Important News! CoinLink has merged..... Visit our NEW Site www.CoinWeek.com

BREAKING NEWS:....... Vist Our NEW Site at CoinWeek.com

All Posts Tagged With: "gold coins"

Three Big Rarities Offered at FUN Auctions

By Steve Roach – First published in the Jan. 3, 2011, Special Edition of Coin World – Rare Coin Market Report

For the past few years, arguably the main annual event for the rare coin market has been the massive Heritage auctions at the Florida United Numismatists convention, a major coin show that will take place during the first week of the new year in Tampa Jan. 6 to 9.

The multiday auctions and the packed bourse floor at FUN set the tone of the market for at least the year’s early months, as dealers reposition their inventories, and collectors make their first buys of the year.

Some expensive coins were sold at the 2010 FUN Heritage auction, including $3,737,500 realized for one of finest known examples of the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin, tying the third-place record for the largest sum ever paid at auction for a single U.S. coin.

Two other million-dollar coins traded hands in the 2010 Heritage FUN auctions: a 1927-D Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle graded Mint State 66, which sold for $1,495,000, and an 1874 Dana Bickford gold $10 eagle pattern in Proof 65 deep cameo, which sold above expectations for $1,265,000.

In total, more than $36.5 million in coins traded hands at the 2010 Heritage official FUN coin auctions.

While the new year’s first auction lacks an obvious million-dollar superstar on the level of the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent piece, three exceptional coins could prove dazzling.

Perhaps the most noteworthy is an 1852-O Coronet $20 double eagle graded MS-65. It is the finest known example of the date and the catalog description states that it is “quite likely the finest New Orleans twenty of any date.”

In 2009, a Specimen 63 1856-O Coronet double eagle realized $1,437,500. In addition, 1850 to 1866 New Orleans Mint double eagles enjoy a healthy popularity.

Since the offered 1852-O Coronet double eagle has been off the market for more than 30 years, it’s anyone’s guess as to what this grand condition rarity will bring.

Another New Orleans Mint gold coin may also soar – the finest collectible 1909-O Indian Head $5 half eagle, graded MS-66. The lot description counts 19 examples graded MS-64 to MS-66 and the issue is the key to the series. The offered example last sold publicly in May 1998 as part of the Thaine B. Price Collection for $374,000, where it was described by auctioneer David Akers as “the finest collectible example of the rarest issue in the entire series.” (more…)

The Jim O’Neal Collection of $5 Indians readies for auction in Heritage FUN U.S. Coin event

Finest known 1909-O half eagle headlines the Jan. 6 Platinum Night auction of this PCGS Registry Set All-Time Finest in Tampa, FL

DALLAS, TX — The finest collectible 1909-O Indian half eagle, MS66 PCGS, the Mitchelson-Clapp-Eliasberg-Price example – designated by legendary numismatist David Akers as “The Coin” – will provide some New Year’s fireworks on Thursday, Jan 6, 2011, when it comes up for auction as part of Heritage’s Tampa FUN Platinum Night U.S. Coin Auction. This magnificent coin is the principal highlight of The Jim O’Neal Collection of $5 Indians, the #1 All-Time Finest set of its kind graded by PCGS.

“This is the fourth major collection from Mr. O’Neal that Heritage has had the distinct pleasure to handle, starting with his U.S. currency collection in 2005,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “ His incredible $5 Indian Registry Set stands alone in terms of quality, and the advance buzz from collectors is considerable, to say the least. A high grade mint state set of $5 Indians is easily the most daunting challenge facing collectors of 20th Century gold.

The O’Neal specimen of the 1909-O Indian half eagle, the only Indian Head gold coin ever minted in New Orleans and the rarest issue in the set, has an unimpeachable provenance from J.C. Mitchelson to John H. Clapp, Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Dr. Thaine B. Price before reaching O’Neal. The Clapp Notebook recording acquisitions of coins in that collection indicates that Mitchelson sold the coin to Clapp in June 1909. That means that Mitchelson almost certainly ordered the coin directly from the Mint and, given that it is well-known that the 1909-O half eagles were coined in February or March 1909, this piece may well have been among the first coins minted.

Going one year earlier, among the most luminous of the O’Neal coins is a 1908-S half eagle MS68, PCGS, the single highest PCGS-graded mint state $5 Indian of any date. While specific information about this coin’s origin dates back only five years, it may date back to a small hoard of high-quality pieces once owned by legendary businessman and collector Virgil Brand.

The finest certified example of a 1911-D half eagle, MS65+ PCGS, CAC, one of several famous gold issues bearing that date and mintmark, continues the top offerings of the collection.

“It’s rare to find a 1911-D half eagle with a smooth surface, period,” said Rohan, “let alone one as gorgeous, glossy and appealing as this particular example. It’s the #1 coin of its kind for good reason and we anticipate spirited competition to take it home in Tampa.”

A stunning 1913-S half eagle, MS66 PCGS, the finest known example certified by PCGS and likely the finest of its kind – certainly, in the absolute sense, one of the great condition rarities of the series – rounds out the top offerings in The O’Neal Collection. The coin’s provenance, which includes a long stay in the famous Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection, indicates that this example has only been offered publicly on two previous occasions, in 1998 and 1999.

The Finest New Orleans Double Eagle Gold Coin to be Sold at FUN

The upcoming 2011 January Tampa FUN Signature & Platinum Night US Coin Auction features what is probably the finest New Orleans twenty of any date. Easily the finest known 1852-O double eagle, this Gem has been off the market since the early 1970s, when our consignor purchased it through a private treaty transaction with Stack’s.

This coin has long been unavailable for study by most modern researchers, although Doug Winter was aware of it when he wrote the first edition of New Orleans Mint Gold Coins: 1839-1909 in 1992. At that time, Winter considered the specimen in the Dallas Bank Collection the finest known 1852-O, with this coin listed in the number two spot. Like the present coin, the Dallas Bank specimen had only been examined by a few specialists during the 1990s.

After the collection was sold in 2001, Winter had the opportunity to view the coin, and he determined that the present specimen is actually superior to the Dallas Bank example. Jim Halperin, Co-Chairman of Heritage Auction Galleries, had the opportunity to study this coin many years ago, and he always believed it was special. Halperin states that this coin is “By far the best condition New Orleans twenty I have ever seen.” Discounting the SP63 PCGS 1856-O double eagle, a coin that many consider a full proof, no other New Orl eans Mint twenty has been certified in any grade above MS63 by NGC or PCGS.

In 1852 the New Orleans Mint produced a generous mintage of 190,000 Liberty Head double eagles, largely due to the influx of gold from the California gold fields. Because of its substantial mintage, the 1852-O is one of the more available Type One double eagles from the New Orleans Mint. Winter estimates a surviving population of 900-1100 pieces in all grades. Most examples seen are in lower circulated grades, and the issue becomes scarce in AU55 and quite rare in Mint State. Due to the availability of the 1852-O in AU, the date is always in demand from mintmark type collectors, seeking a high grade example for their collections.

Of course, the Miller collection coin is in a class of its own as a condition rarity. No 1852-O double eagle of comparable quality has been offered at auction since the Dallas Bank specimen came on the market, nearly a decade ago. In 2006, a PCGS graded MS62 specimen realized $48,875 as lot 5580 of the Denver Signature Auction in 2006, but even that coin clearly lacked the quality of this magnificent Gem, which grades a full three points higher.

As the finest known specimen of the date, with claims to the title of finest New Orleans business strike double eagle, it might be fair to compare this coin to the finest known specimens of other issues offered at auction recently. Considered as a date, the 1852-O is not in the same rarity category as the 1856-O, the classic rarity of the series, but the rarity of the 1852-O in MS65 is just as great as the rarity of the 1856-O in SP63. (more…)

Spink World Coin Auction Realises over £3.2 Million

Over the past 48 hours, Spink auctioned their highest grossing coin sale to date. The fantastic catalogue of over 1300 coins totalled over £3.2 million in sales and generated interest from collectors around the world. Dozens of phone bidders, a standing only room and hundreds of participants on Spink Live contributed to a bidding frenzy in the room.

William Mackay, specialist at Spink, had this to say about the sale:

“This sale demonstrates the strong market for top quality, rare historical gold coins. It definitely showcases the extent to which the value of these sorts of coins have appreciated in the last few years. We are extremely pleased with the results of this sale which demonstrates continued confidence in the marketplace.”

