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NumisMedia Monthly


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

February 2017

A Review of the Top Rarities Sold at Auction in 2016

     The last few years we have seen prices decline as collectors have adjusted their purchasing habits. While it is true that prices have plummeted in some areas of the market, it is more likely that a shift in demand has had more of an effect on prices than an increase in the number of coins certified in a specific grade. The coin market has always been directed by supply and demand. And yes dealers can influence the supply by buying up specific coins, drying up the available supply, forcing prices to higher levels with the excessive demand. But if the demand is not steady, prices will eventually fall.

     In 2016, there were some incredible rarities that hit the auction block. Heritage Auctions and Stack’s Bowers Galleries had some record breaking sales and many rarities sold for unheard of dollar amounts. Even with the market shifting toward bullion related coins, the results from the major auctions from this past year prove that there are still many advanced collectors and investors who want the very best and are willing to pay top dollar.

     Stack’s Bowers Galleries offered an amazing list of rarities in 2016, including their highest selling coin of the year, an 1833 $5 Gold Capped Head Left certified by PCGS as PR67 from the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part IV. It sold for $1,351,250, is the only one known in this grade, and has the CAC sticker. In fact there are only two others listed in the pop reports, a PR58 and a PR61. This coin was listed with an FMV of $1,221,880 in early 2013 and, as a result of this sale, has a current FMV of $1,343,750 and listed in the NumisMedia Online Price Guide with a CAC value of $1,550,000.

     The second highest selling rarity for Stack’s Bowers this past year was the 1795 Draped Bust Dollar. This coin is certified by PCGS as SP66 and it also broke the million dollar barrier at $1,057,500. Like the previous coin, this was also a part of the Pogue Sale Part IV. It is the finest known of this date and traces back to the Garrett Collection which was a record setting sale back in 1980.

1795 Draped Bust Dollar SP66 PCGS

1795 Draped Bust Dollar SP66 PCGS sold for $1,057,500 at the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part IV sale hosted by Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s in New York, May 24, 2016

     The third top selling coin for Stack’s Bowers was the 1793 Flowing Hair Chain Cent in PCGS MS65 RB which sold for $998,750. This is the AMERICA without Periods variety and is the highest graded coin of this date with Red & Brown surfaces; it also received the CAC approval. The current FMV for the Brown example in MS65 is $500,000 but the RB coin is unique and would not surprise us to command over the million dollar mark upon its next sale. Below are a few of the many other highlights from Stack’s Bowers Galleries from 2016.

Date/DenominationGradePrice Realized
1794 Liberty Cap Half CentPCGS MS67 RB$940,000
1825/4 $5 Gold Capped BustPCGS MS64$940,000
1829 $5 Gold Capped BustPCGS MS65+$881,250
1832 $5 Gold Capped Bust 12 StarsPCGS MS63$822,500
1835 $5 Gold Classic HeadPCGS PR67+ Deep Cameo$822,500

     Never to be out done, Heritage Auctions sold over $192 million in U.S. coins in 2016 with some of the greatest rarities changing hands. Leading the way was the 1894 S Barber Dime in PCGS PR66; it is the finest known and tops all sales for the year at $1,997,500. This is one of possibly less than 10 known for this date. The FMV for the PR66 was listed at $2,187,500 in early 2013 and reached a high of $2,687,500 in 2014 when the market was on fire. Since then, it is well documented that the cycle has reversed and prices have dropped for many coins including this rarity, now listed at $2,500,000.

1894 S Barber Dime PCGS PR66 CAC

1894 S Barber Dime PCGS PR66 CAC sold for $1,997,500 at the Heritage Auctions FUN Show U.S. Coins Signature Auction in Tampa, Florida, January 6-11, 2016

     The next highest selling coin for Heritage was a 1792 Disme in Silver certified by PCGS as AU50 bringing $998,750. This is one of only three coins known for this variety and is the finest of the three; this coin traces back to the Judd and Patrick collections. Another 1792 Disme, this one in Copper, was certified by PCGS as SP64 Brown and realized $705,000. It is the finest known of the 18 documented Copper coins known to exist.

     The rarest $1 Gold coin, the 1849 C with the Open Wreath, has only four coins certified with one other known to exist in XF in a private collection. Heritage sold the finest known coin this past year in PCGS MS62 for $528,750. The next highest grade is an AU58. The current FMV for the MS62 is $662,500 after reaching a high point of $750,000 in January of 2015. This is the same coin that was previously certified by NGC as MS63 Prooflike but is now in the PCGS MS62 holder. The following highlights are just a few of the other top rarities sold throughout the past year by Heritage Auctions.

Date/DenominationGradePrice Realized
1920 S $20 Gold Saint GaudensPCGS MS65$517,000
1804 $2 ½ Gold 13 Stars ReversePCGS AU55 CAC$505,250
1870 S Seated DollarNGC XF40$423,000
1856 O $20 GoldPCGS AU55$364,250
1880 $4 Gold Stella Flowing HairNGC PR65$352,500

     Legend Rare Coin Auctions should also be included as they had one of the highest selling rarities of the year in their New Orleans sale in May 2016. The 1879 $20 Gold Quintuple Stella Pattern in PCGS PR64 Deep Cameo realized $1,880,000. This coin has a rather distinguished pedigree, previously held in the collections of Brand, Carter, Trompeter, and Simpson.

     To see more of the top rarities sold at auction in 2016, check out our

Slide Show - Auction Highlights from 2016

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