Market Analysis: Gold coins headline $8.9M Bently auction

Market Analysis column from April 14, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Coin World
Published : 03/31/14
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Heritage’s San Francisco auction of the collection of entrepreneur Donald E. Bently realized $8.9 million on March 20. Although a Mint State 63 1927-D Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle was the runaway leader at $1,292,500, the nearly 600 lots offered many more-reasonably priced examples. 

Here are a few selections of examples of rare issues in the lower Mint State grades of MS-60 and MS-61. Coins in this grade are often not unattractive, but generally have either a weak or uneven strike, many contact marks or dull luster. 

Mint State 61 1893-S Morgan dollar: $94,000

For collectors of Morgan silver dollars, the 1893-S is a classic key issue with a low mintage of 100,000 examples. Nearly all of the surviving pieces are in well-circulated condition, making Mint State examples rare. This one, graded MS-61 by ANACS, brought $94,000, and provided an opportunity to purchase an entry-level Mint State representative. 

Although the piece was described as having slightly thin Mint luster, it was also “remarkably clean, especially for the grade.”

Generally, MS-61 coins have numerous surface imperfections, being at the low-end of the MS-60 to MS-70 Uncirculated grading scale.

Uncirculated 1920-S Saint-Gaudens double eagle: $38,187.50

Numerous Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagles dated from the 1920s and 1930s ended up in the melting pot. As such, these issues are often much rarer than the mintages would suggest. 

For example, the 1920-S double eagle has a recorded mintage of 558,000, but Heritage estimates that only 65 to 75 examples of the issues exist in Mint State grades and the population of survivors only gets a small boost with the addition of lightly circulated examples. 

1920 represented the first year of production of double eagles since 1916, and while 1920 Philadelphia Mint double eagles had a lower mintage of 228,250, they are generally plentiful. 1920-S double eagles had a much lower survival rate and nearly all of them were melted into gold bars. 

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