It Was The Perfect Script For the ANA World's Fair of Money

Posted on 8/22/2013

Pair Of ANA Auctions Claim Over $75 Million. Ferocious Demand For Key Dates And High-Grade Coins – $10 Indians On The Warpath.

What more could numismatists have asked for? Great location, great weather and great coins! For the multitude of enthusiastic collectors and dealers who attended the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont Illinois, it was the perfect blend of these ingredients that was the recipe for an immensely successful midsummer gala! A surging metals market and the public sale of six-figure and beyond coins provided a persuasive exclamation point to the event.

First up for collectors and dealers was Heritage’s Signature Auction. Running August 8-10, the auction powered to slightly over $29 million! Per Heritage’s well respected Mark Feld, there were a number of extremely strong prices in virtually every series and denomination. And, as is typically the case, there were also a handful of coins that seemed to fly under the radar that resulted in good deals for the buyers. According to Heritage’s Executive Vice President Todd Imhof, he left the Platinum night session feeling that, “The results were very solid and something that we can be proud of. Beyond that, however, the feedback that I’ve received from consignors and the dealer community was overwhelmingly positive and complimentary.” A review of the sale reveals that a solid 97% of the lots up for bid found new homes. Intense action on the auction floor sparked much excitement and translated to powerful prices realized. Leading the NGC foray, 15 pieces each eclipsed the six-figure benchmark; nine of the coins were spectacular Seated Liberty examples. However, it was a gold coin, the first and largest denomination from our country’s infancy that took top honors. The much-heralded and finest known 1795 13 Leaves BD-5 Draped Bust Eagle, pedigreed to Eliasberg and graded NGC MS 65 powered to $675,625, which establishes a record price for this exemplary first year icon. Next on the roster, the only known proof example of the 1844 Seated Liberty Quarter, pedigreed to Pittman/Kaufman and graded NGC PF 66, claimed $258,500. An amazing 1850 Liberty Seated Quarter graded NGC PF 68, the finest of perhaps three known examples and one of the most beautiful coins in the series, also captured $258,500. Even at this level the exquisitely toned example also pedigreed to Pittman/ Kaufman seems to have been a coup for the new owner. An exquisitely preserved and delicately toned 1894 Barber Half Dollar graded NGC MS 65 roared to a record $16,450! This is over four times the NGC price guide valuation. According to the NGC Census a relatively plentiful 14 examples reside as MS 65 and seven rate MS 66.

Other notable NGC performers include the following impressive list:

  • 1903 Barber Dime NGC PF 68 $14,100 (finest known)
  • 1848 Seated Liberty Quarter NGC PF 66 $55,813 (finest known)
  • 1853 Arrows and Rays Seated Liberty Quarter NGC PF 66 Cameo $141,000
  • 1898 Barber Quarter NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo $25,850 (finest known)
  • 1795 Silver Plug 2 Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar NGC AU 55 $99,875
  • 1845 Seated Liberty Dollar NGC PF 67 $141,000 (finest known)
  • 1862 Seated Liberty Dollar NGC PF 67 Cameo $51,406 (finest known)
  • 1870 Seated Liberty Dollar NGC PF 67 Cameo $35,250 (finest known)
  • 1883-CC Morgan Dollar NGC PF 65 Cameo $170,275
  • 1895 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 64 Cameo $52,875
  • 1887 Three Dollar Princess NGC PF 67 Cameo $64,625
  • 1811 Tall 5 Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 65 $76,375
  • 1866 Liberty $20 NGC MS 61 $30,550
  • 1892-S Liberty $20 NGC MS 65 $30,550
  • 1904 Liberty $20 NGC PF 67 Cameo $146,875

At the auction’s conclusion, according to Feld, the major buzz was the astonished reactions of collectors and dealers who viewed some amazing NGC-certified highlights from Heritage’s upcoming November 15-16 sale of the Eric P. Newman Collection Part II. “Even the most seasoned, jaded and knowledgeable of lookers appeared to be in awe of the coins,” reported Feld.

With the pre-ANA auction in the books it was time for the main event, the World’s Fair of Money. There were informative displays, great coins to view in the traveling mobile museum and wonderful free workshops for everyone. As one convention goer said, it was exciting just to be on the floor, the buzz was amazing and it looked like a shark pool! More than one relayed to me that there was “ferocious demand for key dates and high-grade material.”

