The most significant private treaty sale of Bust dollars in over 30 years was announced by Fort Lauderdale, Fla., professional numismatist Thomas M. Pilitowski.
A collection originating in Colorado that Pilitowski has dubbed the Denver collection, which included a complete high-grade date set of Draped Bust/ Heraldic Eagle dollars, was absorbed by a major West Coast collection that is being assembled jointly by two hobbyists. Pilitowski calls the West Coast collection the Cardinal collection.
Pilitowski declined to reveal the transaction price as well as the identities of the buyers.
What he did reveal is that the Cardinal collection already had in it such pieces as a dollar discovered at the 1995 American Numismatic Association convention in Anaheim, Calif., an AU-53 1798 dollar, B-26, which is the finest known and sole AU piece known.
Also in the set is the Buddy Ebsen 1801, B-1, dollar, which is also the finest known at borderline uncirculated, Pilitowski said.
The numbers are Bolender numbers developed by Milfred H. Bolender in his book United States Early Silver Dollars from 1794 to 1803.
Bolender auctioned his collection of nearly 200 pieces on feb. 23, 1952, Pilitowski said, and the vast majority of the pieces were acquired by Maryland numismatist K.P. Austin. Austin's collection was sold privately about 1962 by Alfred J. Ostheimer. Years later selected specimens under the pseudonym of Clarke Gilhauses entered the marketplace, Pilitowski said. Not since the Austin-Ostheimer private treaty sale has such a "magnificent array of early dollars been sold intact." he added.
Among the individual items sold were an AU-55 1795, B-15; an EF-40 9x7 stars, small letters 1797, B-2, condition census; an MS-63 1798, B-3, finest known; an AU-58 1799, B-9; an MS-62 1799/8, B-3, condition census; AU-55 1800, B-14, condition census, second finest known; an AU-55 1801, B-1, condition census; AU-58 1802, B-6; AU-53 1802/1, B-4, and an MS-61 1803, B-4, condition census and finest known. All of these pieces have been graded and authenticated by a third-party grading firm.
The MS-63 1798 is a B-3 (BB-94) that appears to be Bolender's personal specimen. It was graded and Photo Proofed by the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. of Parsippany, N.J.
It is the sole known mint state coin, an R-4 rarity, meaning 200 pieces are estimated to exist in all grades. It combines the third "Knob-9" obverse die used for the year (the first two obverse dies being used for the last of the Draped Bust/Small Eagle dollars), with the first "arc star pattern" reverse die used for the year.
Bolender's numbering of B-3 places this as the very first Draped Bust/Heraldic Eagle die variety to be coined by the United States. Q. David Bower's numbering of BB-94 places this as the fourth Draped Bust/Heraldic Eagle dollar die variety overall, but the first coined with the "arc stars pattern" on the reverse.
Also Photo Proofed was the AU-53 1798 dollar, B-26 (BB-114), which was graded by the Professional Coin Grading Service of Newport Beach, Calif. This coin is an R-6, with in all grades. It is the one discovered at the 1995 ANA convention in Anaheim. Its pedigree, Pilitowski noted, takes it back to Col. E.H.R. Green, son of the famed Hetty Green, the "witch of Wall Street," who was as much noted for her extreme frugality as Col. Green became known for his willingness to spend money on coins and other things.
Pilitowski said the acquisition of the Denver collection by the assemblers of the Cardinal collection has resulted in some duplication. He will handle the sale of these duplicates.
Also noted was how Pilitowski, a 41-year-old specialist in Early American coinage, first made contact with the hobbyists on both ends of the transaction: the free classified ads in Numismatic News.