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Ira & Larry Goldberg to Auction Half Cents
By Debbie Bradley, Numismatic News
November 08, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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It is called the Missouri Cabinet Collection, and for the connoisseur of half cents, it is a collection like no other.

“The Missouri Cabinet Collection is the only collection of half cents ever formed that contains every variety of half cent struck for circulation,” said Bob Grellman, an early copper specialist who cataloged the collection.

It contains 228 half cents from 1793-1857.

“In addition, it is the only collection to contain every variety of half cent struck only in proof.”

The set will be sold at auction by Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel in Los Angeles. Online bidding will be at

“When you add up the catalog estimates, many of which are very conservative, the value of the collection comes to $7 million,” Grellman said.

“I expect the auction to hammer down at around $10 million.”

When it comes to half cents, the Missouri Cabinet collection is the best of the best. The Professional Coin Grading Service, which has certified every cent in the collection, has ranked it No. 1 in all eight registry categories applicable to half cents.

But then again, it has taken more than 40 years and the efforts of several noted numismatists to amass such a collection. At the heart of it is a collaboration between R. “Tett” Tettenhorst and the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES).

The Missouri Cabinet Collection includes Tett’s half cent collection and the half cent collection of Eric P. Newman, including cents from the collection of Col. Edward H.R. Green, which Newman donated to EPNNES.

Tett has had custody of all the Missouri Cabinet Collection half cents and managed the continued improvements to the collection, Grellman said.

“It’s not a case of where every coin in the collection is the finest known, but the overall quality is the finest of any collection of half cents that has ever been formed,” Grellman said.

This collection garners plenty of interest in the hobby, but Grellman admits that half cents aren’t the most popular area of numismatics.

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“People didn’t grow up with half cents,” he said. “When we all started out we collected pennies, nickels, dimes and all the way through dollars. But we never saw half cents.

“Only the connoisseurs of coins collect half cents.”

It’s a relatively small group of dedicated people, he said.

Grellman is a member of the Early American Coppers, and while some EAC members will be bidding he expects the majority of the activity will be among collectors building registry sets.

“Registry people want the highest possible quality they can get,” he said.

“I expect some very deep pocket people who are building registry sets to be major players at the auction.”

Grellman said that members of EAC are specialists who really pay attention to die varieties and die states, but aren’t that concerned with getting the finest of everything.

“There are some pieces that are extremely rare but low grade and will go to EAC specialists because the registry people aren’t going to care about those coins as much,” he said. “Both groups are going to be well served by the sale. There will be something in there for everybody.”

Among the top coins in the sale are:

• 1793 C-4 R3. PCGS graded MS-66 Brown. CAC approved. Catalog estimate is upwards of $300,000.

“This is almost guaranteed to go to a registry set collector,” Grellman said. “You could get one of these at less than $1,000 in a low grade, but this coin is tied with one other as the finest 1793 half cent graded by PCGS regardless of the die variety.”

• 1794 C-7 R5. PCGS graded MS-67 Red & Brown. CAC approved. Catalog estimate is upwards of $500,000.

“This is probably the nicest, finest early date half cent date in existence,” Grellman said. “One other is in the British Museum, but it doesn’t have as much red. I expect this one is going to attract a great deal of attention from registry people. It’s a rare variety, but it’s the grade that is going to make the difference for this one.”

• 1796 C-1 No Pole R6-. PCGS graded MS-65 Brown. CAC approved. Catalog estimate is upwards of $750,000.

“This is rare because the die broke on the very first strike,” Grellman said. “They are unknown to exist without it. Because of that break, they only struck a very few.”

“This is not the finest known, with one clearly better in MS-67, “but it is still going to bring an awful lot of money. If someone is building a Red Book set for registry, then this is the key coin because this is the toughest year of all the years to acquire.”

• 1796 C-2 with Pole R4. PCGS graded MS-65+ Red & Brown. CAC approved. Catalog estimate is upwards of $650,000.

“This coin has the original mint red,” Grellman said. “It’s a rare date anyway, but this one is exceptional in terms of quality. These coins don’t come with red very often.”

Fact is, people didn’t collect these coins in 1796.

“They were spending them,” Grellman said. “They were used in commerce. Someone put this aside and saved it so we have this fabulous example. People building registry sets are going to fight over this one.”

• 1811 C-1 R$. PCGS graded MS-66 Red & Brown. CAC approved. Catalog estimate is upwards of $200,000.

“The neat thing about this coin is not only the state of preservation, but it is from the earliest die strikes,” Grellman said. “The fields are reflective giving a proof look to it even though it is not certified as a proof coin.”

And there are 223 other half cents in the collection that will be up for auction.

To view the collection or take part in the auction, contact Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers at 1-800-978-2646.

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