Rarities recovered from the SS Central America and SS Republic will be auctioned April 29th in Reno

  • RENO, Nevada
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  • April 21, 2023

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RENO, Nev. – For the first time ever, two numismatic companies that are giants in their field – Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC and Finest Known, LLC – will combine their considerable forces to hold a Treasure Trove of Rarities: Coins & Treasure Shipwreck Auction on Saturday, April 29th, online and live in Holabird’s gallery at 333 Airway Drive (Suite 308).


The auction, beginning at 9 am Pacific time, is small by Holabird’s standards. Instead of their usual four-day monster sales, this one will be a tidy 164-lot event that’s small in size but gigantic in importance for the collecting community. It offers some of the finest known treasure and numismatic rarities, including items recovered from the SS Central America and SS Republic.


Also offered will be private “Territorial” gold coins and treasured Morgan dollars. Lots 1000-1048 will be ancient coins; lots 1049-1056 will be foreign coins; lots 1057-1135 will be U.S. coins and ephemera (sorted by denomination, then mint), and lots 1136-1164 will be treasure coins and ingots, including rare and coveted items from the SS Central America and SS Republic.


“Both of our companies specialize in treasures,” said Fred Holabird, president and owner of Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC of his firm and Finest Known, LLC. “Everyone is fascinated by treasure – whether it’s a gold coin found in your backyard, a clay pot full of mint state ancient coins, artifacts and coins from the ocean floor or in a long-held private collection.”


Mr. Holabird knows all about artifacts and coins from the ocean floor. His company held two auctions for items recovered from the SS Central America, which was carrying a huge payload of gold and artifacts before it sank in a storm off the Carolina coast in 1857. The second auction, held March 4-5, had items ranging from coins to jewelry to Cuban cigars and topped $1 million.


Finest Known, LLC has specialized in numismatics for decades and is the leader in sales of SS Central America material since about 2002, having sold nearly every gold ingot from the “Ship of Gold” – some many times over. The backgrounds and experience of the two companies fit hand in glove and will work together to bring collectors special items in the April 29th auction.


Numismatic items up for auction from the SS Central America include an 1857-S $20 U.S. gold coin with deep golden red patina, known as the “Golden Gate” coin (est. $75,000-$200,000). The coin is so stunning in appearance and reminiscent of the sunsets at the Golden Gate that SSCA Chief Scientist Bob Evans refused to conserve the coin and compromise its fabulous coloration.

Also offered will be a group of three daguerreotype and ambrotype photographs in their original cases of the D. O. Mills family, inclusive of newlyweds Addie and Ansel Easton, thought to be taken by San Francisco photographer Robert Vance on their return from the East after the SS Central America sinking (est. $2,000-$20,000). Both Eastons were rescued, by different ships.

Other SS Central America treasures include rare coins of various numerous denominations found in “coin piles” in debris fields on the ocean floor, plus key items from the Gold Room, inclusive of a 13 troy ounce Kellogg & Humbert gold ingot that’s expected to sell for $80,000-$100,000. The gold bar, stamped “Kellogg &” and “Humbert”, was valued at just $236.82 in 1857 dollars.


The SS Republic treasure of 1865 offers several of the fine $20 gold coins and several of the half dollars. Certainly one of the key pieces is a counter-stamped half dollar with “TN” and “1861” stamped into the obverse and reverse of the coin (est. $1,000-$5,000). The coin tells the story of the difficult, conflicting politics of the people of Tennessee in 1861 at the onset of the Civil War.


Also recovered from the SS Republic is an 1864 Liberty Head US gold coin, graded NGC MS61, a hard-to-find Civil War key date and one of only 204,285 minted (est. $30,000-$45,000); and an 1865 U.S. gold coin graded NGC MS64, a spectacular coin in near-perfect condition (est. $35,000-$60,000). Of all the known examples, only five are graded MS64 (just two are MS65).


Gold Rush rarities will feature rare, low mintage US gold coins, particularly US type 1 $20 gold coins from 1850 to 1860. A spectacular rarity is a Baldwin 1851 $10 gold coin in mint state, one of only a few known (est. $180,000-$250,000). At least two other examples have never been outside a museum. Only two of the Baldwin 10’s were recovered from the S.S. Central America.


Other lots from the US coins and ephemera category include an 1852 US Assay Office $50 gold “slug”, NGC certified AU58, the only issue of this denomination struck in .900 fineness (est. $75,000-$150,000); and a 2022 US $50 Gold Eagle coin, one of 1,945 minted (for the year 1945 and the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII), NGC PF69 Ultra Cameo (est. $10,000-$15,000).


The nearly 100 ancient silver and gold coins will include an Alexander III (Alexander the Great) stater, 336-323 BC, NGC graded Ch AU, with Athena on the obverse and Nike standing on the reverse (est. $7,500-$10,000); and a 51-30 BC Ptolemaic Kingdom 80 Drachmae coin, NGC graded VF, with Cleopatra VII on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse (est. $3,600-$4,500).


Other rare ancient coins up for bid will be a circa 132 Roman Republic (P. Maenius Antiaticus) Denarius coin NGC graded Ch MS, with Roma on the obverse and Victory in quadriga on the reverse (est. $4,000-$5,000); and a circa: 600-550 BC Iona, Third-Stater, NGC Graded XF, with a lion (or seal) head on the obverse and two incise punches on the reverse (est. $3,000-$4,000).


Foreign coins will include a Canadian 1911-C gold sovereign coin graded PCGS MS63, one of only 256,946 minted (est. $500-$2,000); a French 1875 gold 20 Francs coin, graded NGC MS64, one of a little more than 11 million minted (est. $600-$1,200); and a Netherlands gold 1875 10G coin, graded PCGS MS66+ (est. $1,000-$7,500). Six others, graded MS65, will also be offered.


Internet bidding will be provided by iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com and Invaluable.com. Phone and absentee bids will also be accepted. There are no printed catalogs for this auction. Online catalogs are available on each auction platform and the Holabird mobile app. There, you will find enlargeable pictures, updated, expanded lot descriptions and current bids and more.


Anyone owning a collection that might fit into a Holabird Western Americana Collections auction is encouraged to get in touch. The firm travels throughout the U.S., to see and pick up collections. The company has agents all over America and will travel to inspect most collections.


Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC is always seeking new and major collections to bring to market. It prides itself as being a major source for selling Americana at the best prices obtainable, having sold more than any other similar company in the past decade alone. The firm will have its entire sales database online soon, at no cost – nearly 200,000 lots sold since 2014.


To consign a single piece or a collection, you may call Fred Holabird at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766; or, you can send an e-mail to fredholabird@gmail.com. To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections and the Treasure Trove of Rarities: Coins & Treasure Shipwreck Auction on Saturday, April 29th, visit www.holabirdamericana.com. Updates are posted often.


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Fred Holabird
Holabird Western Americana Collections

Holabird Western Americana
3555 Airway Drive
Reno, Nevada
(775) 851-1859

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