By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek….
For dealers and collectors at the top end of the U.S. rare coin market, all eyes will be on the beautiful Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada at 5:00 pm local time (8:00 pm Eastern) as Legend Rare Coin Auctions starts live bidding for Regency Auction X.
Headlining the 338 hand-selected premium lot offering is the spectacular “Number One Finest of All Time” Simpson Collection of Barber dimes.
(Barber dimes were produced from 1892-1916. They feature a handsome bust of Liberty in a neo-classical style on the obverse and the denomination spelled out as ONE DIME, surrounded by a vegetal wreath, on the reverse. The dimes make up one wing of the triptych of Barber coins named after Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber, their designer.)
There are not enough superlatives to describe the quality of this dime collection and its historical importance. The collection has sat atop the PCGS Set Registry leaderboard in all of the major Barber dime categories for more than 10 years. And while there are a number of serious collectors in the series, no publicly-known collection comes close to these sets, which were constructed over the course of the last two decades.
The superior Simpson collection pre-dates the Set Registry phenomenon. Construction of the set began in 1994, when Legend Numismatics’ customer “Mr. Law” (the collector’s true identity isn’t widely known to the public) set out to assemble the finest set of Barber dimes possible. PCGS launched Set Registry in 2001. Shortly thereafter, NGC followed suit.
After 15 years of hard work and with the help of Legend Numismatics, Mr. Law achieved his goal. At the time he sold his collection to XTO-Energy co-founder and Texas Rangers co-owner Bob R. Simpson in 2009, the Law Collection was, without question, the finest collection of Barber dimes ever assembled.
In the five years since, Simpson and Legend continued to improve upon Law by doggedly pursuing finest known Barber dimes whenever they appeared on the market. And while this collection forms only a minor part of Simpson’s awesome and still-growing coin portfolio, the offering is a major event for collectors in this underappreciated yet important series.
According to PCGS’ Set Registry calculations, the Simpson Collection has a weighted Grade Point Average of 66.73, based on current rules. The second place set, the Lily Brown Collection, scores 66.41, six one-hundredths of a point behind the Simpson collection as composed when Law sold it.
There Will Be a New Set Registry Award Winner in 2015 in the Barber Dime Series
The sale of the Simpson coins assures that we will see a new Set Registry Award winner or winners in the Barber dime major categories in 2015. Which collections take the top spots will probably be determined as the Regency X auction proceeds.
23 of Simpson’s Barber dimes are top-pop, “population 1” coins. Among them are Simpson’s incredible 1892-S, 1894, 1898-O and 1907-D dimes, and two breathtaking MS68+ examples struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1910 and 1911–which, to our eyes, may be the two finest Barber dimes known.
Tabulating the Barber dime collection’s value based on Legend Rare Coin Auction’s individual lot pre-sale estimates, we come up with $895,185 total for 77 coins. Of that total, 40 coins are expected to bring more than $10,000 each, led by Simpson’s 1895-O (PCGS MS66 , Lot 69). Legend estimates the PQ rarity should bring $50,000+.
This seems like a fair statement, considering that the last 1895-O of this quality sold at auction brought $52,900 at an August 2006 Heritage Sale. That coin, an attractive sea-foam green and goldenrod toner, has since upgraded to MS66+ (Pop 1, none finer) and currently resides in the Lily Brown Collection.
Legend describes the Simpson specimen as having “moderate golden brown/creamy white colors”, with superb eye appeal and satiny frost. It and the Lily Brown coin are the only two MS66 1895-O dimes ever certified by PCGS.
Simpson Set Offers Plenty of Affordable Options for Ultimate Type Set Collectors
Not all of the great Simpson Barber dimes need end up in “great” collections.
A number of the coins in the set, especially the common dates, are expected to bring less than $10,000 each. Perhaps upwards of a dozen will be in play at prices below $5,000-$6,000.
Here the collectors’ maxim holds true: buy the best coins you can afford and you’ll do alright.
But when it comes to the coins in this set, you’ll probably do more than alright by snagging one or more of these PQ eye appeal, conditionally-rare Barbers at current market levels.
Among the coins that a savvy-yet-adventurous 20th century type set collector might want to keep an eye on are Simpson’s 1901, 1903, 1906-S, 1907, 1913, and 1915 dimes, to name a few.
Of those, the following are standouts:
- The 1903 (PCGS MS66 , Lot 92, estimated price: $2,500+) exhibits “strong, booming headlight luster” and is crisply struck and attractively toned, with an autumnal blend of gold, orange, and green.
- The 1906-S (PCGS MS66 , Lot 104, estimated price $2,000+) is described as having “frosty white [surfaces] with a strong hint of gold”.
- Simpson’s 1907 (PCGS MS66+ , Lot 105, estimated price: $2,000+) is a pop 4 coin (one higher). A hint of color peaks out from underneath its otherwise brilliant surfaces.
- The 1913 (PCGS MS66+, Lot 126) and 1915 (PCGS MS66+, Lot 131) Barber dimes are both tied for top pop and represent a good value in today’s market–specially the 1915, which, despite its original mintage of 5.62 million pieces, is much tougher to find in Gem Mint State than the numbers suggest.
CoinWeek’s coverage of the Regency X Auction will continue next week when we look at Legend Rare Coin Auction’s offering of the Sunset Hill Proof Morgan Dollar Collection.