The Dallas Bank Collection came to the market in mid-November in the busy eastside of downtown Manhattan.
The Dallas Bank Collection was assembled throughout the 1970’s by a Texas oilman named Jeff Browning. This collection had resided in a Dallas Bank vault for nearly three decades before being brought to the market amidst extreme excitement in the numismatic community.
As the first lot, an 1850 Type I Double Eagle, came up for sale, it was standing room only. The room was filled with four times the number of people who attended the memorable and historical Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection in 1999. Prices were strong and participation and excitement were so heavy that, for a moment, the tragic events of September 11th seemed to be a distant memory. Dealer, collector, and investor concerns about a struggling coin market, a struggling economy, and a struggling city evaporated as Jeff Browning’s magnificent collection of U.S. gold coins realized record prices on Sotheby’s auction floor.
At Monaco Financial, we are huge believers in assembling sets of coins. We emphasize to our clients that great sets of coins are most always worth more collectively than individually, and what better evidence of this is there than the auction of the Browning collection in New York last week? The coin market appears to always be energetically receptive to complete collections brought to the table.
The Dallas Bank Collection was assembled throughout the 1970’s by a Texas oilman named Jeff Browning. This collection had resided in a Dallas Bank vault for nearly three decades before being brought to the market this fall amidst extreme excitement in the numismatic community.
All Americans today have had reason to doubt market events due to the circumstances surrounding September 11th and our country’s well being. Whatever pitfalls this recent auction faced, it proved that the spirit of America and its hobbies, passions, and financial interests were able to overcome the uneasiness at hand. The Sotheby’s Sale of the Dallas Bank Collection was a smashing success and a confirmation of confidence for the coin market that, after all, is based upon the beginning of our country and its trials, errors, and successes over the years.
The strongest area of the sale was the offering of the complete set of Type-One Liberty Head Double Eagles. This is only the second time in history that a complete set of Type-One Double Eagles has come to auction. If you have already been buying Type Ones from us, you know how impressive they are. Our soon-to-be published book on Type-One Double Eagles, along with the events of last week, are surely going to further stimulate this popular series of U.S. numismatics.
A unique aspect of the Dallas Bank Collection was the offering of superb specimens from each of the three mints that struck these coins: Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Following are some brief highlights of select coins and prices realized.
I. Philadelphia Type-One Double Eagles
Savvy collectors know that high grade Type-One Double Eagles from this mint are extremely hard to locate and are very undervalued when compared to other rarities of this historical era. The Dallas Bank Collection delivered some top examples of the specimens dealers and collectors search for. An 1850 that many observers graded MS62 brought a strong $19,550. An elusive 1855 graded MS60+ sold for $11,500, while another similarly graded tough date, the 1857, realized $10,350. Astonishingly, an 1858 that was estimated to bring $4,000-$6,000 soared to $14,950. A very attractive 1860 in Mint State 63-64 found a new home at $18,400. The infamous and extremely rare 1861 Paquet Reverse was a major highlight of this collection. This rarity realized $345,000 and is a coin that, in my opinion, has the potential to be worth $1 million + in the future.
II. San Francisco Type-One Double Eagles
Prior to the discovery of the SS Central America and SS Brother Jonathan shipwrecks, most Type-One Double Eagles from this mint were found in low grades. The Dallas Bank Collection provided some fresh new high grade “S-mints” to the market. Start with the 1856-S that brought $5,750 against an estimate of $2,500-3,000. An 1863-S, perhaps one of finest offered in recent times, brought $23,000! Another numismatic landmark was the appearance of one of the best 1861-S Paquet Reverse specimens that has been offered in a long time. This coin, graded approximately AU55 by experts, realized a robust $40,250.
III. New Orleans Type-One Double Eagles
The unquestionable highlight of this collection was the great run of New Orleans pieces. There were a number of superb, desirable high-grade pieces and many auction records were set by their sales. A lovely 1850-O, Mint State 60+, the first Double Eagle from New Orleans, realized $40,250. The infamous 1854-O appeared as an AU55 graded specimen and sold for $161,000, the second highest price realized for any New Orleans Double Eagle ever sold at auction. A series of Nice AU “Top 10 contenders” including the 1859-O, 1860-O, and the 1861-O brought $34,500, $23,00, and $23,000, respectively.
Overall, a wonderful response from collectors and dealers for a wonderful offering of elusive New Orleans issues.
IV. Various Other Top Rarities
Along with exceptional performance of Type-One Double Eagles, there were many additional rarities that shined. The list is as follows:
- 1879-O “MS62/63”: The only Type III Double Eagle struck at New Orleans and a tiny mintage of 2,325 brought $100,000 to the floor. David Akers Plate Coin.
- 1881 “MS62/62”: An exceptionally rare date with a mintage of only 590 business strikes, the lowest of any Double Eagle besides the 1861 Paquet mentioned earlier. This great coin brought $75,000.
- 1883 “Proof 65”: Exceptionally rare proof-only date with a mere 92 minted brought $110,000 to the floor.
- The Famous 1907 Saint-Gaudens Ultra High Relief, “Proof 66-67”. The greatest achievement in United States numismatic design realized $600,000!
New or advanced collectors can learn a lot about coins from analyzing the results of the Dallas Bank Collection sale. The foremost lesson is that one should buy premium examples of the truly rare dates because these examples will always outperform more common dates, no matter how high the grade. Always buy the best coins that one can realistically afford, regardless of date. Finally, it is the assembly of a complete set or “mini-set” of Type One Double Eagles, or another series, that will bring the highest premium when sold. This should always be the goal of the collector as he focuses on his collection.