2005 NGC Registry Award Winners
The NGC Registry has grown tremendously in 2005. With well over 11,000 registered sets, many of which feature stunning photographs and coin descriptions, the NGC Registry has become a community where collectors can truly share their coins, knowledge and passion for the hobby. We would like to thank every participant for contributing to this vibrant community. It is our great honor to feature such high quality sets in the NGC Registry.
The task of choosing winners for the Registry awards becomes more difficult each year as the number of sets grow. Our task was to choose five sets in three competitive categories Best Classic, Best Modern and Best Presented. Each of these categories is very difficult to narrow to just five winners. The Best Presented category was particularly difficult with many sets boasting beautiful photography and thoughtful coin descriptions. We finally selected the five Best Presented sets but we also selected a group of seven collectors for honorable mention in this category.
New to the Registry in 2005, Signature Sets have become so popular that we couldn’t overlook the outstanding sets in that area. We chose four winners for Signature Sets in the following categories, Best Overall, Best World, Most Creative and Most Informative.
Finally, also new in 2005, Collectors Journals, a collectors ‘blog’ of sorts, has become a tool for collectors to further share their hobby experiences and we are happy to honor three outstanding authors.
Our team of experts, Rick Montgomery, Scott Schechter, Jay Turner and David Lange reviewed all of the top sets across every category in the Registry and after much consideration, selected the following sets. Congratulations to our winners!
Competitive Set Awards
Best Classic Sets
The Coronet Braided Hair Cents of these years, while relatively common in worn condition, are decidedly rare at the gem level. There are two or three dates that come nice from small hoards, but to assemble a complete set in consistently high grades is a remarkable achievement.
Outstanding highlights of this collection include 1850 and 1852, both grading MS-67 RB, and MS-65 RD examples of 1853 and 1855. The scarce 1847 and 1849 issues are both an amazing MS-66 RB. The very scarce 1839 issue, of which just a single die pairing is known with Braided Hair, grades a very rare MS 65 BN.
Typically, just a few hundred proofs of the half dollar were coined annually during the years 1892-1915, only that first year topping 1,000 pieces. Rare from the outset, today only a very small number survive unimpaired.
This collection maintains a consistently superior grade level throughout, with just a single coin grading less than PF-67. Numerous Ultra Cameo examples appear, and there are several extremely rare Cameo pieces from the 1902-08 period for which such coins are nearly unknown. The 1904, 1910 and 1915 proofs all bear the NGC star for superior eye appeal, a testament to their memorable beauty.
The trade dollar proof series is a short one, running 1873-83 for most collectors, yet the early dates have proved to be frustratingly rare in gem condition. Why these coins were so mishandled remains a mystery, but the collection presented here demonstrates that it is possible to overcome this grade barrier.
The majority of the coins in this set are well into the gem range, outstanding examples being 1877 (PF-67), 1879 (PF-68*) and 1882 (PF-67 Ultra Cameo). While most collectors would be delighted to own all of the proofs 1873-83, this collection also includes PF-63 Cameo examples of the extremely rare 1884 and 1885 trades. What more can we say?
The Type 1 double eagles of 1850-66 were coins made to circulate, and that’s just what they did. There were no collectors of this series until decades later, and finding each issue in anything even approaching mint state is very challenging.
Complete by date and mint, the very rare 1854-O and 1856-O twenties grade AU-53 and AU-55, respectively. This set also includes the rare varieties, such as 1854 Large Date and 1861-S with Paquet Reverse, both grading AU-55. Some remarkable condition rarities include 1855-S (MS-61), 1858-S (MS 60), 1865 and 1865-S (both MS-65).
The completion of a set of Indian Head Quarter Eagles has been a popular goal of collectors for decades, though most are content to simply fill the slots with whatever quality coins come their way. To attempt this set at a consistently gem level is quite an undertaking.
This is just such a collection, all the coins being exactly matched for grade at MS-65. The relative rarity of these coins varies considerably, with 1911-D being the undisputed key. Other very challenging issues at the gem level are 1912, 1914 and 1914-D, and all of these are represented with outstanding examples.
Best Modern Sets
Collectors of the 1930s seemed to be in no hurry to acquire the newly-issued proofs, and it wasn’t until 1940 that the number of proof Washington Quarters sold exceeded 10,000 pieces! Rare from the outset, these coins have become only more so in the top grades, due to mishandling and poor storage.
Selecting only the very finest examples to be found, this collector has assembled a truly amazing set. The 1936 issue, the rarest in the set, grades an astonishing PF-67*. The remaining pieces all grade at least PF-68, the 1938 proof also bearing the NGC star for outstanding eye appeal. This set’s 1942 grades an almost unimaginable PF-69*!
