Central States Confirms Broad-Based Strength in Rare Coin Market

Posted by Jim Bisognani on 5/1/2014

Heritage Sale Races To $47 Million - Territorial Gold A Powerhouse

Birds are singing; the ground and trees are slowly becoming alive again. Ah, those seasonal changes are so much appreciated. Yet, for numismatists, the rites of spring wouldn’t be complete without the Central States Convention and related auction. This mainstay has always been a much anticipated rendezvous on the numismatic circuit. As the name implies, this centrally located venue is optimal for collectors not only from the Midwest, but also for those from all over the United States who will claim easy passage to the spacious Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL. The 75th anniversary of the Central States Numismatic Society convention, April 23-26, was certainly a success, visually and from various dealer reports which confirmed an active and productive event.

Many of my comrades were reporting heavy foot traffic and solid business, while some others were claiming more modest transactions and the usual tire-kickers. For many dealers setting up at shows, it’s becoming a little bit like choosing real estate: location, location, location. Those dealers who are able to secure a prime piece of bourse real estate may claim much more attendee traffic which relates to sales. Everyone seems to be jockeying for that prime floor space these days.

While dealer’s lifeblood is the bourse as well as auctions, it was apparent that some of the foot traffic was minimized, as many CSNS attendees were taking in the feature Heritage auction. Who could really blame them? In total, nearly $47 million was generated at the Heritage signature Chicago sale. This massive event included over 8,600 coins for dealers and collectors to battle for and claim for their collections or inventory. When the gavel fell silent, over 98% of the lots were sold. This is truly amazing and obviously great for the consignor and for our numismatic business and community.

Certified rare coins have been targeted by collectors for centuries, but not with as much diligence, research and competition as we have seen over the last handful of years. Numismatists of all levels, those able to spend $1,000 a year for rare coins or those looking to spend six figures and beyond are definitely appreciating the artistry, rarity and finite nature of those acquisitions. Although there were not any million dollar coins sold at the CSNS Heritage sale to report on as was the case in 2013 when a trio eclipsed that benchmark, this sale captured 15% more revenue and quietly (well sort of) featured over double the amount of six-figure coins (28 in 2013 vs. 60 in 2014) sold at this bellwether venue indicating that the higher echelon coins are indeed finding homes and at an accelerated pace. Strength of territorial gold coins was obvious as the exquisite Riverboat collection, a total of 63 coins, generated nearly $10.5 million alone!

Leading the NGC sortie at the sale was the enigmatic 1849 Mormon Ten Dollar K-3 NGC AU 58. This coin is a true and historic rarity and a coup for the territorial gold collector. In total only 46 $10 Mormon gold coins were ever struck at the facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. Today it is estimated that fewer than a dozen coins exist in all grades. Four of those coins are permanently housed in museums leaving this NGC AU 58 as certainly the finest coin extant, one which has been made available to collectors for the first time in several decades. When the dust settled an appreciative floor bidder took possession of this icon at $705,000.

Another Mormon rarity was next as the superlative 1849 $20 Mormon gold coin, graded NGC MS 62, also went to an enthusiastic floor bidder reeling in an impressive $558,125. After diligent research it is believed a mere 23 examples of this revered coin are available in all grades - the coin offered up at CSNS being the finest known.

Other superlative NGC territorial gold properties:

  • 1855 Large Head Wass Molitor $20, unlisted believed unique NGC AU 53 $558,125
  • 1855 Wass Molitor $50 K-9 NGC MS 63 $411,250
  • 1851 .880 Thous Humbert $50 LE NGC MS 63 $352,500
  • 1851 Shultz & Co $5 NGC MS 62 $340,750
  • 1850 Dubosq & Co $10 NGC MS 60 $329,000
  • 1849 Pacific Company Gold Dollar NGC MS 61 $305,500
  • 1849 Oregon Exchange Co. $5 NGC MS 62 $258,500

The phenomenal and top-rated NGC certified registry set of Morgan Dollars, the ML Moser Collection, generated a scene of heated activity. Leading the way was the undisputed king of the Morgans, the 1893-S graded NGC MS 65, one of but two graded as such by NGC. This, the cornerstone of the Moser collection, reeled in a solid $329,000. This certainly appears to be a record price paid at auction for the venerable 1893-S, in this grade designation. Interestingly, the other NGC MS 65 sold at the same Central States venue in 2013, where it generated $258,500!

Other exquisite top-rated NGC Morgan dollars:

  • 1883-S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 65 $32,900
  • 1889-CC Morgan Dollar NGC MS 63 $27,000
  • 1892-S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 63 $70,500
  • 1893-CC Morgan Dollar VAM-2 NGC MS 65 $70,500
  • 1895-O Morgan Dollar NGC MS 64 $51,406
  • 1895-S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 66 $45,531

The roster of prominent NGC highlights at Heritage’s CSNS sale also included:

  • (1737) Higley Copper Broad axe NGC VF 20 $76,075
  • 1874-CC Arrows Liberty Seated Dime NGC AU 53 $41,125
  • 1891-O Liberty Seated Dime NGC PF 66 $129,250
  • 1834 Capped Bust Quarter NGC MS 67 $70,500
  • 1927-S Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 65 FH $94,000
  • 1952 Franklin Half Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo $11,750
  • 1846 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC MS 65 $96,938
  • 1894 Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo $41,125
  • 1830 Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC PF 63 $229,125
  • 1875 Liberty $5 NGC AU 55 $211,500
  • 1857-O Liberty $20 NGC MS 62 PL $176,250
  • 1862 Liberty $20 NGC PF 65 Cameo $381,875
  • 1865 Liberty $20 NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo $440,625
  • 1915-S Panama Pacific Octagonal $50 NGC MS 67 $282,000

Well-known Heritage numismatist Mark Feld summed it up quite nicely to me, “It’s stating the obvious, but our Central States sale should easily rank among this year’s largest and most exciting auctions. And collectors of rarities, ultra-high grade coins, and coins of all different grade qualities and types, should be able to find something to their liking. The expression “something for everyone” certainly comes to mind.” Certainly, there was broad-based support and interest at all levels here. Quality certified coins from virtually all series are continuing to find secure and appreciative homes.

In closing, I wish to indulge with my readers for a moment and speak of the passing of my brother Frank on April 21. Frank was not a numismatist. He was not really a collector, although the year that he was born, 1950 had special significance to me as a youngster. Not only was it the birth year of my big brother, but it was also the year that the US Mint resumed striking Proof coins after an eight-year hiatus. I was ten at the time. I thought that it was neat that the US Mint began striking Proof coins again in 1950 sort of commemorating my brother’s year of birth!

My brother was a gentle soul and everyone he touched was glad to have become acquainted with him. Frankie greatly enjoyed music and always had a radio, cassette or CD player nearby with classic rock ‘n roll tunes blaring out. My brother could play the trumpet, guitar, violin, piano and organ yet never had any formal training. In one of our conversations years ago, he told me of one of his finds in pocket change. “Hey, Jimmy, the guitar is on the quarter,” referring to the Tennessee State Quarter of 2002. He always associated that quarter with Elvis Presley, one of his favorites. I remember telling Frank to take a closer look at the quarter as the trumpet and violin were also featured on that coin - all instruments which he could play. A perfect tribute to my brother’s talents! He thought that was pretty cool. So were you. Love you brother.

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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