Summer Coin Market Highs and Lows

Posted on 9/11/2008

As summer vacation season wanes, numismatic activity tends to increase. NumisMedia reports a much more erratic August than expected, and recaps the ANA show in Baltimore.

August was to be a very interesting month for the coin business. Vacations were winding down and numismatic activity was predicted to pick up substantially. And with the ANA Show scheduled for the beginning of the month, expectations were high for the summer slowdown to take a turn for the better. But with the extreme drop in bullion prices, August was a month of ups and downs.

The ANA went a long way toward confirming the strength of the overall market. Attendance was exceptional in Baltimore and dealer activity reports ranged from “terrific to very good.” Collectors were actually buying coins rather than just shopping. Many shows find collectors simply window shopping and verifying the prices that they paid for previously purchased coins.

The amount of constant trading among dealers and collectors was as intense as many dealers can remember. The volume of sales was enormous, as is evidenced by the Heritage Auction Galleries ANA Sale. Total prices realized were well over $41 million and there were significant highlights from nearly every series.

The following examples are coins we do not list on a regular basis. An extremely rare 1944-S Lincoln Cent on a zinc-plated steel planchet sold for $373,750; it was certified by NGC as MS 66. A 1792 Disme NGC PR 62 Brown, a Judd 10 in copper with a reeded edge, produced a final bid of $690,000. An 1839-O Capped Bust Half Dollar traded at $195,500; it was certified by NGC as PR 64. Another oft-seen rarity was the 1855 $50 Wass Molitor in NGC MS 61; this fifty-dollar slug brought $207,000. There are many other highlights from the Heritage Sale listed below.

1796 Bust Dime   NGC MS 67*   $299,000
1797 Bust Dime 13 Stars   NGC MS 65   $402,500
1798 Bust Dime Sm 8   NGC MS 66   $253,000
1803 Bust Dime   NGC MS 64   $322,000
1847 Seated Dime   NGC PR 66 Cam   $51,750
1843 Seated Quarter   NGC PR 66   $74,750
1852 Seated Quarter   NGC PR 65   $138,000
1873 Seated Quarter Arrows   NGC PR 68   $40,250
1796 Bust Half 15 Stars   PCGS AU 58   $207,000
1843 Seated Half   NGC PR 66 Cam   $86,250
1848 Seated Half   NGC PR 66   $74,750
1852 Seated Half   NGC PR 65   $74,750
1847 Seated Dollar   NGC PR 65   $51,750
1848 Seated Dollar   NGC PR 67   $161,000
1889 CC Morgan Dollar   NGC MS 65   $287,500
1796 $2 ½ Gold No Stars   PCGS MS 61   $276,000
1796 $2 ½ Gold Stars   NGC MS 62   $207,000
1825/4 Bust $5 Gold   NGC AU 50   $690,000
1921 $20 St. Gaudens   PCGS MS 64   $474,375
1930 S $20 St. Gaudens   PCGS MS 66   $253,000
1931 D $20 St. Gaudens   PCGS MS 66   $253,000
1881 O DMPL Morgan $   PCGS MS 65   $40,250
1884 CC DMPL Morgan $   PCGS MS 67   $38,813
1885 CC DMPL Morgan $   PCGS MS 67   $51,750
1889 CC DMPL Morgan $   PCGS MS 64   $94,875
1889 S DMPL Morgan $   PCGS MS 65   $38,813
1900 DMPL Morgan $   PCGS MS 65   $51,750

Unbelievably, Fair Market Values actually fell for various Deep Mirror Prooflike Morgan Dollars. Of course, some of these had obviously advanced higher than the market would support; results from the sale were a sure indication that prices needed to adjust downward. However, the truly rare issues, those highest graded coins with low census numbers brought well above previous FMV levels.

One series that was especially active at ANA was Walking Liberty Half Dollars; always popular, but not always as hot as they have been. The 1916 to 1934 run of dates are generally very easy sellers in MS 63 and higher grades. It all depends on the eye appeal of the offered coin and how friendly the seller is with his asking price. Typically, the most difficult dates are offered well above the current FMV; the more common issues may be very competitive and close to the present Fair Market Value or even lower if the seller wants to create more activity. The dates from 1935 to 1947 will usually run in cycles. When the market is a little stagnant, prices will tend to adjust downward. This will sometimes cause buyers to jump in because they feel a strong opportunity awaits them. This was the case for the 1935–1947 issues in the weeks before and after the ANA. The MS 65 to MS 67 issues became quite active and buyers had a difficult time acquiring many of these dates, especially in the higher grades. You will see numerous FMV advances this month, even though there are also some declines in the MS 67 grades. There were several MS 67s that we had not seen trade in recent months and the availability of some created discounts to previous FMV prices.

While activity for rare coins is quite intense and has been for several years now, modern bullion coins moved into the limelight this past year when Gold, Silver, and Platinum advanced to record highs. However, this past month, we have seen the metals drop with ferocity. The premiums have dwindled on many of these common modern issues to the point where many Gold and Platinum coins trade strictly for the bullion value despite the grade and certification. The certification simply makes the coin easier to trade in the marketplace. Nonetheless, the popularity for modern issues has not subsided. Dealers are reporting an increase in volume for bullion coins because the public feels that prices are at levels where they can take advantage and the potential for profits is better than when the prices were much higher.

Over the last few weeks, we have noticed a marked increase in the volume of bullion sales over the wholesale teletype systems. Demand from their customers makes dealers very aggressive and modern bullion coins are trading at very tight spreads. This makes it difficult for dealers to make much money on bullion but it also creates potential sales to customers who may end up purchasing other numismatic coins. The tight spreads gives the customer a good opportunity to buy modern bullion coins at prices that are much more beneficial than when the bullion market was peaking.

This article is a guest article written by:

The thoughts and opinions in the piece are those of their author and are not necessarily the thoughts of the Certified Collectibles Group.

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