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Sheridan Downey Numismatist - Coins

Mail Bid Auction 51

Auction ended on February 15, 2021

Lot Number 102

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Overton Sells an 1817 over 14 Half-Dollar to Louis Eliasberg -    

Al Overton ultimately decided to sell the 1817/4 half-dollar described in the previous lot.  It was offered in his 24th Mail Bid Sale of January 23, 1953.  The description of lot 200 recounts the circumstances of its discovery and the authentication efforts documented above.  Overton called the coin “Extremely Fine, Extremely Rare and Probably Unique.”  He related Wayte Raymond’s view that the coin is “the same as one allegedly possessed by a California dealer in the nineteen thirties … mentioned in Green’s check list book of 1936, with notation 1 known.”  Overton concluded, “I cannot say that this is or is not the same coin.  But I am positive it is the only known specimen of public record as of this date.”   

When he read of Overton’s discovery Louis Eliasberg found himself 1 coin short of the goal he thought he had fulfilled in 1951, ownership of every coin issued by the U.S Mint for circulation since 1792 (per Green's Mint Record and Type Table).  Eliasberg was vacationing in Florida the day Overton’s sale closed.  He submitted a bid of $1,500 for the 1817/4.  Overton accepted the offer (reluctantly, it is said) and the next day fired off a telegram to Eliasberg in Florida.  With admirable brevity Overton wrote: YOUR BID $1,500 ON LOT 200 OUR SALE JANUARY 23RD IS ACCEPTED COIN SHIPPED TODAY VIA REGISTERED AIR MAIL TO BALTIMORE ADDRESS.  THANK YOU – OVERTON CION [sic] CO.  

Three days later Eliasberg replied, adopting Overton’s terse style: I enclose herewith check in amount of $1,500 in payment of the 1817 over 14 Half Dollar.  I would appreciate having the history of this coin for our records.  

The following documents are included in this lot:

  1.      Overton’s copy of the Western Union Telegram to Louis Eliasberg in Ft. Lauderdale, FL wherein Overton accepts Eliasberg’s bid on the 1817/4.  The telegram is date-stamped “1953 JAN 24 AM 10:53.”
  2.      Original letter on Eliasberg Bros., Inc stationery, dated January 27, 1953, to Al C. Overton, enclosing payment for the 1817/4, signed by Doris Everding, Secretary to Mr. Eliasberg.
  3.      Pages 15-18 of the March 25, 1962 Sunday Baltimore Sun Magazine, comprising a 4-page article documenting Eliasberg’s numismatic achievements.  The story is titled, Every U.S. Coin Ever Issued and includes photos of 4 notable pieces: 1817/4 half-dollar, the Stickney 1804 dollar, an 1870-S $3 gold piece and an 1873-CC No Arrows dime.

Auction Ended

High Bid Maximum Bid Total Price
Reserve met
$2,501 $275

Sheridan Downey, Numismatist
4400 Keller Ave., Suite 140, PMB 398
Oakland, California 94605
(510) 479-1585

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