U.S. Rare Coin Market Roared in 2013, Reports Professional Numismatists Guild

From a multi-million dollar nickel to a $10 million silver dollar, the market for high-quality, historic United States rare coins established unprecedented records in 2013 for the number of coins that sold for $1 million or more and the highest price paid for any rare coin, according to a year-end tabulation by the Professional Numismatists Guild (http://www.PNGdealers.org).  The PNG is a nonprofit organization composed of many of the country’s top rare coin and paper money dealers.

“We estimate the overall coin market in the U.S. at about $5 billion in 2013.  That includes auctions and private transactions made at coin shows, by mail order, online and at coin stores, but does not include numismatic bullion items or the modern coins sold directly by the United States Mint,” said Terry Hanlon, PNG President.

Million dollar Coins Thumb U.S. Rare Coin Market Roared in 2013, Reports Professional Numismatists GuildWhy did the market for high-quality, historic rare U.S. coins do so well in 2013?

“Over the course of this year we continued to see the precious metals market decline and the stock market rise.  The U.S. and other world economies, specifically the Eurozone, are seeing an economic recovery, however temporary it may be.  A growing interest in rare coins is typical in this type of environment.  The same for fine art which is booming right now.  Rare coins and fine art seem to coincide with one another in this economic environment,” said Hanlon.

“Smart investors and collectors see a good buying opportunity with some of their profits taken from the increase in stocks being reinvested in rare coins.  There’s also the continuing interest in hard assets with the confidence that rare coin values will grow with the success of the economic conditions, even as the precious metals themselves may be declining,” he explained.

“The prices realized for U.S. coins at public auctions this past year totaled nearly $393 million, the highest aggregate total anyone can recall,” said Hanlon.

“There was incredible competition for so-called ‘trophy coins’ with 11 U.S. coins selling at auctions for more than $1 million each in 2013.  One historically significant coin, believed by many to be the first silver dollar struck by the United States Mint in 1794, sold for $10 million.  That’s the highest confirmed price ever paid for any rare coin,” stated Hanlon.

A 12th U.S. coin also crossed the seven-figure mark in a private transaction conducted by a PNG member-dealer.

The most valuable U.S. coins purchased by winning bidders at auctions in 2013 were:

  • 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar, $10,016,875 (Stack’s Bowers Galleries)
  • 1804 Type I silver dollar, $3,877,500 (Heritage Auctions)
  • 1913 Liberty Head nickel, $3,172,500 (Heritage Auctions)
  • 1880 Coiled Hair gold $4 denomination Stella, $2,574,000 (Bonhams)
  • 1796 silver quarter-dollar, $1,527,500 (Heritage Auctions)
  • 1792 silver half disme (early spelling of dime) $1,410,000 (Heritage Auctions)
  • 1796 silver dollar, $1,175,000 (Heritage Auctions)
  • 1783 Nova Constellatio Quint Type II, $1,175,000 (Heritage Auctions)
  • 1852 Augustus Humbert $10 gold coin, $1,057,500 (Heritage Auctions)
  • 1792 half disme, $1,145,625 (Stack’s Bowers Galleries)
  • 1879 Coiled Hair gold $4 Stella, $1,041,300 (Bonhams)

The 12th U.S. rare coin that changed hands for more than a million dollars in 2013 was an 1894 San Francisco Mint dime that sold for over $2 million in a private sale conducted by David Lawrence Rare Coins

A year-end survey by PNG of auction houses in the United States indicates they sold an aggregate total of $392.8 million of U.S. rare coins in public auctions in 2013:

  • Heritage Auctions, $236.5 million
  • Spectrum Group International (Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Teletrade), $105 million
  • Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, $21.1 million
  • Bonhams, $13.5 million
  • Legend-Morphy Rare Coins, $7.2 million
  • David Lawrence Rare Coins, $5.5 million
  • Scotsman, $2.8 million
  • Krueger & Krueger, $1.2 million

All prices include the buyer’s premium, if any, to reflect the actual total prices paid by the winning bidders.  The PNG survey did not include 2013 auctions of paper money or coins produced by other countries (“world coins”), two areas of the numismatic marketplace that also experienced record prices for many items.

With the boom in prices for high-quality, historic rare coins, Hanlon cautioned: “We have an important saying in the numismatic marketplace. If you don’t know rare coins, you’d better know your rare coin dealer.”

Founded in 1955, the Professional Numismatists Guild is composed of many of the country’s top rare coin and paper money dealers.  PNG member-dealers must adhere to a strict code of ethics in the buying and selling of numismatic merchandise.  A complete listing of PNG member-dealers is available online at http://www.PNGdealers.org.

For a copy of “The Pleasure of Numismatics,” an informative, ten-page illustrated educational booklet about collecting rare coins, paper money, tokens and medals, send $1 to: Professional Numismatists Guild, 28441 Rancho California Road, Suite 106, Temecula, California 92590.

For additional information about the Professional Numismatists Guild, visit online at http://www.PNGdealers.org or call the PNG headquarters in Temecula, California at (951) 587-8300.

About the Author:

The PNG is a nonprofit organization composed of the world's top rare coin and paper money experts. As numismatic professionals, our primary mission is to make the hobby safe for collectors and investors by maintaining rigid standards of excellence for our member dealers.

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