Some Adjustments To The Numismatic Landscape

Posted by Jim Bisognani on 3/20/2014

Old Line State Calls; Fresh Collector Coins Appearing In 2014; Stack's Bowers Reveals Mammoth Hoard.

According to the calendar—I just don’t want to say it too loud—spring is here, and for the majority of us, it has been a long time coming. Of course, we all realize that it is still a far cry from summer, but a much needed and welcome break from the winter pattern will be well received. With the changing of the meteorological landscape at hand, it must also be noted that the numismatic landscape may be in for some changes, some significant ones, too. The news of the exciting and enormous cache of near-pristine Double Eagles unearthed in Northern California will certainly bring about some readjustment to price guides due to the new found availability of various dates of the Type I & II $20 Liberty representatives included in the Saddle Ridge Hoard. Gold collectors and Double Eagle enthusiasts will certainly rejoice at the prospect of including some of these coins in their collections. Definitely fresh, the majority of this cache will undoubtedly be rapidly absorbed by the market. Coins which have not seen the light of day for well over a century since being unearthed a little over a year ago, will probably find homes in secure hands and may not see the light of day for another generation or more.

For the everyday collector, there was very exciting news, as well. Earlier this month, Stack’s Bowers announced the “Great American Coin Hoard,” which is being touted as one of the greatest personal accumulations of US coins ever assembled. Now labeled as “The Stack's West 57th Street Collection,” the coins were obtained in New York City and around the country by one individual, then hoarded away and never really reviewed for key dates or attributed by varieties. In total, this collection encompasses over 1 million US coins, not just common wheat cents, mind you. It includes bags of Large Cents, Capped Bust Halves, Silver Dollars, Type coins, Flying Eagle Cents, and Indian Head Cents. It is reported that there are nearly 10,000 1909 VDB Lincoln Cents, as well! In total, this groundbreaking hoard weighs in at over 30 tons and has been assigned a conservative estimate of between $10-$15 million! I have been told that the sorting process is now underway. According to Stack’s Bowers President, Brian Kendrella, “The collection will be an ongoing part of our auction program over the next few years." Coins from this historic lode will initially be offered in the firm's Internet auctions beginning in April.

As they are found, rarities, new discoveries and the higher-value coins are scheduled to be included in a series of the firms’ venues including the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expos, ANA World's Fair of Money Showcase, and Rarities Night auctions. Kendrella concluded, “There will certainly be something for everyone, and I expect the discovery will be exciting for all individuals involved in numismatics." A find like this is certainly a boon for the average collector or those looking for a fresh alternative to most of the certified coins of note which have made the rounds through the auction circuit with the frequency of an ER nurse. Those naysayers out there will have to do a bit of backpedaling; not only has the new year been off to an auspicious start, but also the announcement of these two historic hoards has easily assured 2014 a place in the record books.

Personally, I was privy to scope out a wonderful collection of US coins last week, albeit not of the scope of those mentioned previously, yet certainly, in my view, these were equally as exciting. A friend of mine whose business and passion is collecting, restoring, and trading vintage tube radios from 1930s-1950s, (a hobby we both share with a passion) asked me if I would be willing to look over some coins he had. I said of course, I’d love to. At the conclusion of what I hope is our last snow storm on March 12, my friend backed his station wagon up to my front steps in the early afternoon and proceeded to unload several large plastic tubs and brought them in to the house. Despite the frigid temperature, I was in heaven.

My friend said, “My brother collected stamps; I collected coins.” I quickly added, “What a better move on your part.” All of the coins were carefully and securely housed in the old Whitman bookshelf albums. For the most part, the coins were collected by his dad, and in most instances, my buddy just carried the baton and continued on with a particular series or type set. This collection, in part, included a complete set of Indian Head Cents, Barber Dimes, Barber Halves, Morgan Dollars, and Peace Dollars. There were also some very nice original type sets of coins covering Two Cent, Three Cent pieces, Bust coins, Liberty Seated coins, and a large assembly of Large Cents, among others. A great grouping of Canadian coins greeted me, as well.

My friend said, “I loved all of this stuff growing up. The 1909-S VDB was bought by my grandfather. He paid $7.50 for it. For me, personally, I love the type sets.”

My comrade’s goal was to have me extract all of the coins which I deemed the “good stuff” and send them off to NGC for certification. “I want to pass the coins off to my children, and having them certified will at least give me peace of mind that they will secure my kids true market value, if and when they decide to liquidate.”

As I was searching, I pulled key date coins and minor rarities that needed to be certified. I also made note of several extraordinary, potential condition census Washington Quarters from the 1940s. They are just dazzling, remarkable coins. I’ll be sure to keep you apprised once the grades are returned.

Not only is there excitement in numismatics for me and my friend, but it is also waiting for so many others,as well. For everyone that is still searching for fresh coins, it appears, at least to some degree, those wishes are being filled here in 2014. Just around the corner on the major show circuit is the first of the always highly anticipated Baltimore Whitman Expo from March 27-30. The host auction by Stack’s Bowers held at the spacious Baltimore Convention Center March 26-April 1, 2014 includes a wealth of diversified numismatic items, including Americana, currency, US coins and related memorabilia, in total nearly 5,000 lots to satisfy dealers and collectors making the trek to the Old Line State. A roster of some of the great NGC certified highlights include the following:

  • 1874-CC Fortin-101 Arrows Liberty Seated Dime NGC AU 50
  • 1818 Capped Bust Quarter NGC MS 65
  • 1856 Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 65
  • 1879 Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 68
  • 1797 10x6 Stars, BB-71, B-3 Draped Bust Silver Dollar NGC MS 63
  • 1889-CC Morgan Silver Dollar NGC MS 61
  • 1892 Morgan Silver Dollar NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo
  • 1858 Gold Dollar NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo
  • 1860-S Three Dollar Gold Princess NGC AU 58

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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