by Jim Bisognani for NGC ……

Stack’s Bowers And Heritage Auctions Each Claim Over $10 Million; Silver Demand On The Rise; Quality Courts Strong Demand–Average Type Drifts Lower.

Early fall has been the scene of much activity in numismatic circles. October ended on a positive note, as the last installment for 2014 of the Whitman Expo Baltimore edition is a wrap. By all accounts, it was a well-attended and busy venue. Thanks to strategic planning, positive direction, and due diligence by the show’s organizers, the Whitman Expo has been gaining strength and popularity. Visibly, a larger, more enthusiastic, and voracious audience is becoming the norm for the Baltimore show, especially for this edition, which for many dealers is the last national event for them of the calendar year.

Several dealers with whom I spoke advised that while sales were active in the picturesque Baltimore Inner Harbor, mid-range coins, those in $10K plus tier which were selling feverishly early in the year, had more tire-kickers this time around. Conversely, and perhaps not all that surprisingly, coins projecting knockout eye appeal and established rarity, regardless of the price tier, seem to continue to sell with very little resistance. However, as quality still courts strong demand, average type coins have drifted even lower.

Norse-American Centennial Medal. Copper.
UNIQUE 1925 Norse-American Centennial Medal. Copper. Proof-63 BN (NGC)

A well-known gold coin dealer from Florida corroborated this, relaying that he still has a very active client base anxious to secure scarce and high-grade Liberty and Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles. According to this reliable source, “Quality coins continue to find immediate homes at virtually all price points, but specifically, those in the $20,000 range… I’m having no problem selling them as soon as I can locate them. A problem is fending off the collectors, as well as dealers, at auction and on the floor.”

Another dealer who makes his bread-and-butter in more bullion-related coins advised me that he has, “Taken a shellacking with his gold coins,” but he has also actually made up some of the losses in silver dollar (primarily Morgans) trade, as well as in Silver Eagles. “It seems as silver spot price drops, more collectors/investors are ringing me up wanting to buy, figuring that they will probably be getting more bang for their buck.”

I certainly can concur with that statement, perhaps not so coincidentally with silver trading at levels not seen since early in 2010; the demand for Silver Eagles has put a considerable strain on the US Mint’s supply train for the 2014 coins. In fact, with so much demand, they have actually curtailed sales of the ever popular Silver Eagle coin, as their supplies are exhausted.

According to a press release from the US Mint on November 5, “Due to the tremendous demand we have experienced in the last several weeks, the US Mint has temporarily sold out of its American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins. We continue to produce 2014-dated coins and will advise you when additional inventory will be available for sale.”

At this point, while the US Mint scrambles to replenish its silver inventory for the 2014 issues, coins of this and other years (which are still available through the network of dealers) should certainly be selling quite rapidly between now and the end of the year. More than one dealer has chimed in with, “I think these will make great stocking stuffers this year.” I can’t argue with that. For under $20, instead of an iTunes download, a CD or DVD, a couple of brilliant white Silver Eagles would be a great way to introduce a newer generation to this great hobby. At least, that’s my opinion.

Also in Baltimore, another major auction sale presented by the host Stack’s Bowers captured a solid $10.5 million, according to the firm’s amiable Executive Vice President, Chris Karstedt. This diverse and spectacular catalog presented something for virtually everyone’s collecting taste and budget. Some of the more interesting and enticing NGC highlights from the Stack’s Bowers Winter 2014 Sale included these phenomenally preserved and exquisitely toned numismatic artifacts:

  • 1865 Two Cent Piece NGC PF 66 RD Cameo $6,463
  • 1853 Three Cent Silver NGC MS 67 $4,994
  • 1869 Three Cent Silver NGC PF 68 Cameo $11,456
  • 1797 15 Stars Draped Bust Half Dime NGC AU 55 $7,638
  • 1925-S Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 66 $23,999 (Tied for finest known)
  • 1853 Arrows Liberty Seated Dime NGC PF 65 $34,075
  • 1876 Twenty Cent Piece NGC MS 66 $10,869
  • 1848 Liberty Seated Quarter NGC MS 66 $11,750
  • 1853-O Arrows and Rays Liberty Seated Quarter NGC MS 66 $28,200
  • 1893 Isabella Quarter NGC PF 65 Cameo $9,400(Finest known)
  • 1887 Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC MS 67 $7,638
  • 1919 Walking Liberty Half Dollar NGC MS 65 $6,463
  • 1940-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar NGC MS 67 $5,875
  • 1901 Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo $28,200
  • 1798 Large Eagle Large 8 14 Stars Draped Bust Half Eagle NGC AU 55 $25,850
  • 1894 Liberty Half Eagle NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo $58,750
  • 1865 Liberty Double Eagle NGC MS 62 $11,765
  • 1872-CC Liberty Double Eagle NGC AU 55 $21,150
  • 1873-CC Liberty Double Eagle NGC AU 55 $17,038
  • 1925 Norse American Centennial Copper Medal NGC PF 63 BN $32,900 (Unique)
  • 1853 Moffat United States Assay Office $20 NGC MS 68 $35,250

