Demand For Rare Coins Remains Strong With More Buyers Than Sellers

Posted on 1/26/2012

The sell-through rate at most public auctions has increased dramatically due to collector demand and realistic reserves.

Only a few weeks into the New Year and the numismatic arena has been performing aggressively out of the gate. Heritage’s FUN Signature and Platinum night sales rolled with over $56 million in sales. This is a very important gauge of the health of the rare coin market. Many numismatic pundits are pointing to various market indicators, such as the Heritage sale, to show that rare coins are accelerating nicely. According to a well–known Midwest dealer, “There were adjustments to be sure, but the market has taken care of itself. Rare coins, specifically those key dates and top tier problem-free Registry caliber coins in the $5,000–$25,000 range, have been systematically targeted and when they surface are taken off the market as rapidly as they appear.” That is why there is such heated competition when quality NGC-certified coins come to public venue. It is also very important to report that the sell–through rate at most public auctions has increased dramatically due to collector demand and realistic reserves.

From the Sunshine State to the Golden State, all major dealers and serious collectors are making final preparations for the first Long Beach Expo of 2012. Prior to the western junket a stop in the northeast awaits, as Stack’s Bowers is host to the fabulous Americana sale on January 24–26 in New York City. The eclectic and varied agenda of this stellar sale is bound to attract enthusiastic action in the Big Apple as well as those attending via the Internet. A superb offering of Colonial Americana includes the always popular Libertas Americana Medal of 1781 with dies executed by Augustin Dupre at the behest of Benjamin Franklin, then Commissioner to France. This iconic rendering is certainly deserving of the #1 ranking on the list of 100 Greatest American Tokens and Medals, written by Katherine Jaeger and Q. David Bowers. Approximately 100 examples are known to exist of the bronze version, and an extremely rare silver version graded NGC MS 61 is included in Session 5. One of perhaps two dozen silver strikings known, this superb Mint State example is sure to be a prize for the next owner. NGC rarities and key coins in the Americana sale include the following:

  • 1782 Silver Libertas Americana Medal NGC MS 61
  • 1782 Bronze Libertas Americana Medal NGC MS 62 BN
  • 1796 With Pole Liberty Half Cent NGC XF Details
  • 1803 Small Date, Small Fraction S–251 Draped Bust Cent NGC MS 63 BN
  • 1813 S–293 Classic Cent NGC MS 63 BN
  • 1919–D Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 66
  • 1818/5 Capped Bust Quarter NGC MS 65
  • 1896–S Barber Quarter NGC MS 64
  • 1795 Centered Draped Bust Dollar NGC AU 50
  • 1879 Trade Dollar NGC PF 66 Cameo
  • 1884–S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 61
  • 1921 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 63 Chapman
  • 1842–C Small Date Liberty Half Eagle NGC AU Details
  • 1889 Liberty $20 NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo

The pre–Long Beach sale hosted by the Goldberg’s will run January 29–February 2. A compelling assortment of superb Colonial and early Federal Copper will delight collectors. As always a dazzling assortment of eye appealing wonders from nearly every series awaits the auctioneer’s hammer. Some of the many NGC notables include:

  • 1875 Indian Cent NGC PF 65 RD
  • 1794 Flowing Hair Half Dime NGC MS 62
  • 1801 Draped Bust Dime NGC MS 61
  • 1802 Draped Bust Dime NGC MS 61
  • 1918–D Mercury Dime NGC MS 65 FB
  • 1795/1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar NGC AU 58
  • 1834 Small Date, Small Letters Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC MS 66 PL
  • 1847–O Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC MS 64
  • 1893 Barber Half NGC PF 68
  • 1910 Barber Half NGC PF 68
  • 1865 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo
  • 1874 Trade Dollar NGC PF 67
  • 1880 Trade Dollar NGC PF 67
  • 1921 Morgan Dollar NGC MS 65 DPL
  • 1856–S Type II Gold Dollar NGC MS 63
  • 1885 Gold Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo
  • 1796 Stars Liberty Cap Quarter Eagle NGC MS 61
  • 1858–C Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC MS 63
  • 1911–D Indian Quarter Eagle NGC MS 65
  • 1842–D Small Date Liberty Half Eagle NGC MS 61
  • 1853–O Liberty $20 NGC AU 58
  • 1875–CC Liberty $20 NGC MS 62
  • 1903 Liberty $20 NGC PF 64
  • 1907 High Relief, Wire Rim Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC MS 62
  • 1922–S Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC MS 65
  • 1925–D Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC MS 65
  • 1925–S Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC MS 65
  • 1952 Washington–Carver Half Dollar NGC MS 66

