May 13, 2005
This Week In Coin & Currency News
Central States Signature Auctions Realize Over $24 Million!
Seldom Seen Selections: 1838-O Half Dollar
Website tips: Heritage MyCollectionTM Value Passes $2 Billion!
Numismatic Glossary
Summer Interns Wanted!
Coin Club Outreach Program
Instant Quiz: Test your numismatic knowledge
Is It Time To Sell? 2005 San Francisco, CA (ANA) Signature Auction
Current Auctions: 2005 June Long Beach Signature Auction, Exclusively Internet Auction, Continuous Internet Auction, Internet Currency Auction, Amazing Sports Auction, Internet Movie Poster Auction, Amazing Comics Auction
Weekly Specials: Don't miss out on a great deal

Collector News
Central States Signature Auctions Realize Over $24 Million!

Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc. (HNAI) and Heritage Currency Auctions of America (CAA) held our latest Signature auctions on May 4-7, in St. Louis, Missouri. Our HNAI Signature Auction, featuring US coin rarities, brought consignors in excess of $15.5 million, including post-auction sales. Paper money rarities in the Heritage-CAA Signature Auction Realized over $8.3 million. And our Bullet Auction, with viewing on site in St. Louis and bidding over the Internet at, brought in over $1.1 million.

The strength of these auctions was the featured collections. The Tom Mershon #2 All-Time Registry Collection of Lincoln Wheat Cents, Realized over $1.1 million, an ample reward to Mr. Mershon for offering the finest collection of Lincoln Cents to ever be auctioned.

Highlights of the Tom Mershon Collection included:

The Central States Signature Auction also included the fourth part of the Richard J. Chouinard Collection, the Tim Cook Registry Collection of Liberty Seated Dimes, the Gary Kramer Registry Collection of Washington Quarters, the Milwaukee Shore Collection of Morgan Dollars, and Part Four of the Larry Rausch Collection of significant nineteenth and twentieth century error coins.

Additional highlights included:

The Currency Signature Auction featured the Type Note Collection of Jim O'Neal, the retired former president and chief executive officer of Frito-Lay. The collection of 194 lots, which was offered entirely unreserved, sold for nearly $4.3 million.

This collection, assembled during more than a decade of searching, was replete with rarities, several of which were unique and others that were the finest known examples of their type. The collection was astounding, in that it offered at least one example of virtually every major design type listed in the Friedberg catalogue.

When asked to comment, O'Neal said, "Saturday night's auction was an exciting and very rewarding event, from both a monetary and psychological standpoint. It was a real testament to the whole Heritage team. The room was electric with a high level of energy. I was hoping for $3 million and my notes brought $4.3 million, so obviously, I'm very pleased with Heritage's marketing efforts. I could not be happier with the entire process."

Highlights of the Jim O'Neal Collection included:

The Tom O'Mara Collection of Fractional Currency was also a standout, realizing nearly $1.1 million. We were very pleased to see CAA reclaim the record price for a Fractional Currency note when lot 16007, the Fr. 1255a from the Tom O'Mara collection realized $138,000.

Other highlights from the Tom O'Mara collection included:

This auction, with its total of over $8.3 million, was the second largest currency auction ever. The largest was our Taylor Family sale in February at nearly $12 million, and the third was our 2005 FUN sale at $6.7 million. CAA has held the three largest currency auctions ever, all back to back, in the first six months of this year.

Other highlights included:

"These were another in a string of very exciting, very successful auctions," said Greg Rohan, President of HNAI. "2005 is already looking to be our best year ever."

Images, descriptions, and prices Realized from all of Heritage's previous sales are available in the Permanent Auction Archives at the Heritage website,

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Seldom Seen Selections: 1838-O Half Dollar

One of the rarest American branch mint proof coins, the 1838-O Half Dollar minted in New Orleans, is being featured in our Long Beach Signature Auction, June 2-3, 2005 in Long Beach, California. This is the Official Auction of the Long Beach Coin Expo.

