US Coins

Rare coin sales in 2016 tops four billion dollars

The Professional Numismatists Guild's annual market survey of major auction firms suggests auction results and direct sales in 2016 totaled more than $4 billion.

PNG President Dana Samuelson says that the total excludes bullion coins, such as gold, silver or platinum American Eagles, and sales by the United States Mint.

Samuelson said the demand for high-quality, rare United States coins picked up significantly following the Nov. 9 presidential election.

The auction firms that responded to the PNG survey are: Bonhams; Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers; GreatCollections Coin Auctions; Heritage Auctions; David Lawrence Rare Coins; Legend Rare Coin Auctions; Scotsman Coin & Jewelry; and Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

The aggregate prices realized for U.S. coins sold at major public auctions in 2016 totaled $341,815,542. The totals were $439 million in 2015; $536 million in 2014; and $393 million in 2013. One firm, Heritage Auctions, accounted for $192 million of the 2016 total.  All totals include the buyer’s premiums, to reflect the actual, full prices paid by winning bidders.

“After several years of higher prices and the spectacular sales of several legendary coin collections, the U.S. rare coin market softened in 2016,” Samuelson said. “But after the November elections, there was a notable increase in demand for high-quality rare coins, including those priced at $100,000 or more.”

Added PNG Executive Director Robert Brueggeman, “Over the decades the U.S. rare coin market moves in cycles, and the long-term trend is up. We believe 2017 will be an opportunity for astute collectors to be buying.”

Four coins sold for $1 million or more at auction in 2016, compared to a record-setting 17 during 2015.

The four million-dollar coins sold at public auction in 2016 are:

??1894-S Barber dime, graded Professional Coin Grading Service Proof 66, $1,997,500, sold by Heritage Auctions.

??1879 Quintuple Stella (pattern $20 denomination gold coinm Judd 1643), PCGS Proof 64 Deep Cameo, $1,888,000, sold by Legend Rare Coin Auctions.

??1833 Capped Head Left, Large Date $5 gold half eagle, PCGS Proof 67, $1,351,250, sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

??1795 Draped Bust silver dollar, PCGS Specimen 66, $1,057,500, sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

A fifth coin crossed the million-dollar mark in a private sale in late 2016, and although the purchase price was not disclosed, it was reported the coin is insured for $8 million for a planned public display in early 2017. The coin is a Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Mint State 67 1861 Coronet, Paquet Reverse $20 gold double eagle.    

An almost record

Two coins that were expected to break the $1 million barrier in 2016 failed to meet their reserves. The expected stars were in the fourth installment of the D. Brent Pogue Collection on May 24, 2016 — the finest known 1804 Draped Bust silver dollar and the only collectible 1822 Capped Head gold $5 half eagle. The dollar received a top bid of The prized dollar was ultimately passed at $9.2 million, which with a 17.5 percent buyer’s fee would have realized $10.81 million and set a record for a coin at auction, had the bid been accepted. The half eagle also failed to sell after reaching bidding of $6.4 million.

The Professional Numismatists Guild was founded in 1955.  PNG member-dealers must adhere to a strict code of ethics in the buying and selling of numismatic merchandise.

For a copy of "The Pleasure of Numismatics," an informative, ten-page illustrated educational booklet about collecting rare coins, paper money, tokens and medals, send $1 to: Professional Numismatists Guild, 28441 Rancho California Road, Suite 106, Temecula, CA 92590.

For additional information about the PNG and a complete list of member-dealers, visit online at or call the PNG headquarters in Temecula at 951-587-8300.

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