Top lots included the following:

Lot 895
Henry VII (1485-1509), Sovereign, type IV
Sold for £180,000

Lot 949
Charles I, Civil War issues, Oxford,
small module type Triple Unite
Sold for £161,000

Lot 5
Mughal Empire, Jalal ud-Din Muhammad Akbar,
AV 5-Mohurs
Sold for £150,000

Lot 948
Charles I, Civil War issues, Oxford, Triple Unite
Sold for £120,000

Lot 975
James VI (1567-1625), second coinage,
Twenty-Pound piece
Sold for £102,000

About Spink

Spink is the world’s leading auctioneer of coins, stamps, medals, banknotes, bonds, share certificates and autographs, with offices in London, Singapore, New York and Dallas. Since its foundation in 1666, the Spink name has become synonymous with tradition, experience and integrity. Holders of three royal warrants and numerous records for prices achieved at auction, Spink offer an unparalleled range of services to collectors worldwide.

For more information, pictures or to request an interview with the specialist please contact Emily Johnston, ejohnston@spink.com , 020 7563 4009.

The Fab Five Type Three $20 Liberty Head Double Eagles

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

There are five ultra-low mintage Type Three Liberty Head double eagles that were produced for circulation during the 1880’s and 1890’s. These five issues have not necessarily received the attention that the so-called Fab Five late date St. Gaudens double eagles (the 1929, 1930-S, 1931, 1931-D and 1932) have but they are now popular with collectors and have risen dramatically in value over the last decade.

The 1881, 1882, 1885, 1886 and 1891 double eagles have a combined mintage of just 5,911. There are a number of possible reasons as to why these issues were made in such limited quantities. The first is that the Philadelphia mint was primarily interested in making silver dollars in these years and a majority of their efforts went towards these coins. I don’t find this plausible as mintage figures for other gold denominations during these years were high; as an example the mint made nearly four million eagles in 1881 alone.

The second was that there was limited demand. This is certainly possible but it does not explain why mintage figures for double eagles during these years at the San Francisco mint tended to exceed one million per annum. Another reason is that the United States economy was slow or worse during most of these years.

In looking at these dates in terms of overall rarity (the total number known) and high grade rarity (rarity in AU50 and higher grades), I rank the Fab Five as follows:

I. Overall Rarity
1. 1882
2. 1881
3. 1886
4. 1891
5. 1885

II. High Grade Rarity

1. 1881
2. 1882
3. 1886
4. 1891
5. 1885

Let’s take a look at each of these dates and discuss their overall and high grade rarity, Condition Census levels, the numbers graded by PCGS and NGC and record prices realized at auction.

I. 1881 Double Eagle

A total of 2,199 were struck of which an estimated three to four dozen exist today. There are none that I know of that grade lower than EF and around seven to ten are known in this grade range. The majority of the examples known are in the AU grades with around twenty-six to thirty-four accounted for.

I am aware of two in Uncirculated and they are as follows:

1. PCGS MS61. Heritage 4/09: 2762 ($120,750), ex Heritage 10/08: 3091 ($138,000), Heritage 1/07: 3203 ($138,000).

2. PCGS MS61. Heritage 6/04: 6363 ($57,500), probably ex Heritage 1997 ANA: 7843 ($29,325; where graded MS60 by PCGS).

The record auction price for this date is $138,000 which was set twice by the coin listed first in the Condition Census above. PCGS, as of December 2010, has graded 24 examples in all grades with just two in Uncirculated (both MS61). NGC has graded 19 in all grades with three in Uncirculated (an MS60 and two in MS61). I believe that the populations for AU coins are inflated by resubmissions. The 1881 is the rarest of the Fab Five is higher grades. (more…)

Coin Profiles: Monumental 1795 $10 Gold Eagle, 13 Leaves Featured in Heritage Fun Sale

This 1795 13 Leaves eagle, BD-1, certified MS64 NGC, is a monumentally important coin in both aesthetic and historic terms. The obverse of the BD-1 variety is attributed by the 1 close to the lowest lock of hair, with a closely spaced date and the flag of the 5 overlying the drapery. Star 11 is quite close to the Y adjacent, which shows two tiny “lumps” (a die line, in reality) on the left outside serif. The stars are arranged 10 and five (as on all five 1795 Bass-Dannreuther varieties), with the right-side stars cramped tightly together. This is the only pairing that employs this particular obverse.

The 13 Leaves reverse shows a palm leaf virtually touching the left bottom of the U in UNITED, and the tip of the branch stem just about bisects the bottom of the last A in AMERICA.

As mentioned, the obverse this variety is unique to this die marriage. The reverse, on the other hand, is shared with the BD-2, slightly rarer at High R.4. John Dannreuther writes in Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties:

“Bass had a State c/b of this variety that was sold in Bass III. There likely, as noted, is a later state of this obverse die, as this variety is its only use. The obverse die broke or received some other fatal injury to cause it to be retired.”

The obverse of this example shows about the same state of die advancement as the Bass coin, with a light die crack running from the rim above star 10, through star 9 and downward through all left-side stars, continuing from there to the bottoms of the 1 and 7 in the date before terminating just below the 9. Another wispy die crack runs from a point of star 13 through the upper part of star 14 and the center of star 15 before ending at the forward bust tip.

The determination of the reverse die state (or stage) is more problematic; light planchet adjustment marks appear in most of the areas diagnostic for die states. Suffice it to say that no cracks are obvious among those enumerated in Bass-Dannreuther.

More important than the die state–which in any case matters to some specialists-researchers a great deal and to many type collectors little at all–is the enormous aesthetic appeal of this coin, which we believe surpasses the Bass III coin mentioned. The orange-gold surfaces show vibrant, prooflike luster throughout both sides, a trait that some Mint State specimens do show. Dannreuther writes in this regard: (more…)

Gold’s Holding Pattern is a Golden Opportunity

Billionaire George Soros declares: “Conditions for gold are pretty perfect”

Gold’s holding pattern is a gift to bargain hunters

Gold prices stood near the $1,350 range today on news that China’s central bank acted to slow inflation but fell short of raising interest rates outright. Gold’s holding pattern is a gift to bargain hunters because gold “should continue to remain well supported too, both by the growing debt crisis in the euro-zone peripherals, which could spill over to other countries at any time, and the expansion of liquidity on the back of renewed quantitative easing of U.S. monetary policy,” Commerzbank analysts said. Richcomm Global Services’ Pradeep Unni agreed, saying a weak dollar and a firmer euro “will continue to provide a bullish bias to the metal.”

The trend is “back up again”

Gold prices surged back Thursday as the euro rose against the dollar on optimism of a bailout for Ireland. “Having held $1,330, and with the dollar a bit weaker … we are just following the trend back up again,” the Bank of Nova Scotia’s Simon Weeks said. VTB Capital’s Andrey Kryuchenkov noted: “Should fear in the eurozone escalate, gold would draw fresh support from risk-averse buyers similar to what happened earlier this summer when investors scrambled for the safe-haven asset on fears of sovereign default.” Investors also are watching China for potential news of an interest-rate rise, which would only create a buying opportunity for bargain hunters.

Billionaire George Soros tips his hat to gold

With quantitative easing going full-steam ahead and U.S. interest rates low for the foreseeable future, billionaire investor George Soros said the precious metal still has plenty of kick to it. “The conditions for gold are pretty perfect,” he said Monday. Soros also said the present world order is on the brink of breaking down. “There is now a rapid decline of the United States and a rapid rise of China,” he said. “It is happening very quickly. … If they persist in their present course, it will lead to conflict,” he said, adding that China’s neighbors are already getting nervous about its rising global influence. Read more

Inflation surfaces at Walmart, not in feds’ data

Offering up its statistics Wednesday, the Labor Department said the core consumer price index, an inflation indicator that excludes food and energy prices, was unchanged in October. However, a new pricing survey of 86 products sold there – mostly everyday items like food and detergent – showed a “meaningful” 0.6 percent price increase in just the past two months, according to MKM Partners. At that rate, prices would be close to 4 percent higher a year from now, double the Federal Reserve’s mandate. “I suspect that when [Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke] thinks about reflation, he has a difficult time seeing any other asset besides real estate,” said Jim Iuorio of TJM Institutional Services. “Somehow the Fed thinks that if it’s not ‘wage-driven’ inflation then it is somehow unimportant. It’s not unimportant to people who see everything they own (homes) going down in value and everything they need (food and energy) going up in price.” Read more

The Fed sticks to its quantitative-easing guns

Ben Bernanke had to defend the Fed’s actions on Capitol Hill, where he briefed skeptical lawmakers on the QE plan’s merits on Wednesday, and some of his colleagues said the bank is likely to follow through on its entire $600 billion bond-buying program, citing weak economic data. “It looks like we’ll be purchasing at this pace through the end of the second quarter to add up to $600 billion,” St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said. (more…)

Rare 1903-R Italian 100 Lire Gold Coin to be Sold at Spinks Sale

Sale 304 Lot 355 – Italy. 1903-R 100 Lire, Vittorio Emanuele III. NGC MS63. KM-39. FR-22. Mintage: 966.

