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Michael Bugeja

Online Coin Auctions

Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.

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Archive for 'October 2016'

    Jefferson Nickel Among High Sellers in Krueger Auction

    October 29, 2016 3:57 PM by Michael Bugeja
    The second highest yielding lot in Saturday's 700-lot Proxibid auction by Krueger and Krueger Coins was a 1942-D/Horizontal D variety Jefferson nickel, selling with a $3,000 bid and realizing $3,535 with buyer's premium.

    The highest selling lot was an 1800 Draped Bust Dollar, graded XF45 by NGC, selling for $3,250 or $3,818 with buyer's premium. Recent auction prices for similar Draped Bust dollars average about $4,000. The Krueger example was in an older NGC holder; however, the coin was a solid XF45 with any possible upgrade unlikely.  

    The 1942-D specimen with its misplaced D on the reverse is a scarce coin coveted by Jefferson Nickel collectors, especially with full steps. NGC rates this coin 5 steps. With golden toning, the lot sold for hundreds less than in recent auctions, according to PCGS CoinFacts.

    This variety is available in extra fine for about $250. In uncirculated grades, the coin is scarce, with only about 100 known examples.

    The Krueger sale also featured dozens of error coins along with seldom-seen rarities and exonumia, including a 1779 Rhode Island Pewter Ship Medal, holed, in a PCGS holder, which sold with a bid of $1,300, or $1,527 with buyer's premium. The holed example adds character and detracts greatly from the price, with extra fine examples going for thousands more. 

    Sales like this are important for the hobbyist because they offer collections from estates that typically contain finds unavailable at major houses, such as Heritage of GreatCollections.

    Kurt Krueger , long-time numismatist, runs his operation out of Iola, Wisconsin.

    Beware of claims in Internet auctions

    October 17, 2016 11:48 AM by Michael Bugeja
    Internet portals eBay and Proxibid have adopted rules for coins and currency meant to discourage hyped claims by auctioneers and sellers, but some know how to honor those rules and still post overly optimistic lot descriptions.

    Last year Proxibid adopted service terms based on eBay ones. For instance, coin and currency listings with a value more than $2,500 must be graded by a top grading company (PCGS, NGC, ANACS, ICG). The numerical grade cannot be included in the title, description, or item description.

    Click to expand the photo above. It adheres to the Proxibid policy. You’ll see a role of 1969-D cents and this title and description:

    •    1969D BU Linc 1c BU Scarce UnOpened Bank Roll 50 Gems
    •    "Extremely Scarce 40 year old never opened bank roll; end coins look MS66/67, huge GEM or Err/Variety potential; just look at these GEM values THOUSANDS PER COIN"

    I doubt many Coin World readers would believe all of the above because they are exposed to articles about value and grading in addition to coin and currency advertisements that also have to follow the magazine’s rules for descriptions.

    And yet the Proxibid title and description are true in some of its claims. You can believe the seller or my analysis (opinion):

    1.    The 1969-D is not scarce; its mintage tops 4 billion.
    2.    Bank rolls may look unopened, but veteran dealers and collectors know how to open them (I won't tell you here), emptying the coins, inspecting them and putting them back with a tidy re-roll of the paper.
    3.    The coins here do look gem, MS65; perhaps many would grade MS66. These look red-brown, though. At MS66, that’s an $8 coin, but few people would buy it unless it had rainbow toning. These don't.
    4.    At MS66 red, a 1969-D is worth about $25; at MS67, it is truly scarce with values over $1,000. In 40-plus years, PCGS has only graded 26 of them. In other words, your chances are slim.
    5.    There is error/variety potential; the description is right about that, as a 1969-D can lack designer’s initials “FG” (Frank Gasparro). PCGS has graded about 50 of those, with only 19 in various grades of red, typically selling for about $250 or so at auction, according to CoinFacts.
    6.    The phrase “THOUSANDS PER COIN,” well, may be an overstatement.

    The point here is that sellers can promote their lots any way they wish. They have that right, as long as it adheres to the portals service terms. This example does.

    So what that does that mean for you? If you bid online, you should know grading, values, condition rarities, varieties, and so much more. There are ways to do that: Read numismatic publications, attend coin shows, visit coin shops and join or found coin clubs. 

