Can a collector in the 21st century assemble a set of every coin ever struck by the U.S. Mint?
Up to now, only Baltimore banker Louis Eliasberg managed to achieve this feat.
He did it in the mid-20th century when there were fewer coins in a complete set and prices were lower.
Can it still be accomplished?
Utah billionaire Dell Loy Hansen has revealed it was he who spent $2.64 million to buy the Mickley-Hawn-Queller specimen of the 1804 silver dollar sold by Heritage Auctions at its June 14 Long Beach sale.
In doing so, he also publicly avowed his intention to assemble a complete U.S. coin collection.
Hansen said, “This is another important piece for our ‘Quest for Eliasberg,’ and we are excited to add it to the collection.”
He notes that his collection already numbers more than 10,000 pieces.
It has been assembled with the curatorial help of President John Brush and his staff of 20 at David Lawrence Rare Coins in Virginia Beach, Va.
The coin firm announced at the end of June that they had purchased the King of American coins for Hansen.
This is one of just eight of the original strike 1804 dollars.
It was graded Proof-62 by the Professional Coin Grading Service.
Brush was tempted to enter the bidding when he saw it might sell for less than its prior sale prize.
In that, he was successful.
The $2.64 figure is a 32 percent discount from the prior auction appearance in August 2013 when the dollar sold for $3,877,500 in a Heritage auction.
Bush said, “We had discussed the coin prior to the auction, but the decision to bid on it was literally made 5-10 lots before it was auctioned.”
Obviously Hansen and Brush have a good eye for value.
Brush explained, “We thought it would be a bargain if we could acquire it somewhere below $3 million.”
While the rest of us coin hobbyists consider the possibility of another complete collection of U.S. coins, Brush said, “The D.L. Hansen Collection now surpasses in quality (according to the PCGS Set Registry) the legendary collection of Louis Eliasberg, and is considered by many as the greatest U.S. coin collection of all time.”
Top quality is certainly the name of the game in 21st century numismatics.
This in itself is quite an achievement.
So is the Hansen collection as complete as the Eliasberg collection?
I think it is fair to say that even if it has not reached this goal yet, it soon will.
Congratulations to Mr. Hansen and Mr. Brush for proving that this generation of coin collectors is as worthy as prior generations were.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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