Southern California Auctions Pull in Nearly $30 Million; Numismatics Heard from the Rooftops
by Jim Bisognani for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation Weekly Market Report ….
Supply and demand still dictates pricing – “it’s the biggest purchase I’ve made that I can’t live in or doesn’t have wheels”
An early February visit to the Golden State has confirmed that the rare coin market remains focused and highly energized. A pair of auctions in Southern California has already added nearly another $30 million in sales only ten days in to the month! As evidenced by the tremendous showing at the Goldberg’s Pre-Long Beach sale, supply and demand still dictate pricing in the hotly contested numismatic arena. Per an enthusiastic Larry Goldberg: “Our just completed auction sales were GREAT; GREAT; GREAT! All three Pre-Long Beach sales were terrific! Our total hammer with the buyer’s fee was $18,334,470. The ancient coins went through the roof. Prices were very strong and there were many different buyers.”
An NGC standout in this realm was a Sicily Syracuse Second Democracy Gold Dekadracm graded NGC Choice AU that captured $9,200 – some 65% over the high pre-sale estimate! The “modern era foreign” coins sold very well and the nice problem-free coins brought very high prices. A powerful example of the excitement: a high grade but otherwise common 1900 Russian 5 rubles designated NGC MS 68, one of eight graded as such according to the NGC World Coin Census thundered to $6,325 – over six times the high pre-auction estimate! Per Goldberg there was lots of internet action during the auction. The US market continued to be very strong as it has been for some time. The real nice coins brought new record prices. Some of the rare and beautiful NGC coins included a phenomenal 1827 Capped Bust Dime graded NGC PF 67 Cameo. An incredible coin—the finest known of only 12 examples struck – it realized $86,250. The historic and enigmatic 1848 Liberty “CAL” Quarter Eagle witnessed a desirable and problem-free NGC AU 58 example take home $52,900. There are other strong areas as well, especially the copper Large Cents from the Paul Gerrie collection. “Even the cheaper coins all sold at very good prices! Large lots brought well over estimates. We sold over 95% of the lots consigned,” advised an energized Goldberg.
Other notable NGC prizes from the Goldberg sale include;
- 1824/2 Capped Bust Dime NGC PF 65 $41,975
- 1873 Liberty Seated Quarter arrows NGC PF 68 $29,900
- 1829 Capped Bust Half NGC PF 63 $42,550
- 1871-CC Liberty Seated Dollar NGC AU 58 $28,865
- 1896 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo $29,900
- 1871 Type III Gold Dollar NGC MS 68 $13,225
- 1910 Indian Quarter Eagle NGC PF 67 $46,000
- 1874-CC Liberty Eagle NGC AU 58 $28,750
All of this excitement in Los Angeles was followed by the host Long Beach Expo US Coin Signature Auction by Heritage. Realizing a formidable $9.8 million, heading the NGC sortie was the always-popular 1915-S Panama-Pacific $50 Commemorative. This superb NGC MS 66 example of the round variant reported in at $146,875. Next on the report was the enigmatic and rare 1838 Judd-85 Name Omitted Gobrecht Dollar, which saw a solid NGC PF 65 thunder to $123,375. As always high grade and rare Gold coins caused a commotion. An exemplary 1890-CC Double Eagle graded NGC MS 63, the finest known according to the NGC Census, went to an excited floor bidder at an impressive $41,125, which is a record price for this coin in this grade.
