Baltimore was a blast - Stack's Bowers sale claims nearly $5 Million - 8th Summer FUN underway

Posted by Jim Bisognani on 7/10/2014

It's a hot summer - outside as well as on the bourse! Read on for the latest show updates.

Another Baltimore Whitman Expo is in the books, and the 2014 summer edition show was a vibrant affair from the opening bell. Collectors seized the opportunity to do some wheeling, dealing, and trading in the Old Line State. This is definitely a pleasant reversal of fortune, as in recent years the summer season always seemed to signal a bit of a downturn in both the physical attendance and trade levels at major and regional coin venues. To borrow a Nat King Cole lyric from my youth, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer took a bit of that numismatic spark away, as collectors and their families were more interested in setting up vacation plans and other family-themed events. Yet, this doesn’t appear to be the situation as of late, as action and attendance are up at many of these coin shows. More than one collector has relayed to me that he tries to combine a family vacation or outing as close as possible to a major coin show.

Certainly, a great deal of this dynamic market is collector-driven, as numismatists have been out in force looking to buy a key coin or become reacquainted with the hobby at major venues and at regional shows. Whitman, as always, produces a great show, and this installment was no exception. The bourse was sold out, with several hundred dealers holding active tables. So, it doesn’t come as a complete surprise that Baltimore was buzzing this summer, with heavy floor traffic, as well as many varied and exceptional sales. Collectors to whom I spoke also offered up accolades. One hobbyist from nearby Delaware told me that he was having a blast, and that this was the most active show he had been at in some time. A pair of early birds I encountered on the bourse, Allan and Rhonda, visiting from Maine, advised they were scouring the dealer’s tables for bargains. According to Allan, he had recently been rekindling the somewhat dormant collecting bug which was passed down to him from his dad. “My father owned a business and was always going through the cash draw, pulling out silver coins and such. He also had a fondness for silver dollars and other older type coins and would pick them up when he could. He was more of an accumulator than true collector, but I find coin collecting to be fascinating and rewarding, both historically and financially.” Alan also told me he loves silver coins and is attracted to the Morgan Dollar series. “I am trying to establish a balanced type set from each mint, eventually I will have each coin in Good through MS 65 and then PL as well as DPL.” Alan was proud to show me his two most recent acquisitions, a blazing white NGC MS 65 1878-CC Morgan and a sharply struck 1887-O Morgan graded NGC MS 63. “Now I need to scrounge through various dealers’ inventory and boxes to find the more common low-grade circulated coins.”

Rhonda told me of her first purchase from the US Mint a few years back. “I was advised by a friend about the 25th Anniversary Silver Eagle Set...I did buy 2 sets. I wish I had bought five [the limit of sets per household] as they nearly tripled in value! That got me started on building a NGC-certified Silver Eagle set; the coins are gorgeous!”

Adding to the prevailing theme of excitement and enthusiasm at the Baltimore Convention Center was Stack’s Bowers' host auction. Offering up an alluring mix of US Colonial and Federal coins, tokens, and paper money, collectors and dealers waged battle, and when the hammer fell, the Stack's Bowers Galleries sale reeled in nearly $5 million during the live floor sessions.

The firm’s always-busy and congenial executive vice president Chris Karstedt advised, “Bidding was intense from beginning to end. The gallery had many eager bidders, and worldwide, thousands of others reviewed our presentation. The result was excellent.” The famous numismatic authority, Dave Bowers, relayed: “I spent most of my time at the show conversing with old friends, as well as new faces. If one word could describe attendees, it would be enthusiasm. Baltimore, consistently voted as America’s favorite coin convention center, scored another win.”

Well-respected Ian Russell, president of Great Collections, also had a great outing. “For a summer show, it was well-attended. We received a lot of consignments starting early Thursday morning. I remember last June being a little slow, but this was busy for our company.”

Another well-known dealer stated, “With certainty, this was the best and busiest summer Baltimore show I have personally attended in years, with business being done literally from the moment I arrived on Thursday morning right up until we left late Saturday afternoon."

Bob Green, President of Park Avenue Numismatics, also chimed in, “The summer Whitman show was better than we had hoped for. We purchased some great coins from walk-in sellers and located a lot of want list coins for our clients. We could have spent much more, but fresh material was slim pickings.”

I concur that it is very competitive on the bourse, as well as at auction, especially when top quality certified coins from virtually any series make an appearance. Speaking of top draws, the top NGC performers at the Stack's Bowers host sale were golden, as Classic Proof gold coinage was well represented throughout the catalog. An 1865 Liberty Eagle certified NGC PF 62 realizing a noteworthy $49,938 led the way. One of only 25 examples struck, this exceptionally rare early Proof Eagle is one of the nicer survivors of perhaps just 12 to 16 examples known today.

Other NGC highlights of the Stack’s Bowers Official Auction of the June 2014 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo include the following:

  • 1919 Broadstruck Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 67 FH $35,250
  • 1918/7-S Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 62 $21,150
  • 1932-S Washington Quarter NGC MS 66 $15,275
  • 1865 Liberty Seated Silver Dollar NGC PF 65 $15,275
  • 1808/7 Capped Bust Left Half Eagle NGC MS 61 $17,625
  • 1869-S Liberty Double Eagle NGC MS 62 (From The El Dorado Collection, Part II) $28,200
  • 1902 Liberty Double Eagle NGC MS 64 (From The El Dorado Collection, Part II) $22,325
  • MCMVII (1907) Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle High Relief Wire Rim NGC PF 64 $30,550

As the coin caravan continues its sojourn down the Eastern seaboard this summer, one major show seems to roll into another. As we go to press, the steamy Sunshine State is the focal point, as the 8th Annual Summer FUN show is underway at the Orange County Convention Center. This show runs from July 10-12. Be sure to check out the bourse and the superb Orlando Signature auction by host auctioneer Heritage Auctions, which features nearly 5,000 lots for astute collectors and dealers alike. I will review this FUN Florida event in the next installment. I hope to see you at the show.

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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