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Fairmont Gold Coin 5Peat: An Analysis of Auction Prices

Fairmont 5Peat: An Analysis of Auction Prices

By Doug WinterRareGoldCoins.com ……
CoinWeek Content Partner
Stack’s Bowers has now sold five incarnations of the Fairmont Hoard at auction. The data from these sales is large enough to form valid conclusions about prices for a wide variety of half eagles, eagles, and double eagles.

As I have previously written, the rare date gold market is deep enough that it can easily withstand the onslaught of, say, 10 new 1853-D half eagles becoming available. (Note to Stack’s Bowers: if another 10 are available, please offer them to me!) But would it be able to handle four or more Condition Census 1865-S Normal Date eagles, an esoteric issue that is expensive and part of a thinly traded market?

I decided to pick a random but varied group of 19th-century issues from the five Fairmont sales and analyze the prices realized. I think you’ll find the conclusions I reach to be quite interesting.

Please note that the five major Fairmont sales are as follows:

  • Fairmont I (F1): August 2020 (mainly lower-grade coins)
  • Fairmont II (F2): April 2022
  • Fairmont III (F3): August 2022
  • Fairmont IV (F4): November 2022
  • Fairmont V (F5): March 2023

Other smaller offerings of Fairmont coins occurred in March 2021 and June 2021. Also, note that “all-time APR” means that this specific coin set an all-time auction price record for this date in this specific grade.

Half Eagles

1844-D

This is a fairly common date by Dahlonega half eagle standards. It is fairly scarce in the higher AU grades, and CAC-quality pieces are very scarce in AU55 and AU58. In Uncirculated, the 1844-D is quite rare with fewer than a dozen known.

1844 Half Eagle $5 Gold Coin graded AU55 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image; Doug Winter.
1844 Half Eagle $5 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU55 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Doug Winter Fairmont Collection 5Peat Chart 1.

As recently as 2020/21, a nice CAC-approved PCGS AU58 1844-D half eagle was a $5,500 coin. After the Fairmont I sale in April 2022, it quickly increased in value by around 50%. In my opinion, Fairmont I prices were driven by extreme FOMO (“Fear of Missing out”), plus the quality of the coins tended to be outstanding for the grade. Fairmont III was characterized by what I term “Fairmont Fatigue” and prices tended to be lower across the board. In my opinion, Dahlonega half eagle prices held up very well and the market can easily absorb many more 1844-Ds that are “Fairmontesque”.

1844-C

The 1844-C is a much scarcer issue, typically seen in VF and EF grades and almost never seen with natural color and choice surfaces. All four of the Fairmont coins were in lower grades, but all were exceptional for the date and grade.

1844-C Half Eagle $5 Gold Coin graded EF45 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1844-C Half Eagle $5 Gold Coin graded PCGS EF45 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Doug Winter Fairmont 5Peat Chart 2.

The consistency of the four APRs for this issue is not surprising to me, given the scarcity and popularity of this date in this grade. While I’m not certain if the market could have absorbed four MS62 1844-C half eagles, it could easily absorb four nice EF45s, and it very likely could absorb another 10. I expect there are at least a few more EF45s remaining in the Fairmont hoard and as long as they are of similar quality to these four, then they will probably continue to sell in the $5,000-$5,500 range.

1854-O

This is the second-most-available No Motto half eagle from New Orleans after the 1844-O. While there are tons of coins graded AU53 to AU58 by both services (56 at PCGS), most are not CAC quality. Nice original coins were much undervalued pre-Fairmont.

With a total of 21 coins approved by CAC in the various AU grades, the appearance of seven CAC examples from Fairmont means that one-third of the available CAC 1854-O half eagles in this range have passed through these auctions in the past three plus years.

1854-O Half Eagle $5 Gold Coin graded AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1854-O Half Eagle $5 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Doug Winter Fairmont 5Peat Chart 3.

The PCGS 58CAC represents an outlier as it was a no-brainer MS61 in my opinion. The coin, which sold for $2,160 in August 2020, was a fantastic deal, while the two PCGS 53CAC coins that sold in 2021 represent the new market for this date.

1872-CC

The 1872-CC is a scarce issue in all grades and it is rare in the lower AU range. It becomes very rare in properly graded AU55 and AU58 and it is the only Carson City half eagle that remains unknown in full MS60 or finer.