Other top tier and high grade NGC offerings at Long Beach included the following;
- 1857 Flying Eagle Cent NGC MS 66 $13,513
- 1822 Capped Bust Dime NGC MS 66 $70,500
- 1806 Draped Bust Quarter NGC MS 65 $47,000
- 1921 Walking Liberty Half NGC MS 65 $14,100
- 1795 3 Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar NGC MS 61 $44,063
- 1871 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo $41,125
- 1895 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 66 Cameo $70,500
- 1901 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 67 $14,688
- 1856-S Type II Gold Dollar NGC MS 64 $52,875
- 1875 Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC MS 61 $23,500
- 1838 Liberty Eagle NGC AU 58 $30,550
- 1857-S Inverted “S” Liberty $20 Ex: S.S. Republic NGC MS 62 $11,457
- 1876-S Liberty $20 NGC MS 64 $28,200
- 1890-CC Liberty $20 NGC MS 63 $41,125
- 1915-S Panama-Pacific Round $50 NGC MS 65 $123,375
One enthusiastic collector I spoke to after his visit to the Long Beach Expo confided to me that he just purchased a 1907 $20 Saint-Gaudens High Relief graded NGC MS 65. “I have had my eyes on one of these for a long time, I really didn’t plan on picking it up at the show but when I saw this one in a dealer’s showcase I immediately fell in love with it!” The collector from New Jersey said “I really didn’t hesitate in pulling the trigger. Thankfully when I got home I only had a little explaining to do as my wife has known about my love affair with this beauty for several years. It’s the biggest purchase I’ve made that I can’t live in or doesn’t have wheels.”
You never know when you will meet a fellow numismatist! After the enormous winter storm named Nemo dumped nearly 3 feet of white stuff at my New Hampshire residence the first week of February I jumped into action shoveling and snow blowing the driveway and a swath around our home. Not wanting the dreaded “ice dams” to take hold I gathered up a pair of shovels and brushes, pulled out my extension ladder and made my way on top of my roof and began shoveling nearly waist high snow off in all directions. It was early afternoon, a steady light freezing rain was now falling and I was still manically jettisoning snow off my rooftop when I heard a voice from below shout up “Hey when you’re done you can jump off.” This comment was obviously made in jest, but it was actually a possibility and I had considered taking the plunge on to that cushiony white blanket below me after I finished my job. I didn’t know who the gentleman was but he was wearing a utilities company service slicker and was obviously out taking meter readings. We then talked about the weather, world events and the subject of coins came up. What ensued was about an hour conversation with this well-versed fellow by the name of Dan.
Those that know me realize that I will gleefully chat for hours about the joys of numismatics but this mid-winter rooftop verbal exchange has to rank amongst the most unusual locations for a discussion even by my standards. Dan told me that he actually got started in numismatics mostly by “pressure.” He started trading stock options back over a decade or so. Dan subscribed to three or four different stock newsletters and with each month’s communiqué there would be an insert from a coin company. A lot of the newsletter issues talked of the importance of diversifying into gold and silver because of the government debt and deficit spending. So one day Dan thought he would take the plunge. “I called a coin company and spoke with a gentleman there. This is where the “pressure’ came in. I knew nothing of coins and I am an extremely skeptical person.” It actually took a few phone conversations before Dan bought anything.
His first purchase was two coins: an 1887-S Liberty $20 NGC MS 62 and an 1892-S Liberty $20 NGC MS 63. $5,000 total. Yet when the shipment arrived it was only one Double Eagle coin and it was neither of these two!! He was sure he had been taken!
“I called and they said they had sent this coin in error, but it was actually a better selection. YEAH right I thought! Scared me to death, $5,000 was a lot of money to me! I sent their coin back and they sent me my original order. Two plus years later I sold the two coins back to them for $7,500.”
The “mistake” coin which the company sent had just sold for $23,500!! In hindsight, Dan advised, “I should have kept that ‘mistake’ coin.”
This was his initiation into numismatics. Since that time Dan has bought a variety of coins. “I have some NGC MS 70 Platinum Eagles, several NGC-graded Gold Eagles of various denominations and a quantity of Silver Eagles. About 15-20 are NGC graded. I have a couple of NGC MS 69 Silver Pandas and I have accumulated quite a bit of junk silver.” He has also acquired numerous modern silver commemoratives from the US Mint.
“My two biggest reasons for collecting,” according to the man from New Hampshire, “Safety – I want to have money other than paper – and appreciation. I also believe silver and gold are great stores of value, and I think they are going much higher still over the next 5 to 7 years. I know a lot more about coins compared to when I started; I have inquired and read a lot. But I know very little about real numismatics and collecting overall compared to how much there is to know! I do find it all very, very fascinating!” Well, now Dan is well aware of all that NGC has to offer him and how it will enhance his collecting experiences. So whether on the bourse or on the roof top, l look forward to chatting with you all soon.
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.