One aspect of collecting classic commemorative coins includes the ephemera that sometimes accompany the coins. Many silver issues came in paper or cardboard “tab” holders that tattered away, but left their mark with vibrant toning. Other items, like original bags, copper frames, cases, etc. were saved, even after the coins were sold off, and have become collectibles in their own right. Lot 6118 in the Stack’s Bowers Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring Expo has both a rare coin and a rare piece of numismatic ephemera — a Proof 1903 Louisiana Purchase gold dollar housed in the original certificate and mounted in a frame. Over the years, many coins have been broken out of the frames (especially since the advent of third-party certification) and the frames and certificates have been lost. For years, we had a pair of these hanging on the wall in our famous showroom at 123 West 57th Street before they were sold with the Stack Family holdings in September 2009.
Our expert catalog description below explains the history of this fascinating piece:
”Framed 1903 Proof L.P.E. Jefferson Dollar
“From First 100 Struck
“1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition Gold Dollar, Jefferson Portrait, Proof-63 (Uncertified), housed in original frame with Philadelphia Mint wax seal and imprinted card signed by Superintendent J.M. Landis and Coiner R.R. Freed.
“A honey-gold specimen with softly active luster and solid all-around eye appeal. A rarity from the first-ever commemorative gold dollar issues.
“In the ensuing 112 years since this specimen was struck and placed in its framed holder it has turned slightly in the frame with Jefferson’s portrait now nearly upside down, not important at all but noted just the same. Housed in a gilt antique wooden frame approximately 12" X 14" and matted within. The coin itself is central to the display and is outlined in a square formed by a braided cord that encompasses the coin and hangs down with a bow with the cord’s ends secured at the bottom of the display by an intact wax seal that reads "SUPT US MINT PHILA." around a central five-pointed star. Above, flanking, and below reads in fancy Spencerian script: "This is to Certify, that the accompanying / LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION GOLD DOLLAR / struck at the mint of the / United States, Philadelphia, / in accordance with an Act of Congress approved / June 28th, 1902, is one of the first one hundred / impressions from the Jefferson dies." It is signed below by Rhine R. Freed, Coiner, and John M. Landis, Superintendent. We have handled more than one of these framed and matted 1903 L.P.E. in the past and we have found great bidder support to be the norm when one of these early commemorative gold issues is offered in its original frame.”