By Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatics ……
Looking back at 2019 in its entire scope, the year was one of transition. There were transitions here at Legend Rare Coin Auctions specifically, as well as transitions in the rare coin market. All of these combined for a year that in the end seemed to follow the choppy trend since 2016.
Growth and Improvement
We started the year with a new hire when Terryann Cantalupo joined our team as Auction Director. She has streamlined our systems, making the consignment onboarding, catalog production, and shipping and receiving processes much more efficient. She also attends all the shows, supporting our consignment specialists and at our Regency Auctions, she is there making sure that the entire process runs smoothly so that our customer interaction continues to be the best in the business. To that end, you can interact with her directly through our Twitter and her PCGS Message Board accounts. She would love to hear from you!
Also, at the beginning of the year, we changed the way our coins are imaged. Utilizing PCGS TruView images where available, all other coins are being imaged by Patrick Braswell, our Art Director. By having our photographer in house, it allows us to get highlights marketed faster and keeps the crunch times moving much more smoothly. We now have the ability to review and improve images, whereas before, with a consultant, we did not have the ability to do that. I hope you’ll all agree as well, that our images have never been better, and our catalogs are the most gorgeous in the entire industry.
As LRCA has grown over the last few years, we outgrew our shared space with our sister firm, Legend Numismatics. In August, we moved to a brand-new office with ample space for our staff to work, as well as a conference room for proper lot viewing and workstations for outside consultants (if/when needed). This new space allows us room to grow in the future.
We are always looking to improve our offerings and our service. Our team is dedicated to providing the finest coins and customer service to both consignors and bidders, knowing full well that both are equally important. To this end, we have grown in both aspects. We have recorded a record number of new, active bidders this year. They have been participating in our 2019 auction sales at all price points, from collectors limited to a few coins valued under $5,000 to those who have large budgets, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. Quite a few of these new buyers are building what will become world-class collections and are exclusively utilizing our Regency Auctions to source their coins.
These new collectors are another transition we are seeing in the numismatic market in 2019. The old guard continues to turn over and the new collectors are collecting differently than they have in the past. Most collecting is done online now. Bidding and buying are done from the comfort of home and office via the web. Over the last few years, many of the bigger shows have become dealer-to-dealer trading events, as fewer retail collectors trek cross country to shows. In 2020, we think this trend will continue.
2019 saw a big transition at PCGS, with a new group of executives. Brett Charville, the new PCGS President and his team have begun to make serious, positive changes for the long-term health of the market. Starting with cracking down on the coin doctors, the new management team is holding the grading line. Crack out dealers are not “making” coins the way that they used to, and the number of over-graded coins is shrinking in the market. While short term this is having an impact on dealer cash flow, in the long term, the quality of the coins in holders will hold up and provide better long-term returns.
Their forward-thinking has brought PCGS and CAC together with a new CAC-focused Registry Set program. For collectors of PCGS/CAC coins, this is a huge development that will let them compete against each other on an even playing field. The CAC Collectors Price Guide, published by CDN is also now being included on CCE and on the CAC website, providing another important price reference for collectors. In 2020, you will see our descriptions show this new published price alongside the Collectors Universe (PCGS) Price Guide where appropriate.
Macroeconomic factors, which we have no control over, had an impact on the numismatic market in 2019. The year started off OK, then mid-year, as trade tensions between the U.S., China, and other countries threatened a fiercer trade war, fears of a slowdown and even a recession spiked the price of gold to over $1,550 an ounce for the first time in years (gold has been generally trading between $1,200 and $1,400 since 2014). With this jump in gold prices, there was hope that it would trickle into numismatics, but it was short-lived. Smart collectors took advantage, especially focusing on long-neglected series.
The Good Stuff – LRCA 2019 Auction Highlights
Our 2019 auctions were all “can’t-miss” events, but looking back some things stand out more than others.
