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Opinion On The Coin Market Based On Recent Heritage Auction

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 Posted 06/24/2018  10:17 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add moxking to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
My Opinion of the Coin Market Based on the Recent Heritage Auction

There were five sessions hosted by Heritage for their auctions at the LB Expo at Long Beach from June 14th - 17th, numbered as Sale #1276.

First, let me say I'll present the coins I won from this auction at the end. Also, I am not affiliated with Heritage in any way, other than enjoying their sales. I've included some basic information for those who have never used Heritage as a source for coins. I think with this more in-depth information it may provide a few collectors with good basic information. Heritage does a wonderful job of answering all questions already, on their site. Heritage offers a range of lots that begin below $100, and end with million dollar coins. If you are spending $100 or more on a coin once in a while, Heritage is most definitely a place to hunt.

While there were some super big items offered that received great prices and much attention (1804 $1 sold for $2.64 M, 1793 Chain 1 Cent for $990 K, and many more at $100,000 to $450,000), so it was no surprise that once the Whales were swimming those auction waters, it was unlikely that much would go cheaply.

I love this type of auction because of the outstanding quality of the coins available. It is rare to see so many wonderful examples all at one auction at one time. Plus, the way Heritage sets up their lots with crisp photos and every detail about a lot accurately described in detail, you never have a question about what you are bidding on.

Not only can you view Heritage's own sold archives which include over 4 Million coins, but you can sort your research through dozens of filters so you don't waste time when you are looking for specific information. On each lot Heritage gives you the Census numbers for NGC and PCGS coins, plus CAC, plus every price guide worth reviewing - including some you have to pay for elsewhere. Those price guides include CDN Collector's Price Guide, CDN, CCDN, NGC Price Guide, NGC Plus Price Guide, PCGS Price Guide, PCGS Plus Price Guide, CDN Exchange SS/SU, Heritage Value Index, Numismedia Retail, Numismedia CAC, and Numismedia Wholesale - all in one place, all at one time, for any coin you could name.

You need go nowhere else to get all the numbers about any specific lot, and it only takes a minute to check past sales.

This particular auction had a real plethora of exceptional eye-appeal coins. There were many dozens of top 10/10 eye appeal coins included. For those coins, with or without toning to raise them to that 9/10 or 10/10 level of eye appeal, those coins had to be outstanding enough that the VAST majority of collectors examining them would absolutely LOVE to own them without question or comment.

Copper was on fire in this auction. Early copper, both Half Cents and Large Cents, went for exceptionally good prices in most cases. I didn't spot a one that could be considered a "bargain". The Indian and Lincolns didn't have quite that level of bidding, except on the truly choice examples, and those did much better than I would have anticipated. Many of the full red (orange) Indians nailed bids at 30-40% over what I expected. Even the two-cent pieces did well, not great, but strong. There were some with great red, but nothing that met my own eye appeal standards.

The three-cent silver and nickel were from different worlds, bidding wise. The silver issues all went for what I considered stupid high prices for the great eye appeal examples available. I had hoped to nail a 1861 3CS in NGC 65, with 9/10 eye appeal, and would have happily paid $720 to nab it. That price was high, but I'm very picky about those little fish scales and often don't agree with the TPG grading. This one was an exception. My bid was squashed like an annoying bug.

The poor 3CN simply didn't have great bidding for some amazing coins. Both for the business strike and Proof issues, many getting to MS or PF 67 or better, many with screaming luster and many with pluses, stars, and CAC were only moderately successful. In short, if I was picking one area of type coins to pursue as a set right now, I think the 3CN would be one of my strong recommendations. The prices are just soft right now. Although it's true that 3CN have been soft for a very long time, they did seem to rally about 2 years ago, but that has faded. Perhaps the folks buying them completed their sets.

Both Nickels and half dimes could not be touched unless you were willing to pay very strong prices for the best eye appeals that were accurately graded. I had a number of half dimes that were on my very short list of coins I was willing to pay 30% over average price for. I did not win one of them. Although I wasn't pursuing any nickels this time, their high end stuff, particularly high MS and PF Shields, were up at the rim for prices too. Liberties were soft. Jefferson's had some prices that I just shake my head over. I have just never understood why a Jefferson nickel, even in the top tier of grade, could be worth more than a gorgeous Saint Gaudens, or an early copper, or amazing world of coins (the list could go on). But I'm not a buyer for those, and obviously there are maniac collectors in that area, because the prices I saw were hanging their dollar signs on the clouds. As I've often said, just because it doesn't appeal to me, doesn't mean that it isn't a great area to collect. Jefferson prices confirmed that.