1872-CC Half Eagle $5 Gold Coin graded AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1872-CC Half Eagle $5 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Fairmont 5Peat Chart 4.

It is interesting to note that Stack’s Bowers took a different approach in selling this date than they did with most of the non-Carson City half eagles in the Fairmont Hoard. They sold the lowest-graded coins first and saved the more expensive higher-grade coins for later. This approach had mixed results as the P58CAC coin brought $15,000 less than a similarly graded (and far less original) coin brought in the Heritage 8/2022 sale held at the same time.

I can’t see the market being able to absorb many more $35,000+ 1872-CC half eagles, so prices for the next one(s) that come up for sale may be lower than the P55CAC that I bought for a client in March 2023. On the other hand, I think the market could absorb numerous $5,000-7,500 coins as long as they were nice CAC-approved examples.

Eagles

1852-O

The 1852-O is a scarce date that is not regularly available in any grade higher than EF45. When AU coins are available they tend to be unoriginal and very abraded. Choice AU 1852-O eagles are quite rare and this issue is excessively rare in Uncirculated with just two or three known; none of which is finer than MS61.

1852-O Eagle $10 Gold Coin graded AU55 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1852-O Eagle $10 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU55 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Fairmont 5Peat Chart 5.

There is a lot of interesting information to process based on these four results. The $36,000 APR for the nice P55CAC was stunning. Nice coin, for sure, but I’m not sure that the coin is worth this amount even if it upgraded to P58CAC. The $9,000 APR for the P55 seemed very cheap, especially if the red oxidation seen on both the obverse and the reverse could be removed. I bought the P53CAC in the most recent Fairmont sale and I thought it was a total rip at $7,800.

The same pricing scenario was seen on many of the scarcer New Orleans eagles in the Fairmont sales. Coins sold in the April 2022 auction brought prices ranging from very strong to insane with a number of all-time records set. Prices dropped considerably in the three sales afterward although this was partially due to the fact that the quality dropped slightly. My guess is that the next round of Fairmont No Motto New Orleans eagles that sell will bring 10-20% more than the slightly soft prices garnered by the Fairmont V coins.

1862

This popular Civil War date is probably a bit overvalued in grades lower than AU55 but nice AU58 coins such as the Stack’s Bowers 3/2023: 5217 coin are truly rare. Uncirculated 1862 eagles are very rare with just three or four known. The finest is an NGC MS64 pedigreed to SS Republic.

1862 Eagle $10 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1862 Eagle $10 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Fairmont 5Peat Chart 6.

With a current population of 10 coins, the sale of three PCGS AU58 1862 eagles represented almost a third of the total number graded (and quite possibly more given the likelihood of a few resubmissions). The market for this coin is fairly thin and my observation is that the P58 sold in Fairmont III was on the high side, while the coin sold in Fairmont IV was cheap. The Fairmont V coin was a good deal and it would become a great deal if it upgrades as I thought it might.

1865-S Normal Date

1865-S Eagle $10 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1865-S Eagle $10 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Prior to the discovery of at least five examples in the Fairmont Hoard (as well as a few others that were sold in the Künker Auction in 2021) the 1865-S Normal Date was the second-rarest S-mint eagle, trailing only the 1864-S. This date remains rare but it is interesting to see how the market has reacted to the number of very nice pieces offered since 2021.

Fairmont 5Peat Chart 7.

I regard three of these four APRs to be very strong. The one exception is the Fairmont IV coin which I thought was relatively cheap, especially given the fact that it was a nice example for the grade.

1884-CC

The 1884-CC eagle is common in grades through AU55. It is scarce in properly graded AU58 and it is rare in Uncirculated.

1884-CC Eagle $10 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1884-CC Eagle $10 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Doug Winter 5Peat Chart 8.

Prices for PCGS/CAC MS61 1884-CC eagles have declined by nearly one-third since the sale of the Fairmont II coin in April 2022. This isn’t a surprise when the 1884-CC has seen its Uncirculated PCGS population rise from three in MS61 with two finer to seven in MS61 with four finer since 2020. If more Uncirculated 1884-CC eagles are uncovered as the Fairmont coins are graded, expect prices to drop further. The same holds true for dates such as the 1880-CC, the 1881-CC, and the 1882-CC.

