Jim Bisognani: Summer FUN for the Family

Posted on 6/27/2024

Jim looks at an upcoming show, interesting auction results and a vacation from coins, maybe.

Well, my fellow coindexters, I'm always anxious to impart any interesting and useful numismatic tidbits for those who follow my well-meaning meanderings... but this Friday, I'm scheduled to do something I've never done before. I'm going on a two-week vacation with Beth. While the prospect is exciting, I don't know if I can shut down the daily coin craving.

That's right: I'm supposed to be on a coin quarantine. It is a conundrum; will I actually be able to abstain, with not even a glance at the electronic trade networks or fresh auction results? Even something as innocent as glancing at the metal spot prices could trigger something...

OK, some can make light of it. But this could pose a serious problem. At bare minimum, I will have to assemble a small coin survival pack to take with me when we leave the house. Nothing major; perhaps a few circulated Liberty Seated Quarters and Indian Cents, and a few favorite animal-themed world coins, safe in flips and tucked in my pocket. That'll get me through. Of course, I will also take my favorite folding 7X Bausch and Lomb glass. You know, just in case our travels include a drive past any coin and collectible shops. Just saying — I mean, nothing is planned!

It's amazing — in all of my years, I have never taken two consecutive weeks off. Secretly, I may use some late evening hours for viewing and reorganizing my own collection. Yeah, that should work.

Summer FUN for the Family

During my time off, other coindexters may consider the sunny, sizzling and sultry Orlando, Florida for their own July vacations. Coincidentally, Orlando will have the honor of hosting the Summer FUN show, which is scheduled for July 11-13 at the Orange County Convention Center. While I will be doing my best to abstain from all coin activity during my fortnight sabbatical, the Summer FUN show may be the ticket for the coindexter looking to parlay a family vacation while scratching their own coin itch.

Orlando is loaded with family theme parks, so while the non-numismatically inclined enjoy Mickey and Minnie, you will have your own numismatic-themed adventure to enjoy at the Orange County Convention Center — just sayin'.

Back to some current data. I am taking a look at some of the results from the just-concluded Heritage Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature Auction, which ended on June 13-16. This is a comeback of sorts for the in-name-only Long Beach Summer Expo auction. This sale marks the first summer installment of the Long Beach Expo since June 2020, as it was one of the casualties during the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2024 sale realized a healthy $10.9 million, which is a rather good showing considering this is the summer edition — a traditionally lighter show in both activity and volume. While the volume (1,216 lots) is indeed smaller than previous sales — the 2020 Long Beach Summer Expo sale featured 1,400 lots — the average price generated per lot this summer was nearly $9,000, compared to the average price per lot of $7,900 during the last Long Beach Summer Expo in 2020.

Click images to enlarge.

One top NGC-certified performer was the dynamic 1866 Motto Liberty $20 graded NGC MS 64★ DPL, claiming an impressive $198,000 and establishing a new record high for this spectacular issue. While all DPL gold warrants and delivers a much higher premium than their regular MS counterparts, the fact that this Type II Double Eagle survived in this superlative condition is just so improbable. She is truly a marvel. The deep mirror surfaces reveal and confirm that Ms. Liberty had to be one of the first 50 to 100 coins struck from the new dies. Someone at the Mint had to have plucked this gem before it had the chance to enter circulation.

The last time this exact specimen appeared on the market was a decade ago, when it appeared in the Heritage Winter FUN Show in 2014. Back then, it realized $176,250. Prior to that, she appeared in the July/August 2008 Heritage ANA Signature auction, where she realized $126,500.

Now, a little over a decade later, the $21,750 increase in price (or 12.34%) may be modest to some, but it boldly displays the strength and resilience generated by top-tier numismatic coins with eye appeal. As I checked the auction results for other scarce and key gold coins in MS 65 and better, I found prices delivered were commensurate with their all-time highs.

Another example includes this 1914 Indian Head Quarter Eagle graded NGC MS 65. This popular date and important series condition key (in higher grade, too) realized $15,600, which places it squarely at the top end of the prices realized for coins in this condition.

Click images to enlarge.

Conditional rarity does matter. It generated a record price for this particular NGC-certified coin.

This fabulous 1953-S Franklin Half Dollar graded NGC MS 66+ FBL captured $66,000. Perhaps the finest known of this date wearing the FBL designation that we shall ever see had 60 registered phone bidders, according the Heritage Auctions website.

Click images to enlarge.

While many Franklin Half Dollars achieving FBL status are scarce, the 1953-S is, by far, the king. The NGC Census confirms this, as it shows a total of a mere 22 1953-S Franklin Half Dollars designated with FBL. The next closest in number is the 1952-S FBL, which report in with a total of 223 designated with Full Bell Lines. Small wonder that, when a coin of this caliber appears, Franklin Half fans and modern rarity enthusiasts battle for the prize.

How valuable are Full Bell Lines? Well, take this like-numerically graded 1953-S Franklin Half Dollar graded NGC MS 66+, yet sans FBL. It just sold in April 2024 for $149.

Click images to enlarge.

Well, for now, I have to get busy packing (a few coins) for vacation.

Until next time, be safe and happy collecting!

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