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Sheridan Downey Numismatist - Coins

Mail Bid Auction 57

Auction ends on January 5, 2024 6:00 pm EST

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Lot Number 84


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1807 -  O.111a R.4+ PCGS OGH AU 53 CAC


Ex James Pryor, George Hamilton, Dr. Charles Link and Alan Sontag.   An old friend.  I sold the coin to Jim Pryor April 16, 1989, ending his search for an AU or better example of the Bearded Goddess.  Some collectors reserve that moniker for the later die state, O.111b.  Pryor pointed to the full “beard,” chest to chin, and worried not that the die break ended before entering Liberty’s cap.  Brain cancer took Jim from us in 1991.  He was only 55.  The family kept his unrivaled collection of half-dollars until Bowers & Merena offered it at the January 1996 FUN Show.  Mark Borckardt had the pleasure of cataloging the bust halves.  He echoed my belief of the time that the Pryor “Bearded Goddess” was 4th finest known.  (A couple of higher grade examples have since appeared.)  He continued, “[The strike] is bold, with very slight weakness on the drapery, ribbon and clasp….  Very choice surfaces, with deep blue-gray peripheral toning.  The central portion of obverse and reverse are pale gray.”  I would add that the luster is exactly what one expects from the assigned grade.

When the Pryor sale was announced I was assaulted by collectors seeking comment and representation at the auction.  My notes in the catalog are reminders that Geoge Hamilton and Gehring Prouty retained me to enter bids on the “Bearded Goddess.”  It turned out they were the top two bidders, with Hamilton bludgeoning Prouty, $9,000 to $5,500.  The hammer price became $5,750 -- $6,325 with the buyer’s fee.  Hamilton kept the coin until he passed away.  Heritage offered his collection at its August 2016 ANA Sale in Anaheim, CA.  Once again Mark Borckardt, who had switched horses from B&M to Heritage, enjoyed cataloging this coin.  He repeated his views from 1996 and concluded his remarks this way, “The Bearded Goddess is an ultimate goal of all Bust half variety collectors, and this well-pedigreed example is a true feather in the cap for some fortunate bidder who recognizes its memorable quality and importance.”  Dr. Charles Link agreed.  He was the winning bidder at $14,688. 

In 2017 Dr. Link sold the coin to the present consignor, Alan Sontag.   Alan is a patient and knowledgeable collector of early United States coins, with a superb eye for quality.  His date and Red Book set of bust halves, assembled over many years, is among the finest extant.  Few of us in the numismatic community know that Alan holds multiple national and world championships in his chosen field, contract bridge.  Bridge is one of the most intellectually demanding and rewarding sports on earth.  “Sonty,” as his bridge colleagues know him, was admitted to the American Contract Bridge League Hall of Fame in 2007.  You will find details here: https://www.acbl.org/awards/#hof.   


Estimate: $20,000 and up


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Sheridan Downey, Numismatist
4400 Keller Ave., Suite 140, PMB 398
Oakland, California 94605
sdowney3@aol.com
(510) 479-1585

©2024 Sheridan Downey