In looking at recent coin auctions, one can’t help but notice the
number of coins that return to auction quickly.
In reviewing Heritage’s recent New York sale held Oct. 31 to Nov. 2,
I noticed one coin that crossed the auction block seven times in the
past decade before being offered, again, on Nov. 1. An 1896-O Barber
quarter dollar graded Mint State 67 by Professional Coin Grading
Service, it failed to meet a reserve of $28,000 and was available
after the auction for $32,900 (the reserve plus Heritage’s 17.5
percent buyer’s fee.)
The high consignor expectations were surprising, especially
considering that the coin had sold earlier this year at Heritage’s May
1 Central States Numismatic Society auction for $29,375 and before
that at Heritage’s October 2014 sale of the Gene Gardner Collection,
Part II, where, then graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., it brought $22,325.
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Prior to that it sold at Bowers and Merena’s November 2009 Baltimore
Auction for $43,125. Back at the 2009 Florida United Numismatists
auction it realized $37,375, and it soared at Heritage’s August 2007
American Numismatic Association auction where it sold for $80,500.
What was different in 2007, when it sold for $80,500, and more
recently, when it didn’t find a bidder at a much more modest level? In
2007 several collectors were putting together sets of high grade
Barber quarter dollars and the competition increased prices.
The coin’s rarity is unquestioned and it has long been considered
among the absolute finest known, tied with one other example also
graded MS-67 at PCGS and bested by a lone MS-68 example listed on
Numismatic Guaranty Corp.’s census.
Yet, its many trips to auction have had the effect of making the
coin appear more common than it actually is. With the 2014 Gardner
sale at the $22,325 price level and a reoffering so soon after the
last auction at the Central States show, the prior underbidders would
likely not be willing to stretch to a higher price level.
Coins from the collection of D. Brent Pogue have generally stayed
with their original owners and few have resurfaced on the market. At
Heritage’s recent New York auction was one that did — Pogue’s 1797
Draped Bust, 16 Star half dime graded MS-66 by PCGS sold for $123,375.
The price was a bit less than the $129,250 that the coin brought on
May 19, 2015, at the first Pogue auction by Stack’s Bowers Galleries
in conjunction with Sotheby’s.
Considered the finest known of its variety, it looked especially
gorgeous in the Pogue catalog where it had been photographed prior to encapsulation.
Since the Pogue auction it received a green Certified Acceptance
Corp. sticker, indicating quality within the grade (as have many coins
from the Pogue Collection). It remained in its original Pogue slab
with the special Pogue insert, a trait that the market finds highly
desirable for Pogue coins.