Welcome to Steve's blog, sharing stories of his professional coin career, 1963 to date. Enjoy stories of Steve's numismatic journey.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Final Coin, A Fast Car

Today’s memory concerns Fred, the undertaker.  Fred is a good customer of the big retail and mail order business where I work in San Diego.  It’s 1973.

Fred and I have been working for some time to assemble a set of $20 Liberty gold coins, and we’re down to the very last issue.  The last coin is an 1870-CC, and it’s rare. 

For the life of me, I don’t know where to go to find this coin . . . until I spy one listed in an upcoming Stacks auction in New York.  Fred and I discuss the opportunity.

Fred quickly makes a decision, “I want you to go to NY and buy this coin for me.”

Well, I’ve never been to New York and have not yet attended a major auction, so this is a truly special opportunity.  I jump on a plane and head for NY.

The coin is brought to me at lot viewing, and I gasp:  it is so darned ugly, marks all over it!  The coin is technically XF but its eye appeal is abysmal.  I sit staring at the coin, wondering what I should tell Fred.

The dealer seated beside me notices my dilemma and is very helpful, giving me a quick education.  He says 1870-CCs all come that way, with many marks.  I really appreciate the info, but it doesn’t make me feel a whole lot better.

I call Fred.

“Fred, this coin is terrible – it’s got marks all over it.”   “I don’t care.  Just buy it!” he commands.

That evening I attend the auction, and here comes the coin.  Bidding quickly reaches $15,000, $17,000, $18,000 before I can even raise my hand.  I get my hand in the air as the price roars well over $20,000.   The hammer falls and the coin is mine.

After my return to San Diego, Fred arrives to view the new purchase.  He glances at the coin, saying, “That’s fine.  I’ll take it.”  No word about the quality or condition.  He simply writes a check and says “thank you.”  I’m definitely confused by his nonchalant attitude about this significant purchase.

Then he says, “Hey, come outside and see my new car.”  We go outside to admire Fred’s new red Ferrari.  He wants to take me to lunch.  (I’ve never ridden in a Ferrari before, so yes, I’m duly impressed.) 

There’s a small hill just outside the shop.  Fred floors the car, the Ferrari takes off and we simply fly over the top of the hill.  My head and neck are pinned to the back of the seat.  It was a most memorable ride.

Fred died about 6 months later; he must have been aware that his remaining time was limited.  He threw caution to the wind and enjoyed life to the fullest, right up to the end.

More information about the 1870-CC $20
·                 Considered the rarest Carson City double eagle, and certainly one of the rarest double eagle Liberty issues.
·                 Roughly 35-45 coins known and the majority of these are VF and lower.
·                 The coin is not well struck; the obverse is especially weak.
·                 “Every 1870-CC double eagle we have seen is heavily abraded.  The fields nearly always show deep, detracting gouges while many pieces have conspicuous bumps on the rims from mishandling.”  (“Gold Coins of the Old West,” by Douglas Winter and Lawrence E. Cutler, M.D., 1994)
·                 Current value of the coin in the story is approximately $300,000. 

1 comment:

  1. That coin is so expensive!Fred bought it to satisfy himself for he knew he won't live long.If that coin and car make him happy then lets respect it.Thanks for sharing this.