|The Dr. John L. Pellegrini
Collection of Liberty Seated Dollars
Dr. John Pellegrini finished his surgery residency at Brown
University and Harvard University in 1978, and he immediately began
a rural surgery practice in Whitesburg, Kentucky. His interest in
American coins - particularly silver dollars - was fueled by two
Whitesburg coin dealers, Eric Patterson and "Dude" Wells.
Eventually, Dr. Pellegrini finished complete sets of Morgan and
Peace dollars in Mint State, and was looking for new
Neighbor (and long-time Liberty Seated half dollar collector)
Jim Bailey suggested that a complete set of Liberty Seated dollars
in Mint State would be a worthy challenge. It took Dr. Pellegrini
two decades to accomplish this task, lacking only the extremely
rare 1870-S. Working with noted Seated specialist Eric Patterson,
Dr. Pellegrini twice bid on the James Stack 1870-S, and he has held
the Ostheimer dollar in his hand but passed on the purchase. He
sent Mr. Patterson after the Norweb coin without success, and was
also the underbidder on the Eliasberg specimen. The last time a
possible Mint State 1870-S was sold, Dr. Pellegrini watched as the
coin brought well over one million dollars in a New York auction.
Deciding that an affordable Mint State 1870-S was unlikely to
appear on the market in his lifetime, Dr. Pellegrini decided to
According to Mr. Patterson, who has been dealing in rare coins
since 1969, "I was honored to help Dr. Pellegrini complete his
collection of Liberty Seated dollars in Mint State and Proof. This
set is one of the better collections to ever be acquired, certainly
rating in the top handful ever completed. Time, hard work, luck,
resources, a fine eye, and dedication are all necessary in such a
prodigious accomplishment." We couldn?t agree more.
Among the many highlights of the Pellegrini Collection are:
The San Francisco ANA Signature Auction is open for Internet
bidding now at www.HeritageCoins.com.
Floor sessions will take place on July 27-29 in San Francisco.
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Seldom Seen Selections: The
First Struck 1915 Panama-Pacific Set
Heritage is proud to present
the very first 1915 Panama-Pacific Commemorative Coin Set
struck as a part of Platinum Night in our San Francisco ANA
Signature Auction. This is the most famous set of these coins, and
the present auction appearance is the first time this set has ever
been offered for public competition.
Each of the first coins struck from the dies of the half dollar,
gold dollar, gold quarter eagle, the round and octagonal fifty
dollar coins were gathered together and presented to Charles C.
Moore, the president of the Exposition. The first octagonal gold
coin was struck by Mint Superintendent T. W. H. Shanahan himself.
All of the #1 or first strike specimens were placed in a special
gold presentation case by Shreve & Co. This set is photographed
in Silver & Gold Commemorative Coins 1892 to 1954 by Anthony
Swiatek and Walter Breen. Without a doubt, this set is one of the
most historic and important of all commemorative issues and will
certainly become the highlight of any advanced collection.
The 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition celebrated the opening of the
Panama Canal on August 15, 1914. In addition, the celebration
commemorated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific
Ocean by Balboa. Competition to host the fair was intense among
cities, with President Taft announcing that San Francisco was
selected in 1911. San Francisco was still recovering from the
devastating earthquake and fire of 1906, and this international
event helped provide employment and restore much civic pride to a
city which had literally been knocked to its knees.
The site chosen for the Exposition is the current Marina
District, which in 1911 was a mud flat. In all, 635 acres of mud
were reclaimed for building sites, and construction of numerous
buildings consumed over one hundred million feet of lumber and
employed a small army of construction workers for three years.
Landscape architect John McLaren, (also the designer of Golden Gate
Park) was in charge of the exposition's landscaping, and worked
closely with the many different architects involved in the project
to ensure a harmonious appearance.
