"This is Not Your Father's Coin Market" - Powerful Stack's-Bowers Sale Anchors Whitman Expo

Posted on 6/16/2011

With so much new technology it seems the coin market doesn't get the summer hiatus it used to get.

With the advent of third-party grading, the Internet, high resolution photographs and e-mail blasts, there is no longer any down time in the numismatic arena. For the majority of veteran dealers—and there are still many out there—this used to be the time when they and the coin market took a brief hiatus. True, many dealers making the circuit were not considered full-time a few short decades ago, yet they all seemed to make a living. Most looked forward to the summer season to recharge a bit. There was only one major summer event then: the ANA show, a time for camaraderie, sharing stories, meeting new clients and bringing, viewing and trading the crème de la crème in numismatics. Then rejuvenated, most of the dealer brethren would make up for any summer shortcomings in the fall and winter seasons, traditionally the high-volume times. But to take a GM marketing slogan from the 1980s, “This is not your father’s coin market”.

Amazingly, it’s the middle of June and we will have had two major shows and multi-million dollar auctions completed this month—the Long Beach Expo and Whitman Baltimore Coin & Collectibles Convention—all before the first day of summer officially appears on the calendar. After that, all attention will address the summer FUN show in Orlando, slated immediately following the Fourth of July holiday, July 7–9. Sandwiched in between major venues, a multitude of regional shows, Internet-only auctions and the ever-constant duty of viewing the cavalcade of upcoming auction lots occupy the professional numismatist. There certainly doesn’t appear to be any summer doldrums anymore. While the numismatic business has gotten bigger, the quantity and the quality of coins being offered have certainly diminished. Truly this is out of necessity, after all the supply of exceptional numismatic coins is finite while the collecting public seems to be infinite. That is why there is such an intense struggle at major venues down to the local mom and pop establishments. All are striving to secure the best quality coins available. Everyone wants to flush out untapped sources to bolster fledgling inventories and satisfy ever-growing want lists from well-established clients as well as inquiries from newbies excited to become involved in the great hobby of numismatics. This is where the NGC Census, Registry, and Price Guide are invaluable. For those that have not yet navigated through the price guide, please do so - you’ll find it is well-designed and user-friendly.

For those interested in the dynamic world coin arena, an exciting new guide awaits. Through a joint venture with Krause publications, the World Coin Price Guide officially made its appearance on the NGC site the first week of June. Covering virtually all world coins from 1600 to date, values are updated frequently and silver, gold, platinum and palladium coins feature up to the minute melt values! Oh yes, all of this is free. Please take a look; it is habit forming and very hard to break away from—truly an extraordinary resource.

The recently concluded Heritage Long Beach Signature auction realized a solid $11.9 million. Once again a phenomenal sell through rate guaranteed nearly 5,200 lots will have new homes. A handful of coins realized over the vaunted six-figure threshold and NGC slabs took away top honors. Leading the parade, the charismatic and rare 1795 Two Leaves B-2, BB-20 Flowing Hair Dollar, graded NGC MS 65, realized an impressive $253,000. This amazing coin has made only two auction appearances since 1989. It is estimated that fewer than 500 examples of this variety exist in all grades. Uncirculated specimens are extremely limited with perhaps fewer than 10 pieces that can be called Mint State. This dynamic lightly toned example, pedigreed to Heifetz/Cardinal collection, has strong claims to be finest known.

Fresh amazing coins such as this Flowing Hair Dollar rarity are being targeted by collectors and investors when they appear on the market. Major buyers concur; coins which are truly rare are finding long-term secure homes. Another stellar performer, an 1855 Type II Gold Dollar graded NGC PF 62 Cameo, captured a solid $126,500. The NGC Census reports a combined population in Cameo and Ultra Cameo of seven coins for this date; the present coin having been awarded the lowest numeric grade at NGC PF 62 Cameo. This coin, a vibrant proof brandishing light gold and orange peel highlights, last appeared, coincidently, at a Long Beach Signature sale in October of 2001 where it sold for $43,700. Again, this fresh and remarkable coin had not been seen in a public venue for nearly a decade; it too is surely to be tucked securely away into a proud collector’s cabinet. Another NGC stand out was the extremely popular and rare 1795 Small Eagle Draped Bust $5 graded NGC MS 64. Previously pedigreed to the Freedom collection, this semi-prooflike near-Gem coin raced to $184,000.