Numismatists won’t want to miss out on Spink Smythe’s November Collectors’ Series Sale, which is taking place tomorrow (November 20) in New York.

A colossal rarity and an ultimate collector item, as the present coin stands as the largest and highest denominated Italian gold coin of the era. The type, produced during 1903 and 1905, saw limited production, with 1903 yielding a mere 966 coins and 1905 slightly besting that amount with a production of 1,012 coins – today, relatively few of either date exist.

The surfaces of the present example, unlike its few surviving brethren, have been lovingly preserved through the years and maintain full prooflike mirrors on both sides.

Few marks are visible anywhere, and none are worthy of singular notation. Inspection of the grading services population reports confirm this example as exemplary – being the single finest graded and the only one to merit MS63 status. In fact, it is only the fourth specimen to have been graded in the 25 plus years of PCGS and NGC grading.

To further illustrate the rarity of the present example, when the Eliasberg Collection of over 3500 world gold coins was sold in 2005, neither the 1903 or 1905 date of this type was offered as a part of this collection.

For the Italian specialist, one can only stretch to imagine a more important opportunity to acquire a true collection linchpin. An opportunity that should not be missed.
Estimate $ 10,000-12,000

Unusual Items: NGC Black Slab

On Nov 14th, a rarely seen and unusual item sold on eBay, but what made this sale interesting was not the coin being sold, but rather the holder it was in.

The coin was a 1924 Saint graded MS-62.  and it sold for $3805.oo with 9 bidders, over twice what one might expect given this is a common date Saint in an unremarkable grade. The 100% premium was for the slab, a First generation BLACK NGC Holder.

The eBay sellers description offered the following comments on the holder…..

“When NGC first started operations in late 1987, they used this black holder with a white grading insert.

The first generation black NGC slabs didn’t always carry the big premiums that they do now.

The main problem was, while Gold coins and untarnished Silver coins looked amazing, copper coins (especially brown oxidized ones) and other dark, circulated Silver coins proved hard to see with the black filling.  Thus, for the second generation NGC holders, the filling was changed to white and has remained that way to this day with NGC.

Following marketing advice at the time in 1987, the coin was inserted right-side-up the coin is upside-down reverse!  This was also corrected in the subsequent generations on NGC slabs so the coin would be right-side-up when the grading insert is viewed right-side-up.

The black holder was only used by NGC for a month or so (September-November 1987).  Grading was quite conservative in those days when compared to grading today.  As such, the black holders that surfaced in later years were cracked and the coin resubmitted in pursuit of a higher grade which is why they subsequently became so rare!”

WGC: STRONG OUTLOOK FOR GOLD DEMAND FOR REMAINDER OF 2010

Global gold consumption for 2010 will be higher than 2009 as a result of increasing levels of demand in India and China, sustained global demand for gold investment, together with growth in jewellery and industrial demand, the World Gold Council (“WGC”) said.

According to the WGC’s Gold Demand Trends report for Q3 2010, published today, demand for gold in the final quarter of 2010 will be driven by the following factors:

* Increasing demand by the world’s two largest markets, India and China, as rising income levels, high savings rates and strong economic growth continue to push up consumption.

* Gold jewellery demand is likely to exceed that of 2009 due to an anticipated recovery in India, the most significant gold jewellery market, and continuing strength in China. While jewellery demand may face challenges ahead, the latest figures show that demand in key markets has shown resilience in the face of higher prices levels.

* Concern over fiscal imbalances and currency tensions will continue to support investment demand for gold. Aside from the recent additional US$600 billion of quantitative easing by the US, the weakening of the US dollar and associated fears of inflation, demand is also likely to be driven by higher gold price expectations, as well as increasing availability and accessibility of gold investment products to retail investors.

* Industrial demand, which has returned to long-term levels, is expected to remain firm on the back of renewed growth in the electronics industry, due to the majority of semi-conductors being wired by gold.

Marcus Grubb, Managing Director, Investment at the WGC commented:

“Healthy gold demand growth in the third quarter occurred in the context of record international prices, demonstrating how consumers, particularly in India and China, are continuing to appreciate the enduring value of gold. The rediscovery of gold’s properties as both a currency and a monetary asset have been brought into sharp focus. Quantitative easing has forced the adjustment of global imbalances into currency markets and the resulting currency conflict is positive for gold. In addition, we believe demand will be facilitated by the growing number of channels that serve to make gold more easily accessible to a greater number of investors.” (more…)

What Gold Coins Do CAC Stickers Add the Most Value to?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

After two+ years of being traded on the open market, I think few collectors and dealers would argue the statement that CAC stickering has added considerable value and liquidity to many types of United States gold coinage. But are we now able to determine with a decent degree of accuracy which coins are most affected by a CAC (or the absence of a sticker)? Let’s take a look at some areas of the gold coin market and see how CAC is adding value.

One of the areas that CAC has added the greatest amount of value is in the St. Gaudens double eagle market. The impact is seen two ways. The first is with common “generic” issues in MS65 and MS66. One of the main reasons why the premium for non-CAC certified MS65 Saints is so low when compared to MS64 coins is that most of the coins in MS65 holders are not significantly better than those graded MS64.

What CAC has done is to identify those coins graded MS65 that are nice quality and which are “real” 65’s. Currently, non-CAC Saints in MS65 trade for around $2,300. Those with CAC stickers are worth at least 10-15% more. They are also quite liquid and can be sold even when dealers have extensive numbers of non-CAC coins in stock. Non-CAC MS66 Saints are currently worth around $2,750-2,850 per coin. The premium for MS66 Saints with CAC stickers is at least $750-1,000 per coin. Given the fact that the stickered MS66 coins I have seen are very nice (as compared with the non-stickered coins which range from inferior for the grade to decent) this premium makes sense.

Another area where CAC stickered coins are selling for a significant premium is in the better date Saint market. Let me pick a random issue: the 1927-S in MS64. This coin has a current bid of $70,000 in this grade and a bona-fide Gem is worth double this. The quality of 1927-S double eagles varies greatly and there are coins that are very low end and hard to sell for $55,000 and coins that are very high end and worth over bid. I can’t recall having ever seen a 1927-S in MS64 with a CAC sticker but if I had a PCGS/CAC coin that I liked I’d quote $75,000+.

Early gold (i.e. gold coins struck from 1795 to 1834) is area that has shown itself to be influenced by CAC stickers. I don’t like every single piece of CAC-stickered early gold that I see but I like at least 90% of the coins. Compare this to non-CAC early gold where probably 50-60% (or more) of the coins offered at auction or through dealer’s websites are not, in my opinion, nice for the grade. I find this to be especially true with early gold in the MS63 and MS64 grades. As an example, an 1812 half eagle in MS64 with a CAC sticker is currently worth around $40,000. The same coin in the same grade that is not stickered and which is not a CAC-quality coin, in my opinion, might be hard to sell for $32,500. More and more collectors of coins like this are demanding that they be CAC stickered and the premium for the pieces that have the Green Bean is at least 10-15% and climbing.

Because so many Proof gold coins have been doctored over the years, CAC-stickered pieces are currently garnering high premiums. This is more so with Matte Proofs than Brilliant Proofs. I can’t remember seeing more than a few Matte Proof gold coins in the last two years that weren’t doctored to the point that they weren’t even the right color. When the few remaining fresh pieces come onto the market, they realize strong prices. As an example, Stack’s just sold at auction a lovely 1913 Matte Proof gold set. All four coins were CAC stickered and all four brought exceptional prices. I see similarly graded washed-out NGC Matte Proof gold from time to time and it brings Greysheet prices or lower; these superb, vibrant Gems brought numbers that were way over “sheet.” (more…)

The Baltimore Coin Show – Legend Numismatics Market Report

Yeah, this is broken record: Mary Counts, David Chrenshaw, Lori Hamrick and team did it again. They put on one of the BEST shows. Our ONLY complaint (and we know many other people felt the same way) was out of their control: $13.00 for a sandwich and soda? That was DRECKY! We spoke to David Chrenshaw who pulled out a note pad of issues to work on and showed us he was on it. At no other show have we EVER seen managers who really want to absorb information to make it better. Guess that’s why we were told attendance was up a decent % this show.

