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Bowers and Merena November 2010 Baltimore Auction Tops $13 Million in Sales

Malibu, Kupersmith and Zürich collections excite bidders

Bowers and Merena, one of the world’s preeminent auctioneers for rare coins and currency, saw spirited bidding as the Official Auctioneer of the November 2010 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. Nearly 3,900 lots of rare U.S. coins and currency crossed the auction block in the Nov. 4-6 sale and realized $11.6 million. Ponterio & Associates, Bowers and Merena’s world and ancient coin division, brought over 2,900 lots and added an additional $1.6 million to the sale.

“With the selection of U.S. and foreign collections presented, this year’s November Baltimore Auction ranks as one of our most important auctions yet,” said Greg Roberts, CEO of Bowers and Merena Auctions. “Even our optimistic appraisals were far surpassed, especially those in the fabulous Malibu Collection, which was comprised of the #2 collection of Standing Liberty Quarters with full-head designation on the PCGS Set Registry and an awe-inspiring array of Seated Liberty coinage.”

The Malibu Collection of Standing Liberty Quarters, featured lot 1750, the key-date 1916 in PCGS/CAC MS-67 FH that sold for $115,000, lot 1760, the finest-known 1919-D in PCGS MS-66+ FH, that brought $109,250 and lot 1776, the pop 1/2 example of low mintage 1927-S in PCGS/CAC MS-65+ FH sold for an impressive $149,500.

The 1882 Half Dollar, one of only three Motto Seated Half Dollars certified MS-68 by PCGS and verified by CAC, lot 2074, traded hands at $74,750. Finally, the amazing Stack-Pryor-Malibu Specimen of 1855 Arrows Seated Half Dollar in PCGS/CAC MS-66, lot 2018, realized $54,625.

Leading the way among gold coin highlights, the Kupersmith Once-in-a-Lifetime Collection of 1875-dated gold coinage featured many of the rarest and most significant pieces of the sale. The proof-only 1875 Three-Dollar gold piece, certified Proof-66 Ultra Cameo by NGC with a pop 1/0 sold for $253,000. The business strike 1875 Liberty Half Eagle offered as lot 5043, an even rarer issue, went for an impressive $149,500. Certified AU-55 by NGC, the coin represents the finest grade available among the 10 coins believed to exist from a 200-piece issue.

Another anchor in the Baltimore Auction was the Zürich Collection which almost exclusively contains rare, high-grade proof Liberty Double Eagles. A beautiful gem, the 1892 Double Eagle in NGC Proof-66 Ultra Cameo from the collection netted $103,500 as lot 5392. (more…)

The DWN Rare Gold Coin Market Heat Index: 2010

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

As someone who is pretty attuned to the strengths and weaknesses of the rare gold coin market, I can accurately rate how well (or poorly) a specific series is performing. 2010 was an interesting year for gold coins. We saw tremendous price increases in gold bullion but many areas of the coin market were flat. In the first annual DWN Rare Gold Coin Market Heat Index (cue sizzling sound effect…), I am going to discuss the relative position(s) of the most commonly traded areas of the market.

This totally non-scientific study is keyed to the following ratings, which go from 1 to 10:

1. This series is so cold you couldn’t give the coins away
2-5: This series ranges from ice cold to moderate strength
6-9: This series ranges from strong to very strong
10: This series is en fuego

And without further ado, let’s talk hot or cold gold…

I. Gold Dollars

There is pretty solid overall collector support for gold dollars. While there do not appear to be many specialists working on complete sets, there are a number of collectors working on focused subsets; i.e., Dahlonega dollars, Civil War issues, etc. I would say that Type One branch mint dollars are probably the strongest overall segement of this market and the weakest is, clearly, high grade non-branch mint Type Two coins.

In the Type Three series, I am noticing some strength in very high quality Philadelphia issues from the 1870’s and 1880’s. In most cases, the coins that are the strongest are PCGS graded MS67 and better pieces with great eye appeal. The Charlotte and Dahlonega market is very bifurcated. Top quality original pieces in all grades are very strong while overgraded, non-original pieces are hard to sell even at a serious discount.

OVERALL RATING: 5. This denomination is collector-driven and reasonably strong as of the end of 2010. The coins showing the greatest demand include the very rare Dahlonega issues (1855-D, 1856-D and 1861-D), mintmarked Type Two coins in “collector grades” and Finest Known or high Condition Census Type Three issues graded by PCGS and approved by CAC.

II. Quarter Eagles

This is perhaps the most mixed denomination in the entire U.S. gold oeuvre as the heat index ranges from borderline frigid to pretty toasty. Early quarter eagles are showing mixed collector support. These coins are still undervalued when compared to other early gold denominations but they are no longer “cheap.” Some weak auction results for overgraded 1796 No Stars and 1808 quarter eagles have lowered Trends but nice examples of these two significant dates are still in demand. Collectors of early quarter eagles are looking for value. They want either very rare issues that are underpriced (such as the 1826/5 or the 1834) or coins that are choice and original. (more…)

The Gold, Silver and Rare Coin Market Report

By Laura Sperber – Legend NumismaticsBelow is a portion of the most recent Legend Market Report

GOLD

This is hard for us to believe that gold spot went up, yet ALL Generic $20’s came down! That is the most ridiculous thing we have ever seen. We have been told that the market makers here are flooded with coins. Plus, there seems to be a huge flood of gold coming from Europe. We have even heard some grumblings that the quality of these new arrivals have been poor (more gradeflation?). So no one wants to step out and make bids.

At one point last week, the LARGEST market maker in MS65 Saints quoted us $2,000.00 as his “buy” on a day when gold went up $20.00 (MS65 BID did end the week at $2,200.00). In the meantime, we know dealers who badly need CAC MS 65 Saints and have open BIDS of $2,300.00-$2,400.00 per coin and are buying very few.The demand for NON CAC generics is obviously thin.

