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Historical regulated $15 gold coin to appear in Sedwick auction

13 Mar

In the early years of the United States of America, a lack of gold coinage forced citizens to utilize an unusual but practical source. Known as regulated gold, these were foreign gold coins adjusted by respected goldsmiths to weights compatible with US dollars. One such piece, an NGC-graded XF 40 Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos dated 1741 struck during the reign of Philip V of Spain and regulated by Boston goldsmith Joseph Edwards, Jr. (1737-1783) to $15 in circulating value, will cross the auction block in Daniel Frank Sedwick’s Treasure Auction 23. The sale will be held online at auction.sedwickcoins.com on May 15-16, 2018. The auction firm’s estimate for this coin is $100,000 and up.

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An NGC-graded XF 40 $15 regulated gold piece made from a Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos dated 1741 by Boston goldsmith Joseph Edwards, Jr., ca. late 1700s.

“This is a very important piece for both the Spanish colonial coin collector as well as the US collector,” said company president Daniel Sedwick. “Never before have we offered such a significant gold coin; the dual-nation history it represents goes far beyond a simple countermark.”

The lot represents the only known gold piece regulated by Joseph Edwards, Jr. Edwards was a third-generation goldsmith from a prominent Boston family. He learned his craft from one of his uncles, Thomas or Samuel, and became a prosperous metalworker himself. The coin is also unique with a US dollar-denominated regulation on a Spanish colonial 8 escudos cob. Furthermore, it is pedigreed to the Julius L. Brown collection and was sold in the S.H. Chapman auction of 1911 as lot 343.

Also appearing in Sedwick’s auction is a group of ingots recovered from seven different shipwrecks. The top ingot lots are three large silver bars recovered from the Atocha, sunk in 1622 in the Gulf of Mexico. The finest one is a Class Factor 1.0-graded bar (the highest grade attainable for bars from the wreck) weighing in at 88 troy pounds, 3.84 troy ounces and dated 1621. It has an estimate of $30,000 and up. The other two large bars, with Class Factors 0.7 and 0.9, are estimated at $20,000 to $30,000 each. Another Atocha ingot of note in this auction is a rare cylindrical “piña” weighing 4,312 grams, estimated at $15,000 and up.

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Tax stamps in the name of King Philip III of Spain and fineness markings can be seen on the top of this unique “piña” ingot from the Atocha (1622).

Other top lots include:

  • A Lima, Peru, gold cob 8 escudos dated 1712 recovered from the 1715 Fleet and graded by NGC as MS 62, estimated at $12,500.
  • Half of a gold “finger” bar weighing 439 grams recovered from the “Golden Fleece wreck,” sunk ca. 1550 in the northern Caribbean, estimated at $17,500 and up.
  • A Costa Rica 8 reales 1846JB counterstamp on a Guatemala cob 8 reales dated 1739, estimated at $7,000 to $10,000.
  • An 1856-S Coronet Head Liberty $20 graded by NGC as UNC Details / sea salvaged from the “Fort Capron treasure,” estimated at $3,000 to $4,500.
  • A Puerto Rico 20 pesos specimen bank note circa 1889 graded by PMG as Gem UNC 65 EPQ (the finest and only known example in the PMG census), estimated at $1,500 and up.
  • Selections from the Richard Stuart collection mainly focusing on Honduras and Nicaragua provisional issues.
  • The James Bevill collection of Mexican coins and paper money, including several plated in his Texas history book The Paper Republic.
  • The Ricardo Muñiz collection of Mexico City, Mexico, pillar 1 reales.

Bidders can register for the auction at www.auction.sedwickcoins.com. The auction catalog will be available mid-April at www.sedwickcoins.com. For more details, please contact Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC at office@sedwickcoins.com.

Making a Bank Note: A Study of El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua Bromide Proofs

20 Dec

by Connor Falk

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The history of El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua (the Bank of the State of Chihuahua) is brief and steeped in the turbulent times of the Mexican Revolution. It was founded on December 12, 1913, as decreed by General Francisco “Pancho” Villa, military governor of the state of Chihuahua and commander of the División del Norte, an armed revolutionary faction. The bank’s stated purpose, in addition to issuing currency, was to “facilitate loans on properties that fully guarantee capital, especially poor farmers who need pecuniary elements to tillage their lands.” The bank’s capital was 10 million pesos, to be distributed in bank notes backed by gold.

