Stack's Phenomenal 1875-S Double Eagle
Type 2 : With Motto Reverse, Denomination as “TWENTY D.”
Over many years of provenance research, the names Eliasberg, Garrett, and Norweb obviously come up with regularity, as those collections are very well known, and each were sold in highly publicized series of sales. Other names are well known by specialists, but remain largely forgotten by most of today’s breed of collectors. However, there is one of these forgotten names which consistently appears within the ownership chains of many of the most important and finest known American coins, and that name is James A. Stack, Sr.
James A. Stack, no relation to the numismatic Stack family of New York, began collecting in the late 1930’s, continued in earnest through the 1940’s, yet passed away in 1951. As written in the short biography offered in the last of the James A. Stack sales in 1995 –
“James A. Stack, Sr.’s name as one of America’s greatest numismatic collectors is still not as well known as it deserves to be. In part, this is because Mr. Stack preferred it that way during his lifetime.”
Another possibility for James A. Stack’s relative lack of numismatic fame may be the manner in which his coins were sold. Consignments by Stack’s heirs to Stack’s of New York occurred sporadically over two decades, beginning with Quarters and Halves in 1975, continuing with half cents and half dimes in 1989, a landmark collection of dimes in 1990, superb gold coins in 1994, and his remaining coins including the finest known 1870-S Liberty Seated $1 and this superb 1875-S Double Eagle in 1995. Additionally, while the 1975 sale was ‘single-owner’, the other sales were not, as they included coins from other consignors, so there is no definitive set of catalogues for Stack’s collection.
Certified by NGC as MS-67 shortly after its sale in March 1995, Stack’s 1875-S $20 was then certified by PCGS as MS-67 in August 1995, and has remained at the top of all condition census rosters since.
Type II Coronet Double Eagles are plentiful in grades from circulated through lower Mint State, and marky MS62-63 coins are typically available with little effort. However, this becomes a significantly rare type coin in Gem Uncirculated, with PCGS reporting only six coins graded MS-65 or better including all dates and mintmarks. Additionally, the CAC Census also includes only six coins of the type certified MS-65 or better by PCGS and NGC combined. The remaining roster is as follows:
- 1867 MS-66 PCGS/CAC #82293996, previously NGC/CAC MS-66 #2046402-035 – Eric Newman; Heritage Auctions 11/2014:3377 @ $258,500 as NGC/CAC MS66.
- 1869 MS-65+ PCGS/CAC #38634102 – Ex Heritage Auctions ‘Gold Rush’ 1/2005:30073 @ $218,500 as PCGS MS65 #6309794; Heritage Auctions ‘Madison’ 1/2008:3319 @ $299,000 as PCGS MS65 #6309794; Brent Pogue; Stack’s Bowers ‘Pogue VII’ 3/2020:7348 @ $204,000 as PCGS MS66 #38634102. Then downgraded at PCGS to MS65+ in order to be “approved” at CAC.
- 1873 Open 3 MS65+ PCGS/CAC #81720676
- 1875 MS-66 NGC/CAC
- 1876 MS65 PCGS #81720686 – Ex Heritage 1/2009:1320 @ $40,250 as PCGS MS64 #50001221
- 1876-S MS65 PCGS/CAC #04781989
Regardless of James A. Stack’s relative numismatic obscurity, the coins from his collection provide proof of an unmatched level of knowledge and connoisseurship. The depth of quality in his collection has few rivals, and decades later coins including the James A. Stack provenance are recognized as a parade of finest knowns. This 1875-S Double Eagle is no exception, catalogued in 1995 as “Outstanding quality, possibly the finest business strike Type II Double Eagle known.” Catalogued again as part of the Brent Pogue Collection twenty-five years later, nothing has changed, no close challengers have been identified, and this remains the undisputed finest known example of this significant gold type.
James A. Stack (before 1951); Stack’s ‘The James A. Stack, Sr. Collection’, March 1995, lot 715 @ $82,500 as “Superb Gem Uncirculated”; Jay Parrino’s ‘The Mint’ (Jay Parrino & Mike Phillips); Certified by NGC as MS67, then certified by PCGS as MS67 #4240924 in August 1995; ‘Oreville’ Collection; privately to John Albanese, January 2009 @ $575,000; privately via Spectrum (Paul Nugget) March 2009 to Brent Pogue; Stack’s Bowers ‘D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part VII’, March 2020, lot 7349 @ $432,000 as PCGS MS67 to Joseph O’Connor (OCNUMIS) and John Albanese (CAC).