Hidden GEM at the show: there is a full time massage therapist in the lobby. With all the stress on the bourse, taking a break for 10 minutes and getting a massage was so relaxing and helpful.

LEGEND SPENDS $2,000,000.00

We did not realize how much we spent until we got home and added it up. This figure includes The Stacks and Bowers Sales, and the spending damage we did on the bourse floor. Keep in mind, this is real money. Legend would not put up its own money or endanger our customers monies if we felt the market was weak or had issues.

At the Stacks sale there was an interesting group of fresh proof coins. Legend by far did the most buying. We proudly purchased (and saved them from the coin doctors) the $10 1913 PCSG PR66 CAC ($80,500.00)+$20 1913 PCGS PR65 CAC ($103,500.00). One day we would LOVE to tell you where they went as it would PROVE the depth and reach of the US coin market all over the world! Other highlight purchases: the $10 1888 PCGS PR65 Cameo and the $20 1906 PCGS PR65 Cameo. All these went to different collectors.

Prices were very strong at the Stacks sale. The nicer the coins, the stronger the premiums went. We saw some coins sell for prices as much as 3 grades higher! The marketplace is starved for fresh coins.

The Bowers Sale was crazy. We had sold many of the MS Seated Half Dollars to the collector who formed the Malibu Collection. We figured there might be a little softness and we could get some good deals. NOT! We bought ONLY about 3 halves-and the 43O PCGS MS65 CAC we sold to a collector at lot pick up! The prices were “moon” money and beyond. You had two clear cut collectors competing, us (we were buying for collectors NOT building sets), another high end dealer representing a collector, and at least one party who LOVES rare CAC stickered coins and is not specifically a Seated Half Collector (we did confirm this individual was bidding). It is interesting to note that a NON Seated half Collector would pay such strong prices. This party thinks “outside the box”. His coin purchases from this sale over the years will be as astute just as if he were building one of the finest collections of Seated Halves. He understands, you can’t be scared to stretch when great coins with low to no pops are available.

Our highlight purchases from Bowers included the monster 1851 PCGS MS62 Slug (ex Amon carter) $316,250.00. Of all of our auction purchases, this was the ONLY coin we really stole. We had been prepared to pay up to $400,000.00 hammer! We also purchased the ultra rare and grossly undervalued $3 1877 PCGS PR65 DCameo CAC. We’re helping build a PR $3 collection that is now only 4 coins short of completion! We had to pay up, but we bought just about ALL the CAC MS 64 Seated Dollars for addition to a collection we are exclusively building. The gorgeous 25C 1916 PCGS MS67+ CAC was one we lost on. It sold for $195,500.00 in Bowers. The same coin at the 2010 ANA Boston auction (less than 3 months ago) brought $149,500.00. It was simply a coin that fell thought the cracks at ANA (everyone thought it would go for crazy money, so why bother bidding). At BOTH auctions, Legend was the under-bidder! We still regret not buying the coin-for inventory! (more…)

The Legacy of the Swiss Helvetia Gold Coin

The Swiss Helvetia (1897 – 1949) embodies Switzerland’s status as a financial center of the world. The coin’s long standing reputation among investors and collectors illustrates its outstanding beauty and quality. The Swiss Helvetia, like other European gold coins, has a rich and lengthy heritage.

Ancient Origins

The name “Helvetia” comes from the name of Switzerland during Roman times. Julius Caesar conquered the Helveti in 58 BCE, but the name for the currency was resurrected during the Helvetic Republic, when a standardized coinage was reestablished. Prior to 1798, approximately 75 different entities were minting coins in Switzerland. Each entity had its own corresponding monetary system, so there were at least 860 circulating coins in the country.

The Helvetic Republic lasted from 1798 to 1803. Its goal was the unification of the numerous cantons of Switzerland. During that period the government introduced a normalized currency based on the Berne thaler. These francs were equal to 1.5 French francs. Although the Helvetic Republic soon ended, the new monetary system served as a model for various cantons in the newly formed Swiss Confederacy.

Currency in Transition

The country’s regions readopted their individual currency systems, with some modifications. Between 1803 and 1850, approximately 22 cantons minted coins, but less than 15% of the circulating currency was local. The remaining 85% was foreign, acquired during Swiss mercenaries’ exploits. Private banks started printing currencies to supplement coinage. By 1848 the Swiss monetary system included over 8000 different currency types. This trend of accepting foreign money has endured to this day; many businesses in Switzerland still accept international denominations as payment.

The Swiss federal governments sought to end this complication with a new Federal Constitution of 1848, which specified that only the federal government could produce and issue money. Two years later the first Federal Coinage Act made the franc the official monetary unit for Switzerland. The franc would replace any other currency used by the various cantons. The term “Helvetia” resurfaced as a name for the franc, recalling the country’s ancient origins.

Since 1850, the Swiss Helvetia has undergone only one devaluation, in 1936. The coin’s value dropped 30%, along with that of the US dollar, the British pound, and the French franc. Like the rest of the industrialized world, Switzerland chose to abandon the gold standard that year. The value of the Swiss Helvetia has remained strong ever since.

Swiss Helvetias as Investments

Sometimes called “Vrenelis” after their obverse design, Swiss Helvetias minted in the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century have gained popularity among investors. Their exquisite design and outstanding condition make them a natural choice.

On the coin’s obverse is a portrait of “Vreneli” the fabled “Swiss Miss” of the Alps. The reverse features the Swiss Coat of Arms and the wreath of the Republic. They are generally available in brilliant uncirculated quality. The excellent luster and engraving of the Swiss Helvetia supplement the coin’s intrinsic value. Investors who seek a unique and historical precious metal will find the Swiss Helvetia a wise and interesting addition to their portfolios. (more…)

Is It Time to Buy an S.S. Central America Double Eagle Gold Coin ?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

For many years, it’s been no secret that I haven’t been a big fan of the 1857-S double eagles that trace their origin from the famous S.S. Central America shipwreck. I’ve written that price levels of these coins haven’t made sense to me and I’ve have had problems with their appearance. More than a decade after they were first released onto the market, has my opinion changed?

I believe that this is (finally) a sensible time to purchase an S.S.C.A double eagle. But there are some important parameters for the collector to follow when considering a purchase. Some of these are as follows:

1. Be Selective. There are over 5,000 1857-S double eagles from this shipwreck and they range in grade from Extremely Fine to Mint State-67. With this wide variety of grades, there are a tremendous number of coins to choose from. At any given major auction, there are typically three to five available and it isn’t terribly hard to find them in specialist dealer’s inventories. I have noticed a huge variation in quality for coins in the same grade. As an example, I’ve seen some in MS63 holders that I’ve loved and I’ve seen some in MS63 holders that I thought were horrible. Spend 10-20% more and buy a coin that is high end and attractive. In some instances, you will be able to buy nice, high end examples for little or no premium.

2. Find the Sweet Spot. In my opinion, the “right” grade range for one of these 1857-S double eagles is MS63 to MS64. There is not much of a premium for these two grades over AU and lower Mint State grades and when you buy a coin that grades MS63 to MS64 you are getting good value. In the current market, AU58 examples can bring as much as $3,500-4,000. An MS63 is worth around $7,000-8,000 while an MS64 is worth $8,000-9,000. It seems to me that an MS63 at around 2x the price of an AU58 is good value. And it also seems to me that an MS64 at around $1,000 more than an MS63 is good value as well.

3. Stick With Coins in Original Holders. It is important to focus on 1857-S double eagles that are in their original gold foil PCGS holders. And having the original box and other packaging is an added benefit. Avoid coins that are not in these holders and stay clear of NGC graded S.S. Central America double eagles. They may be nice coins but they have been cracked from their original holders and probably upgraded.

4. Avoid Coins That Have “Turned” in the Holder: All of the coins in this treasure were conserved after they salvaged. The conservation process has been well-documented and, in some cases, the work was outstanding. But there are other coins that have “turned” in the holder. These can be identified either by very hazy surfaces or unnatural splotchy golden color. Avoid these coins and look for pieces that are bright, lustrous and evenly toned. At this point in time, coins that haven’t turned are probably not going to.