Following is a list featuring many of the sales of other notable NGC prizes:

  • 1787 Maris-35 New Jersey Copper NGC VF 35 $16,100
  • 1858/7 Flying Eagle Cent NGC MS 65 $27,600
  • 1883/2 Shield Nickel NGC MS 67 $25,300
  • 1942-D/Horizontal D Jefferson Nickel NGC MS 65 Five Full Steps $13,800
  • 1858-S Liberty Seated Dime NGC MS 64 $25,300
  • 1913-S Barber Quarter NGC MS 67 $46,000
  • 1915 Barber Quarter NGC PF 68 Cameo $15,813
  • 1927-S Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 64 Full Head $29,900
  • 1836 Bust Half Lettered Edge NGC PF 63 $27,600
  • 1795 Set Left Draped Bust Dollar NGC MS 62 $48,875
  • 1884-S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 64 $80,500
  • 1895-O Morgan Dollar NGC MS 61 $14,950
  • 1895 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo $89,125
  • 1808 Capped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC AU 58 $92,000
  • 1841-D Liberty Half Eagle NGC MS 63 $27,600
  • 1847-C Liberty Half Eagle NGC MS 63 $29,900
  • 1907 Wire Rim Indian $10 NGC MS 65 $54,625
  • 1857-S Liberty $20 NGC MS 66 $21,850
  • 1873-CC Liberty $20 NGC AU 58 $21,275
  • 1892 Liberty $20 NGC MS 61 $16,100
  • 1907 High Relief, Wire Rim Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC MS 66 $69,000
  • 1921 Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC AU 53 $48,875
  • 1912 Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC PF 67 $86,250
  • 1915-S Round Panama-Pacific $50 NGC MS 64 $92,000

Fresh from the Long Beach Expo, professionals and eager hobbyists have made the trek to eastern shores as the always exciting Baltimore Whitman show is underway as we go to press. Scheduled June 16–19, some of the superb US coins and currency meeting the hammer at the Stack’s-Bowers host five-session event include the following NGC notables:

  • 1652 Noe-10 “Ghost Tree” Massachusetts Oak Tree Shilling NGC XF 40
  • 1793 “AMERICA” Chain Cent NGC VF 20
  • 1909 VDB Lincoln Cent NGC PF 65 RB
  • 1944-D Steel Lincoln Cent NGC AU 55
  • 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 64
  • 1792 Half Disme NGC AU 58
  • 1797 15 Stars Draped Bust Half Dime NGC MS 65
  • 1918/7-S Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 63
  • 1809 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC MS 66
  • 1836 Reeded Edge Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC MS 64
  • 1795 Two Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar NGC MS 63
  • 1854 Seated Liberty Dollar NGC PF 64 Ultra Cameo
  • 1862 Seated Liberty Dollar NGC PF 66
  • 1864 Seated Liberty Dollar NGC MS 65
  • 1895 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo
  • 1934-S Peace Dollar NGC MS 66
  • 1888 Gold Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo
  • 1911-D Indian Quarter Eagle NGC MS 65
  • 1886 Three Dollar NGC PF 66
  • 1810 Large Date, Large 5 Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 65
  • 1890 Liberty Half Eagle NGC MS 68
  • 1907 Indian Eagle NGC MS 67
  • 1895 Liberty $20 NGC MS 65
  • 1908 Motto Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC PF 67
  • 1869 J-783 Pattern Liberty Eagle NGC PF 60
  • 1915-S Round Panama-Pacific $50 NGC MS 62

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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