By Jim Bisognani for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation….
Long Beach Expo—Heritage Signature Auction Provides Punch; Coins Priced in the “Wheelhouse” Are Surging.
The just-concluded Long Beach Expo Coin Show, referred to as the “summer session” even though the official start of the summer season is a few weeks away, was a rousing success no matter what you call it. Attendance was solid; collectors were scouring the bourse floor intent on making acquisitions. Dealers were busy with pre-coin-show activities and most reported well above average sales.
Terry, a native Golden Stater, advised that he was anxious to add a few Mint State Capped Bust Half Dollars to his growing collection. “I really have a fondness for these coins, especially the original toned ones.” The collector went on to say, “They don’t have to be Mint State—just have that great eye appeal. I don’t mind paying a premium. In most cases I pay more than Mint State money for AU 55 to AU 58 coins.” Terry told me that he has collected this series for over 20 years and has never gotten tired of looking at the coins. “The coins just have to have the right look and moderate toning, then I am a buyer.”
A collector by the name of Missy G informed me that she got started with collecting coins though her dad. “When we were kids, we would go through dad’s pocket change at the end of the day and pull out silver coins. This was back in the early 1970s when you could still find some silver coins in change.” Missy G told me that even though the kids were searching for silver she started collecting Lincoln Cents. “They were cheaper, and I was able to get a complete run from 1940, sans that 55 Double in less than 6 months. Then I started back tracking and have gotten the entire set except that 55 Double.” This collector with roots in my native New England said that her collection ranges from VF to Mint State Red grades. “I’m looking at a couple of nice NGC AU 55 coins and will definitely be taking home one of them. Then my set will be complete, hallelujah! Then I can just work on upgrading coins.”
I caught up with the always-amicable Ian Russell, the President of Great Collections, to get his take on the coin show. “Surprisingly, the Long Beach coin show last week was perhaps our busiest Long Beach ever. We gathered a record number of consignments, while showing highlights from our upcoming auctions. Consignments included a Pan-Pac Octagonal $50 NGC MS 64, which will be featured in one of our upcoming auctions, as well as a comprehensive collection of Liberty Gold Eagles. We also have a very impressive selection of Chinese Unicorns and Pandas coming up at auction unreserved, all graded by NGC.”
As for hot sellers right now, according to Russell, “I’m finding $20 Saints very strong at the moment in our auctions. A few four-figure Ancients graded by NGC are attracting a lot of interest in our auctions. Bidding ends June 28 on those.”
Well-known dealer Bob Green, the President of Park Avenue Numismatics, was equally enthusiastic. “This Long Beach coin show was unusually brisk. Traffic was steady and we sold nearly one third of our inventory! We made some great purchases as well. There were two auctions just prior to the show and the Heritage Auction was strong. Overall, one of the best Long Beach shows in recent memory.”
According to Green, dealers were very active buying for the upcoming Baltimore, Summer FUN and ANA shows later this summer.
Another dealer advised that business was booming and sales at his table were incredible. “We’ve had more action at my table than I can recall at any Long Beach coin show.”
Brian Hodge of LMRC relayed to me that their highlight NGC acquisition at the show was a rare 1853 Moffat $20 graded NGC MS 61 and their highlight NGC sale in Long Beach was a 1795 Draped Bust Half Eagle graded NGC AU 53.
While the convention floor was buzzing with considerable activity, the Long Beach Signature Auction by Heritage was quite the draw and cause for commotion in the port of Long Beach venue.
This summer Signature Auction by Heritage showcased the exceptional depth and strength in the numismatic arena. As we go to press, the sale is at $17 million and counting. This auction’s total realized is also very significant. By my research, the last time a Long Beach signature sale eclipsed this dollar amount was in September 2013. However, this just-concluded summer sale ranks right up there with the record setting 2008 June Long Beach sale which generated $19.1 million. I remember the sale well; that summer session was just a few short months before the financial crisis and mortgage market collapse which brought our economy and the world’s to the brink in September of that year. Luckily we rebounded rather well and our beloved coin market has come a long way since then.
Interestingly that June 2008 sale had slightly over 7,500 lots and the average price per lot was a little over $2,500 per coin. Fifty-seven percent of the coins sold were in the under $1,000 price point and 37% resided in the $1,000 to $10,000 category. The just-concluded sale in June 2015 featured approximately 4,400 lots boosting the average price realized to approximately $3,900 per lot—nearly a 55% increase over the prices realized in the 2008 Summer Signature sale. Perhaps more telling, this 2015 sale reveals the figures are basically reversed. Only 35% of the coins sold fell in the under $1,000 category whereas 60% were in the $1,000 to $10,000 category. Perhaps a bit of surprise is that the five and six figure coins sold were virtually in the same percentage territory, claiming 4.4% of the lots sold in 2008 versus just a shade over 5% at the just concluded 2015 sale.
While silver dollars and double eagles accounted for the lions share within these price parameters, there were some superb better date type coins and key date collector coins that fell right in the popular “wheelhouse” price point. By reestablishing strength and vitality in the marketplace, collectors and investors are once again inspired, targeting rarities and key coins in high-grade. NGC-certified coins performed admirably at this Southern California venue.
Below are a group of NGC-certified coins from the Heritage Long Beach Signature sale: key dates, first and last years of issue and scarce varieties. All the coins are highly collectible and in great demand.
- 1909-S Indian Cent NGC MS 63 RB $1,528. The final year of the popular Indian series and the rarer of the two San Francisco Branch Mint deliveries is a coin with superb eye appeal, collectability and is always in great demand.
- 1851 Three Cent Silver NGC MS 67 $6,643. Wow, first year of issue and just an amazing, totally dazzling white gem!
- 1912-S Liberty Nickel NGC MS 63 $2,350. Solid eye appeal, one of the key dates to the Liberty Nickel series and the only San Francisco Mint delivery for this final collectible year coin.
- 1916/16 Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Obverse NGC VG 10 $8,813. For the Buffalo specialist, the doubled die never goes out of style. This is a premium low-grade example.
- 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dime NGC VF 35 $3,760. Highly desirable type coin of the Flowing Hair variety and by far the most affordable. This example is totally original and has wonderful eye appeal. Another great collector coin!
- 1800 Draped Bust Dime NGC AU 58 $8,813. A great bargain for the dime collector or early silver type specialist.
- 1892 Barber Dime NGC MS 67 $2,585. First year issue with the pizzazz and punch that is so infrequently encountered on this issue.
- 1932 Washington Quarter NGC MS 66 $3,525. Sublime eye appeal endows this inaugural Washington Quarter! Another record price!
- 1937 Washington Quarter NGC MS 68 $6,463. The finest known and just a dazzling representative. Worthy of the record price!
Until next time, happy collecting!
Jim Bisognani has written extensively on US coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.