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Entire Collection of California Fractional Gold to be Sold

Lot 3030: The California gold Defiant Eagle 25 cents. 

Lot 3030: The California gold Defiant Eagle 25 cents. 

On March 11, Kagin’s will sell the entire collection of William C. O’Connor (1927-2009, ANA 90358), a noted specialist in Period One California fractional gold coins. He formed a close second to the most-complete collection of Period One California Fractional Gold, with 124 out of 142 possible varieties – including three recognized as Unique, according to Kagin’s. This auction will be held in the San Francisco Bay area due to the cancellation of the National Money Show.

Other rarities to be called include the Defiant Eagle 25 cents of 1854, the Arms of California half dollar of 1853, four round dollars (plus a round dollar of 1871) and seven different G.G. pieces.

Every coin has been attributed to the Breen-Gillio catalog, California Pioneer Fractional Gold, Second Edition, by both type number and die state. Because the collection is so complete, extensive notes on die variety and manufacturer have been included, making the catalog a lasting reference.

More information about the auction can be found on Kagin’s website, Every lot will be sold without reserve.

O’Connor took up this fascinating series in the mid-1970s, joining the ANA in 1976. He was most active from then through the early 1990s but was still adding to his collection in 2003. He spent many weekends traveling to coin shows in the Midwest, searching for new varieties, but also bought from leading dealers and bid in major auctions by telephone. He loaned pieces missing in the first edition of Breen-Gillio for photography; they are plate coins in the second edition. He also read the manuscript for Period One (1852-1857) for this edition, making important comments.

It seems as though about a decade or so passes between auctions of great lifetime collections in this series: in 1988, it was the Kenneth Lee Collection; in 2003, the Jay Roe Collection; in 2013, the Jack Totheroh Collection; and now, on March 11, 2021, the William C. O’Connor collection. Specialists should take note.