58th FUN Convention Is Serious Business; World Coins Carry Strong Momentum into 2013

Posted on 1/10/2013

Heritage Ancient & World Coin Sale Captures Over $8 Million - Powerhouse Public Sales In Orlando & New York City Confirm Strength and Scope Of Rare Coin Market.

2013 is certainly getting off to a rousing start. As the New Year was ushered in, world and domestic markets were on edge regarding the US fiscal stability. At least for the moment, a collective sigh was heard as the House of Representatives approved the Senate's proposal on New Year’s Day avoiding a total free fall over that imaginary precipice. Those of us in the numismatic world were also anxious as the calendar flipped to January. With the holiday season all but over, numismatists of all ages and collecting venues are celebrating the arrival of 2013 by migrating to Orlando, Florida, anxious to be a part of the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Show. As this article posts, the spacious halls of the Orange County Convention Center are opening its doors to the 58th Annual Winter FUN Show. Always a pleasant diversion for many collectors, it is all but a mandatory destination for dealers. For other “coindexters” calling the frozen north their home base, it not only affords them the time to rejuvenate and thaw, but to mingle with their contemporaries, view the finest coins available and get a palatable pulse as to the direction of the numismatic market as the New Year gets underway. While the majority of the coin brethren are making a beeline for the Sunshine State, a strong core of ardent world coin collectors are making a stop in the “Big Apple” for the 41st Annual New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC). Held at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue, the festivities are already underway with the bourse opening to the public as we go to press.

Kicking off the 2013 auction calendar is Heritage’s Ancient and World Coin Signature Auction on January 6-7 in New York. Still in progress as we go to press, it has already delivered over $8.2 million. Leading the pack was a phenomenal Great Britain Victoria Gold Pattern (1887) Young Head ESC-34A Crown, styled after William Wyon's renowned portrait. This British relic was actually struck in Nuremberg, Germany. The NGC PR 64 Ultra Cameo “Ex Murdoch Collection" piece thundered to an impressive $235,000. All told a substantial 63 NGC-certified world coins captured well over five figures including the following notable performers:

  • Salzburg 1594 (1587-1612) Wolf Dietrich Von Raitenau Gold 8 Ducats NGC MS 63 $73,438
  • Australia 1926-S George V Gold Sovereign, KM-29, NGC MS 62 $21,150
  • Australia 1934-35 George V Florin, KM-33, NGC MS 66 $14,100
  • Great Britain 1768 George III Pattern Gold 2 Guineas NGC PF 62 $70,500
  • China Empire Year 3 (1911) Pattern Silver 50 Cents, Y-30, L&M-39, NGC AU 58 $48,689
  • France 1862 Napoleon III Gold Essai 100 Francs NGC PF 65 Cameo $49,938

The Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio NYINC host auction on January 8-15 presents an exceptional selection of over 4,000 lots of world and ancient coins and paper money. The roster of notable NGC world coins meeting the hammer includes the following:

  • Brazil 1726-M 20,000 Reis NGC MS 63
  • Great Britain (1551-53) Sovereign NGC EF 45
  • Great Britain 1649 Unite NGC AU 55
  • Great Britain 1648 Siege of Pontefract Shilling NGC AU 50
  • Guatemala 1824-M 8 Escudos NGC AU 58
  • India-East India Company 1835 2 Mohurs Restrike, 1835 Calcutta Mint. NGC PL 65 Ultra Cameo
  • India 1939 Bombay Rupee NGC AU 58

As the Northeast corridor savers world offerings, Orlando, Florida will play host to the FUN annual gala featuring Heritage’s US Coin FUN Signature Auction slated for January 9-14. Great coins, such as those at the top of the grading spectrum, are always going to be targeted. But it is not only coins that are numerically at the top, it is those that have the immediate “wow” factor. Collectors are out in force aggressively trying to buy those top echelon certified coins now. So, if a really great coin is offered up at auction or on the bourse, there is no time to pontificate. It will sell fast and probably at a premium over established value guides. By all accounts this FUN Show is going to be serious business.

