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Coin Pricing: Always a Mystery

By C. Logan McKechnieVamsandMore.com  [The View, Vol. 2 – Issue 8] ……
When it comes to confusing coin pricing, April was in like a lion and out like a lamb. It was a month that produced the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Perhaps the biggest steal of the month, maybe of the year, was the astute buyer who snatched a copy of the King of VAMs at the Heritage Auction. The 1878-P VAM 44 in a PCGS AU55 holder went for $3,682 USD. Pricing history and the 2013 VAMview Retail Price Guide lists the coin at $10,000.

“I didn’t need it, but I couldn’t pass it up,” the new owner said.

Another steal was another Heritage listing. A buyer grabbed an 1878-P VAM 40 in an ANACS MS64 DMPL holder for $1,410. The expected price for that coin in that grade should have been $6,000.

vam44_obvNeither lucky buyer would win in a poker game with an alert eBay bidder. There, an 1878-P VAM 166 in an ANACS VF35 holder went off the monitor at $500. The normal retail price on the coin is $2,700.

Other remarkable buys in April included an 1878-P VAM 14.6 in a NGC MS64 DMPL holder that was sold by Heritage for $4,406 with a retail value of $10,000. Two examples of the 1878-CC VAM 19A in PCGS MS62 also found new homes in April. The coin, which has an expected retail value of $3,000, was exchanged at a coin show for $1,800 and between private parties for $1,000.

An 1878-P VAM 32 in a PCGS MS61 DMPL holder sold on eBay for $1,005, a new low for the coin. The suggested retail price is $1,400 in that grade.

But all was not down the slippery slope during the month. Several coins stayed right in the price range as expected. Among them were: 1878-P VAM 14.9 in a PCGS EF45 holder that sold for $1,150 between private parties. The retail price listed is $1,500.

  • 1878-P VAM 31 in NGC MS64 sold on eBay for $331. Retail price listed is $300.
  • 1878-P VAM 188 in PCGS AU50 also sold on eBay for $650. Retail price listed is $625.

As always is with the pricing of coins, there were some that just take off. April was no different.

An 1878-S VAM 57, a long nock, hit the high notes with both the highest grade publicly exchanged and the highest price publicly recorded. The coin in a PCGS MS62 holder was sold between private parties for $12,000. The VAMview Retail Price Guide gives its highest price and grade of $9,000 for an MS61 example.

Heritage, which had several of the lower sales, saw an 1878-P VAM 31 in NGC MS63 DMPL go for $881, compared to a suggested retail price for the coin of $375.

And, while The VIEW suggested in the last edition that the glow may have been diminished for the 1880-P VAM 39A, a couple of private parties went a long way in showing that the coin is not losing its luster. An MS63 example in a PCGS holder was sold for $1,800. Before there was any talk about a reduction in value, the same coin had a suggested retail price of $1,500.

Dennis Halladay records all public sales of VAMs for the VAMview historical record and as the fodder for compiling the numbers for the annual VAMview Retail Price Guide.

In April, he listed dozens upon dozens of prices. But the month was probably summed up best by the sale of three coins in the April Heritage auction. In that auction, there were three 1888-O VAM 1B coins sold. Commonly called the Scarface, the coins have been highly sought after by collectors across the spectrum, from hardcore to casual. These coins, all housed in PCGS holders, sold as follows:

  • MS63 for $9,988, with a suggested retail price of $14,000.
  • MS62 for $8,813, with a suggest retail price of $10,000,
  • MS61 for $8,225, with a suggest retail price of $6,600.


Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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