5. Disregard The Die Varieties. All 1857-S double eagles from the shipwreck are attributed to a distinct die variety. There are over 20 varieties known. Some are probably rare but it is even rarer to find a collector who cares. I’d suggest not paying a premium for these.

6. If You Are Buying a PL or DMPL Example, Carefully Study the Market. A very small number of 1857-S double eagles were designated as either Prooflike (PL) or Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) by PCGS. These are some of the most visually arresting coins from the shipwreck. I have seen a few pieces in the last few years bring extremely high premiums. These are no doubt very scarce and very flashy coins but I question the premium that they are currently bringing. If you do decide to purchase such a coin, carefully check auction prices for comparable examples and make certain that the price you are paying is in line with the last auction trade. (more…)

Coin Guides: Tips on Buying Precious Metals and Bullion Coins

By Gainesville Coins – www.gainesvillecoins.com

The Advantage of Physical Assets

Precious metals have long been treasured both for their beauty and rarity. As a result, these metals have been used by many civilizations as a store of wealth, and in some cases, a foundation for currency.

Historically speaking, these stores of wealth have not experienced the kind of boom and bust cycles present in other forms of investment. This observed stability exists for several reasons. First, precious metals such as modern bullion have intrinsic value. The fact that precious metals consist of something that actually has value makes them more stable than fiat currency which is made of near-worthless paper.

In addition, these metals in many cases have practical applications. Modern industrial processes make use of metals such as gold and platinum for their unparalleled conductivity and use in manufacturing electronics. Moreover, in the case of economic turbulence, when investors do seek investments other than those vulnerable to market fluctuations, they wisely turn to the stability of precious metals. This increased demand has the effect of increasing their values, making them an even better investment.

Finally, when precious metals are minted as collectable coins such as the popular Gold Eagle or Gold Buffalo, they are sought after not only for their intrinsic value, but for their rarity as a collectable item. Again, because there is a fixed supply of any one coin, increased demand for such an asset increases its value. It is for these reasons that for hundreds of years, gold and silver coins have enjoyed a remarkable history of defining purchasing power and backing international finance. For more on this subject, see our article addressing the superiority of precious metals.

Technology and Precious Metals

The influence of the Internet on the trade of precious metals has been vast. It is no longer necessary for collectors to buy and sell coins only locally. The Internet has several venues through which to vend or purchase these assets to buyers or sellers around the world. (more…)

Coin Market: Generics slow to match gains of gold, silver

By Steve Roach – Rare Coin Market Report
First published in the November 8, 2010, issue of Coin World

Some of the coins that one would expect to rise such as generic Mint State Morgan silver dollars and Coronet and Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagles are showing only minimal gains, although they are trading at high volumes.

On Oct. 14, gold hit a historic high London AM fix price of $1,380.75 an ounce, and during intraday trading that day reached a record $1,388.10.

The same day the U.S. dollar sunk to lows not seen since January upon news that Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke indicated that another round of government monetary stimulus funding may be necessary to revive the U.S. economy.

As silver continues to flirt with $25 per ounce, MS-63 through MS-65 Morgan dollars – the bread and butter of the generic market – are showing some upward movement in price, with several dealers paying more than wholesale “ask” prices for MS-64 and MS-65 dollars, as long as they are “white or white-ish,” to fill large orders from retailers.

Retail prices may increase soon in kind, although some collectors will likely elect to sit out the silver coin market for a while, hoping that the price of silver declines and their wanted coins return to more affordable levels.

As an example, when a common silver quarter dollar is trading for almost $5, many collectors are in no rush to buy.

Circulated silver dollars are showing even more action, with several wholesale dealers paying $22 for Extremely Fine pre-1921 Morgan dollars and $29 for uncertified Mint State examples.

As the public continues to sell these coins to dealers in record numbers, a steady supply is created that should keep prices from escalating rapidly.

Prices for generic gold coins continue to lag behind gold’s ascent and most issues show modest if any price increases. Those prices still have not come close to the levels seen at the beginning of the year, despite the fact that gold is now 25 percent more expensive.

An increased supply of these coins is entering the marketplace, keeping prices in check, at least for now.

Gold & Silver Political Action Committee (PAC) Formed to Support Rare Coin & Precious Metal Community

Updated 10-19-10
The first informational meeting of the recently created Gold & Silver Political Action Committee (GSPAC) occurred in Long Beach, California on September 22, 2010. The creation of the PAC was prompted by enactment of new Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 reporting requirements and other proposed legislation that could create tremendous burdens on dealers as well as collectors and investors.

GSPAC is registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC)

Thirty-one people attended the inaugural meeting in Long Beach, including state and federal government relations experts, rare coin and bullion dealers, executives of several national numismatic organizations and a former US Mint Director who also previously served as chief of the majority staff of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

[iframe http://www.coinlink.com/Video/092310_pac_stuppler.html 544px 395px]

“The Gold & Silver PAC is an effort to elect public officials with a better understanding of the numismatic and precious metals community and pending legislation and regulatory issues that could positively impact or adversely affect the hobby and profession,” said Barry Stuppler, Chairman of GSPAC.

“GSPAC does not compete with existing organizations, such as the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) or the Coalition for Equitable Regulation and Taxation (CERT). By working to elect legislators who understand our community’s needs, issues and concerns, we complement their efforts in Washington and state capitals.”
Veteran government legislative specialist, Nicholas A. Pyle, President of Pyle & Associates in Washington, is volunteering his time to work with GSPAC and among those attending the meeting. Pyle will create an informal “Congressional Coin Caucus” composed of members of Congress interested in coin and precious metals issues.

Stuppler outlined nine “core issues” that GSPAC will use as criteria to evaluate candidates:
• IRS Form 1099 reporting on purchases of merchandise over $600
• Regulation of the purchasing and marketing practices of gold and precious metals dealers
• Enforcement of the Ancient Antiquities Act on Greek and Roman coin imports.
• Problems caused by high-quality Chinese-made counterfeit coins and bogus certified numismatic holders
• Traveling and hotel gold buyers who may be purchasing gold coins and jewelry without required licenses
• Allowing certified rare coins to be placed in IRA accounts
• Exempting coins, currency and precious metals from possible Value Added Taxes (VAT)
• Exempting coins, currency and precious metals from the Streamlined Sales Tax Plan (SSTP) all inter-state Internet or mail-order sales taxes
• Capital gains tax rates on precious metals and rare coins

“I am excited to share that the Gold & Silver PAC raised over $160,000 in contributions from individuals and another $150,000 in pledges,” explained Stuppler. (more…)

Wall Street Journal video: “Gold will probably approach $5,000,” Guggenheim Partners exec says

“People have lost faith in paper money” as the Fed debases the dollar. Gold at $1,387 over 2 record days

After settling above a record $1,370 an ounce Wednesday, gold continued its blistering run Thursday by piercing the $1,380 level, going as high as $1,387. What do the experts say is driving gold?

“Gold is an international currency phenomenon. Around the world, people are turning disdainful of their own currencies and everyone else’s. So, where do they turn? They turn to the gold market.” – Dennis Gartman, hedge-fund manager and Gartman Letter publisher.

“If there is further dollar weakness surrounding quantitative easing … it is almost certainly going to be highly supportive for gold.” – RBS Global Banking & Markets analyst Daniel Major.

“With the weaker dollar, inflation will pick up in the commodity space, which is the most sensitive to monetary stimulus. So, it’s only logical that gold will do very well in that environment.” – Axel Merk, who manages $500 million in mutual-fund assets.
!

“Although [quantitative easing] expectations are an important element of the rally, currency disputes are also a prime driver of gold prices. The recent [International Monetary Fund] meeting saw the public airing of sharp disagreements between China and the United States on currency policy.” – HSBC’s Jim Steel.

“Because we are in a world of quantitative easing in the developed economies, and as QE is almost synonymous with competitive devaluation … gold and the precious metals (are) taking on the function of an alternative currency. As we go into the next one to four quarters, the role of precious metals as alternative currency will become much more paramount. The role of gold as an inflation hedge is not important now, but it may become important in the next cycle when the time to reverse quantitative easing comes.” – Ashok Shah, chief investment officer at London and Capital.

Despite record highs, gold can be expected to rise even higher, says Guggenheim Partners’ Scott Minerd in an Oct. 12 interview with WallStreetJournal.com.

