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NumisMedia Monthly


Our monthly article
detailing specific areas
of numismatics for dealers,
collectors, and investors
of United States Rare Coins

January 2016

A Positive Take from a Down Year

     This past year saw some amazing coins cross the auction block, many from incredible collections. But with Gold at $1,172 when 2015 began, and the nearly constant downward pressure, overall confidence in the coin market faltered for the first time in almost ten years. Gold ended the year at $1,061.20, and with the downward trend, many buyers have been taking advantage of the opportunity to add to their bullion holdings. Nonetheless, this action takes a lot of funds out of the rare coin market.

     Even though the coin market may be down, the advanced collectors still demand the best and rarest coins and this aggressiveness makes certain rare coins very easy to sell. Let’s review some of the positives that we found throughout the year.

     We will begin with some of the more important coins that changed hands during the year, whether it was through a major auction or private sale. All of these coins have common characteristics: they are well-known rarities, they have low populations in the grade sold and subsequent higher grades, and the demand is consistent.

     For sure one of the highpoints of the year was the 1808 $2 ˝ Gold in PCGS MS65 that sold in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection. This is the highest grade coin certified for this date and it brought $2,350,000.

1808 Capped Bust Quarter Eagle Gold PCGS MS65

1808 Capped Bust $2 1/2 Gold PCGS MS65 sold for $2,350,000 in the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part I hosted by Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s in New York, May 19, 2015

     While there were numerous top-notch rarities that sold during the year, we have listed but a few of the favorites, including the FMV at the beginning of the year and the final FMV of 2015.

Jan 2015
Dec 2015
1793 Chain AMERICA Large CentMS66 BN$656,250$781,250
1796 Bust QuarterMS66$562,500$843,750
1822 Bust Quarter 25 over 50C MS65$120,630$168,750
1797 Draped Bust Half 15 StarsMS66$1,187,500$1,625,000
1826 $5 GoldMS66$507,000$585,000

     Dealers are readying for an upswing as 2016 begins, but some are not sure where to turn for improvement. Some mainstays from past years are Walking Liberty Halves and Morgan Dollars. One year ago the FMV for the short set of MS65 Walkers (1941-1947) was at $4,063 and ended at $3,648, down $415. In MS66 the numbers are not as bad primarily because the declines registered mostly in the common P Mints. The year ended with the MS66 FMV at $7,423, down $301. However, it is a totally different story when you include the entire Walker set; the year began with the MS66 FMV at $1,122,586 and ended at $1,199,603. That $77,017 gain looks pretty good compared to many other areas of the coin market.

     The Morgan Dollar set in MS65 began the year with an FMV of $3,114,670 and finished the year at $3,099,546; not bad when you consider the common dates languished for most of the year. We were somewhat surprised to find that the same comparison for the MS64 grade produced different results. The FMV for the MS64 grade started the year at $1,083,255 and wound up at $1,102,168; actually up $18,913. This is mainly the result of a few rare dates that increased dramatically throughout the year: 1884 S, 1895 O, 1896 O, and 1901. Again, the common dates and some of the better dates fell due to dealers and collectors selling into a weaker market. This trend was exacerbated as some dealers were clearing inventory and raising cash for the year end.

     Two other series that had a bumpy ride during the year were Washington Quarters and Franklin Halves. While they did not suffer declines per se, most dates became very difficult to sell at current levels. The exceptions would be the highest grades where the Registry collectors continue to look for the low-pop rarities. Many of the high grade coins in MS66 and MS67 need to be either brilliant with super clean surfaces or have tremendous eye appeal if they have toning. The one area that did suffer a downturn in the FMV was Full Bell Lines Franklin Halves in MS66. The complete set began the year with an FMV of $141,685 and finished the year at $127,648; that is a loss of $14,037. However, keep in mind that both the Washington Quarter and Franklin Half series have a strong collector following for better dates that possess great eye appeal, and even more so if they have the CAC sticker or the + designation.

     What to watch for in 2016. From our perspective, look for dealers to start inventorying the more common Walkers and Morgan Dollars in MS64 and higher grades. Keep in mind that they will be looking for the upper half of quality because they can cherry-pick while the market is down. As market maker dealers begin to stockpile quantities, other dealers will follow suit and prices should begin to rise. Of course, the metals will be closely observed as the world economies truly influence how the U.S. coin market proceeds. If we begin to see consistent advances in Gold, the U.S. Classic Gold market will follow and premiums will once again rise as they always do.

     Another area to watch is the marketing from the U.S. Mint. With all their millions of customers and the advertising that is available to them, the public will continue to purchase Mint products. Some of them will be profitable for the collector, while many will wind up being just bullion. As long as they produce some low mintage coins like the recently released 2015 $100 Proof Platinum, the market for all Mint products will continue to drain cash from the rare coin market.

     Every year dealers look forward to the FUN Show. The annual event is in Tampa this year and it is sure to attract thousands of dealers and collectors who are ready for an improved coin market. Heritage Auctions will provide the official sale for FUN and it is sure to please the advanced collector as well as the part timer. The coin community is most excited to see the results of the tremendously rare 1894 S Barber Dime. This is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a collector to acquire one of the most famous coins in U.S. coin history. This is the highest certified coin for this date in a PCGS holder; it is a Branch Mint PR66 and it is also approved by CAC. The current FMV is $2,687,500. The selling price will certainly set the tone for true rarities for 2016. Below are just a few of the other potential highlights for this fabulous sale and the final results will certainly go a long way toward predicting what 2016 has in store for the coin market.

1894 S Barber Dime PCGS PR66 CAC

1894 S Barber Dime PCGS PR66 CAC is available at the Heritage Auctions FUN Show U.S. Coins Signature Auction in Tampa, Florida, January 6-11, 2016

Date/DenominationGradeCurrent FMV
1943 Lincoln Cent BronzePCGS AU58 CAC$187,500
1870 S Seated DollarPCGS XF40$675,000
1849 C $1 Gold Open WreathPCGS MS62$662,500
1804 $2 ˝ Gold 13 Stars Rev.PCGS AU55 CAC$362,500
1856 O $20 GoldPCGS XF45$362,500
1883 $20 GoldPCGS PR65 DCam$300,000

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