Coast-to-Coast Auction Action Vies for Collector's Attention

Hong Kong Sale Captures $6.5 Million, Bonham's Tacasyl Offers Up Ultimate NGC Golden Marvels and "The Coin Market Tone is One of Optimism and Excitement.."

A quick look at the calendar confirms it, but it’s still hard to believe summer is almost gone. The Labor Day weekend officially signals the end of those lazy hazy crazy days and, of course, for the multitude of youngsters school bells will now be tolling. Fall will soon be upon us. It is a beautiful season yet her vibrancy is all too brief and the onset of winter is not a pleasant thought for most of us in New England. For the sports minded there will be the climactic Major League Baseball pennant and wildcard races and the NFL season has officially started its campaign as this article posts.

Much like the fierce rivalries on the diamond and the gridiron, coin dealers and collectors have also stepped up their game. Well-known numismatic market makers concur there is stiff competition on the bourse and at public sales. A well-known California dealer stated, “All you have to do is look at the prices realized at auctions as of late to confirm that escalation. The prices that you had planned on paying versus what have to be paid to secure those top quality and rare certified NGC coins is not for the faint of heart or those that have meager financial coffers.”

The coin market has remained steadfast and if anything gained momentum during the summer season. On the heels of a very productive and telling ANA convention and related auctions dealers and collectors are gearing up for a significant amount of activity in September.

With heightened tensions in the Middle East, the lure of gold is again a very attractive one; silver, too, has seen extreme acceleration. Metal advances are always the catalyst for action and the coin market is often the recipient. Whether it is bullion coins, semi-numismatic or true rarities, the pendulum is swinging back in our corner. US coins, world coins and currency are all being targeted.

Speaking of world coins, Brian Kendrella, President of Stack’s Bowers, was delighted to inform me their just completed Hong Kong auction realized approximately $6.5 million. NGC-certified coins were very popular and collectors and dealers were both vying for world coins with an accent on those from the Far East. An extremely rare prototype got the Hong Kong crowd excited. The Tientsin Mint K’uping Gold Tael, the experimental China pattern for the proposed gold issue which never materialized (1907), witnessed the lightly golden toned NGC MS 62 example catapult to $101,575. A captivating China pattern 10 Cents ND (1912) also from the Tientsin Mint was in extremely high demand as the NGC MS 63 Sun Yat-sen pattern captured $68,712 nearly 3 times the pre-auction high estimate!

A pattern from the modern era, the very first of the immensely popular Panda series, also captured the spotlight. Dated 1982 and depicting the same design and diameter of the 1 ounce gold coin, a brass 100 Yuan NGC PF 62 Cameo, and most likely the first of its kind to be offered for public sale, raced to $38,838. This is certainly a coup for the advanced Panda collector. Another modern era brass pattern caused quite a commotion as a 10 Yuan 1983 Panda series prototype for the proposed first silver issue witnessed an NGC PF 63 Ultra Cameo smash the pre-estimates by nearly 10 times, racing to $89,625! A lovely and rare 1885 A One Piastre from French Indochina graded NGC PF 65 roared to $33,460. Of the scant 100 pieces originally struck this coin certainly rates as one of the finest available. Another powerful performer was a China Sinkiang Tael (1907/8) graded NGC AU 58. This original lightly toned specimen, the highest certified example to date, powered to $35,850, - over seven times the pre-auction high estimate. Other significant NGC performers include the following:

  • China Pattern (1906) Dollar NGC MS 65 $71,700
  • China 1914 Yuan Shih-kai Dollar NGC MS 65 $65,725
  • China (1906) Sinkiang Ration Gold 2 Mace NGC MS 63 $47,800
  • China (1910) Pattern Sun Yat-sen 10 Cents NGC MS 63 $68,712
  • China 1897 Chihi Dollar NGC MS 62 $35,850
  • China (1907) Yunnan Rupee NGC XF Details $38,838
  • China, Soviet Issues 1934 Szechuan-Shensi Dollar NGC AU 58 $22,705
  • China 1989 Year of the Snake 1000 Yuan NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo $41,825

Up next for Stack’s Bowers is their Americana sale. Commencing September 18 in the City of Brotherly Love, the auction will feature an eclectic run of US coins, tokens and currency along with the fabulous John J. Ford Jr. collection number XXIV, certified by NGC. Stack’s Bowers is the host auctioneer at the popular Whitman Philadelphia Expo on September 19-21. At the conclusion of the Expo most dealers will be making a quick transition to the West Coast to take advantage of the auction action prior to the Long Beach Expo.