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Work began quickly to locate a designer and printer for the bank’s notes, and after several unsuccessful forays, El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua contracted with the American Bank Note Company (ABNCo). Design work began in September 1914 with bank representatives choosing the vignettes to be used.

The accompanying lot, #1397, represents an interesting look at the bank note design process. The lot is a unique set of fourteen photographic proofs (also known as bromide proofs) made in 1914 by the ABNCo when designing notes for El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua. These prototypes consist of both obverses and reverses of all seven denominations issued by the bank, including the rare 1 peso denomination.

A variety of obverse vignettes were used for the notes; the reverse vignettes, with minor variations, feature the seal of Mexico. The obverse of the 500 pesos features an allegorical design of two women, “Work” and “Knowledge,” with two young boys and El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua’s monogram in the center. The obverse of the 100 pesos depicts an armored Ceres seated with two men representing agriculture and industry in front.

The obverse vignettes on the lower denominations depict scenes rather than allegorical designs. The 50 pesos features a train pulling into a station, the 20 pesos illustrates a harvesting scene, the 10 pesos shows a rancher driving cattle, and the 5 pesos displays a miner using a pneumatic drill.

Of interest is the 1 peso obverse, which features a logging scene as the central vignette. The same scene is found on the Canadian Bank of Ottawa 5 dollars note from 1906 (Charlton 565-20-06). The later issues from 1913 (Charlton 565-22-02 and 565-26-02) feature a similar scene with the bottom row of logs removed, possibly to avoid cluttering a smaller vignette space than the 1906 issue. However, for the Chihuahua peso, ABNCo designers removed six loggers that were standing on the log pile. On the bromide, this was achieved by pasting the reworked scene directly over the original vignette. Why this change was made is unknown, though it’s possible the six loggers, who are white, looked out of place on what was to become a Mexican bank note.

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The central vignette of the 1 peso (note the whiter paper pasted over the original design)

Other examples of “vignette sharing” were commonplace for ABNCo notes. The following issues share vignettes with El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua notes:

  • Canada, Union Bank of Canada, 5 dollars, 1903-1912, SCWPM-S1493 and S1495, same obverse vignette (harvest scene) as the Chihuahua 20 pesos
  • Haiti, Republique d’Haiti, 1 gourde, 1914, SCWPM-131, same reverse vignette (harvest scene) as on the obverse of the Chihuahua 20 pesos (an example of an overprinted provisional issue, SCWPM-140a is in this auction as lot 2305)
  • Venezuela, Banco de Venezuela, 20 bolívares, SCWPM-S286, S291, S301, and S311, 1910-1936, same obverse vignette (rancher scene) as the Chihuahua 10 pesos

This is not an exhaustive list and I encourage others to provide more examples.

The other interesting aspect about the 1 peso note is its rarity. Although initial plans called for printing one million 1 peso notes, bank officials put the denomination on hold. Instead, an additional two thousand of the 500 pesos note were printed to cover the one million peso shortfall. Although ABNCo received word that plates should be prepared for the denomination, none were ever printed. Just three proofs as well as the bromide in this set are known. What should have been the most common note in the series became the rarest one instead.

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The greyed out “L” on the 500 pesos

The other denominations are more common, and this bromide set provides insight into their design process. Edits were made on the notes throughout production. The 500 pesos obverse bromide displays this best. Above the central vignette, a banner with the decree date reads PAGARA AL PORTADOR EN EFECTIVO SEGÚN DECRETO DEL 12 DE DICIEMBRE DEL MIL NOVECIENTOS TRECE. The second “DEL” should be “DE”; the ABNCo designers realized this and greyed out the erroneous “L.” On the printed notes, the sentence reads correctly and the letters are slightly shifted to fill in the space.

