New Orleans gold highlighted a Heritage Signature Sale held Oct. 23-25 in Dallas.
Top bidding in the $13 million auction centered on an 1854-O Liberty Head gold $20 graded AU-55 by the Professional Coin Grading Service. It realized $603,750.
An 1856-O gold $20 was not far behind. The AU-58 coin graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. fetched $576,150.
Both of these coins came from a collection of double eagles the firm calls the Baltimore Collection. Overall, this collection contributed $3.6 million to the sales total.
The results may get specialists to debate once again which coin is rarer.
Catalogers noted that “the 1854-O and the 1856-O are the two key issues in a collection of $20 Libertys. As (Doug) Winter states in Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1830-1909 (2006), ‘Ownership of an 1854-O double eagle is considered a hallmark of a truly great collection of New Orleans coinage.’
“For years there was dispute among experts about which was rarer, but it now is settled that the 1856-O is the number one issue in the series. But not by much. The estimated number of survivors in all grades of the 1856-O is only 20-30 pieces, and the 1854-O has a similarly low estimate of only 25-35 coins known. Each coin is impossibly rare in high grades. The only coin certified above AU-58 between the two issues is a branch mint proof 1856-O. The finest examples certified of the 1854-O are a pair of PCGS AU-58s (the same coin submitted twice?).”
Top lots were not confined to New Orleans issues.
Realizing $230,000 was an NGC VF-30 1870-CC gold $20. An 1884 $20 graded Proof-64 by PCGS found a buyer at $207,000.
A 1920-S Saint-Gaudens $20 graded PCGS MS-64 came in at $161,000.
Close behind was a $155,250 price realized by a PCGS Proof-64 Deep Cameo 1887 Liberty Head $20.
A Paquet reverse 1861-S $20 in NGS AU-58 recorded a $149,500 total.
Tying at $138,000 were a PCGS MS-61 1881 Liberty and a PCGS MS-66 1908-S Saint.
An 1854-S $20 graded PCGS MS-65 brought $115,000.
For more information, visit the Web site at www.ha.com.