Philadelphia ANA – A Collector's Marathon!

Posted by Jim Bisognani on 8/23/2012

Stacks Bowers Sale Claims Nearly $42 Million; Extraordinary NGC 1793 Chain Cent Captures $747,500–World Coins Generate Strong Results

Fresh from an ANA convention of epic proportions, both dealers and collectors are singing the praises of this year’s World’s Fair of Money. Predicated by a strong rare coin market, this year’s show held in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center showcased extraordinary exhibits, an exceptionally large and busy bourse, and a pair of extremely competitive auctions held by Heritage and Stack’s Bowers. However, in spite of the huge arena a familiar refrain was frequently heard from bourse dealers—a great show for selling but a tough venue for buying.

Many dealers attempted to reverse that trend by arriving in Pennsylvania well before the official start of the ANA. Some generated new business with advanced pre–sale offerings through email blasts, others by setting up temporary digs and conducting business in their hotel rooms. Everyone was anxious to bolster their positions. Dealers also made a concerted effort at the PNG/ANA Pre–Show to secure new inventory before the World’s Fair of Money was open to the public.

I asked a well–known market maker what was hot in Philadelphia. His reply: “Everything that was properly graded and fairly priced did exceptionally well. Really, everything across the board–early copper, scarce early dated Walkers in high grade and, of course, Morgan Dollars especially DPL’s were a powerful hit and a collector favorite.” This source also indicated that it is becoming increasingly difficult to acquire what are considered common date Morgan dollars graded MS 65 to MS 66 DPL at current levels. “I have been here since the end of July! I have been extremely busy; collectors have been motivated. It has been a very productive and enlightening marathon! What happened to the summer doldrums?”

The relative stability in the spot price of gold has made many dealers who frequently trade in bullion coins and semi–numismatic related material feel quite positive about this ongoing trend. More than one dealer felt that the stability in the yellow metal was helping with the sales of non–gold collector coins. A well know dealer from Texas concurred advising me that he had one customer come up to his booth and say “I feel that this is the right time to fill in the holes in my US type set.” The collector felt strongly that today’s prices for early Federal coins, although elevated for many of the tougher coins such as the Flowing Hair Half Dollar and Dollar, represent solid values when compared to the overall population. “This collector was keen on acquiring pieces in the VF 20 to XF 40 range. Problem free coins such as this in mid–circulated range are encountered with much less frequency whether on the show floor or through auction.”

John Feigenbaum, President of DLRC, said, “For us, the ANA was a great buying show. We picked up some beautiful coins from dealers who needed to raise funds quickly and couldn't afford to wait until the next auction cycle. In the past these top–quality coins went to live auction, but cash is king in this market.”

Classic US Commemoratives also had a strong and appreciative showing in Philadelphia. One Registry–minded collector, relatively fresh from an overnight drive from South Carolina said, “There were quite a few attractive, original Classic Commems in dealer’s showcases on the bourse and I was able to scarf up better issues like the Hudson, Grant and Sesquicentennial at current Greysheet and other electronic trading bid prices. I wasn’t about to turn down that deal!” Other Classic Commem enthusiasts were also on the prowl for the “killer toned” pieces that make you stop in your tracks and tempt you to empty your wallet.

Ross Baldwin, President of National Coin Broker, expressed that while the World’s Fair of Money was very good the Florida dealer said he was actually busier on the phone with sales. “Perhaps it was the excitement from the ANA that spilled over during my phone conversations,” said Baldwin. Powerful auction results and sales of million dollar coins continue to entice new hobbyists.

While attendance at many national and regional venues has seen modest declines, online coin businesses and internet–only auctions and sites such as eBay continue to flourish and envelop the numismatic landscape. Many major companies are now focusing marketing muscle and finances in that direction. The ability to reach the vast audience of collectors that are unable to physically attend major conventions and the relevant major auctions is paying great dividends. Of the tens of thousands of rare coins that found new homes courtesy of the recently concluded Philly auction venues, a large percentage of the proceeds were generated through Internet bidding. The combined total sales for the two firms was nearly $70 million.