Another design change on the 500 pesos is the change in signatories. Spaces are available for the interventor del gobierno (government controller), the cajero (cashier), and the presidente (president of the bank); however, presidente is crossed out and gerente (manager) is written below. All printed notes display gerente printed in place of presidente.1397_500pesogerente

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Changes were made to both the signatories and the gold backing clause.

A major change between the working copies and the printed notes is the valuation. On September 14, 1914, the valuation of the 10 pesos read ORO MEXICANO. The 5 pesos bromide displays a similar valuation stating VALOR ORO MEXICANO, but by October 1, 1914, this was changed to VALOR ORO NACIONAL, as seen on the rest of the bromides as well as the finished printed notes.

Although the notes were printed and delivered in early 1915, El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua would not exist much longer. Prendergast notes that “because of the depreciation of Villa’s currency after his defeat at Celaya (April 6-15, 1915), within a year the bank found it could no longer operate.” By November 23, the bank had closed, having never issued the notes both the ABNCo and bank officials had worked hard on. Instead, the series found new life first as advertising and novelty items, and now as numismatic pieces to be bought, sold and researched.

Acknowledgements

A full history of El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua written by Simon Prendergast can be found online at http://www.papermoneyofchihuahua.com. His work has been invaluable to my interest and research on this bank note series.

Mexican Paper Money by Cory Frampton, Duane Douglas, Alberto Hidalgo, and Elmer Powell is an invaluable tool for both El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua specialists as well as Mexican bank notes in general.

Notes can be seen and purchased following these links:

Mexico, Banco del Estado de Chihuahua, Bromide “Photographic” Proofs Set, 1914  

“Two bits” US quarter design proposed

21 Sep

Could the two bits return to circulation? A Spanish colonial influenced design for the 2019 Texas San Antonio Missions America the Beautiful quarter was recommended by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) on Sept. 19.

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The CCAC-recommended design for the 2019 San Antonio Missions America the Beautiful quarter.

The reverse design is based heavily on Spanish colonial cob reales which circulated widely in North and South America. It was not uncommon to see reales circulating in the American colonies. The adage “two bits” descends from the 2 reales or 2 “bits” of an 8 reales, a denomination that traded at par with a US quarter dollar.

The CCAC-recommended design features a Spanish colonial-style cross in the center. In the four quadrants, there is a mission bell tower in the upper left, a heraldic lion in the upper right, wheat in the lower left and waves in the lower right.

The mission tower and the lion are very similar to the castles and lions found on Spanish colonial cobs, both in design and in placement. The bushel of wheat and waves are modern additions that symbolize the crops grown by the missions using water from the San Antonio River.

Around the design is a raised rim with the legends reading, “SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS,” “TEXAS,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” in addition to the date, 2019. The obverse design will be the standard Washington quarter design, shared across all America the Beautiful quarters.

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Reverse of a Mexico City, Mexico cob 2 reales.

Fifteen concepts for the San Antonio Missions quarter were submitted for review. Most featured different views of a mission. Three featured a Spanish colonial cross: the CCAC recommended design, one with the tower and wheat positions swapped as well as a fish leaping out of water and one with the cross extending to the rims.

The San Antonio Missions quarter is one of five new designs set to release in 2019. Quarters commemorating Massachusetts’ Lowell National Historical Park, Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands’ American Memorial Park, Guam’s War in the Pacific National Historical Park and Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness will appear throughout the year. The CCAC discussed 64 total depictions for the five quarter designs.

The designs viewed by the CCAC were also considered by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). The CFA’s suggestions were not available at press time. Once both groups have selected designs, they will be sent to Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin for approval in early 2018.

In 2019, the United States Mint will strike the five quarter designs throughout the year. The San Antonio Missions quarter is expected to release in late August. If the CCAC-recommended design is chosen, Americans will once again find two bits in their pocket change.

How to grade coins: lessons from ANA’s Summer Seminar

12 Jul

Grading coins can be a difficult task. The difference between an AU-58 coin and an MS-62 coin can mean very little in terms of wear but matter greatly in value. If the coin isn’t under the right light or the grader isn’t experienced with the series, money could be left on the table. It’s for this reason that the American Numismatic Association (ANA) provides three grading courses at their annual Summer Seminar.

