World coins are hot, no more so than in the demand for high-grade rarities. This was ably demonstrated in the results of Heritage Auctions’ Sept. 7-12 Long Beach Expo World Coins Signature sale.
The total realized by the 3,820 lots sold was $5,419,388, or over $1,400 apiece for a sell-through rate of 97 percent. Thirty-five of those lots fetched in excess of $10,000. Of these, 20 percent were Russian rarities.
Leading the charge was a superb Nicholas I proof ruble of 1831 struck at the St. Petersburg mint, KM-C131. Clearly Heritage’s cataloger approved of its: “Mottled blue, russet, and gold toning over mirrored fields.” Extremely rare as a proof and graded Proof-64 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, it had no problems in realizing $45,600 on a $20,000-25,000 estimate.
It was quickly followed by a Nicholas II proof ruble of 1900 also struck at St. Petersburg, KM-Y59.3. It was bid up to $38,400 in Proof-65 Cameo NGC.
Closer to home, that same price was paid for a gold Mo-M 20 pesos of the Mexican Republic dated 1900, KM-414.6, and graded MS65+ NGC. For collectors this was the chance to obtain the single finest certified example of a Cap & Scales 20 pesos struck at the Mexico City Mint. The only finer graded piece for all dates and mints comes from Guanajuato.
The China section had a near-gem Imperial Kuang-hsu dollar, ND (1908), struck at the Tientsin Mint, KM-Y14, Kann-216. It was a stunning example graded MS64+ NGC and romped away at $31,200 on its $20,000-25,000 estimate.
Great British rarities had been expected to be highly sought after in this sale. They were, but the Russian competition was such that the highest priced of them could take only take sixth place in the price stakes. This was despite it being an exceptional coin: a George I crown of 1718/6 with roses and plumes in the reverse angles, KM-545.1, S-3639. Graded by the Professional Coin Grading Service as MS-63, the cataloger considered it likely the finest-known example, which may explain its selling price of $20,400.
Other high rollers included:
- Philip V gold 8 escudos 1718, S-M, KM-260, MS-63 NGC: $19,200;
- João V gold 20000 reis 1726-M, KM-117, MS-64+ NGC: $18,000;
- Victoria gold sovereign 1879, KM-752, S-3856A, AU-55 NGC: $15,600;
- Victoria gold sovereign 1871, KM-752, S-3856, MS-66 PCGS: $12,000;
- Australia gold proof $2500 1991P, KM-151, PR68 Ultra Cameo NGC: $14,400;
In the hammereds, a 7.61 g Edward IV first reign gold ryal of 1466-1469, S-1950, picked up a very healthy $11,400. It was in an amazing MS-62 NGC. Where on earth has it been all these years?
Two extremely rare gold staters from Ionia picked up $18,000 apiece. Both were in highly desirable condition. The oldest, 155-145 B.C.E., from Magnesia ad Meandrum is a completely unrecorded denomination and type for this city. The second was from Ephesus’ first series, circa 123-119 B.C.E,. and showed the head of Artemis in unusually fine style.
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