Baltimore On Deck - Stack's Bowers Sales Feature Strong Line Up
Posted by Jim Bisognani on 3/7/2013
March certainly came roaring in throughout the country. In fact, on three out of the four previous weekends we have had major snowstorms visit us here in New England. Each storm depositing well over a foot of the white stuff. As Old Man Winter still has his grasp on most of the nation, the fiscal climate remains clouded with uncertainty. Trepidation in regards to the long-term state of the US economy due to the so-called sequester, which went in to effect March 1, has only served to exacerbate the situation. Seemingly oblivious, the US stock market is enjoying near record highs and the precious metals have taken the back seat. The first week of March witnessed gold trading at its lowest levels since last July. Yet this reduction in the spot price of the yellow metal has been the catalyst to what many believe to be a fortuitous buying opportunity. According to many industry market makers there has been a buying frenzy for bullion gold coins such as the American Gold Eagle as well as the US Liberty and Saint-Gaudens $20 gold pieces. One well known trader advised me that he hasn’t seen business this brisk in a long time. “People are looking at this modest pullback as a great buying opportunity. Most of the people that I’ve sold to are first timers and they feel as though gold is going to be going much higher and wish to preserve what they can. This pullback is truly a signal for more of the gold bugs to get out of the woodwork.”
Established collectors of numismatic coins such as NGC-certified MS 63 to MS 65 US Double Eagles are also appearing in solid numbers, having no qualms at making an additional purchase or two. Interestingly, according to a dealer based in Texas, although gold was trading nearly $200 higher last year at this time, $20 Saint-Gaudens graded NGC MS 65 are actually trading for over $100 higher today. Demand for these Gem NGC examples has exceeded the available supply and dealers are diligently scouring the electronic trading networks anxious to locate and secure more spot free examples at competitive levels.
A prominent market maker advised, “Although MS 65 Saints are hot I will tell you I really like NGC MS 66 Saints at the present level. They are as a type coin six times scarcer than MS 65s but are currently bid about $150 less than a year ago. If you can buy them at these levels, I really think there are bargains here.” High grade NGC-certified world gold coins are also being targeted by knowledgeable dealers and collectors. Many feel that those otherwise thought of and designated as “common type” have been sleepers and are now emerging in the marketplace. A well known Florida dealer advised me that one such coin is the Mexican 20 Peso Gold coin circa 1917-1921, “Jim, in the recent Goldberg Pre-Long Beach sale a Mexico 20 Pesos 1920/10 in NGC 65 brought $3,105 and the Mexico 20 Pesos 1921/10 in NGC 65 brought $2,875. A big difference from their assumed value by many collectors and dealers…” According to this dealer, “There is real misconception that these are common coins. They are truly condition rarities as the Census shows. There were several astute bidders who were vying for these coins who realized that Mexico 20 Pesos 1917-1921 are true rarities in MS 65 and the prices realized is proof.”
My quick fact check of the NGC World Coin Census corroborates the rarity factor that the dealer alluded to. Within the date range 1917-1921 a mere 21 coins grade MS 65 with only a single installment grading MS 66 and another graded MS 67. In this instance the demand and escalating prices received at auction seemingly confirm that Gem quality world gold coins such as the 20 Peso coins are underrated, at least for now. A similar example is the NGC MS 68 Russian 1900 Five Ruble that roared to $6,325 at the same Goldberg sale, a figure that was over six times the pre-auction estimate.
The Florida dealer went on to say, “It is really important that collectors realize there are many moderately priced NGC-certified gold coins considered common or bullion related, but in certain grades they are literally 100 times rarer than a High Relief Saint-Gaudens by census.”
Spot Silver is also trading at levels not visited since last August and the white metal is also the target of increased demand amongst collectors and investors. Ninety percent US silver, Silver Eagles, and Morgan and Peace Dollars are all enjoying amplified popularity. A well known New England dealer advised that his sales for common date MS 64 to MS 65 Morgan Dollars have always been steady but it has increased over the last month. Dealer transactions on the electronic exchanges have also stepped up for Morgan and Peace Dollars.