General Electric was in charge of lighting the fair, and
numerous hidden colored spotlights were employed to give the
buildings an ethereal glow in the evenings. The magical effect
changed the way fairs were illuminated from that point forward. The
Exposition proved so popular that many people returned again and
again to enjoy the many exhibits and enjoy the world cuisine that
was offered by the many countries represented.
Congress authorized the coinage for the convention on January
16, 1915, including up to 3,000 gold coins of the $50 denomination,
10,000 gold coins of $2.50 denomination, 25,000 gold coins of $1
denomination and 200,000 silver coins of the 50 cent denomination.
It is interesting to note that the authorizing act also included a
provision to allow the Secretary of the Treasury at his discretion,
to actually coin the silver half dollars at the Exposition itself
as part of the educational exhibit from the Mint. However, popular
lore to the contrary, the coins were actually struck in the San
Francisco mint on a 14-ton hydraulic press shipped from the
Philadelphia Mint expressly for the striking of the $50 coins.
The smaller denominations sold fairly well to attendees, but the
$50 gold coins were well beyond the means of most of the population
at that time. All unsold coins were to be melted after the
Exhibition closed. Congress authorized $5,000 to pay for the
coinage, providing this sum was repaid after the Exhibition closed.
Hence, the premium required above face value for these
commemorative coins, as the costs of producing them would obviously
exceed the cost of striking regular issue coins at the various
The half dollar was designed by Charles E. Barber, designer of
the Barber silver coinage, Liberty nickel, the Hawaiian coinage of
1883, Cuban coinage starting in 1915, the Isabella and Lafayette
coinage and numerous other coins, medals and commemoratives of the
period. Barber's choice for the Panama-Pacific Exposition half
dollar depicts Liberty scattering flowers from her cornucopia held
by a cherub, with the setting sun seen behind, while the reverse
shows an eagle perched on a shield with wings outstretched and
flanked by an oak (strength) and olive (peace) branch beneath the
wings. Current research suggests that George Morgan may have been
involved in the reverse of this issue.
The gold dollar was designed by Charles Keck, who also designed
the Vermont and Lynchburg Sesquicentennial Half Dollars. The
obverse depicts a laborer symbolizing the canal workers who built
the Panama Canal coupled with the reverse which shows two dolphins,
a reference to the meeting of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
through the Canal.
The quarter eagle was also designed by Charles E. Barber, in
collaboration with George Morgan, and this design employs rich
allegorical engraving. Liberty or Columbia rides sidesaddle on a
hippocampus while holding a caduceus. In can be assumed that the
horse-fish combination suggests the labor saved by shipping goods
through the new canal instead of moving them across country with
the labor of horses. Perhaps the caduceus symbolizes Col. Gorgas's
medical triumph in developing a vaccine, which greatly reduced
malaria and yellow fever epidemics. These epidemics had decimated
the canal workers and helped cause the previous canal project to
end in failure in the early 1880s. The reverse shows a stylized
eagle perched on a standard, with the denomination below.
Robert Aitken designed the fifty dollar gold pieces, one in
octagonal format, the other round. The obverse shows Liberty as
Athena, with an Athenian helmet with the date below, and surrounded
by UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and FIFTY DOLLARS. Athena was the Greek
goddess of wisdom, agriculture and such things as spinning and
weaving and was often paired with the owl on the reverse. On the
octagonal coins, small dolphins were tucked into the corners of the
obverse and reverse. A majestic owl resides on the reverse perched
on a pine branch. Owls have always been respected for wisdom and
watchfulness, characteristics needed with a war unfolding through
much of Europe. Aitken is also credited with designs of the
Missouri and San Diego Half Dollars.
These were struck beginning on June 15, 1915 at a ceremony using
the large medal coining press required to bring up the design
elements. Few of the fifty dollar gold coins were sold, as the
issue price of $100 per coin was far more than most people could
afford. The attendees to the Exposition could stay in local hotels
for about $1 a day, and eat for another $1 a day. With incidentals
such as tickets and fees, a single person could attend the
Exposition for about $20 a week.
