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Commems Collection: 1928 Hawaiian - Bank Of Hawaii Auction

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 Posted 10/03/2016  12:38 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've previously shared a few thoughts about the 1928 Hawaiian here Hawaiian Revisted and here Original Hawaiian Post.

Today, I thought I'd share a story about an auction that is a unique piece of US commemorative history.

On January 23, 1986, as part of the Numismatic Association of Southern California (NASC) Convention in Los Angeles, Bowers and Merena, Inc. held a special auction comprised of 137 lots of the 1928 Hawaiian commemorative half dollar. All of the coins were consigned by the Bank of Hawaii, Ltd. which had been storing them in their vault since 1928! The Bank of Hawaii was the official agent for the coins in 1928; it handled their distribution on behalf of the Cook Sesquicentennial Commission of Hawaii.

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A few words about the Hawaiian commemorative.

The coins were authorized on March 7, 1928 via Public Law 77-98. They were issued to commemorate "the 150th anniversary of the discovery [emphasis added] of the Hawaiian Islands by Captain James Cook and to help fund the creation of a Captain James Cook memorial collection in the archives of the Territory of Hawaii."

Chester Beach sculpted the models for the coin from drawings created by Juliette May Fraser, a Honolulu artist. The obverse of the coin is dominated by a left-facing (westward-facing) portrait of Captain Cook. A Hawaiian warrior chief adorns the reverse. He is shown looking out over a part of the Hawaiian shoreline with an outstretched right hand indicating "Welcome!" In his left hand he is holding a spear -- maybe the "Welcome!" is conditional?

Net mintage for the coin was 10,000 (including 50 sand-blasted proofs). It is considered one of the keys to the classic US commemorative set and its market price across all grade levels generally reflects this.

The coins originally sold for $2.00 each with a limit of five (5) per person/company. Coin orders were to be sent to the Bank of Hawaii for processing.






And now back to the auction.

The sale was eagerly anticipated by the collecting community, as the large number of high-grade pieces to be offered in one auction was never before seen and the link of the coins back to the original agent for the coins made the event unprecedented. The auction also excited collectors because of the incredible number of gem condition examples that were to be offered.

Gem examples of the coin definitely led the way in the auction, as lots 1 through 74 (54% of the total coins to be sold!) were listed with a grade of MS-65. The grades for lots 75 through 82 were listed as MS-63/65; the split grade indicating coins exhibiting "gem" reverses with "choice" obverses. The next 42 coins, lots 83 to 124, were graded "MS-63 to MS-65" (today's MS-64?). The remaining 13 coins ranged from MS-63 to AU-50. Lots 134 and 135 were listed as "MS63 to MS-65" but with a planchet defect noted on each.

The overall average selling price of the coins was $2,107 including the 10% "buyer's charge." For the MS-65 coins, the average selling price was $2,354. The first five coins had an average selling price of $3,498 while coins numbered 6 through 74 saw an average of $2,271. With only the auction catalog and prices realized list (PRL) to review, it's difficult for me to state definitively why the first five coins went for so much more. It's certainly possible that they were the superior coins of the auction and thus commanded appropriate attention from the bidders. The catalog descriptions of these initial lots does provide some indication of their quality. The phrase "Surfaces close to perfection" was used to describe three of the first five coins.

Unfortunately, the coins are all pictured in black-and-white in the auction catalog and, with one exception, are all presented in actual size. So, the coin images do not offer any clear-cut answers on the relative "gem-i-ness" of the individual coins.

In general, the prices realized were below the "Bid" prices published in the Coin Dealer Newsletter ("Greysheet") at the time. For example, in early 1986, MS-65 coins were listed at prices in excess of $4,000. So, it appears while collectors were excited by the sale, the sheer volume of coins available at one time resulted in some true "bargains" for many successful bidders.

I've always wondered if my Hawaiian might have come from this sale. None of the coins in the sale were third-party graded at the time of the sale, so it's always possible that one of its gem coins later found its way into a green PCGS holder and then into my collection. Not likely, of course, but you never know!

If you enjoy the 1928 Hawaiian half dollar and are looking for a comprehensive history of the coin (or if you just enjoy reading US commemorative coin history), I would suggest looking for a copy of the auction catalog at your favorite numismatic literature dealer or even on eBay. They are not very expensive and offer great coverage of the history of the coin and the Bank of Hawaii.






Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 10/03/2016  1:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add moxking to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The Hawaii is one of the 4 types I still need for my set. I simply haven't seen one I loved at the 65 grade. I do love the one you presented. As always I've copy and pasted your fantastic article into my commemorative history file. Thanks!
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 Posted 10/03/2016  1:58 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CelticKnot to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
commems, great write-up, as usual. I really enjoy your writing style.

