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Colonial copper tops Kagin’s sale

Higley copper or $1,000 bill?

Which lot would you have been bidding on had you attended Kagin’s American Numismatic Association’s National Money Show Auction March 8-9 in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas?

Both are rare. Both are expensive.

The copper is tiny. The note is large size.

The Higley piece wins the headline, generating the highest bid, which was $252,000.

All prices here include a 20 percent buyer’s fee.

Kagin’s reports it is the finest-known example of four of this variety. It comes with the interesting story of Dr. Samuel Higley making them in 1737 with metal from his own copper mine in Granby, Conn.

According to the Red Book, Higley put the three pence value on it as that was the cost of a drink at the local tavern.

When people complained that three pence was too high for the privately made piece, he created other varieties with the legend, “Value Me As You Please. I Am Good Copper.”

The Breen-239 piece in the auction last sold in May 2004 for $212,500 in the second John J. Ford Jr. sale conducted by Stack’s.

Compared to the Higley copper, the $1,000 was a bargain. It sold for $33,600, a very good price for a paper rarity.

It is a Series 1918 from the San Francisco Federal Reserve.

The note was graded Very Fine 35 by Paper Money Grading. It is the Krause-Lemke 1032, Friedberg 1133L Burke-Glass signatures.

This $1,000 was part of the collection of Federal Reserve Notes and Federal Reserve Bank Notes assembled by Carlson Chambliss.

Over 360 different varieties were offered in the auction.

A 1918 $50 Federal Reserve Bank Note from St. Louis certified PMG XF-45 sold for $31,200. It is KL 783, Fr. 831.

It was followed by a 1918 $500 Federal Reserve Note from Chicago, KL 960, Fr. 1132-G graded PMG Choice Very Fine 35, that brought $31,200.

If you happened to have a handy $138,000, you might have purchased a relatively small 10.07 ounce gold ingot produced by the San Francisco assay firm, Harris, Marchand & Co. in 1857.

It is was described by the cataloger as the second smallest of 37 known Harris gold ingots that have been recovered from the famous 1857 shipwreck, S.S. Central America.

Four other assayer ingots recovered from the shipwreck included an 11.03 ounce ingot from Kellogg & Humbert. It sold for $77,400.

If your cup of tea is patterns of American coinage that never made it to circulation, there was the finest 1872 copper Amazonian pattern half dollar, Judd-1201, graded Proof-67 RB by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.

Designed by William Barber, the dramatic seated Liberty in a Phrygian cap represents freedom with sword and shield by her side.

The cataloger calls it one of the most beautiful and desirable numismatic designs. It sold for $40,800.

Among 145 different varieties of encased postage stamps was one of four known 2 cents “Black Jack” pieces advertising the inventor of encased postage stamps, John Gault. Described as Extremely Fine, it sold for $18,000.

If you had been at the sale, which rarity would have appealed to you?

Prices realized are available from

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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