Many well known dealers are anticipating a robust 2013. Ross Baldwin, a native Floridian and owner of National Coin Broker in Hallandale Beach, Florida advised me that 2012 ended with a flourish. In the first week of the new year the company has eclipsed over $100K in sales of rare NGC-certified coins. Ross relayed to me, “I am anxious for the FUN Show to begin, it is always a good show for us. I am really eager to buy as my inventory for coins in the $5K-$20K range has been depleted.” Mr. Baldwin also advised, “I just picked up a 1912-S Indian Half Eagle, NGC MS 64 last week and already sold it to a savvy client for over $30K. I wish I had more coins like that.” This dealer knows it is going to be hard to replace coins of that caliber. Collectors of the series are probably very well aware of the rarity of the 1912-S Half Eagle in high grade mint state as virtually all known examples are poorly struck and have lackluster surfaces at best. Accordingly only 14 have been awarded MS 64 (and it is a certainty that several of those were for resubmission) and only one coin has been numerically deemed as MS 65.

That is why the massive and spectacular Heritage US Coin Signature Auction featuring well over 11,000 rare US coins is certain to ignite a bidding frenzy amongst dealers anxious to build inventory and ravenous collectors looking to secure the best examples for their collections.

Highlighting the Heritage Auction are many exquisite numismatic icons with pedigrees designated to Eliasberg, Pittman and Norweb to name a few. Although these were prominent, wealthy and influential individuals, actually very few of the great collections were assembled by so called “professional numismatists.” Instead they were built by passionate hobbyists that evolved into well-known and respected “private numismatists.” These fastidious individuals became creators and custodians of some of the most famed collections ever assembled. Today there are many collections and series built by well known public personalities including politicians, doctors, actors and the like. However, the majority of those collections are thoughtfully assembled by the little known average to serious hobbyists of modest means. It just so happens that some of the great coins offered up at the Heritage FUN sale were carefully assembled by a Midwest car dealer by the name of George “Buddy” Byers.

With an unwavering passion for rare coins, Byers compiled a superb array of eye appealing and rare US half dollars. As noted in the original catalog of the Buddy Byer’s Half Dollar Collection presented by Stack’s Bowers back in October of 2006: "It is highly unlikely that another Half Dollar collection of this depth and breadth will be formed in the future. The coins are simply too rare and the demand too widespread to permit this, even with an unlimited budget." One such treasure from the Buddy Byer’s collection meeting the auction block in Orlando is an 1835 Capped Bust Half NGC PF 64 Restrike. A fabulous deeply mirrored near-Gem Cameo, it is accented by antique steel gold and iridescent blue toning. This exquisite piece is extremely rare as a proof striking with only a half dozen pieces certified by the major grading services. The last appearance at public auction was as a part of the Heritage ANA Auction in Milwaukee in 2007 when the coin realized $43,125.

Also included in this phenomenal sale are a veritable treasure trove of superb and extremely rare proof strikings (many with less than a handful known) of the popular Capped Bust Half series, which is one of my favorites.

  • 1818 Ex Eliasberg Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 66
  • 1821 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC SP 67
  • 1823 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 63 (NGC has certified only 1 coin as a Proof)
  • 1826 Ex Pittman Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 65
  • 1829 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 66
  • 1831 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 65
  • 1832 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 63
  • 1834 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 67
  • 1836 Lettered Edge Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 67
  • 1836 Reeded Edge Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 65
  • 1839-O Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC PF 64

Other exemplary NGC-certified offerings crossing the Heritage auction block in Orlando:

  • 1793 Lettered Edge Wreath Cent NGC MS 66 BN
  • 1839 No Drapery Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 65
  • 1855-S Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 65
  • 1795 2 Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar NGC MS 62
  • 1893-S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 64
  • 1895 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 67 Cameo
  • 1896-O Morgan Dollar NGC SP 63
  • 1921 Morgan Dollar “Zerbe” NGC PF 67
  • 1849 No L Gold Dollar NGC PF 64 Cameo
  • 1879 Flowing Hair Stella $4 NGC PF 67 Cameo
  • 1880 Flowing Hair Stella $4 NGC PF 66
  • 1795 Small Eagle Draped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 65 PL
  • 1797 Small Eagle Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 63
  • 1851 880 Lettered Edge Humbert $50 NGC MS 63

As we start the New Year, powerhouse public sales and venues in Orlando and New York City are sure to be barometers as to the strength and direction of the coin arena. I hope to see you on the bourse!

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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