The recent volatility in the stock market had little impact on the Heritage sales held in Chicago, Aug. 11 to 12. That serves as a positive sign for what will likely be an exciting American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money.
While not the “official” ANA auction, it realized a healthy $31.345 million with 5,154 bidders competing for 7,370 lots. For comparison, the U.S. coin section of last year’s Heritage ANA auction in Boston realized just over $34 million with 7,133 lots.
Heritage’s top lot in Chicago was an 1855-S Indian Head gold $3 coin graded Proof 64 Cameo by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., described by Heritage as “arguably the single most important coin in the sale.” It realized a robust $1,322,500. At its last auction offering at Stack’s 69th Anniversary Sale in October 2004, it was graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as Branch Mint Proof 63 and sold for $276,000 — further confirming the current market’s taste for flashy, unique rarities.
The noteworthy 1893-S Morgan dollar graded Mint State 67 that was the subject of the Aug. 22 Coin World market analysis found a new home at $546,250, well above the reserve of $340,000 (or $391,000 with the 15 percent buyer’s fee).
Two other gold highlights included an 1863 Coronet $10 eagle graded Proof 65 Deep Cameo that sold for $299,000 (far more than the $138,000 that a similarly graded example sold for at a January 2008 Heritage auction), and a 1796 Capped Bust, No Stars $2.50 quarter eagle graded MS-61 that sold for $276,000.
Perhaps the wildest coin in the sale was a 1814 Capped Bust half dollar pattern struck in platinum with a lettered edge that realized $138,000. The obverse features 33 backward letters “P” punched into the surfaces, and “Platina” is engraved on the reverse. It is unique of the several known platinum patterns for the date in having the punched letters and engraving. With the post-striking impairments — likely contemporary to the coin’s production — it did not receive a numerical grade from NGC. But, as Heritage noted, “condition is all but irrelevant for this example,” and the eye appeal is “decent considering what the coin is.”
Among the major lots that did not sell was a 1921 Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle graded PCGS MS-64 and a rare 1792 cent pattern graded Fine 15 (one of approximately 10 known) that did not meet its reserve of $379,500 (with the buyer’s fee).
Especially considering the recent financial uncertainty, the fact that the auction had a 95 percent by lot and 91 percent by value sell-through rate is impressive, showing that collectors are still willing to invest in their collections. ■