Marathon of Auctions Underway - A Rare Coin Only Gets Rarer.
It’s that time of year when the numismatic brethren begin in earnest the massive migration toward their coin mecca…the site of the ANA World’s Fair of Money. As this article posts, the greater Chicago area is swarming with numismatic professionals and ardent collectors, all anxious to take part in the exciting main event on August 13-17 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. The phenomenal ANA host auction by Stack’s Bowers commences August 11 and concludes on August 20. All told nearly 11,000 lots of US and world coins, tokens, medals and currency will be available for voracious bidders in nine live floor sessions! I suggest prospective bidders get in queue at the Convention Center for viewing before their favorite lots go live next week! First up on the marathon auction schedule is Heritage’s Rosemont Signature Auction. Featuring over 5,000 lots of US coins this venue is underway as we go to press. Held at the Hyatt Rosemont Hotel, August 8-10, this formidable pre-ANA sale is certain to spawn considerable action.
Just a few of the many NGC highlights for collectors and dealers to ponder include a phenomenal array of Seated Liberty coinage, rare date gold, and many finest known examples. This “Magnificent Seven” which follows is sure to be hotly contested:
1850 Seated Liberty Quarter NGC PF 68. By far the finest known of three examples according to the NGC Census!
1855-S Arrows Seated Liberty Quarter NGC PF 64. The one and only, a true numismatic icon! What an awesome pedigree! The provenance dates back to the time of issue at the then newly opened San Francisco Branch Mint and was given directly to the Superintendent, Dr. Lewis Aiken Birdsall.
1855-S Seated Liberty Half Dollar NGC PF 65. Just one of perhaps three known examples of the rare branch mint proof striking.
1838 Judd-85 Name Omitted Gobrecht Dollar J-85 NGC PF 66. The rare and enigmatic Gobrecht Dollar featured here in all its glory! One of only about a dozen known, a chance for the connoisseur to obtain the finest known example of this variety.
1896 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo. Virtual perfection and tied for the finest known!
1795 13 Leaves Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 65. A popular rarity tied for the finest known according to the NGC Census and certainly has bragging rights as the finest extant.
1862 Liberty Eagle NGC PF 65 Ultra-Cameo: An exciting Civil War dated eagle. Of the 35 originally struck for collectors in glorious proof format this coin ranks as the finest known survivor!
Leading up to the World’s Fair of Money most dealers and market makers have voiced that the coin market is very strong. A sign of the continued strength, the summer season has witnessed no slowdown in activity either. All dealers are looking forward to the ANA because quite frankly they all need more coins.
Brian Hodge of LMRC relayed to me, “We have not been able to hold back demand for truly great coins, and I’m only limited by what is being made available to me.”
Hodge also went on to assess his colleagues’ inventories or lack thereof, “Dealer inventories seem pretty thin at the moment, so I’m hoping they’re hiding some truly exceptional product for the ANA. I’ve looked over the auctions and there seems to be a lot of great coins, though availability seems more scant in these auctions than in previous years. I think that’s just a sign that collectors are keeping their coins and don’t need to let them go as the economy improves.”
I also asked this learned dealer if there is a particular coin or series that he was looking for at the ANA. “We’ve been doing really well with $3 gold lately, with a lot of demand. I still think they are radically undervalued with incredibly low mintages and survival rates. I will be looking for story coins at the ANA, coins with a history, coins that have something to tell. I also think there are a lot of seriously underrated $10 Liberties. A lot of very low mintage dates are still incredibly cheap for the money, including many of the San Francisco Mint pieces. I think CC gold will continue to be very strong. O Mint $20s are on fire. Shipwreck coinage can’t stay on the shelves.”
I also spoke to John Brush, vice president of DLRC. This well-known source concurred on the heightened activity levels in the coin industry. While the summer is typically a slower time for business, this year that trend has been bucked according to the Virginia Beach dealer. Per Brush, “July was an extremely active month even with the lack of any major shows. Because of this we are very excited about the ANA World's Fair of Money. The market is on a steady uptick at this time. Nice coins are always difficult to locate, but we've found that collectors have been opening up to improving and continuing to build their collections. We think that it's still a great opportunity for collectors as nice coins are entering the market, only to be sold quickly.”
Another well-known market maker, Bob Green, president of Park Avenue Numismatics relayed to me that palpable excitement continues to stir in the numismatic world. I concur with this professional that the coin market is witnessing a new resurrection, perhaps partially due to the disappointing performance of bullion prices of late. Apparently many of those precious metals buyers are quite happily discovering that rare coins, gold or otherwise, have not only held value but in many cases increased in value based on rarity. “A rare coin only gets rarer and buyers are clamoring for fresh new material as they complete their sets or series,” affirmed the Miami, FL dealer. Bob went on to say that he will be actively buying some of his favorite market segments at the ANA such as rare date gold, Carson City $20 Liberties and key date Saint-Gaudens to name a few. As always we come ready to do business with all of our ANA friends and dealers.”
Of course, collectors are what drives and sustains this wonderful hobby. I had a chance to speak to a somewhat recent convert to numismatics. Toby, an avid birdwatcher, told me his passion with birding led to his fascination with US coins. “Spectacular!” asserted the native Californian, who now resides in New England. “I just love the Flying Eagle Cent and the Gobrecht Dollar.” Having immersed himself into the hobby several years ago this enthusiastic, specialized collector advised me that his first love is the Eagle. “My first acquisitions were NGC MS 64 examples of the 1857 and both varieties of the 1858 Flyers (Flying Eagle Cent). I am hoping to find a nice Proof 63 or better Gobrecht Dollar at the ANA. I feel these phenomenal silver dollars are great long term investments. I also must confess I love the proud eagle perched on the reverse of the Walking Liberty Half dollar; it is a fantastic rendering. I am also looking forward to picking up a nice 1935 Connecticut Tercentenary Commemorative Half. That art deco eagle is a well executed period design. Also if my budget allows, an example or two of the Augustus Saint Gaudens $20 gold piece are musts. That majestic eagle taking flight over the sun is quite impressive.” So apparently there will be a different kind of “birding” for Toby at the ANA as he will certainly be prowling on the bourse and competing with the multitude of collectors all intent on filling slots in their collections. Good luck to Toby and all the other budding numismatists who make this hobby so great!
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.