NGC-certified Cuban gold coins far exceed estimates at auction

7 Nov

Special article contributed by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation

 

Six NGC-certified gold Cuban coins struck in Philadelphia, including two that realized six figures, were among the highlights of an auction held Nov. 2-5 in Orlando, Florida. All far exceeded their pre-auction estimates at the sale by Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC.

 

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Cuba 1915 Specimen 20 Pesos, graded NGC SP 63. Realized: $130,900.

The two top lots in the entire auction were a 1915 Cuba Specimen 20 Pesos, graded NGC SP 63, and a 1915 Cuba Specimen 10 Pesos, graded NGC SP 64. Realizing $130,900 and $107,100, respectively, the coins represent an interesting time in Cuban history.

After a brief time as a US protectorate, Cuba became independent in 1902. Still, the US maintained considerable influence in the island republic for decades, as evidenced by the designer and mint of these gold coins, the first issued by Cuba.

Struck at the Philadelphia Mint, they were designed by US Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber (famous for the US Barber Dime, Quarter and Half Dollar). The Cuban coins were issued in denominations of 1, 2, 4, 5, 10 and 20 Pesos, and a small number of Proofs were made. It is believed some 24 to 36 of the 10 and 20 Peso issues were struck in Proof, along with 100 each of the 2, 4, and 5 Peso coins. The most common is the 1 Peso issue, with some 140 Proof coins struck.

The 1, 2, 4, 10, and 20 peso coins from this set were clearly something different. They were not exactly Proofs, but also clearly not Mint State coins. It is apparent that these coins were struck with extra pressure in order to bring up the rims, and it is likely that the planchets were also specially prepared. This gave the coin a semi-matte appearance, in comparison to the mirrored fields of the Proof issues.

The top lot in the auction was the Cuba 1915 Specimen 20 Pesos, from this special, unique striking. This coin was from a set of six coins, which included five Specimens and one exceptionally nice Mint State example. While the 20 Pesos was only estimated at $20,000 to $40,000, it sold for an astounding $130,900.

 

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Cuba 1915 Specimen 10 Pesos, graded NGC SP 64. Realized: $107,100.

Also breaking the six-figure mark was the 10 Peso issue. It is also believed to be unique, and brought $107,100, far higher than its $10,000 to $20,000 estimate. The same collector who purchased the 20 Peso coin bought this one, as well as the other four coins in the set.

In all, the six coins realized $473,025, more than four times their cumulative estimates. Compare this amount with the result of a similarly graded 1915 gold Cuban Proof set (as opposed to specimens) that was sold as a single lot in January 2018 by Heritage Auctions for $180,000, and you can see that the set in the Sedwick sale is in a league of its own.

The remaining four Cuban coins were among the other NGC-graded highlights from the sale:

“We were very pleased with the results on NGC-certified coins, which are becoming a bigger part of our offerings with every auction,” said Daniel Sedwick, president and founder of Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC.

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