US Coins

Market Analysis: Twin summer ANA auctions results near $120 million

The first-runner-up for the title of most expensive coin at this summer’s ANA auctions was the finer of two known 1861 Paquet Coronet gold $20 double eagles, which brought $7.2 million at Heritage’s Platinum Night session.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The American Numismatic Association is rethinking the ways that it conducts its official “ANA Auctions” after co-official auctioneers Heritage Auctions and Stack’s Bowers Galleries both had successful World’s Fair of Money auctions the week after the show at their respective Dallas and Los Angeles headquarters.

The ANA is currently seeking bids for its official auctioneer title and broadening the idea of what an “Official ANA Auction” is by considering ANA-sanctioned online auctions occurring during the year beyond conventions. This expansion might benefit online auctioneers like GreatCollections, who saw $51 million in sales during August.

Stack’s Bowers had the top lot of the summer ANA auctions, with a top-graded Class I 1804 Draped Bust dollar bringing $7.68 million, making it the fifth most valuable coin to sell at auction. The firm’s total ANA auctions topped $50 million, an increase of 70% above its sales at last year’s ANA auction.

Heritage said its auctions approached $69 million, led by nearly $49 million in U.S. coins, topping the previous 2008 record of $41 million for U.S. coins that was set at the 2008 ANA convention.

Heritage’s Executive Vice President Todd Imhof said after the auction, “We saw some really powerful bidding for trophy pieces from our collector clients.” This was seen when an 1861 Coronet, Paquet Reverse gold $20 double eagle brought $7.2 million. The price set a record for any Coronet double eagle at auction, and the rarity, graded Mint State 67 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a Certified Acceptance Corp. green sticker, is the finer of just two known.

That it approached the price of the finest-known 1804 dollar, a better-known rarity, is perhaps surprising, but it shows the growing sense of connoisseurship in today’s marketplace, along with the broad appeal of gold coins and Civil War issues.

The issue is defined by its reverse, engraved by Assistant Mint Engraver Anthony C. Paquet with elegant, elongated letters. Heritage notes, “Historically, the 1861 Paquet has been collected as both a pattern and a business strike Liberty double eagle.” Research continues today to better understand this reverse type that was produced at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints.

The offered coin was the discovery example, first appearing in an 1865 auction among pattern issues where it was described as follows: “1861 Twenty Dollar Piece. This piece differs from the ordinary variety in the arrangement of the stars over the head of the eagle, and is said to be unique; perfectly uncirculated.” It last appeared at auction in 1988, when it brought $660,000 at Bowers and Merena’s Part III auction of the Norweb Collection. The other example of the issue, graded PCGS MS-61, sold for $1,645,000 at Heritage in 2014.

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