The Reno Gazette Journal published a feature article in its Business section about the auction of the Battle Born Collection of Carson City coins, scheduled for August 9, 2012 in Philadelphia. Please read it and see how reporter Bill O’Driscoll captured the key points of this historic auction, and observed some irony as well.
‘Battle Born:’ Rare Carson Mint coins going to auction on Philadelphia stage
By Bill O’Driscoll
Add up their face value, and the 111 rare coins in the “Battle Born Collection” amount to less than $700.
But throw in their lure to coin enthusiasts — each struck in the Carson City Mint between 1870 and 1893 with the most prized coin the only known 1873 “Without Arrows” Seated Liberty dime to exist — and the price tag soars.
Their owner, an anonymous Nevadan, could earn $11 million-$15 million at auction next week in Philadelphia, and a Reno coin dealer assisting him in the process says it will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“This is my Olympic moment,” Rusty Goe, owner of Southgate Coins, said Tuesday of the upcoming sale, part of the Rarities Night Auction at the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money Convention. “This is the biggest event that’s ever happened to me in my 30-year career as a coin collector.”
Goe serves as a paid consultant to the collection’s owner, whom Goe refers to only as “Mr. Battle Born” after Nevada’s state motto.
Until the coins are sold individually at auction, they remain the only complete collection of coins made in the Carson City Mint, Goe said. They represent each of the 111 different date-and-denomination combinations issued from the Mint before it closed in 1893 in what is now the home of the Nevada State Museum.
The coins range from $5, $10 and $20 gold pieces to silver dollars, half-dollars, quarters, 20-cent pieces and, what Goe describes as the “king coin,” the dime featuring a seated liberty figure with a crucial feature: no arrows on each side of the 1873 stamp.
As the only known survivor of 12,400 coins minted, Goe said, it alone could fetch anywhere from $1.5 million to $4 million.
He should know: He once owned the dime, he said, buying it in 2004 for $891,250 and later selling it to the current owner for $1 million.
“It’s the show-stopper, the cornerstone of the collection,” Goe said. “I got a good deal on it and I passed a good deal on to Mr. Battle Born.”
The auction’s success could be affected by potential buyers’ confidence at the moment with market conditions, Goe said, adding, “We just won’t know for sure until then. We’ll see how close we come to our pre-sale estimates.”
Either way, Goe hopes to use the event as a showcase for Nevada and the Carson City Mint’s opening at the height of the Comstock Lode era. He’s already convinced Stack’s Bowers Galleries of Irvine, Calif., which will put on the auction, to print a separate catalog on the Battle Born Collection in addition to the main publication for participants.
And Goe has written articles for Coin World magazine and helped Stack’s Bowers organize a seven-city tour of the collection over the past year leading up to next Thursday’s auction.
He also said a bit of historic irony has not been lost: The Philadelphia Mint, the nation’s first opened in 1792, opposed creating a Carson City branch when the issue was debated in Congress in the 1860s.
“They said, why do we want to put a mint in that heathen territory, a Wild West area like that? So for this one night, Carson City will steal the show from the Philadelphia Mint,” he said.
“I’ll be waving the Battle Born flag of Nevada in front of the audience. Nevada is going to have its moment.”
Battle Born Collection of Carson City Mint Coinage
Number of coins: 111
Estimated auction value: $11 million-$15 million
Auction sale: Aug. 9, American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money Convention, Philadelphia
Top four rarest coins and estimated value:
1873-CC Seated Liberty No Arrows dime, only known surviving coin. $1.5 million-$4 million
1876-CC silver 20-cent piece, one of 19 known surviving coins. $500,000
1873-CC Seated Liberty No Arrows quarter, one of five known surviving coins. $500,000.
1870-CC $20 Liberty Double Eagle gold piece, one of 60 known surviving coins. $500,000.
Source: Stack’s Bowers Galleries; Rusty Goe, Southgate Coins