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Heritage so huge it's catching the Mint

Heritage is big. Just about everybody in numismatics knows that.

The latest figures released by the Dallas, Texas, auction firm demonstrate its scale.

Do dollar totals impress you or people totals? I have both.

In 2016, the firm had sales exceeding $850 million.

This is its third best year ever by this measure.

Heritage now has over one million online registered bidder members. This is the largest total ever.

Now I know these totals are not solely coin and paper money related.

Heritage has long since taken its powerful brand into other fields.

However, I cannot help but think about these figures in comparison to numismatics.

One million people is huge.

There are not that many buyers of current U.S. proof sets, or silver American Eagle proof coins.

Heritage's auction total in the U.S. coin field alone is $192 million.

That makes it larger than all other numismatic auction houses combined.

Heritage said the Professional Numismatists Guild survey numbers show it continuing to hold a market share of 56 percent.

This dominance is important to consignors.

But what really blows me away is that $192 million number is approaching half the size of the U.S. Mint’s total numismatic sales.

In the last annual report by the Mint, its numismatic sales number was $453 million. This is the national mint with the largest coin collector numbers in the world.

All I want to know is how long it will take Heritage U.S. coin sales to pass the Mint?

It is not a foolish question. I have been watching Heritage since the 1970s. What it has accomplished since then is amazing.

If you include its other fields, that $850 million Heritage number is double the U.S. Mint’s collectible business.

It makes you think, doesn’t it?

It’s an “only in America” success story.

Just how do the rest of the numbers look?

Heritage's world and ancient coin sales total is about $47 million while paper money is over $29 million.

Sports stands at $57.4 million.

Comics and Comics and Animation Art is $43 million.

The Fine Jewelry, Timepieces and Luxury Accessories figure is $41.7 million.

Luxury real estate is $19 million.

Wine is $10.8 million.

Movie posters are nearly $8 million.

Demonstrating the power of its online presence, Heritage said sales here were $344 million in 2016.

It appears to me that Heritage has a map to the future.

Impressive as all those numbers are, my heart remains in the coin field.

That’s why I was especially aware of a comment by Heritage Co-Chairman James Halperin.

“Based on late 2016 and early 2017 auction results, the U.S. Coin Market remains upbeat, with prices now already 10 to 12 percent above the previous years’ prices, on average,” Halperin said.

“We are already seeing extremely positive results from the first coin auctions of the year. Meanwhile, our plans to expand into other markets and geographic regions are on track.”

Of course, they are on track. They have that map to the future, don’t they?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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