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Category: Fun Show

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The Fun Has Begun

News and Analysis on scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #34

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

While the Summer ANA Convention includes a wide variety of items of interest to collectors of U.S. coins, paper money, tokens and medals, plus some coins of the world, the Winter FUN Convention is the leading event of the year in the field of rare U.S. coins. Today’s discussion will be a little shorter than usual as I am busy in Tampa viewing coins, witnessing events and gathering information during FUN week. Yes, the winter FUN Convention formally begins on Thursday, at the Tampa Convention center. Coin related events, however, have already occurred.

I. B&M Pre-FUN Auction

I attended the Bowers & Merena pre-FUN auction on Tuesday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which is near the Tampa Airport. In last week’s column, I discussed the fact that Bowers & Merena and Stack’s are in the process of merging. The new Stack’s-Bowers president, Chris Napolitano, was in attendance. It was made clear that QDB and Chris Karstedt would continue to play roles in Stack’s-Bowers. Brad Karoleff, the longtime auctioneer for B&M, and Melissa Karstedt, an auctioneer at Stack’s, served as auctioneers during Tuesday night. Unfortunately, as this auction did not finish until well into Tuesday night, there was not time for me to thoroughly analyze this event.

On Tuesday, the lot viewing room for the B&M auction was packed. There were, at times, people waiting for seats in a fairly large room on the main floor of a very large hotel. My sources tell me that lot viewing attendance was excellent on Sunday and Monday as well, and that there were many collectors and dealers viewing at Heritage’s lot viewing room at the Tampa Convention center on Monday and Tuesday. So far, there seems to be even more interest in the FUN auctions than there was last year. It is too early, however, to draw a conclusion on the topic of collector interest in FUN week auctions.

In my column of Dec. 8, I raised the topic of FUN auctions, and I then provided explanations as to the general importance of January FUN auctions. My column of Dec. 8 is primarily about Jim O’Neal’s landmark set of Indian Head Half Eagles ($5 gold coins) and I remind readers that I wrote a two part series on O’Neal’s Eagles ($10 gold coins) in 2009. Please also read my article about the Jan. 7, 2010 Platinum Night event. (As usual, clickable links are in blue.)

In my column of Dec. 22, I focused upon the Henry Miller collection, the core of which Heritage will auction on Thursday, during Platinum Night. On Dec. 15, I wrote about the Malibu set of Proof Liberty Seated Quarters. The collector known as ‘Malibu’ also consigned Proof Liberty Seated halves and silver dollars to Tuesday night’s event, plus a few other coins. As I earlier suggested, his set of Proof Liberty Seated Quarters is far more spectacular than his respective sets of halves and dollars. I was delighted to finally have the opportunity to view all of his Liberty Seated Quarters, Half Dollars and Dollars. (more…)

Legendary $20 Gold 1882 Double Eagle Coin To Be Offered by Heritage at Summer Fun Auction

The 1882 double eagle is so rare that even the Smithsonian Institution, keeper of the National Numismatic Collection, lacks an example of this issue.

While there are numerous double eagle issues from the late 1870s through early 1890s that boast extraordinarily low mintages, the 1882 is the absolute lowest-mintage of them all, at 571 coins. Any representative of this issue, in any grade, is an extraordinary rarity.

The next-lowest mintage of the denomination in the 1880s is the 1885, produced to the extent of 751 coins–an increase of over 30% in comparison to the 1882. In fact, the 1882 double eagle has the lowest mintage of any circulation strike in the double eagle series, save for the 1861-P Paquet Reverse.

The 1882 double eagle is not only an issue with a remarkably low mintage to begin with, but its rarity is compounded because so few were saved. The handful of contemporary collectors who specialized in gold–and they were few and far between–preferred proof examples, which could be had from the Mint for a modest premium.

The reasons for the minuscule mintage are complicated. Mint officials had adopted a new policy to stimulate national demand for half eagles and eagles, according to Rusty Goe in The Mint on Carson Street.

“… double eagle output was decreased on a national scale as the Treasury implemented its new policy of expanding the distribution of $5 and $10 gold pieces. It was the Treasury’s conviction that if more gold coins in denominations less than twenty dollars were in reserve at Mint offices around the country, depositors would accept these coins in payment in lieu of waiting for additional double eagles to be struck.”

