World Coins Not Foreign Any Longer
Posted on 4/18/2013
As I took a stroll outside my New Hampshire home today, in a few isolated areas, I observed the last remaining crusts of snow maintaining their fleeting yet memorable presence of the harsh winter. Yet with the birds singing, buds blooming and the squirrels bounding upon my roof, the new season is definitely here. It is indeed a time of revitalization and excitement. April is always a stimulating month. For most of the country it is a time to shake off the winter cobwebs, pay the taxman and get reacquainted with the outdoors and partake in pedestrian as well as more athletic ventures. While not an Olympic event, coin collecting and trading requires extensive training and preparation, and that passion can be palpable on the bourse or at public auction as the race begins to secure the finest examples. Amazingly, not that long ago this time of year would have signaled the easing back period in regards to action in the numismatic marketplace. However, with never-ending Internet only sales and interactive dealer websites, the rare coin market doesn’t miss a beat. The quest for fresh coins is non-stop and this April is turning out to be a heated powerhouse at home and abroad in the world of numismatics.
The Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April 2013 Hong Kong Auction got the month off to a rousing start. Realizing a significant $6.3 million, the sale held at the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers confirms the vitality and demand for choice world coins. According to Stack’s Bowers President Chris Napolitano, “We are very pleased with the results; the Chinese coin market in general has certainly rebounded from last year’s decline. Prices were strong in modern Chinese, Classic coins and currency.” Yet with the high values received for modern and vintage world coins, the problem of counterfeit and altered foreign issues is still one that needs to be addressed. “This is still a concern for both dealers and collectors and we recommend buying only recognized third-party graded coins for both their authenticity and guarantees,” asserted Napolitano.
NGC-certified world coins making the highlight reel in Hong Kong included a pair of Chinese rarities each eclipsing six figures. Top honors went to a China 1906 Pattern K’uping Tael (Gold), L & M-1023. Graded NGC MS 62, the rare gold striking captured $131,450. This experimental delivery was never released in public channels and only 20 examples have been certified by NGC. Only three MS 63 and two MS 64 achieved a higher numeric designation than this coveted specimen.
A China Hupeh Tael Year 30 (1904), graded NGC MS 63, powered to $101,575—easily exceeding the high pre-auction estimate by nearly two fold! Although a reported mintage of 648,000 has been documented, apparently most of this delivery was melted down to be used in later coinage. According to the NGC Census only 24 examples have been certified of this “large character” variety. Eleven have been awarded Mint State status with two graded higher than this (one MS 64 and MS 65) highly original and lightly toned coin.
Other NGC standouts from the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio Hong Kong sale:
- China Shangtung Year 15 (1926) $10 Gold Pattern NGC MS 65 $83,650
- China Taiwan (1838-1850) “Old Man” Dollar NGC AU Details Chopmarked $71,700
- China Kwangtung (1890) 7.2 Candareen (10 Cents) Reversed Pattern NGC MS62 $50,788
- China Szechuan (1897) 7 Mace 2 Candareens (Dollar) Brass Pattern NGC MS 62 $47,800
- China Szechuan (1901-08) 7 Mace 2 Candareens (Dollar) NGC MS 62 $22,705
- Korea (1886) 20 Mun Pattern NGC MS 63 BN $15,535
- Korea (1886) Niang Pattern NGC MS 63 $11,352
- Thailand (1863) 4 Bhat NGC MS 64 $15,535
- Hong Kong 1941 One Cent NGC AU Details $5,975
Modern Chinese deliveries also confirmed a vigorous and powerful demand:
An impressive China (1990) Vault Protector, graded NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo and one of 99 pieces originally struck, witnessed this 15 ounce gold piece roar to a final bid of $71,700—nearly 2 ½ times above the pre-auction high estimate!
A stunning China 1986 Year of Peace 100 Yuan NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo captured a winning bid of $8,066 over three times the high pre-auction estimate!
And with a tiny original mintage of but 500 coins a delightfully executed China 1996 Unicorn 150 Yuan Silver graded NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo sailed to $16,730, some 54% above the NGC Chinese Modern Coin Price Guide valuation of $9,000. According to the NGC Census, 32 of this massive 98 mm coin have been graded, five of which have been awarded PF 69 Ultra Cameo with none higher.
Coin collecting is a superb international hobby. Sometimes we lose sight of just how dynamic and far-reaching the scope of numismatics actually is. It is not just about US coins although for the majority of hobbyists stateside we are preoccupied by our rich and well documented domestic treasures. However, with the advent of third-party grading the excitement, credibility, security and liquidity of NGC-certified coins has also taken the international market by storm. With NGC offices located in Europe and Asia, world coin dealers and collectors that previously had very little knowledge of certified coins are rapidly becoming huge consumers and advocates and are submitting world coins for NGC certification at the various foreign offices.
