Jim Bisognani: US Coin Sales Raking in $1.7 Million Per Day!

Posted on 7/9/2020

The market is hot, from precious metals to rare US coins to modern Mexican movers-and-shakers.

Here we are in nearly mid-July, and no Major League Baseball! Although, I suppose one way to look at it is that the players have had an extended spring training and all-star break. I, for one, have missed watching the boys of summer, and if all goes as planned, the promise of an abbreviated 60-game schedule, sans fans, which was just announced, leaves the door open for some amazing on-field exploits.

As we common folk all adjust to the “COVID-19 playing field,” and the terms of the new normal are taking shape, at least we can watch as teams compete in a modified sterile bubble. Hey, maybe Major League Baseball will pipe in some live fan noise — couldn’t hurt!

Precious metals are sizzling and rare coins are hot, hot, hot

The rare coin and collectibles market as a whole has certainly been on fire during this unplanned transition. Precious metals are sizzling, too. Since the major downturn in the metals markets in mid-March, silver spot has rebounded from its 11-year low and responded with more than a 55% advance. Gold during the same timeframe has powered up over $340 per ounce and, as I am writing this, has just breached the $1,800 benchmark.

As the major dealers and auction houses have converted virtually all of their inventory (and consignor lots) to their respective online homes, solid results have been recorded. In fact, according to the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), during the first six months of 2020, over $167 million in rare US coins were sold in online public auctions via major auction firms.

Further bolstering the strength of the reported public auction results, PNG conservatively calculates that, at minimum, another $150 million worth of US coins were sold by these auction houses in private transactions during the same timeframe. So, based on this data, that averages to over $1.7 million per day in US coin sales through the end of June. Wow!

Blazing buys from Mexico

My fellow coindexters and many of those not yet well-affiliated with our great hobby have stepped up, too, with aggressive online searches for seemingly every collectible under the moon. Of course, sales of numerically top-end US certified coins are surging; however, high-grade world coins have quietly muscled up as well. And that demand has not been for what I would call scarce or rare coins either. Just recently, during the Stack’s Bowers Collectors Choice world coin sale that was held online in June, common Type coins from south of the border made big noise.

Below is a quartet of Mexican coins, none of which are rare or even scarce, yet are finest-known or tied for that honor, which achieved excellent results.

Click images to enlarge.

First on my radar was this vibrant 1890GO R 25 Centavos graded NGC MS 67 that roared to $840. This popular Type coin issued under the Second Republic of Mexico is a truly gorgeous example that is also the finest graded by NGC. What is worth noting is that this coin in BU / Choice condition usually brings $75 to $100, and an NGC MS 66 realized $300 a few years back. As for this coin, though, it last appeared in the 2016 Stack’s Bowers ANA World Coin auction, where it sold for $564. This current sale reflects a nearly 50% advance since the coin’s last appearance!

Click images to enlarge.

Here is a modern Mexican Peso dated 1944 and graded NGC MS 68 that raced to $528. This silver coin is tied for the finest known with three other examples in this grade, yet with a reported mintage of nearly 40 million, it is truly a Type coin within the popular series. In lesser Mint State grades, it can be found easily and had for around $15 in uncertified Choice Mint State. Even full Gem+ coins on eBay generally don’t bring more than $25. For further reference, an NGC MS 66 coin recently sold for under $60. This present result confirms the strength that a high-grade, otherwise-common NGC-certified Type coin can muster at auction!

Click images to enlarge.

Here is a late-date silver alloy Mexican Peso. This 1964 graded NGC MS 68 also stands as the highest graded in the NGC Census and realized $204. Although this auction result is a relatively modest sum, it should be noted that this coin with a mintage of over 15.5 million is available by the bucket loads in mid-to-Gem Uncirculated+ for under $10, and certified MS 66 examples net only around $20! A truly “common” modern world coin demonstrates the power of finest-known status and NGC certification!

Click images to enlarge.

Finally, a “scarcer” modern Mexican issue in superlative condition. This finest-known 1959 Mexico 20 Centavos graded NGC MS 68 RD raced to a mindboggling $840. Although this coin reports in with a mintage of just over 6 million, it is considered the “modern key” to the popular post-1955 20 Centavos series.

Featuring the captivating “Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán,” this is a coin that I have admired since my youth. According to the NGC World Coin Price Guide, in AU, this “key” date is valued at under $20, and raw or certified Mint State Brown or Red-Brown examples frequently command under $100, with full Red coins obviously capturing more. For a closer numeric comparison, at the 2019 Stack’s Bowers June Collectors Choice sale, one of the three NGC MS 67 RDs in the NGC Census brought $156!   Although $840 might be a stretch in some eyes for one grading point higher, no one can deny the beauty of this flaming red coin!

So, as numismatists around the world scour the internet looking for something new to collect, keep an eye out for some Top Pop world coin bargains (and justifiable splurges)!

Until next time, be safe and 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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