Collectors should note that when these coins were designed and
struck, much of the Western hemisphere was embroiled in World War
I. America had carefully avoided the conflict at the time these
were coined, but that would change in 1917. The Great War had a
voracious appetite and America stepped up to fill that plate with
armaments, gunpowder, clothing, ships, and food. The new canal
boosted shipping by shaving 18,000 miles off the voyage from New
York to San Francisco, and eliminated the very dangerous passage
through the Straits of Magellan. Goods of all sizes could now move
from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean via the Panama Canal, taking
days off that voyage and saving weeks at sea. Furthermore, warships
could quickly move between oceans as needed.
America at that time was experiencing strong economic growth,
partly because of the war supplies being sold overseas and a
general increase in the money supply. The art and coinage of this
period reflected the beauty and inspiration of the era, with the
advent of flying, the production line of automobiles, improved
communications with the telegraph, electricity was coming to cities
and towns, all these advances were becoming more commonplace. In
fact, biplane rides were available at the Panama-Pacific
Exposition, and for a nominal fee a person could fly out over San
Francisco Bay. One can only imagine the thrill of attendees who
took the opportunity to go on such a flight. Americans had much to
be proud of during these heady days, and these ever-popular Panama
Pacific Exposition coins captured the essence of the period with
their symbolic designs and majestic proportions, especially on the
large $50 gold pieces.
The individual coins are each housed in an NGC holder labeled
"First Set Stuck," and are described as follows:
1915-S Panama-Pacific Half
Dollar. MS65 NGC. Breen-7432. Doubled S Mintmark. Although the
surfaces are not totally free of marks, and the devices are not
fully struck, this is an attractive and sharply struck example with
satiny silver luster beneath pale gold, steel, and iridescent
toning. The S mintmark is sharply doubled above, with the top curve
of the original mintmark punch nearly level with the top of the
1915-S Panama-Pacific Gold
Dollar. MS66 NGC. A splendid Gem with frosty yellow-gold luster
and rich orange patina. Much sharper than usually seen. The
mintmark punch is the same as that used years earlier for the
1909-S V.D.B. Cent.
Quarter Eagle. MS65 NGC. Like the Gold Dollar, the mintmark is
from the same 1909-S V.D.B. Cent punch with its diagnostics clearly
visible. Sharply struck with frosty and highly lustrous yellow-gold
surfaces. Considerable die polish lines are visible on both sides.
Like the Half Dollar, this is sharply struck although not fully
1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty
Dollar Round. MS64 NGC. This Choice Fifty-Dollar Gold Piece is
a splendid example of the design in the scarcer round format. The
brilliant yellow-gold surfaces are satiny and highly lustrous. Most
of the design features are sharply defined. Light die polishing
lines are visible on both sides.
1915-S Panama-Pacific Fifty
Dollar Octagonal. MS63 NGC. An attractive example of the
octagonal format Fifty, with satiny luster and brilliant
yellow-gold surfaces. Faint die polish lines are visible along with
pantograph lines from the reducing process to produce the original
Additional important items and ephemera accompany this set:
The original violet and purple
presentation case, with gilt inscription "Charles C. Moore."
The case is made of wood and covered in violet leather, gilt. The
interior is purple velvet with two 14K plaques identifying this as
the first set. The larger plague is attached to the lid in a manner
so that the case turns into an easel. It is inscribed: "Presented
to Charles C. Moore in appreciative recognition of his inestimable
services as president of the Panama-Pacific International
Exposition San Francisco 1915." Signatures of the Governor of
California, the Mayor of San Francisco, and eight members of the
Citizens Committee of San Francisco are all reproduced. The smaller
plaque is attached to the removable velvet frame with openings for
each of the five coins, and it is inscribed: "These five coins are
certified by the Director of the Mint to be the first struck in
each of their respective denominations in commemoration of the
Panama-Pacific International Exposition pursuant to the Act of
Congress Approved January 16, 1915." This exceptional and unique
case was created by Shreve & Co. of San Francisco.
