Fantastic FUN Fantasies

Posted on 2/15/2005

If you attempted to conjure up a FUN Show the likes of which took place last month, you could not imagine one as strong as the marketplace found.

With over 80 million dollars in auction lots prices realized one might think that there would not be any money left for the FUN Show bourse. However, we are excited to report that the wholesale and retail business was steady and prices are generally still moving higher. Results of the two-week period in Florida caused many dealers to rethink their long-term outlook of the market. We continually speak with dealers and the common thread refers to previous markets and how they tended to soften after a prolonged period of upward movement. One of the more important aspects of this current market, with which dealers still seem uncomfortable, is the depth and strength of the collector base. Many dealers have a difficult time believing in the extended well-being of this market. What they all fail to realize is that the numbers speak for themselves.

When over 100 million dollars in sales (auctions and bourse) occurs in a two-week period and the market still keeps on ticking, we all have to realize that this is not our fathers’ and grandfathers’ coin market. We have to stop treating numismatics like a hobby. Yes, it is great to have the tremendous collector base that we have come to recognize over the last several years. However, the collector of today is nothing like the collector of yesteryear. The collector today is much more educated in the overall coin market. They understand that dealers have to make a decent living and they cannot work on a 5-10% profit margin. Moreover, if the dealer has a healthy inventory with a variety of desirable rarities, the collector knows if they hesitate, the coin will be sold to the next eagerly waiting collector looking to add quality coins to their holdings. Further, today’s collector has more money to spend on coins than those of years ago. Previously they had to plan and save for specific coins needed. Today, the collector simply writes a check from one of their various investment plans.

Years ago, when a collector wanted a particular coin a dealer had for sale, he would save his money and tell the dealer to put it away for him. There was not much competition on a local level so this was a practical method for both the dealer and collector. Today, with the Internet, good coins do not stay in inventory very long, especially if they are priced competitively. If key or rare date coins are listed with a good description and quality photos, everybody in the world is exposed to them. Along with the two most important aspects of today’s coin market, plenty of collectors with tremendous funds available, this makes for a very different market.

Getting back to the FUN Show we now realize that this may have been one of the more phenomenal events in the history of numismatics. The number of million dollar coins changing hands was a world record. By last count there are now 9 coins reportedly realizing over a million dollars at auction. The auctions in Florida accounted for four of them; and Heritage sold three. Wow! Is there money out there or what? We can remember when a successful auction realized 3-4 million dollars total. With all this going on the most amazing aspect of these results is that the market is taking these series of events in stride – as if nothing major happened. Nothing major? Years into the future, history will report that this was the beginning of the greatest coin market ever.

There are more opportunities out there than ever and as long as we, as an industry, do not get greedy, and other venues remain status quo, the coin market can continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The Florida auctions reported many very healthy results. One of the more specific areas of the market that showed extremely potent prices realized was Barber Coinage. The John C. Hugon Collection auction by Heritage Numismatic Auctions was very competitive and showed how deep the collector market flows. We studied this market in depth and found that many of these high grade coins have had very little pricing data to this point. Some of the information was at least 10-15 years old and the FMV needed some very healthy increases. Granted, many of these coins are one-of-a-kind because of grade, eye appeal, and the fact that they have a wonderful pedigree. However, if a coin has a limited population (many of these have a pop of 5 coins or less in the highest grade) and the previous FMV was, for example, listed at $10,000 and the coin sold for $20,000 at auction, it is very likely that other similar available coins will have increased in value to within 10-15% of this recent sale. The updated FMV prices will go a long way toward re-evaluating many collections and spur more collectors to completing the Barber series. Sales of this nature are a wonderful marketing tool for future sales. When you realize that this is a very heavily collected area of numismatics, you soon comprehend the magnitude of the competition for available rarities. The future looks very promising.

Please contact the various auction houses for a complete list of prices realized. We will list but a few of these results. Bowers and Merena began this history making auction schedule with a $7 million sale. The 1793 Wreath Cent, Vine & Bars, in MS 66 Brown realized $253,000; a 1915 S Pan-Pac Octagonal $50 Gold Commem, in MS 66 sold for $189,750; the 1795 Bust Dollar, off-center, was graded MS 66 by NGC and it brought $327,750. The seldom seen Branch Mint Proofs were very strong. The 1879 O in PF 64 sold for $71,300.

American Numismatic Rarities was the next auctioneer and they realized almost $10 million as the final lot sold. The most important coin in the sale was the 1866 No Motto Dollar in NGC PF 63; this is a magnificent coin with tremendous history and it brought ANR their first million dollar sale, at $1,207,500. Other prices realized include a 1793 Chain Cent in MS 65 Brown sold for $431,250; an 1839 Gobrecht Dollar in NGC PF 66 brought $172,500; the always interesting 1893 S Morgan Dollar in MS 64 garnered $276,000. Gold coins were also quite active with a 1797 Quarter Eagle, in NGC MS 60 selling for $94,300 and an 1873 $20 Liberty in NGC PF 65 Cameo bringing $155,250.

Superior Galleries realized nearly $5 million and had numerous special highlights including a 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar in NGC VF 20, which realized $97,750; an 1883 $20 Gold Liberty in NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo brought $230,000 and an 1884 $20 Gold Liberty in NGC PF 64 Cameo sold for $111,550. The 1848 Cal. $2 ½ Gold is a very sought after issue and this one sold at $149,500 in NGC MS 66. The market for the $4 Stella has increased dramatically in the last couple of years; the 1879 Flowing Hair in NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo attracted $189,750.

As we mentioned Heritage was the official FUN Show Auction and realized the major benefit of the strengthening coin market. With over 60 million dollars in auction sales, it is a record that may never be exceeded. Heritage sold three million dollar coins and two were Brasher Doubloons. The NGC XF 45 with the EB punch on the breast realized $2,990,000 and the NGC AU 55 with EB punch on the wing sold for $2,415,000. The 1894 S Barber Dime was graded PF 65 and sold for $1,035,000. For more prices realized please visit the websites of all the auctioneers. The results are truly amazing and we can look to the future with an outlook greater than ever.


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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