By Jim Bisognani – NGC Market Report ……….
Dealers Voicing Retail Sales On Upswing; Thanksgiving Memories; My 100th Report (Already?)
The fifth installment of the famed Eric P. Newman Collection certainly ignited a powerful resurgence into a rare coin market, which had been a bit lackluster in sales and enthusiasm over the last several months. The outstanding event held in New York City by Heritage featured an excited and standing room only live floor audience as well as a ravenous online contingent. When the last lot sold on November 15, a total of $10.4 million was generated and a virtually unheard of 100% sell through rate was reported. Colonials, Patterns and rare early Federal issues punctuated this rousing installment. In total 22 lots captured well over six figures in this NGC-certified extravaganza.
Strength, excitement and rarity remain the keys in this market. As with most things, quality comes with price. In the case of the Eric P. Newman Collection, Part V, the prices paid for many of the rarities, while not cheap, will most certainly be deemed bargains as their unique quality and pedigree will put them in great stead as future generations of serious numismatists vie for them. Conversely the sale was also a golden opportunity for collectors of all budgets to partake. A look at the sale stats reveals that over 350 lots sold for under $1,000 and nearly two dozen realized under $100! Certainly a great and affordable occasion for the novice collector to attain a piece of this great numismatic legacy on a budget.
Leading the way on a dollar basis was the first Federal issued US Dollar, the famed 1794 Flowing Hair variety. This offering, a robust well centered and fully struck specimen, graded NGC AU 50 captured $470,000. This was indeed an exciting opportunity for an individual looking to claim one of the higher echelon of perhaps 125-150 known examples of the revered 1794. Boasting a royal pedigree and exhibiting totally original color and surfaces, this was indeed a treasure.
Although limited in numbers and accounting for fewer than 10% of the lots, the stars of the sale for me were the Colonials. Though there were only 92 lots which were designated as “Colonial coins,” those mighty pre-Republic artifacts realized over $4.3 million. The Colonials certainly rose to the occasion. Accounting for a significant share of the excitement, a sextet of the famed Colonial currency of 1776 reeled in a little over $1.7 million. Leading the group was the brass 1776 “CURENCY” Newman-1B Continental Dollar graded NGC MS 62—one of the two known Mint State examples—that raced to $440,625.
Other NGC-certified Newman Part V treasures:
- 1776 New Hampshire Pine Tree Copper NGC VG 8 $94,000
- 1776 Brass Continental Dollar NGC MS 62 $440,625
- 1787 Raised Rims, Cross After Date Fugio Copper Cent NGC MS 64 BN $55,813
- 1787 Liber Natus, Indian Excelsior Copper NGC AU 50 $88,125
- 1783 Large Date Chalmers Sixpence NGC AU 55 $88,125
- 1792 Eagle & Stars Reverse Washington Cent NGC XF 40 $117,500
- 1792 Plain Edge Washington Getz Pattern Cent NGC MS 64 BN $164,500
- 1786/5 Large Stars Immunis Columbia Confederatio NGC MS 64 BN $152,750
- 1793 Liberty Cap Cent NGC AU 53 $129,050
- 1825 Capped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC MS 65 $141,000
- 1867 Liberty $20 NGC MS 66 $258,500
- 1855 Wass Molitor $50 NGC MS 61 $164,500
While we are entering what is usually the slower part of the year with dealers scrambling to sell off some stagnant inventory to pad the cash reserves for the upcoming FUN Show and related auctions, several major players advised that they have had a surprising uptick in sales. As for the present market, John Brush, VP of David Lawrence Rare Coins made some timely observations, “It seems that the coin economy is picking up well. We’ve sold quite a number of coins over the past few weeks and while some prices have adjusted downwardly, it has turned into a wonderful buying opportunity for us and for our collector base.”
Brush then advised me that in the past two weeks the Virginia-based firm sold several mid-range priced coins, which are still hot to retail customers. Several of those recent sales included a beautiful NGC graded 1913 minor Proof set. The Lincoln Cent (graded a phenomenal NGC PF 66 RD) through Barber Half were all spectacular coins graded PF 65 to PF 67. An affordable and flashy example of the always popular 1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 graded NGC PF 62 found a new home. And two great dollars, a gorgeous 1795 Flowing Hair graded NGC XF 40 and a solid flashy key of the Carson City Morgan Dollar contingent, an 1889-CC $1 designated NGC MS 62, found their way into new collections.
