Dr. Sol Taylor

Tokens Fetch High Prices at Auction

1975 ANA medal
A .900-fine gold medal from the 1975 ANA convention in Los Angeles, similar to this bronze version, fetched $546 in the Sept. 16 Heritage auction. The author, Sol Taylor, helped design the 19mm medal, which was created by Gordon Z. Greene of Galaxie Designs in Orange County. The original issue price was $75. (Photo: Leon Worden)

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
The Signal
Saturday, October 7, 2006

hen a major collection comes on the market via the auction route, it usually generates a great deal of activity. Many items in such a collection are so rare that they show up for sale maybe once in a lifetime.
    The recent sale of the Troy Wiseman collection of 19th-century American tokens and medals was one of those rare sales. It was held at the Long Beach Coin, Stamp and Collectibles Expo on Sept. 16. Heritage Auction Galleries' consignment director, Harvey Gamer, catalogued and attributed all of the items in the sale and assembled a world-class catalog with many color photographs and detailed descriptions.
    Wiseman is a businessman who founded a retail apparel company called Cami'z Inc. He also co-founded an organization to help orphans around the world through the Web site, worldorphans.org. A portion of the proceeds of the sale were earmarked for this organization, with additional support from Heritage Galleries.
    The majority of the thousands of items in the sale were from Wiseman's private collection. They included a diverse range of tokens from the time of Andrew Jackson, the Civil War era, merchants' tokens of the late 1800s and other early medals. The prices realized were often well above the published estimated values.
    Rounding out the sale was a diverse array from other collections such as Bryan money; a Lesher dollar (realized $5,462.50, compared to a catalog value of $1,000); so-called dollars; U.S. Mint Assay Commission medals from 1860-1976 with a record price of $2,530 for the 1876 medal, which was desirable as a Washingtonia item, a U.S. centennial item and as an Assay Commission medal. Usually only about 30 to 45 of these medals were produced each year for Assay Commission members and a few selected government officials. The last Assay Commission medal was struck in 1976 and 1977. A much larger issue medal was struck for the last non-public meeting; these oval bronze medals are for sale at the Mint and have little numismatic value. A few scarce counterstamped pieces were included in the sale, with the "Houck's Panacea" counterstamp on a Bust half dollar bringing $1,092.
    Similar pieces a few years ago brought $100 to $200. A unique counterstamped Seated Liberty dollar dated 1871 brought $276. It more than likely was a "love token" and not a trade token; the estimated value was $100. An 1857 quarter, counterstamped "Dr. Shattucks/Water/Cure," brought $690 against the catalog estimate of $350.
    Several encased cents, mostly Indian head, brought record prices, among them a 1901 watch company advertising piece ($143.75), Children's Day 1902 ($322), and a 1901 horseshoe-shaped advertising piece ($144). A group of nine encased cents from 1901-07 brought $172.50 — more than triple the recent retail values. An advertising mirror with a 1910 Lincoln cent brought $241.50 against an estimate of $50.
    The highlight item was a gold medal from the University of Virginia for the top award of the Jefferson Society, presented to James W. Boyd on July 3, 1860. This gold medal included a presentation manuscript and brought $7,475, with spirited bidding online and from floor bidders. The catalog devoted three full pages, including an enlarged color photo, of both sides of the medal.
    Another gold medal in the grouping was the Dr. Adolph Neubsch Presentation Award dated 1889. Issued by the Central Synagogue in New York, this medal was presented to L.G. Obermeier. It went for $1,035.
    The final groupings included some single gold medals for various American Numismatic Association conventions. The 1975 medal, which I co-designed with Gordon Z. Greene, went for $546. Only 120 or so of these medals were made, and many were melted in the gold frenzy of 1979-80. This medal came in the original two-piece white plastic plaque and was numbered, as all of the gold medals were.
    The 1959 Alaska Statehood medal in gold went for $2,070. The 1959 Hawaii Statehood medal in gold went for $3,450. The 1976 ANA convention medal in gold went for $675.
    For a complete list of prices realized in this sale (No. 416), visit HA.com/coins.

    Dr. Sol Taylor of Sherman Oaks is president of the Society of Lincoln Cent Collectors and author of The Standard Guide to the Lincoln Cent. Click here for ordering information.