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By Jim Bisognani for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
February closed out with considerable numismatic acclaim with the first Long Beach Expo for 2018 in the books. This winter expo was held the latest that I can ever recall (February 22-24), but the wait was well worth it, on so many fronts.

The Ship of Gold display, a dazzling array of undersea treasure rescued from SS Central America, was the scene of long viewing lines, and the “Tyrant Collection” of world rarities generated considerable talk on the bourse, too. For those attending, this was a grand experience as to what numismatics at its best is all about: history, education and hands-on learning about rare monetary antiquities.

As always, the Long Beach Expo is a major venue for our industry, and based on the dealers and collectors in attendance, this longstanding West Coast event was certainly bolstered by the media attention to the Ship of Gold display, which equated to more floor traffic by collector and curious newcomers.

With its diverse and exciting offerings, the Heritage Long Beach Signature sale was a barnburner, concluding with an online-only session on February 27. In total, the seven-session affair captured a powerful $20.7 million.

For data mavens, this total easily eclipsed the combined Long Beach winter show proceeds from the past two years. In fact, this is the largest dollar total for a winter Long Beach sale since the 2008 edition that pulled in nearly $24 million. For reference as to the strength of this edition, a tally of total sales dollars generated by the previous eight winter Long Beach sales (there was no LB sale in 2014) averaged just $9.8 million.

A lot of factors to consider, but certainly holding the Expo this late into February gave many dealers (and collectors) the opportunity to get funding in order after all the cash doled out at FUN. Of course, great coins and an insatiable appetite for quality never hurt.

Auction Highlights

Of course, I had to review results, and checked on several of my favorites first.

As I mentioned in my previous installment, my favorite colonial, the finest-known 1787 Massachusetts Half Cent Ryder 4-C, graded NGC MS 65 RB, did me proud, realizing $19,200. This surpassed its last appearance at the 2015 Winter FUN Heritage sale by 36%.

As I had also referenced in my previous column, the fabulous Admiral Collection of Liberty Eagles was a major draw, and the famed ultra-rare 1875 Gold Eagle, graded NGC AU 50, thundered to $372,000, a record for the grade, a record for any 1875 $10 business strike and also the top performer at the winter 2018 Heritage LB Signature sale. Ladies and gentleman, I present you the Queen!

The entire run of Admiral’s Gold Eagles was extraordinarily well received by collectors and dealers; their announcement at the podium was the scene of voracious and, in many instances, record-setting bidding!

The quartet of Liberty Eagles that I had written about in the previous chapter all made market-defining statements! Take a look at the pre-March Madness, which shadowed these captivating mid-19th-century gold coins.

One of my favorites, the delightful-to-look-at and finest numerically NGC MS 61 1854-O raced to a record for the coin, pulling in $26,400.

The 1859 $10 Lib, graded NGC MS 63, the finest known by grade (and appearance, in my estimation), powered to a record-setting $66,000!

The 1859-O, graded NGC AU 58, the rarest of the New Orleans deliveries, roared to $50,400, which is a record price for the grade and is almost double the price realized ($25,300) for the last NGC AU 58-graded coin, auctioned by the Goldbergs in their Pre-Long Beach sale nine years ago!

The 1867-S Liberty Eagle graded NGC AU 58 was another astounding performer, sprinting to a record $45,600. This represents nearly 2.6 times the price realized when the last NGC AU 58 example sold, at the Heritage US Coin Signature Sale in New York just four years ago!

An Admirable Performance

In fact, of the 82 Admiral Collection Liberty Gold Eagles graded by NGC, the rare and rarely seen and finest-knowns performed, well, admirably!

Take a look at the records achieved for Liberty Eagles at Heritage’s Long Beach Signature sale:

  • 1844 NGC MS 63: $72,000, a record price for coin (finest known)
  • 1847 NGC MS 61: $4,080, a record price for grade!
  • 1851 NGC MS 62: $13,200, a record price for grade!
  • 1853/2 NGC MS 62: $43,200, a record price for coin (finest known)
  • 1858-S NGC AU 50: $7,800, a record price for grade!
  • 1860-S NGC AU 55: $31,200, a record price for the grade!
  • 1862 NGC MS 60: $16,800, a record price for the grade!
  • 1862-S NGC AU 58: $43,200, a record price for the grade!
  • 1865-S NGC MS 60: $90,000, a record price for the coin!
  • 1866-S No Motto NGC MS 60: $50,400, a record price for coin (finest known)!
  • 1866-S Motto NGC XF 45: $6,600, a record price for grade!
  • 1869-S NGC MS 61: $43,200, a record price for coin (tied for finest known)!
  • 1870-S NGC AU 58: $26,400, a record price for the grade!
  • 1872-CC NGC XF 45: $25,200, a record price for the grade!
  • 1872-S NGC MS 60: $25,200, a record price for grade and coin!
  • 1873-CC NGC AU 55: $66,000, a record price for grade and coin!
  • 1875-CC NGC MS 60: $84,000, a record price for grade and coin!
  • 1876-S NGC AU 58: $33,600, a record price for grade and coin!
  • 1877-S NGC MS 61: $31,200, a record price and tied for finest known!
  • 1879-CC NGC AU 53: $48,120, a record price for the grade!
  • 1880-CC NGC MS 62: $90,000, a record price for coin, tied for finest known!
  • 1881-O NGC MS 60: $16,800, a record price for grade!
  • 1884-CC NGC AU 58: $26,400, a record price for the grade!
  • 1885 NGC MS 66: $66,000, a record price for coin, finest known!
  • 1893-CC NGC AU 58: $9,600, a record price for the grade!
  • 1894-S NGC MS 60: $4,080, a record price for the grade!
  • 1903 NGC MS 65: $10,800, a record price for the grade!
  • 1869 NGC PF 61 Cameo: $38,400, a record price for the grade!

In total, 33 NGC-graded coins (that is, 40%) either shattered prices for grade or established new individual record prices for the above-listed Liberty Gold Eagles! Based on this or any market I can recall, this is truly incredible!

Hey, March is here and the promise of spring is tantalizingly close. More daylight, and soon the time will come for all of us New Englanders to shed our winter cocoon… ah! I certainly will be busy updating the NGC Price Guide on Gold Eagles!

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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