Double Eagles

1854-S

Non-shipwreck 1854-S double eagles are scarce and very popular due to their status as first-year of-issue coins.

1854-S Double Eagle $20 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1854-S Double Eagle $20 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Doug Winter 5Peat Chart 9.

The popularity of this issue ensures that prices will remain consistent as long as a manageable number of coins are sold as part of the Fairmont Hoard. But what about another San Francisco issue which is conditionally rare but less popular (and more expensive)?

Doug Winter 5Peat Chart 10.

As expected, the most recent sale of a high-grade 1864-S was much weaker than the first sale ($45,000 vs. $60,000). I would be interested to see what a CAC-approved MS63 example of this date would bring but for now, my feeling is that the market for this date in such a high grade is fairly thin.

1857-O

The 1857-O double eagle is a scarce issue in all grades and it is rare in the lower to mid-AU range. Properly graded AU55s and AU58s are rare. Uncirculated examples are very rare with just three having been sold at auction since 2000.

1857-O Double Eagle $20 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU53 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1857-O Double Eagle $20 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU53 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Doug Winter 5Peat Chart 11.

Although expensive, the 1857-O is a popular enough issue to withstand the onslaught of nice coins sourced from Fairmont. This is the case with all of the scarcer date O mint double eagles which were represented in the Fairmont Hoard.

1874-CC

The 1874-CC is the ultimate condition rarity among CC double eagles. It is common in all circulated grades but it is very scarce in MS60 to mS61 and extremely rare in MS62.

1874-CC Double Eagle $20 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1874-CC Double Eagle $20 Gold Coin graded PCGS AU58 (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Doug Winter 5Peat Chart 12.

I’ve been surprised at the resiliency of Carson City double eagles through the course of the Fairmont sales. There aren’t that many collectors with resources to spend $50k on an MS61 1874-CC, and the three which were offered between April 2022 and March 2023 all brought solid prices.

1880

The 1880 is a slightly scarcer date that has become popular after years of neglect by collectors. It is very scarce in properly graded MS61 and it is very rare in MS62 and finer.

1880 Double Eagle $20 Gold Coin graded PCGS MS61 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.
1880 Double Eagle $20 Gold Coin graded PCGS MS61 CAC (from the Fairmont Collection). Image: Doug Winter.

Doug Winter 5Peat Chart 13.

This was a random selection that doesn’t prove much of anything given the variance of the grades in the four sales cited above. But I think it is important to note that all of the prices were strong for the grade and that this is the sort of coin that can easily withstand “Fairmontization”.

Conclusions

If the coin was from a popular series (think Dahlonega half eagles), it performed well in its Fairmont appearances. The market is clearly deep enough to handle, say, four nice AU 1844-D half eagles.

CAC-approved coins significantly outperformed their non-CAC counterparts in all Fairmont sales.

Non-CAC coins without a strong collector base (think MS63 1864-S double eagles) performed poorly over time. But there were surprises, such as the 1865-S Normal Date $10.

On the whole, Fairmont pedigreed coins have significantly outperformed their non-Fairmont counterparts. This is likely due to their quality; not on account of their provenance.
Doug Winter Numismatics, specialists in U.S. gold coins

* * *

About Doug Winter

Doug_Winter2Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.

In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics. This firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare US gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.

Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award-winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and the recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought-after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality, and fair and honest pricing. Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small. He can be reached at (214) 675-9897.

Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues

In addition, he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
  • Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
  • Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
  • Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
  • The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
  • Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
  • An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
  • The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
  • A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
  • The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
  • Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
  • Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis

Finally, Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group, and major coin association in the US.

 

Doug Winter
Doug Winterhttps://www.raregoldcoins.com
Doug Winter founded Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN) in 1985. The nationally renowned firm specializes in buying and selling rare United States gold coins. He has written over a dozen books, including the standard references on Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans gold coinage, and Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles. Douglas has also contributed to the A Guidebook of United States Coins, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars, and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues. He is a member of the PNG, the ANA, the ANS, the NLG, CAC, PCGS, and NGC - among other professional affiliations. Contact Doug Winter at [email protected].

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