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Thoughts on the Simpson Dime Sale

By Jason Feldman – The E-Gobrecht

The Simpson dimes were being broken up. [ Heritage Long Beach Sale #1144] This would be a great opportunity to upgrade dimes in an advanced Seated Dime collection. The big problem was there were so many coins that few buyers would be able to purchase them all and no one did surface who did. Even more amazing are some of the coins left in the collection like a MS66 1844 Dime. Legend (Numismatics) has made available to me so many wonderful dimes that news of this sale created euphoria.

It would come as no surprise that most of the coins were either crossed over to PCGS at the same or in many cases a lower grade. Seeing the secure plus holders and Simpson pedigree would make this obvious. There was a lot bidding research needed prior to bidding. There were cases where buying too many coins early would limit the ability to chase coins later. One the highlights of the sale being a simply gorgeous 1872-S, I was not the only one to think so as the coin went to the moon.

One of my regrets of the sale was not being able to purchase the 1845-O dime in mint state. This is a very rare opportunity indeed but as a rule if you set a maximum bid and exceed it by 10% you have to know to stop. Being the under bidder was really not satisfying and maybe a higher bid was warranted. Another highlight of the sale was a gem 1860-S. Prior to the sale, Laura (of Legend Numismatics) and I spoke as to where the coin would sell. It was another on my short list. I think we both underestimated the demand for this coin. It went far over preauction estimates but I don’t doubt it to be well worth the hammer price $40,250. A nice return on investment considering one sold for roughly $7,000 in 1994.

One of the interesting notes about these coins is how many were not picked up by Seated Dime registry collectors but rather a just collectors and dealers. I know one dealer picked up roughly 10% of the coins and most all have been sold. There were many bargains in this sale too. Mostly the coins following the Simpson dimes went too cheap. One example is an 1858-O is a MS64 PCGS holder population 1 with 8 finer sold for just under $3,000 while the Simpson PCGS MS65 population 7 with one finer soared to $9,200. With the grade covered it was not really possible to call either coin much better than the other.

Some of the real steals in the Simpson collection came in the coins in NGC holders. The obvious assumption is these are coins that on a given day did not cross over at PCGS. A good many of them did regrade at NGC. In the case of the ultra-rare 1853-O MS64 the coin was simply overgraded. The coin did have a wonderful and original look to it but just had too many marks to be graded higher than MS62 in my opinion. The coin could easily be traced back with little effort to its previous holder. In general the ultra high grade trophy coins were the ones hitting the moon. Clearly one of two mint state 1845-O Dimes should be worth more than a other coins that sold in the low $20,000’s. This was a sale where knowledge was king.

The extreme rarity of the 1863 Dime in Gem Mint state is grossly under-rated. Some of the seven graded PCGS MS65 coins were the same coin in an attempt for an upgrade. I have been able to locate a sole PCGS MS66 and this MS65 in all auction results.

The finest coin ever sold in any Heritage sale ever was this MS65, the only other PCGS coin to sell in UNC was a lone MS63. With only one MS65 being auctioned it becomes very doubtful that there are six other MS65 coins out there. Just two PCGS Uncirculated coins ever sold by Heritage, the NGC coins are seemingly more available but there is at least two coins that should be proofs graded MS by NGC. Seeing there are the same dies used this becomes something of a judgment call but if a coin is fully prooflike, full struck, highly reflective and a full wire rim I believe PCGS would call these proofs.

Many business strikes seem to lack some of the details of the fully struck proofs. Any way you look at it, Gem 1863 dimes are very few are far between. Another amazing rarity is the 1851-O that sold cheap in NGC MS64, PCGS does not even list a price in grades higher than MS64 which is $4500.

According to CoinFacts, the finest known is a NGC MS65 followed by a sole PCGS MS64 and the lone NGC MS64 coin auctioned off in the Simpson sale (NGC lists the population as two but it appears to be the same coin), followed by the NGC MS63. There is a lone PCGS MS62 and NGC. Why these coins remain so cheap compared to the San Francisco of the 1850’s is something; when others figure out could result in a significant increase in price. All it takes is one or two people trying to find a Mint State example to drive the prices up on these substantially. Neither the number 1 or 2 PCGS sets have a mint state example of this date. The NGC registry shows the number 1 set with a MS65 followed by a MS63 in the #2 set.

While many of the coins in the Simpson set were among the finest known, this set was also assembled in a fairly short period of time. The cream of the crop really did go the moon but ultimately the coins sold themselves. They generally sold for more money than would have been estimated prior to the sale. The NGC coins sold a tad on the weak side and a few of the rarer New Orleans coins sold too cheap, even factoring in a downgrade at PCGS. The prices for Seated Dimes posted on PCGS values show many have been dramatically increased.

The “top-pop” coins were extremely strong showing that even if a coin is very rare in MS62-64 a coin of comparable rarity will bring far more if its grade is MS65 or better.

While in the end I did not get many of the coins I had hoped to, still it would be hard to complain with the coins I did. It was a wonderful event from start to finish.

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