At any rate, the nation’s operating mints had other troubles, as they shouldered the enormous burden of Morgan silver dollar production in 1882, amounting to more than 27.5 million pieces at four facilities.

By contrast, only three mints struck double eagles at all, as New Orleans’ last twenty was the 1879-O. In 1882 San Francisco struck 1.13 million twenties, with nearly 40,000 in Carson City–and the legendary low mintage of 571 double eagles in Philadelphia.

This coin will be offered at  Heritage’s Official Summer Fun Sale in Orlando, Fl as Lot # 1464

Population: 2 in 53, 7 finer (6/10)

Preparing Yourself for the FUN Coin Show in Orlando

BY Doug Winter –

Amazingly, the 2010 FUN is a scant two weeks away. If you have decided to attend the show (and I strongly suggest that if you go to just one show all year that this you consider this one) here is a short list of things to consider.

orlando_convention_center1. Bring a good lamp. Viewing conditions at the FUN show are not optimal and a good coin viewing lamp is essential. Try if possible to recreate the conditions that you use when you view coins at your home or office.

2. Pull the trigger on really cool coins. My gut feeling is that really good coins are going to be in short supply at this year’s FUN show. My best advice is that if you see something that looks really great or something that you’ve wanted for a long time, don’t waffle.

3. Take an hour lunch break every day. The FUN show is huge and it can be a pretty intense experience for the collector and dealer alike. I think it’s a great idea to leave the show for an hour every day in order to eat a good lunch and take a coin break. Some of the worst purchases I’ve ever made at shows have been when I’ve been tired, cranky and hungry.

4. Have a game plan. If you’ve never been to a major show like FUN, it can be really intimidating. There are hundreds and hundreds of dealers and it’s hard to know where to start. Before you go, spend time on the FUN website ( and make a list of the dealers that you want to see first. (more…)

PCGS To Dispaly All-Time Finest Registry Set of Early U.S. Half Dollars at FUN

1794 half dollar, PCGS MS61 finest known, from the Dale Friend Collection.More than 100 coins from the all-time finest registry set of early U.S. half dollars in the PCGS Set RegistrySM will be displayed at the Professional Coin Grading Service booth, January 7 – 9, 2010, during the first three days of the Florida United Numismatists convention in Orlando. The coins are from the collection of Dale Friend of Nevada, and 20 of them are either the finest or tied for the finest ever graded by PCGS.

“This wonderful collection has been assembled over many years. Dale has always attempted to combine the finest technical grade with the choicest eye appeal. Most of these early half dollars have gorgeous, original toning and luster, and are a pleasure to examine,” said Donald E. Willis, Jr., President of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

Friend’s basic set collection of circulation strike early half dollars, 1794 – 1839, has been ranked number one in the PCGS Set Registry the past six years. His set with major varieties has been the best the past four years. Both sets have earned the honor of being the number one all-time finest in their category.

“The basic set is 100 percent complete and has a weighted grade point average of 59.831. The early half dollars set with varieties is nearly 90 percent complete and has a weighted GPA of 59.104,” said BJ Searls, PCGS Set Registry Manager.

A total of 101 coins from Friend’s award-winning early half dollars collections will be exhibited at the PCGS booth, #138, at the FUN convention. (more…)

Pre-FUN Observations

By Doug Winter –

1920-S Eagle from Heritage's FUN Auction January 2009I think this year’s FUN show will reveal alot about the direction of the market for the year. On Wall Street, it’s a known fact that if January is strong, the rest of the year is as well. I can’t state this with total certainty as far as coins go but my experience is that a strong FUN generally means the rest of the year will be good as well.

Early reports from the pre-FUN show (which I am not attending) are interersting. Some dealers clearly “get” the fact that the market isn’t as strong as it was and that their coins need to be repriced to sell. Others appear to be in strong denial mode. If you notice minimal changes in your favorite dealer’s inventory after this show, you’ll quickly figure out if he or she “gets” it or not.

For me, a problem at past FUN shows has been a lack of material. I’m not sure this will be the case this year. I’ve already bought some pretty outstanding new coins and I have the feeling that buying this year will not be as hard as in the past. Plus there is always the looming specter of $100 milion+ in coins at the auctions.

Someone asked me the other day what the keys will be to a dealer’s success (or lack of it) in 2009. I think it boils down to three simple things: ample capitalization, having good clients and having established programs to sell into. Any dealer who is weak in at least two of these three areas is in for a long year.

