A Treasure Trove of World Coins
Posted on 8/30/2018
Wow, kids are going back to school and pro football kicks off next week. It’s the end of summer already!
Yes, it is true. I can almost hear the young ones whining as they board their respective school buses. The inevitable change of the seasons is near at hand. A time to revel for many; for others, a time to prepare for the fall.
Numismatically, numerous internet-savvy dealers promoting their respective wares on their sites, including many fresh offerings from the grand ANA World’s Fair of Money, is cause for excitement.
Fresher coins always attract attention and competition. And since many of us Coindexters may not attend every major sale, reading various favorite dealers blogs and recommendations are fine educational appetizers as we window shop and contemplate placing a scrumptious entrée or two of coins in our carts.
A brief overview of the just concluded ANA World’s Fair of Money: While it generated an above-average attendance, many of the attendees could not satisfy their collective ravenous appetite for exemplary key dates and rarities.
Dealers I had spoken to confirmed strong sales in the upper echelon pricing. Coins in the mid- to four-, five- and six-figure range were hot commodities, and this sentiment was buoyed by the fact that three coins blew well past the million-dollar benchmark at the host ANA Stack’s Bowers and Heritage Auction sales.
As one well-known dealer from Florida exclaimed: “If I had just half of the coins I was asked about and could have made sales, I could have retired.”
A New York state of collecting
Demand for the more down-to-earth, everyday collector coins kept dealers busy enough, too, but was considered average for this type of venue. Still other more-seasoned collectors were more selective and having a great adventure on the bourse.
Troy, a collector of over two decades, said: “For me, certified coins in the $100 and under range are what I was looking for.”
The upstate New York native commented on having already amassed complete collections of all the minor 20th century coins as well as a complete Indian Cent set.
“All the coins are nicely matched circ coins, generally strong VF and better,” Troy said, adding that he just wanted to have fun filling holes in the stack of blue Whitman folders his dad had bought him when he was a kid.
“My father gave them to me when I was about 12 years old, and he was hoping we could spend time together going to shows and filling the albums. That didn’t happen. I was just more into video games and hockey, so the albums just sat in my room. And when I moved out for college, I didn’t think any more about them.
“It was my second year at Cornell, and a friend of mine showed me an Indian Head $5 gold piece. I really liked the incuse design very much. And like a bolt to my head, I said: Oh! I have all those coin albums at my parents’ house. So on my spring break in 2000, I went back to the house and gathered up all the albums from the hall bookcase they had sat in for about 8 years.
“After graduation, I began to collect in earnest. It has been a blast”
Take a slab at it
Troy said that his fun and attraction now is picking up what he calls eye-appealing certified US and world coins.
“I hadn’t bought any certified coins at all until about three years ago. Now I spend my time just scooping up great looking slabbed coins some semi keys, most just really dazzling or flashy. My only prerequisite is the coins are in the $50 to not-more-than-$100 price point each. This way, I never have to feel I paid over my budget for something and start second guessing myself.
“Philly was good. I was able to pick up 23 NGC-certified coins for just under $1,400.” The NY native said that his haul included 10 US coins and 13 world coins.
“You would be surprised at how many great looking Indian cents, Buffalo Nickels, Mercury Dimes, and Walkers you can find in this price range. It is sooo much fun and I don’t ever feel like, gee, I spent way too much. I never get buyer’s remorse.”
As for world coins, the Empire State native added: “I really like Scandinavian and Commonwealth countries. So many great values out there.”
I concur with Troy: US, World and Ancient NGC Certified coins are extremely popular with collectors.
Regardless of what you’re collecting, it should first of all be fun and affordable. Whether your goal is to complete a high end registry set or not dishing out over $100 for each acquisition, there are just so many options.
World coins: Show us the money
A quick scan of the major host ANA Auctions by Heritage & Stack’s Bowers reveal just how much the world market is in play.