“People have lost faith in paper money, and the monetary substitute – the old maid of monetary substitutes – is gold,” Minerd says.
(more…)

W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials leads Heritage COINFEST Auction

Oct. 28-31 auction in Stamford, CT features one of the most important offerings of early American coinage in decades

DALLAS, TX — Locked in a Pennsylvania vault for 43 years, one of the most comprehensive collections of colonial and early American coins ever to reach public auction, The W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials, is the principle highlight of the upcoming Heritage Auctions Rare U.S. Coin auction, Oct. 28–31 in conjunction with COINFEST in Stamford, CT.

Mr. Keller apparently stopped actively collecting around 1966, with intermittent purchases through the early 1970s, and stored his collection in a bank vault where it was discovered nearly a 40 years later by his surprised family after he died last year, who knew that Mr. Keller was a collector, but had no idea of the depth, or value, of his collection.

“This is Heritage’s first official auction with Coinfest, and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “Fittingly enough, our debut at this New England venue is filled with a variety of colonial and early American coins, including dozens of different Connecticut coppers struck shortly after independence.”

One of those Connecticut coppers is a 1785 African Head Connecticut copper, the extremely rare Miller 4.2-F.6 variety, graded VF30 by NGC. It is estimated at $40,000+, but could go significantly higher.

“There are two varieties of the African Head Connecticut copper, one relatively common, the other extremely rare,” said Rohan. “This piece is one of the rare variety, one of just two or three known. Its appearance at COINFEST is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Keller bought most of his collection  from leading dealers and auctioneers in the 1950s and 1960s, and this African Head copper has been in Keller’s collection, and thus off the market, since 1966.”

Another anchor consignment of the auction is The Diotte Collection, which spans U.S. Mint history from some of the earliest issues to noted modern rarities. Its chief highlight is a 1797 half dollar, O-102 variety, graded Fine Details by NCS. It is estimated at $50,000+.

“The half dollars of 1796-1797 are among the most prized U.S. type coins regardless of grade,” said Rohan. “Just four varieties were struck between the two years, all of them are very scarce to very rare, and the 1797 O-102 variety is the most elusive of them all.”

In addition to colonials, pattern coinage is among the strengths of this auction. In a relatively small but impressive selection, the most prominent piece is an 1879 “Washlady” dollar struck in silver, Judd-1603 variety, graded PR66+ by NGC. It is estimated at $50,000+.

“This design’s nickname was originally an insult,” said Rohan. “In 1891, just a dozen years after this pattern was struck, David Proskey called it the ‘Washlady,’ a negative reference to how Liberty’s hair appeared. Today, however, the ‘Washlady’ is considered one of the most beautiful patterns ever produced, and the very rare examples struck in silver are especially sought-after.”

The 20th century has its share of highlights as well, led by a 1909 half eagle, graded PR67 by NGC. Like other gold proofs of that year, it has a distinct semi-bright finish sometimes called “Roman gold,” which tried to find a balance between the mirrored proofs of the 19th century and the dull-finished matte proofs that were popular in Europe but had received a disastrous reception among U.S. coin collectors. The “Roman gold” experiment failed, but survivors from the issue’s mintage of 78 half eagles are popular with modern numismatists. It is estimated at $55,000+.

A more conventional mirrored proof offered is a 1904 double eagle graded PR65 Cameo by PCGS. Just 98 proof $20s were struck in 1904, and most of them lack the contrast that was often seen on pre-1902 specimens. Thanks to its Cameo status and solid all-around preservation, it is one of the most important representatives of its issue. It is estimated at $60,000+. (more…)

Fast Profits Not Guaranteed At Auction

By Steve Roach – Rare Coin Market Report

While many dealers continue to grumble about weak bourse action at the recently finished back-to-back Long Beach, Calif., and Philadelphia coin shows, in which a review of the dealer bourse lists seem to show a clear bifurcation between West and East coast dealers, the market continues to be robust in the auction sector.

In the official Heritage Auction Galleries Long Beach sale, the top lot was an Extremely Fine 45+ 1856-O Coronet gold $20 double eagle that surfaced in Ohio and was the cover story of the July 26 Coin World. It brought $345,000.

The Heritage auction realized $13.4 million total.

The next two top lots were large gold ingots; further evidence for the market’s insatiable appetite for gold.

Heritage has had a curious auction history in the last two years with 1856-O double eagles, with five auction appearances in the past two years. The recent auction price seems to break what has been a downward trajectory for the issue in auction results.

In January 2009, an EF-45 example sold for $276,000 and the same coin sold again in July 2009, for $253,000. In October 2008, an AU-58 example sold for $576,150 and that same example brought $460,000 in July 2009.

Perhaps too many auction appearances skewed bidders’ sense of its rarity. Heritage estimates that fewer than 20 are available for collectors and the most recently offered example, held by a family in Ohio for nearly 100 years, was as “fresh-to-market” as they get.

For top rarities, the perception of rarity can be almost as important as actual rarity to justify six- and seven-figure prices.

The next week, Stack’s Philadelphia Americana sale realized a very healthy $9,676,867.

One of the highlights, a Proof 65 Cameo 1887 Coronet gold $5 half eagle, brought $97,750, a bit less than it realized at auction in January 2007 where it brought $103,500 when offered as part of the Robert J. Loewinger Collection (pictured above, left).

Results like this serve as a cautionary tale that even at the top-end of the market with coins of superlative quality and absolute rarity, quick profits are not a guarantee

First published in the October 25, 2010, issue of Coin World

Coin Collecting: Thoughts on Originality?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

“Originality.” It’s one of the most overused terms in all of numismatics. And it’s one of the most misunderstood as well. Given the choice, I believe that most people would rather own an “original” coin instead of one that has clearly had its appearance changed in recent years. With the help of some good quality images, I’d like to show some of the characteristics that I equate with “originality” and offer some suggestions on how to judge if a coin is original or not.

1844-D Quarter eagleThe first coin that we are going to look at is an 1844-D quarter eagle graded AU55 by NGC. (Disclosure: this coin is currently in my inventory and it is currently for sale. I am not using this coin as an example in the hope that someone will buy it as I am certain someone will and I don’t need to go to this much trouble to sell it. I am using it to illustrate this report because I believe it represents what I believe is complete originality.)

One other quick topic before we review this 1844-D quarter eagle. My definition of an “original” coin is one that appears to have never been cleaned, lightened or in any way altered. I would be quick to point out that the flaw in this definition is that, of course, there is no way to make such a comment without having had access to this particular coin at all times since 1844.

There is always the possibility that, in the 1850’s or the 1860’s (or even the 1960’s), it may have been lightly cleaned. But there are some things to look for on a coin that I think gives a reasonably good assurance that it hasn’t been messed with. The most obvious is hairlines. If a coin has been improperly cleaned at one time, it is going to show hairlines. These may range from subtle to very obvious. If a coin has nice seemingly “original” color but it shows noticeable hairlines, this probably means that it was cleaned years ago and has subsequently retoned. Such a coin may have a natural appearance but, from the standpoint of semantics, it can’t truly be called “original.” You can also look for areas of cloudiness or haze. If a coin has these, the chances are good that something has been applied to the surfaces at one time.

In looking at this coin, there are a few points to note. The first is its depth of coloration. Take a look at the color on the obverse and the reverse and note how the hues in the fields are richer than in the protected areas. On coins with natural color this is generally going to be the case. On a coin that may have been dipped at one time, you are going to see the opposite; the color tends to be lighter at the centers and deeper at the peripheries. Also, note how on this 1844-D quarter eagle there is color present even on the high spots and relief detail. A coin that has been cleaned or dipped typically lacks color on these areas as they are the first places that the original color is lost. Finally, note the depth and intensity of the color. On natural coins, the color is “sharp” in hue and depth. On dipped or cleaned coins, the color tends to be “fuzzier” and less intense. (more…)

Coin Show Myth: The Long Beach Curse

By Pinnacle Rarities

Gold Closes Up, But the Myth Lives On

Before last week’s convention, I had a discussion about the myth referred to as the “Long Beach Curse.” The prevailing sentiment is that the spot price of gold always goes down during the week of the convention. This phenomenon is often bantered amongst gold dealers deciding whether to load up or unload inventories around these major conventions. During last week’s show, gold touched an all time high, and settled on Friday about nine dollars up for the week seemingly debunking the myth. A quick review of spot prices for the last decade’s thirty shows reveals the trend has some statistical backbone. However, the true curse has been the lack of quality material available for purchase. And this isn’t limited to the Long Beach Convention.

