US Coins

Evaluating the FUN auctions

Coins don’t always appreciate in value, as evidenced by this NGC Mint State 68 1937-S Indian Head 5-cent coin that realized $11,500 at the recent FUN auctions. The same coin had sold for $26,450 at a 2009 auction.

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While the two seven-figure coins offered at Heritage Auctions’ 2012 Florida United Numismatists auctions — a 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain, With Periods cent graded Mint State 65 brown and an 1829 Capped Head half eagle graded Proof 64 — both brought $1.38 million, multiples more than their last times at the auction block, not all lots established record prices.

While some coins from the Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection of Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagles set records, others performed at or below expectations. For example, a 1931 example graded Mint State 66 that was formerly in the collection of Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. sold within expectations for $126,500. That price was an improvement on the $17,600 that it realized in 1982 when it was offered as part of the Eliasberg estate, and comparable to three 2007 auction offerings where similarly graded examples realized $126,500 to $143,750.

In contrast, the Duckor Collection’s top lot, a 1921 double eagle graded MS-66, realized $747,500 — big money, but less than the $1,092,500 that a peer example brought as part of the Philip Morse Collection in 2005. Duckor’s coin had last appeared at auction in 1984 where it brought $57,500.

Sometimes auction descriptions provide the price that a coin last sold for at auction, seemingly to support a coin’s value. This tactic was used for some lots in the Teton Ranch Collection of often finest-known Numismatic Guaranty Corp. certified Indian Head 5-cent coins. Most of the high-value lots sold for less than the prices achieved at their last public offering as noted in the catalog.

The collection’s top lot, an MS-64 1916 Doubled Die Obverse 5-cent coin, a legendary rarity, realized $172,500. The same coin brought $276,000 when offered at an April 2008 Bowers and Merena auction.

A 1919-S 5-cent piece graded MS-66 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp realized $25,300, a far cry from its last trip to auction in 2008 where it brought $92,000, while an NGC MS-66? 1918-S 5-cent coin realized $23,000 in contrast to the $51,750 that it brought at a 2009 auction.

Perhaps most the most cautionary result was a 1926-S Indian Head 5-cent coin that sold for $92,000, a seemingly strong price until one considers that at its last offering in April 2008 it brought $322,000, establishing a record price for a 1926-S 5-cent coin. ¦

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