1915 Florida Exposition
Fund Medal. HK-404. MS65 NGC. Although we have not seen any
documentation that this medal belongs with the set, they were all
received together. Several states, including Florida, issued "State
Fund Dollars," struck prior to the opening of the Exposition as a
fund raising device to help finance each states' exhibition. All of
these fund-raising pieces are rare today. This Gem example is
silver-plated bronze with deep steel, gold, and iridescent
Other ephemera includes: The Numismatist for August 1915,
containing photographic coverage of the first production of the $50
gold pieces, June 15, 1915 at the San Francisco Mint; The
Argentine Republic hardbound in brown cloth with important
information about this country's exhibit; View Book of the
Exposition, with text in English and Japanese; Annual Permit No. 1,
issued to Charles C. Moore, enclosed in a small black leather
wallet; Small red leather coin purse, lettered in gilt PANAMA
PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION SAN FRANCISCO 1915; and a Closing
Day Badge and Ribbon.
Pedigree: Charles C. Moore, president of the Exposition; The
Bancroft Library, Oakland, CA; Earl Parker; Robert Johnson; later,
Ronald Gillio; Larry Hanks; Dr. W.P. Stratemyer; Joseph Kuehnert;
Leon Hendrickson; Harlan White; Ronald Gillio; Elvin Unterman;
private collection, Paris, France; to the present
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Found Treasures: Matt, You Got
by Stewart Huckaby
While it is
by no means necessary to be a collector, let alone a numismatist,
to work at Heritage, most of us here appreciate some of the more
interesting things we sell. The sports guys like to wander by my
desk with some of the more interesting material they bring in, and
Doug Norwine was passing around Johnny Carson's mic a couple of
months before we sold it. No, I didn't do my imitation of either Ed
McMahon or Jack Nicholson while I was holding it.
I've mentioned my cubicle-mate here once or twice, a fellow
named Matt whom I'm trying with occasional success
to turn into a numismatist. Matt is the person who works behind the
scenes to put Heritage newsletters together into the form you are
(hopefully) reading now, and he manages to point out some of the
sillier things I write. I get even by including the occasional bad
pun in one of the articles. Matt does have the collecting bug, and
will probably be the lead cataloger as soon as Heritage holds our
first Signature Auction of Indo-Persian Weaponry in about 2028.
I have long been in the habit of bringing in some of my newer
purchases to show some of the non-collectors in the office, and
Matt usually appreciates anything with a "Cool" factor. Ancient
coins are cool (in fact, he has me looking for one for him).
Hammered coins are cool. Big, shiny silver coins are cool. Older
coins in nice shape are cool. Gold and Platinum are cool. Really
expensive coins are cool; of course, I don't own any so I'm not
likely to be wandering around with them very often. As for my MS66+
collection of Wartime Nickels - well, I guess they're a little more
of an acquired taste.
Matt will often take a peek at our auction catalogs during his
rare down times, and while he didn't respond much to the seven
pictures of slightly worn 1893-S dollars in the Platinum Night
catalog (I clearly have some work to do here!), he got to the back
of the catalog with
Part One of the Alan Bingel Collection of Gold and Silver
Ingots and promptly started drooling. To be sure, I can't blame
him; in fact, Bob Korver and I were comparing some of the anchor
collections as we were finalizing the Platinum Night catalog, and
we both loved this one. I can only imagine what kinds of treasures
will be found in the two future sales where this collection will
The one lot that impressed Matt the most was the one pictured
lot 10482, a presentation ingot to Miss Gertie O. Rugg,
possibly from the Belcher mine in Virginia City, Nevada. Rather
than being merely a large, stamped bar of a precious metal like
most ingots, this piece is engraved and has a great deal of
character to go along with significant historical significance,
hence the five different images in the catalog. The first second
Matt saw this bar, he asked me to mention something about it in
Coin and Currency News, just because it was so cool.
