World Coins—Something Exciting For Everyone; Golden State Collector Recommends Kennedy Half Dollar Series
By Jim Bisognani – Numismatic Guaranty Corporation ……
It has been a busy and exciting time around the Windy City this late April. Both hometown baseball teams–the White Sox and the Cubs–are off to great starts each leading their respective divisions. The numismatic world is also enjoying sustained major-league excitement. First up world coin aficionados had a field day at the Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) viewing and purchasing some of the best big-league numismatic offerings on the bourse and had fun slugging it out for other treasures at Heritage’s World & Ancient Coins Signature Auction in Rosemont, Illinois, As we go to press, the doors have just opened for the gala 77th Annual Central States Numismatic Society convention! A great early season numismatic doubleheader!
The just concluded Heritage World & Ancient Signature sale powered to a solid $6.3 million. A diverse and high grade grouping of ancients was well received as were British Commonwealth, South American and European gold rarities. A multitude of high-grade collector friendly copper and silver minors rounded out this quality sale.
Not surprisingly it was a trio of golden treasures each averaging nearly 400 years of age graded by NGC that tied for top bragging rights!
Sweden 1640 6H-W Christina 4 Ducat Gold NGC AU 53 $64,625 [Left]
Poland Livonia (1559-61) Double Gulden (2-3/8 Ducat) NGC XF 45 $64,625
Brazil 1646 Dutch Colony 6 Florins NGC MS 62 $64,625
Yet for me it was the spectacular and popular world minor collector coins from the four corners that I was excited about. For reference of the nearly 3,600 lots appearing in the sale, 61% realized under $1,000. Some of my personal favorites included following NGC-certified offerings:
Australia 1956-P Penny NGC PF 65 RB $3,290
I’ve always had a passion for this issue. When I have a chance I like to pick up the occasional full red kangaroo penny from the land down under. This penny, one of a mere 417 pieces struck as a proof at the Perth facility also tops the NGC Census as the finest within the RB designation. Popular theme, low mintage Australian proof coins from the mid 1950s are still undervalued in my opinion.
German East Africa 1891 Pesa NGC MS 66 RD $282
This vibrant copper coin minted during the reign of Wilhelm II from this German colony is certainly not a rare coin yet it is a difficult issue to come by in this ultra-grade. According to the NGC Census this vibrant copper is tied for the finest know. A marvelous type coin!
Costa Rica: Central American Republic gold 4 Escudos 1837 CR-E AU58 NGC
Essentially Mint State and choice for the designation with very faint flatness of the highest points but showing boldly struck details and flashy mint brilliance. Faint handling evidence seen on the top of the mountains on the obverse and on the reverse fields yet a most attractive example, rare and highly desirable in this fine preservation.
Great Britain 1708 Queen Anne Shilling NGC MS 65 $1,763
A truly stupendous coin from the mother country. A silver coin over 300-year-old in this condition is truly mind-boggling. The color palette and the strike are exemplary. When I see coins like this I try to draw a parallel between their US counterparts. Think if a US Colonial silver coin or early quarter dollar came to market in like grade what would it bring? Quite amazingly according to the NGC Census two other like shillings of this type have achieved MS 66 status although it’s hard to believe that one would be as captivating and original as this one.
Mexico 1913 Caballito Peso NGC MS 66 $2,233
A stunning example of the emblematic and historic Mexican Republic Caballito peso. A highly popular type coin with collectors the world over, this coin is just exceptional, frosty white accented with glowing golden copper peripheries. According to the NGC Census only a pair of pesos of this date grade 1 point higher.
Peru 1757 LM JM 8 Reales NGC MS 62 $3,055
A solid and stately representative of this historic crown size silver coin that circulated freely in North America, was accepted on par with our own country’s currency “officially” for a century after the release of this Ferdinand VI colonial issue. I have and I am sure countless other collectors have admired this “Pillar Dollar” since first becoming acquainted with her in the introductory pages of the Red Book. For me it was exactly 50 years ago as I was leafing through my first 1966 edition. Especially elusive in mint state, I think the coin belongs in every US coin collector’s collection.
French Protectorate – Mohammed V gold 50 Francs Off-metal Strike
Lecompte states that there is one example, in the Currency Museum of the Bank Al-Maghrib in Rabat. The strike is bold with lightly toned surfaces. Close examination reveals faint hairline scratches on both sides, and on the rims. Possibly, only the second known example of this extremely rare gold striking.
Russia 1802 EM Alexander I Denga (½ Kopeck) NGC MS 65 RD $999
A stunning, blazing red copper coin struck at the turn of the 19th century from Imperial Russia. The extraordinary glowing orange color and high relief strike (KM# N356) make this perhaps otherwise more pedestrian looking minor copper coin a standout. Again the preservation and beauty of this piece speaks volumes about its care during the last two centuries. Now it is proudly holdered in a NGC slab for future generations to enjoy, very rarely encountered in this state of preservation and presently the only one listed within the NGC Census.
I also connected with a Golden State collector acquaintance, on their way to CSNS whom I hadn’t seen for several years. The last time in fact was February 2012 at the Long Beach Expo. Where does the time go?
Renee, hailing from Torrance California refers to herself as “a collector of many things” antiques, watches, ephemera, etc. She always liked coins too and wanted to become involved but never had the time to get out and experience what it is all about.
That all changed and rather abruptly when she was assigned the task of assisting with manning the booth of one of my dealer friends at the Long Beach Expo. She really got to see what the numismatic hobby and business was really like.
Per Renee, “I mean all the coins, the condition, pricing, and what to look for was overwhelming. I am a people person and I enjoyed assisting and talking to collectors getting my feet wet. I learned so much. Indian cents, buffalo nickels and walking liberty half dollars were all coins that I had been aware of but seeing them preserved in the NGC holders and so many of them looking like new was amazing to me. I mean someone had to save and protect them until they were eventually graded. It was mind-boggling to me. I really respect that and I can see why collectors are so fastidious.”
According to Renee, one of her favorite US coins remains the Kennedy half dollar. When I asked her why she said that it was a coin that she always admired and seemed to gravitate to and would pull them out of circulation when she had the opportunity to do so. Like many individuals the “infrequency” of Kennedy halves appearing in general circulation gave the illusion that the coins were scarce.
“I now know that they are not and after being at several shows it is quite obvious. But I like the first year silver issue of 1964. I think the ones called Ultra Cameo, those with the accented hair are really great-looking coins as well as a great tribute to the president. I mean the Eisenhower dollar in comparison is really ugly. I mean excuse me, but that portrait just doesn’t do justice to Eisenhower especially when you compare it to the Kennedy half dollar.”
Renee told me that she is collecting both mint state and proof coins and presently has them housed in a Dansco album but will get some of the better coins “officially” graded soon. Renee certainly has the collecting bug although her significant other Tony doesn’t.
“Yes, I’m really happy with the hobby. There is still so much to learn. While I’m doing this, Tony does his own thing. Hey, I did well so far.”
I concur with my friend that the Kennedy half series is one that is a great starting point for collectors of all ages and all budgets. There are no real stoppers. It is and remains one of the most popular US series.
So if you’re lucky enough to make it to Central States enjoy the experience my friends. The huge bourse floor and the exciting Heritage Signature Auction will offer up many opportunities!
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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