Skip to main content

Error cents, coiled hair Stella find fans at ANA

Coin and currency auction action out of Denver, Colorado includes record-setting prices paid for error Lincoln cents, during the annual summer ANA convention.

By Antoinette Rahn

Auctions taking place at the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money convention each year are an exciting show in themselves. Live auctions can be a genuinely entertaining time, whether or not you are one of the competing bidders. However, being a bidder in the mix is a pretty great feeling, right?

Here are a few highlights from auctions through Stack’s Bowers and Heritage Auctions during the recent ANA convention.

Errors Pique Bidder Interest

Error coins often attract serious interest whenever they come to auction or are at the center of discovery. I like error coins and currency because they are the one opportunity for less than perfect items to grab a bit of the spotlight, specifically because of their imperfections. Rock on errors, rock on!

Image placeholder title

Both Heritage and Stack’s saw Lincoln error cents generate bidding battles during auctions at ANA.

During an auction session Wednesday, Aug. 1, presented by Heritage Auctions a 1943 Lincoln cent commanded a staggering $282,000. The coin is an error because it was one of no more than 15 Lincoln one-cent coins mistakenly minted using bronze instead of zinc-coated steel. This practice of moving to zinc-coated steel took place in 1943 as U.S. agencies and companies were working to preserve metals, including copper, to support war efforts. Visit Heritage to learn more about this coin:

Bronze Planchets Versus Copper-Zinc Planchets

Stack’s Bowers brought two error Lincoln cents during one of its Thursday, Aug. 3 auction sessions. The coins, 1982 and 1984 Lincoln cents, sold for $18,800 and $17,625, respectively. The 1982 coin’s importance is tied to the U.S. Mint’s decision, in the middle of that year, to switch from bronze planchets in cent production to copper-zinc planchets, as a cost saving measure.

The change also prompted the Mint to change the design of the Lincoln cent after discovering the copper-zinc planchets required a slower rate of striking to fill dies and assure complete details on the design. The mint altered the design slightly to help increase production, but the modification resulted in the digits and the letters in the date and words LIBERTY, and IN GOD WE TRUST to appear smaller on the obverse. In all, according to Stack’s auction catalog, the change in planchet and design resulted in seven varieties of Lincoln cents for the year of 1982. Learn more>>>

The 1983 error coin is similar to that of the 1943 example auctioned by Heritage. It appears on a bronze planchet, instead of the modern copper-zinc planchets used by the Mint. Learn more>>>

19th Century Meiji Gold Yen Tops $400K

Additional highlights from Stack's and Heritage's auctions during the ANA convention include but are far from limited to:
• Meiji gold proof 20 Yen of Mutuhito, Japanese Yen Year 3 (1870) realized an incredible $407,000 during Heritage Auction’s World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction Aug. 3. The coin is among a small selection of Japanese proof coins from the 19th century. Learn more>>>

Image placeholder title

• A 5 Guineas coin from Great Britain, minted in 1692, featuring the conjoined busts of William & Mary on the obverse, soared to $42,300 during Stack’s Bowers Aug. 2 auction. Learn more>>>

• Finishing ahead of its low estimate during Stack’s Bowers Aug. 3 currency auction, and was a 1928 $5,000 Federal Reserve Note, with a PCGS Very Fine condition. The presence of original examples is limited, which lent to the popularity of this specimen. Learn more>>>

Gold 'Stella' and Her Coiled Braid Grabs Attention

• Even in numismatics, from time to time, it’s all about the hair. Such was the case when an 1879 Four-Dollar Gold Stella coin rose to $129,250 before the gavel fell during Stack’s Aug. 3 Rarities auction. The piece presents with a uniform golden yellow, a full and detailed strike, and well-preserved surfaces. The head of Liberty on the reverse boasts a perfect braided crown of hair coiled at the back of her head. According to Stack’s auction catalog, this 1879 Coiled Hair Stella coin is a rarity, with only 12 to 15 gold impressions believed to exist. Learn more>>>

• Several lots during an Aug. 3 session at Stack's included lots of items made by repurposing Hawaiian coins. The lot generating the highest bid price was a silver and enamel ladies belt, measuring 27 1/2 inches long, made from 21 Hawaiian quarter dollars, a half dollar, and two dollars all minted in 1883. The buckle of the belt is made from the two dollar pieces. The condition is deemed extremely fine for this functional and unique accessory that sold for $646.25 through Stack's Bowers. Learn more>>>

Condition, Condition, Condition

• A George IV proof gold coin minted in 1826 and graded Proof-62 Ultra Cameo by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation brought $305,500 during the Aug. 3 World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction presented by Heritage Auctions. The condition of this coin was described in the auction catalog as such, "It seems impossible not to speak of the glorious color on this specimen, which is an incredibly rich shade of gold, brushed with reddish iridescent hues throughout, further adding to the perfection of this offering." Learn more>>>

• During Heritage Auctions' morning session Aug. 4 a numismatic representative of Civil War history crossed the auction block. A silvered brass Arch Saloon Token, No. 10, issued by the only merchant of Montville, Connecticut to issue tokens, sold for $1,410. It's believed that only six to 10 Arch Saloon tokens remain. Learn more>>>

Dollars May Be In the Details

• If there is one important lesson I've taken from reviewing the results of auctions held during this

Broken 3 Half Dollar

'Broken 3' Half Dollar coin, circa 1823, sold for $7,637 during Heritage Auctions' Aug. 4 auction. (Photo courtesy Heritage Auctions)

summer's ANA convention, it's that the smallest of details can make the most difference. Such is the case with an 1823 U.S. Half Dollar presented at auction Aug. 4 by Heritage Auctions. The coin's 'Broken 3' name comes from the presentation of the number '3' in the date.The number appears to have a 'break' in its middle.

Although the U.S. Mint tried to correct the punching problem with the three in 1823, it wasn't to be. During the ANA's World's Fair of Money, an 1823 'Broken 3' Half Dollar came forth. It was graded AU58 by PCGS. It boasts incredible cobalt-blue and aquamarine toning on the borders. Plus, a peach-gold and silver at its center. Bids for the coin rose to $7,637 before the gavel fell. It's about the details. Learn more>>>

• Also resonating with a number of bidders at auction Aug. 4 was a lot containing six uncirculated trial specimens from the Qatar & Dubai Currency Board. The set features 1960s series notes and the notes are scarce individually, let alone in a set. The lot includes a One Riyal, Five Riyal, 10 Riyal, 25 Riyal, 50 Riyal, and 100 Riyal note. The lot commanded $58,750 during the auction presented by Stack's Bowers. Learn more>>>

Weekly Showcase



Over 100 YEARS of Chinese History - Our pristine Jade Collection is extensive and beautiful!  Please visit our web site to get an idea of how beautiful this collection is.