While the lion’s share of numismatic headline news has been biased towards our country’s great and diversified numismatic icons, it is not a US monopoly. Though the majority of coins submitted for certification by NGC are US issues, world coins have always been popular and are gaining momentum, respect and enthusiastic demand. It is not uncommon to see many scarce and rare world coins commanding six figures and above. The popularity and desire for world issues cannot be understated; they are not foreign any longer to collectors.
Regardless of the experienced collectors and dealers skill set, NGC’s third-party certification has certainly galvanized the US market and is making serious inroads for foreign issues at home and abroad.
As this article posts, the 38th Annual Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) is underway anchored by an impressive host auction by Heritage with live floor sessions on April 18-19 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, IL (and Internet only sessions on April 22-23) nearly 6,000 world treasures will cross the auctioneer’s podium, over 80% with no reserve. Some of the exquisite NGC certified treasures include:
- Brazil 1730-B Joao V Gold 12800 Reis NGC AU 50
- Brazil 1724-M Joao V 10000 Reis NGC AU 55
- China (1916) Republic Gold Dollar NGC MS 61
- Germany 1924-G Weimar Republic 50 Reichspfennig NGC MS 65
- Great Britain 1893 5 pounds NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo
- Russia 1741 Ivan III Rouble NGC AU 55
- Russia 1835 Nicholas I Platinum 12 Roubles NGC AU 55
Next week in Chicago’s neighboring suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois, the highly anticipated Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS) Convention will be the huge national draw. Leading into CSNS a well-known dealer advised me that, “The market, in general, is extremely healthy with truly rare coins leading the way. Central States is always a very well attended show by both dealers and collectors and the demand for virtually all areas of rare coins will insure the success of this show. Spot gold is down quite a bit, as are generic gold coins, but there is tremendous value in this part of the market. While some may discuss and point to market manipulation or other conspiracy theory within the precious metals markets, there’s no denying that at present numismatic coins such as $20 Saint-Gaudens and $20 Liberties are at the most attractive levels in some time. Many generic US gold coins have virtually no premium or no spread between grades. These are excellent buying opportunities!”
Ian Russell, owner of Great Collections advised me that despite the dip in metal prices, the coin market is very strong, “We can't find enough consignments of all price ranges (coins worth $50, $500, $5,000 or $50,000). New bidders to Great Collections continue to sign up at a fast pace.” Russell went on to address the strength of modern rarities, “We also sold a Silver Eagle recently for $86,654, which is generating a lot of publicity. Classic coin dealers routinely bash moderns, but the fact of the matter is that there are more new collectors of Silver Eagles each year than any other series, so we should expect to see big prices for the keys to the Silver Eagle series. Even a 1999 Silver Eagle graded by NGC at MS 70 routinely sells in the $25,000-$30,000 range (Although I did not handle them, I believe two sold in the past week in this range). I expect Central States to be strong, as well as the ANA in New Orleans. We're attending both shows”.
This 74th Edition of the CSNS is a major event on the numismatic circuit and always plays host to an energetic and heavily attended event. With hundreds of national dealers in attendance, exciting exhibits and the phenomenal host auction by Heritage, sparks are most certainly going to fly. The nine session sale featuring over 8,000 coins will certainly avail opportunities for dealers and collectors vying for type, key dates and elite rarities. A spectacular and rare group of patterns and condition census coins will be live April 24-28. Heading the impressive roster of NGC rarities is a historic 1792 Silver Center Cent J-1, (Birch Cent) the Bushnell-Parmalee specimen graded NGC MS 61 BN also boasts lineage to collections of Col. Green as well as the Norweb family. An exemplary example of this iconic first US issue may very well exceed six figures. Be sure to examine the exciting collection with the provenance to Eric P. Newman. The wonderful assembly encompasses nearly 160 coins, patterns and rare territorial gold and all are NGC certified. Heading that phenomenal collection is the 1852 $10 Humbert graded NGC MS 68!
Other high-profile entries at the Heritage CSNS Signature Auction include:
- 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 64
- 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dime NGC MS 67 PL
- 1804 14 Stars Reverse Draped Bust Dime NGC MS 63
- 1892-O Barber Half Dollar NGC SP 66
- 1796 Small Date, Small Letters Draped Bust Dollar NGC MS 65
- 1868 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo
- 1893-S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 65
- 1895 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo
- 1895-O Morgan Dollar NGC PF 66 Cameo
- 1896-O Morgan Dollar NGC MS 65
- 1856 Type III Gold Dollar NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo
- 1796 Stars Draped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC MS 61
- 1915 J-1961 (Silver) No S Panama Pacific Half Dollar NGC PF 65
- 1915 J-1962 (Copper) No S Panama Pacific Half Dollar NGC PF 66 RB
Hope to see you on the bourse or at auction! 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.