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Two kinds of rarities bring high prices

Going for the gold is what buyers did at the Central States Numismatic Society auction called by Heritage Galleries April 25-29 in Schaumburg, Ill.

In the top 12 lots posted by the firm, 10 were gold coins.

There were no million dollar rarities, but prices achieved certainly exceeded the means of most collectors, myself included.

That does not mean we bystanders cannot appreciate the results.

We can ask ourselves also what was the best value for each dollar spent.

See what you think.

The top lot was $396,000 paid for a proof 1836 gold $2.50.

All prices quoted here include a 20 percent buyer’s fee.

The firm said the 1836 $2.50 coin was graded Proof-65+ Deep Cameo by the Professional Coin Grading Service.

It is the only one of the variety available to collectors.

As noted by the firm, “seven examples of this coin are confirmed in all varieties as proofs, with this coin, bearing the Head of 1837 that indicates the JD-1 variety, accounting for three of those. This is the sole such example available to collectors, as the other two are in the Smithsonian and British Museum collections."

This is a perfect example of rarity as defined by number known to exist leading to a high price.

Another gold coin lot took the route of condition rarity to achieve a price almost as high.

A condition rarity means the coin is rare because few or no other coins are known in such a high state of preservation.

Realizing $336,000 was an example of the round 1915-S Panama-Pacific $50 gold piece.

Mintage is 483 pieces.

Heritage notes that this example “graded MS-66 by PCGS, tied for the highest graded such coin seen by that service. This coin, blessed with the CAC seal of approval, brought the highest price Heritage has ever seen for this coin.”

Who got the better buy when considering these two results?

I can see this question occupying a coin club meeting for an entire evening.

A gold 1854-S $2.50 brought $264,000. The coin was graded by PCGS as VF-35. It has a mintage of 246, and none exists in a grade higher than AU-53.

Other highlights of the sale provided by Heritage are:

  • $204,000 for an 1883 $20 Proof-64 Deep Cameo PCGS Secure
  • $192,000 for a 1911 $10 Proof-67 PCGS Secure, CAC
  • $180,000 for a 1796/5 $5 BD-1, MS-62 PCGS Secure, CAC
  • $168,000 for a 1797 half dollar, O-102, AU-55+ PCGS Secure
  • $144,000 for a 1796 quarter, B-2, MS-62 PCGS Secure
  • $132,000 for an 1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Proof-62 Cameo PCGS Secure
  • $132,000 for a 1907 Saint-Gaudens $20 High Relief, Wire Rim MS-65 PCGS Secure
  • $132,000 for an 1856-O $20 XF Details PCGS
  • $126,000 for an 1808 $2.50 BD-1, AU-55 PCGS Secure

Which of these coins would you have been bidding on if you had $1 million to play with?

I expect there are many answers to this question.

That’s the beauty of numismatics.

There is something for everyone.

Each prices realized list provided by Heritage proves this time and time again.

In any case, the Platinum Night results alone totaled $10.7 million, and the total for all U.S. coins sold was almost $21 million.

How you choose to spend your hobby funds is for you decided. What is certain here is that each and every dollar spent in this auction or any auction is a vote of confidence in the future of coin collecting.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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