By Jim Bisognani – NGC Weekly Market Report …….
Heritage FUN Delivers Record Number Of Million Dollar Coins in One Sale; NGC Certified Colonial Rarities Spearhead The Action.
As the famous crystal ball dropped in Times Square announcing the New Year, the coin caravan was simultaneously being loaded up with a dazzling array of coins for collectors and dealers to wage battle in the Big Apple. Yes, all my collector friends, the first powerful storm of the New Year will be one of numismatics, as the Eastern seaboard will host two very influential events. First up, in New York City, is the 43rd Annual New York International Numismatic Convention. Held at the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, this great show has ushered in 2015 in fine fashion. Having been underway since January 3 for dealer and auction lot viewing, the show’s bourse activities for the public are taking place as we go to press today through this Sunday. Escorting in 2015, a bevy of world-class dealers have been on hand offering up a superb palette of numismatic antiquities from the four corners as well as the more modern era material for your perusal. A “trio” of outstanding world and ancient coin sales will also vie for both professional and collector buyers. The potent lineup features: Heritage – January 4-5; Goldberg, Dmitry Markov, Baldwin’s, M&M Numismatics, Ltd’s joint venture – January 6-8; and Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio – January 9-15.
Many spectacular world coins graded by NGC are being showcased in New York. For the collector, the world, as far as numismatics is concerned, is at their feet. A perusal of the exciting auction catalogs reveals strong contingents from Great Britain and Commonwealth countries, China, South America, and an enormous cache of Imperial Russian coin and medal rarities.
As we go to press, I can report that the Heritage NYINC World and Ancient sale is in the books as generating a solid $12.1 million, with the sale’s highest lot to an NGC-certified South African rarity. The 1897 South African Republic Sixpence Pattern struck in gold, graded NGC PF 63 Cameo, raced to an impressive $329,000.
As the gavels are still pounding away in NYC, the Sunshine State beckons the numismatic nation, as all eyes will be focused on the 60th Annual FUN Show running January 8-11 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Of course, this venue has always been a bellwether and, seemingly, an active and accurate barometer for the upcoming season, as far as numismatics is concerned. The show also represents a fine opportunity for collectors and dealers to enjoy a getaway and an early winter respite in the subtropical climate. Timing for this junket couldn’t be more agreeable, as Old Man Winter’s record-breaking deep freeze has his grip over most of the country. This makes the escape to FUN all but mandatory for every collector!
Whether pundits agree or disagree as to the direction of the market, one thing is for certain, as the show is officially underway as we go to press, there will be excitement and action galore on the bourse floor. Collectors, dealers, exhibits, and of course, coins, will be everywhere. Several traders have already expressed that this may be a perfect storm in relationship to the metals market, especially gold. As a dealer friend relayed to me, “I think the metals markets are great for the buyer right now; gold is around $1,200. It makes it easier on the wallet to pick up a few mint state double eagles. I really expect to do a great business.” Another Midwest dealer/trader said he thinks he will be extremely active in silver, “Silver Eagles, junk 90% bags, and Morgan dollars are going to be enormous sellers at FUN. I feel as my clients do that silver is still way undervalued.”
Another dealer from the host Sunshine State said he is anxious to liquidate some US type coins. “It’s been a bit slow for me the last of 2014,” advised the Florida dealer. “I really need to generate more cash, so I will be offering up some nicer type coins at a discount; nothing wrong with them, but nice coins are just that, nice. Collectors and other dealers are looking for coins that knock your socks off and are cherry picking.”
I certainly can concur with this dealer that while the market is and has been very strong in many areas, coins need to be seen, or at least known to potential buyers, before the purchase is made. This is highly evident by the ongoing decline of material in the sight-unseen market. As a wily old veteran collector friend of mine enumerated to me quite often, “A coin in the hand is worth two unseen any time.”
Yet, as collectors and dealers become reacquainted with each other and their buying habits, the separation between average coins and the coveted ones in every series and price point is focused on eye appeal, the “talk of the coin.”