Any pre-Seated Liberty coins, regardless of Flowing Hair, Draped Bust, or Capped Bust for all of the silver issues - half dimes, Dimes, Twenty Cent Pieces, Quarters, Half Dollars and Dollars - were all very strong on nice issues. Capped Bust halves, in particular, had some MONSTER buys on gorgeously toned examples. I had three of those on my short list, and I didn't even get within tossing distance of owning any of them. There were some low winning bids in all of those denominations for partially or unattractive (to me) toning. If you collect those series, you know that the vast majority will have some toning, but much of that toning really isn't all that great. The dark tones, in particular, had few views, watchers, nor bidders. From what I saw, I would definitely stay away from Dark Seated in any denomination (with the possible exception of some dollars).

Early Halves did FANTASTIC. There were a bunch of 1794 and I wouldn't have been surprised to see some shotguns leveled during that bidding escapade. None of them went cheaply. None of them went easily. Everyone got some great bids, as every one of them deserved.

Which brings me to the side point about details rated coins in this auction. Obviously there is a differentiation between not so bad to terrible reasons for a details rating. You might have a coin rated as Environmental damage that has as single tiny spot that has eaten into the surface. Another coin might be given that same Environmental damage assignment that has many bad spots (particularly on copper) that really make the coin very unattractive. So, yes, I am aware of the broad strokes of details covering an awfully large range of actual damage.

But it appears, particularly with the early coinage of flowing hair, draped bust, and, to a lesser extent, capped bust - and ALL of the early copper - that getting a details grade does not portend terrible prices realized. Much of the copper, in particular, still had raving mad bidding for the rarest varieties even with some details assignments.

The early dollars were steady as usual. Nothing too amazing (other than for the 1804!). They all sold in the 90-110% of their expected sales prices, but there were some amazingly great eye appeal issues included that I really expected to see better those average prices.

Seated Dollars, every one of them from "market acceptable" or natural tone, or amazing eye appeal - ALL went for great prices. I didn't see a one that sold for anything like what they were selling for three years ago. There must be a fair number of date set collectors now, rather than those only looking for two for their 7070, because the better dates were getting MUCH stronger bidding.

The next is a point I need to explain. I have no clue what the Morgan's were doing. With the exceptions of Morgan's that I need for my year sets, like the 1883 (I'm working on 1853, 1873, and 1883 right now) I just don't spend much time with Morgan's. So any report on those would have to come from other quarters. I have an impossibly hard time buying Morgan's rated at 65, or 66, that really don't look all that great to me, have lesser eye appeal, barely make the grade, with TENS OF THOUSANDS graded with prices in the many hundreds or thousands of dollars.

For the same price as a relatively common date Morgan, with 10,000+ in grade and 5,000+ better, I can get type coins that have only hundreds in grade, and hundreds (or less) better. I'd simply much rather have a gorgeous Seated half dollar than a middling Morgan.

Likewise, my own Classic Silver Commemorative set is done, so I spent only a brief time looking those over. They were all getting GREAT high prices, particularly on the beautifully toned examples.

The only gold I was looking for is a 64 or 65 $2.5 Indian that DOESN'T have tiny copper spots. I've been looking for one of those as my last piece in my gold set for YEARS. I also looked at the Gold for my year sets, but I didn't see anything I loved for any of those dates. Prices seemed to be stronger on the Saint Gauden's and Indians over the Liberty issues. I only glanced at earlier gold so as not to drive myself insane.

With the exception of those four year sets above, I'm now strictly adhering to bettering all my type coins to a higher level of beauty (not just grade and not just eye appeal). I started out with 153 coins in these sessions that I would have liked to have. 101 of those I were included only if they were at a moderate price range as they could be bested, looks wise. Two weeks before the bidding started, I was already whittled down to 51 coins as 102 of them had exceeded the price I thought prudent.

