By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek….
The conclusion of Legend Rare Coin Auction’s Regency X December 18 sale at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas marks the end of the 2014 auction season and closes the door on a year that has been filled with highs and lows for the rare coin market and coin industry as a whole.
For their part, the results of Regency X were in line with what we’ve seen at major auctions since the Gardner Sale in June.
Some coins brought record prices. Many brought strong prices. Some barely managed to meet expectations. And others illustrated just how illiquid the rare coin market can sometimes be.
In total, the 338-lot sale brought $2,929,245.67 including buyer’s premiums.
Four coins hammered for more than $100,000, and one, the 1913 J-1950 Buffalo nickel pattern, fell just short at $99,875.
In all, 28 coins brought more than $20,000 each.
But not everything offered at Legend Rare Coin Auction’s Regency X sale was priced out of a mainstream collector’s budget.
66 lots (roughly 20% of the total offering) each brought prices of $2,000 or less.
For a hand-selected boutique auction of PQ coins, there was a little something for every collector of U.S. coins, regardless of budget.
“It’s clearly a buyers market for [Mint State] Barber and Seated coins,” Legend Numismatics’ Laura Sperber told us after the auction.
This auction’s key consignment, the “Number One Finest of All Time” Simpson Collection of Barber dimes brought lower numbers than expected. But, as Sperber explains, not for a lack of marketing. “We had every major Barber dime collector participating,” she said.
In our auction preview, we wrote that the Simpson Set “offers plenty of affordable options for Ultimate Type Set collectors”. Collectors who took this advice to heart would have done very well for themselves.
Of the five particular coins we mentioned, only one brought strong money:
- The 1903 PCGS MS66 brought $1586 (almost $1000 under the presale estimate).
- The 1906-S PCGS MS66 brought $1762.50 (almost $250 less than presale).
- The 1907 MS66+ brought $2056.50 ($56.50 above estimate, but still reasonable for a pedigreed top-tier coin).
- The 1913 PCGS MS66+ , a tied-for-top-pop coin, brought $3055. This was the one coin of our “Type Set Five” that exceeded projections.
- The 1915 PCGS MS66+ –another tied-for-top-pop coin–is, in our opinion, the nicer of the two PCGS-graded MS66+ coins. It’s a sleeper; tough to find in grades above MS65. It sold for $2115.
The second key consignment for the Sale, the beautiful Sunset Hill Collection of Proof Morgan dollars, did quite well.
CAC-certified, Gem-quality Morgan dollar proofs are hard to come by. It’s obvious on a coin-by-coin basis, that no expense was spared, not dictum of personal taste deviated from in the building of the Sunset Hill collection. Bidders agreed. Of the 23 coins in the set, 17 brought higher prices than estimated.
The Sunset Hill 1921 Chapman Proof brought $35,875 more than estimate, realizing $123,375.
The 1895 “King of the Morgans”, a PCGS PR66+CAM specimen with PQ eye appeal, brought $111,625 after enthusiastic bidding. This was $16,625 more than presale.
Even non-key Morgan proofs performed well, with the 1898 and 1904 bringing 50% over. Especially impressive was the $13,512.50 hammer on the Eliasberg 1892 PCGS PR66 . presale estimates had the coin at $5,000.
The Sunset Hill Collection’s rarest coin, the 1893-CC branch mint proof (a stopper by most accounts), “brought on the lower side of what it should have,” said Sperber, “but I was ok with it.” The coin, a beautifully toned PCGS PR64 formerly of the Amon Carter Collection, hadn’t been offered at auction since the Carter Sale in 1984. Pre-auction estimates had the coin going for $137,500. It realized $129,250.
Other Strong Finishers
- 1854 3CS PCGS PR66 Ex: Texas Trimes. A Pop 2 coin, Legend holds the second in their collection. This piece needled past the $55,000 presale estimate, reaching $58,750 with active bidding.
- A pair of Barber dime proofs: 1892 PCGS PR66 CAM (lot 154) and 1912 PCGS PR67 CAM (lot 161). Both coins beat estimates by a wide margin. The 1892 brought $4112.50, while the 1912 hammered $6756.25.
- 1828 Capped Bust half dollar (Square Base 2, Small 8, Large Letters), PCGS MS65 . This beautiful, rainbow toned specimen brought $19,387.50, more than double the going rate for a typical PCGS MS65 capped bust half.
- 1874 Seated Liberty half dollar, With Arrows, PCGS PR66+ . This gorgeous toner brought $34,075. The coin is the third of three plate coins at PCGS Coinfacts and is, to date, the only PR66+ graded by the service (three coins reported higher).
- 15,000 business strike Seated dollars are reported as struck in 1848. Only a handful survive in Mint State, and it’s unusual to see more than one auction appearance per year of this classic American issue. In September, a non-CAC, untoned example in PCGS MS61 sold at the Heritage Auctions’ Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature Auction for the strong price of $5,992.50. Legend’s PCGS MS62 example, a toned piece they describe as having “a moderate mix of original purple / deep violet / pewter / blue colors” did even better, bringing $11,456–nearly $4,000 more than estimate and the most money ever paid for an MS62 1848 Seated Liberty dollar.
- Similar story with the 1854 PCGS MS62 , which is another scarce silver dollar with few Mint State survivors. The lightly-toned piece with premium eye appeal brought $15,862, well in excess of the $11,000-$12,000 presale estimate.
- Rounding out our list is the record price brought by one of the finest Morgan dollars known, the Bella Collection 1879-S (PCGS MS68+ ). Presale had the coin at $13,500 plus. This was blown away after frenzied bidding. Final hammer for the unparalleled condition rarity? $32,900.
In March, we wrote about how coins recently purchased from Heritage Auction’s November 2013 Newman Sale were being resold on eBay, only to realize much lower prices.
It’s been more than a year since that highly successful sale and the reselling trend continues. At Regency X, we got to see a number of high-end Newman coins return to the auction block. The results were the same.
A Newman 1916 Mercury dime–now in a PCGS MS67 holder–brought $1586.25. In the original Heritage offering, the coin graded NGC MS67* . The drop in interest may have something to do with the loss of the asterisk (although that’s pretty silly since PCGS doesn’t asterisk coins), but it certainly has nothing to do with the coin’s presentation, as Legend’s photography is far superior to what Heritage provided the first go-round.
But that wasn’t the only one.
A 1916-D Barber 25c in NGC MS67 brought $4112.50–about 20% off its presale estimate, and more than $2300 less than it brought at the Heritage sale.
Two Newman Seated halves were offered but failed to meet reserve. An 1874 Arrows PCGS PR64CAM (formerly NGC PF64CAM) sold for $4112.50, off from its November 16, 2013 sale price of $4993.75. The fact that it’s a “buyer’s market” for Mint State Seated coinage was likely a factor in these results.
It’s easy to read too much into an auction such as this.
A number of dealers we spoke with predict that the coin market will start strong in 2015. Judging by the prices realized here, we see a maturation of the market for “+” graded coins. We also see the strong and consistent marketability of CAC-certified coins, especially ones with premium eye appeal. 255 of the coins that sold at this auction were CAC-certified.
Suffice it to say, whether the 2015 coin market goes gangbusters or continues the erratic lurch of the past several months is yet to be determined.
It all kicks off the second week of January at the Florida United Numismatists Convention in Orlando, Florida. We’ll both be in attendance, alongside CoinWeek principals David Lisot and Scott Purvis.
Hope to see you there!