Among our 3,000-plus Long Beach lots, we have many wonderful rarities, but none quite as impressive as two of the great classic American rarities: the 1838-O Half Dollar, Capped Bust with Reeded Edge, and certified as PR64 by PCGS, and a 1794 Silver Dollar certified as MS61 by NGC. The exact number of surviving examples is not specifically known, but it is generally believe to be in the vicinity of a dozen different coins, approximately the same number as the '94-S Dime and the '70-S Dollar. This 1838-O Half Dollar is one of the finest extant; none have been graded higher by either PCGS or NGC.

The New Orleans Mint had not been long in operation when this great rarity was struck. The Mint had been established by legislation dated March 3, 1835, along with branch mints in Charlotte and Dahlonega. The original Mint Act specified that the New Orleans branch was to strike "coinage of gold and silver," and to that end, for "purchasing sites, erecting suitable buildings, and completing the necessary combinations of machinery," $200,000 was appropriated. The legislation further stipulated that the Superintendent of the New Orleans Mint was to receive a salary of $2,500."

The New Orleans Mint was ready for operations by 1838, but there were considerable problems with press breakage, and it is generally accepted that only half dimes and dimes were struck during 1838 ? with some thought that even the half dimes took through 1839. Although half dollar dies were received in New Orleans during 1838, the 1838-O half dollars weren't actually minted until early 1839. Walter Breen suggested that the halves were coined in January, while R.W. Julian believed that they were not minted until March. In either case, there is 19th century evidence that the total production mintage was limited to approximately 20 coins: a handwritten note stating that Rufus Tyler, Coiner of the New Orleans branch mint, struck "not more than 20 pieces." It is known that the 1838-O obverse dies were defaced in June 1839, limiting the time of production to no later than that month.

Considering the problems that the New Orleans coiners were having, there is some logic to the suggestion that the coins were produced to test the set-up of the press for larger coins. Dies for 1839 Half Dollars had already been received, but it makes sense that Rufus Tyler used the earlier dated dies to test the new press, for fear of breaking the newer 1839 dies. Coinage of the 1839-O half dollars began in early April, thus accounting for Julian's belief that the 1838-O half dollars were coined in March.

This 1838-O Branch Mint proof is known as the Baldenhofer Specimen, and its illustrious pedigree includes: Col. E.H.R. Green; W.G. Baldenhofer (Stack's, 11/1955), lot 708; Robert Pelletreau (Stack's, 3/1959), lot 782; Jerome L. Cohen; Lester Merkin; Q. David Bowers; Charles Jay (Stack's, 10/1967), lot 181; Dr. E. Yale Clarke (Stack's, 10/1975), lot 253; Julian Leidman; NASCA (Bryan Collection, 11/1977), lot 708; Julian Leidman; Paramount (Auction '82), lot 1689; unknown. It has been certified by PCGS as PR64 BM, with the "BM" designation for "Branch Mint."

This half dollar issue ranks among the most famous of all American coinage rarities. Its inclusion in a collection enshrines the owner among the highest ranks of American numismatics.

This lot is open for bidding at

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Website tips: Heritage MyCollectionTM Value Passes $2 Billion!

Heritage is pleased to announce that the total value of coins listed with our free MyCollectionTM feature is over $2 Billion. 42,300 users are now listing over 1.5 Million Coins.

"$2 billion represents the value of all the coins listed by our clients using free online MyCollection software, based on Numismedia wholesale values. And it really shows the incredible growth of our collector base over the past few years," said Jim Halperin, Co-Chairman of Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc. (HNAI). "In fact, just one year ago, the total value listed was under $600 million, and its user base was barely 16,000!"

MyCollection is a special feature of the website available to all of Heritage's over 145,000 registered numismatic bidder-members. Collectors can list their coins in an easy-to-use, secure and confidential database, and instantly obtain population data, current market values, past auction results, and much, much more about each piece in their collection. Demand ratings show how many fellow numismatists are looking for a particular coin, and a convenient 'Sell Now' option allows members to contact Heritage should they want to liquidate one piece or a whole group of coins. They can even add their own descriptions and photos, and can customize the database to display and list their coins in whatever fashion they chose. Best of all, membership and the feature itself are both totally free!

"We debuted MyCollection on December 22, 2000," Halperin added, "and the overwhelming response to the software has exceeded our highest expectations. Our business philosophy centers on more transparency, and in giving our clients the tools that allow them to research their collections just like experts do. More than anything else Heritage offers, we believe it's that philosophy to which collectors have responded so enthusiastically."