It wasn’t so long ago that that proof coins of 1950 and later were afforded almost no attention at all, but that’s changed in a big way. In today’s quality conscious marketplace, top-notch gems have become the objects of intense competition. This collection features an unbeatable line-up of incredible beauties.
With an average grade of PF-68.5 Ultra Cameo, there’s little room for improvement. The knockout coins include 1950 (PF-68* Cameo), 1952 and 1953 (both PF-68 Ultra Cameo), 1955 (PF-69 Ultra Cameo) and a solid run of PF-69 Ultra Cameo coins from 1960 through 1964.
Here’s another series that was given little respect by the hobby until recent years. It was always assumed that perfect proofs were readily available—that is until collectors actually tried to locate them.
This collection features a solid wall of essentially flawless gems. Each coin in this six-piece set is graded PF-70 Ultra Cameo. Both varieties of the 1979-S and 1981-S proofs are included, all in the same stellar condition. This is a small set that packs a lot of punch.
Though the U. S. Mint has maintained almost consistently high quality in producing its commemorative coins over the past twenty-plus years, that’s not to say that all issues are common in the top grades. Indeed, specialists know that several entries are very tricky to find in the most desirable condition.
As its title suggests, this collection is complete for all modern USA commemoratives in clad, silver, gold and platinum. Both proof and mint state coins are included for each. With nearly every coin grading MS-70 or PF-70 Ultra Cameo, it’s hard to isolate the standout pieces, but these certainly include the Washington Half Dollar in MS-69, an important condition rarity. Another rarity in top grade is the 1983-P Olympics Silver Dollar certified as MS-70.
For a modern series, the gold American Eagle bullion coins have actually become quite an extensive collection in 20 years time. The set featured here includes all of the proofs for each denomination. For all but the first two years there were four denominations per year, making this a very extensive series.
With each and every coin in this collection grading PF-70 Ultra Cameo, it may seem that there’s little more to be said. In fact, there are several very rare issues at this grade level. Coins that stand out with low certified populations include G$5 1996-W and 1997-W, G$10 1993-P, G$25 1990-P and 1993-P, and G$50 1993-W and 1998-W. This collection is not only complete, it is unimprovable, too.
Best Presented Sets
This is another series that was overlooked for years. It took a new generation of collectors to overcome the falsehood that clad coins were “junk” and recognize the true rarity of these pieces in high grades. With more than 30 years worth of coins from two mints, this is also a fairly extensive set.
This collection, while still a work in progress, maintains an average grade of MS-66.5, a truly remarkable achievement for circulating coins. What really sets this collection apart, however, is that the owner has made the extra effort to post photographs and written descriptions of each and every coin, revealing real pride of ownership and knowledge of the series.
Though Peace Dollars were coined in large numbers during 1922-23 and in somewhat smaller quantities other years, most remained idle in vaults for decades. While all but a few dates are common enough in the lower mint state grades, this series is very difficult to assemble at the gem level.
The set presented here is not only complete, but nearly all of the coins grade MS-65 or higher. One, the 1934-D, even carries the NGC star designation for outstanding eye appeal. Moreover, this set is well documented, with good photos of each entry and informative text to accompany them. Indeed, this presentation qualifies as an online guide book to the Peace Dollar series. Bravo!
Within just a few years of President Roosevelt’s orders to discontinue gold coinage in 1933, this series began to gain favor with collectors. This reached a fever pitch during the early 1940s, despite the confiscation of several 1933 coins in private hands. These handsome twenties remain a collector favorite today.
Like some other sets in this category, the collection presented here is a work in progress. But it certainly sounds like the owner is having a good time. Perhaps no other registry winner this year so imparts a sense of the pure joy of collecting in both his introductory remarks and his commentaries on the individual coins. While this collection includes both ordinary and rare coins, its owner has a wonderful philosophy about his hobby that should be required reading for all registry participants.
One of the new Registry sets we’ve added in the past year is for collectors of Top-100 Morgan Dollar varieties. Shorthand for Van Allen and Mallis, the co-authors of the standard reference on Morgan and Peace Dollar varieties, VAM varieties are very popular, and the most desirable of these have been labeled the Top-100.
The collection featured here is as yet incomplete, but the owner has acquired some really dandy rarities. Prime among these is his XF-45 1878 VAM-44, widely known as the “King of the VAMs.” There are too many others to list all the highlights, but this set’s owner has featured each coin prominently, with good photos and text that are certain to draw more collectors into this fast-growing specialty.
