by Al Doyle for CoinWeek ………
Does that headline sound insane? How can a collector with limited funds even think of obtaining something from the jaw-dropping Eric P. Newman collection?
It should be obvious that I'm not advising Joe Lunchbucket to bid on the 1796 Draped Bust Small Eagle quarter certified as MS-67* by the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. (all of the Newman coins have been graded by NGC and carry a special label) that has a high bid of $1,057,500 with the live auction 10 days away.
The same applies to the other condition census early quarters and type coins, many of which display gorgeous toning from decades in Wayte Raymond albums. A five-figure bid may be sufficient for some of the "cheaper" lots in this segment of Newman's holdings.
Look beyond the dozens of trophy pieces in the upcoming Heritage sale. With 1,827 lots, the math says that every Newman coin can't be a big-ticket item. As a dedicated and active numismatic researcher and author at age 102, Newman has had countless coins at every point on the price scale pass through his hands, and many of them are part of the auction.
If the phrase "Newman coins" seems like nothing but elite material with prices to match, you might be delighted to explore the rest of the collection. There is a broad selection of three-cent nickels in grades from Extra Fine-40 to Mint State-63.
Numerous Liberty and Buffalo nickels in MS-61 to MS-65 are the kind of coins that (minus the Newman pedigree) typically sell for $50 to $250. As for better-date Buffalos in circulated grades, check out the 1919-D in VF-35 and 1919-S in EF-40.
Many of the Seated Liberty half dimes and dimes along with the Barber and Mercury dimes are well within the reach of the typical middle-class coin enthusiast. It remains to be seen what kind of premium the Newman reputation and mystique will command, but placing some decent bids may not be a futile effort.
The 1917-S type 2 MS-61 and a 1920-D in EF-40 are a pair of interesting Standing Liberty quarters that shouldn't cost a fortune. An assortment of circulated Barber half dollars should appeal to those who appreciate the scarcity of pieces in Fine or better. Lower-priced Morgan and Peace dollars along with some affordable commemoratives also make the budget list.
Along with being a historic event, the Eric P. Newman auction is one of those rare occasions where hundreds of "collector coins" - items featuring the kind of underappreciated dates and grades sought by savvy and value-conscious numismatists - can be found in one place. It's likely that almost every lot in the sale will command a premium over typical retail prices, but the pedigree will be worth something extra.