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FUN is Serious Business: US Coin Market

FUN Florida United Numismatists 2019 StellaElite icons and superb collector coins spark action


By Jim Bisognani – NGC Weekly Market Report …..
2019 is making its presence known in a big way in numismatic circles. A famous major dealer asserted that “FUN was serious business. Demand for high quality and rarities was extremely strong. I am having to stretch my bids at auction much higher than I anticipated; the demand and competition was heated.”

Fresh from winter FUN, the majority of dealers are proclaiming a solid show and lots of noise on the bourse.

“Not just noises, but sales being made,” said a familiar vest pocket dealer from Michigan.

Collectors who made the pilgrimage to Orlando were also thrilled with the electric atmosphere.

Fred, hailing from Marblehead, Massachusetts, said he was intent on tracking down higher-end circ Capped Bust Dimes and Quarters.

“I was just looking for clean VF/XF coins, either raw or certified, but they had to have the right look,” he said. “I call them black-and-white coins: just enough dirt, well, patina to fill-in the devices, adding some character to the look of the coins.”

Fred advised me that he was successful in locating 10 Capped Bust Dimes and eight Capped Bust Quarters. The Massachusetts resident said seven coins were NGC-certified.

“Three dimes and four quarters, all graded NGC XF 40: what a great looking group. I was psyched to get home and match them up with the rest of my collection. I picked several up from a dealer from Boston! I kidded him and said I could have stayed home and done some dealing.”

Other collectors were spending time viewing auction lots from the host Heritage sale. Janice and her husband Miles described themselves as “Morgan fanatics” and wanted to spend time looking at auction lots of their favorite coin: Morgan Dollars.

“I got the bug from Dad,” said Janice. “He collected Morgans for about 20 years and I used to help him sort coins. I never really got into collecting; it was more or less housekeeping for Dad’s collection. But when Miles and I got together, I quickly found out that he was a big Morgan Dollar buff. So, well, here we are.”

Heritage Signature Sale Claims $43.7 Million

The Heritage FUN auction was the scene of spectacular strength, too. In total, a powerful $43.7 million was realized, making this the top sale for dollars realized since the mammoth 2015 Heritage Winter FUN outing, which captured $70.1 million. In that sale, four years ago, an astounding seven coins were featured, which eclipsed the hallowed $1 million benchmark! That was, indeed, quite the sale. But consider the following data for the auctions that just concluded.

Points of strength for the 2019 Heritage FUN are easily seen in the numbers below:

  • 59 lots exceeded $100,000
  • Four coins surpassed $1 million
  • The average price realized per lot: $7,717

Each of these statistics reflects the most potent and diverse numismatic line-up since that historic 2015 FUN sale.

The only thing “small” with the 2019 Heritage Winter FUN was the number of lots, which numbered 5,657 (compare this with the 11,014 lots to appear in the 2013 Heritage FUN extravaganza; yet the average price per lot reported then was only $4,085).

I had to dig back to the 2002 winter FUN sale to find fewer lots offered-up for prospective bidders than the number of lots at the just-concluded 2019 sale. For the record, in 2002 there were 3,850 lots in the Heritage Winter FUN Signature Sale, and another 1,697 lots featured in the 2002 FUN Bullet sale, or equal to 5,547 lots. Wow! How many of my fellow Coindexters remember those old bullet sales?

Leading the way at the 2019 Heritage FUN Show Signature Auction was a trio of fantastic NGC-graded icons.

The always-captivating $4 dollar Gold Stella witnessed this ultra-rare 1879 Coiled Hair, graded NGC PF 66 Cameo, race to $1,050,000. This is one of only 13 recorded examples of this date and variety. Interestingly, the last 1879 $4 dollar Coiled Hair Cameo to appear for sale was the NGC PF 67 Cameo, which realized $1,041,300 as a part of the Tacasyl Collection auctioned by Bonham’s in September of 2013.

An 1884 Trade Dollar, graded NGC PF 66, realized $1,140,000. One of only 10 examples known, this spectacular coin is pedigreed to the incomparable Eliasberg collection. An exciting and, needless to say, very rare offering!

An 1885 Trade Dollar, graded NGC PF 66 realized $3,960,000. The “underrated” king of silver dollars is the enigmatic 1885 Trade Dollar. Minted to the tune of but five coins, this is, by far, the finest of the quintet. Like the above 1884 icon, this mega-rarity is pedigreed to the Eliasberg collection. Truly a treasure for the ages!

Coins for the Everyday Collector

While the trio above will never be within the realm of the average collector, the ability just to view these coins is undeniably exciting. That said, I shifted gears and I found the following trio of exceptional coins that were in the reach for the average coindexter to fawn over.

A truly lovely Braided Hair Large Cent! A dazzling, full gem uncirculated coin possessing a wonderful iridescent olive green, aqua patina! Such a special looking coin! Out of moderate mintage of just over five million, this coin is bested numerically by only 66 others in this grade and color combination. But I would venture to say few possess the pizzazz that this large copper displays.

Here is the wildly popular Buffalo nickel, in all its glory, and a semi-key date to boot! This coin is sharply struck on both obverse and reverse and the smooth lustrous surfaces belie the assigned grade.

From the Janis Ian collection, here is an exciting 1875 Liberty Seated Dime. Whether as a Type Proof coin, or for a collector building a complete Proof set, this coin is a marvelous multi-hued near gem!

Wow! In just one week from going to press, it is time for the first of the always popular Long Beach Expo and related auctions to review.

Until next time, happy collecting!

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Jim Bisognani is an NGC Price Guide Analyst having previously served for many years as an analyst and writer for another major price guide. He has written extensively on US coin market trends and values.

Jim Bisognani
Jim Bisognani
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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  1. Good summary. I had the same feeling too. 2015 FUN was an incredible experience where I acquired two of those seven million dollar coins. They will be in my collection for years to come.


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