Finest Stella Commands $411,250; 250,738 Silver Eagle Sets Flock To New Homes
Dealers and collectors fresh from a decidedly busy and eventful Baltimore Whitman Expo have regrouped and recharged with many taking a bit of time off to enjoy an Independence Day holiday. With several important numismatic icons sold in the “Old Line State,” market indicators remain positive, including the substantial $10.9 million realized at the host Stack’s Bowers sale in what is usually considered the down period in this business. Seemingly not that long ago one or two major numismatic auction sales a year would generate double–digit millions in proceeds and then it would usually be in conjunction with the prestigious ANA sale. While still turning heads when a rare coin commands over a million dollars at a public venue, it validates what has become expected and conveys bold confirmation to the overall strength and staying power in numismatics. Accordingly a multitude of high–profile NGC representatives continue to be recipients of strong and enthusiastic bidding. Leading the NGC charge in Baltimore was the breathtakingly beautiful 1879 Flowing Hair Stella. Graded NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo, this magnificent coin stands alone as the finest graded of the revered type and captured $411,250. Not at all a surprise in this particular market, rare and high–grade gold performed admirably.
Early Federal material represented in all metal types was also the target of keen interest, especially when high grade problem–free pieces were announced at the auctioneer’s podium. One perhaps unheralded example was an 1807 Capped Bust Half Dollar. The inaugural first year of this popular design type, the Small Stars O–113a, graded NGC MS 61, captured $11,456. This stately, originally toned coin is perhaps one of only two dozen or so that rank as Mint State according to the NGC Census and, more importantly, auction records can only place a mere handful of Mint State appearances within the last two decades! Interestingly, the same exact coin sold at the February 2012 Heritage Signature Sale at Long Beach Expo when it captured a winning bid of $8,913. Although this late June sale represents nearly a 30% increase just a few months later, it still seems to be a tremendous value considering the true rarity of this coin in Mint State.
Early and eclectic colonial copper and silver issues were also well represented. A superb Bar Cent (circa 1785) graded NGC AU 58 BN captured $18,400. Amazingly, perhaps fewer than 200 of the enigmatic half cent sized copper tokens have known to survive in all states of preservation. For those collectors not familiar with this so–called “Button Coin,” its moniker is in reference to the coin’s obverse, which features a prominent USA monogram and is nearly identical to those seen on pewter buttons worn on the uniforms of soldiers in the Continental Army. The plain yet patriotic reverse consists of thirteen parallel bars, representing the original Colonies. According to the NGC Census a scant 16 examples in total grace our roster.
Not a surprise, Morgan Silver Dollars remain a hotly contested series this early summer season or any season for that matter. The ever popular silver cartwheels were the calculating target for many dealers and collectors as key dates in superb condition appeared.
Also a solid and substantial cast of Proof and late date Mint State Walking Liberties received much attention in Baltimore as a flourish of Gems and Superb Gems, many boasting the finest known status on the NGC Census, found their way to new and appreciative homes. Although there was a significant “horde of Walkers” (nearly 800) in the host sale, the overwhelming desire within the marketplace for high–grade and desirable coins from a series as popular as this did little to dampen the overall tenor of this market segment. Examples of this strong showing included the ever popular first year of the proof issues, a gleaming 1936 NGC PF 66 Walker, which commanded $5,581–approximately 10% over its NGC US Coin Price Guide valuation. Other sturdy performers all pedigreed to the “Walking Liberty Tribute Collection” include an attractively toned, sharply struck 1945–D Walker graded NGC MS 67. Although the NGC Census reveals 199 in this grade, this lovely lady raced to $2,644, over two times the current NGC US Coin Price Guide valuation! A NGC MS 67 1945 Walker realized a solid $1,410. A NGC MS 67 1944–D Walker captured $999, while a 1942 Walker graded NGC MS 67 brought home $822.
Other NGC standouts at the Stack’s Bowers sale include:
- 1897 Liberty Nickel NGC PF 69 Cameo $14,688
- 1923–S Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 66 $14,100
- 1926–S Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 65 $44,768
- 1909 Barber Half Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo $14,100
- 1884–S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 62 $14,100
- 1827 Capped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC MS 65 $94,000
- 1865 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle NGC AU 55 $16,568
- 1872 Three Dollar Princess NGC PF 64 Cameo $26,438
- 1795 Small Eagle Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 62 $72,876
- 1839 Liberty Head Half Eagle NGC MS 62 $15,275
- 1911 Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC PF 65 $52,875
Well the four weeks are up; did you get your set? From June 7, 2012, to July 5, 2012, the United States Mint offered the 2012 American Eagle San Francisco Two–Coin Silver Proof Set at an issue price of $149.95. According to the US Mint’s website, on July 6th a total of 251,302 sets were ordered. Perhaps not much of a surprise, approximately two thirds of the sets ordered (165,202) were purchased on the first two days (115,059) and last two days (50,143) that the sets were offered. Yet whether early bird or procrastinator, unlike the 25th Anniversary Sets which rocked the numismatic landscape last October, everyone that wanted a set was able to purchase them this time around.
Enduring the triple digit heat that consumed Baltimore the end of June, the coin caravan is pressing on confidently as to the state of the market. As we go to press, most of the numismatic notables are bracing the subtropical steam bath in the Deep South as Florida United Numismatists is hosting the 6th Annual Summer FUN Convention in Orlando, Florida. Slated for July 12–14, 2012, the convention is held at the spacious Orange County Convention Center. The host signature auction by Heritage boasts nearly 6,000 lots of superb certified coins. Desirable NGC coins scheduled for appearance in the Sunshine State include:
- 1848 Braided Hair Large Cent NGC MS 67 BN
- 1869 Indian Cent NGC PF 66 RD Cameo
- 1895 Indian Cent NGC MS 67 RD
- 1955 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent NGC MS 65 RD
- 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 63
- 1927–S Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 63
- 1815/2 Capped Bust Half NGC XF 45
- 1942 Walking Liberty Half NGC PF 65 Cameo
- 1795 Three Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar NGC MS 61
- 1852 Restrike Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 64
- 1879–CC Morgan Dollar NGC MS 65
- 1893-CC Redfield Morgan Dollar NGC MS 63
- 1848–CAL. Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC AU 58
- 1799 Small Stars Reverse Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 62
- 1907 High Relief, Wire Rim Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC MS 66
One thing is for certain, as we roll into the dog days of summer the market is still very price conscious. However, coins that meet stringent collector criteria remain hot.
Until next time, happy collecting.
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.