Stack’s Bowers’ powerful Rarities Night on August 9, was the hottest ticket at the ANA playing host to an extremely competitive standing room only crowd. Commencing at 6 PM and not concluding until well after 1 AM Eastern Standard Time, the atmosphere in the auction room was electric through the session’s duration. A host of phenomenal early Federal issues and a stunning complete Carson City collection produced a frenzied and aggressive bidding battle on the auction floor. Top bragging rights for an NGC encapsulated coin went to a one cent coin minted on the same street where it was sold nearly 220 years later. The noble recipient of this honor was an extraordinary 1793 AMERICA No Periods Chain Cent graded NGC MS 66 BN. This remarkable coin, the second finest with the Brown designation, thundered home to a powerful $747,500 bid; which incidentally eclipsed the NGC US Coin Price Guide by nearly 33%. Modern error coins also got a significant boost as a fantastic NGC MS 67 2000–P Sacagawea Dollar Muled with a Statehood Quarter, one of only about a dozen known examples, garnered $155,250. This exciting coin is ranked number one in the 100 Greatest US Error Coins reference guide. Once again this is indicative of the strength of the current market when phenomenally graded rare coins appear equally strong and in many cases record prices are received. Per Brian Kendrella, Director of Operations for Stack’s Bowers, the sensational and diverse Stack’s Bowers’ Philadelphia ANA sale generated a whopping $41.9 million.

Other top NGC performers from Stack’s Bowers' auction sessions include:

  • 1875–CC Twenty Cent Piece NGC MS 67 $63,250
  • 1878–CC Liberty Seated Quarter NGC MS 67 $25,300
  • 1835 Capped Bust Quarter NGC PF 64 $115,000
  • 1870–CC Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC MS 62 $109,250
  • 1872–CC Liberty Seated Dollar NGC MS 64 $80,500
  • 1891–CC Morgan Dollar NGC MS 67 $29,900
  • 1909 Indian Half Eagle NGC PF 67 Matte $149,500
  • 1873–CC Liberty Eagle NGC AU 58 $92,000
  • 1878–CC Liberty Eagle NGC AU 58 $80,500
  • 1881–CC Liberty Eagle NGC MS 64 $97,750
  • 1870–CC Liberty Double Eagle NGC AU 53 $345,000
  • 1871–CC Liberty Double Eagle NGC MS 64 $322,000
  • 1875–CC Liberty Double Eagle NGC MS 64 $63,250
  • 1915–S Panama Pacific $50 round NGC MS 65 $120,750

Captivating collectors and commanding solid prices, world coins continue to make noise in the numismatic market. Hey, after all it is the World’s Fair of Money. On August 10 Stack’s Bowers offered a superb and varied collection of world crowns, minors and gold coins. The top NGC–graded coin was the extremely rare Great Britain Pound dated 1644 from the Oxford Mint. Graded NGC XF 45, this historic coin of Charles I captured $70,500, exceeding the pre–auction high estimate by over 130%! Next, an appearance of the very rare Russian 1798CN OM gold 5 Roubles from the St. Petersburg Mint caused quite the stir amongst those in attendance. Graded NGC MS 62, this lustrous coin realized $63,250. This exceptional coin is currently the only example of this date and variety certified by NGC. A very rare NGC AU 58 1821 EAGLE L 80 Lire from Sardinia (Italy) realized a powerful $43,700. From a miniscule original mintage of only 50 pieces the rare Russian 1836 “Imperial Family” 1–½ Rouble NGC Uncirculated Details with attractive toning commanded a solid $44,062.

Additional NGC highlights of the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio ANA World’s Fair of Money include:

  • Russia 1755 5 Roubles, St. Petersburg Mint NGC AU 55 $42,888
  • Russia 1830CNB 6 Roubles NGC MS 64 $49,938
  • Russia 1831CNB 12 Roubles NGC AU 55 $41,125
  • Poland, Lithuania 1586NB Taler NGC MS 64 $27,025
  • Poland 1702EPB 18 Groszy, Leipzig Mint NGC MS 64 $44,062
  • Poland 1792MV Taler NGC AU 58 $14,950
  • Transylvania 1609NB Taler NGC MS 62 $23,500
  • Brazil 1758 B 6,400 Reis NGC MS 66 $6,462
  • Germany, Frankfurt (ca. 1658) 5 Ducat NGC XF 45 $14,100
  • Italy 1905R 100 Lire NGC MS 61 $17,825
  • Switzerland 1925B 100 Francs NGC MS 64 $12,650
  • Iran AH1301 (1884) Toman NGC MS 63 $11,750
  • New Zealand 1935 “Waitangi” Proof Set (6 Pieces) NGC PF 65 – PF 66 $13,512

What happened to summer? In just two short weeks the “fall installment” of the Long Beach Expo is next up on the agenda.

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.

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