US Coins

Kagin’s ANA show auction features a new approach

This article comes from our April 2017 monthly issue of Coin World. Want to get all of our content, including special magazine exclusives? Subscribe today!

Kagin’s reentered the auction game in a big way as the official auctioneer for the American Numismatic Association National Money Show, March 9 to 11, in Orlando, Fla. 

The auction featured several innovations, such as the catalog cover by artist Chris Costello, which was selected from 130 designs submitted by more than 50 artists. The artist received $5,000 for his design titled Liberty Alive featuring a rendition of a Draped Bust Liberty at the opening session of the Kagin’s sale on March 9. Costello was inspired by pop artist Peter Max’s 1983 image interpreting Anthony de Francisci’s Peace dollar Liberty, commissioned by Kagin’s and used on its official ANA auction catalogs that year. 

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To entice bidders at the 2017 auction, Kagin’s offered a loyalty program offering free ANA memberships and a percentage back to successful bidders as a credit to future Kagin’s auctions. 

The entire auction was unreserved, meaning that the consignors and the auctioneer had no protective bids on the lots to keep them from selling for too little. As Kagin’s explained, “We have noticed a number of lots being reserved in auctions today which is also frustrating to potential buyers,” adding, “Collectors and dealers alike want to know that they at least ‘have a shot’ of buying a lot cheap without essentially having to bid against the consignor.” The auctioneer concluded, “Why waste hours looking through scores, if not hundreds, of lots if you can’t get a bargain?” The absence of reserves did not seem to deter consignors and likely gave bidders additional confidence. 

The top lot in the auction was a gorgeous 1860 Coronet gold $10 eagle graded Proof 65 by Professional Coin Grading Service in an old-style green label PCGS holder that indicates that it was certified at least 20 years ago. 

The description noted “a ‘birthmark’ of sorts is found at the lower right base of the first T in STATES where a tiny fishhook-shaped lint mark can be seen, forever identifying this specimen,” while noting, “varied pale orange-peach highlights.” It is the finest known of a mintage of just 50 pieces of which some were melted. The coin found a new home at $258,500. 

Another top-dollar gold rarity was an 1865 Coronet gold $5 half eagle graded Proof 65 by PCGS, also in an old PCGS green-label holder. It was one of just 25 Proof examples struck and it’s believed generally that 15 to 20 survive, with Kagin’s further qualifying, “That figure seems perhaps a shade too high to our experience.” 

The date enjoys extra popularity as a Civil War issue. 

As with many of the coins in the sale, bidders benefited from multiple images of the coin shot from different angles, which often served to make the same coin look vastly different. This method showcased various merits and flaws of the coins, allowing a bidder to make a more informed decision. 

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