"It's A Buyer's Market For Sure" - Strong Demand Targets $20 Libs & Saints
The summer season is officially in full swing and after the Fourth of July holiday notable dealers and ardent collectors are once again looking forward to FUN in Orlando, Florida, that is. For many of the hobby’s professionals and collectors, this junket to the Sunshine State is often parlayed into a bit of vacation as well. Yet given the competitive nature of the rare coin business, several dealers that I spoke to who previously skipped this venue have now included the Summer FUN installment scheduled for July 11-13 on their agenda, citing it as a “strategic opportunity” to do some quality business before the ANA convention.
While the US rare coin market has remained fairly transparent, it is decidedly more opaque when it comes to the bullion and semi-numismatic material in light of the recent rollbacks within the metals sector. Aggressive buyers of both gold and silver do seem to be out in force. Physical demand has certainly accelerated. One well-known metals trader advised “Ever since the end of June when gold slid below $1,200 per ounce and silver was around $18.75 my phone has been ringing off the hook with buy orders. It has been intense. You name it, 90% junk silver, Morgans, especially $20 Saints and Libs.”
Certainly many collectors and investors feel the prevailing metal prices reflect a solid buying opportunity and both veteran collectors and those new to the numismatic business want to take advantage. Bob Green, well known president of Park Avenue Numismatics, concurred. “With the drop in gold prices during the month of June we are seeing a stronger demand for the Generic $20 St. Gaudens and $20 Liberty Gold. The prices seem so cheap compared to other areas of the market.” Green went on to say, “With low premiums, MS 64 and MS 65 $20 Gold seems to be a great value and we should see some significant gains when the gold market rallies again. It’s a buyer’s market for sure!”
Comparison shopping is to the collectors’ advantage in this market. Accordingly many dealers who had bought the more generic Mint State $20 Saint-Gaudens and Libs are reluctant to part ways given the considerable loss to them. A well established trader advised “It wasn’t even two months ago in New Orleans, I was getting $1,800 for nice generic NGC MS 63 Saints. Now I am lucky to get $1,500 for the same coins. It’s unquestionably a great buying opportunity for collectors/investors.”
A well-known California dealer advised, “Demand for problem free very fine and better early type coins are again getting a push as collector demand dictates.” This source also stated that he is on the lookout for Flowing Hair Half Dollars as well as early Bust Quarters. “These coins are always tough to come by, but now they’re virtually nonexistent on the bourse or at auction. I was usually able to pick up a few on the various Internet auctions but that source has also dried up.”
Modern US coins, especially the classic condition rarities of both Gold and Silver Eagles, are being targeted too. Many modern specialists have been spending a lot of time viewing both raw and certified coins on the bourse, hoping to find upgrades. As one knowledgeable buyer put it “I am hunting for key dates such as the 1999 Silver Eagle and the 1990 and 1991 $25 Gold Eagles, these are all modern classic condition rarities.”
I also had a chance to speak with the amiable DLRC Vice President John Brush. John’s take was that the lower metals seem to have put somewhat of a damper on the excitement in bullion items. Yet interestingly, according to Brush, it seems that rare coins have picked up after a short early summer slowdown for them. “This past week has been a busy time in our offices as collectors seem to be cashing in on some of their bullion holdings and transferring them to a few key date type pieces as well as a few modern items.” While the Summer FUN show is typically not on DLRC’s show circuit, the Virginia based dealer said, “We're attending in hopes of finding a few new items for inventory. After the trip to Orlando, there's not a lot of scheduled activity until the ANA's World Fair of Money in August,” relayed Brush.
Per the always informative Ian Russell, President of Great Collections, “June was surprisingly busy for us. We gathered a lot of quality consignments at the Long Beach and Baltimore coin shows. We're also expanding our show schedule, adding the Summer FUN event, as well as a number of East Coast shows later in the year.” The California dealer went on to say “The Mint has kept us on edge, with delayed shipping of the 2-piece West Point sets to many of our clients.” Per Russell, there is also considerable excitement brewing for the upcoming Reverse Proof Gold Buffalo which the Mint has announced – “That is going to be one popular issue,” assessed Ian. I concur; I have my calendar set for the August 8th order date!
I also caught up with Heritage's Senior Numismatist Mark Feld. Per this respected source, “Generally, despite the turmoil in the gold market, the rare coin market, including gold coins, appears to be very active and robust. I think — and it’s merely a guess — that we might not experience the typical so called summer doldrums.” We also discussed Heritage’s Orlando Signature Sale and two NGC slabs were obvious standouts. Not surprisingly, both were gold Double Eagles. One is the 1850-O $20 Liberty graded NGC MS 60. This $20 gold piece is coveted by collectors not only because of its status as the first collectible year of the Double Eagle but also being the first New Orleans strike of the popular series. This highly collectible issue is decidedly rare in Mint State with only a handful of examples extant according to the NGC Census, the highest graded being MS 62. Quite amazingly, the last time this exact coin appeared at public sale it was part of an Internet only auction held by Heritage back in December 2006, when it captured $49,444. This is certainly a rare opportunity to acquire an extraordinarily tough Type I Double Eagle. Another highlight is the 1921 $20 Saint-Gaudens specimen graded NGC MS 61. One of the keys to the series, a total of only 69 coins in all grades grace the NGC Census. The last time a coin of this caliber appeared in public was also back in 2006. As we go to press the Heritage Orlando Signature Auction featuring some 5,000 lots and four live floor sessions is underway. Running July 11-14 there will certainly be some exciting buying opportunities.
Important NGC properties at the Orlando Signature Sale include;
- 1793 Half Cent NGC AU 50
- 1862 Indian Cent NGC PF 67 Cameo
- 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel NGC AU 53
- 1795 3 Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar NGC AU 55
- 1870-CC Liberty Seated Dollar NGC AU 58
- 1898 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo
- 1802 Draped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC AU 58
- 1865 Liberty $20 NGC MS 64
- 1860 Clark Gruber & Company $10 NGC AU 55
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.