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High Relief gold worth it?

Are you in for $1,650 on the secondary market, or are you willing to wait until September or October for a coin from the U.S. Mint?

The 2015-W High Relief is still available at the Mint but on back order. Some collectors are willing to pay much more to get theirs right away.

The 2015-W High Relief is still available at the Mint but on back order. Some collectors are willing to pay much more to get theirs right away.

That’s the question facing potential buyers of the 2015-W High Relief American Liberty gold coin who missed out on the initial shipments and can only back order the coin.

The United States Mint’s expected back order delivery date is Oct. 1. However, some collectors don’t want to wait that long and are seeking examples on the secondary market.

Matt Crane of L&C Coins, Los Alamitos, Calif., said collectors want their High Reliefs right away.

“We had people call up the store on its first day of sale, asking if we had any in stock,” he said. “We don’t have a special relationship with the Mint. We need to wait like everyone else. We just started getting them Aug. 5.”

Despite the fact the High Relief is still being sold at Mint’s website, the back order status has helped the secondary market, he said.

“I think that the fact it hasn’t sold out yet initially won’t hurt the market,” Crane said. “In our experience, some would like to get the coin in hand rather than wait on back order.”

Sales data on eBay shows how much over the $1,490 initial sale price buyers are willing to pay just to get them now.

In three buy it now sales that concluded Aug. 5, ungraded High Reliefs averaged $1,731 a sale. This number is up from the $1,650 average of two sales on Aug. 4 and the $1,612 average of two sales Aug. 3. The big selling point for most of these sales was that the coin was already in hand and would ship immediately.

With only a handful of completed sales, it’s still too soon to point out a trend, but it appears buyers want them and they want them now. Why? For most, it’s so they can send them in to third-party grading services to get First Strike or Early Release designations.

On Aug. 5, two NGC graded MS-70 Early Release High Reliefs sold, one as a buy it now for $2,000 and the other at auction for $1,875. Three PCGS graded MS-70 First Strike High Reliefs were also sold, all in auctions for $1,960, $1,985 and $2,110.

As of Aug. 5, the NGC graded High Reliefs were stable, selling for between $1,900 and $2,000. However, prices for PCGS graded High Reliefs dropped from the $2,595 paid for the first one on Aug. 3 to $2,436 for the second on Aug. 4.

Crane said that pricing graded High Reliefs is heavily dependent on when grading totals are released.

“For the secondary market, I think it all depends on how the third-party grading companies grade them and what the grading totals are,” he said. “Who knows how PCGS will look at these?”

He said MS-69 graded High Reliefs will most likely bring in little over the issue price. As of Aug. 5, all graded High Reliefs sold on eBay were MS-70.

As for retail sales, David Hendrickson, owner of SilverTowne, Winchester, Ind., said the new coin is already popular.

“We’ve been selling them on Coin Vault for about a week now,” he said.”They’ve been selling well. We’ve sold both PCGS and NGC MS-70 High Reliefs for $2,199.

“We’re evaluating their performance to see if we’ll include them on our SilverTowne website.”

He said the secondary market for the High Reliefs would hold up well.

“I think that the secondary market will be just fine,” he said. “It may wane a little in a month, but will come back as supplies dry up. I think that they will hold their value well.”

He also expects to see some interest again in the 2009 Ultra High Relief double eagle.

“If the collector bought the 2009, they’ll probably want to buy the 2015,” Hendrickson said. “If they buy the 2015, they’ll want to go back and get the 2009.”

Crane, however, felt the two coins appealed to different audiences.

“The classic design of the 2009 Ultra High Relief was a special design for classic gold collectors,” he said. “I think it (the 2015 High Relief) appeals to modern collectors because it has a more modern design.”

Whether it has modern appeal or attracts high relief collectors, the 2015 High Relief, while not an immediate sellout, could in time develop a following.

See the separate story for the Mint’s day-by-day High Relief sales numbers.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express.
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