Heritage to offer Bass III auction after CSNS show
By Steve Roach , Coin World, Published: Apr 17, 2023, 8 AM
Heritage will offer the third installment of its sale of the Harry W. Bass Jr. Core Collection on May 4 as part of its auctions held after the Central States Numismatic Society convention.
This offering follows Part I on Sept. 29, 2022, which realized $20,459,645 and Part II on Jan. 5, which brought $24,322,741. The coins are well-known to collectors as they were on long-term display at the American Numismatic Association’s Money Museum.
Among the Bass treats are some early U.S. Proof gold coins like an 1829 Capped Head, Large Date, Large Diameter $5 half eagle of the Bass-Dannreuther 1 die pair, graded Proof 66+ by Professional Coin Grading Service. The BD-1 variety is known through just five circulation strikes and two Proof strikes, of which this is the finer of those two.
The introduction of close collar minting technologies at the Philadelphia Mint allowed for a reduction in diameter of the half eagle denomination, and two versions were produced in 1829: the offered Large Diameter, Large Date coin and the more common Small Diameter, Small Date coin.
On the older open collar technologies used in striking the offered half eagle Heritage writes, “The planchets were not restricted by the old Open Collar when striking the Large Diameter issue, resulting in coins that were often not precisely centered, with slightly irregular cigar-shaped dentils that extended to the edge of the coin.”
All 1829 half eagles are rare and some researchers suspect the BD-1 Large Diameter examples were specifically struck for inclusion in a cornerstone for the Philadelphia Mint, laid on July 4, 1829.
The Bass coin has a confirmed provenance that goes back to at least 1885 and has been described as a “one-sided Proof” in past offerings since the obverse showcases deeply mirrored fields and the reverse displays frosty luster. These one-sided Proof strikes make sense considering that a collector would display only the obverse in a coin cabinet, as John Dannreuther has pointed out.
The Bass collection has some spectacular Capped Bust $10 eagles, and perhaps the most beautiful is the BD-7 1799 Capped Bust, Small Obverse Stars eagle graded Mint State 65+ by PCGS that is a representative of a late die state. The obverse dentils show deterioration below the date, delicate cracks are seen among the stars, a heavy rim die break is seen at around 10:00, and cracks are seen through the E and TY in LIBERTY.
It’s not a particularly rare variety, but it is the only MS-65+ example certified by PCGS with none finer. Heritage calls it virtually flawless but for some slight marks in the left obverse field, praising its highly lustrous medium yellow-gold surfaces.
The Bass collection is renowned for the strength of its early U.S. gold issues, but Bass also had some great 20th century pieces like the featured 1908 Indian Head $10 eagle graded PCGS Proof 65 and carrying a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker.
It is one of two examples known of the “Roman Finish” for the date, which is a type of Proof coin produced at the Philadelphia Mint as that Mint experimented with Bela Lyon Pratt’s Indian Head $2.50 and $5 coins and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ $10 and $20 pieces of the era. A lack of contemporary U.S. Mint documentation forces the coins to speak for themselves, and some suspect that the satiny surface seen on this Proof was the result of being struck on a non-sandblasted planchet.
Heritage notes, “Brightness is seen throughout with none of the pebbly finish that sandblasting would impart,” suggesting that perhaps the offered coin was a trial finish, produced by the Mint to help appease collectors who were disappointed with the 1908 “Matte Finish” Proof coins, since it more closely resembles the Proof 1909 and 1910 gold issues.
The original article and others like it can be found at Heritage to offer Bass III auction after CSNS show (coinworld.com) online.