By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com ……
CoinWeek Content Partner
The auction sale of Part One of selections from the collection of Bob Simpson was recently conducted by Heritage on September 17 in Dallas. While the sale was not notable for its number of gold coins, there were some important pieces included; coins that we will focus on in this article.
The coin market in the United States is in a quandary at this unique time in history. With literally hundreds of six-figure, and as many as a dozen seven-figure coins coming up for sale in the next few months, can the market absorb all of these?
If the first Simpson sale is any indication, the demand for really good coins remains stronger than most observers–myself included–realize.
In my opinion, prices ranged from pretty strong to very strong on the US gold in the first Simpson sale. Let’s look at a few series–and a few specific coins–to analyze the prices realized.
Two old friends of mine, the finest known 1849-C Closed Wreath graded MS64 PCGS/CAC and an 1852-O graded MS65 by PCGS and approved by CAC began a small but impressive selection of gold dollars. I had sold both to Steve Duckor and they were later purchased by Simpson in a 2015 sale.
1849-C CLOSED WREATH $1.00 PCGS MS64 CAC, Images courtesy Heritage Auctions (HA.com)
The 1849-C had last sold for an aggressive $49,300 USD. It brought $48,000 this time around, which I think is a very solid price for the issue. The 1852-O cost Simpson a record-setting $37,600 and it brought $33,600. Again, I think this a ton of money for this specific coin.
The Simpson sale featured two important Dahlonega gold dollars: one of the two finest known 1855-Ds, graded MS64 by PCGS, and an 1861-D graded MS64+ by PCGS that is, in my opinion, among the finest known.
Simpson acquired his 1855-D dollar from the Stack’s January 2009 sale where he paid $143,750. Eleven years later, the coin brought a nearly identical $144,000 including the premium. In my opinion, this coin was hurt by its lack of a CAC sticker and the fact that it has a weak “8” in the date; collectors seem to prefer examples with a full date.
1861-D $1.00 PCGS MS64+
The 1861-D is the single-highest-graded numerically of this fabled date by PCGS and it had brought $149,500 (as an NGC MS65) back in the Heritage January 2008 auction. This time around, it sold for $180,000.
One final gold dollar is worth looking at.
Lot 10117 was a PCGS/CAC MS66+ 1875, a coin famous for its low mintage of just 400 business strikes. The coin was purchased for $109,250 in the Heritage February 2010 auction; a price that, at the time, I thought was approaching “crazy money”. This time around, it brought just $72,000.
You can infer that the gold dollars went weakly based on what Simpson paid and these were surely not close to his best performers. But I still think that given the current market for high-quality gold dollars, these prices were quite strong.
This denomination was not of much interest to Bob Simpson, although he had a very nice set of Indian Head issues. He had just two early quarter eagles in the sale but, man, they were exceptional.
1808 $2.50 PCGS MS63 CAC
The first was his 1808 graded MS63 by PCGS and approved by CAC. This is a very significant one-year type and there are only two pieces known that unequivocally qualify as Uncirculated: this piece and the famous Pogue MS65, which brought $2.35 million when last sold at auction in May 2015.
I was the successful bidder of this coin at $576,000 as I acted as an agent for a specialized collector from the East Coast. I thought the price was just right – not a bargain, but not too aggressive. Simpson had paid $517,000 for this coin in late 2008 and that was before the huge price realized by the Pogue Gem.
1831 $2.50 PCGS PL66+
The second was a fantastic Gem 1831 graded MS66+ by PCGS and designated as “PL” by this service. It was odd that Heritage had sent this coin to PCGS for redesignation so close to the date of the sale that the catalog didn’t properly note its “new” grade. At any rate, it sold for $240,000 – which, I felt, was very strong for the date and for the type.
Simpson’s 1911-D, graded MS65+ and approved by CAC, realized $87,000. Only a month ago, Legend Auctions sold a PCGS MS65 CAC for $64,625. In this instance, the addition of a “plus” grade was worth nearly $25,000.
In every great collection, there are winners and losers, and the PCGS MS66 1929 (lot 10134) was most certainly in the latter category. It had last realized a startling $54,625 as lot 2197 in the Heritage March 2010 auction. This time it limped to a new home at $20,400. This is likely due to the fact that the population of this date in MS66 has increased enough to fill the few Registry Sets that need one and also due to its lacking CAC approval.
Add to this the fact that a collector can find this date in PCGS/CAC MS65 for around $5,000, which strikes me as MUCH better value.
Indian Half Eagles
If you were thinking of beginning a really world-class set of this challenging series, you couldn’t have chosen a better time to start than at the Simpson sale. While not complete, the offering was really exceptional, with a number of Condition Census pieces present.
Lot 10145, the 1908-S graded MS68 by PCGS, was acquired by Simpson in the Heritage 2012 ANA sale for $164,500. It sold last week in Dallas for $192,000. Had this coin been approved by CAC, it likely would have flown past the $250,000 level.
The 1913-S, graded MS66 by PCGS, sold for $180,000. It had last realized $258,000 in January 2013. Here was another famous and important coin that, with a CAC sticker, would have brought considerably more.
1914 $5.00 PCGS MS66 CAC
I was blown away by the price realized by the 1914, graded MS66 by PCGS and approved by CAC. The coin was the object of a street brawl between two bidders on Heritage Live and it hit a new price record for the date of $168,000. But a few seconds of internet searching led me to discover that this coin had cost Simpson a hefty $126,500 back in 2011.
Given the relative availability of this date in MS65, I’m somewhat surprised that PCGS has still only graded a single coin in MS66 and if this ever happens (and the coin is actually really nice), this condition rarity could lose some luster.
1916-S $5.00 PCGS MS66+ CAC
Lot 10151, a 1916-S graded MS66+ by PCGS and approved by CAC, remains the single best example of this date I’ve seen. It last sold for $92,000 in January 2012; it brought a very strong $132,000 in the Simpson sale.
And lastly, an exceptionally nice PCGS/CAC MS65 which cost Simpson $51,700 back in 2005 brought $102,000 this time.
Lessons learned from this small but important group of Indian Head eagles? Whenever possible, buy PCGS/CAC examples and study changes in populations as these are still mostly grade rarities whose populations can be adversely influenced by new coins coming onto the market. And when great collections are offered, do what Bob Simpson did and cherrypick the very best coins for your set.
The first Simpson sale brought over $14 million and there are lots more great coins to come.
For more information on auction representation at the Simpson sale or at any other auction, please feel free to contact me at (214) 675-9897 or by email at [email protected].
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About Doug Winter
Doug 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, and his 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.