Amazingly, before the middle of November, another pair of significant auctions will be vying for collectors’ and dealers’ attention. As we go to press, the Heritage Signature Auction Beverly Hills edition has concluded in the Golden State. Running November 6-10, the six session, nearly 5,000 lot affair, generated a rather impressive $10.2 million. Considering the multitude of Internet-only and live auctions competing for the numismatic brethren, it’s inevitable that a bargain or two will slip through the cracks. However, the overall prices realized in the Golden State were certainly in line with most market expectations and value guide assessments. Also, the sale boasted a solid sell through rate of nearly 95%. Quality type coins, better dates from most series were targeted and, of course, gold, which led the way individually and on a dollar basis. Once again, mid-range price coins were in vogue, with the sale’s top prices realized going to an ever popular 1907 $20 High Relief Saint-Gaudens graded NGC MS 66; that captured $64,625. This is the first sale of this scope in a long time where a single coin has not eclipsed six figures. Interestingly, on a percentage basis, the biggest winner was a 1954 Proof Washington Quarter NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo. One of six coins graded as such on the cusp of numismatic perfection by NGC, it roared to $12,925, which is nearly 3 times the NGC US Coin Price Guide valuation. Not surprisingly, this is also a record price for this date and grade combination. It’s also interesting to note that the last time this exact coin appeared at auction was at the Long Beach Signature Sale in September 2006, where this dazzling baby boomer coin generated $4,600.

NGC highlights of Heritage’s November Beverly Hills Signature Auction include:

  • 1856 Flying Eagle Cent NGC PF 64 $15,275
  • 1806 Pointed 6, Stems Draped Bust Half Dollar NGC MS 64 $30,550 (Finest known)
  • 1870 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo $39,363 (Finest known)
  • 1842-C Small Date Liberty Half Eagle NGC XF 45 $13,527
  • 1797 Large Eagle Draped Bust Eagle NGC AU 58 $32,900
  • 1882-S Liberty Eagle NGC MS 65 $28,200 (Tied for finest known and record price paid)
  • 1907 Flat Rim $20 Saint-Gaudens High Relief NGC MS 66 $64,625
  • 1922 Grant with Star Half Dollar NGC MS 66 $10,575
  • 1905 Lewis and Clark Gold Dollar NGC MS 67 $30,550

As this article posts, if you haven’t made final preparations to attend the Eric P. Newman Collection Part V auction, hop on a jet, or, if you are within driving distance, get in your car, and make a beeline for the Big Apple. For everybody else, get online and view the tremendous auction catalog. This sale pedigreed to the noted numismatist and researcher extraordinaire is indeed a treasure. Featuring superb iconic Colonial issues, this event, will certainly get the temperature and bidding paddles rising for everyone that enjoys and revels in this segment of numismatics. Coins from our country’s proud pre- and post-Revolutionary era, as well as Federal rarities which have not been on the market for untold decades, will be available for expert collectors and dealers to wage battle for the nearly thousand lots in this remarkable event. Held at the historic Waldorf Astoria in New York City, this sale offers a few of my favorite NGC-certified highlights, and will be biased towards Colonial installments.

  • 1776 New Hampshire Pine Tree Copper NGC VG 8 (About the finest one could hope to find. Mr. Newman paid the princely sum of $300 for this coin.)
  • 1776 Brass Continental Dollar NGC MS 62
  • 1787 Raised Rims, Cross After Date Fugio Copper Cent NGC MS 64 BN
  • 1787 Liber Natus, Indian Excelsior Copper NGC AU 50
  • 1783 Large Date Chalmers Sixpence NGC AU 55
  • 1792 Eagle & Stars Reverse Washington Cent NGC XF 40
  • 1792 Plain Edge Washington Getz Pattern Cent NGC MS 64 BN
  • 1786/5 Large Stars Immunis Columbia Confederatio NGC MS 64 BN
  • 1793 Liberty Cap Cent NGC AU 53
  • 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar NGC AU 50 (Matthew Stickney specimen. This superbly toned, well-centered full-dated first US Silver Dollar has been off the market and hasn’t made an auction appearance in 104 years. The venerable Mr. Newman purchased the coin for $600.)
  • 1825 Capped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC MS 65
  • 1855 Wass Molitor $50 NGC MS 61

Wow, what a sale! Enjoy the last of the fall season, my friends.

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 currently resides in Southern California and frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.

 

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