Morgan Dollar collector hot on the trail of CC coins; California Gold Hoard ignites further interest in numismatics.
Another month is upon us, and the promise of Spring is in our sites, yet it is a similar refrain on the coin calendar, as the hectic numismatic schedule seems to claim no particular season. February certainly was a triumph, and the end of the month sent a salvo around the coin collecting world. The news story broke and hit mainstream media on February 25, describing the enormous cache of gold coins which was found by a northern California couple. Unearthed in eight rusty and disintegrating cans on their property, the find was historic, a mind-boggling $27,000 or more in double eagles, eagles and a few half eagles. Estimates of the now dubbed, “Saddle Ridge Hoard,” could capture well over $10 million! Timing is everything, and as news filtered through about this historic find, the publicity and mainstream media helped to facilitate many additional and enthusiastic onlookers to the ANA show in Atlanta. Many were there just to get a glimpse of some of the recently buried treasure from the hoard which was on display in Atlanta.
As I spoke to dealers and collectors at the recently concluded ANA in Atlanta, everyone seemed to have a good experience. Although there was only modest attendance observed at times during Thursday and Friday, traffic and activity did pick up noticeably as the show continued, and as one dealer put it, “It was downright busy on Saturday.” Overall there was continuing excitement and energetic buzz from the crowd that made their appearance on the bourse. In terms of public attendance, Saturday, certainly, by dealer consensus and visual perspective, was very busy with many potential customers looking at coins. Many thought this to be typical of coin show bourse activity in the Atlanta area; the weekends always seem to be the bigger draw. Collectors were selective, and opportunity presented itself on the bourse; but more than one advised that you had to do a little hunting, a little bit of legwork.
One gentleman who made the trek from Florida was in the market for better date Morgan Dollars. Joe, a veteran collector of over 30 years, advised me that he was hunting down some better Carson City coins just to augment his collection. “I have all the dates; I just have this fondness for the “CC” mintmark. I know the mintmark is on other silver and gold coins, yet from me, the Morgan Dollars displayed the double C mintmark the best. I must have 50 of each 1882, 1883 and 1884. They were always the most affordable for me to purchase and are still in Mint State.” The collector went on to advise me that once his Morgan Dollar collection was complete, he was financially able to pick up multiples of the Carson City coins that he so cherished. “I love them! I still like to pick up the GSA CC dollars in the original holders with the NGC wrap-around grading. Hey, the show has been a peach for me.”
The articulate and well-respected Dave Wnuck described the ANA show’s activity as quite understated. “This is typical of the early Spring ANA shows, since they are “one off” shows, where the retail public in each locale has not attended in that location in the past,” assessed Wnuck.
However, I found the dealer-to-dealer show activity to be steady, with numerous transactions at current price levels. Some major auctions during the prior 60 days or so brought fresh material to a market that was starved for it. Surprisingly, I saw very little of that material for sale on the floor. This tells me that most of that fresh material already resides in collections.
The announcement of the Saddle Ridge hoard of US gold coins brought out a large contingent of the general public, and this added excitement. I feel the impact of that hoard will be very positive for the coin market in the coming months, and that it will create a number of new collectors.
Per well-known Ian Russell, President of Great Collections, “ANA was fairly quiet in attendance, although we made up for it in quality.” Ian then went on to say, “It puzzles me why Atlanta is not a better city for a coin show. There is a large collecting base; it's relatively easy to fly into, and that convention center has cheap hotels and food close by.” According to Russell, his California-based firm received a number of high value consignments at the ANA National Money Show, including a 1796 Quarter graded NGC XF 40 and a very rare Proof $20 piece. Another coin, a true modern rarity, was also consigned at the show. It is the key to the Silver Eagle series, a dazzling 1999, graded NGC MS 70. It is being sold unreserved in one of Great Collections' auctions later in March.
Dealer Enzio Romano, from New York, advised that he observed good dealer-to-dealer activity. Per Enzio,“I did not attempt to bid at auction. I concentrated on searching for coins to buy and sell on the bourse. Problem-free type in XF AU showed good demand. Looking forward to a great show in Baltimore! They are generally great for me.”
The host Signature auction by Heritage helped to satisfy the numismatic hopefuls, serving up some fresh material to the starving dealers and collectors in attendance in the Peach State and beyond. In total, nearly 5,000 lots made their appearance during four live sessions and an Internet only stanza. At the sale’s conclusion, nearly $15 million was generated, and an amazing nearly 99% of the offerings were sold. A delightful blend of rare and exquisite NGC rarities took top honors.
An enigmatic 1826 Capped Bust Half Eagle graded NGC MS 65 set the tone, as it reeled in an impressive and record price for that grade of $235,000. It is so exciting when one of these half eagles comes to market, as perhaps as few as 30 coins of this date are known to exist. Interestingly, the majority of those survivors are preserved in a higher grade. Yet, this superb coin, one of a handful of this caliber, is obviously exceedingly rare. In fact, the last public appearance of this delightful semi-proof like gem coin was back in January of 1998, as the half eagle crossed the podium as a part of the Heritage FUN sale then realizing $87,400.
Next on the roster was an absolutely stunning 1845 Liberty Quarter Eagle. Graded NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo, this the finest known of three confirmed Proof examples, powered to $223,250.
Another gold coin, the coveted 1920-S $10 Indian graded NGC MS 65, captured an impressive $199,750. Displaying an original peach salmon color, this full gem specimen is certainly amongst the finest known survivors.
Another eagle, the acclaimed Civil War year 1863 issue, made a rare public appearance. From an original paltry mintage of but 1,248 pieces, it’s estimated that around 40 examples exist in all states of preservation today. This coin, graded NGC XF 45, roared to a record setting $47,000 which is nearly three times the NGC US Coin Price Guide valuation.
Other NGC-certified Heritage National Money Show highlights include:
- 1838 No Drapery Liberty Seated Half Dime NGC PF 63 $35,250
- 1776 Newman-1 Pewter Continental Dollar N1-C NGC MS 61 $76,375
- 1895-S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 65 $24,675
- 1797 Small Eagle Draped Bust Eagle NGC XF 45 $76,375
- 1839 Type of 1840 Small Letters Liberty $10 NGC AU 58 $47,000
- 1883-O Liberty $10 NGC AU 55 $70,500
- 1860 Mormon $5 NGC MS 61 $64,625
For everyone that is still flirting with frostbite, the first of the always well-received Whitman Baltimore Expo's Spring edition is but three weeks away, March 27-30. It is hard to imagine right now, as I write this, as it is minus 3 degrees, that Spring will ever be again!
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.