I'm in the habit of planning for future issues of this
newsletter as far ahead of time as I can schedule something. Some
articles are scheduled a month or two in advance, but when I have a
bit of spare time, the inclination, or a particularly good story,
I'll write about a random numismatic subject in Found Treasures.
Usually, the article will reflect something I either know or can
easily research, but unfortunately, neither of those descriptions
covers silver bars. I'm quite sure this would not surprise the
consignor, a contrarian in his collecting as well as his investing:
"I wanted to be one of the few, rather than one of the many. I
chose this singular pursuit [ingots] because few others wanted
them, and I believed they were undervalued."
So, because Matt likes this piece, it's from a great collection,
and like most numismatists I don't know the first thing about
ingots, particularly the silver ones, here we are. If you'd like to
find out more about this piece's history, please check out the
description on the website,
available here. And yes, I also think this piece is cool.
The Alan Bingel Collection of Gold and Silver Ingots, Part One
is part of the
San Francisco ANA Signature Auction, to be held July 27-29.
Future selections from Mr. Bingel's collection will be offered in
Long Beach in September, and at FUN in January.
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Website Tips: Batch
If you have already decided which lots in one of our auctions
you would like to bid on, but do not want to enter your name and
password individually for every single lot, you can use our Batch
You can batch bid from any of four places:
- MyBids, for items on which you have already placed a bid
- MyTrackedLots, for items you have tracked but on which you have
not yet placed a bid
- MyWantlistMatches, for all items that match your MyWantlist
- Any Heritage search page
From any of these pages, enter the amounts that you wish to bid
next to the items on which you wish to place bids. You may bid on
any or all of the items on the page, and each bid is considered an
individual bid. At the bottom of the page, enter your user name and
A dialog box will appear, asking you if you wish to confirm the
bids you just entered. If you wish to confirm the bids, choose
"OK". This will enter your bids.
Once you have placed the bids, the results will show up very much
as in the following example:
Here you will see the lot numbers you have bid on, the current
bid on the item after your batch bid, what your bids were, and what
the result of your bid was. In this case, the bidder placed one
successful bid, two bids that were immediately outbid by another
bidder, and one bid that was not accepted because it did not equal
or exceed the listed next bid.
Once you are on this page, you can immediately return to "My
Bids" by clicking on either the "Return to My Bids" link at the
bottom of the page or the "Show Items I'm Bidding on" link at the
top. You can also return directly to your tracked items or to your
Wantlist matches by clicking on the appropriate link.
Important: Tracked items that you have bid on will no longer
appear on the "Items I'm Tracking" page; rather, they will appear
on the "My Bids" page.
Batch bidding is intended as a labor saving aid only. Depending
on the number of bids you submit at any one time it may take a
while to transfer those bids into our system, so you should not
count on being able to snipe bids at the last minute. We make no
guarantee that your bids will be executed on time. Other bids may
be coming in during the time that your "Batch Bids" are being
processed causing you to lose to a tie bid entered before yours. We
recommend that you not use batch bidding within one hour of the
close of the auction.
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Plug: A piece of metal inserted into a coin or planchet
to fill an existing hole. If a plug is used to fill a hole in a
previously struck coin, it is considered a repair. However, some
early silver dollars and half dollars are known to have been struck
on planchets that have been plugged with silver; these coins are
numismatically fascinating and the 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar with
silver planchet brings a premium.
Acid Date: A coin treated with acid in order to allow a
date to be read, or the date on such a coin. Because their dates
wore off so easily, many Buffalo Nickels have been treated with
acid to make their dates legible. The acid allows the date to
become fully legible, if weak, but leaves an obvious residue in the
area of the date. Because this treatment is necessarily only used
on very worn coins, and because of the additional problem with acid
residue, acid date coins tend to have very little value.
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