By Jim Bisognani – NGC Market Report
Baltimore Whitman Expo Underway – Robust Demand For Quality, Rare And Top Quality Coins Is Intact – Metals Market Heating Up
Summer is officially here. Traditionally, it is a time for families to enjoy outings, take in a ballgame, or just fire up the grill in the backyard. With days graciously giving way to more daylight, after putting in a day’s work, it gives all of us an opportunity to enjoy our favorite pastimes which had been put on hold. For most of you reading this column, I think you’ll agree that coins are one of the most enjoyable, leisurely pastimes. No matter what level numismatist you are, a few books, a visit to a local coin shop or to a regional coin show keeps the juices flowing. As I’ve said many times, numismatics really has no down time, but with the longer days at our disposal, let’s take advantage of it.
As tensions heat up in the Middle East gold has solidly reclaimed the $1,300 level for the first time in over a month, and on the strength of an $80 advance since the first of June, the yellow metal is currently trading at levels not seen since mid-April. Silver has powered over the $21 plateau, and as we go to press it is trading at levels not recorded since mid-March, boasting a solid 12% increase in the last 30 days. Certainly, the continued metal market acceleration will translate into more action, enthusiasm and demand in the numismatic market.
As we go to press, all numismatists’ eyes are fixed on the East Coast. The historic sale by Heritage was held in the “Big Apple,” on the afternoon of June 23rd. Commencing at 3 PM local time, The Eugene H. Gardner Collection of US Coins Signature Auction was the focal point for serious collectors and dealers this past Monday afternoon in New York City. Per Mr. Gardner, “I always strived for perfection within my collecting pursuits.” This is readily apparent, if you had a chance to view these lots. Certainly, if you were looking for superb copper or silver US federal issues, this was the venue. For Mint State and Proof coins, there was a phenomenal array, including a complete run of proof sets from the 1840s through the 1850s. This historic auction highlighted 19th century coinage at its very best. In total, $19.6 million was generated for the exciting 637-lot event. It featured a 100% sell-through rate via enthusiastic live, phone and Internet bidding at the historic Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion. The average price realized per lot amounted to just a shade under $31,000!
This epic sale confirms that a robust demand for rare and top quality coins is intact. Topping the NGC coins in the Gardner sale was a scintillating 1850 Liberty Seated Quarter graded NGC PF 68, one of three proofs known of this date. This coin, by far the finest, realized $223,250. This was followed up by an 1873-CC Arrows Liberty Seated Dime graded NGC MS 65 which captured $199,750. This always-popular Carson City installment is a perennial favorite with collectors. It’s estimated that from the original mintage of some 18,791, there are probably fewer than 120 or so survivors known in all grades; interestingly enough, there are only two known certified Mint State specimens, and each is graded MS 65!
According to the learned Heritage senior numismatist, Mark Feld, “Overall, the Gardner sale was extremely strong, with prices realized of $19.6 million compared to a pre-sale estimate of $12-14 million. Some coins realized less than stellar prices, but many others brought staggering, runaway prices. Those in the latter category were generally of exceptional quality and/or eye-appeal. No matter what the majority of bidders are willing to pay for a coin, the top two bidders determine the price realized. And a good number of the coins in this sale were unique or so rare that they might not reappear for sale for literally decades. We were extremely pleased with the results and eagerly anticipate offering the remaining portions of this extraordinary collection.”
Other top NGC draws from the Gardner catalog include the following spectacular coins:
1831 Reverse of 1836 Restrike Half Cent NGC PF 66 RD $47,000
1857 Half Cent NGC PF 66 RB $14,100
1800/79 Draped Bust Cent NGC MS 62 BN $19,388
1803 Draped Bust Cent NGC MS 65 BN $28,200
1830 Capped Bust Half Dime NGC PF 66 $47,000
1837 No Stars, Small Date Liberty Seated Half Dime NGC MS 67 $22,325
1855-O Arrows Liberty Seated Half Dime NGC MS 68 (finest known) $25,850
1796 Draped Bust Dime NGC MS 64 $41,125
1841-O Liberty Seated Quarter NGC MS 67 $55,813
1853 No Arrows Liberty Seated Quarter NGC MS 68 $38,188
1841 Liberty Seated Quarter NGC PF 66 $141,000 (finest known)
1844 Liberty Seated Quarter NGC PF 66 $182,125
1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar NGC MS 61 $152,750
1839 No Drapery Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC MS 65 $88,125
1892-O Barber Half Dollar NGC MS 68 $64,625
1871-CC Liberty Seated Dollar NGC MS 61 $82,250
1846 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 66 $76,375
As successful collectors and dealers settle up on invoices and have a chance to enjoy their conquests in New York, most of the numismatic throng will converge on the Old-Line State for the upcoming Baltimore Whitman Expo, running June 26-29, at the spacious Baltimore Convention Center. As we go to press, there is one day left for potential bidders to review the exciting host auction coin lots offered through Stack’s Bowers June 2014 Auction, which commences June 27 at noon, at the convention center. Featuring a multitude of superb colonial, US federal coins, patterns and currency, for the novice, advanced collector or dealer, there is much to be excited about; there will be ample opportunity to acquire some truly exceptional collector coins. As this article is being written, the following roster of NGC coins represent the leaders in pre-bidding:
1773 No Period After GEORGIVS, 8 Harp Strings Virginia Halfpenny NGC MS 63 RB
1893 Liberty Nickel NGC MS 67
1937-D 3 Legs Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 64
1948 Jefferson Nickel NGC MS 67 5FS
1856 Liberty Seated Dime NGC PF 64
1918/7-S Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 62
1932-S Washington Quarter NGC MS 66
1919-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar NGC MS 64
1795 3 Leaves BB-27, B-5 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar NGC AU 50
1846 Med Date Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 63
1856 Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 65
1881-CC GSA Morgan Silver Dollar NGC MS 67
1853-D Type I Gold Dollar NGC MS 63
1807 Capped Bust Left Half Eagle NGC MS 63
1865 Liberty $10 NGC PF 62
1882 Liberty $20 NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo
1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC PF 64
1912 Saint-Gaudens $20 NGC MS 65
1915-S Panama-Pacific Exposition $50 NGC Unc Details
(1837-1842) Kagin-13 20 CARATS Christopher Bechtler $2.50 NGC MS 62
For those of you who are attending the Baltimore Whitman Expo, enjoy the show. I hope to see you on the bourse!
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.