I recently attended the 2017 Summer Seminar from June 17 to 29 held at the Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo. The seminar offers a variety of courses on numismatic topics; everything from identifying counterfeits to grading coins. In addition, there are opportunities to meet with fellow numismatists, attend mini-seminars and visit some of Colorado’s sites.

I enrolled in the Grading United States Coins, Part 2 and Advanced United States Coin Grading and Problem Coins courses after testing out of the Coin Grading 1. Coin Grading 2 was held the first week of the seminar. It was taught by Steve Feltner of Americana Rare Coins, John Shuch of NGC, and David McCarthy of Kagin’s. Advanced Coin Grading went on the second week of the seminar and was taught by Charles Browne of Charles Browne Numismatic Consulting, Ken Park of The KMJ Group, Don Ketterling of D.H. Ketterling Consulting, and Bill Shamhart of Numismatic Americana, Inc.

The course involved multiple rounds of grading coins. We would grade a coin while timed and pass it to the next student while receiving another one in turn. Timing, as the instructors stated, is important because you can’t spend all day on one coin and people have a tendency to second guess themselves. We began with a minute per coin in Coin Grading 2 and went down to 30 seconds in Advanced Coin Grading.

The coins we graded were typically US coins and most were Mint State. Why Mint State? Because most people have difficulty with identifying a Mint State coin and the differences between Mint State grades are minute.

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The Practical Book of Cobs on sale at the American Numismatic Association headquarters.

When grading a Mint State coin, two of the most helpful pieces of advice I have ever heard were picked up in the classes. The first is “grade down from MS-70 rather than grade up for MS-60.” Graders with minimal experience in a particular coin series have a tendency to focus on marks and award lower grades than expected. As someone who has a tendency to be conservative when grading, this helped me to give coins the MS-64s or -65s they deserved rather than the MS-63s I would award them.

The other piece of advice that matters most to me is to “use light to your advantage.” Lighting while grading is a big factor. A dark room is necessary. Graders should use incandescent bulbs in adjustable lamps that they can get the coin as close to as possible. Rotating the coin all around is necessary to pick up the marks and lines that may affect the grade.

I also learned an interesting technique to use on AU-58 coins that appear to be Mint State. By holding the coin vertically and moving it away from the light source, I could see areas of wear take on a darker tone than the rest of the coin. Bringing it back into the light and taking a closer look revealed the marks and smooth patches that wear leaves.

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The author, Connor Falk, holds up a very rare 1943 Lincoln Wheat cent graded PCGS XF45 CAC.

Another helpful technique I learned was to grade based on my first look at the coin. If I looked at a coin for too long or took a second look, I had a tendency to second guess my grade. Marks that seemed minimal before were more serious now that I knew where they were. Graders should also take care not to fall into the trap of “counting” marks.

Lastly, another key phrase I heard in the classes was that the “reverse of a coin never helps and always hurts.” This means that a coin with a MS-67 reverse but an MS-64 obverse is going to get an MS-64 grade. Likewise, a coin with an MS-67 obverse but an MS-64 reverse will trend around MS-65. Almost all of the coin’s grade derives from the obverse since it is the side of the coin that people see first but a bad reverse can bring a grade down.

While most of my time was spent grading, I also got the chance to visit Colorado. Some fellow numismatists and I went to a Rockies-Diamondbacks game in Denver, an arcade in Manitou Springs, and the local coin show in Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Springs coin show was a welcomed respite in between the two weeks of classes. Roughly 50 dealers had booths at the show and offered the range of numismatics. I sold quite a bit of Spanish colonial coinage we had in inventory and bought a little bit. One coin I brought back with me is a nice NGC certified 1853-O Arrows and Rays Seated Liberty half dollar from the SS Republic shipwreck. It has very minimal corrosion and some nice toning throughout. It’ll be up on the Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC online store soon.

