Numismatics appears to be on track to be taken as seriously as is the fine arts market. On June 20, Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov’s 2021 Nobel Peace Prize medal shattered all numismatic records when it was auctioned for a staggering $103.5 million. The sale of the medal was meant to raise money for charity; but nevertheless, the price realized far surpassed anything coin-related previously sold. (See related story.)
Coins selling individually in excess of $1 million have become more commonplace than ever before. A unique 1870-S Seated Liberty half dime preparing to be sold at an auction in August will likely grab headlines as the coin flexes its financial muscle, but it is unlikely it will challenge the price of Muratov’s medal.
What needs to be understood is that, while U.S. coins certainly lead the way in this frothy market, our domestic coinage is far from being the exception. Modern world and ancient coins are also selling for sky-high prices, many of them realizing these prices outside the United States. This isn’t a U.S. coin market rally, rather it is a worldwide coin market rally.
American Numismatic Society Executive Director Gilles Bransbourg recently observed, “prices for ancient precious metal coins decoupled from bullion a long time ago.” We can say the same thing about U.S. coins. Even an ancient Roman gold coin depicting Julius Caesar’s assassin Brutus that has a hole drilled in it recently sold in excess of $2 million. This is likely the highest price ever paid for a damaged coin.
These aren’t times of irrational exuberance, but they are times of exuberance. The foot remains on the numismatic gas pedal as the interest in