Numismatics 2006 - Forecasting the Future
Posted by NumisMedia on 1/1/2007
This may be the year that dealers truly identify what a rare coin is. The past year saw many rarities sell at auctions and through private treaties. Some rarities may prove to be a steal at high prices realized while some of the less expensive rarities may increase in a mega-impressive fashion. What dealers and collectors are finding is that when you take a combination of low mintage coins, along with grade rarity and look at the perceived numbers in the census reports of NGC and PCGS, you find that the possibilities of locating additional specimens of many of these rarities is not very likely. When you add to this mix the increasing numbers of wealthy collectors searching for the best and rarest that their money can acquire, the future for these rarities may seem unlimited. We have reported price advances over the last year for this category of coins to the point that they are almost not believable. What many numismatists don't realize is that the only reason many of these coins did not advance at this rate in prior years was a lack of depth and true collector demand.
Many of the coins that fit into this category come from Early Coinage, especially Gold. Numerous issues come from the group of $2½, $5, and $10 Gold; they originated with low mintages, have a high attrition rate, and the higher you step up in quality, the fewer coins can be found. Advanced numismatists have been studying the differences in the FMV from one grade to the next highest and comparing the values. When they see that the census numbers fall severely in the next grade and the FMV is barely above the lower grade then they have identified a coin that is on their watch list. We have seen an increase in this type of numismatic analysis over the last few years and even more so in the past year. We fully expect this to exacerbate over the next several years.
A myriad of Early Gold coins have not only increased in FMV over this past year, they have made exorbitant gains. The 1796 No Stars $2½ Capped Bust has spearheaded this massive increase. This is an extremely popular issue with several major dealers and advanced collectors. When you attract new serious collectors to this mix it is no wonder these coins have moved so magnificently. In MS60 all the way through to MS65, this issue has resulted in the FMV increasing at least 15% and in at least one grade 50%. The MS61 moved from an FMV of $200,000 in January of 2006 to a current $300,000. In MS62, it climbed from $275,000 to an FMV of $337,500. You must remember that this is a very low mintage coin and the higher the grade, the less likely you are to find one at any price. The way the FMV has moved it almost seems like advanced wealthy collectors do not care how much the coin costs as long as they can acquire an accurately graded one.
Another true rarity within this series is the 1808 $2½ Capped Bust Left; this has advanced across most grades at 20% and more. The FMV for MS60 was reported at $135,000 in January last year and is currently listed at $162,500. In MS62, it rose from $173,550 to the current $230,750. These are the kinds of coins where a dealer bid price or a listed FMV may not have as much relevance as we would like to think. When two or more potential buyers face each other in a major auction, we have been finding that the final prices realized have been significant premiums to our FMV when the coins match the grade on the holder. This simply indicates that the demand is much stronger than the perceived values might indicate. And it does not seem like the demand has slipped at all for these types of coins. We not only have some very strong collectors, there are numerous major dealers dedicated to the rarity factor and can change the way these coins are marketed.
While this past year saw a strong run for the $3, $5 Indian, and $10 Indian Gold, it was nothing compared to the Early $5 Half Eagles. The 1795 Small Eagle moved from $57,500 in January last year to today's FMV of $75,000; the MS62 advanced from $69,440 to $121,880; and the MS63 from $140,000 to a current FMV of $165,630. Additional significant increases came about for the 1829-1834 Capped Bust issues. The AU50 had a FMV listed of $29,380 last year compared to the current FMV of $54,060; MS60s moved from $43,130 to $65,940. The coins in this series, all grades, moved up at a dramatic pace. Not so amazing, but still impressive, was the Classic $5 Gold (1834-1838); nearly every date increased in all grades despite the fact there are more coins available in the marketplace than previously mentioned series. It is notable that numismatists are doing their homework and comparing one series and their FMV prices to other series and noticing where there are significant differences that may make the future rosier for one more than the other.
Early $10 Gold also showed some sizable progress this past year. Most grades for the 1795 through 1804 dates rose from 15% to 30%. There are very strong buyers for this material and we have not noticed any let-up in demand. For example, the 1795 13 Leaves in MS62 moved from $110,630 to $156,000 FMV in just one year. The 1804 Crosslet 4 in MS60 jumped very significantly from $53,150 to today's $74,750. Like the previously mentioned gold coins, this series seems quite capable of handling momentous increases based on the fact that demand is constant and availability is sparse.
This last year we have observed a reawakening of Deep Mirror Prooflike Dollars. There are a substantial number of serious collectors wanting the best there is and they have the means. These collectors want the highest-graded, deepest coin they can locate. When these coins become available in a competitive venue (a major auction, for instance), prices can go for multiples of our listed FMV. We have reported a plethora of FMV increases during the year. Here are just a few. The 1878 8 T/F in MS65 DMPL began 2006 at an FMV of $7,810 and begins 2007 at $17,500. What we find most interesting about DMPL Dollars and many other series alike is the fact that many specific rare coins are always searching for the so-called “correct” value. What appears to be a high price today may just be tomorrow's bargain. Another significant change was registered by the 1881 in MS65 DMPL; it rose from $13,130 to a current FMV of $18,130. In many cases, if you can find higher grades of these rarities, the prices collectors are willing to pay could be astronomical.
We have mentioned many high-valued coins in this comparison of last year's big gainers. What we have learned from the past is that whenever there are major gains in high-valued coins, there is usually a trickle-down effect for lower-value coins. Collectors who cannot afford these high-priced rarities still are in the hunt for coins that fall into their collecting price range. This is what most dealers and collectors love about numismatics; the neverending search for the right coins for their collections. Good hunting!