It was just a few years ago that the Logan/McCloskey book on early USA half dimes brought about a renaissance in the collecting of these rare little coins. Of course, this was just icing on the cake for the owner of the set presented here, since he’s been assembling it for over 30 years. As he so aptly notes, “there are no ‘common’ coins in this set.”
Lacking only the very rare 1802, of which just about three dozen examples are known, this outstanding collection does feature all of the popular “Red Book” varieties, as well as the very rare and immensely historic 1792 half “disme.” The photos included in this registry set are actually superior to those in the Logan/McCloskey book, and the commentary provided with each entry is a virtual correspondence course in early half dimes.
Best Presented Honorable Mentions
Signature Set Awards
The Best Overall Signature Set
Most collectors are amazed to see an 1858 Indian Head Cent, but such coins do exist as patterns. It appears in this wonderful set, along with eleven other varieties of pattern cents from the fruitful year of 1858. All are delightful proofs, and each is identified by Judd number and accompanied by excellent photos.
While the commentary on each individual piece is spare and to the point, this Registry set provides an interesting and easily understood background history for the redesign of the small cent. It demonstrates what one collector having an overriding passion can accomplish with patience and diligence.
The Best World Signature Set
Here’s an excellent utilization of NGC’s Signature Set option. The owner of this set has gathered some rare and exotic coins of the Italian States ranging from the 14th through the 19th centuries and assembled them into an interesting and entertaining theme. Included are coins made of gold, silver and copper, and the mix of unusual and obsolete denominations adds to this collection’s sense of mystery.
Excellent commentary is provided for each and every piece. In addition, good photos go a long way toward illustrating coins that are, to most American collectors, difficult to visualize. These photos also give one a greater appreciation of the nearly lost art of engraving by hand directly into die steel. These are lovely coins that form a very meaningful collection.
The Most Creative Signature Set
The Holy Roman Empire is something that most of us recall just vaguely from high school history classes and have probably thought little about since. This collector, however, has immersed himself in the impressive silver thalers (alternately, talers) that were the ancestors of our silver dollar. He has set himself a worthy goal of acquiring an example of each emperor whose portrait was featured on one of these large silver pieces.
Though the collection is still incomplete, what is there is most appealing. Each coin is quite attractive, some having awesome toning. A particularly nice touch is the inclusion of a contemporary portrait of each emperor with the illustration of the coin itself. Check out the original Maria Theresa thaler, a coin most of us know only in the form of common restrikes.
The Most Informative Signature Set
The collecting of so-called dollars (medals or tokens of silver dollar size made from the 1820s to date), has exploded in the past few years, due in no small part to NGC’s certification of these interesting pieces. Issued as souvenirs of expositions, historic anniversaries and other occasions of public interest, some feature absolutely superb engraving that exceeds the quality of U. S. Mint coinage.
Sadly, the only book ever published for this series is more than 40 years old and is difficult to locate, though there are rumors of a new book in preparation. The good news is that this Registry collection provides an excellent introduction. Each piece is clearly identified, and the color photos are vastly superior to the grainy, b/w images found in the sole reference book presently available. Both the content and the presentation of this set are certain to make new converts to the collecting of so-called dollars.
This is a new feature in our community, but one that's getting off to a great start. The Collectors' Journal awards are our chance to highlight the great entries by our members. This area of the site is all about collectors sharing their passion for the hobby with each other. Here is where members get a chance to add some meaning and context to their registry sets, to take what otherwise might be a dry list of coins, and add whole new dimensions. We're proud to give this award to the collectors who have done an outstanding job of journaling their collecting.
DM Merrill's entries are some of the best out there. Every time a new article goes up, he manages to convey the pleased explorations of a relaxed and yet enthusiastic numismatist. From his writings we've shared a glass of wine with him as he's gone through the joys of searching his collection for varieties, completed sets, acquired his own personal coin grails and more. It's been quite a ride. Thanks for taking us along, DM.
Oldtrader3's journaling reaches back to his early collecting in the 1960s with the Dow Jones hitting 1000 for the first time, and walks us forward through his journey, telling us how his collecting progressed throughout the years. Truly the sharing of a journey.
The Collectors' Journal feature is so new that it's still building steam, but Calypso's entry was so compelling that we really felt she had a place here. It almost gives goose bumps reading about her Princess and the collecting passion she inspired.
Best in Category
And as always, we have given out the Best in Category awards for the year. A full review of the winners, including lists of the Best in Category winners can be found on our 2005 Awards Archive page.