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of numismatics for dealers,
collectors, and investors
of United States Rare Coins

February 2013

CAC and + Grades Commanding Respect

     Dealers use various adjectives to describe better than average coins for the grades. Terms such as premium quality, superb eye appeal, sexy, flashy, among others are used to quantify coins that are well above the norm but do not quite make the next grade. Over the last few years we have monitored the use of the + designation, offered by NGC and PCGS, along with CAC stickered coins. The majority of the coins that have either of these labels will typically command sizable premiums. Dealers and collectors have been pursuing these upper quality coins in a very aggressive manner for the last year or so.

     The following list contains a variety of coins sold over the last month, mostly from the Heritage FUN Sale. For comparison we have listed the current FMV and the price at which it sold along with the + or CAC designation.

DenominationGradeCurrent FMVPrice Realized+/CAC
1856 Seated QuarterPR64$8,060$9,988 CAC
1878 CC Seated QuarterMS65$4,810$8,813 +
1878 Seated QuarterPR64$1,340$2,585 CAC
1893 O Barber QuarterMS66$4,360$12,925 CAC
1927 D Standing QuarterMS67$4,060$18,800 CAC
1847 O Seated HalfMS63$3,910$4,700 CAC
1851 O Seated HalfMS65$12,310$16,450 CAC
1865 Seated HalfPR64$3,440$11,868 CAC
1878 Seated HalfPR66$5,340$7,050 CAC
1920 S WalkerMS65$15,280$17,625CAC
1878 CC Morgan DollarMS64$600$999 +
1879 O Morgan DollarMS63$216$411 +
1883 Morgan DollarMS67$2,310$2,703 CAC
1884 CC Morgan DollarMS66$910$1,116 +
1885 CC Morgan DollarMS66$2,130$2,820 +

     As you can see the premiums for these coins can be substantial. It is all a matter of how many coins are available in a specific grade and how much eye appeal there is for the coin. As the market gravitates toward the + and CAC coins, the spreads between the FMV and FMV+ or FMV CAC could widen substantially. Where the quantities of coins are high in a specific grade the spread between the FMV and these two premium coins will be much less. For example, the FMV for an 1881 S Morgan Dollar in MS65 is currently $175. The FMV+ coin is $200 and the FMV CAC is $210.

     In many cases, a variety of these coins with the same date and grade can sell for various prices. Every coin stands on its own and will trade as such. When there are five identically certified coins in an auction, the highest buyer will purchase the best coin and then he is removed from the buying equation. Now the four remaining coins will typically command less money. One of the few times an exact price can be pinpointed is when a one of a kind coin sells. For example the 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar recently sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries for $10,016,875; it is certified by PCGS as SP66. It is the finest known and there is nothing else to compare to it so the value is obvious.

     The level of interest in + and CAC coins has increased immensely over the last two years. Even though a higher premium is likely for a coin with a CAC or a + designation, the market may be limited by the price of the next higher grade especially if the next grade is widely available. No matter how nice a CAC MS64 coin can be, in most cases, a MS65 should command a higher price. In the end, it comes down to the demands of the buyer and the seller and how much eye appeal actually appears on the coin. With either of these two labels comes an added assurance that most dealers will have interest in your coins when it is time to sell them.

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