by Jim Bisognani for NGC ........
Coin Collecting Is No Longer Just A "Hobby"; NGC Half Disme Joins Million Dollar Club; Long Beach Expo Underway
Well the first month is in the books for 2013 and what an eventful January it was! Already over $100 million in rare coin sales have been generated through public auction. Powerful numismatic action in Florida and New York has set the tone for what many in the industry, myself included, believe is going to be a tremendous year. Stack’s Bowers rounded out the exciting month with their Americana auction in New York City.
Per an enthusiastic Brian Kendrella, Director of Operations of US Collectibles for Stack’s Bowers, the sale realized an impressive $27.1 million. Colonials, early federal copper and silver issues, rare gold and high grade Classic Commemoratives were all hot properties. Heading the NGC charge was the attractive and finest graded 1792 Half Disme. A prize in any condition, this spectacularly struck and stunningly patinated coin, graded NGC MS 68, powered to $1,145,625. A wondrous branch mint specimen 1895-O Morgan Dollar graded NGC SP 65 raced to $411,250. The finest known within this designation, this majestic coin is a deeply mirrored lightly toned gem. Next, the enigmatic and extremely rare 1854-S Liberty Quarter Eagle graded NGC AU details. Of the limited mintage of 246 examples struck of this denomination as a part of the San Francisco branch mint’s first year of operation, it’s estimated that fewer than a dozen pieces may exist in all states of preservation. Despite the modest surface impairments, this example claimed a solid $188,000.
Other important NGC properties meeting the hammer in New York at the Stack’s Bowers Americana include:
- (c.1694) London elephant token thick planchet NGC MS 64 BN $8,225
- 1856 Braided Hair Large Cent NGC MS 66 RD $8,225
- 1943 Lincoln Cent—Struck on a Dime Planchet NGC MS 65 $10,575
- 1918-S Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 66 $18,800
- 1927-D Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 65 $7,872
- 1818 Capped Bust Quarter NGC MS 66 $28,788
- 1918 Illinois Centennial Half Dollar NGC MS 67 $7,050
- 1936 Long Island Tercentenary Half Dollar NGC MS 66 $5,581
- 1954 Washington/Carver Half Dollar NGC MS 66 $2,585
- 1808 Capped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC MS 60 $126,900
- 1873-CC Liberty Half Eagle NGC AU 50 $21,150
- 1876-S Liberty Eagle NGC AU 55 $11,162
- 1915 Indian Eagle NGC MS 66 $13,512
- 1857-S Liberty Double Eagle Ex: SS Central America NGC MS 66 $19,388
- 1847 Hawaii Cent NGC MS 64BN $3,055
Brian Hodge of Lee Minshull Rare Coins told me that sales volume thus far seems to be about 25% higher than it was up to this point last January. “I think the market is full of life and energy and I've probably never been more excited to do what I do than I am now,” relayed an enthusiastic Hodge. “I think million dollar coin sales are really firing up the market. To me that signifies that rare coins are really coming into their own and taking their place on the world stage. This is very real money and I think that gives a level of confidence to the world that should only further ignite the entire industry”.
Some substantial NGC sales thus far in 2013 by LMRC have been:
- 1866-S $20 No Motto NGC AU 58
- 1876 $3 NGC PR 64 Cameo
- 1857-S $20 Ex: Brother Jonathan NGC MS 66 (what a beauty this coin was!)
- 1930-S $10 NGC MS 65
- 1874 Aluminum Pattern $20 Ex: Farouk NGC PR 66
- 1909-D $20 NGC MS 65
- 1907 High Relief $20 NGC PR 64
- 1907 High Relief-Flat Rim $20 NGC MS 66
- And a couple of really exceptional Gilt $5 and 10 patterns!!
Ian Russell, President of Great Collections concurs and advised me “The coin market is strong - it started off with an amazing FUN show - Most dealers were reporting strong sales. We collected a few nice consignments that are currently being offered on Great Collections. One important consignment that is coming up for auction February 17th and February 24th is called the Milton Collection. The first part of the collection is almost 200 coins and includes Seated Quarters and Dollars, Colonials, Capped Bust Quarters and more. The collection was put together in the 1960s and 1970s and purchased mostly from a New York City dealer, still housed in the original flips from the firm. It was fun to go through all the original flips and grades assigned back then and how they compare today. All coins from this collection have been graded by NGC and we are predicting spirited bidding and 100% sell-through of this consignment.”
Important NGC properties from the Milton Collection include:
- 1788 Massachusetts Copper NGC AU 53
- 1806 Draped Bust Half Cent Small 6, No Stems NGC AU 58
- 1872 Two Cent Piece NGC AU 58
- 1858-S Seated Liberty Dime NGC AU 55
- 1861-S Seated Liberty Dime NGC AU 55
- 1866 Liberty Nickel NGC AU 58
- 1806/5 B-1 Draped Bust Quarter NGC XF 40
- 1806 Draped Bust Quarter NGC VF Details
- 1828 Capped Bust Quarter NGC AU 50
- 1821 Capped Bust Quarter NGC AU 50
- 1806 Capped Bust Half Dollar Reeded Edge NGC MS 61
- 1859 Seated Liberty Silver Dollar NGC Proof Details
- 1843 Seated Liberty Silver Dollar NGC AU 55
- 1846 Seated Liberty Silver Dollar NGC Unc Details
- 1869 Seated Liberty Silver Dollar NGC AU 55
- 1874 Trade Silver Dollar NGC Proof 62
- Per Ian all of the great NGC coins will be on display at the Long Beach Expo, February 7-9.