At the conclusion of Goldberg’s pre-Long Beach sale, a rush of numismatic faithful will flood the 405 freeway and ascend on the Long Beach Convention Center. Once again, a superb Heritage Signature sale encompassing 5,000 lots awaits dealers and ardent collectors. A wealth of rare NGC-certified properties include, according to the NGC Census, the finest of four known Branch Mint Proof 1839–O Capped Bust Liberty Half Dollars. Up for bid is the glorious NGC PF 65 example pedigreed to the Robison Collection which last appeared at public sale four years ago in Goldberg’s pre–Long Beach event when it realized $230,000.

  • 1908–S Indian Cent NGC MS 66 RD
  • 1909–S Indian Cent NGC MS 66 RD
  • 1914–D Lincoln Cent NGC MS 65 RD
  • 1937 Buffalo Nickel NGC PF 65 Cameo
  • 1918–D Mercury Dime NGC MS 66 FB
  • 1806 Draped Bust Quarter NGC MS 66
  • 1845 Liberty Seated Quarter NGC PF 64
  • 1898 Barber Quarter NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo
  • 1917–S Type 1 Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 67 FH
  • 1918/7–S Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 63
  • 1954–S Washington Quarter NGC MS 68
  • 1795 2 Leaves Flowing Hair Half NGC MS 63
  • 1839–O Capped Bust Half NGC PF 65
  • 1889–CC Morgan Dollar NGC MS 63 DPL
  • 1808 Capped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC MS 63
  • 1831 Liberty Capped Quarter Eagle NGC PF 64 Cameo
  • 1901 Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC PF 68 Cameo
  • 1795 Small Eagle Draped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 63 PL
  • 1795 13 Leaves Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 64
  • 1797 Large Eagle Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 61
  • 1869 Liberty Eagle NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo
  • 1873 Liberty Eagle NGC PF 65+ Cameo
  • 1920 Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC MS 65
  • 1925–S Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC MS 64
  • 1927–S Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC MS 64
  • 1908 $20 Saint–Gaudens NGC PF 66
  • 1938 New Rochelle Half NGC MS 67 PL
  • 1926 Sesquicentennial Half NGC MS 65
  • 1853 .900 Thous US Assay Office $20 NGC MS 65
  • 1838 J–77 Restrike Half Dollar NGC PF 66 RB

Precious metals have started 2012 in robust fashion. Since late December, gold is up $135 and silver has charged ahead by 25 percent. Continued action here transcends to extended sales as electronic trading networks buzz with buy orders for certified $20 Saints & Libs. Well-known numismatist and online auction expert Ian Russell, President of Great Collections informed me that December was a record month for them. Several large deals happened at once, supported by very strong auction sales over the holiday period and into 2012. Great Collections, based in Irvine California and launched in March 2011, is definitely making noise in the marketplace. A quick survey of auction results reveal that the lion share of the highest prices realized by Great Collections were all coins that had been certified by NGC. Rare date and high–grade gold coins have been extremely popular with many exceptional NGC Saint–Gaudens $20s and Liberty Eagles garnering solid prices in the mid–five figure range. Also worthy of mention was an exceptional complete set of Indian Head Quarter Eagles all graded NGC MS 64, realized $66,000.

“We are averaging over 3,000 listings on our site at the moment and this is projected to hit 4,000 in the next couple of months. We also plan on adding a second day of auctions soon (currently, all auctions end on a Sunday),” advised Russell. “As for the market, we feel it is strong. We talk to existing collectors and new collectors and they are all spending money. We have more buyers than sellers. I think the major FUN auction took a lot of money out of the market for super-high end coins, but we didn't notice any change in the market on sub–$3,500 coins, which is the majority of our business.”

Until next time, happy collecting!

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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