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1849-C Open Wreath Gold Dollar at ANA
Seldom Seen Selections: 1818 Half Real Jola
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Is It Time To Sell? 2006 June Long Beach Signature Auction
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Collector News
1849-C Open Wreath Gold Dollar at ANA
It is with great pleasure that Heritage has been selected to auction this famous rarity, an issue that is by far the rarest coin struck in the Charlotte Mint. The 1849-C Open Wreath is truly the "King of Southern Gold Coins" and is without peer in this category. In terms of rarity, few major variety coins can boast a surviving known population of just 5 pieces. Of this tiny group, two examples have been sold in the past four years at auction; the finest is the recently reported NGC MS63 Prooflike example that was sold by David Lawrence Rare Coins in their Richmond I Auction in July of 2004 for $690,000. It was later sold by Heritage Rare Coin Galleries/Steve Contursi for a sum that is reportedly close to $1 million. This coin was apparently purchased privately over the counter some decades ago by a New York gold specialty firm and placed in a major collection where it remained quietly tucked away and unreported until widely publicized in the Richmond I Auction. The other recent appearance is an NGC Fine 15 coin that we sold in our 2003 FUN Auction for $97,750.

How did the gold dollar come about? Originally proposed by Alexander Hamilton in 1791, the gold dollar was an integral part of his coinage scheme. However, the silver dollar ended up being the coin of choice for the initial American coinage starting in 1794. Because market conditions were always changing between the relative value of gold and silver, the silver dollar ceased coinage in 1803 (although a few more were reportedly coined until 1805, but these are believed to be dated 1803).

The discovery of gold in Rutherford County, North Carolina induced Christoph Bechtler to begin coinage of a gold dollar in 1831, as the remoteness of the North Carolina mines precluded safe shipment to Philadelphia of gold bullion for coinage. Recall that the Philadelphia Mint was the only operational Federal Mint at that time. Curiously too, is the fact that Bechtler's mine was one of the most productive and richest gold mines in America at that time. Bechtler did what any true American would do, he coined his own gold into dollars and other denominations which were widely accepted in that region. This competition did not go unnoticed by the Philadelphia Mint. By 1835, plans were hatched to open new federal branch mints in both Charlotte, North Carolina and Dahlonega, Georgia, both of which opened in 1838.

Gold was discovered in California in 1848, and by 1849 large quantities were being shipped to the Eastern mints for coinage. Silver coins were in great demand, and they increased in value when compared to gold because of the flood of gold coming from California. Representative James Iver McKay from North Carolina introduced a bill on January 25, 1849 to authorize coinage of a gold dollar. It was later amended to include a twenty dollar gold coin. Patterson again opposed this legislation. At that time, America had suffered from high unemployment, a lack of silver coins in circulation, and abundant wildcat banknote scrip, often of little value and accepted at a discount to face value at best. Congress had to do something, and they did. Congress passed McKay's coinage bill and it became law on March 3, 1849.

Mint Engraver James Barton Longacre designed the new gold dollar in early 1849. The initial design had the reverse wreath top ends well apart from the large 1 in the denomination, and these became known as the "Open Wreath" variety. As the Philadelphia Mint was in charge of producing dies, each of the branch mints were sent Open Wreath dies to begin coinage. Therefore, Open Wreath reverse dies were used in Philadelphia and sent to Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans. It is known that the master hubs were first prepared using the Open Wreath reverse, as well as proofs and the initial coins struck on May 8, 1849. For some still unknown reason, Longacre then changed the master hubs by adding a cluster of leaves and a pair of berries to the end of the existing branches, thus creating the "Closed Wreath" reverse from dies made with this altered hub. Again, the facts behind this are currently lost to history unless future research discovers some evidence. But what we do know is that the Philadelphia Mint and the Charlotte Mint both produced Closed Wreath gold dollars in 1849 too. Apparently new Closed Wreath dies were shipped to the Charlotte Mint but not to the New Orleans or the Dahlonega Mints. Either that or the new Closed Wreath dies were not used for coinage by these other two mints in 1849. The Charlotte Mint apparently received the new Closed Wreath dies for gold dollars and used the new dies for virtually their entire production of 11,634 gold dollars that year. The Philadelphia Mint produced Open Wreath and Closed Wreath gold dollars in roughly equal numbers.

Comparable rarities to the 1849-C Open Wreath include the 1822 half eagle (three known, two in the Smithsonian), the 1854-S half eagle (also with three known, one of which is in the Smithsonian), and the 1913 Liberty nickel (five known, two of which are impounded in museums). Without a doubt, the 1849-C Open Wreath gold dollar is one of the rarest American coins struck for circulation. It is a major type variety that has been listed in the Guide Book for many years, and as such is desired by a tremendous number of numismatists. Further demand comes from gold dollar date collectors, and the dozens of collectors who seek complete collections from the Charlotte Mint. Without obtaining an 1849-C Open Wreath, no specialized branch mint or Guide Book collection can be considered complete. This issue is so rare that even Harry Bass failed to obtain an example, in addition to Louis Eliasberg and Norweb. The list of numismatists who have owned an example of this coin is far shorter than the list of famous numismatists who lacked a specimen. This is one of the most important rarities in this sale, and perhaps of the entire year to cross the auction block. It is an American classic in every sense of the word.