That's a nice looking coin and one I hope to add to my collection one day. It is interesting to speculate if your particular coin was part of the auction that you wrote about, commems. Would be pretty cool.

For those of you that don't know this, Captain Cook, while respected among the natives, came to his untimely and grisly end in Hawaii. He was murdered on the beach by locals after attempting to kidnap the king of Hawaii for ransom to get his stolen ship back. (There's more to it than that, of course, but that's the gist).
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 Posted 10/03/2016  2:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add january1may to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It is, in fact, well known in Russia, due to a popular song, that Captain Cook was eaten by natives on some Pacific island.

It is not, however, very well known where he was eaten. I like to ask this trivia question; most say New Zealand (which, of course, is much more famous for cannibalistic natives than Hawaii, and was also visited by Captain Cook).
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 Posted 10/03/2016  2:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Glad to see you writing more of these. Another good read.
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 Posted 10/03/2016  3:25 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add bpoc1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Commems, thanks for sharing.
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 Posted 10/03/2016  4:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Mister Kairu to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the share! Even though $2 in the Great Depression era was about $27 worth of today's money (and even more so since money was very tight during that time period to come), I would have loved to see those when they were released! Great write up!
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 Posted 10/03/2016  4:59 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great background and well-written as always.
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 Posted 10/03/2016  7:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Buzz Killington to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting piece. I don't think that grades above 65 really existed back in 1986. Maybe some of the first few would grade above 65 by today's standards, but we'll likely never know.

My takeaway from this is how SOFT the commemorative market is. Imagine what gold you could buy for $2,000 in 1986!

Sadly, it seems like the market is focused on a few high grade rarities, and the market generally is pretty soft. A good lesson for those putative investors. You could turn you $2000 1986 dollars into... about $3000 in 30 years? Ouch.

I'd still love me a Gem Hawaiian half, though!
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 Posted 10/03/2016  8:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Tremendous read commems ... as always I truly enjoy your written method of sharing the knowledge.

I'm hopeful that soon you will have enough original research ... such as this thread ... to fill an entire book.

What a great read that would be ... and it would quickly become the reference text for those like me who have a passion for the series but alas lack your skills to discover and share the hidden stories behind this fabulous series of USA coins.

Now you have caused me to wonder if my PCGS certified MS65/CAC Hawaiian was a part of the big auction ... one never knows!

Many thanks for all the knowledge you so kindly share with us.

David
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.finewoodcrafter.com
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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 Posted 10/03/2016  8:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Sadly, it seems like the market is focused on a few high grade rarities, and the market generally is pretty soft. A good lesson for those putative investors. You could turn you $2000 1986 dollars into... about $3000 in 30 years? Ouch.


Fully agree and concur ... a financial investment in the classic silver commemorative series ... intended as an investment for price appreciation is likely a bad bet.

That said ... a personal knowledge investment to understand this tremendous and unique USA coinage series yields tremendous benefits ...

There is no other USA coinage series with such a variety of designs ... poor to exceptional ... and the stories behind each and every coin are magnificent ... should one take the time to study and learn them.

What commems does so well is the smooth written ability to bring the 'behind-the-scenes' story to life ... and as a dedicated collector of the series I truly value his sharing of knowledge.

I'm not worried about my MS 50-coin type set appreciating in price ... I'm enjoying the joy of holding in my hands some of the most tremendous and historical coins ever issued by the USA.

Hopeful that as a collector you will understand that joy.

David
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.finewoodcrafter.com
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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 Posted 10/03/2016  10:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add GR58 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very good write up .. sort of motivational

Someday ... I would like to have one
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 Posted 10/03/2016  11:36 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Buzz Killington to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As I often say, a coin collection is a better investment than investing in beer drinking, or various other things. Gambling also comes to mind. It is okay to have a hobby that costs money.

I would LOVE to have a Gem Hawaiian half dollar.

But I was trying to say, this is a good lesson for people who consider coin collecting as an alternative to long-term investing. It is not. And this article was a great example of why not.
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 Posted 10/09/2016  8:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add BadToTheBone to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Jealous for sure....I can't wait till I can find one I like and can afford when I find it....Nice!
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 Posted 10/09/2016  10:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add muddler to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great write up on the one remaining open space in my type set. Still looking for one.
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 Posted 10/09/2016  10:28 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As always, thanks much for the positive feedback. Always appreciated!


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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