Two hours before the sale, I was down to just 32 coins that I would love to have at the next bidding level, or higher. There were only 4 of those coins which I considered must haves. I was able to win 3 of those 4, but the 1874 Seated half dollar, Arrows, NGC 63+ with amazing perfect luster, went for well over 3 times what I expected. Obviously, that was a coin that more adventuresome collectors also wanted very badly.

I was left with just three coins - all quarters, which were on my must have list, and those three were the only ones I netted. A very good additional bonus was Heritage's No Fee Sales Certificates, which means if I sell those coins at an auction by Heritage in the future, I will not be charged for any fees for their sales. Free Heritage sales were a great bonus that I didn't expect. If you know how tough it is to get those, you know that three out of three is exceptional.

There were plenty of other areas in the sessions that I didn't bother with because I don't collect in those genres and could not comment on how well they sold.

Overall, this was a very strong sale. I purchase 80% of my coins from Heritage, Stacks, and Great Collections. The trend for sales has continued to increase at a steady pace during the last three years, and in some areas, particularly the earliest types, they are reaching levels well above any sales they've had previously (even the 1989 insanity that turned into the worst drop in coin value history).

Here are my three quarters:

The following is Heritages own note about this auction:
An Important New York Collection realized a total of over $6.7 million, highlighting $18 million in overall results in the June 14-17 Long Beach US coins auction. All prices include a 20% Buyer's Premium.

An important New York Collection featured a selection of 22 outstanding type coins, many of which were extreme rarities in their own right. Foremost among these was an 1804 dollar, "The King of American Coins". This Class I example, the Mickley-Hawn-Queller specimen, was graded PR62 by NGC and realized $2,640,000. A 1793 Chain Cent, graded MS65 Brown by PCGS and pedigreed to the famed Eliasberg collection, sold for $990,000 when the bidding ended. Overall, the top twelve lots in this auction were from An Important New York Collection.

Additional top lots from An Important New York Collection included:
1776 Continental Dollar, CURRENCY, Pewter, EG FECIT, MS67 NGC. Newman 3-D
1796 $2 1/2 No Stars on Obverse, BD-2, MS61 PCGS. CAC.
1794 $1 B-1, BB-1, XF40 PCGS. CAC.
1804 25C B-1, MS65 NGC.
1870 $20 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC
1907 $20 High Relief, Wire Rim MS67 PCGS. CAC
1909 $5 PR68 NGC
1798 $5 Large Eagle, Large 8, 13 Stars Reverse, BD-4, MS64 NGC. CAC.
1840-C $5 MS64+ PCGS. CAC
1805/4 50C O-101, MS65 NGC. CAC.
A 1910 nickel, graded PR68 Deep Cameo by PCGS, is the only coin in the entire series to have been awarded such a grade by PCGS. It hammered for $84,000.

Edited by moxking
06/24/2018 10:23 am
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 Posted 06/24/2018  10:23 am  Show Profile   Check silverwolf's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add silverwolf to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
nice evaluation of the current market. And I must say you picked up 3 beautiful coins..
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 Posted 06/24/2018  10:31 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add aristarchus123 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great informative post, and congratulations on the nice pick-ups.
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 Posted 06/24/2018  10:56 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Earle42 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What a great read! Thanks for this report. And I about dropped my jaw when I saw your three quarters. I especially love that seated.
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 Posted 06/24/2018  10:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Taurus to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very well written summary, thanks and congrats on your new additions. The SLQ is awesome, heck they're all awesome.
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 Posted 06/24/2018  11:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Cheyenne to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nice post and those are some beautiful coins!
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 Posted 06/24/2018  12:36 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Slider23 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Congratulation on picking up three nice coins in auction.

I believe what you are seeing in this auction is an extension of the direction the market is going. The market is solid and growing for top pop, original with nice eye appeal, great color, and rare with nice eye appeal. Heritage does an excellent job of filling the auction with quality coins that will drive the price up between bidders.

The coin market is still sliding for common dates, hole fillers, and coins below average for grade.

The market trend has been driven from the vast selection of coins available on the internet that allows the collector to be selective for quality coins. Plus the coin collectors have more information available on how and what to collect through the internet and price trends can be found in a few seconds. The internet leveled the playing field on coin collecting knowledge. There are more knowledgeable collectors seeking the same quality rare coin than before internet.
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 Posted 06/24/2018  1:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add moxking to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the comments everyone.

