|Largest California National
Bank Note Collection Ever Assembled
Heritage-Currency Auctions of America is proud to announce that
it has been chosen to sell the Lowell Horwedel Collection, the
largest collection of California National Bank Notes ever
assembled. Containing over 950 California Nationals, it far
surpasses any collection of California notes ever previously sold,
including such landmark offerings as the Charles Colver Collection,
which Currency Auctions of America was privileged to sell in May of
1999, and the Philip Krakover Collection, which was sold in 1990.
The Horwedel Collection is not limited to National Bank Notes
alone, as it contains almost 100 California obsolete and scrip
items, several of which are thought to be unique and many which are
considered excessively rare.
The amazing breadth of the Horwedel National Bank Note holdings
is demonstrated by its extraordinary bank and town coverage.
Spanning the entire state, from Yreka in the north to Calexico in
the south, the collection includes examples from 334 of the 374
issuing charters, and boasts specimens from 196 of the 215 issuing
locations. In fact, a comparison to the massive Colver Collection,
the previous standard of excellence in California Nationals, shows
that the Colver Collection contained just two towns that the
Horwedel Collection lacks, while the Horwedel Collection contains a
whopping 48 issuing locations missing from the Colver holdings.
With over 950 notes, it is difficult to pick out just a few
highlight items, but a few of the excessively rare towns
represented in the Horwedel Collection are Auburn, Brawley,
Campbell, Coachella, Concord, Dinuba, Huntington Park, Jamestown,
Kingsburg, La Habra, Los Banos, Monterey Park, Oxnard, Pittsburg,
Roseville, Sanger, Santa Rosa, Tropico, Walnut Creek, and Yuba
City. Many rare types are represented in the collection as well,
with an 1875 $10 First Charter, a $50 Brown Back, a $100 Brown
Back, and no fewer than seven National Gold Bank Notes.
The Horwedel Collection is valued at over $2 million and is the
anchor consignment for Heritage-CAA's first ever sale in
California. The auction will take place as the official auction in
conjunction with the always heavily attended Long Beach Coin &
Stamp Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center, with the sale
scheduled for September 9th and 10th, 2004.
Consignments are still being accepted for this major currency event
until July 23rd. For information about consigning to
this or any future Heritage-Currency Auctions of America sale, or
for more information about the Horwedel Collection, please contact
Allen Mincho at 1-800-872-6467, ext. 327 or via e-mail at Allen@HeritageCurrency.com
or Len Glazer at (800) 872-6467, ext. 390, or via e-mail at
Catalogues for this sale will soon be available and may be
ordered from Heritage-CAA, c/o Mary Mentesana, 3500 Maple Avenue,
Dallas, TX 75219.
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Seldom Seen Selections: 1878-S
Heritage Numismatic Auctions will be offering an
extremely rare 1878-S Half Dollar in its official ANA Signature
Auction taking place in Pittsburgh, August 18-21. This problem-free
coin, which has been off the market for more than a decade, has
been graded XF40 by NGC. The ANA auction will also feature a
second example, graded Good-6 and uncertified.
The 1878-S is a key issue in the Seated Liberty Half Dollars,
and is a coin rarely seen on the market as most examples are locked
up in major collections. Of the 12,000 pieces struck, only 60 or so
are believed extant today in all grades. The survival rate for many
19th century issues averages around 1% of the mintage, but the 60
surviving 1878-S halves translate into only 0.005 % survivorship.
Even worse for modern collectors, most of the few halves that were
produced in 1878 were simply "worn out" from circulation.
Numismatists studying 19th century silver politics
are fascinated by the swings in these special interest and
political policy decisions, such as the Bland-Allison Act of 1878.
When the Comstock Lode was discovered in the late 1850s by Henry T.
P. Comstock, a.k.a. 'Old Pancake,' a mountain of silver was mined;
as it entered world markets, the price for silver (as reckoned in
gold dollars) dropped significantly. Western mining interests had
powerful friends in Congress, and Rep. Richard P. 'Silver Dick'
Bland and Sen. William Boyd Allison came to the rescue of the mine
owners by passing a bill that required the Treasury to purchase
between $2 and $4 million of new domestic silver each month. This
silver was mandated to be minted into silver dollars -- simply
because silver dollars were heavier than two half dollars, four
quarters, or ten dimes.
Enactment of the Bland-Allison Act meant that the various mints
ceased meaningful production of minor silver coinage - coinage
needed for commerce! In order to meet the mandated number of silver
dollars required by the Bland-Allison Act, the mints diverted most
of their resources to striking silver dollars. Since this
denomination wasn't truly needed for commerce, many bags of silver
dollars sat in government vaults for much of the next century.
