Pair of NY Auctions Roar In With Over $15 Million

Posted on 3/22/2012

"March Madness continues on the bourse and all auction formats. It is just that competitive out there."

The Heritage Signature Auction on March 8–11 in New York City realized a healthy $7,605,959. Rarities from many series were well represented. A pair of NGC notables took top honors, led by the coveted 1795 Plain Edge Jefferson Head Large Cent. The NGC VF 25 example boasts a prestigious provenance: most recently a focal point of Dr. John Harper’s collection, the enigmatic copper had previous stints in Dr. Edward Maris’ collection as well as three generations of the Garrett family. Realizing $184,000, this impressive coin, the only of its type on the NGC Census, has appeared for public sale only a handful of times in the last century. When the coin appeared in part one of the historic Garrett Collection sale by Bowers & Ruddy in late November 1979 it brought $7,500! Certainly a solid price at that time yet some 32 years later the coin brought nearly 25 times that price! Rare coins with an impeccable pedigree such as this may not see the light of day again for decades. This is why there is such spirited competition when coins of this caliber appear.

Another coin breaking the six–figure barrier was the famous 1916 Doubled Die Buffalo Nickel. The lustrous and lightly toned NGC MS 63 specimen captured $103,628. Demand for this popular variant has always been strong among Buffalo Nickel aficionados as well as error collectors. This, coupled with the fact that there are only several hundred known to exist in all grades, makes the appearance of a Mint State example all the more exciting. According to the NGC Census there are only 10 Mint State examples known with just five grading a single point higher than this recently auctioned specimen. A stunning 1893 Morgan Dollar, NGC PF 68, captured $46,000! Pedigreed to the Simpson Collection, the concentric rainbow toned Ultra Gem is likely without peer in terms of visual appeal. According to the NGC Census there are seven siblings residing within this designation with a single coin graded one point higher.

NGC highlights from the Big Apple are listed as follows:

  • 1795 Plain Edge Jefferson Head Cent NGC VF 25 $184,000
  • 1972 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent NGC MS 66 RD $1,725
  • 1864 Small Motto Two Cent NGC MS 65 RB $4,025
  • 1916 Doubled Die Obverse Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 63 $103,628
  • 1927–S Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 66 $23,000
  • 1848 Seated Liberty Dime NGC PF 66 $23,000
  • 1874–CC Arrows Seated Liberty Dime NGC AU 55 $44,563
  • 1942/1–D Mercury Dime NGC MS 62 FB $5,175
  • 1870–CC Seated Liberty Quarter NGC VG 8 $12,650
  • 1913–S Barber Quarter NGC F 15 $4,600
  • 1934–D Heavy Motto Washington Quarter NGC MS 67 $7,475
  • 1852 Restrike Seated Liberty Dollar NGC PF 64 $37,375
  • 1855–O Type II Gold Dollar NGC MS 62 $14,950
  • 1882 Gold Dollar NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo $29,900
  • 1855–O Liberty Head $20 NGC AU 55 $54,625
  • 1860–O Liberty Head $20 NGC XF 45 $29,900
  • 1891 Liberty Head $20 NGC AU 53 $28,750
  • 1910 Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC PF 65 $60,375
  • 1852 Reeded Edge, .887 Thous. Humbert $50 NGC AU 55 $57,500

Rare world coins continue to be on fire. Another rousing auction held by Heritage in New York on March 8–9 for the Shoshana Collection of historic Judean coins realized $7.7 million. Eleven of these ancients realized well over six figures. Leading the excitement was a trio of marvelous antiquities: the prototype Year One silver shekel, from the Jewish War (66–70 AD), one of only two known, captured $1,105,375; a gold aureus of Titus as Caesar just fell short of the vaunted million dollar level realizing $956,000; and a silver quarter shekel, Year One, also with lineage to the Jewish War of 66–70 A.D., went to an appreciative bidder at $896,250. All told this glorious triptych seized nearly $3 million!

As I mentioned in my last report, key date Liberty Head gold in all denominations continues to be a very hot property. Type One Liberty $20s are amongst the most enduring. The 1861–O installment, the last of the popular New Orleans branch coin struck at the onset of the Civil War, has witnessed strong advances according to the NGC US Coin Price Guide. Out of the original mintage of 17,741, only 98 coins make up the entire NGC Census for that issue. Strong collector demand for this issue has pushed the price of a Very Fine specimen from $3,750 to $6,250, a rousing 67% escalation in the last month. This is the last double eagle struck in New Orleans until 1879. Amazingly in the four months that the coin was produced, January through April of 1861, it was delivered under three different government authorities: the Union, the State of Louisiana and the Confederacy. Usually poorly struck and exhibiting various impairments, a mid–range circulated example is highly sought after.

As I write this column dealers and collectors are preparing for the Whitman Baltimore show, which will be underway as we go to press. Expectations are high as this will be the first major show since the first week of February. As always, much decision-making has to be made, inventories assessed and current market trends analyzed. Fiery, record setting temperatures throughout the country seem to be fanning the flames within the numismatic arena even higher. As a well known east coast dealer advised me “Right now you could easily describe it as ‘March Madness’ on the bourse and all auction formats, it is just that competitive out there.” While many arrived in Baltimore early to scope out any fresh deals as well as view the host Stack’s Bowers auction’s superb roster, others kept tabs on the always enticing offering of Internet–only venues. One of the more popular of this format is emerging powerhouse Great Collections. Celebrating their first year in operation, president and owner Ian Russell was thrilled to advise me of their best and most diverse auction to date, the Turino Collection. While the consignment contains coins of all price ranges, the highlights include an NGC MS 67 Flat Rim High Relief $20 Saint–Gaudens, a virtually complete NGC Classic Gold Commemorative set as well as the following:

  • 1795 2 Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar NGC AU 53
  • 1799 Draped Bust Dollar NGC XF 40
  • 1818 5D/50 Capped Head Half Eagle NGC MS 64
  • 1798/7 9x4 Stars Capped Bust Eagle Ex: Reed Collection NGC AU 50
  • 1803 Small Stars Reverse Capped Bust Eagle NGC MS 62
  • 1804 Crosslet 4 Capped Bust Eagle NGC MS 60
  • 1914 Indian Eagle NGC PF 66
  • 1907 Saint–Gaudens Double Eagle MCMVII High Relief Wire Edge NGC MS 62

“The market is strong right now, especially for high–end rarities,” advised Russell. “A prime example is the $110,000 just realized on the 1907 High Relief graded NGC MS 67. A new record for our firm!” The superb numismatic masterpiece went to an enthusiastic collector. All told the March 18 sale brought in an impressive $505,000! “This is a record for an individual sale and single coin for our firm,” confirmed an ecstatic Russell. More new and passionate numismatists are entering the market every day advised the well–known dealer based in Irvine, Ca. “Many of the new hobbyists are first drawn to the modern market. With that said, the US Mint seems behind this year, with certain products such as the Proof Silver, Gold and Platinum Eagles not released yet. This has meant more money on the market for moderns and most of the modern market is strong. Coins like Early Releases Gold and Platinum are in high demand, as are low pop NGC Silver Eagles (Proof and Mint State). Twenty–fifth anniversary sets are holding up strong, and we have recently raised our bids for "70" sets. The sealed boxes have really dried up lately. I am really looking forward to Baltimore, which we anticipate to be a very vibrant show.”

As am I, 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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