Jim Bisognani: Long Beach Sale Presents Rare Opportunities

Posted on 2/20/2020

Gold powers to a seven-year high, while there are silver bargains to be found online.

As this article posts, the first Long Beach Expo of 2020 is officially underway! Perhaps even more importantly for those of us who reside in the frozen north, we are but a month away from the first day of spring, according to the calendar. Well, if there is something to warm the cockles of this old Coindexter's heart, it is of course a visit to a balmy Long Beach Expo to peruse an always exciting Heritage Signature sale and salivate over prime numismatic offerings on the bourse.

Golden deals

The metals are taking the heated cue as well and continue to impress. Gold spot bounding convincingly over the $1,600 benchmark for the first time in seven years is noteworthy. With the yellow metal on the move, keep an eye out for bargains! Just yesterday a major dealer’s online auction netted several opportunities for watchful and frugal Coindexters. A pair of 1910-D $10 Indians graded NGC MS 62 realized $780 each — right at melt, including buyer's premium. A terrific 1910-S $10 Indian graded NGC AU 53 sold for a bargain (and below melt) $750.

Online Bargains on Classic Silver Commems

Another series that bears consideration are classic Silver Commems. I know, I and a host of others have proclaimed these iconic classic coins as undervalued bargains for over 10 years. Based in part on attractive and historical themes and low mintages, these coins have always maintained an ardent following. Yet, prices realized at various online auctions as of late represent fabulous deals that I believe are really hard to refuse for the new collector or veteran.

Prices Realized in Various Online Sales NGC Price Guide Mintage
1936 Oregon Trail graded NGC MS 66 – $156 $290 10,006
1939-S Oregon Trail graded NGC MS 65 – $384 $585 3,005
1937-D Texas graded NGC MS 64 – $105 $190 6,605
1935/34-D Boone graded NGC MS 65 – $384 $585 2,003
1939-S Arkansas graded NGC MS 64 – $228 $390 2,105

Just for reference, the average mintage for these five Classic Commems is under 4,800, and the average price realized was about $250 versus an average NGC Price Guide valuation of a tad over $400. That's nearly a 40% discount over present market value!

While the aforementioned quintet of Classic Commems was highly affordable, the quintet listed below may not be within the grasp of the average collector. Yet they all may very well be bargains for the next owners. Below is a roster of scarce, rare and finest-known NGC-certified delights, several of which are appearing for the first time in public at the Heritage Long Beach Signature Auction underway as we go to press.

1861 Indian Head Cent graded NGC MS 68
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This Civil War issue Copper-Nickel Cent is the “scarcest” mintage-wise of the short-lived variety. This spectacular coin is also tied as the finest known. As far as I can determine, this is the first offering of this coin and only the second time that any MS 68 has appeared at public sale in nearly 11 years! I expect spirited bidding by collectors and registry set owners on this one.

1851 Braided Hair Large Cent graded NGC MS 67 BN
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Here is another coin tied numerically for the finest known — an 1851 Braided Hair Large Cent graded NGC MS 67 BN. Just an exquisite, eye-appealing and “relatively affordable” example. Satin sheen and glossy highlights of blue and amber bronze are featured on both obverse and reverse of this ultra-gem. The last time a like-graded example appeared at public sale was six years ago.

1843 Seated Liberty Half Dime graded NGC MS 68
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Here is a scintillating and dynamic 1843 Seated Liberty Half Dime. While tiny in stature, with such an awe-inspiring strike and color palette, this coin makes a huge and lasting impression. From the rather small Philadelphia delivery of slightly over 1.1 million minted, this present example stands (or perhaps sits) as the finest known! This marks the first appearance for this colorful and virtually perfect coin. It should easily catch the attention of those looking for a superlative type coin or to bolster their registry ranking.

1921 Mercury Dime graded NGC MS 67 FB
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This stately and remarkably preserved key to the series is tied numerically for the finest known. Endowed with a bold strike and a subtle yet invigorating palette of amber, lavender, blush, blue and rose, this 1921 Mercury Dime is beautiful, and with a mintage of 1.2 million, it only stands behind the 1916-D and 1921-D as the third-lowest mintage in the series. A like-graded example last appeared in a public sale nearly seven years ago.

1877 Liberty Head Half Eagle graded NGC MS 61 PL
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Here is a very infrequently encountered Philadelphia Mint Half Eagle! From a paltry mintage of only 1,132 coins produced at the Philly Mint, it is estimated that less than one-tenth of that delivery exists in all states of preservation today. Perhaps a dozen coins remain in true Mint State and a handful appear on the NGC Census as PL. The report reveals that three of the Prooflike coins just happen to appear in MS 61. This is only the third time that a PL-designated 1877 Half Eagle has appeared at public auction in 11 years and, in fact, the last time was this exact coin (FUN 2009)! Now is another glorious opportunity to acquire this rare and always-popular dated coin.

To all prospective bidders, good luck and be sure to watch those online sales!

Until next time, happy collecting!

Jim Bisognani is an NGC Price Guide Analyst. He has written extensively on US coin market trends and values.

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