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Market perks up at close of 2016


Top price in 2016 public auctions was the almost $2 million needed to buy this 1894-S Barber dime.

Optimism that disposable income may increase with the election of Donald Trump lifted the United States rare coin market in the last two months of 2016, according to the Professional Numismatists Guild.

However, the gain was not enough to reverse a general retrenchment in the $4 billion rare coin market.

“After several years of higher prices and the spectacular sales of several legendary coin collections, the U.S. rare coin market softened in 2016. But after the November elections, there was a notable increase in demand for high-quality rare coins, including those priced at $100,000 or more,” said PNG President Dana Samuelson.

The aggregate prices realized for U.S. coins sold at major public auctions in 2016 totaled $341,815,542. The totals were $439 million in 2015; $536 million in 2014; and $393 million in 2013. One firm, Heritage Auctions, accounted for $192 million of the 2016 total. All totals include the buyer’s premium to reflect the actual, full prices paid by winning bidders.

“In our annual survey of major numismatic auction firms, the consensus estimate is that the overall U.S. rare coin market for auctions and direct sales in 2016 was about $4 billion, not including bullion coins, such as gold, silver or platinum American Eagles, and not including sales by the United States Mint,” Samuelson said.

“Over the decades the U.S. rare coin market moves in cycles, and the long-term trend is up. We believe 2017 will be an opportunity for astute collectors to be buying,” said Robert Brueggeman, PNG executive director.

There were four coins that sold for $1 million or more at auction in 2016 compared to a record-setting 17 during 2015. A fifth coin crossed the million dollar mark in a private sale in late 2016, and although the purchase price was not disclosed, it was reported the coin is insured for $8 million for a planned public display in early 2017.

The four million-dollar coins sold at public auction in 2016 are:

  • 1894 San Francisco silver dime, graded Professional Coin Grading Service Proof-66, $1,997,500, sold by Heritage Auctions.
  • 1879 Quintuple Stella (pattern $20 denomination gold coin), PCGS Proof-64 Deep Cameo, $1,888,000, sold by Legend Rare Coin Auctions.
  • 1833 Capped Head Left, Large Date Half Eagle ($5 denomination gold coin), PCGS Proof-67, $1,351,250, sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
  • 1795 Draped Bust silver dollar, PCGS Specimen-66, $1,057,500, sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

The auction firms that responded to the PNG survey are: Bonham’s; Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers; GreatCollections Coin Auctions; Heritage Auctions; David Lawrence Rare Coins; Legend Rare Coin Auctions; Scotsman Coin & Jewelry; and Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

For a copy of “The Pleasure of Numismatics,” an informative, 10-page illustrated educational booklet about collecting rare coins, paper money, tokens and medals, send $1 to: Professional Numismatists Guild, 28441 Rancho California Road, Suite 106, Temecula, CA 92590.

For additional information about the PNG and a complete list of member-dealers, visit online at www.PNGdealers.org, or call the PNG headquarters at (951) 587-8300.

The PNG, a non-profit organization composed of many of the country’s top rare coin and paper money experts, conducts an annual compilation of results of major auctions of U.S. rare coins.

It was founded in 1955. PNG member-dealers must adhere to a strict code of ethics in the buying and selling of numis.


This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today


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