In some fields, when the same item is offered at auction multiple
times over the course of a few years, it might be considered “burned”
by the industry. Thankfully, this is not the case with rare coins.
Major auctions like January’s Florida United Numismatists auctions
by Heritage provide many examples of coins with recent previous
Perhaps the most notable was the Hawaii Five-0 1913 Liberty Head
5-cent piece in Proof 64 with a green Certified Acceptance Corp.
sticker, which brought just shy of $3.3 million. It’s an impressive
price, until one notices that it was last publicly traded at auction
four years ago where it brought $3,737,500.
Another high-profile coin, from the Greensboro Collection like the
1913 5-cent coin, fared a bit better last year. On Aug. 9, Heritage
sold the Greensboro Collection’s 1804 Draped Bust dollar in Proof 62
for $3,877,500. The same example sold in 2008 for $3,737,500.
For high-end rarities, repeat auction performances in quick
succession are problematic in that they make rare coins appear common.
While only three 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent pieces of the five
struck are in private collections, all three have traded hands in the
Results obtained for coins in the Greensboro Collection — which
Heritage has been offering at auction for the last year or so — show
that when coins reappear at auction, anything can happen.
The multiple high-grade 1792 half dismes that have appeared at
auction in recent years give the false impression that this coin may
be more common in high grades than it actually is. At the 2013 FUN
auction Heritage offered one graded Specimen 67 from the Greensboro
Collection that brought $1,410,000. In 2006 Heritage sold the same
coin for $1,150,000, so the consignor registered a modest gain.
One of the few disappointments among the generally very strong
2014 FUN auctions was a highlight of the Adam Mervis Collection of
Large Cents. A 1795 Liberty Cap, Reeded Edge cent graded Very Good 10
— the finest of nine known examples and a classic rarity — sold with
huge fanfare for $1.265 million at an Ira and Larry Goldberg auction
in 2009. It became the first U.S. copper coin to break the $1 million
barrier at auction.
Early copper coin enthusiasts were perhaps disappointed by the
$646,250 that it realized less than five years later when it appeared
in the 2014 FUN auction.
As with the Greensboro Collection, many coins in Heritage’s Mervis
offering did better than their prior auction appearance. A 1793
Flowing Hair, Wreath, Strawberry Leaf cent in Good 4 brought $218,500
at the Goldbergs’ 2009 sale and then $381,875 on Jan. 10. Other
rarities enjoyed similar gains. ■