For Silver and Gold, it's Slide and Shine

Posted on 7/19/2018

It's a great time to go Saint shopping.

Late July already – this year seems to be in a hurry, doesn’t it? As I take a look at the numismatic world this morning, I find that auction activity is busy as ever, with a plethora of major live “marquee” and Internet-only auction sales to monitor and cover.

Some results were average, but others border on the spectacular. Again, results are tempered by the quality and rarity of certified examples as they appear. The just-concluded summer FUN Heritage signature auction from sweltering Orlando, Florida generated a tad over $6 million.

The top performer and only six-figure numismatic treasure was for the iconic 1860-O $20 Liberty graded NGC MS 61, which claimed $168,000. This sum is equal to 10 percent more than the price realized when this finest-known example of the historic and rare New Orleans Double Eagle appeared at the Heritage ANA US Signature sale last August in Denver. Popularity and rarity never seem to go out of favor.

1860-O $20, graded NGC MS 61; realized: $168,080
Click images to enlarge.

A low point for metals

Notwithstanding, spot metal prices are not helping with the general equation. Both gold and silver are flatter than pita bread as I observe both are being reunited with trading lows matching levels not seen since early July 2017, almost exactly one year ago.

Now, for the more bullion and semi-numismatic maven, these lower levels can be a boon, as many larger trader/collectors will eagerly buy more 90% silver and gold Double Eagles: the whole dollar cost averaging thing. I mean, no one will ever know with certainty where the top of the market is nor will they be able to predict the theoretical bottom in any cycle; thus, many speculators accumulate or sell as movement either up or down dictates.

Yet for the average collector or trader, these precipitous swings can cause fits. As an example, as I mentioned in my previous article, Mike from New Jersey had brought three bags of 90 percent silver to sell at the summer Baltimore Whitman and had to settle for about $2,000 less than he would have gotten if he had sold the silver bags just a week before the show. While this average collector bit the bullet to get cash, if he had waited until today’s trading levels, he would have dropped another $1,600 or so.

For this collector, he sold before the market had bottomed out, in this cycle, at least. Conversely, for many, the slide in silver warrants strong consideration for buying in at these lower levels. Both 90% silver and Morgan and Peace Dollars in AU/Unc are great values at current levels, in my estimation.

A case of slide and shine

The yellow metal also presents terrific golden bargains. This is especially true for US gold type collectors. Consider this, as I scan the electronic trading networks (with gold spot at $1,240), the top NGC MS 63 certified dealer “bid” for MS 63 $20 Saint-Gaudens is at $1,280 or just a shade over 3% over the spot price of gold (or 6.5% above melt for the Double Eagle). Conversely, the true bullion generic $50 1-ounce US Gold Eagle is bid at 2.5% over spot gold!

I have also confirmed a major retailer offering MS 65 $20 Saints at $1,505 per coin; this amounts to just 24.5% over the melt value of these still-highly collectable numismatic coins. These premiums are the lowest I have seen in over two decades!

For reference, as I review my historic trading data, on this day in 2008, MS 65 $20 Saints were “bid” at $1,560, or at nearly the same level as today’s offerings, yet spot gold was $972.70. This was equal to around 65% over melt value! This is a huge opportunity for any collector to latch on to several of these superb gold coins.

Online-only sales continue to showcase exciting coins for novice, expert or professional. Auctions such as those presented by Great Collections have been a shining light for collectors since the Ian Russell Company came on the scene in late 2010. To date, nearly half a million US coins have been sold through the online auction house based in Irvine, California.

Per Ian: “We've been auctioning more NGC at Great Collections this year than last year, and have a lot in the pipeline.”

Silver and gold standouts

Now, in keeping with the silver and gold theme, the following are a few recent standouts from Great Collections online auction catalog.

1924 Peace Dollar, graded NGC MS 67+; realized: $9,298
Click images to enlarge.

A stunning 1924 Peace Dollar, graded NGC MS 67+, realized $9,298. This is a record price for a coin in this numeric designation. The coin is a majestic and virtually flawless type coin – a truly impeccable Peace Dollar.

1950 Franklin Half Dollar, graded NGC PF 67; realized: $5,635
Click images to enlarge.

A terrific mid-20th Century collector favorite, a 1950 Franklin Half Dollar, graded NGC PF 67, thundered to $5,635, another powerful record for the grade. Just a stunning first-year Proof Franklin certainly worthy of this distinction.

1950 Franklin Half Dollar, graded NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo; realized: $28,535
Click images to enlarge.

For an encore, a second 1950 Franklin Half Dollar, graded NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo, raced to $28,535, an NGC record for the grade and designation. This coin is truly an eye-catcher! Dynamic, frosted white devices and deeply contrasted icy mirrors give way to just a hint of rainbow coloring exploring the rims.

1932-S Washington Quarter, graded NGC MS 65; realized: $3,603
Click images to enlarge.

Another 20th century key, this inaugural 1932-S Washington Quarter, graded NGC MS 65, reeled in an impressive $3,603. While not always garnering the respect afforded to the Denver brother (especially in Gem), the 1932-S, is a tough coin to locate in MS 65.

According to the NGC Census, a mere 75 appear as MS 65, with only six awarded MS 66 and none higher. This places the 1932-S firmly in the number two slot for the entire series! This example enjoys a rather mystic measure of antique gold and lime green patina, which serves to enhance nearly pristine surfaces.

1854-O Liberty Half Eagle, graded NGC AU 58; realized: $6,581
Click images to enlarge.

A lovely and scarce 1854-O Liberty Half Eagle, graded NGC AU 58, captured $6,581. This is also a record within the grade. This captivating, original southernmost branch mint gold coin is sometimes overlooked for the rarity she is, especially in coins approaching full Mint State, as only a dozen or so examples qualify as uncirculated.

Wow! The ANA World’s Fair of Money in Philly is less than a month away! I hope to see you on the bourse!

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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