    Bid Cautiously on "Tidy House" Morgan Dollars

    October 8, 2016 10:06 AM by Michael Bugeja
    Click the photo above and see if you can tell why the "Tidy House" dollar is not the original one placed in the promotional item distributed by a cleaning products company in the 1960s?

    The advertising description states:

    "DID YOU KNOW ... that your uncirculated SILVER DOLLAR is the famous "MORGAN" SILVER DOLLAR, named for its designer George T. Morgan"?

    As you can see, the dollar in the Tidy House holder is a 1926 Peace Dollar, which was not designed by Morgan but by Anthony de Francisci.

    Tidy House dollars in original packaging sell for high premiums because the cardboard holder caused many of the Morgans to tone in brilliant colors. Most are common-date 1880s often from the New Orleans mint. The company reportedly stocked up on the dollars by purchasing $1,000 bags of Morgans from the US Treasury Department hoard.

    Toned Morgan dollars sell for high premiums. This Tidy House 1884-O , probably worth about $50, sold for three times as much recently on GreatCollections.

    The problem with Tidy House lots in online auctions is that many have already been switched out of the holder for slabbing, with other dollars of lesser value placed back in the holders. In the eBay example above, someone who acquired the Tidy House sample put a cleaned and retoned almost uncirculated Peace dollar in its place. That coin does have nice toning, but there also is a faint pin scratch across the cheek, rendering the coin's value to about $35-50.

    A few more facts about Tidy House silver coins. The best come with original advertisements . You can also find 1964 Tidy House half dollars commemorating the passing of John F. Kennedy. Those also can tone, but often not as spectacularly as Morgan dollars.

    Be careful bidding on any raw coins in online auctions, even ones that seem like bargains, as in the 1926 Peace example above. Two reasons why that sold on eBay for $150: any toned uncirculated Peace dollar is worth much more than most toned Morgans because Peace dollars rarely display rainbow colors. And the 1926 had scant mintage (1,939,000).

    Weaver Auction Offers Rare 1795 Half Dime

    October 1, 2016 7:05 PM by Michael Bugeja
    Rarely do you see a 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dime being sold on Proxibid; in fact, this is the first one I can remember, being offered presently by Weaver Signature Coin and Currency Auction and set to close on Tuesday evening.

    I have been bidding in Weaver auctions for more than six years and consider Dave and Cheryl Weaver's session among the best on the portal. One reason is that they answer questions I might have on coins in a timely and ethical manner.

    The half dime on the left is listed in the Oct. 4 auction. The one to its right was holdered by PCGS in roughly the same condition. (Click to expand photo.)

    When I first spotted this rare coin, I had two questions. There seemed to be a slight bend in the field from 6 o'clock to 9 o'clock. The Weavers checked and later verified I was correct about the minor bend.

    Because half dimes are so thin, weighing 1.35 grams, bends are common. They don't detract much from value.  

    Now take a look at the misplaced "B" in Liberty in the Weaver coin. This caught my attention along with the well-struck and sharply defined rims, usually the first to wear down, as in the PCGS example to the right of the photo above. 

    In Q. David Bowers' United States Coins by Design Types , he writes that coins in very fine and above are scarce and pricey. So this would be a find, selling for about $2,500-$3,500 even with a slight bend. 

    Bowers also notes that striking is inconsistent.

    Upon further research, I think this is a minor variety, otherwise known as LM-9.  The die designation comes from Russel Logan and John McCloskey's book, Federal Half Dimes 1792-1837 .

    As you can see, the "B" in the graded PCGS coin tilts as in the Weaver-offered coin.

    Those sharp rims still bother me, though. Technically, they should be as worn as in the PCGS example.

    When I asked the Weavers if the consignor would guarantee authenticity, I was told yes.

    Of course, to verify that the raw coin is genuine, the winning bidder would have to submit it to a major holdering company rather than a second- or bottom-tier one so that the coin's true diagnostics can be affirmed.

    It's only my opinion, and auctioneers can decide what to do in cases like these, but I would recommend in the future that all rare coins be sent to NGC or PCGS before being placed in auctions.

    I speak from experience. Over the years I have purchased more than a half dozen coins on Proxibid that came back from PCGS as fake. Fortunately, each seller took back the coin, according to Proxibid rules.