Collectors have continued to cull their collections as economic uncertainty has caused many to tighten their belts. However, they sell off the lesser quality material first. Spending habits have become more selective with the prevailing market focused on value and rarity. When major collections and true rarities enter this market the best quality material is quickly absorbed. The dregs are then recycled through dealer inventories and the myriad of auction houses that also clamor for fresh material. But rest assured, if you’ve been selective in your purchases and your collection was purchased for the coins it contains and not the plastic that contains it, you’re in good shape. The rare coin industry is alive and well – with an emphasis on “rare.” Looking at auction records over the last couple years, it’s easy to see quality and rarity still rule in this hobby of kings.

Now, back to that myth. During the last decade the spot price of gold has gone from a $256 in 2001 to $1297 (the Friday close after the latest Long Beach). It’s hard to imagine during this meteoric rise that the price of gold in any given week faltered. But overall, there were 19 of 30 weeks that showed declines in spot gold during the Long Beach convention. During the first five years of the decade, the rate of down cycles was an astounding three of four shows.

The number of down weeks is a bit padded as several of the weeks with advances only showed modest gains of $2 or less. So if you left the show early, the spot price would have been theoretically down for that show also. Regardless, with over three quarters of the conventions showing weak or down trends, it is no wonder the rumors started. The last five years have shown an improvement on the trend, but gold was still down at more than half the shows (eight of fifteen had declines).

So there is some statistical indications as to how the Long Beach Curse gained acceptance. But again, the real curse is one we recognize with all numismatic venues. There is an extremely diminished amount of quality material. True rarities and top pop condition rarities are commanding strong premiums, while the more common and lesser quality stuff has fallen stagnate. This increasing shift in the supply and demand equation coupled with an ever stronger precious metal price makes the outlook for rare coins seem bright – if only we could find the more coins.

A quick note to thank all our customers who have recently sold us coins or collections. Many of these items were exceptionally rare and of high quality. Thanks to you we have avoided the curse.

Some Recent Observations From A Coin Show Perspective

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com
Having just come from the Philadelphia Whitman Coin Expo show and, the week before this, the Long Beach show, I feel pretty qualified to make some market observations. Without further ado, I’d like to share them with you.

1. There Are Too Many Coin Shows Right Now. I’m sure I’m not going to make any friends with coin show promoters for saying this but with Long Beach occuring last week, Philly this week and the St. Louis show next week, this is too many coin shows in a short period of time. I saw few fresh coins in Philadelphia because I looked at many dealer’s coins in Long Beach and the thought of turning around next week and going to St. Louis…uh, no thanks. The market just can’t support this many shows and this is why you are seeing many formerly good regional three and four day events beginning to die rapid deaths.

2. Buying Nice Coins Is Tough, Tough, Tough. If you thought it was hard two or three years ago to buy nice coins at shows, it is as tough now as its ever been; maybe tougher. I’ve heard dealers all of all sizes and shapes complain how hard it is to find interesting fresh material at recent shows. I was lucky and I had an amazing ANA show with lots and lots of great new coins to offer DWN clients. But it is a real grind to find coins now and, clearly, the good stuff is going off the market and staying there.

3. Everyone Wants to Buy Type One Double Eagles. There are many firms and individual dealers (myself included) who are very active buyers right now of Type One double eagles. At the Philadelphia show I saw almost nothing for sale other than the usual motley assortment of Uncirculated S.S. Central America 1857-S , a few lower grade common dates and the odd overpriced rarity here and there. This is clearly an extremely popular area of the market and coins in the $2,000-15,000+ price range are exceptionally popular right now.

4. And CC Double Eagles Too. You can add $2,000-10,000+ Carson City double eagles to this list as well. They are most definitely in strong demand and if the coins are properly priced (or even just a hair too expensive) they are easy sellers. Even big money coins like 1870-CC double eagles are beginnig to sell again and I am aware of at least two EF examples changing hands since ANA. If you have any nice CC double eagles for sale, please contact me as I’d like to buy them from you!

5. Nice New Orleans Gold Has Disappeared. Where has all the nice New Orleans gold gone? Good question. The last few months have seen very, very few interesting New Orleans gold coins available and the few choice or rare pieces that I have had in stock have sold quickly. Clearly, this is an area of the market that is very active.

6. And Dahlonega Gold Also. I think you can safely add choice, original Dahlonega gold in all denominations to the “where the heck are the coins?” list. I can generally only find two or three decent D mint coins at a major show and they seem to sell very quickly when I list them on my website.

7. Coin Pricing Is a Total Disaster. I’ve mentioned this a number of times but I am finding it more and more of a hassle that coin pricing is such out of touch with reality. What typically happens is that one very low quality rare coin trades cheaply at auction and Trends whacks the price for the issue down. This has recently happened with rare, desirable coins like the 1796 No Stars and 1808 quarter eagles and the 1795 eagle. I look at this as, in its own way, as big a concern in the coin market as the doctoring issue. One reason why good coins aren’t being sold is that pricing doesn’t reflect the real value of choice, high end pieces. Fix this problem and you will fix the lack of supply that is hurting the market right now. Don’t fix it and new buyers will be more interested in purchasing MS64 Saints than “real” coins. (more…)

Gold’s astounding ride

By Steve Roach – Rare Coin Market Report Blog
First published in the Oct. 18, 2010, issue of Coin World

Gold continues to astound as it broke the $1,300 ounce level for the first time on Sept. 28, closing in New York at $1,306.60 an ounce.

The next day, gold hit a high of $1,313.20 before closing at $1,308.50.

In a nice contrast to the previous week’s House Subcommittee hearings focused on fighting fraud in the sale of gold coins, the Sept. 29 Wall Street Journal featured a front-page story that was overwhelmingly positive about gold’s potential to top $1,500 next year.

It focused on investors’ growing desire to hold actual gold in the form of coins and bars.

Reports by numerous analysts and banks seem to share a bullish view for gold, evidenced by a Sept. 28 report by Deutsche Bank that stated that $1,600 an ounce gold would not be surprising for 2012 and that gold would not be in a “bubble” until hitting $2,000.

The recent bull run-up in gold prices has been attributed to many things: continued uncertainty in the real estate market; concern about the value of currencies, especially China’s; low consumer confidence in the United States; and general concern about large central banks’ ability to control the money supply adequately.

But to collectors, one thing is clear: gold coins are much more expensive than they were in 2000, in large part due to the price of gold rising 353 percent over that time.

The increased threat of intrusive federal regulations in the coin industry, such as the recently introduced Coin and Precious Metal Disclosure Act (H.R. 6149) have done little to dampen the public’s appetite for gold coins.

But dealers have responded vocally to fight multiple pieces of legislation that could affect the coin market, forming political action committees aimed at fostering better communication between the coin community and legislators.

Many dealers reported that gold was the lone bright spot in the market at the recently completed Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectables Expo, where several market-makers elected to stay home, instead budgeting to attend the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Philadelphia Expo, another major show, scheduled for the following weekend.

A Look at Early U.S. Gold Coins

By Jim Fehr – The Winning Edge

Gold Strengthens

The gold market is hot. Bullion prices are rising and driving gold coin prices higher. Economic conditions over the last two years have investors seeking a heaven against rising money supply/inflation. The government printing presses are running over-time as the treasury departments prints trillions of dollars to try revive a weak economy. Keynesian economic practices and an explosion in the size of the U.S. government should keep gold at healthy levels as prices flirt with $1,310 + an ounce.

Early U.S. Gold

Not too long ago I wrote about Early U.S. silver coins. Like the Early silver type, I wanted to break down the Early U.S. gold pieces in this issue. Hope you enjoy it. Prices are an approximation of your actual past and present acquisition cost. PCGS and NGC populations are based on their respective censuses reports.

Draped Bust $2.5 1796 – 1807

The first U.S. coin to have the heraldic (large) eagle on the reverse which was then adopted for all U.S. gold and silver coins from 1798 to 1807. There are two major design varieties for the 1796; the “with stars” and “no stars” obverse. Both of which are extremely rare. The populations listed are for all dates combined. Prices are an approximation of your actual past and present acquisition cost and are for a type coin (not better dates) in the series.