Slider - you did a superb job of condensing what can be a lengthy explanation. I've seen so many collectors that were filling Whitman's turn to a few key dates in TPG, turn to TPG best grades affordable for the whole set, turn to very smart buyers. Not only for their areas of expertise, but particularly for high end type and key series issues.

The only drawback is the hoards of buyers getting junk on eBay and wasting money that can never be recouped. I'm fully aware that our hobby isn't about making or even saving money. But for every collector that later discovers that there collection is worth next to nothing, one more collector is lost forever.

The really good news is that I see a LOT MORE younger buyers, too.

See - I told you it could be turned in to a lengthy explanation
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 Posted 06/24/2018  8:16 pm  Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I still need to sell off a LOT of coins and this makes me feel better about probably using Heritage. At this point I think I am going to sell off about 30-50% of my total inventory. Just got to get Heritage to work with me on it, or find a single-source buyer (unlikely for that large of a sale.) Thank you for the thoughtful and very detailed analysis, mox, and I agree 100% with the others that you picked up three spectacularly amazing coins!
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 Posted 06/24/2018  9:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Zurie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Congrats for picking up those three amazing quarters. And thanks for the detailed report on this auction. Gives me much more confidence on the future of coin collecting and the strength of pricing, at least in the high end market.
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 Posted 06/24/2018  11:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MikeF to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
You're wonderful analysis confirms my observations that we are experiencing a bifurcating coin market. Choice coins with superior eye appeal continue to fetch strong prices while run of the mill coins meander along the bottom of grey sheet prices.

The Seated dollar offerings were a huge disappointment. So much so that I didn't follow any of them. Also, not sure I agree with you that they fetched strong prices. 95% were cleaned and unattractive.
Here is one that did and left me scratching my head:
An 1840 au-details coin fetched $2,880? Yeah ok it has some album toning but the bidder paid full au-58 value for a details coin? Watch for this one to show up in a different holder at coin outfit soon! (or raw as a choice BU +++++++ at a corrupt eBay store near you! )

Here are the rest of them. None had notable eye appeal and only 1 coin was CAC approved.

Edited by MikeF
06/24/2018 11:16 pm
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 Posted 06/25/2018  12:34 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add basebal21 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I think I could agree that the prices were pretty good considering it was a June auction. Poor timing for selling the 1804 imo and I think the price reflected that as it was a good deal for the buyer but it still didn't exactly go cheap.

As for the details Seated dollar it probably will get cracked out and tried again. That said as far as details coins go questionable color is by far the best case For the reason why, I guess stained would be a minor one too.

I definitely agree with the split market that we've been seeing for a long time now. I would actually break it up into three tiers though.
The first would be the conditional rarities, top pops, great for the grade, high grade ect coins. Those have and generally always do pretty well.
Then we have the second tier which I would call the toned tier. I don't mean toned as in any toned or lightly colored, I mean the colorful rainbow toned coins that turn 100 dollar coins into 3k coins where the grade is by far secondary to the color itself. I think these deserve to be split off on their own given how unique that market is.
Then of course we have the common third tier where at any given time you can go on eBay and find countless examples. That's the tier that's definitely been suffering from the Internet and the added access to coins it has brought to buyers. Common date common grade Morgan's come to mind as a great example of where they've been hit hard in a price race to the bottom to get a sale. The failing popularity of st collecting hurts these types a lot. There's nothing wrong with getting and enjoying these coins it's just that I have a hard time envisionin them taking off without a metals price spike again
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 Posted 06/26/2018  09:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nice coins. But I'm in this hobby as just a hobby. I have no slabbed coins at all.
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 Posted 06/26/2018  09:38 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add oih82w8 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for a really informative read! I was blown out of the water numerous times during this series of auctions. I definitely need to stay in the shallow end of the pool at Long Beach.

Those are some mighty fine looking acquisitions!
Edited by oih82w8
06/26/2018 09:42 am
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 Posted 06/26/2018  1:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Steelers72 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Love the analysis and the coins, congrats! I was watching that Seated quarter, but I went with a proof cac example in the same auction instead to fill the hole in my 7070. Look forward to more analyses like this one
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