Ian Russell, President and owner of Great Collections advised me that the "Milton Collection,” a great fresh old-time collection purchased in the 1960s/1970s in NYC saw the first sessions of the collection auctioned off over the last two weeks of February. Per Russell, “It attracted a lot of interest, realizing well over six figures. Astute buyers could tell these were original coins, never before offered, with unique toning!” In total almost 200 coins, all NGC-certified, were sold. Some of the sales highlights include the following group of desirable and collector friendly priced coins:
- 1872 Two Cent Piece NGC AU 58 $1,955
- 1861-S Liberty Seated Dime NGC AU 55 $2,205
- 1828 Capped Bust Quarter NGC AU 50 $1,766
- 1859 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC AU Details $2,255
- 1874 Trade Dollar NGC PF 62 $1,826
Per Russell, Parts 2 and 3 of the Milton Collection will be offered by Great Collections later this year. The Southern California based firm also confirmed that they have a number of amazing rarities coming up in the near future including the Amadeus Collection of US Gold Coins and other fine properties. A few of the NGC standouts:
- 1807 Draped Bust Quarter NGC MS 64
- 1876 J-1483 Three Dollar Pattern NGC PF 61 (Believed Unique; Last Traded in 1976)
- 1884 Three Dollar NGC PF 65 Cameo
In addition to these important coins Ian advised, “We have an original NGC Black Holder from 1987. These were only available for a very short time at NGC and have become the most famous of the different holder types. It is the first we have handled at Great Collections and we expect spirited bidding.” The dramatic 1935-S San Diego Commemorative graded NGC MS 65 was uploaded on Great Collections site on March 4 and will be sold on Saint Patty’s Day, March 17. Good luck to all on this terrific NGC rarity!
As always March is an incredibly busy month in the numismatic world. Digesting an already powerful start to 2013, dealers are busy analyzing market trends as they diligently scour the electronic trading venues and Internet sales looking for fresh deals. Many hobbyists with cabin fever during the winter months seem to be rising up in unison as spring is near, all anxious to get out to regional and major coin shows. Not surprisingly, a considerable number of collectors to whom I have spoken advised me that they will be allocating a significant portion of their income tax return for a numismatic purchase. One serious Bust Type collector from Massachusetts advised me, “It is time for a little numismatic stimulus although I really don’t think the coin market needs it.”
As we go to press, collectors and dealers will be converging on “The Old Line State” for the year’s first installment of the popular Whitman Baltimore Expos. For those of you wanting to make the trek, the doors to the spacious bourse at the Baltimore Convention Center will open to nationally known dealers and the ardent, enthusiastic collector base beginning next week. Running March 14 to 17 the always-popular East Coast venue will also play host to an exciting auction by Stack’s Bowers. Featuring an appealing and eclectic assortment of numismatic treasures, there are eight sessions, six of which will be live floor action, commencing with the highly anticipated Rarities Night on Thursday evening. Everything from early American Colonial issues, Betts Medals, phenomenal Early Federal issues and collector favorites from virtually every US series are bound to be greeted with enthusiastic floor and Internet action. Take a close look at the roster of NGC-certified offerings below. Many of the coins are finest known examples according to the NGC Census! Certainly some exciting opportunities await for Registry collectors as well as those seeking the ultimate upgrade for their collection!
Stack’s Bowers Baltimore Rarities Night NGC highlights include:
- 1858/7 Flying Eagle Cent NGC MS 64
- 1862 Indian Cent NGC PF 67 Cameo
- 1955/55 Lincoln Cent NGC MS 66 RB (The finest known within the RB designation; no public auction records.)
- 1950 Washington Quarter NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo (A modern conditional rarity; the single finest known example according to the NGC Census!)
- 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar NGC AU 58
- 1860-O Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC MS 66 (Tied for the finest known. A coin of this caliber has only appeared at auction 6 times in the last 13 years.)
- 1838 J-84 Gobrecht Dollar NGC PF 62
- 1889-CC Morgan Dollar NGC MS 62
- 1895 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 65 Cameo
- 1934-S Peace Dollar NGC MS 66 (Tied for the finest known and the key to the series.)
- 1882 Trade Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo (Tied for the finest known within this designation; no auction records in this grade.)
- 1900 Lafayette Dollar NGC MS 66
- 1946-D Booker T. Washington Half NGC MS 68 (Tied for the finest known and the first appearance at public auction in this illustrious grade.)
- 1860-D Type III Gold Dollar NGC MS 64 (The finest known of this rare and enigmatic coin. Last appearance at public sale was nearly 6 years ago.)
- 1843-O Small Date Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC MS 65
- 1858 Liberty Half Eagle NGC MS 66 (The finest known example; last appearance at public auction was five years ago)
- 1907 Indian Eagle periods wire rim NGC MS 66
Presently most dealers are not experiencing nor anticipating any specific areas of weakness in the rare coin market at least during the foreseeable future. The modest retreat of gold spot price if anything has rejuvenated a more ravenous base of enthusiastic veteran participants as well as become a catalyst for ushering in an anxious throng of new hobbyists looking forward to participating in the numismatic arena. Exciting, fresh, eye-appealing, top grade NGC-certified coins remain hotly contested properties with multiple buyers appearing each time a fresh coin makes an appearance. As has been the case for some time, the supply train is still the most pressing problem.
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.