The 1878-S is a key issue to a set of Seated Liberty half
dollars, and it is one that is rarely seen on the market as most
examples are locked up in major collections. Of the 12,000 pieces
struck, only 60 or so are believed extant today in all grades. For
most 19th century U.S. issues, the attrition rate was high, but a
rough rule of thumb is around 1% of the mintage may still be known
today in all grades. Given that the number of 60 pieces is
accurate, that would indicate a percentage of survivors of only
0.005 %. This number also indicates that half dollars were indeed
needed for commercial needs in the west in the late 1870s, and the
few that were produced in 1878 were simply "worn out" from
All 1878-S half dollars were produced from a single pair of
dies. As one might imagine, counterfeits have been made and
mintmarks added to "create" this important key. However,
authentication is relatively easy. All genuine 1878-S halves show a
die chip (or raised lump) high in the recessed area between the
left edge of the reverse shield and the first set of vertical
stripes. Since this lump is located in a recessed area, it is also
visible on coins in very low grades.
Of the surviving specimens, approximately a quarter, or some 16
pieces, are known in the AU58-MS64 grade range. The remaining
examples are AU58 or lower, with the circulated population fairly
evenly divided between Fine to AU, and Fair to VG. This particular
coin has original, untampered surfaces that show a gray-lilac
overlay of patina on each side with a significant presence of
underlying golden coloration. The design elements show even wear
over the highpoints, and there are numerous small abrasions
scattered over both obverse and reverse but none are of individual
significance or large enough to be used as a reliable pedigree
identifier. The demand for 1878-S half dollars is so great that
many are placed directly into collector's hands as soon as they are
available. This is an opportunity to acquire this major rarity in
problem-free XF condition at a major public auction.
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"Superbird" Quarter Pair
at Pittsburgh ANA Signature Auction
A pair of popular "Superbird" proof 1952 quarters will be placed
under the auctioneer's hammer at Heritage's Pittsburgh Signature
Auction. Heritage is the official auctioneer of the 2004 American
Numismatic Association's "World's Fair of Money" convention, to be
held in Pittsburgh the week of August 16 to 21.
According to Bill
Fivaz, co-author of The Cherrypickers' Guide, 1952 proof Washington
quarters sporting what appears to be an 'S' mintmark on the eagle's
chest will be assigned variety designation FS-25c-1952-3 in Volume
2 of the forthcoming edition of the Guide. David Lange, a director
at Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, states that "NGC is already
accepting and attributing this variety and will use the 'Superbird'
moniker on its label." With this formal recognition, the unusual
but easily remembered "Superbird" variety will soon join the ranks
of many other varieties highly sought after by collectors of the
Washington quarter series. As the only proof Washington to display
what appears to be an "S" in the center of its chest, the 1952
"Superbird" is certain to become a popular variety among
specialists of the series, and may appeal to all numismatists who
share a sense of whimsy.
The nickname "Superbird"
was first 'coined' by Val J. Webb and was published in his 1984
book Cameo Proofs 1950-1964. Mr. Webb opined that the "Superbird"
was exceedingly rare in heavy contrasted proof cameo condition.
Ken Potter, in his March 1998 installment of the Varieties
Notebook in Coin World newspaper introduced us to the first image
of "Superbird" variety. Citing that it was an "oldie" known within
the hobby, Potter speculated that the "S" which appears on the
eagle's breast may have been the deliberate work of an engraver
because lines strengthening the interior wing feathers are common
to proof quarters of the era.
ANACS was the first grading service to use the "Superbird"
moniker on its label, and has now certified at least 17 coins
ranging in grades from PR63 to PR67.
How scarce is the "Superbird?" Only 81,980 proof 1952 sets were
issued. If one assumes that the "Superbird" variety represents a
single reverse die, which appears to be the case, then perhaps
15,000 to 20,000 strikes may have been made using this die
according to David Lange. However, if hand engraving took place
some time after the die was put into production, the actual number
may be far less. With cleaning and damage to many existing 1952
proof sets, unimpaired survivors may be small, making it a very
rare bird indeed.
Heritage offers two examples in their upcoming Pittsburgh
Signature Auction. The
first piece is graded PR64 by NGC, and is described as "an
essentially brilliant near-Gem that has splendid surfaces and a
bold strike." The
second specimen is certified as PR66 by NGC. The cataloger
states that "the reverse of this brilliant and seemingly immaculate
premium Gem offers mild white on black contrast."
The Superbirds will be available for bidding when Heritage's ANA
Signature Auction is posted at www.HeritageCoin.com in late
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Website tips: Refine your
As a part of our website changes, we have now changed the look
and feel of our bid confirmation and result pages. Each individual
bid page still looks the same, but what you see when you place your
bid now looks a little different.
When you first place a bid, you will see a page that looks
something like this:
You have two choices: Confirm your bid, or cancel your bid. If
you cancel your bid, you will be taken back to the page for the
individual lot. If you confirm your bid, you will receive either of
two screens, much as before, stating either that you are the high
bidder on the lot:
...or giving you an immediate opportunity to bid again:
We have also expanded the explanations of some basic bidding
concepts on these pages, such as how your secret maximum bid works
and why in some cases the current bid on the item may be equal to
your secret maximum bid.
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Cherrypicking: Finding a rare or underpriced coin or
variety in a group of common, low-priced material.
Certified: Professionally authenticated and encapsulated;
usually graded as well. Also referred to as slabbed. Prices
for certified coins can vary greatly depending on which service has
certified the coin. A coin which has not been certified is known as
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