A collector contemporary of mine told me long ago, “I buy coins that talk to me from the dealer showcase. If it speaks to me, I will gladly shell out the asking price.” I heartily concur. This is extremely important for coins in the $500 and under category. Coins which may have multiples in every dealer’s showcase and at virtually identical asking price, those with the incredible strike, dazzling luster, or unique and attractive toning will immediately find their way into collectors’ hands.
2015 will perhaps redefine what is truly rare. While rarity is always coveted, the sophisticated collector and investor will be working overtime this year, especially at auction, and I feel certain many records will be established. The first battle for numismatic supremacy will be right here at FUN 60. Heritage, of course, holds court with their fabulous FUN Signature Auction and what portends to be a record-smashing Platinum Night January 7-12. Featuring seven live floor sessions and nearly 8,400 lots, this will definitely be a gangbuster of a sale. Rarities, high-grade coins, a wonderful array of true collector coins, and a very strong Colonial contingent, spearheaded by the fabulous Donald G. Partrick collection icons, will definitely make their mark in the marketplace, as well as in the numismatic history books. Last year at FUN, I reported on the trio of coins which eclipsed the million dollar plateau.
Amazingly, pre-bidding for this Heritage FUN Signature sale has already ensured no fewer than 5 NGC-certified coins, all Colonials, have already eclipsed the million dollar benchmark! This is truly amazing, although I’m quite certain that when live action commences several more will easily break that barrier. Last year, in total, one dozen coins sold for over one million dollars at public auction. Just three of those coins from 2014 fell into the Colonial category. Now, as the first cries of 2015 are still echoing, this Heritage event could easily capture 75% or more of the 2014 individual million dollar coin roster in one sale. Wow! The scope and breadth of the honorees here is just fabulous. By sheer numbers, this sale will be hard to replicate, and what is very important to this coin market is that many of the coins will be first timers admitted to this still elite club.
One of my favorite numismatic standouts in this exclusive group is the 1776 Continental Dollar, CURENCY, Silver, Newman 1-C. This mind-boggling and historic US issue is indeed the first “silver” dollar, one struck during the very infancy of our nation’s call to freedom. This fabulous Continental dollar is not struck in pewter, brass or copper, but in silver, the metal which defined those great cartwheels. A coin that actually circulated as currency in colonial America, most probably for several decades before being plucked from circulation and preserved for posterity, is one of only two known to exist. The coin up for bid in Orlando, FL is graded NGC XF 40 and is the finest known. A glimpse at pre-bidding has already pushed this fantastic coin over the vaunted million dollar plateau. I congratulate its next owner as a custodian of America’s first circulating silver dollar!
Although I enjoy the fact that this coin actually rubbed elbows with early colonists in our country, another 1776 Continental Dollar “EG FECIT,” Newman 3-D, also struck in silver, graded NGC MS 62 and one of two known silver examples of this variety, has also created a stir and eclipsed the $1 million plateau in pre-bidding excitement. Both of these exemplary coins last appeared in public sale as a part of the fabulous John J Ford, Jr. collection in October of 2003. In total, there are 15 NGC-certified Continental Dollars up for bid in this wonderful sale.
The remaining roster of the elite NGC million dollar club in pre-bidding includes:
- 1792 Birch 1 Cent J-4 NGC MS 65 RB – Rarity aside, this coin is just a wonder. Spectacular to view, just an amazing coin preserved for future generations in that fabulous NGC holder!
- 1792 Copper Disme J-11 NGC MS 64 RB – The finest of three known examples this exemplary piece last appeared at public auction as part of the Garrett Collection IV in March of 1981 when it captured $45,000!
- 1792 Copper Quarter J-12 NGC MS 63 BN – This “Eagle on Globe” quarter dollar pattern is just an amazingly stylish representation of the Early Colonial period. This coin just exudes strength and beauty and is unique outside of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, which is represented by an AU 50 representative.
Of course, coins for every budget will be coming up for bid, but it is truly amazing where this market kick starts as we power in to 2015. If you can make it, I hope to see you on the bourse or taking in the Heritage mega auction in the Sunshine State.
Until next time, happy collecting!
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.