The known specimens include the following, courtesy of www.coinfacts.com:

  1. NGC MS63 Prooflike. Finest Known. Ex: over the counter New York coin firm, circa 1970s; private collection; Richmond Collection Part I (David Lawrence Rare Coins, July 2004), lot 1005, where it brought $690,000; Heritage Rare Coin Galleries/Martin Paul/Steve Contursi (Rare Coin Wholesalers) in 2005 to a private collection for a sum reportedly close to $1 million.
  2. PCGS AU58. The Present Specimen. Ex: Waldo Newcomer Collection; The Beldon Roach Collection (B. Max Mehl, February 1944), lot 1083; Charles Williams Collection; Robert Schermerhorn Collection; 1956 ANA Sale (James Kelly, August 1956), lot 1571; unknown collection; Midwestern Collection; Auction '79 (Stack's session, July 1979), lot 749 at $90,000; New England Rare Coin Galleries; private collection; FUN Sale (New England Rare Coin Auctions, January 1982) lot 1350; Southern Collection; Kevin Lipton; Winthrop Carner; North Georgia Collection; FUN Auction (Heritage, January 1999), lot 7722; Doug Winter; James Blanchard & Co.; private collection. This is the discovery coin for the 1849-C Open Wreath that was reported by Waldo Newcomer prior to 1933. The present specimen is the plate coin for Doug Winter's book on Charlotte gold.
  3. PCGS AU58 (upgraded from PCGS AU55). Ex: New Netherlands Coin Company, privately. Breen said this coin went to a "Texas Specialist" in his Encyclopedia This was Breen's reference to Harry Bass, however, Bass never owned an example of this issue. In addition, the "Dallas Bank" collection (another significant Texas collection) also did not have an example. This piece has never been auctioned publicly. Noted expert Doug Winter calls into question the existence of this coin and believes it may be a clerical error by PCGS and no such coin exists. We leave it in Census pending confirmation or denial of its existence.
  4. NGC XF45. Private collection via Jefferson Coin and Bullion, ca. 2003. This is possibly the coin once owned by a Delaware collector and sold by New England Rare Coins in 1979.
  5. NGC Fine 15. This coin has numerous scratches in the center of the reverse and shows traces of an old mounting on the right side. "McReynolds" (before 1956); Leo Young; Charles Southwick; GENA Sale (Pine Tree Auctions, September 1974), lot 1952, at $35,000; Elrod Collection (Stack's, May 1986), lot 1330; California Collection (obtained via private treaty from Winthrop Carner for a reported $150,000); Heritage Rare Coin Galleries (1997); William Miller Collection; Long Beach Sale (Heritage, February 1999), lot 6086, where it failed to meet the reserve; FUN 2000 Sale (Heritage, January 2000) lot 7549, where it realized $86,250; Ashland City Collection (Heritage, January 2003), lot 4607, where it sold for $97,750; North Carolina collection via Doug Winter.

This particular coin displays the diagnostic weakness on the obverse star on the left side of the rim across from Liberty's nose. The obverse appears slightly concave, and the portrait has a medallic quality that gives a three-dimensional appearance to Liberty's head. The obverse dentils are slightly weak on the left, a common occurrence on early Charlotte Mint gold dollars. On the reverse the strike is not as sharp as that seen on the obverse, with some softness found on the 84 in the date, not unexpected as these digits are directly opposite Liberty's head. Importantly, the C mintmark is sharp, as are the leaves, legend, and denomination.

Breen and Winter note several diagnostic features that are present on all known examples of this issue. The weak star opposite Liberty's nose has a short right point, the leaf below the 1 in the date is hollow, and the leaf below the 9 shows a partially detached tip. (These last two features are likely caused by die polishing to prepare the dies for the initial coinage). The ribbons are also incomplete and there is a tiny die file mark above RI in AMERICA, again diagnostic features seen on all known examples. The color ranges from the usual bright yellow-gold with a dash of the greenish cast seen on most Charlotte gold of the period. Examination of the surfaces shows virtually no evidence of circulation and the trace of wear is limited to the highest design elements. The coin has a pleasing appearance and were this a more common gold dollar most collectors would find its charming color, luster, and surfaces perfectly suited to their tastes.

This coin and the rest of the Atlanta ANA Signature Auction is now available for viewing and bidding at HeritageAuctions.com/Coins.

