Steve Roach: The Strong Market for Classic Proof U.S. Coins

By Steve Roach for Steve Roach Online …..

First published in the May 30, 2011, issue of Coin World

The Heritage Platinum Night auction on April 28 was led by gold coins, with classic U.S. Proof gold coins achieving the six highest prices in the sale. The auction was held in conjunction with the Central States Numismatic Society convention, held in Rosemont, Ill., April 27 to 30.

The second highest price was $230,000 for an 1860 Coronet $20 double eagle graded Proof 64 cameo by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. The last time it crossed the auction block was in 2004, when it was housed in a Professional Coin Grading Service Proof 63 cameo holder and realized $94,875. That coin, along with many others in the Heritage auction, were from the Slotkin Family Trust Collection, a collection of nearly 300 Proof classic U.S. coins, of which more than 90 percent were graded by NGC.

Before the auction, some questioned if the coin market could absorb this many costly, very high grade Proof coins, most with cameo and deep cameo designations, many of which had been purchased by the consignor in the past five years.

More than 100 separate coins from the Slotkin Collection sold for more than $10,000, and more than 5,500 bidders participated in the auction, showing the depth of the current coin market even at price levels beyond the pocketbook of the average collector.

Not all coins in the auction, however, brought prices that were higher than realized in the most recent previous appearance. An 1896 Barber quarter dollar, graded Proof 69H ultra cameo by NGC, realized $29,900, less than the $34,500 that the consignor purchased it for in January 2009.

On the CSNS bourse floor, dealers lamented what they saw as a lack of opportunities to buy coins to add to their inventories.

Fresh material is a problem in the current market.

One significant gold dealer wrote about the show, in a comment attached to his new purchases, that it “was characterized by an extreme lack of fresh material and it took four solid days of ‘pounding the pavement’ and using all of our contacts to find interesting coins for sale.”

His comments were echoed by several other dealers, although the sale of a substantial multimillion dollar U.S. coin type set at the show provided some fresh material that was quickly absorbed into the market, and serves as a reminder that all coins don’t necessarily pass through auctions.

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Steve Roach is a Dallas, Texas, based rare coin appraiser and fine art advisor who writes the world’s most widely read rare coin market analysis each week in the pages of Coin World. He is also a lawyer and helps create estate plans for collections. Visit him online at, join him on LinkedIn at or follow him on twitter @roachdotsteve

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