I also caught up with well respected Ian Russell, President of Great Collections, “Things are very busy here at Great Collections. We will continue to hold auctions every Sunday throughout the holidays. Although it’s never a good thing for the price of gold to decline like it has in the past few months, we are still selling a lot of coins and have a lot of new bidders every week. Recently, better date pre-1933 Gold (i.e., Saints, Liberty Double Eagles and $2.50, $5, and $10 Indian coins) have been popular. It was only a few weeks ago when we sold a modern Gold Eagle (1989 NGC MS 70) for almost $30,000!!!”
As I write this I am left wondering where has the year gone? I know officially, at least by the calendar, winter isn’t here for another four more weeks. Yet given the massive snow storms pummeling much of the Midwest and Northeast I think it’s fair to state Old Man Winter is upon us in a big and historic way.
I guess in retrospect it’s appropriate for the winter season to get an early start considering retailers are pushing the envelope ever earlier and earlier to get a jump on the retail bandwagon with Pre-Black Friday events getting underway before Thanksgiving.
That’s right as this article posts the great American holiday tradition, Thanksgiving is here. All of us in the numismatic world certainly have a lot to be thankful for. After all coin collectors and dealers are a relatively tight-knit club, one that has evolved and prospered over the many decades that I’ve been collecting. I remember it was a snowy Thanksgiving Day nearly 50 years ago my grandmother gave me a Peace Dollar. It was a large coin; I had never seen one of these before. It was bright and shiny and when it rolled on the counter it made that unmistakable ring. I don’t know what happened to that coin but the memory of that Thanksgiving is a fond and lifelong one for me.
Well-liked John Brush also waxed nostalgic, “Being that it’s Thanksgiving week, I owe a particular thanks to my parents, who not only got me involved in collecting coins, but encouraged me to consider it for a career. For about 10 years my mom and dad would drive 35 miles every Tuesday evening to the closest Coin Club meeting in Greenville, SC, while I was growing up. Not only did we use a lot of gas, we put at least 28,000 miles on her poor Honda Accord. Never once at that time did I think I’d end up being a full-time coin dealer, but after spending four years in college, it was the logical progression for me. I will always owe a deep “Thanks!” to my parents, Wendell and Blendell Brush for their years of patiently encouraging this hobby and driving our family many miles to not even buy a single coin!”
I think it’s fair to assume that those efforts by the Brush family certainly paid off. It’s stories like this which bode well for future generations of coin collectors and coin dealers. The legion of, as I call them, “Coindexters,” need to get out and see what this hobby is about first hand and enjoy the comradery of the local coin club, take in regional coin shows, and devour a research guide or two. Of course a visit to the NGC website anytime is indeed a free treasure of timely information we numismatists can all be quite thankful for. Cursed by some yet embraced by nearly all of us daily, the Internet has allowed us to research, purchase and bid and view numismatic offerings in all price categories. Whether a collector on a limited budget or one who has unlimited resources this hobby is truly a great one.
In closing, this is a fun and wacky industry to be a part of. I also find that this installment is my 100th Weekly Market Report for NGC. A modest milestone when compared to some of my prolific numismatic heroes. My how time has flown though. Through the decades I’ve written thousands of articles and researched many coins and series. But I have to give enormous thanks to my tenure at Coin Dealer Newsletter, the Greysheet. A decade ago I was given the chance to write about and price coins on a weekly basis. It was always busy and there was an enormous amount of data to be culled through and reported on. Yet deadlines were somehow always adhered to; it was a dream come true though. There I was, an individual who was able to research and write on a daily basis about a subject that I enjoyed ever so much. I indeed had a dream job. It was never actually work for me and I can honestly say that every day was exciting. And as my boss Shane Downing relayed to me, every article and every report was truly a unique work of art.
I hope all my readers enjoy a happy, warm holiday with their families and 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.