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Seldom Seen Selections: 1818 Half Real Jola

The history of Texas is long and storied. Alonso Alvarez de Pineda mapped the coastline of the land that would become Texas as early as 1519, and after that for many years the land was claimed at one time or another by both the Spanish and the French. 1682 saw the establishment of the first Spanish Mission, near present-day El Paso, and almost two hundred years after de Pineda's voyage, the San Antonio de Valera Mission, whose chapel was named The Alamo was built in 1718.

By 1813, Moses Austin and his son, Stephen, were granted permission by the Spanish government to establish a colony of Anglo-Americans in Texas, and in March of 1817, at the order of Lt. Col. Manuel Prado in what is now San Antonio, the first coins of the new land were struck.

Prado authorized that some 8,000 coins be struck in 1817. None of these pieces are known to exist today. If any did turn up, they would have the 1817 date as well as the initials of Manuel Barrera, a local merchant and jeweler who apparently struck the coins. The few coins that are known bear the 1818 date and the initials of Jose Antonio de la Garza (JAG), the local postmaster to whom was granted the coining monopoly on December 6, 1818. The denomination (1/2) is sideways between JAG and the date, and the reverse has what may be the first appearance of the Lone Star to represent Texas.

Very few jolas are known to exist today. There are probably fewer than 100 in all grades, most of which came from a hoard of about 60 pieces discovered on the banks of the San Antonio River in 1959. Almost all of the known examples show some degree of corrosion from having been buried for 150 years. This particular example is a well centered coin with even brown patina and moderately corroded surfaces. The only striking deficiency is weakness on the second 8 in the date.

The Texas jola is an issue that, if we can borrow a term from the music industry, has great crossover potential. It appeals to U.S. colonial coin collectors, collectors of Mexican numismatics, or Spanish colonial issues, as well Texas numismatists no matter what their numismatic specialty. This offering represents a rare opportunity to acquire this important colonial coin.

Heritage Auction Galleries will offer the 1818 New Spain (Texas) Jola Half Real, Large Planchet XF40 NGC in our upcoming Signature Auction, to be held April 26-29, 2006 as the official auctioneer of the Central States Numismatic Society's 2006 Convention, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, located at 400 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio. This coin bears a pre-auction estimate of $20,000 - $30,000.

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Website Tips: Heritage Currency

By now, you've probably noticed that the Heritage Coin and Currency websites have been separated. Although you will no longer see currency auctions side by side with coin auctions on the www.HeritageAuctions.com/Coins, it is still easy to travel between the two websites.






Near the top of most Heritage Coins web pages, there is a link entitled "Looking for Currency". Click on this link to go directly to our new Currency website, www.HeritageAuctions.com/Currency. In addition, there is a Rare Currency icon on the left side of the home page which will have the same effect

Of course, from any page on any Heritage site, you can always go to the banner at the very top. Click on the links there to examine any Heritage venue!

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Numismatic Glossary:

Assay: To test the fineness of a precious metal. This is often done at Assay Offices, which have been known to double as mints on occasion.

Logotype: A punch used on coinage dies to add words or portions of a date. Used on US coinage from roughly 1830 to the beginning of the 20th century.

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Announcements

Help Wanted: Numismatist

Heritage Auction Galleries, Dallas, Texas is seeking a talented numismatist for our sales department. Duties include assisting dealers and collectors and auction consignors in person and by telephone, evaluating prospective purchases, in Dallas and shows and conventions. Salary commensurate with numismatic skills and sales experience.

Please contact Paul Minshull at Paul@HeritageAuctions.com with your background and experience.

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Help Wanted: Information Technology

Heritage Auction Galleries is looking to fill two key positions in our Information Technology Department:

Database Administrator (DBA)

The Database Administrator will be responsible for all aspects of our databases. He/she will develop database standards and strategies to meet all business requirements in a very fluid and dynamic real-time environment.

Some of the key initiatives include architecting and developing large scale, high transaction, high volume databases, performance tuning, writing and tuning store procedures, and performing backup and recovery activities.

Applications Developer - Accounting

The developer will work closely with users in the development and enhancement of internal and web-based applications focused primarily on accounting programs and reporting. This position will be responsible for supporting requests, releases, enhancements, and new development for applications and reports surrounding our accounting applications. Provide routine application and data maintenance support. Respond to requests and enhancement requests which include modeling, analyzing, designing, prototyping, constructing, testing, implementing, and maintaining applications.

Please e-mail cover letter and resume to ITJobs@HeritageAuctions.com.

