NumisMedia Market Report: Auctions Highlight Rarities

Posted on 3/16/2010

This month, NumisMedia has the exciting recap of several recent coin auctions.

Whenever a copper 1943 Lincoln cent sells at auction, it always creates thousands of phone calls to local coin shops. Everyone thinks they have a rare 1943 cent. Usually, they don’t. However, Heritage Galleries obtained two consignments from different mints in the past two months. Heritage Galleries first auctioned a 1943 copper cent at the FUN Show in January for $218,500 in AU 58. At the Long Beach Expo, Heritage offered another 1943 copper cent; this San Francisco minted cent graded VF 35 and realized $207,000. In the case of the famed 1943 copper cent, grade is not the main concern; just owning one is the priority. The Heritage Galleries Official Long Beach Signature Sale realized over $8.9 million.

The 1943 copper cent was not the only highlight in this sale. Several gold ingots from the SS Central America also changed hands. A 55-ounce Harris Marchand & Co. ingot sold for $172,500, while a 48.65-ounce ingot labeled Kellogg & Humbert Gold realized $103,500. The Longfellow Collection also provided collectors with an opportunity to add various seldom-seen $1 gold coins to their collections. One coin in particular was the 1849-C Open Wreath NGC XF 45, with only one grading higher. There are only five confirmed examples of this date and this one brought $218,500. The following chart of prices realized contains several of the finest known coins in the $1 Gold series.

Denomination    Grade    Price Realized   
1796 Bust Dime NGC MS 64 PL $86,250
1916-D Mercury Dime NGC MS 65 FB $40,250
1942/1-D Mercury Dime NGC MS 67 FB $40,250
1916 St Liberty Quarter PCGS MS 65 $25,300
1849 $1 Gold Cl Wreath PCGS MS 66 $17,250
1849-C $1 Gold Cl Wreath NGC MS 64 $34,500
1851-C $1 Gold NGC MS 66 $40,250
1852-C $1 Gold NGC MS 65 $23,000
1853-D $1 Gold NGC MS 66 $74,750
1855-O $1 Gold NGC MS 64 $26,450
1875 $1 Gold PCGS MS 66 $109,250
1795 $5 Gold Sm Eagle NGC MS 60 $63,250
1795 $10 Gold 13 Leaves PCGS AU 53 $48,875
1907 $10 Gold Indian WR PCGS MS 63 $46,000
1931-D $20 Saint Gaudens PCGS MS 64 $80,500

Ira and Larry Goldberg hosted a Pre-Long Beach Auction in their Beverly Hills offices. This sale always entices dealers to arrive early in conjunction with the Long Beach Show. This sale contained numerous rarities, mostly in the area of US Gold. The following highlights represent some of the most active coins in this sale.

Denomination    Grade    Price Realized   
1794 Flowing Half Dime PCGS MS 62 $20,700
1909 Barber Half Dollar PCGS PR 68 Cam $19,550
1915 Barber Half Dollar NGC PR 68 $21,275
1848 Seated Dollar NGC PR 64 $29,900
1855-D $1 Gold NGC MS 64 $97,750
1879 $4 Gold Fl Hair PCGS PR 65 $168,475
1795 $5 Gold Sm Eagle PCGS MS 62 $97,750
1812 $5 Gold NGC MS 64 $27,025
1858-C $5 Gold NGC MS 63 $21,275
1907 $20 Saint High Relief NGC PR 67 $157,550
1908 $20 Saint w/Motto NGC PR 66 $57,500
1914 $20 Saint Gaudens NGC PR 66 $60,375
1921 $20 Saint Gaudens NGC MS 62 $143,750
1925-D $20 Saint Gaudens NGC MS 65 $80,500
1930-S $20 Saint Gaudens PCGS MS 65 $161,000
1931-D $20 Saint Gaudens PCGS MS 65 $103,500
1915-S $50 Pan-Pac Round NGC MS 65 $100,625
1915-S $50 Pan-Pac Octagonal NGC MS 65 $100,625

Results of major auctions and coin shows from around the country make it apparent that advanced collectors are still ready and willing to add specific rarities to their holdings. However, it is painfully obvious that these savvy buyers are not only looking for the right coins; they are also demanding the best prices. This is putting pressure on those collectors and dealers that are in a must-sell position. This situation makes the FMV somewhat volatile now in some series. We are finding large ranges of prices for virtually the same coin and grade. Therefore, eye appeal can make as much as 50% difference in prices realized.

The volatility in today’s market has been created by the fact that we do not have as many financially solvent collectors in the market as we did three years ago when numismatics was at its peak. Since then, the economy has taken a toll on some rare coins. The flashiest coins at auction will bring the most money and then the others will usually close at reduced prices as buyers of previous lots drop out of the picture. This is what creates many of the bargains in the marketplace.

Since the beginning of the year, Modern Bullion coins have been the focus of many coin dealers. Collectors and investors have been concentrating on coins that have intrinsic value in an effort to maintain their cash reserves. The most sought-after coins have been Gold Eagles, Buffalo Gold and, more currently, Spouse Gold. Buyers will typically buy coins that are in the original government packaging or Mint State and Proof 69 and 70 coins certified by NGC and PCGS. The FMV for Proof Gold Eagles had swelled to over $2,700 per ounce before falling all the way back to $1,740 a couple of weeks ago. Currently the FMV is $1,900. With Gold at just under $1,120 an ounce, this represents a premium of about 70%. Many dealers feel that Tens and Twenties prior to the 1930s are a better value with premiums as low as 30% for Saints in Extra Fine condition. Even in MS 63, the FMV for Saints have only a 58% premium over the gold content. Most buyers are not that sure whether to buy old gold or new gold, but they do know one thing, they want gold in their hands.

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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