PCGS Circ. population: 392; NGC: 298
PCGS Unc. population: 89; NGC: 163

Prices have steadily climbed since 2002 and are still strong today. This issue is somewhat overlooked like most smaller denomination coins, but less so recently. The prices listed are for type coins in the series. Better dates like the 1796 no stars bring more. I like the issue in all grades at the current levels and believe they will continue to perform well.

In the next two groups Liberty is facing left as is true with most all U.S. coins after 1807. For the single year of 1808 the design had no denticles and was of the large bust type. Then none were minted until 1821. The new design included smaller stars and bust. After 1827 they reduced the coins size and denticles, hence the Capped Bust small size. Prices are an approximation of your actual past and present acquisition cost and are for a type coin (not better dates) in the series.

Capped Bust $2.5 1808 – 1827 large size

PCGS Circ. population: 115; NGC: 87
PCGS Unc. population: 72; NGC: 75

(more…)

The Dilemma of the Placeholder – Coin Collecting Strategy

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

PlaceholderIf you collect a set (or sets) and are competing in the Set Registry, the chances are good that you’ve struggled with the Dilemma of the Placeholder. Let’s examine the Pros and Cons of buying a placeholder coin and try to decide whether this is a smart collecting strategy or not.

First off, let’s define what a “placeholder coin” is. I view a placeholder coin as one that you buy as a stop gap. As an example, say that you are assembling a set of Indian Head eagles. One of the few dates that you are missing is a 1911-D. One comes up for sale at auction in a grade lower than what you really want. You decide to buy it anyway because of the fact that it a) fills a gaping hole in your set and b) gives you a sufficient number of Registry Set points that you move up a notch and pass Collector X. Was this is a smart purchase or not?

Let’s look at the pros of buying a placeholder coin. The first is the measure of satisfaction that filling a really nagging hole can give. There is nothing more frustrating for our hypothetical collector than seeing a big ol’ ugly blank every time he looks at his set inventory – especially if he has a nice date run before and after the missing coin. Coin collecting is a very emotional hobby and the Karmic Value of filling a hole is hard to put a value on.

Another pro is the fact that a Placeholder coin might grow in appeal on the owner. I’m going to assume that as a collector you are smart enough to not buy something truly hideous and to at least hold out for a moderately attractive placeholder. You might learn that your placeholder is actually so rare that it represents the only coin that you are likely to have a shot to buy.

For some collectors a placeholder coin represents a practical decision. Let’s say for example that you are assembling a gold type set from the 19th and 20th centuries and that you don’t have the ability to spend $100,000+ on a nice 1808 quarter eagle. In this case, a decent looking coin in, say, an NCS holder with EF sharpness but with signs of an old cleaning at $40,000-50,000 might be a savvy purchase; especially given the fact that an uncleaned 1808 quarter eagle in this price range might take years and years to locate.

For every pro there is a con, so now let’s look at the cons of buying placeholder coins. To my way of thinking, the biggest con about a placeholder coin is the fact that you know you are going to have to replace it. Unless the market goes up in your series, you are probably going to lose money on it when you sell it. Let’s say, for example, that Collector Z buys the mythical 1911-D eagle we discussed above. He purchases one for $10,500 that’s decent but not really a great looking coin due to the presence of some marks on the obverse. A year later he finds the right coin and it’s going to cost him $27,500. Unless Collector Z has a buyback or “trade up” agreement with the dealer he bought it from he’s probably going to take a 10-15% hit on the coin. Let’s say he’s sells it at auction and nets $9,250; a loss of $1,250. This brings the actual cost of his new coin to $28,750. (more…)

What would happen if the United States lost its AAA credit rating?

by Adam Crum – Monaco Rare Coins

Two years ago‚ a company that performs financial research and analysis on commercial and government entities and has a 40% share in the world credit rating market warned the United States government that it risked losing its triple A rating if it didn’t get its finances under control. That company was Moody’s and the warning was motivated by the future of healthcare and Social Security costs and long before the present financial upheaval.

Does our government deserve a triple A credit rating?

While the U.S. government has had a triple A credit rating since 1917‚ there are those who feel that if the United States were any other country‚ its coveted top-tier credit rating might have been stripped away by now.

“For too long‚ the U.S. has delayed making the tough but necessary choices needed to reverse its deteriorating financial condition‚” David Walker‚ chief executive of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and a former comptroller general of the United States‚ recently wrote in the Financial Times. “One could even argue that our government does not deserve a AAA credit rating based on our current financial condition‚ structural fiscal imbalances and political stalemate.”

“The triple-A rating is undeserved‚” suggests Peter Morici‚ a professor of international business at the University of Maryland. “If Washington were a state capitol‚ we would have lost the AAA with the current budget.”

Here are just some of the reasons Mr. Walker and Professor Morici would make such statements:

* Equal to about 80 percent of total output of the United States‚ the Treasury Department recently reported that the total U.S. government debt is $11‚270‚547‚397‚564.64.
* With the U.S. relying on foreign buyers to keep its borrowing costs low‚ China and Japan alone hold more than $1.4 trillion of U.S. Treasury bonds as of March‚ according to U.S. Treasury data. A sovereign downgrade would certainly alarm at least some of those buyers.
* The Fed is now burdened by the same kind of toxic paper that has been plaguing private U.S. banks for several quarters.
* Leveraging its capital 48-to-1‚ Fed banks are holding total capital of just $45.7 billion against the sum total of $2.19 trillion in assets. Two years ago the ratio was only 27-to-1.
* The government’s $787 billion economic stimulus package and $700 billion bank bailout fund have strained the country’s resources and the jury is still out as to whether any of this will actually make a difference.
* The International Monetary Fund expects the debt-to-GDP ratio to hit 97.5 percent next year. Standard & Poor reaffirmed its AAA sovereign rating for the United States in January; however‚ the ratings agency also cautioned that the hundreds of billions of dollars committed to bailing out the banking sector would lead to a “noticeable deterioration in the U.S. fiscal profile.”
* The Chinese premier and the head of the People’s Bank of China have expressed concern over America’s long-term credit worthiness and the value of the dollar. China has also called for the creation of a new international reserve currency to replace the U.S. dollar.
* With a loss of 5.7 million jobs since December 2007‚ the number of workers collecting unemployment checks increased to a record of more than 6.6 million in the week ending May 9‚ the highest level of unemployment since 1983.
* The present economic situation in the U.S. is taking a huge chunk out of tax income‚ reported to be down 34%.
* Manufacturing in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic area shrank in May for the eighth straight month.
* States like California have been hit hard by the credit crunch and are struggling to arrange backing for municipal bonds and short-term debt.

(more…)

Another Gold Record Set; But Generic Gold Coins Still Lag

By Steve Roach – First published in the October 4, 2010, issue of Coin World

With all this interest in gold and the mainstream attention it is getting, one would think that generic gold coins would be blazing hot. Yet, many of the most popular issues trade at heavy discounts to earlier in the year when gold was trading at the $1,100 an ounce level.

The coins that investors typically flock to during bullion run-ups, Saint Gaudens $20 double eagles and Coronet double eagles, are trading at substantial discounts to what they were trading for at the start of the year.

For example, one major wholesale market maker at the close of 2009 was selling certified Saint Gaudens double eagles for $1,660 in Mint State 62, $1,820 in MS-63, $2,070 in MS-64 and $2,580 in MS-65. Today, that same dealer is selling the coins at $1,550, $1,590, $1,660 and $2,080 in the same grades respectively.

Other gold series are experiencing declines at the wholesale generic level, as market makers are not taking large positions in these coins, but $10 eagles and double eagles have suffered the worst declines.

Earlier this year one dealer was selling Indian Head eagles in MS-64 for $2,470; today the same dealer is selling them at $1,580.

In general, the only generic gold coins that have gained value this year are circulated coins, which are dependent on bullion prices for value.

In light of rapidly increasing gold values, one wonders how much longer these discounts will persist.

The recent announcement that the Mint intends to release Proof 2010-W American Eagle gold coins has put a further chill on the market for earlier Proof American Eagle gold coins.

In the Aug. 30 Market Analysis, I reported that major market-maker buy prices for the earlier coins with original Mint packaging had fallen to $1,750 an ounce, down from $2,000 an ounce.

As of Sept. 16, many of the market-makers have dropped out of the market and the few who remain are buying the earlier coins for as low as $1,575 an ounce, with the highest price being a small order at $1,600 an ounce.

Visit Steve’s Rare Coin Market Report Blog at http://coinmarketreport.blogspot.com/