by Jim Bisognani for NGC ……
DPL Morgans Hot On Bourse – Santa Fe Twins on Buffalo Hunt
The first week of December certainly brought a bone chilling reminder of the season at hand. Conversely, those numismatic patrons in attendance at the 58th Annual Houston Money Show, December 5-7, were treated to wonderful spring-like weather conditions that made the trek by both collector and dealer all the more agreeable. The always well run and hospitable show was, according to many dealers in attendance, “surprisingly upbeat”. Other professionals walking the bourse floor made a similar assertion; that this Houston show was active and most importantly profitable. Indeed a pleasant surprise over some recent shows. For others in attendance this was the final “live tune up” to get a pulse on the market as well to hone in on collector’s bias prior to the FUN show.
One well respected Lone Star State dealer confided “this show is a must for me; after all it’s in my backyard. I am always encouraged by the local throng of customers that make it here from all parts of the State… that in itself covers a lot of territory!” According to this source, buyers were extremely active in snagging Choice Morgan Silver Dollars and mid-grade DPL coins. “DPL Morgans in the $500-$1,000 range were my biggest sellers… my regulars and new customers were cherry picking the most eye appealing coins in my inventory.” Another dealer from California said, “Classic US Gold coins especially CC (Carson City) strikes were the most asked for. I sold several nice MS 62 and MS 63 CC Eagles and Half Eagles to an anxious buyer on the bourse floor. The customer, new to me, shelled out $35K; that made my trip all within the first few hours after I had set up.”
Of course not all floor action was a refrain to that well known seasonal tune “Silver & Gold”. One first time dealer to the show said “they made a go of it selling better-date circ Indian and Lincoln Cents. I guess several local clubs had converged at the show and were looking to fill albums with nice circ coins. VF–XF coins, nothing slabbed, nice copper though, priced between $50-$300.” One collector named Charlie from New Mexico made the journey by car with his two teenage daughters. “Hard to believe isn’t it?” My girls (twins) are 16 and they have had the collecting bug since they were about 10.” The Santa Fe native went on to tell me that his girls got “caught up in what the old man was collecting and doing.” He added that he “would go to the local bank about once a week and would get rolled coins, half dollars and cents. It soon got to be a ritual every Friday after work I would get a roll or two to bring home and me and the girls would go through them after dinner.” According to Charlie, “Over the last five years they have found about $30 in silver Kennedys and Franklins. It might sound like a lot but we have probably gone through over 1,500 rolls.”
While searching for their bounty, the Santa Fe man and his daughters progressed from just hunting for 90% silver and got involved in more organized collecting pursuits. “I bought Whitman Folders for all of our Lincoln Cent and Buffalo Nickel collections. I think all three of us have a passion for the Buffalo Nickel; the girls especially love the artistic aspect of the coin. We plan on doing some serious shopping for a few of the keys and some nice later date uncirculated coins.” Charlie caught up to me later and showed me a pair of Type I and Type II 1913 Buffalo Nickels graded NGC MS 63. “I picked these up for the girls for Christmas. I had a heckuva time paying for them without the girls seeing them!”
While not working behind the table or canvassing the bourse, both dealer and collector also had the opportunity to participate in the live floor sessions of Heritage’s Houston Money Show Signature Auction. Featuring over 3,600 lots, the sale running Dec 4-7 realized a significant $9.3 million. Featuring a nice mixture of key dates, early type, classic commems, silver dollars, gold coins, and a modest Colonial contingent, this auction had something for virtually everyone and in every price range. In fact, of all the lots sold, 54% captured $10K and under. Perhaps quite telling in the current market and great for the everyman collector, nearly 42% of the lots in Texas realized $1,000 or less.
So based on the chatter from the show floor, the top NGC performer at the auction was not a surprise being a coveted silver cartwheel 1889-CC Morgan Dollar. The key to the ever popular Carson City contingent was a superb, satiny white near Gem quality NGC MS 64 which raced to an impressive $70,500. Coins of this quality standard are extraordinarily rare, especially compared to the plethora of Morgan Dollar specialists all vying for suitable candidates for their respective cabinets. The heralded 1889-CC Morgan is not only the key to that legendary western mint, it is also one of the toughest coins to locate in Mint State for the entire series. With but a handful graded higher, a coin of the caliber of this Houston coin appears on average about once per year at a major auction. Key coins in this price range remain the targets of calculating collectors and investors everywhere it seems.
Other NGC highlights from the Houston Signature Auction:
- 1831 Reverse of 1836 Capped Bust Half Cent NGC PF 66 RD $45,531
- 1954 Lincoln Cent NGC MS 67 RD $4,994
- 1877 Shield Nickel NGC PF 67 $7,050
- 1837 Capped Bust Dime Ex Pittman NGC MS 66 $7,050
- 1879 Liberty Seated Dime NGC MS 68 $6,169
- 1818/5 Capped Bust Quarter NGC MS 65 $14,688
- 1795 Centered Draped Bust Dollar NGC AU 55 $22,325
- 1995-W Silver Eagle NGC PF 70 Ultra Cameo $15,863
- 1914-D Indian Quarter Eagle NGC MS 65 $15,275
- 1839-D Liberty Half Eagle NGC AU 58 $17,625
- 1871-CC Liberty Half Eagle NGC AU 55 $17,625
- 1915-S Indian Half Eagle NGC MS 64 $31,725
- 1912-S Indian Eagle NGC MS 65 $29,375
- 1876-CC Liberty $20 NGC MS 60 $9,109
- 1889-S Liberty $20 Saddle Ridge Hoard NGC MS 63 $7,638
- 1891-CC Liberty $20 NGC AU 53 $16,450
- 1905 Liberty $20 NGC MS 64 $24,675
- 1907 High Relief, Flat Rim Saint Gaudens $20 NGC MS 65 $52,875
- 1850 Large Eagle Moffat & Company $5 NGC MS 64 $32,900
Wow, where has the year gone? My next installment will be the final one for 2014. There is still time to do some last minute shopping for that special numismatist in your life.
Until next time, happy collecting!
Jim Bisognani has written extensively on US coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He currently resides in Southern California and frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.