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What to make of rarities

Does the fact that the finest known 1804 silver dollar failed to sell Tuesday night in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries-Sotheby’s auction of 63 rarities from the D. Brent Pogue Collection signal any change in condition in the numismatic market?

Certainly I was disappointed that I could not write a story about a new record price. Every editor likes a good headline. It gives all of us something to aspire to if we win the lottery.

There was a bid of $10,575,000 that was declined as not meeting the reserve price.

That would have been a record. Does an almost record signal market health, or does it signal some sort of turning point?

Top rarities have had a life of their own in recent years.

The 1804 dollar is the “toppest” of the rarities. It is the King of American coins. It attracts attention far beyond what ordinary rarities do.

Another rare piece, the only 1822 $5 gold coin in public hands, also failed to sell. A bid of $7,285,000 fell short of the reserve price.

Even though the $5 gold piece is much rarer than the 1804 dollar, its bid was lower. From this we can conclude that numismatic fame pushes up the price.

Most collectors can identify the 1804 dollar. Fewer are familiar with the 1822 gold $5.

The 61 other coins in the sale did sell. Two went for over $1 million. All earned more than average folks are paid in a year.

In four sales over the past year, the Pogue collection has generated prices realized of over $85 million. It is the most ever realized by any collection already and there is more to go.

The 61 coins that sold on Tuesday contributed $16,749,038 to the Pogue total and 11 of those coins earned spots in the Top 250 Auction records.

From this, it looks like the top end of the market is still thriving in numismatics.

Congratulations are in order for the auction firms.

Expectations are high for the fifth Pogue offering in September.

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