With the arrival of February it’s time for Punxsutawney Phil to check for his shadow, Super bowl parties and office pools. February also signals the first of the always popular and well attended Long Beach Expos. Dealers and collectors having made the pilgrimage to Southern California first stopped in Los Angeles, taking in the Goldberg’s Pre-Long Beach Auction running Feb 3-6. At the conclusion, the numismatic fraternity made a beeline for the shores of Long Beach for the great event. As we go press, all attendees have set up for business and the spacious Long Beach Convention Center has opened its doors to the public. Running Feb 7-9 top notch dealers and high octane certified NGC offerings abound on the bourse. The host Heritage Signature Auction (February 7-8 &10) also afford dealers and collectors a great chance to acquire key and high grade offerings which includes the following:
- 1836 Original Classic Head Half Cent NGC PF 64 RB
- 1909-S Lincoln Cent NGC MS 67 RD
- 1907-D Barber Dime NGC MS 67
- 1806 Draped Bust Quarter NGC MS 65
- 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 64 Full Head
- 1795 3 Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar NGC MS 61
- 1871 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo
- 1871-CC Liberty Seated Dollar NGC AU 55
- 1889-CC Morgan Dollar NGC MS 63
- 1895 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 66 Cameo
- 1856-S Type II Gold Dollar NGC MS 64
- 1876 Liberty Half Eagle NGC PF 65 Cameo
- 1914-S Indian Half Eagle NGC MS 64
- 1915-S Pan-Pac Round $50 NGC MS 66
With record prices being registered on a regular basis mainstream media are pumping industry professionals for information on what makes this hobby so dynamic. So just exactly what is it all about?
Certainly in a nutshell this hobby is one that caters to virtually everyone. Regardless of the collectors budget there are coins to be purchased, collected, and preserved and hopefully the torch and enthusiasm will be passed on to future generations. Of course there are many “investors” on the fringe of numismatics which take very little interest in the “Hobby of Kings”, they merely supply the capital and are looking to procure and hold a tangible asset that appears to be a worthy and profitable alternative. For every one that just store their coins in a safe deposit box there are those that open up those containers and begin to study and appreciate the true treasure that they are custodians of. I have witnessed many of these “investors” become enthusiastic converts joining the numismatic fold taking great pride of ownership and learning about their NGC-certified holdings. One such investor who is now truly a serious collector was amazed at the beauty and the preservation of the superb NGC coins in his portfolio. “I have many investments that are merely paper based and I do own some real estate, but I got hooked on coins especially Capped Bust Halves,” relayed the gent from Illinois. “It was a challenge to acquire the best coins I could afford and the quest to find the coins which I needed made me appreciate the true rarity. I was used to putting in an order for stock and I could acquire any amount that I wanted anytime of the day. Yet with numismatics the competition is everywhere. I can possess all the money in the world and I still have to wait my turn and battle with other collectors and dealers. For coins, especially the rare ones, money is not the deciding factor. I hope that someday my collection or collections will rank amongst the finest according to the NGC Registry. It will be a great honor.”
Of course for many individuals immediate satisfaction and “numismatic fulfillment” is very important. For those folks there are many US type coins and series on the market that can be readily purchased via the Internet or at any number of regional shows. I just spoke to a collector who completed a Jefferson Nickel collection, from 1938-1966 the latter the year the man from Montana was born. “All are NGC MS 65 FS and those which aren’t available as “Full Step” I have in MS 66. I am now looking at improving my collection, elevating the grade by one point. I’m looking to match the coins, it’s important to have uniformity in color and strike that’s a challenge in itself. Some of the early Jefferson’s can really be amazing, light bluish icy steel toning accented by a little bit of rose coloration. Those are the examples that I am looking for - the effect is quite dramatic yet they are still affordable.”
As I have said many times, great coins and not always those at the top of the grading ladder and price platform are always going to be targeted. Eye appealing coins, those with an interesting story and pedigree are bound to attract and capture an eager audience. Now seemingly more than ever, rarity combined with a historic track record, coupled with liquidity on a global scale are key components in ushering in and conveying the remarkable attributes the world of numismatics has to offer. It is truly a great hobby we have! Whether a boy scout is looking to fulfill a requirement for a merit badge and gets the collecting bug, or some silver coins that were passed down from grandmother to daughter create a spark; scores of eager hobbyists of all ages and incomes are becoming an integral part of the landscape.
Yet as we have all known for some time with those simple yet historic discs of metal now commanding millions of dollars at public sale, coin collecting is no longer just a “hobby”. Heads of those previously not interested are beginning to turn towards numismatics in a decisive way. Many wanting a safer yet more diversified haven for their assets are calling and their presence cannot be ignored.
Yes, there are many rare coins in the marketplace. The official grading service of the ANA, NGC offers all who enter the playing field equal footing and a much valued security blanket.
One collector who is relative new comer to numismatics told me that without NGC certified coins they wouldn’t have embarked on the numismatic bandwagon at all. “To me," advised the collector from Colorado, "coins were something to collect and trade with others of like interests, but that was really the extent of it. I never thought that I would be comfortably investing thousands of dollars into this. I did have to reassure my wife, coins are not a fad like beanie babies or other speculative limited editions which seem to appear in force around the holidays. Numismatics has a true and storied lineage for centuries. I am glad that I am, in a small way part of that cycle.”
Sales of million dollar coins are certainly not the backbone of this hobby and business, they are the exception. Granted the excitement and majesty associated with the sale or acquisition of superlative, rare and iconic coins may be newsworthy, but for most of the collecting fraternity they are satisfied with just collecting.
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.