January saw us host our very first stand-alone auction in Beverly Hills, and we were ecstatic with the results. The sale included a wonderful offering of fresh collections that attracted very strong bidding. The Sand Hill, Maybach, Symphony, Formula 1, and Star City Collections far exceeded expectations. Specifically, the Formula 1 collection, with its selection of extremely high-end and eye-appealing Barber halves, brought several auction record prices. Looking at it now, that combination of amazing quality and record prices would be a common thread throughout all of our auctions this year.
Our March Auction, which was our first this year in conjunction with a PCGS Members Only Show, was another blockbuster event. This sale featured the most valuable coin we sold this year, the fantastic $10 1795 13 LEAVES PCGS MS64+ CAC, which sold for $822,500, and brought a buzz to the room as the hammer fell. Also in this sale were the Young-Dakota Part I Collections and the Intense Cameo Collections, which saw spirited bidding and strong results throughout. We were particularly thrilled to be able to offer Matched Original Proof Sets as part of the Young-Dakota Collection, as they are just not something you ever get to see anymore.
In May we held our second consecutive Dollar Day two-day sale in New Orleans, which brought out great numbers of collectors, as this two-day event has really struck a chord with the collecting public. This sale featured a wonderful selection of shipwreck treasure from SS Central America, including the unparalleled Supernova, a wonderfully toned and completely original 1857-S $20. Also in this auction was the Issaquah Collection, featuring Mint State Seated Liberty and Peace dollars, the Wolverine Collection, and the PUG Collection of several series, all extremely high-end and eye-appealing.
June brought us back to the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and saw another record-setting sale. Starting with the Hunter Collection of Draped Bust and Capped Bust silver coinage, the sale got off to an incredibly hot start. Also in the sale was the Hickory Ridge Collection, a wonderful set of collector grade Peace dollars. The unquestioned highlights of this sale, however, were the 1931-S and 1938-S Mercury dimes, both finest known for the date, which brought incredible world record prices of $270,250 and $364,250 respectively, the latter being a world-record price for the series.
After June, we didn’t have another sale until September, where we had a world-class offering at the world-class Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas. The highlight collections of this sale were the Hanover Collection of Lincoln cent varieties and the Meridien Collection of Proof Liberty nickels. Both collections were carefully assembled for quality, and their results reflected that. With the Meridien Collection, we saw the beginning of what would become a small boom in the nickel market, which continued throughout the rest of the year.
In October we returned to New Orleans for the second time and hosted our special Regency Event. Featuring only collections assembled by our sister firm Legend Numismatics, this auction was a highlight of the numismatic calendar, as it contained cover to cover highlights. The CC Collection that Should Not Exist, AMG Collection, Young-Dakota Part II, and Coronet Gold Collections all brought our serious bidders and strong results as you would expect from such carefully curated selections. The highlight for me was the sale of the Stella, as they are always a treat to catalog and examine.
Our last sale of the year took place just a couple of weeks ago and marked the final time we would be going to the Cosmo for the foreseeable future. We left with a bang, as they say, setting 23 world-record prices across all denominations. Specifically, the Trzaska Collection of Proof nickels performed exceptionally well, netting several world-record prices and a total price realized well in excess of our estimates. We could not be happier to have closed the year with such a strong showing.
What’s Next – Foresight is 2020
Taking into account all of the changes we have made this year, and all the results we have put together, we are extremely proud of what we have accomplished.
But rather than rest on that success, we are pushing forward to make next year even better (we are always striving to improve where we can).
Our January sale is about to go live for bidding, and the quality assembled in it is absolutely incredible. We know that there is something for everyone in this sale and cannot wait to see who the new happy owners will be when the auction closes. We are also extremely excited to be hosting our first East Coast stand-alone sale in March, and have several amazing consignments in-house already to make it a must-see event. Our mission is to keep advancing from these successes so that we can continue to provide the community with the absolute best in auctions, coins, and customer service.
From all of us to all of you, thank you for making 2019 great, and we can’t wait to work with you in 2020.
* * *
Legend Rare Coin Auctions (LRCA), based in Lincroft, NJ, is a boutique-style rare coin auction firm.
Connect with Legend Rare Coin Auctions on social media: