By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com ……
CoinWeek Content Partner
On January 20, Heritage Auctions sold Part Three of the Bob Simpson Collection. As with the first two sales, the majority of the coins were non-gold but what few gold coins that were available tended to be spectacular. By analyzing the prices realized, we can get a better grasp of what is going on with the high-end segment of the US gold coin market.
1850, 1853-D, and 1856 Slanting 5 Gold Dollars
Bob Simpson had a terrific collection of gold dollars and, little by little, these have been selling at the various auctions that contain his coins. There were three important coins in Session III.
Lot 3034: 1850 $1.00 PCGS MS68. Images courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN)
The first coin was an 1850 graded MS68 by PCGS. Offered as Lot 3034, it brought $55,200 USD. The coin was last sold (as a PCGS/CAC MS67) as Lot 4240 in the Heritage 2015 ANA sale as part of the Steve Duckor Collection of gold dollars where it brought $32,900. This was a nice upgrade for Simpson and he made good money on the coin, but it should be pointed out that another 1850 gold dollar graded MS68 by PCGS (but approved by CAC) realized a strong $88,125 as Legend 5/2020: 275. My guess is that if the Duckor/Simpson coin had stickered at CAC it would have brought $20,000+ more.
Lot 3035: 1853-D $1.00 PCGS MS65+ CAC
The second coin was a PCGS/CAC MS65+ 1853-D gold dollar. As you can well imagine, any gold dollar from Dahlonega is extremely rare in Gem, and this coin realized $78,000. Ironically, it last sold (as an NGC MS66) for $74,750 in the Heritage 2/2010 auction. While I agree with the strategy to down-cross the coin, I would say this was a somewhat disappointing result.
Lot 3037: 1856 SLANTING 5 $1.00 PCGS MS68+ CAC
The third coin was a personal favorite of mine: a scintillating PCGS/CAC MS68+ 1856 Slanting 5 that was previously owned by Steve Duckor and was earlier in the personal collection of David Akers. It was offered as Lot 3037 in Simpson III and it brought $43,200. In the 2015 ANA sale, it brought a nearly identical $42,300. I thought this coin had a very real shot to upgrade to MS69 as it was essentially perfect and I think it was good value.
1796 Stars $2.50 PCGS/CAC MS65
I can remember the first time I saw this coin during lot viewing for the Byron Reed auction back in 1996. It blew my mind then and I don’t think any less of it today. It is by far the finest known and it is a coin that I still don’t think gets all the love it deserves.
Lot 3039: 1796 STARS $2.50 PCGS MS65 CAC
This coin was acquired by Bob Simpson in the Heritage 2008 FUN sale for a then-strong $1,006,250. Heritage sold the coin in 2021 for $1,380,000. This is a strong price but if this issue were better appreciated for the true rarity it is, I think it would have brought at least 15-20%+ more.
Indian Head Half Eagles
I’m not really certain how seriously Bob Simpson took this set. He was clearly very serious about his Indian Head eagles and his Saints, but I wonder if he obsessed about this very difficult to assemble design.
Lot 3045: 1909-O PCGS MS64+ CAC
There were two significant Indian Head half eagles in the Simpson III auction. The first was the conditionally rare 1909-O, which was graded MS64+ by PCGS and approved by CAC. Offered as Lot 3045, it sold for $240,000 – which I regard as a very strong price. The coin was last sold as Lot 2331 in Bowers and Merena’s 3/2006 auction where it brought $175,375.
Lot 3046: 1914-S $5.00 PCGS MS65+
The other notable Indian Head half eagle was a PCGS MS65+ example of the 1914-S. This date is an absolute stopper in the set in Gem. PCGS has graded just one in MS65 and one in MS65+ with none finer. I liked the Simpson coin, didn’t love it, but it still sold for $180,000, which is a record for the date.
Interestingly, the one 1914-S that I have seen that I liked more, a PCGS/CAC MS65, brought $146,875 as Goldberg 6/16: 1603. My guess is that if the Simpson coin had a CAC sticker, it would have sailed past the $200,000 mark.
1804 $10.00 PCGS/CAC PR65+ Deep Cameo
The unquestioned highlight of the Simpson III sale was his Gem Proof 1804 $10.00. One of just three known (and one of only four struck) this coin was most likely included in the Simpson Collection because it appears as a Pattern issue in the Judd book (it is most definitely not a pattern).
Lot 3049: 1804 $10.00 PCGS PR65+ DEEP CAMEO CAC
This coin had traded at a reported $5 million via private treaty almost a decade ago which, in my opinion, was way too much at the time.
But time has a way of healing (most) numismatic wounds and in the weeks leading up to the sale, this was among the most-discussed lots in the auction. I expected it to bring in the area of $3,250,000-3,750,000, but before the sale went live it was already up to close to $4 million hammer. The coin wound up selling to a prominent overseas collector for $5,280,000 all in. I consider this an extremely strong price.
My overall take on the Simpson III sale was that prices were extremely strong. Clearly, the upper-end of the coin market is very strong right now, and my fears of the glut of six- and seven-figure coins being unable to be absorbed were most certainly unfounded.
I look forward to the next Simpson sale and I will report on the coins that are most relevant. For auction representation in the Simpson IV sale, please contact me via email at email@example.com or feel free to call me at (214) 675-9897.
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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.