Justh & Hunter gold bar, once thought lost forever at sea, brings $1.32 million, in record-smashing event
A Justh & Hunter Gold Ingot sold for $1.32 million and an 1863 Liberty Double Eagle, PR65+ Cameo from the Bob R. Simpson Collection closed at $1.02 million to lead Heritage Auctions’ Central States US Coins Signature® Auction to $42,279,919 in total sales May 4-8.
The extraordinary mark was one of three Heritage Auctions Central States events: the World Coins & Ancient Coins Platinum Session and Signature® Auction totaled $14,449,912, while the US Currency Signature® Auction accounted for $8,880,557. Together, the events, which combined to attract more than 12,100 bidders, soared to $65,610,388 in total sales – setting an all-time record by a wide margin for any Central States auction.
“The results of this auction prove once again what happens when you present remarkable numismatic rarities to the more than 1.5 million members on HA.com,” Heritage Auctions President Greg Rohan said. “We saw numerous new records set, many by unprecedented margins. The results garnered by highlights from the Simpson and Warren collections especially, will go down in numismatic auction history.”
The Justh & Hunter Ingot was one of two ingots in the auction; a Henry Hentsch Gold Ingot, weighing 238.84 ounces, closed at $540,000. The ingots were thought to be lost forever with the 1857 sinking of the S.S. Central America during a Category 2 hurricane. More than a century later, in 1988, the recovery of the gold was organized by ocean engineer Tommy Thompson, whose crew spent the next four summers recovering roughly two tons of the lost gold. Both of the magnificent ingots sold in this auction were part of Thompson’s first haul from the ocean floor.
The 1863 Liberty Double Eagle, from The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part VIII, more than doubled the previous auction record. Simpson’s collection has been ranked by Professional Coin Grading Service as one of the best ever amassed. This coin is from a reported mintage of just 30 specimens, and is exceptionally rare: both John Dannreuther and PCGS CoinFacts estimate no more than 10-12 proofs – some in impaired condition – survive in all grades. Two are in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and another is in the collection of the American Numismatic Society. The Simpson example offered in this auction is the finest known of this acclaimed 19th-century rarity.
In addition to the two lots that brought seven-figure results, the auction included three more lots that topped $500,000 and an additional 59 that brought in winning bids of more than $100,000.
Also from the Simpson Collection was a 1915 S-Less Pan-Pac Half in Gold, PR64, which drew a record bid of $750,000. This magnificent coin is one of the rarest issues in the U.S. pattern series, one of just two examples known. It is struck on a cut-down Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Eric Newman’s handwritten notes state that “Colonel” E.H.R. Green owned both of the known gold specimens, four of the silver examples and three of the copper pieces. These extremely rare patterns were clearly clandestine strikes, produced at the Philadelphia Mint before mintmark punches were applied to the working dies.
Other highlights from the Simpson Collection included, but were not limited to:
A 1901 Double Eagle PR66+ Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC. JD-1, Low R.5: $288,000
A 1797 Large Eagle, BD-2, High R.4, MS63 PCGS. CAC: $276,000
An 1863 Half Eagle PR65+ Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC. JD-1, High R.6: $252,000
An 1898 Liberty Head Eagle PR67 Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC. JD-1, High R.5: $204,000
Other highlights that were not part of the Simpson Collection included, but were not limited to:
A 1920-S Double Eagle MS65 PCGS, which sold for $600,000. This is a Condition Census example of the issue and one of only four Gems at PCGS. It is believed that virtually all of the 558,000 examples minted of the 1920-S were melted and consequently, unlike some other issues, no European hoards ever surfaced to augment the paltry count of known survivors.
One of just 246 examples struck in the first San Francisco Mint issue of the 1854-S Quarter Eagle VG10 PCGS ended at $360,000; among regular-issue U.S. gold coins, only the 1875 eagle (100 pieces) and half eagle (200 pieces) have smaller production totals. Although the 1854-S was listed in Mint records of the time, the issue was unknown to 19th century collectors. The coins all circulated widely at the time of issue and none were saved for numismatic purposes. As a result, the 1854-S is a landmark rarity today and no Mint State examples are known. PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at 11-12 examples in all grades, with the finest grading AU50.
Other top lots included, but were not limited to:
A 1907 Double Eagle High Relief, Flat Rim, MS67 PCGS: $336,000
A 1925-D Double Eagle MS66 PCGS: $336,000 – also an auction record
A 1909/8 Double Eagle FS-301 MS66 PCGS. CAC: $336,000
A 1909 Double Eagle MS66 PCGS. CAC: $312,000 – more than double the previous auction record
Complete results from the US Coins Auction can be found at HA.com/1344.