LOS ANGELES, CA.- Bonhams & Butterfields
announced a stellar result for the inaugural West Coast auction of Rare Coins and Bank Notes on May 30, 2010. The 1200-lot Los Angeles auction brought more than $2.5-million and featured a diverse group of fresh to market rarities from various owners as well as the Collection of distinguished numismatist Paul Bloomfield.
"Virtually all of the lots in May sale found buyers attesting to the freshness of the material and strength in the US market. The 6 hour sale continued to draw bidders throughout the day. Bonhams & Butterfields was pleased to see robust participation on the telephone and in the saleroom as well as via email," said Paul Song, Director of Rare Coins and Bank Notes.
The marquee lot of the auction was a supremely rare early $10 1795 9 leaf gold coin. Its importance to American coin collectors is very well supported, both due to its extreme rarity, as experts believe that only a mere 20 or so pieces are believed to be extant, and its broad-based, versatile collector appeal.
The eagle or $10 piece was intended to be the foundational gold coin in the American monetary system as outlined in the Mint Act of April 2, 1792. The specimen offered here represented key traits in every respect from the coin's subtly reflective yellow-golden fields highlighted by hints of green-gold patina and well struck central design elements. In light of the age, method of manufacture, and exceeding rarity, the example offered on May 30th was truly quite special in every respect. Conservatively estimated at $70,000-80,000, the desirable coin sold for $117,000.
In addition to the top lot, many other early $10 Eagles were included in the Spring auction. Several coins from the section were originally from historic collections and most included original paper envelopes of purchase. Lots 2186, an 1800 $10 13 Leaf (est. $28,000-35,000, sold for $87,750) and 2183, a 1795 $10 13 Leaf (est. $20,000-25,000, sold for $26,910), were stand out examples in this category.
Additional highlights included a rare 1810 $5 Half Eagle with large date accompanied by the original paper envelope of purchase (est. $23,000-25,000, sold for $57,330); a richly visual and magnificently struck highly sought-after 1914 $2.5 from the Denver mint (est. $25,000-30,000, sold for $33,930); a deep shimmering reddish-gold essentially flawless 1914 $2.5 (est. $26,000-32,000, sold for $32,175) and a unique 1852 $50 United States Assay Office of Gold set in silver pocket watch and inscribed "Newport Chapter No. 2. R.A.M./Newport. R.I./Wage money earned Dec. 1890" (est. $12,000-16,000, sold for $30,420). This item was clearly related to a membership or affiliation with the Newport Yacht Club in Rhode Island, and has been descended in the family down to the 4th generation owner.
Preceding the highly successful various owners' section of the auction, the Paul Bloomfield Collection was offered to benefit the acquisitions fund at the Bancroft Library located at the University of California, Berkeley. The Bloomfield Collection boasted a compressive selection of coinage from Canada, Mexico and the United States from the 17th though 20th centuries. Rare and interesting highlights were found throughout the 2,000-piece 'type' Collection, from early American items issued by the original colonies to unusual pieces from the 1920s.
"Bonhams & Butterfields was honored to present The Paul Bloomfield Collection during the inaugural West Coast auction of Rare Coins and Bank Notes. The Collection was one of the most complete 'type' collections to be featured at public auction by a major institution in recent history. The firm was pleased to offer buyers a unique opportunity to acquire rare coins, while furthering the scholarship of thousands who utilize the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, each year," said Song.
Highlights from the noted offering included a 1797 U.S. Small Eagle Half Dollar. Long known to be one of the most difficult 'type' coins of the half dollar denomination, the item enjoys nearly legendary status and is arguably one of the most avidly sought 'types' in all of U.S. numismatics. This design was coined for only two years, 1796 and 1797, with a total mintage of only 3,918 pieces. Most survivors are well circulated, as is this specimen. Exceptionally desirable among collectors, the majority of these were lost, with perhaps only 250 examples remaining of the entire 'type'. One of the scarcest 'type' coins of any metal to obtain, the 1797 U.S. Small Eagle Half Dollar sold for $39,040, well above the $25,000-35,000 pre-sale estimate.
Additional highlights from the Bloomfield Collection included: an 1802 half dime, which is a legendary and rarely seen rarity, and has been coveted by collectors since the beginning of organized numismatics in the 1860s (est. $12,000-18,000, sold for $31,720); a highly desirable and rare to market 1803 Small Eight coin boasting a distinctive tiny "8" in the date (est. $2,500-4,000, sold for $20,740); a well patterned Liberty Seated dime (est. $5,000-7,000, sold for $15,250) and a 14-star 1804 classic key date rare, early dime with superior surface quality (est. $1,800-2,200, sold for $15,250) as well as a highly sought after 1851 restrike Liberty Seated $1 proof. Originally part of the noted Jules Reiver Collection, the coin is regarded as great rarity and a "must have" by those pursuing a complete set of dollars (est. $2,500-4,000, sold for $20,740).