Pre-Long Beach sales have always been a powerful and attractive venue, one where dealers and collectors can procure much-needed inventory or fill slots in their collections. This early fall season finds the Goldberg’s Pre-Long Beach sale of US and world coins to be one of considerable scope and diversity. When I spoke to the amiable Jason Villarreal, numismatist and lead auctioneer for Goldberg’s, his excitement and position on the rare coin market was quite enthusiastic.

“For the most part dealers and collectors have a very positive outlook on the future of the rare coin market and the direction in which it’s going. I think that the overall tone right now is one of optimism and excitement,” asserted Villarreal. A scan of the upcoming sale reveals a lot of strong material. Of course quality consignments are always at a premium nowadays. “Many of the lots coming up for sale are fresh to the market and a lot of the material has only been graded once,” relayed Mr. Villarreal.

Per Larry Goldberg, “On the world coin side of things we had a very nice old-time collection which was assembled over 50 years. Items that I haven’t personally seen for decades! There really are a lot of odd items that rarely surface.” For US coins, “We have a nice selection of gold, copper and silver coins. I feel it will appeal to a wide variety of numismatists, collectors and dealers alike.”

A broad-based collection leading into the Long Beach Expo includes the following NGC highlights:

NGC US coin highlights of the Goldberg sale September 22-23:

  • 1898 Barber Quarter NGC MS 68
  • 1928-S Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 68 FH
  • 1854-O Seated Liberty Half Dollar NGC SP 63
  • 1855 Arrows Seated Liberty Half Dollar NGC PF 66 Cameo (finest known)
  • 1839-O Classic Head Quarter Eagle NGC MS 65 (finest known)
  • 1810 Large Date, Large 5 Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 65
  • 1899 Liberty Half Eagle NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo (finest known)
  • 1795 13 Leaves Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 64

NGC-certified world coins up for auction September 24-25 include:

  • Great Britain 1692 William & Mary 5 Guineas NGC AU 53
  • Great Britain 1847 Gothic Crown NGC PF 63
  • India 1835-C Restrike Gold 2 Mohur NGC PF 64 Ultra Cameo
  • New Zealand 1935 Waitangi Crown NGC PF 66
  • Norway 1819IGP Specie Daler NGC MS 64
  • Romania 1940 100 Lei NGC MS 61
  • Russia 1894A 10 Roubles NGC MS 62
  • Spain 1726J 8 Escudos NGC AU 58

Sandwiched in between the Goldberg’s auctions is the much heralded and exciting Tacasyl Gold Collection sale at Bonham’s on September 23. The auction commences at 10 AM at their Sunset Boulevard office. I discussed the collection and its fastidious owner with Paul Song, Bonham’s Director of rare coins and banknotes. “It is a private individual collector that I have known for quite a few years. This is his prized possession that he put together over the last decade and feels as though it’s about time to put it back on the market. Once he reached the pinnacle, having collected what is basically the finest Proof Gold set in existence, there’s really nothing else to be done as far as this collection is concerned.”

Paul stressed that the owner of the 27 golden treasures has had his enjoyment with his prize and feels that the coins should now go to other collectors. This is exciting news for gold proof type specialists seeking the ultimate coins.

Tacasyl is certainly comprehensive and utterly fantastic, a phenomenal gold proof type set unlike any other. Many of which are obviously much more difficult to come by than others, namely the Stellas. All of the coins are graded by NGC. With pre-auction estimates of $6-$9 million for the 27 pieces, each of the fantastic coins should average a mere $300,000 and several of the pieces could easily breach the million dollar plateau!! Certainly all the coins are highlights. To pick a few standouts is difficult but here they are, all in NGC holders:

  • 1836 Classic Head Quarter Eagle NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo
  • 1836 Classic Head Half Eagle NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo
  • 1845 Liberty Eagle NGC PF 65 Cameo
  • 1879 Coiled Hair $4 Stella NGC PF 67
  • 1880 Flowing Hair $4 Stella NGC PF 67
  • 1880 Coiled Hair $4 Stella NGC PF 67 Cameo
  • 1891 Liberty $20 NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo

With all this excitement and action stirring in the numismatic world, it certainly portends to be an exceptional fall season!

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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