I highly recommend attending the ANA’s Summer Seminar and taking the coin grading courses. Quite a few numismatists have taken the grading classes multiple times to hone their grading skills. Even Ken Bressett, editor of the Red Book, stopped by my Coin Grading 2 class to adjust his grading scale. The classes provide a great environment for knowledgeable instructors to teach numismatists the techniques needed to accurately grade coins. Having those skills could pay dividends when it comes to buying a raw coin, sending it in for grading and getting back a coin that you can then resell for a profit.

Shipwreck artifacts and coins top Sedwick auction

12 May

Strong collector demand provoked intense bidding and high prices for both shipwreck and non-shipwreck items in Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC’s May 3-4 auction. The 2,086 lot auction realized $1.725 million in winning bids. All prices listed include a 17.5 percent buyer’s premium.

Rosary (2)

A gold and red-coral rosary recovered from the Atocha that sold for $85,187.

A gold and red-coral rosary recovered from the shipwreck of the Atocha, which sank in 1622 west of Key West, Florida, greatly surpassed its $25,000-up estimate to sell for $85,187. The rosary, in the sale as lot 2020, has been well publicized since its discovery in 1973, having appeared in the June 1976 issue of National Geographic and offered in a 1988 Christie’s auction.

Atocha bar

A 83 troy pound, 7.52 troy ounce silver bar from the Atocha was purchased for $64,883.

Another Atocha relic in the sale was lot 319, an 83 troy pound, 7.52 troy ounce silver bar that went for $64,883 on a $35,000-up estimate.

Salvation coin

A Bogota gold escudo from the 1715 Fleet and donated to the Salvation Army sold for $3,819.

Hundreds of shipwreck coins appeared in the sale as well. One of the most viewed items in the sale was lot 46, a Bogota gold escudo recovered from the shipwrecked 1715 Fleet and famously donated to the Salvation Army red kettle campaign during the 2016 holiday season. It flew by its $2,000-$3,000 estimate and sold for $3,819.

Cuzco

A MS-64 1837 Cuzco, Peru, gold 8 escudos hammered at $38,775.

Many non-shipwreck pieces saw high prices and, in some instances, record breaking prices. Lot 203, a Cuzco, Peru, 1837 gold 8 escudos graded NGC MS 64 went for $38,775. It was estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

Panama coins and paper money saw spirited bidding in the auction. A rare Panama 1930 matte proof set consisting of the half-, quarter- and tenth-balboas pedigreed to the Richard Stuart collection was offered as lot 1648. The set sold for $18,800, well past its $2,000-$3,000 estimate. Likewise, a Panama (then a state in Colombia) 1869 3 pesos banknote graded PMG VF 25 realized $3,055 on a $1,500-$2,250 estimate.

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This Sovereign State of Panama 3 pesos note from 1869 graded PMG VF 35 realized $3,055.

Other top lots include:

  • Lot 24, a Lima 1697/66H cob 4 escudos from the 1715 Fleet graded NGC MS 63 sold for $31,725.
  • Lot 3, a 1713 Mexico gold 8 escudos from the 1715 Fleet graded NGC MS 66 sold for $28,200.
  • Lot 556, a Mexico cob 4 reales from the pirate ship Whydah sold for $16,450.
  • Lot 320, a 35 troy pound, 1.81 troy ounce silver bar from the Maravillas shipwreck sold for $15,275.
  • Lot 1666, a Paraguay white-metal pattern 10 reales (ca. 1861-67) graded NGC MS 61 sold for $15,862.
  • Lot 1644, a Panama copper-nickel 1918 2-1/2 centesimos pedigreed to the Richard Stuart collection and graded NGC MS 63 sold for $13,512.

Full auction results can be viewed online at auction.sedwickcoins.com. Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC is currently accepting consignments for their Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction #22 to be held Nov. 1-3, 2017. For more details, please contact Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC at office@sedwickcoins.com.

Red Kettle-donated gold shipwreck coin to be auctioned

13 Apr

A 300-year-old Spanish colonial gold coin recovered from a 1715 Plate Fleet shipwreck and donated during the Salvation Army’s 2016 Holiday Red Kettle campaign will be auctioned on May 3, 2017.

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The Bogota cob 1 escudo recovered from the 1715 Fleet and donated to the Salvation Army in December of 2016.

