Early Fall Auctions Rake in $50 Million - NGC Rarities Join Elite Ranks!
Since my last report, from coast-to-coast the numismatic world has been the scene of heightened and historic activity. First up, September 19-21 was the Philadelphia Whitman Expo and host Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction. Floor activity and dealer action at the Pennsylvania Convention Center was quite spirited at this collector-friendly venue with many dealers expressing a good to very good show. Collectors I spoke to also informed me that the “pickings” were exceptional in the City of Brotherly Love. One savvy collector from the greater Philly area advised me that he was able to pick up several great early Draped Bust Large Cents varieties for his collection. Another seasoned hobbyist hailing from Vermont made the trek to pick up some Capped Bust Quarters and Capped Bust Half Dimes. Per the articulate Green Mountain State collector, “It is always a challenge for me to get the coins with the ’right look’ that I’m looking to include in my collection. Unfortunately, online auctions just don’t do it for me. I need to see the coins in hand before I put them in my collection. If it takes an all-day journey for me to get to the quality material that I need it’s well worth it. I have been at this for years and I’m not about to do it haphazardly.”
The opportunities to acquire quality coins were not limited to the bourse of course. The host auction by Stack’s Bowers Galleries supplied quite a bit of excitement, too. The varied and eclectic Early Federal material and, of course, the fabulous John Ford Collection XXIV of political memorabilia was an enormously popular draw. According to Brian Kendrella, President of Stack's Bowers, the total sale proceeds generated from the Philadelphia event was a solid $4.4 million. “The breakdown was $2.8 million for the US coins and related material with nearly $1.6 million going to the wonderful Ford Collection offerings,” relayed the enthusiastic Mr. Kendrella. Several of the NGC standouts included the following:
- 1900 Indian Cent NGC MS 67 RD $4,876
- 1806 Draped Bust Quarter NGC MS 64 $21,150
- 1825 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC MS 66 $9,694
- 1869 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo $20,562
- 1860-S Three Dollar Indian NGC AU 58 $14,100
- 1810 Large Date Large 5 Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 62 $15,862
- 1909-O Indian Half Eagle NGC AU 58 $19,094
- 1857-O Liberty $20 NGC AU 53 $15,099
- 1884-CC Liberty $20 NGC MS 63 $35,838
- 1893-CC Liberty $20 NGC MS 62 $21,738
- 1908 No Motto Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC MS 68 $14,688
- 1900 Lafayette Silver Dollar NGC MS 64 $3,055
- 1915-S Panama Pacific Gold Dollar NGC MS 67 $4,406
With very little time to absorb or register their purchases and sales activity in Philadelphia, the numismatic caravan packed their wares and motored west to take part in the pre-Long Beach sales and prep for the always popular Long Beach exposition running September 26-28. The Goldberg’s Pre-Long Beach sale kicked off the event Sunday the 22nd through the 25th.
Per Jason Villarreal, the articulate Auction Manager at Goldberg’s, the crowd and action at their Los Angeles gallery was intense and spirited. “The US coins were solid and the world and ancient coins saw an extreme amount of bidding. Buyers were extremely motivated and were paying very strong prices.” As always fresh coins elicited near manic enthusiasm and commensurate prices. In total the Goldberg sales generated a solid $7.6 Million. The US portion capturing nearly $4.9 million and world coins $2.7 million.
US NGC notables at the Goldberg sale include:
- 1854-O Arrows Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC SP 63 $41,400
- 1855 Arrows Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 66 Cameo $63,250
- 1839-O Classic Head Quarter Eagle NGC MS 65 $71,875
- 1810 Large Date, Large 5 Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 65 $80,500
- 1899 Liberty Half Eagle NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo $172,500
- 1795 13 Leaves Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 64 $264,500
According to Jason, based on the type and scope of world coins they had in this early fall catalog the varied offerings brought tremendous prices. “Many collectors flew in from all over the world to participate,” advised Villarreal. One such highly contested NGC property was an 1824 Russian ½ Rouble graded NGC PF 64 Cameo. This rare and visually stunning example raced to an incredible $41,400 - nearly 14 times the pre-auction estimate!
Other NGC world highlights:
- Great Britain 1692 William & Mary 5 Guineas NGC AU 53 $18,400
- India 1835-C William IV Restrike Gold 2 Mohurs NGC PF 64 Ultra Cameo $22,425
- New Zealand 1935 Waitangi Crown NGC PF 66 $9,200
- Norway 1819-IGP Specie Daler NGC MS 64 $13,225
- Romania 1940 100 Lei NGC MS 61 $21,850
On Monday the 23rd Bonhams took the coin world by storm as the phenomenal Tacasyl Collection set the gold standard, roaring to an astounding $10,778,040! All told only 27 coins were sold, all NGC-certified, but what coins they were! A bevy of the finest known and most eye appealing US gold coins collectors could ever hope to see in one auction! Of course every one of the coins is a highlight and worthy of mention yet the standouts were the $4 Stellas. In particular, the 1880 Coiled Hair $4 graded NGC PF 67 Cameo thundered to an astounding $2,574,000, which shattered the pre-auction estimates over two fold.
