Canadian cents, U.S. coins soar at Landon sale

By Jesse Robitaille

There were many highs at the G.F. Landon sale  – the first of four days of the Canadian Legacy Sale II, featuring more than 3,200 lots and $6 million worth of coins, tokens, medals and banknotes.

With the small Osgoode Room of Toronto’s Hilton Hotel filled to capacity, Session One began with 12 lots of Dominion of Canada banknotes, eight of which sold to the same bidder. These lots included an 1897 DC-12 – one of only 11 ever made – that sold for $3,000 (before premiums and taxes) below its original estimate of $12,000.

However, prices didn’t stay low for long. The Canadian tokens did reasonably well, especially the bulk lots that exceeded estimates by two or three times. However, as auctioneers reached the red-hot U.S. coins, prices began soaring at high altitudes.

The Liberty Seated 1872 10-cent piece, with a PCGS graded Mint State-67+, realized $15,125 including premiums. Described as beautiful, multi-hued and having medium-heavy toning, lot No. 373 had an original estimate of $4,000. This was common throughout the auctioning of the U.S. pieces, which often sold for at least double their estimates.

Charles “Chuck” Moore, co-organizer of the Legacy Sale and president of Moore Numismatic Auctions, said he expected the U.S. material would sell high and called the evening an overwhelming success.

Moore, who said his favourite piece of the night was the Liberty Seated 1872 mentioned earlier, called the Landon collection “the most significant collection of U.S. material to ever surface in Canada.”

“Dealers and collectors often talk about fresh material – coins that haven’t been on the market for very long – and these have never been available.”

Indeed, it was an exciting evening for collectors and dealers.

“I would’ve liked to have bid on more, but prices went stratospheric – especially for the U.S. stuff,” said Van Coskun, a Canadian collector with about 20-years’ experience in numismatics.

“Pricing was aggressive.” he said. “Even though I bid on a lot – I probably spent about $20,000 or more – there is more to spend. There’s some really good stuff in this auction.”

Nearly all lots of U.S. Hard Times tokens, which Landon showed great interested in throughout his life, sold for almost triple their original estimates. And during the auction of U.S. coins, bidding came to a halt on lot No. 332, a 1902 PCGS-graded Proof-66 Indian Head cent, when two separate online bidders each placed a bid of more than $8,000. The piece eventually sold for $8,250 before premiums – 11 times the original estimate.

It was a similar story for the Church of the Advent, the benefactors of the Landon collection, whose evening turned even brighter when bidding turned to Mint State Canadian large cents.

Karen Baker, who attended the sale with her father Norman as representatives from the Church, said she was very excited about the evening.

“We’ve been looking forward to this auction for a year-and-a-half or so,” said Baker, whose family discovered the collection after Landon’s grandson died; he had bequeathed it to the Church.

Landon, who was a prodigious collector of Canadian and U.S. numismatic materials and an early member of the American Numismatic Association, died in 1916. His collection was passed down through his family before the Church of the Advent eventually consigned it to Moore Numismatic Auctions for public sale.

Landon was a true numismatist who specifically enjoyed copper coins and often purchased large quantities in the year of issue, Moore said.

“There was a large crossover at the turn of the century, when many, many Canadians collected U.S. coins and vice versa,” he said. “Several of the American Numismatic Association presidents were Canadian, including G. F. Landon. The real numismatists who studied it were on both sides of the border.”

Baker said Landon’s collection was “all padlocked up – virtually untouched for 100 years.

“They were all locked, and there were no keys, so my dad had to punch the pins in at the back so they could be opened. I put my hand in and spread out all the trays that were inside, and it was just phenomenal.”

Moore said while this quantity and quality of U.S. coins has never been seen before, the Canadian material is also incredible.

“The hordes of Canadian coins are very unusual, going back to the Victorian era,” he said. “Occasionally, 20 pieces would show up of a penny dated 1901, but in this case, there are probably 1,500 Canadian Victorian-era pennies in Mint-State condition.”

Moore explained, “When 100 Gem pieces and large cents come on the market, it scares people. Well this is over 1,000 pieces of Gem large cents MS-65, 66 and 67 on the market – and the result was not flattening out the market but actually raising the market.

“There was a little bit of concern because there was so much material bringing high prices before the hordes came out,” said Moore. “We had probably more bidders for large cents on the Internet and on the floor than I knew existed.”

Andy Lustig, co-founder of and The Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors, was after some of these large cents – or “coppers”, as he called them – which he thought were the most-impressive of the session.

“The quality is outstanding, of course,” said Lustig. “The prices have been reasonable given the quality of the coins, but given the quantity of the coins, you’d expect so.”

Lustig, who started buying and selling coins in his early teens eventually purchased lot No. 296, which included 13 miscellaneous “coppers.” The lot sold for $2,000 plus buyer’s premium, topping the $750 estimate.

The Canadian five- and 10-cent pieces, overall, underperformed against estimates perhaps because by the time they hit the floor, the auction was already into the wee hours of the morning.

Some of the other sale highlights included (buyer’s premium not included):

  • Lot 648, a 1900 Plain, ICCS Mint State-65, Red Cent: sold for $6,000, double estimate;
  • Lot 707, 1908 ICCS Mint State-66 Red centre. Lot of two. Sold for $4,000 with a $2,500 estimate;
  • Lot 747, described as “the solo finest” ICCS grade 1915 Large Cent. Sold for $9,750 with an $3,750 estimate;
  • Lot 855, a rare Ten Cents, 1893 Round Top 3, sold for $47,500 with an estimate of $100,000;
  • Lot 866, a 1896 Ten Cents ICCS Mint State-67 sold for $12,000 with an estimate of $20,000;
  • Lot 879, a 1900 Ten Cents ICCS Mint State-67 sold for $9,750, close to its $10,000 estimate;
  • Lot 963, a 1904 Fifty Cents ICCS Mint State-64 sold for $37,500 exceeding its $30,000 estimate.

Due to press deadlines, coverage of the remaining three sales of the Legacy II sale will be reported in the next issue of CCN.

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