Probable Finest Known 1873-S Eagle Recently Discovered in Europe

Every once in a while, a previously unknown cache of coins that yields a new discovery surprises the numismatic market. Sometimes a new variety or date in a series is uncovered or the census of known examples and their grades is revised. The latter is the case for this 1873-S eagle, found in Europe in March, and now the finest certified example and quite possibly is the finest known.

The 1873-S $10 gold piece is scarce with only 12,000 examples struck for circulation, as the coiner’s attention was focused on striking double eagles. Like most gold coins struck in the western branch mints, most of these slipped into commerce and became worn. This is an ultimate condition rarity, with the Uncirculated population consisting of only this newly discovered example at the MS-62 level, and a single example graded MS-61. That MS-61 has an extensive pedigree going back to our 1986 sale of the Carter Collection, eventually finding its way to the Harry W. Bass Collection, and last sold publicly in 2000.

Dave Akers in his reference on U.S. gold coins called this date rare in any grade, and unknown in Uncirculated. Since its publication, these two pieces have appeared on the market. For over 15 years, the MS-61 Bass coin has stood as the sole Mint State coin. In March 2015, when the currently offered example was submitted to PCGS in Paris, it received the MS-62 grade qualifying it as the finest graded and likely the finest known.

This exciting new discovery will be offered as lot 70 in our special New York Rarities Sale, being held in conjunction with Sotheby’s on May 20. If rare gold coins are your area of specialty, be sure to view this important coin during our lot viewing in New York, both at Stack’s Bowers Auction Gallery and at the Sotheby’s Gallery. Or visit to view this coin and the entire Rarities Sale online.

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