Next came the equally impressive 1879 Coiled Hair $4 example, also an NGC PF 67 Cameo example, which likewise joined the elite million dollar club reporting in at $1,041,300. The fabulous 1880 Flowing Hair Stella graded NGC PF 67 Cameo just came up short in her attempt to align with her Coiled Hair compatriots and gain admittance to that rarified company, capturing $959,400. All told the ultimate four piece Stella type set realized $4,855,500.
Paul Song, Director of the rare coins and medals department at Bonhams said of the Tacasyl Sale: “I am stunned and delighted; this is one of the highlights of my career. The sale proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that superb quality and great rarity are a magical mix.”
Other Bonham’s Tacasyl Collection Highlights:
- 1855 Type II Gold Dollar NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo $397,800
- 1836 Classic Head Quarter Eagle NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo $409,500
- 1836 Classic Head Half Eagle NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo $690,300
- 1845 Liberty Half Eagle NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo $292,500
- 1845 Liberty Eagle NGC PF 65 Cameo $444,600
- 1891 $20 Liberty NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo $655,200
- 1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC PF 69 $573,300
Technology certainly can be a wonderful thing; although I was not able to attend the Tacasyl sale in person I was able to watch the results live via the Internet! While traveling with my fiancée and family in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on the morning of September 23rd (which happened to be my fiancée Beth’s birthday), I made sure to take a break from the glorious early autumn scenery around lunchtime to watch the historic events unfold. As the results were displayed before me, I felt as though I were taking part in this historic numismatic event. Of course, many dealers and advanced collectors are not able to take in every sale in person. With so many auctions in so many different locales, numismatists are forced to place bids live on the Internet. Well-known industry leader Steve Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers advised me, “I didn't go to Philly or Long Beach. I did the Tacasyl, Goldberg and Heritage sales. The Proof gold in Tacasyl went very very strong. The Goldberg sale had packets of fresh coins that performed very well, as did Heritage.”
I asked Steve if he picked up any major NGC properties during the September auction mania. Per Contursi, “I was only able to buy the 1914 $10 Indian graded NGC PF 67 at the Tacasyl sale ($81,900). Nothing of major rarity in the other sales, but was the under bidder on a few of the Proof Bust Dimes and Halves.”
This fantastic early fall auction flurry concluded with Heritage's Long Beach Signature sales powering to a solid $17.6 million for their US coin sessions and pulling in an impressive $9.6 million from their world and ancient coins. Boasting a solid 95% sell through rate in the US Signature sale, the top NGC prize was the bronze 1864 L on Ribbon Indian Cent graded NGC PF 65 RD which claimed $141,000. This ex-Norweb collection piece stands alone as the finest that NGC has ever graded. An exquisite 1831 Large Letters Capped Bust Quarter graded NGC PF 66 made her first appearance at this SoCal venue and catapulted to a strong $129,250. Another six-figure NGC highlight was the always-popular 1915-S Pan-Pac Round $50, with an NGC MS 64 example selling for a solid $117,500.
NGC highlights at the Heritage Long Beach Signature sale also included a impressive grouping of the extremely rare proof Capped Bust Half Dollars:
- 1826 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 65 $76,375
- 1829 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 65 $55,813
- 1831 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 64 $49,938
- 1838 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 64 $94,000
Other top NGC Properties at the Hertage US sessions:
- 1867 S Rays Shield Nickel NGC PF 64 Cameo $38,188
- 1830 Capped Bust Half Dime NGC PF 66 $49,938
- 1853 Arrows & Rays Liberty Seated Quarter NGC MS 67 $67,563
- 1841 Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 64 $30,550
- 1870 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo $41,125
- 1908 Indian Half Eagle NGC MS 67 $35,250
- 1861-O Liberty $20 NGC AU 55 $58,750
Heritage’s World and Ancient Signature sale NGC standouts:
- Australia 1 930M George V Penny NGC VF 25 $14,100
- Brazil 1781 Maria I & Pedro III 1600 Reis NGC AU 58 $35,250
- China Republic (1916) Gold Dollar NGC AU 53 $28,200
- China Republic (1924) Gold Dollar NGC MS 62 $38,188
- 1887 Great Britain Victoria Jubilee 5 Pounds NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo $32,900
- Great Britain 1847 Victorian Gothic Crown NGC PF 63 $10,282
- Hong Kong 1865 10 Cents NGC MS 64 $5,581
- Hong Kong 1872/68-H 20 Cents NGC MS 66 $9,400
- India 1835 William III Restrike Gold 2 Mohurs NGC PF 58 $18,800
- Japan Showa (1930) Gold 5 Yen NGC MS 67 $32,900
- Mexico Republic 1835HO Cap & Rays 8 Reales NGC VF 30 $47,000
- Russia 1714 Peter I 2 Ducat NGC AU 58 $47,000
- Russia 1883 CNB Alexander III 3 Roubles NGC PF 63 Cameo $35,250
With the plethora of rare coins on the market in the month of September, collectors and dealers attending major shows and prestigious auctions have definitely opened up their coffers while competing for the treasures which perhaps will only appear once in a lifetime. It will be interesting to see if the purse strings are tightened in October.
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.