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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…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Great Coins at the ANA Convention in Boston

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #14

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

When people talk about an ANA Convention, they tend to emphasize the coins that they bought or sold, rather than about the overall impact of the event. At any first or second tier coin show, collectors with modest budgets can find appealing coins. Collectors can also socialize with other collectors at a wide variety of coin related events. The Winter FUN Convention, the Summer ANA Convention, and very few other first tier events, are special for other reasons. Of course, educational programs and the meetings of specialty clubs are among these reasons. Multiple mammoth auctions, during a six to ten day period, in the same neighborhood, offer material of a tremendous variety and of startling depth in particular areas. While I will put forth some remarks regarding bourse and auction activity, I focus here, however, on the great coins that were present at this year’s ANA Convention and in the accompanying auctions in Boston.

Yes, readers of this column are aware that, for weeks, I have been writing about rarities that were offered in Boston at the B&M, Stack’s and Heritage auctions. In last week’s column, I covered some of the prices realized for famous rarities in the B&M auction. As I will discuss below, the Boyd-Cardinal 1794 dollar traded again.

In my column of July 28, I wrote about the Simpson Proof 1804 Eagle, a Kellogg $50 gold coin, the two Half Unions in the B&M sale, and an 1854-S Quarter Eagle in the Heritage auction. In my column of July 21, I covered the Platinum Night offerings of the collections of Dr. Claude Davis and Dr. Brandon Smith. In earlier columns, I analyzed the offerings in these Boston auctions of one-year type coins and Great Rarities. Before I provide further coinage of coins in auctions, I wish to emphasize that there was an impressive assortment of important rarities on the floor of the ANA Convention, many of which could have been easily viewed by all those who attended.

I. Rarities in Boston for Everyone to See

There is a need for collectors to understand and appreciate coins that they cannot afford. To comprehend the coins that a collector owns, he (or she) has to have some understanding, often subconsciously, of the values and traditions of coin collecting in the United States. Furthermore, to fully enjoy coin collecting, there is a need to learn about Great Rarities, famous coins in general, supergrade representatives of non-rare issues, and/or beautiful classic coins. These are central to the culture of coin collecting. Would it make sense for an art enthusiast to only view paintings that he (or she) can afford to buy?

Many (though not all) dealers in sophisticated material are delighted to show rarities to collectors who cannot afford to buy them. I realize that there are non-affluent collectors who feel too embarrassed to ask dealers to show expensive coins.

There were many great coins for all to see at this ANA Convention in Boston. The Smithsonian Institution had the incomparable 1849 Double Eagle and other rarities on display. Further, a collector allowed for the public display of the finest of two known 1861 Philadelphia Mint Double Eagles with the distinctive reverse (back) that was designed by Anthony Paquet. Additionally, the NGC had the Simpson collection Proof 1804 Eagle ($10 gold coin) on display, along with an 1804 Eagle ‘pattern’ that was struck in silver! (Please see my column of July 28.)

At the PCGS tables, there was a simply astounding display of the Peter Miller collection of Proof Half Cents and Proof Large Cents. I spent some time viewing Miller’s early Proof Large Cents. Though I am very tempted to write about them here, the characteristics of these are just too complicated to discuss in a weekly column. Someday, I will write a series on Proof Large Cents. All collectors, however, may see images of Miller’s copper coins in the PCGS registry, which is available online. Before actually purchasing such coins, however, I would strongly recommend consulting an expert in 19th century Proof coins, rather than an expert in die varieties of half cents and large cents, though I would not rule out the possibility that someone could be an expert in both areas.

The ‘Ship of Gold’ exhibit contained numerous historical items relating to the shipwreck of the S.S. Central America. The largest known gold bar from the era of the California gold rush was featured. Years ago, Adam Crum sold it for a reported price of “$8,000,000.” Other than the private sale of the ‘King of Siam’ Proof set in 2005, a numismatic item has not sold for more than $8,000,000.

To anyone who expressed an interest, the staff at Legacy Rare Coins was delighted to show Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagles ($20 gold coins) that were recovered from the wreck of the S.S. Central America. For more information about the shipwreck and these coins, please see my recent article on Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagles. I admit that I was very curious about these Prooflike San Francisco Mint Double Eagles, which I had never thoroughly examined before, and that Legacy Rare Coins supported my research in this area. (more…)