The demand for CAC coins is huge with many MAJOR Funds or financial advisers selling the coins easily. We know they cannot get enough, because we supply them and we haven’t bought squat. We will still buy ALL the PCGS /NGC W/M MS66 CAC we can get at $3,475.00 sight UNSEEN. We will pay $2,675.00 for NON CAC PCGS coins only on a SIGHT seen basis. BTW, for anyone who wants to cat call, the CAC market is NOT artificial, its as real and powerful as you get.

The CAC coins sell by demand, not dealers creating phony bids and trying to pump the market. With gold (especially generics) right now for sure there is a two tier market, and quality is what people want.

You know there is something seriously wrong when graded MS61 $20 Libs are priced at $100.00 OVER melt!

With $20’s, it also seems to us that the market feels they are too high (along with the price of gold). We doubt at the lower grade levels quality is the issue. Something has to give in that market. We believe there will be a correction in the price of gold sometime soon. But, its really the hedges who control the price of gold and it seems they want to take it up a little further.

Its totally bewildering to us why there are not stronger premiums since gold is climbing daily into record territory. Something is just not right with this picture.

Right now the BEST buys are $10 Indians and $5 Indians (no 09D) in MS64 and higher. You can not find them emass, and the grading seems to be OK. If you insist on playing the $20 generic market we still believe MS66’s are too cheap or, you can buy NICE MS61/62 $20 (if you can find them) for little over melt and hope one day the premiums expand. We still recommend building a Gold Type set. You can include ANY coin you want then.

SILVER

People are finally waking up to the fact silver is at its all time high. Here too, things like MS65 Morgans and Walkers have come down. That’s insane! How can such a huge market as coins show little demand for simple $100-$200.00 items that actually were popular? Where are all the collectors? (more…)

14 Fundamental Reasons Why You Should Be Investing Your Money . . . In Money

Concentrate on popular‚ rare‚ historically significant quality coins as part of an overall investment plan in good times and bad…and history suggests that the rewards are great. There are numerous reasons why the demand for rare coins is growing among collectors and investors alike. Here are fourteen of the most fundamental:

Fundamental Reason #1: Diversification

Investment professionals recommend ten to twenty percent (and sometimes higher) of an investment portfolio be devoted to tangible assets in order to maintain diversification‚ reduce overall risk and create a hedge against inflation. Rare coin investing‚ and owning hard assets‚ should be one of the foundational elements of any portfolio.

Fundamental Reason #2: Stability

There is little history of dramatic sudden price shifts with truly rare and popular rare coins. This is partially due to the huge collector base…an estimated 35‚000‚000 and new ones entering the market all the time…who create a steady‚ consistent demand for the coin market. And‚ since a collector/investor takes physical possession of his or her coins‚ there are none of the destabilizing forces that exist in other markets.

Fundamental Reason #3: Rarity

It is estimated that only 2% of all the rare U.S. coins ever minted still exist. This existing supply is consistently being reduced as collectors/investors buy more‚ hold them longer and take them off the market. By the year 2015‚ experts believe that there will be some 100‚000‚000 coin collectors/investors worldwide‚ or nearly three times the number that exist today. Since there will be no more new coins available for these new collectors/investors‚ prices should continue to rise to meet the increased demand—a basic supply/demand fundamental.

Fundamental Reason #4: History

Since coins have commemorated heroes‚ great achievements and significant events throughout history‚ a collector/investor is essentially purchasing a piece of history AND a piece of art. (more…)

The Numismatic Double Play: Revisiting A Buying Strategy for US Gold Coins.

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Say the words “double play” and most people think of Jeter to Cano to Texeira. But in the world of gold coins, the concept of the double play has another meaning altogether.

Back in the 1980’s and the 1990’s it was common to see large-sized U.S. gold coins marketed with the “double play” strategy. What this meant was that these coins had two inherent factors that contributed to their price structure: their intrinsic gold value and their numismatic value.

The double play concept became stale over the course of time and marketers moved on to find other way to peddle their product. But I believe that this is an idea with merit and one that should be revisited in today’s value-conscious market.

People who buy U.S. gold coins typically fall into two camps: those who are investors and those who are collectors. What if a third category became a factor in the market; an investor-collector hybrid who focused on semi-scarce to scarce issues that sold for relatively small premiums above their basal value(s)?

There are basically two denominations that are perfect for the investor-collector hybrid: the ten dollar gold piece (or “eagle”) and the twenty dollar gold piece (or “double eagle”). If you’re with me so far, I’m going to suggest that we narrow our focus to two specific issues: the With Motto Liberty Head eagle (produced from 1866 through 1907) and the Type Two Liberty Head double eagle (produced from 1866 through 1876).

Here are some basic facts about these issues. The With Motto Liberty Head eagle weighs 16.718 grams and it contains 90% gold. As I write this article (in mid-April 2010) gold is trading for a touch above $1156 per ounce. The trading levels for eagles are as follows:

MS60: $700
MS62: $740
MS63: $1,210

It doesn’t take a numismatic genius to immediately note that MS62 appears to be the best value grade for this type. At just a $40 premium above MS60 coins, you are talking around a 5% increase for what is generally going to be a much nicer coin. So for the sake of convenience, let’s stick with the MS62 grade for this denomination.

The “base line” date for Liberty Head with motto eagles is the 1894 as it has the highest PCGS population in Uncirculated and in MS62. There have been 18,116 examples graded by PCGS or which 6,013 are in MS62. These numbers are, of course, swollen by resubmissions but the ratio of around one-third of all 1894’s graded being in MS62 seems correct based on my experience. (more…)