I’m not totally certain that the rare date gold market is going to be as easy to analyze post-FUN as is, say, the type coin or widget markets. None of the major auctions are especially strong in any of the important areas of dated gold. Early indications appear that nice pre-1834 gold seems to be doing fine, particularly if the coins have been approved by CAC. The Heritage sale contains an important collection of Indian Head eagles so we will, no doubt, get a feel for what gem examples of the rarities in this aerea are worth. But I’m afraid that areas like C+D gold, Type One and Two double eagles and Carson City issues won’t be as easy to gauge; at least not for the next month or two.

Heritage Presents 5200 Lot Currency Auction at Florida United Numismatists Show, Orlando Florida

1905 $20 Gold Certificate FR-1180Heritage is the official auctioneer of the Florida United Numismatists Show, and will conduct a 5200+ Lot Currency Signature Auction on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday January 8-10, 2009 at the Orange County Convention Center, 9400 Universal Blvd., Orlando Florida. The Convention Center is also the site of the Florida United Numismatists Show, as well as the location for lot viewing for the CAA auction as well as other Heritage auctions. Nearly 1400 of the lots will be included as part of the Non-Floor Session.

On Thursday evening, Heritage will begin with 750 lots consisting of Colonial Notes, Fractional Currency, Obsoletes, Canadian, Confederate and others. Some of the highlights include, a selection scarce Colonials that have never been offered before. The best pieces have been graded by PMG and it includes a Maryland May 10, 1781 2s6d, an issue that Heritage-CAA has never previously handled, and a Vermont February 1781 1s. The Obsoletes section is highlighted by large offerings from Virginia and Wisconsin. A small, but quality offering of California and Nevada pieces includes a Sacramento – California and Salt Lake Mail Line $10, a San Francisco – Amador Canal & Mining Co. $1, and a handful of notes from the California Panic of 1907. The Tarheel Collection of Postal Notes is the largest collection of its kind to ever be offered and will also be included in Wednesday night’s session. In addition to Serial Number One notes, the collection includes notes from Tucson, Arizona; Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts; and Twin Bridges Montana. The Canadian selection is larger than usual and includes a BC-11 $25 1935 PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ, and a BC-28 $1000 1937 PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 EPQ. (more…)

$50+ Million in FUN Lots Posted

Dallas, TX – The Official Auctions of the FUN 2009 Convention in Orlando have been posted by Heritage Auction Galleries on its Web site. Spread over seven separate catalogs of U.S. coins and currency are some 15,000 lots that Heritage will be offering at FUN. More than 600 consignors are participating in FUN; a further 2,800 lots of ancient and world coins for the NYINC Signature® Auction are also posted for bidding.

“FUN 2009 is simply amazing,” enthused Heritage President Greg Rohan. “Rarities across all series can be found, but our anchors have contributed several outstanding specialty collections. The Lemus Collection – Queller Family Collection Part Two contains 465 different Patterns – so extensive that it warranted a special Pattern Night catalog. The Jim O’Neal Collection of Saint-Gaudens $10 Indians, the #1 All-Time Finest at PCGS in both the Date Set and Full Circulation Strike categories also earned a specialty catalog. Quarter collections will enthuse over The Seated Quarters in the Malibu Collection, Barber and Standing Liberty quarters from The Plymouth Collection, and selections from The Scott Rudolph Collection. Important Morgan dollars have been consigned to FUN in The Arno Collection; The Jack Lee Estate Collection; The Good Morgan Sunshine #3 PCGS Registry Set of Proof Morgan Dollars; and The Sanderson Family Collection of Morgan Dollars. Rare gold has been contributed by The Calvin Collection and The Omaha Collection. The Dale Friend #2 PCGS Registry Set of Barber Half Dollars and The San Jose Collection of Colonial Coinage offer additional specialties. Type and better-date rarities in all series from The Deb-Ann Collection; The Martin L. Diffenbaucher, Jr. Collection, The Findley Collection; and The Peter J. Adasek, M.D. Collection. All together, Platinum Night, featuring our rarest and best coins, is so big that it is spread over two catalogs, being held over two nights.”

