Auctioneer to sing a song of Cecil Calvert's sixpence

July 24, 1993|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Staff Writer

When the auctioneer's hammer bangs down on Lot No. 1 Monday afternoon, a tiny, shiny piece of Maryland history will have a new home.

The Lord Baltimore sixpence was struck at the Royal Mint in the Tower of London in the winter of 1658-1659 for circulation in the Calvert family's American colony.

Few examples of Lord Baltimore's coinage survive, and the silver coin is expected to fetch at least $5,000 at the 1 p.m. auction by the Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills at the Omni Inner Harbor Hotel. The sixpence, with a profile of Cecil Calvert on the obverse and the Calvert arms on the reverse, turned up out of the blue last summer at the American Numismatic Association's annual convention in Orlando, Irv Goldberg, Superior's president, said in a telephone interview from Chicago.

"An elderly man walked up to our table and said he had bought the coin at an ANA convention in 1946 -- for six dollars. Then he consigned it to us for auction," Mr. Goldberg said.

The Calvert coinage eventually disappeared.

Although the Lord Baltimore sixpence is the sentimental local favorite, the real stars of the 1,070-lot auction are what Mr. Goldberg called "The Royal Flush," five coins that are supremely rare, either in number or in condition and which are expected to fetch from $100,000 to $500,000 each.

The "king" is an 1804 silver dollar picturing a draped bust of Liberty,which is considered the second finest example in the world as far as condition is concerned. "I expect it to bring a half-million dollars plus," Mr. Goldberg said.

The "queen" in the "Flush" is an 1898 Morgan silver dollar, which is not so rare, but its superb condition makes it "the finest silver dollar in the world," Mr. Goldberg said. It is expected to fetch more than $100,000.

A silver dollar struck in 1795 is the "princess" of the group, a newly discovered, uncirculated specimen of early United States coinage expected to bring at least $250,000.

The so-called "golden diplomat" of the group is an 1874 Liberty head $10 gold eagle, which Mr. Goldberg said may fetch between $200,000 and $300,000. It was a proposed design for a coinage issue, but Congress did not approve and only the two pattern coins are known to exist.

The so-called "emperor" in the "Flush" is a Canadian silver dollar issued in 1911 with a bust of newly crowned King George V. Mr. Goldberg expects it to bring at least $200,000.

The Superior Galleries auction is independent of the American Numismatic Association convention, which will open at noon Wednesday at the Convention Center.

Mr. Goldberg said his gallery holds about 20 coin auctions each year and always arranges a major sale just before the annual ANA convention opens.

The sale will be in two sessions at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday. The coins will be on view at the Omni-Inner Harbor Hotel from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.

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