Looking at recent auction results for classic circulated U.S. coins confirms that collectors are now, more than ever, using auctions for their retail coin purchases.
A great place to view the market for collector coins at the $100 to $500 level is in the online-only sessions from major auction houses. Especially when they’re held in conjunction with a major show, they get wide participation and people actually physically view the coins during lot viewing.
Take an 1853-O Seated Liberty, Arrows and Rays quarter dollar graded Very Fine 35 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a Certified Acceptance Corp. green sticker signifying quality within the grade. It sold for $284.35 in Heritage’s April 27 Central States Numismatic Society auction. The price was far more than a typical Very Fine example would bring, but just below Extremely Fine 40 examples. A comparable example in the same VF-35 grade without a CAC sticker realized $205.63 in a March 24 Heritage auction.
As more collectors buy directly from auction, prices achieved for popular classic series continue to go up. Further, as the prices rise, more classic circulated type coins are sent to be certified by major third-party grading services to maximize value.
A PCGS VF-35 1837 Capped Bust quarter dollar with a CAC sticker brought $352.50 on April 27 — a bit more than what Extremely Fine 40 coins have been selling for recently at auction.
An 1862 Seated Liberty quarter graded PCGS AU-58 with a green CAC sticker brought $499.38 on April 27 — more than some low-end Mint State coins have brought at auction.
Even the lowest grade problem-free coins are finding buyers at strong price levels.
A solid, problem-free PCGS Poor 1 1843-O Seated Liberty, Large O quarter dollar, with a full date and partially visible Mint mark, realized $411.25 on April 27. It’s a popular variety, and Very Good to Fine examples trade at the $800 to $1,000 level. One would be hard-pressed to find a less expensive example.
The CAC gold sticker remains a coveted prize for collectors, and an 1853 Seated Liberty, Arrows and Rays quarter dollar graded PCGS About Uncirculated 50 with a gold CAC sticker brought $528.75 on April 27, a slight improvement over the $499.38 it brought in a Jan. 12 Heritage auction. Still, the price is comparable to that for a low-end Mint State coin.
Nice coins with problems still have a market. An 1856-S Seated Liberty quarter dollar slabbed by PCGS as Genuine, with a PCGS number ending in .92 indicating that the coin was not graded because of cleaning (perhaps among other problems), brought $282. While it had Very Fine details, it sold in between what a Very Good and a Fine example would sell for. ■