Fall is officially here, a season which is highlighted by cooler temperatures...
Fall is officially here, a season which is highlighted by cooler temperatures, colorful leaves and, for the athletic-minded, a time when all major sports are played simultaneously. For many individuals it’s also a time to return to academic ventures. For those parents whose children are entering college, tuition bills have to be allotted for. Unfortunately, the financial markets remain a major concern worldwide and discretionary spending must be carefully assessed. Perhaps not since the fall of 2008 has there been such tension in economic stability here and abroad.
As for our treasured numismatic business, overall the market has performed quite well for the last three years. Since the last major show in Philadelphia, gold and silver have taken generous hits and according to many industry pundits it was a correction that was overdue. Some seized the opportunity to take a profit since other markets were not so hospitable. As I write this report gold is trading well above the $1,600 level and silver is hovering around the $30 plateau. Perhaps indicative of the overall strength in the metals arena there were almost no sellers to be found at these lower levels. According to many numismatic dealers that cater to the bullion crowd, there has been a concerted effort to purchase both gold and bullion as many relish the opportunity to buy when there are significant dips. Current installments also remain on dealers wants as the ever popular modern Ultra High Relief market remains blistering hot. Ian Russell of Great Collections reports sales of NGC MS 70 PL examples for over $6,000 and regular designation MS 70s for $3,300-$3,500. In fact the firm has handled over 150 UHRs in the past two weeks alone with increased demand appearing from foreign markets for the intensely popular coin.
The certified numismatic market has displayed virtually no weakness. To some novices this appears to be a conundrum, yet for the true numismatists it is not surprising. Rare collector coins do not rise and fall based on volatility in the gold and silver market. This is not to say that coins closely tied to bullion have not vacillated. The Morgan Dollar series, which can be affected in circulated grades for common coins has seen key dates and scarcer coins in high-grade perform exceptionally well. A quick review of the popular 1895-S reveals that this semi-key Morgan in VF has enjoyed a significant advance. According to the NGC US Coin Price Guide, in July a Very Fine specimen was pegged at $570 and is now claiming $690, a solid 21% advance. This increase has nothing to do with the rise and fall in precious metals; rather that this coin is extremely scarce and in demand. According to the NGC Census, only 1,831 coins exist for this date in all grades. As a comparison, take a look at the 1881-S, a popular type coin, with 204,704 examples gracing the NGC census. In fact the number of coins graded as DPL amounts to 1,279 or nearly 75% of the total examples known for the popular 1895-S! It is precisely the collector coins that are affordable to a vast numismatic audience that are hard to come by problem-free. As a result, prices continue to escalate as vast legions of Morgan Dollar enthusiasts looking to fill holes in their collections vie for quality representatives.
On the other side of the spectrum many dealers that I’ve spoken to aren’t having any problems selling five figure and even six-figure coins. The market for choice original rare material remains very competitive. According to Brian Hodge of LMRC, within the last week sales to clients remain brisk and over $1 million in rare NGC-certified material left their offices. According to Brian, “It seems that with the market volatility in the price of gold that generics are becoming tough to place into new homes but NGC rarities are flying off the shelf.” A few high five-figure and six-figure rarities finding new homes include a 1776 Continental Dollar NGC MS 64, an 1847 Seated Liberty Half NGC PF 64 pedigreed to Pittman, the extremely hard-to-come-by 1872-CC Seated Half-Dollar NGC MS 62 (the only mint state coin appearing in the NGC census) and the ever-popular 1907 High Relief, Flat Rim Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC MS 66. That is why this dealer and many others are looking forward to the ANA’s first ever National Money Show held in the fall.
Just around the corner all the coin brethren will be making a junket to the inaugural ANA show in Pittsburgh from October 13 to 15. Held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on the shores of the Allegheny River this 1.5 million square foot building is also the world’s largest facility to be certified gold by the United States Green Building Council. As this is the only major show in October, it will be an important market barometer. Many dealers feel that after the conventions in Chicago, Long Beach and Philadelphia as well as the associated auctions inventories are depleted and cash lines very tight or exhausted. Hopefully some fresh material will come to market in western Pennsylvania.
Seemingly keeping with the autumn theme, the host Signature Auction by Heritage features many colorful numismatic offerings. One such collection is referred to as the “Color Collection.” Assembled by a fastidious collector with an uncompromising eye for exquisite natural toning, this collection has something for virtually every connoisseur of colorful patination. One of the colorful NGC-certified offerings is a 1861 Three Cent Silver graded NGC MS 67. This radiant Superb Gem produced at the dawn of the Civil War is sure to cause a stir amongst collectors. An absolutely stunning 1859-O Liberty Seated Half grading NGC MS 65 features a sea of ocean blue, gold, amber and teal toning around the peripheries of both the obverse and reverse. Also featured is an extraordinary presentation of gold proofs, including a complete 6-piece run from 1864, beginning with the diminutive and radiant gold dollar graded NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo through the impressive Double Eagle graded NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo. Other phenomenal NGC offerings from this superb autumnal sale include:
- 1776 Newman-1C Pewter Continental Dollar NGC MS 61
- 1857 Flying Eagle Cent NGC PF 64
- 1858 Small Letters Flying Eagle Cent NGC PF 64
- 1916 Lincoln Cent NGC PF 67 RD
- 1926-S Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 66
- 1794 Flowing Hair Half Dime NGC MS 63
- 1835 Capped Bust Dime NGC PF 66
- 1874 No Arrows Liberty Seated Dime NGC MS 69
- 1796 Draped Bust Dime NGC MS 64
- 1807 Draped Bust Quarter NGC MS 66
- 1853 No Arrows Liberty Seated Quarter NGC MS 67
- 1901-S Barber Quarter NGC MS 66
- 1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar NGC AU 53
- 1796 15 Stars Draped Bust Half NGC F 12
- 1795 Draped Bust Centered Dollar NGC AU 55
- 1840 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 65
- 1849 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 65
- 1863 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo
- 1868 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo
- 1864 Type III Gold Dollar NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo
- 1805 Double Struck Draped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC AU 58
- 1825 Capped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC MS 66
- 1841 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle NGC PF 55
- 1864 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle NGC AU 58
- 1864 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo
- 1906 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle NGC PF 68 Cameo
- 1864 Three Dollar Princess NGC PF 64 Ultra Cameo
- 1795 Small Eagle Draped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 63 PL
- 1834 Plain 4 Classic Head Half Eagle NGC MS 66 PL
- 1864 Liberty Head Half Eagle NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo
- 1795 13 Leaves Draped Bust Eagle NGC AU 53
- 1799 Large Stars Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 64
- 1864 Liberty Head Eagle NGC PF 64 Ultra Cameo
- 1852-O Liberty Head $20 NGC AU 58
- 1860 Liberty Head $20 NGC MS 64
- 1864 Liberty Head $20 NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo
- 1901 Liberty Head $20 NGC PF 66 Cameo
- 1907 High Relief, Wire Rim Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC MS 67
- 1924-D Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC MS 65
- 1925-S Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC MS 64
- 1915-S Round Panama-Pacific $50 NGC MS 65
- 1915-S Octagonal Panama-Pacific $50 NGC MS 65
- 1860 Mormon Five Dollar K-6 NGC AU 50
- 1851 880 THOUS, Letter Edge Humbert $50 NGC XF 40
- 1877 J-1547 Gilt Half Union ($50) NGC PF 63
- 1879 J-1624 Metric Dollar NGC PF 63 Cameo
Jim Bisognani has written extensively on US coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He currently resides in Southern California and frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.