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Around Heritage Auctions

Incredible Zap Archives May Re-Write the History of Underground Comix!
Publisher's Document Collection to be Auctioned in May

While it may or may not have been the first Underground Comic Book ever published (there are several earlier publications in existence, such as Joel Beck's THE PROFIT that might lay claim to that title), there's no denying the overwhelming historical importance of ZAP COMIX #1. Printed in 1968 and sold by hand on the streets of San Francisco, this book single-handedly launched the career of cartoonist Robert Crumb, whose work would soon become legendary, and kick-started the Underground comix genre, the effects of which are still being felt today.

"With this lot being offered in our current auction, the history of Underground Comix may have to be rewritten," said Ed Jaster, Vice-President of Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries. "From the archives of Don Donahue, Apex Novelties founder and printer of the second edition copies of ZAP COMIX #1, comes this incredible treasure trove of information, receipts, notes, etc. from the halcyon days of the Underground Comix scene, circa 1968."

"Incredibly, Donahue traded Charles Plymell a tape recorder, valued at the time at about $200, for the offset printing press Plymell used to print the first copies of ZAP COMIX #1," Jaster said. "The story that circulated for years was that Robert and his first wife, Dana, took the freshly-printed copies of ZAP #1 from Plymell and hawked them on the streets of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district from a baby carriage. We now know this is only partially true; it was actually Don Donahue, not Crumb, who was there with Dana. In fact, this lot includes the cash envelope from that day, with sales totals for Dana ($5.50), Don ($3.00 - slacker!) and Mimi, a friend of Dana's ($12.00), dated 2/25/68."

"Also included in this historic lot is a photo of Donahue at his press, his receipts from various dealers for stacks of ZAP #1, and copies of letters, photos, and a Jack Jackson eight-page comic story about the early days of Donahue's flat-mates, Rip Off Press (they all shared a loft in an old, condemned opera house in a bad part of town). Find out the costs of printing the second edition of ZAP, and the share of the profits paid to Crumb - an amount far too little to mention here, for fear of embarrassing the artist at this late date.

"This is a truly important archive collection," said Jaster, "whose importance in documenting the early days of the Underground Comix movement cannot be overstated. Rarely is one afforded a glimpse 'behind the scenes' at the origins of such a significant social and artistic revolution as this, and the opportunity to possess these important documents may well be a once-in-a-lifetime event."

The Zap Comix #1 Publishing Archive Material will be featured in Heritage's upcoming Comics Signature Auction, to be held May 11-13, 2006 in Dallas, Texas. For more information, please visit www.HeritageAuctions.com/Comics.

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Coin Club Outreach Program

In a move to help strengthen the coin hobby and increase membership in America's coin clubs, Heritage has created the Coin Club Outreach program.

The Coin Club Outreach program features a speaker's bureau to deliver presentations at coin club meetings, promotional items to be offered to clubs to help generate revenue and enlist new members, and access to the Heritage website and mailing list of over 150,000 active coin and currency enthusiasts. Anyone interested in scheduling a speaker for a coin club or other collector group is invited to contact:

David Lisot, Director
Heritage Coin Club Outreach
DavidL@HeritageAuctions.com
1-800-872-6467 ext. 303

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Heritage Interactive
Instant Quiz

NEW: Instant quizzes and polls twice a week at www.HeritageAuctions.com/Coins!

Answer these quick questions and see how you stack up against your peers.

1. On which of the following coins would one look for cinquefoils?
       1793 Chain Cent
       Clark, Gruber & Co. Double Eagle
       Connecticut Copper
       Fugio Cent
       New Jersey Copper


2. What is the denomination of the coin in the Pan and Zoom closeup?

       $1
       $2.50
       $5
       $10
       $20



Last week's questions:

1. Which of the following key dates has the highest mintage?

Correct Answer: 1909-S VDB Cent (70%).

2. Where was the coin pictured in this Pan and Zoom closeup minted?

Correct Answer: Bolivia (44%). The monogrammed mintmark stands for San Luis Potosi.

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Is It Time To Sell?

Hit the Beach With Heritage Signature Auctions

When the time comes to sell your valued collection, you want to select a venue that promises to maximize viewing and participation. Consigning to Heritage's Long Beach Signature Auctions brings you these advantages and more, bringing the strong collector base of Southern California, Internet participation from around the world, and a smoking hot coin market to your coins.

The eyes of the numismatic world will be on Long Beach, and you can take full advantage! You couldn't ask for a better market, nor a finer opportunity. Call our consignor hotline at 1-800-872-6467, x222, and consign to one of Heritage's Long Beach Signature Auctions today!

2006 June Long Beach Signature Auction
Sale on May 31 to June 3, 2006
Consignment Deadline: April 20, 2006

2006 (HWCA) June Long Beach Signature Auction
Sale on June 1 to June 2, 2006
Consignment Deadline: April 12, 2006

Leo Frese
Director of Consignments
Leo@HeritageAuctions.com
1-800-US-COINS ext. 222 (24 hour voice mail)

Interested in Selling?
What's My Coin Worth?
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Consign to a Heritage Auction

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