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Stack's Bowers auction brings $18.7 million

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The 1792 Birch cent captured national headlines as reported in the April 21 issue of Numismatic News, but prices realized by the March 26-27 Stack’s Bowers Galleries Baltimore auction totaled $18.7 million, the firm announced. This means there were other numismatic items from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection that also attracted strong bidding.

Star of the Stack's Bowers auction was the 1792 Birch cent that sold for $1,175,000.

Star of the Stack's Bowers auction was the 1792 Birch cent that sold for $1,175,000.

Following the Bushnell-Parmelee-Jenks-Green-Kendall Foundation 1792 Birch Cent pattern’s $1,175,000 headline number comes the $646,250 price achieved by an 1861 Confederate half dollar.

It was graded Proof-40 by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.

The auction catalog said the coin is one of just four struck in April 1861 at the New Orleans Mint and this is the finer of only two in private hands the catalog said.

As part of the description, the catalog said, “In hand, this feels and looks like a Federal half dollar. The reeding is familiar, as a Federal collar was used. The weight is familiar, precisely correct at 190.0 grains. The reverse is familiar, as this die was famously used on other 1861-dated productions of the New Orleans Mint. The obverse, however, is utterly dissonant...

The Stack's Bowers catalog said the Seated Liberty side of the Confederate half dollar is actually the reverse.

The Stack's Bowers catalog said the Seated Liberty side of the Confederate half dollar is actually the reverse.

“The obverse die was prepared to the Confederacy’s order. It is the only coin known that was specifically authorized and coined by the Confederate States of America. The 1861 Confederate cents were struck in the North by a firm of Philadelphia jewelers; their dies were probably authorized by the CSA, but they were patterns, not coins struck for circulation,” the catalog said.

Engraver of the obverse die was A.H.M. Peterson, a local New Orleans engraver.

The coin is believed to have originally been given to John Leonard Riddell, who was postmaster of New Orleans, but who had been the melter and refiner at the New Orleans Mint 1838-1849. Then the rarity was lost to history until it turned up again in the 1960s in the hands of dealer Lester Merkin.

Third place on the prices realized list was taken by a 1652 Willow Tree threepence, Noe 1-A, Salmon 1-A, Rarity-8, Professional Coin Grading Service Secure AU-50 with CAC sticker. It fetched $587,500.

Another 1792 pattern, the silver center cent, graded AU-53 by PCGS, brought $499,375, the fourth highest realization for the Baltimore sale.

“Participation was strong during the Kendall Collection session, with multiple bidders competing for rarities that have been long off the market,” said Lawrence R. Stack.

“The wide range of quality Colonial and early American issues will long be remembered, and our expertly composed catalog will join the Garrett, Taylor, Roper, Picker, Norweb, and Ford sales as a standard reference to the Colonial series,” he said.

An undated (1652) NE sixpence, Noe1-A, Salmon 1-A, Rarity-7, PCGS Secure EF-40, CAC sticker, sold for $411,250.

Brian Kendrella, president of Stack’s Bowers, commented: “Fresh coins, quality examples of rarities, and other important collector coins sold well here.”

“This has been the trend, and we will continue to see interest in coins that have been long off the market, especially high quality examples,” he said.

Other highlights in the sale included U.S. coins from the Q. David Bowers, Highland, Dr. Gutfreund, Desh Family and other collections.

An 1884-S Morgan dollar, a condition rarity, offered in a PCGS MS-63+ holder and bearing a CAC sticker, realized $99,875.

A 1795 half dime in a green-label MS-65 PCGS holder, also verified by CAC, realized $58,750.

Bringing $55,812.50 was an 1851 Humbert $50 “slug,” graded AU-50 by NGC and CAC stickered.

The paper money sessions in the Baltimore auction sessions were anchored by the Peter Mayer Collection and the Holecek Family Foundation Collection.

Top price here was $258,500 for a PMG Choice New-64 EPQ 1934 $5,000 Federal Reserve Note.

Close behind was a 1934 $10,000 Federal Reserve Note in like grade that sold for $223,250.

“The notes in this sale, the largest by lot count we have offered, brought in many serious bidders. The prices realized reflect this,” said Peter Treglia, director of currency for Stack’s Bowers.

To obtain the full list of prices realized, visit

Coming up in May is the auction of the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part I, called by Stack’s Bowers in conjunction with Sotheby’s.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express.
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