Coins: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Posted on 2/15/2018

Long Beach sale presents unique opportunities: golden and otherwise

In my youth, the winter was a season to revel in. Now it is something to be tolerated until about mid-April – that is, at least here in New England. Feeling a bit drowsy and achy this particular Monday morning, I harkened back to the pre-iPhone or even pre-internet era, when I was a youthful hobbyist.

I thought: It is amazing that virtually all of today’s collectors never have to wait for a monthly catalog or newsletter from a favorite dealer. In the pre-computerized era, coin collecting and the hobby was, by necessity, moving at a slower pace to be sure – usually at the mercy of the US Postal Service. And there was no tracking, either (Egad!).

Maybe it’s because I am more seasoned, but today’s new wave collectors can’t truly imagine all the joy and excitement conjured up when the postman brought numismatic literature and exotic offerings to your mailbox. Those mimeographed, single-sheet, folded and stapled price lists were always a powerful elixir.

While being ecstatic at the arrival of any coin-related prose in my youth, it was more learning and window shopping. Then, in my early teen years, as I began to build a collection of type coins, US and foreign, the winter was my friend: more time to devote to the hobby from within the warm confines of my home.

Perhaps it is because I am under the weather as yours truly types away at the keyboard, but it has dawned on me that just clicking on a dealer’s website or a quick scan of eBay listings transports me back to my youth! All of a sudden, I became energized: coins everywhere! My sundry aches and pains had been alleviated.

It’s amazing: Each and every day, there are so many upcoming auction and dealer emails waiting to be opened in my inbox! Even functioning at less than full cognitive power, this is the best medicine possible. I mean, a quick glance through the upcoming first Long Beach Expo sale of the year by Heritage, slated for Feb. 22-26, certainly warmed me up. After scanning thousands of great-looking coins, I feel rejuvenated!

Hey, winter isn’t all bad at all. To take liberty with that old tune, “I’ve Got My Coins To Keep Me Warm.”

Some great Colonial issues

I have always been attracted to Colonial issues, and this pair stood out for me.

1787 Machin's Mills Halfpenny, graded NGC XF 40 BN
Click images to enlarge.

This 1787 Machin's Mills Halfpenny, graded NGC XF 40 BN and pedigreed to the Eric P. Newman Collection. The patina the strike and overall appeal is just very attractive to me, and it’s relatively inexpensive, too.

For reference the same coin pulled in $780 about three months ago.

1787 Massachusetts Half Cent, graded NGC MS 65 RB
Click images to enlarge.

Another highly desirable coin, one which I would truly love to own, is from my neighboring Bay State, the 1787 Massachusetts Half Cent. This is the readily available Ryder 4-C, but in exemplary state of preservation. Graded NGC MS 65 RB, this coin pedigreed to Hanson is from the recent offerings in the Partrick Collection. This astounding eye-appealing Colonial issue pulled in $14,100 just 3 years ago at the Winter FUN 2015. As of this writing, the coin has already eclipsed that winning bid of 3 FUNs ago, and has also superseded the $15,750 realized in June 2002!

19th century gold

A luscious impressive run of Gold $10 Liberties from the Admiral Collection perked me up: a host of high-grade earlier commoners, as well as the elusive and key dates in grades rarely or ever before encountered! My mouth actually began to water at the sight of the nearly 300 coins up for grabs in this series!

1854-O small date $10, graded NGC MS 61
Click images to enlarge. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

The first coin that caught my eye is the 1854-O small date Eagle graded NGC MS 61. I immediately was somewhat bedazzled by Ms. Liberty’s vibrant, sunshiny gold surfaces, something which is an uncommon visual for this date. Presently, this is the highest-graded example of the small date variation. Currently, there is no public sales data for this, the only MS 61 example. The NGC US Price Guide values the coin in MS 60 at $15,750. This is truly an outstanding opportunity for the gold Eagle specialist and worthy of strong competition and price.

1859 $10, graded NGC MS 63
Click images to enlarge. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

Wow is all I can say: the finest known 1859 liberty Eagle, graded NGC MS 63. This low-mintage pre-Civil War gold coin is alluring, both satiny and frosty. I normally wouldn’t say this, yet the modest pair of grade-defining reeding marks on the obverse adds character to Ms. Liberty. According to the NGC Census there only 10 mint state coins with this example, standing alone at the top. A unique opportunity for a Liberty Gold eagle specialist.

1859-O $10, graded NGC AU 58
Click images to enlarge. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

Another New Orleans delivery, the rarest ‘O’ mint eagle, this 1859-O (graded NGC AU 58) is a lightly circulated example and tied for 2nd numerically behind the remarkable NGC MS 62 found aboard the SS Republic. A true rarity in any grade as only 22 coins appear on the NGC Census, and a like-graded example last appeared at auction nearly 13 years ago.

1867-S $10, graded NGC AU 58
Click images to enlarge. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

Another prestigious offering is the 1867-S $10 Liberty, this one graded NGC AU 58, which is tied numerically at the top of the NGC Census report with four others. The luminous surfaces are refreshing and vibrant, rarely encountered in any grade with any frequency, as estimates dictate fewer than 75 coins in all grades remain in existence. Prior to this top-flight offering, an NGC AU 58 coin had appeared only twice in public venue in 13 years.

Collectors, do yourselves a huge favor and take a look at the online catalog for the Heritage Long Beach Signature sale. In total, 5,847 lots will be up for bid during five live floor sessions and two internet-only venues. A true collective smorgasbord: Colonials, early federal rarities, type coins – in fact, all series are represented!

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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