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Platinum Night was Golden; Bellwether Sale Sparks Markets for U.S. Coin Rarities

By Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

I. Introduction & Overview

In 2010, the annual FUN Platinum Night event was held on Thursday, Jan. 7. It is just one session in Heritage’s annual auction extravaganza, which is conducted in association with the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Convention in Orlando. During this one night, however, an incredible selection of U.S. gold coins was offered. The total prices realized for Platinum Night alone was more than $25 million. The most famous coin in the sale is the Olsen-Hawn 1913 Liberty Nickel, which realized about $3.74 million.

olsen_1913_liberty_nickelAlthough Heritage conducts two to four Platinum Night events per year, the January FUN Platinum Night event is usually the most newsworthy. On, Jan. 7, three different items sold for more than one million dollars each, and there was an excellent offering of Brilliant Proof gold coins.

One of the most interesting coins in the sale is a Proof 1839 Half Eagle ($5 gold coin). It is NGC certified as Proof-61. This coin is, indisputably, a Proof. Many pre-1840 coins that are regarded as, or even certified as, Proofs, are questionable. Matt Kleinsteuber agrees, “it is definitely 100% Proof, other coins of the era are ambiguous” in regard to Proof status. Moreover, it is one of only two known Proof Half Eagles of this date. It was formerly in the collection of King Farouk. It brought $181,000.

Several past Platinum Night events have featured dazzling collections of U.S. silver coins and/or individual silver coins of tremendous importance. The Jan. 2010 event will be remembered primarily for business strike Saint Gaudens Double Eagles ($20 gold coins), Brilliant Proof gold coins, a Bickford $10 gold pattern, a few exceptional gold type coins, a neat run of 19th century quarters, some popular Mint Errors, and a 1913 Liberty Nickel. Please click here to read the article that I devoted to this 1913 Liberty Nickel. Therein, I cover the coin, its importance, and the auction action, in detail.

Since then, David Hall has told me that he “thought the 1913 Liberty nickel brought a good price. [$3,737,500] wasn’t a moon price, but it’s a $3 million dollar coin so an extra 25% is a lot of money.” Hall is the primary founder of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), and remains a force behind the PCGS and its parent company.

Adam Crum of Monaco Rare Coins agrees that the $3.74 million result is “a really strong price” for this nickel. Moreover, Crum remarks that, “for weeks, buyers of expensive gold coins were sitting on their hands waiting for the Platinum sale. The success of Platinum Night ignited a fire. On Friday, there was a mad rush nationwide for rare gold coins.” (more…)