Heritage Houston Money Show Sale Powers To $8 Million; Frequent Flyers At A Discount

Posted on 12/10/2015

Demand for key dates and high grade US coins remains a driving market force. Why not build a Proof Barber Half set?

Demand for key dates and high grade US coins remains a driving market force as the 2015 public campaign winds down. The very recent Heritage Auctions Houston Money Show Signature sale, held December 3-6, realized just over $8 million. An abundance of key dates and high-grade collector coins were available. However, the absence of a six-figure sale for a single coin reiterates that the wheelhouse for certified coins remains within the high four and mid-five figure price points. Top graded and scarce US gold coins made up the lion share of the sale. Yet to be totally factual, coins from all series are selling well, albeit some with more robust results than others. There was no shortage of buyers for the so called bargains of elite offerings as well.

The Heritage Houston Money Show Signature auction's elite NGC-certified coins include this fascinating quartet:

1826 O-101a Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC MS 66+ $28,200. A truly phenomenal Capped Bust Half Dollar pedigreed to the Col. Green and Eric P. Newman collections. The single finest example certified as O-101 or O-101a. This coin radiates a scintillating colorful palette over boldly struck surfaces even after nearly 2 centuries. The coin is jaw-dropping in person. When I saw it last, just over two years ago as part of the Eric P. Newman Collection Part II in November 2013, the coin realized $34,075. Yes, even Newman coins have pulled back a bit and this nearly 18% reduction should be looked upon as a “bargain” for the new owner. A word of advice for the new owner, keep this extraordinary coin off the market for five years or more and I feel you will do quite well!

1894-O Barber Quarter NGC MS 67 $9,694. This is a scare and somewhat underrated Barber Quarter. Of the original New Orleans delivery of some 2.8 million coins, fewer than 100 reside as Mint State according to the NGC US Coin Census. In Gem MS 65 and better, this date reflects only a baker’s dozen with this MS 67 coin residing as the single finest known. It has a pedigree tracing back to the New Orleans Mint, Eliasberg and most recently as part of the Eugene Gardner collection III in May of this year realizing $11,163. Overall, this coin appears to be a fortuitous purchase for the new owner as it is reflecting a 35% reduction over the price paid as part of the ANA Milwaukee sale in 2007.

1907 Barber Half Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo $15,250. This coin has it all: eye appeal, low mintage and a status as the finest known! Yet this is also an example of a potential sleeper within the Barber Half Dollar series in Proof grade. This is especially true today in my estimation. Most dealers and collectors consider a glorious coin like this one merely a Proof “type” filler for their Barber Half Dollar and Barber Quarter series sets. Although many collectors are just looking for a Proof coin as “type” and not collecting the series by date, there are great opportunities to build a date set here. Only 24 coins are required to complete the Proof Barber Half Dollar set. Proof production per year averages only 721 coins with the largest output in 1892, the inaugural year, which witnessed the delivery of 1,245 coins. The Proof coin just auctioned in Houston has a mintage of only 575 coins struck for collectors during the Teddy Roosevelt administration. This beautiful cameo is indeed a collector’s treasure. Factually, all 20th century Proof Barbers are exceedingly scarce bearing the Cameo designation. This is due to production changes, a time saving step in regards to the preparation and polishing of the dies at the Philadelphia Mint, one which ultimately deprived most of the coins the glamorous Cameo finish. This 1907 Barber’s mintage of 575 places her sixth within the Proof designation delegation of the Barber Half series. This spectacular coin also ranks as the finest known hands down for the date! According to the NGC US Coin Census, only 15 coins have been graded with the Cameo designation for this date. As for value, this coin realized $23,000 when it first appeared at the 2005 Winter FUN Show. And just four months ago, at the summer ANA, it sold for $16,450. In 2015, here is a rare coin just purchased for nearly a 34% reduction from its high water mark from a decade ago! While not for everybody, it certainly seems relatively inexpensive to secure quality eye appeal, low-mintage Proof coins today.

1871-S $20 Liberty NGC MS 64 $47,000. An elusive high-grade Double Eagle, this blazing golden western beauty registered a record price. The original delivery from the San Francisco facility was 928,000, these Double Eagles obviously circulated quite freely in the post-Civil War era. Accordingly, fewer than 150 coins reflect full Mint State status on the NGC US Coin Census, this example being the finest known. When this coin last appeared for public sale at the 1998 ANA Signature Sale by Heritage, it brought in $32,200.

It is obvious that top quality NGC-certified US coins and world coins are available in this market. Buyers are still appearing in droves and coins are still selling at a frenetic pace. While rare coins remain coveted commodities, their prices at public venue are still often dictated by collector demand at the time of the sale. The difficulty here, especially when it comes to pricing material like the few aforementioned examples, is that there is a very small population of coins in a given grade. Perhaps the coin itself stands as the finest known. This is where the history of trading, or lack thereof, comes into play.

Generally speaking, if a coin has been off the market for five years or more, it would be considered fresh to the market and would invite a new audience eager to purchase that particular coin. When a coin appears for sale within a year or less from its last sale date (I refer to these as the frequent flyers), most savvy collectors realize the consignor is no longer in play and the coin can be had for a discount. Of course, the consignor is hopeful that the under bidders from the previous sale will up the ante but frequently that does not happen. As evidenced by the Houston Money Show, the buyers at the sale seem to have prevailed while the frequent flyers did not.

Price guides for rare pieces are contingent on collectors’ bidding prerogatives rather than a stable price valuation because the coins trade so infrequently. The 1871-S Liberty Double Eagle, which had remained off the market for well over a decade, was greeted with great demand. It claimed a solid 46% increase in the price realized from its last public sale appearance! Food for thought.

In just four short weeks, Winter FUN 2016 will be underway in Tampa, FL!

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 frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.