The coin will appear as lot 46 in Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC’s Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction #21, held May 3-4 online at auction.sedwickcoins.com. The lot is estimated at $2,000 to $3,000. The Salvation Army will receive the full final hammer price from the sale.

Also included with the coin is a letter on its provenance from Lt. Jonathan Needham, corps officer of the Salvation Army of Vero Beach, as well as the case the coin was donated in.

The gold escudo was anonymously handed to volunteer bell ringer Jim Bessey on Dec. 23, 2016 outside of a Sebastian, Fla. Walmart store. The donation made national news as one of the more interesting pieces given to the Salvation Army during the holiday season.

The donated coin was minted at the Spanish colonial mint in Bogota, Colombia sometime between 1700 and 1715 as a posthumous issue of King Charles II (1661-1700).

In 1715, the escudo, along with many others, was shipped aboard the 1715 Plate Fleet, one of the largest treasure fleets of its time. Several ships from the fleet sank during a storm off the east coast of Florida. Much of the treasure remained on the ocean floor until modern day salvage operations recovered many coins and artifacts, which are in demand on the collectibles market.

Bidders can register for the auction at auction.sedwickcoins.com. The auction catalog is available for ordering at www.sedwickcoins.com. For more details, please contact Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC at office@sedwickcoins.com.

Rarities, shipwreck notes in Sedwick sale

6 Apr

Rare U.S., world and even shipwreck recovered bank notes will appear in Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC’s Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction 21. The sale will be held live online on May 3-4 at auction.sedwickcoins.com.

The U.S. paper money section contains federal and obsolete issues in addition to Texas, Confederate and Philippine notes. The top U.S. piece is lot 1782, an 1882 $20 gold certificate graded PCGS Apparent Gem New 65, estimated at $7,500 to $11,000. The note features then recently assassinated President Garfield on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse clutching electric bolts over the ocean, symbolizing the transatlantic telegraph lines of the time.

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A 1882 $20 gold certificate graded PCGS Gem New 65 Apparent, estimated at $7,500 to $11,000.

The world paper money section features a key Puerto Rican note: lot 1994, a 1909 Banco de Puerto Rico $5 graded PCGS Fine 12 and pedigreed to the Eric P. Newman collection. Newman collected Puerto Rican currency because of their close ties to U.S. history and this example, authorized just after the Spanish-American War, fits the bill. The note has an estimate of $2,000 and up.

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A 1909 Banco de Puerto Rico $5 graded PCGS Fine 12 and pedigreed to the Eric P. Newman collection, estimated at $2,000 and up.

A high grade 1922 Canadian La Banque Nationale specimen set will also appear in the sale as lot 1845. The set features all five denominations certified by PMG in grades ranging from UNC 62 to 66 and has a $2,000 to $3,000 estimate.

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A 1936 Costa Rican 2 colones “Mona Lisa” note graded PCGS VF 30, estimated at $1,750 to $2,500.

Other important lots in the sale include:

  • Lot 1786, a series 1935E $1 silver certificate “star note” graded PCGS Grade A recovered from the Andrea Doria, sunk in 1956 off Massachusetts, estimated at $500 to $750.
  • Lot 653, three British India 10 rupees recovered from the SS Camberwell, sunk in 1917 by a German mine off the Isle of Wight, England, estimated at $100 to $150.
  • Lot 1869, a 1936 Costa Rican 2 colones “Mona Lisa” note graded PCGS VF 30, estimated at $1,750 to $2,500.
  • Lot 1819, a series 1912 Philippines 50 pesos graded PCGS VF 35 Net – Toning, estimated at $1,400 to $2,100.
  • Lot 1965, a complete set of eight high grade Mexican Banco Yucateco specimens graded by PMG, estimated at $3,000 to $4,500.
  • Lot 1844, a set of five 1929 Bulgarian specimens from 200 levas to 5,000, estimated at $3,000 to $4,000.

Bidders can register for the auction at auction.sedwickcoins.com. The auction catalog is available for ordering at www.sedwickcoins.com. For more details, please contact Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC at office@sedwickcoins.com.

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