A well-versed collector from the Pine Tree State of Maine told me he was able to acquire several high-grade, key date Lincoln Cents for his collection. “I was fast on the draw on opening day. I did my homework and was able to navigate through the somewhat garish crowd on the bourse floor and scope out the best Lincolns. I came away with some significant purchases.” The collector showed me a beautiful NGC MS 65 RD 1911-S and a great NGC MS 66 BN 1921-S that he had just acquired. “It sure was fun wheeling and dealing,” advised the excited Mainer.

Great Collection's well respected President, Ian Russell relayed to me on opening day, “It's been very busy for us and we expect a very active Friday and Saturday.” Ian went on to say that one of the coolest consignments so far at the show was an 1857 Large Cent, graded by NGC, that was purchased at Stack's in 1959 for $25. Per Russell, “The coin comes with the original flip and receipt dated 1959. We expect the coin to sell for more than $1,000 when it is sold in our September auction.” According to the California dealer, “We also have the Amadeus Collection of Mexican gold coins coming up soon. The 300 gold coins have been graded by NGC and will be auctioned unreserved soon at Great Collections.”

According to Bob Green, President of Park Avenue Numismatics, the World’s Fair of Money was a refreshing change to the usual slow summer months and the surge in precious metals bolstered enthusiasm. Per Green, “A resurgence of collector interest definitely livened the bourse floor and our wholesale business was very brisk.” According to Bob, Park Avenue was fortunate to purchase from Stack’s Bowers’ ANA sales several better date $10 Indians pedigreed to the Bentley Shore Collection, most of which sold immediately. “The bidding was fierce and not for the faint of heart,” asserted Green. I certainly agree with that statement. A quick review of the prices realized confirms that $10 Indians were definitely on the warpath.

I also spoke to an enthusiastic Brian Kendrella, President of Stack’s Bowers Galleries, “The Law and Ford Collections certified by NGC performed magnificently! The rest of the sale did superbly also! We are very pleased with the broad-based support.” Final tallies for the nine live floor sessions is $45,448,747 which doesn’t include the Internet-only sessions running through August 20. Quite amazingly the vaunted “Rarities Night” captured nearly $18.3 million alone! A seemingly endless smorgasbord, of eclectic US coins, world coins, medals and paper money were available. Spearheading the NGC charge of US coins was an 1893-CC Morgan Dollar. A popular date and mint combo, 1893 also marked the final year of production at the venerable Carson City facility. Valuable in any grade, the coin offered up for auction was the penultimate CC, an NGC PF 66 Cameo. This extremely rare Branch Mint Proof striking, one of perhaps as few as a dozen known examples ranks as one of the finest extant roared to $323,125. Another powerhouse performer from the fabulous Bentley Shores Collection of $10 Indians is the single finest known 1908-S Eagle Graded NGC MS 69. This spectacular coin also serves as the finest with motto in the entire series! Highly lustrous and eminently desirable, the key date wonder coin soared to $182,125 a record price for this gold Indian Eagle! Another $10 Indian, the key date 1920-S graded NGC MS 65 rallied to $199,750.

Other NGC standouts at the ANA World’s Fair of Money auction conducted by Stack’s Bowers:

  • 1652 Large Planchet, Pellets Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling NGC MS 65 $76,375
  • 1926-S Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 65 $47,000
  • 1834 Capped Bust Dime NGC MS 68 $28,200
  • 1893 Barber Quarter NGC PF 69 $29,375
  • 1795 2 Leaves Flowing Hair Half Dollar NGC MS 63 $82,250
  • 1795 3 Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar NGC MS 62 $74,438
  • 1839 J-105 Name Below Base Gobrecht Dollar NGC PF 65 $88,125
  • 1884-CC GSA Morgan Dollar NGC MS 67 $14,100
  • 1921 Alabama Centennial Half Dollar NGC MS 67 $25,850
  • 1797 15 Stars Small Eagle Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC AU 53 $129,250
  • 1909 Indian Head Eagle NGC PF 67 $141,000
  • 1915 Indian Head Eagle NGC PF 67 $94,000
  • 1932 Indian Head Eagle NGC MS 67 $28,200

Wow, it’s time to digest and reflect on the great experiences, relationships and coins acquired or viewed first hand at the ANA. A bit of a recess before the fall season is upon us. Take time to enjoy the rest of the summer my numismatic friends! 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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