“We anticipate that FUN 2009 will be the single most valuable numismatic event of the year, but it remains to be seen how 2009 will rank against our world record 2007 FUN event – at $78 million – and our previous world record for the most valuable numismatic auction at FUN 2005 ($62 million). We are incredibly excited about the coins and notes we are bringing to the eager buyers in Orlando – the rest is up to the market.” (more…)


Highlights Include the “Riverside Collection” of 19th Century Proof Type Coins and an Exceedingly Rare Proof 1874 Double Eagle

Proof 1867 Rays Shield NickelIRVINE, Calif. – Bowers and Merena Auctions, America’s leading rare coin and currency auction house, launches the 2009 auction year with the Bowers and Merena Orlando Rarities Sale on January 4 prior to the FUN Convention. The auction will be held at the International Plaza Resort & Spa in Orlando and begins with lot viewing January 2-4, capped off by the auction on January 4 starting at 4 p.m. EST. Nearly 1,400 rarities will be presented during a single session.

A leading consignment in Bowers and Merena’s Orlando Rarities Sale, the Riverside Collection offers an impressive selection of rare, high-quality proof type coins from the mid-to-late 19th century. “It has been quite some time since we have offered such a wide array of 19th century proof type coins in a single sale,” stated Bowers and Merena president Steve Deeds. “The Riverside Collection includes selections from series as diverse as Shield Nickels and Liberty Double Eagles, the unifying theme being the strong technical merits and fabulous eye appeal that each individual coin possesses.” Most pieces also include a Cameo or Deep/Ultra Cameo designation as part of the grade assigned by PCGS or NGC.

Standouts from the Riverside Collection include lot 250, an enigmatic proof 1867 Rays Shield Nickel rarity, one of the finest examples known of perhaps just 40 to 60 coins believed to exist in all grades, tied for Condition Census #1 and graded by NGC as Proof-66 Cameo. Also noteworthy is lot 978, an exceptionally smooth and attractive 1882 Trade Dollar in Proof-67 Ultra Cameo by NGC. Its NGC Census is just four with a lone Proof-68 UC finer; the finest Deep Cameo specimens known to PCGS grade Proof-66. (more…)

“Spectacular” Rainbow-Toned Morgans Highlight PCGS’ FUN Display

The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) will display Sunnywood’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” set of exquisitely toned Morgan silver dollars and PCGS Co-Founder David Hall will participate in an important educational forum at the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) annual convention in Orlando, January 8 – 11, 2009.

Collector Douglas Kurz will display the Sunnywood's Somewhere Over the Rainbow collection of spectacularly-toned, PCGS-certified Morgan silver dollars at the FUN convention, January 8 - 11, 2009.Hall will be a featured expert in the FUN seminar, “2009 or 1929? You Can Survive and Thrive During the Economic Crisis,” at 1:15 p.m., Saturday, January 10.

“The Sunnywood’s collection is a 100 percent complete, basic set of circulation strike Morgan dollars (1878 – 1921) with spectacular natural toning. The set is ranked number six in the PCGS Set Registry with a weighted grade point average and set rating of 64.611,” said BJ Searls, Set Registry Manager.

“The collection was assembled by attorney Douglas Kurz who will be on hand at FUN to discuss the composition of the set. One of the main attractions is an 1881-S graded PCGS MS68 with vivid rainbow toning that’s considered by many Morgan dollar enthusiasts to be the ultimate, finest-toned Morgan known.”

Other highlights of the 97-coin set include:

The Eliasberg specimen 1893-S graded PCGS MS65, a coin that is pictured in the popular book, “100 Greatest U.S. Coins.”

Described as the ultimate, finest-toned Morgan known, this 1881-S dollar graded PCGS MS68 and the entire exquisitely-toned Sunnywood's Somewhere Over the Rainbow collection will be exhibited by PCGS at the FUN convention, January 8 - 11, 2009.   The 1882-S dollar, graded PCGS MS67, is pedigreed to the collection of former National Football League linebacker, Gregg “Ironman” Bingham. It is described as “spectacular” and “an exceptionally beautiful and technically superb example of what would otherwise be a common date San Francisco Morgan dollar.”

1880-S, PCGS MS68, described as having an intensely toned blue, pink and gold obverse and a rainbow toned reverse.

1885-CC, PCGS MS66, 100 percent rainbow toned obverse with the weave pattern of the burlap mint bag in which it was stored for decades. (more…)