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Rare coins bring high prices

Walter Perschke’s Brasher doubloon sold for $4,582,500 last night at the Heritage Auctions sale held in conjunction with the Florida United Numismatists convention in Orlando.

That is more than 10 times what Perschke paid for it in 1979 when he purchased it for $430,000 in the four-firm Auction ’79 event.

Most collectors would be pleased to own such an iconic coin for almost 35 years and cash it in at the end of their period of ownership. I sure would.

Those who are of an investment frame of mind might be interested to know that the compound rate of return for Perschke’s investment is 7.1 percent over the 34 and a half years in which he has owned it.

That seems a very handsome reward considering the current interest rates and the fact you don’t have to pay taxes on the profit until you actually sell the coin.

Also last night the 1913 Liberty Head nickel once owned by King Farouk, Jerry Buss and Reed Hawn, among others sold for $3,290,000. This is just a tad more than the $3,172,500 brought by the Walton nickel last April.

The price realized last night, however, is less than it sold for in its prior auction appearance in a Heritage sale in 2010. Then it brought $3,737,500.

This proves that nothing is certain with investments, even numismatic ones, and timing is everything.

Checking the in-depth information provided by the Heritage sales catalog reveals some interesting figures.

Reed Hawn paid $385,000 for the coin in January 1985 and he sold it for $962,500 in October 1993.

He held it for a period of eight years and nine months.

I was curious to see what his rate of return was.

It works out to an 11.04 percent compounded rate of return.

Reed Hawn obviously picked his moment to sell very well indeed. I will have to see what he thinks about that the next time I speak with him.

If my travel plans had worked out, I would have been in the auction room last night when the gavel came down for both of these rarities.

However, the extreme cold and backed-up air transport system denied me the opportunity. I am still at my desk in Iola, Wis.

Speaking of picking the right moment to do something, I obviously had no luck in that regard this week.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."