In total, the host Heritage & Stack’s Bowers sales combined brought in $81,523,707. The numbers breakdown is as follows:
- Heritage US coins: $27,166,199
- Heritage US Currency: $1,976,946
- Heritage World Coins & Currency: $11,071,721
- Stack’s Bowers US coins: $21,067,140
- Stack’s Bowers US Currency: $12,302,916
- Stack’s Bowers World Coins & Currency: $8,387,985
In total, World Coins & Currency for both auction houses reeled in $19,459,706, or just under 24% of the total ANA sale proceeds. Truly amazing! The nearly $19.5 million generated only for World Coins & Currency on its own, not that many years ago, would have probably been thought impossible for a US-based auction. Yet as weekly internet and major World & Ancient coin auctions appear, they continue to cater to an enthusiastic and growing collector base.
(1536-38)MM Mexico 8 Reales, graded NGC AU 50. Realized: $528,000.
Click images to enlarge.
A select group of my favorite world coins from the just concluded sales would obviously include the iconic and exciting “First Silver Dollar of the Americas” which realized a tidy $528,000! The finest of three known examples, graded NGC AU 50, it is a world-class treasure, although certainly not one within everyone’s budget.
Seven Wonders of The World
For me, the following group of mid-range world coins is very special, a true cross-section of Ancient and modern world coins, gold and silver.
First, a trio of exemplary European gold coins from Heritage’s 2018 ANA World & Ancient Coin Platinum Night.
A 1717 France Louis XV Gold Louis d’Or, graded NGC MS 66, captured $7,800. This is just a fantastically preserved gold coin struck at the Paris mint during the golden age of the Bourbon dynasty. An alluring, captivating early 16th century gold coin that stands alone on the NGC World Census as the finest known!
A 1935 France Gold 100 Francs, graded NGC PF 66 Cameo, realized $7,200. This is a truly exciting and popular world gold coin. I have always admired this dashing Art Deco-infused Winged Head of Liberty pre-World War II example. I recall that when I first viewed this coin as a youth, I thought Winged Liberty was Buck Rogers! A truly exemplary frosted cameo endowed with a touch of majestic orange peel glow, it is also the finest thus far graded at NGC.
An 1839 Great Britain Half Sovereign, graded NGC PF 64 Ultra Cameo, realized $6,000. An exceptional example of this second-year issue under the historic reign of Queen Victoria. The beautiful youthful portrait of the then-only-20-year-old Victoria, masterfully engraved by William Wyon, is a joy to behold. Bold, bright yellow gold gives way to scrumptious subtle orange peel at the borders. The size of the coin and its design gives the coin an even more apropos cameo-like appearance!
From the Stack’s Bowers 2018 ANA Ancient & World Coins auction, I selected a quartet of historic World silver coins:
A Roman Empire Augustus 27 B.C. – A.D. 14 Silver Denarius, certified by NGC Ancients as MS, 4/5 Strike and 5/5 Surface, realized $1,200. This is just a superlative example of this Augustus silver Denarius, and I am sorry I missed this myself! The fully lustrous 2000-year-old Mint State example is attributed to this historic ruler. In my opinion, coins of the ancient world in this state of preservation are fabulous buys at or near this level. NGC-graded ancient coins are certainly a popular collecting option to consider.
A 1952-D Germany 5 Mark (Nuremberg Museum), graded NGC PF 66, realized $3,000. A highly popular commemorative coin of the modern era, this ultra-Gem example is truly eye appealing. This 100th Anniversary of the Nuremberg Museum’s featured element, the east Gothic Eagle brooch from circa 5th century AD, has been a favorite design of mine since my youth. Of the original mintage of just 1,240, this example stands tied for the finest-known on the NGC World Coin Census.
A 1880-C India Quarter Rupee, graded NGC MS 64+, realized $15,600. I’ve been a collector of British India since my youth, but this was one coin I never acquired. It’s truly the holy grail of the Queen Victoria British India minor series! A flashy bright semi-satiny white obverse with just a touch of golden brown toning attracted near the rims on the reverse. The finest coin graded by NGC!
A 1943 Ireland Half Crown, graded NGC AU 58, realized $1,680. This wildly popular world coin, minted at the height of World War II, had an original mintage only in the neighborhood of around 1,000 coins. Today, estimates number 500 or less for survivors in all states of preservation. This “Horse” half-crown has stabled its place firmly in the modern rarities list. A must for the Irish, world or topical collector. This example presents solid eye appeal, revealing only a mere touch of wear about the typical amber gold and brown toning. According to the NGC Census, only three coins have been graded as Mint State!
Enjoy the last summer holiday, Labor Day, my friends!
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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