NGC Key Date Morgan Leads The Way

Posted on 4/13/2017

Estate sales offer fun alternative; Heritage Dallas auction claims nearly $10 million

Spring is a superb time to become reinvigorated. That is especially true for us in the Granite State. Where else can you have a blizzard dump 14 inches of heavy, wet snow on you one week and a week later, as I write this column, it is a balmy 80 degrees outside! The welcome change in the weather allows us to collectively scratch our heads in New England and to become reacquainted with the great outdoors and circulate more freely amongst the masses. Sprucing up the yard and regular household spring cleaning rituals often evolve into yard sales or the fancier term: "estate sales." While the numismatic pickings can be limited, personally I have found a treasure trove of coins, proof sets and blue Whitman folders full of coins all within a few miles of my residence.

For those looking to unearth mega rarities or stumble upon Pogue-caliber material, this probably won’t be the tactic to fulfill that goal. Yet if you’re looking to acquire miscellaneous Morgan and Peace dollars, Lincoln cents and Type coins, keep an eye posted for those handmade signs dotting the landscape, announcing upcoming yard sales in your neighborhood and community. Even if coins aren’t immediately visible, I always ask up front if there are any coins, medals or currency. Many times I will hear, “I have some stuff from my dad but I don’t know anything about you want to take a look at it?” Those are the magic words.

While some bargains can be had through negotiation, many sellers automatically assume that because something is old it is rare. For example, they may think that an 1880-S Morgan Dollar is a great rarity. That is when we seasoned numismatists must advise that coin does not equal college tuition or even a weekend getaway. I have found that, most of the time, if a seller knows that you know what something is worth you will have a better chance to make a fair deal.

My best finds last season included a pair of Peace dollars. Each was a borderline Mint State example housed in rather dingy 2x2 cardboard holders. One was a 1923, the other was a 1924—both common dates to the Peace dollar series. The coins were mottled-looking at best, yet I could see the possibility of a higher grade if they were conserved.

Each coin was marked at $40, which was more than full retail. I began to negotiate with Bob and found that the coins were his grandfathers. “My dad just inherited them from his dad and my pop doesn’t want to start collecting something else.”

I advised the young man that the coins were worth in the neighborhood of $20-$25 each. Bob said, “Ok, how about $40 for the pair?” I accepted that and then began to look through a hodgepodge of modern world proof sets and a few higher grade circulated Indian Head cents. The latter had an average grade, in my opinion, of XF and included dates from 1896 through 1909. There was no "S" though. I picked up 10 for $25. By the way, after I had the two Peace dollars conserved, the 1924 received a solid MS 64, but the 1923 claimed a very impressive MS 66!

In mainstream circles I can report that a key date Morgan dollar took top honors at the just-concluded Heritage Dallas Signature Coins auction (April 4-6). An NGC MS 63 example of the always-popular 1892-S brought $76,375. A beautiful coin endowed with satiny, semiprooflike luster. This exact coin appeared nearly 3 years ago as part of the 2014 CSNS Heritage Signature sale and realized $70,500. The 1892-S is a key date in higher circulated grade and ultra-rare in Mint State grades. An MS 63 example appears at auction only once every year and a half, on average, since the year 2000. In total, the Heritage sales captured just under $10 million in the Lone Star State.

As I watch the remaining snow mounds dissipate from my office window, I can’t believe spring is finally here! Yahoo!!!

Until next time, happy collecting!

Jim Bisognani is an NGC Price Guide Analyst having previously served for many years as an analyst and writer for another major price guide. He has written extensively on US coin market trends and values.

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