For more information regarding MyCollection, and the many other collector-friendly features available on the Heritage Website, please visit, a free on-line community of over 145,000 numismatists.

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Numismatic Glossary:

Fantasy: A coin struck within the Mint, but without authorization. Many of our best-known rarities are fantasies, such as the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel

A few readers sent along responses to Bob Korver's article about pet names for coin types. Here are some highlights:

SLaQers: Standing Liberty Quarters
Bra Buster: Any Bust type coin
Bare Breasted Amazon: Type 1 Standing Liberty Quarter
Bike: Bicentennial Eisenhower Dollar

Bob, who has always thought that the Two Cent Piece needs a new name, adds "Tuppent" for that denomination. He also points out that the "Bra Buster" term above brings an entirely new meaning to the venerable CC Dollar.

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Summer Interns Wanted!

Heritage Rare Coin Galleries and Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc. are now accepting applications for interns for next summer. Here's your chance to work for the world's largest Rare Coin Dealer. If you are at least 18 years old, attending school and have a good background in numismatics, then join us in Dallas for the summer! Contact with an informal resume of your experience and any accomplishments in numismatics.

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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 100,000 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
1-800-872-6467 ext. 303

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Heritage Interactive
Instant Quiz

NEW: Instant quizzes and polls twice a week at!

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

1. Which of the following has the highest mintage?
1891 Liberty Seated Half Dollar
1892 Barber Half Dollar
1892-O Barber Half Dollar
1892-S Barber Half Dollar
1892 Columbian Exposition Half Dollar

2. What is the date of the coin is pictured in this Pan and Zoom closeup?


Last week's questions:

1. Which of the following coins is not a circulating counterfeit?
Correct Answer: 1922 (Plain) Cent (56%) Although no cents were minted in Philadelphia in 1922, this is a genuine coin, minted in Denver from worn dies..

2. Which coin is pictured in this Pan and Zoom closeup?

Correct Answer: Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial Half Dollar (39%).

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Is It Time To Sell?

A Second California Gold Rush

The American Numismatic Association, the world's largest numismatic organization, is bringing its annual convention to San Francisco this July! Heritage has once again been selected as the official auctioneer, making this Heritage's 33rd selection as the Official Auctioneer of the ANA.

We expect to see hundreds of records established at the 2005 ANA. In this sizzling market, with the ANA audience competing against our 140,000+ registered Internet bidder-members, only Heritage reaches every part of this hot market. Take advantage of our marketing strengths and Internet leadership by consigning today, and maximize your audience and your proceeds!

Millions of dollars of consignments are already on hand, so you know that the attention of the numismatic world will be focused on Heritage's San Francisco ANA Signature Auction. When the time comes to sell your coins and currency, you want to choose the one firm that attracts the most bidders and the highest prices - Heritage. Why would you want to sell your coins and currency anywhere else?

The June 16th deadline is quickly approaching, so act quickly. Call our consignor hotline at 1-800-872-6467, extension 222, today!

2005 San Francisco, CA (ANA) Signature Auction
Sale on July 27 to July 30, 2005
Consignment Deadline: June 16, 2005

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

Interested in Selling?
What's My Coin Worth?
Get the Most Money for Your Collection
Consign to a Heritage Auction

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Current Auctions


Rare Coins
Closes Tue. May 17
at 10:00 PM
View Lots
Rare Coins
Closes Sun. May 15
from noon to 10:00 PM
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Rare Currency
Closes Sun. May 15
at 10:00 PM
View Lots

Rare Coins
Location: Long Beach, CA
Auction: 2005 June Long Beach Signature Auction
Auction Dates: June 2 - 3, 2005
Note: Internet Absentee Bidding Ends at 10 PM CT the night before the floor session of any particular lot.
Browse Lots by Category
Sports cards, autographs, collectibles, and more...
Closes Sunday, May 29, 2005 at 10:00 PM
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Movie posters, lobby cards and more...
Closes Sunday, May 15, 2005 at 10:00 PM
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Comics, comic art and more...
Closes Sunday, May 15, 2005 at 10:00 PM
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