comfortable with the idea of being mentioned in my articles. His name is Jim O?Neal. He is an enthusiastic collector who seemed to be having a great time at the auction. He has a long term interest in numismatics, and was formerly chairman of Collectors Universe, the parent of PCGS.
Kutasi?s 1908-D No Motto, MS-66, is an amazingly brilliant example of this date. These usually have a mellow appearance, or a dusty tone. Kutasi?s 1908-D NM is super brilliant and richly lustrous. The nearly flawless reverse radiates. I wish I could fully describe it. Though it is not one of the rarest Indian Head $10 gold coins, O?Neal looked happy when he got it for $115,000, a price that would only seem ridiculous to people who have not seen the coin.
The Kutasi 1910-S, MS-66, is one of the top three. O?Neal took it for $138,000. The 1913-S, MS-66, opened above $200,000 and eventually sold to O?Neal for $287,500. This is a terrific coin, great looking, very sharply struck, with neat orange and blue tones. It has some cool features that cannot be easily summarized. Before I read the catalog description, I graded it 67. The cataloger reveals that it was NGC graded MS-67 in the past, and was sold privately to Kutasi for $200,000 in April 2005.
Moments later, O?Neal bought another stunning, possibly undergraded coin, the Kutasi 1915, MS-66, for $29,900 and the very next lot, 1915-S, MS-65, for $74,750. Finding a gem 1915-S is extremely difficult, and this same coin was in the Thaine Price and W. T. Michaels collections before Kutasi acquired it.
The Kutasi 1920-S, MS-66, was also previously in the Michaels collection, and now O?Neal has it. It is a cool coin with a mix of rose, blue and green tones. It realized $402,500, undoubtedly a record for a ?20-S eagle. Stack?s auctioned this same coin, in January 2004, for $241,500. The Goldbergs sold a PCGS MS-65 example in May 2004 for $186,875. Has the one that PCGS graded MS-67 ever been auctioned?
The big question is whether anyone will ever assemble a better set of Indian $10 gold coins. Maybe Kutasi?s achievement will never be surpassed. Either way, several collectors enjoyed adding Kutasi?s coins to their sets, and many others enjoyed the event.