US Coins

Summer FUN auction at $10 million

Lest one think that strong prices are only for coins in top condition, this 1879 Flowing Hair Stella that had been harshly cleaned and plugged brought $47,000 at a July 11 auction. Last year the same coin was auctioned for $32,200.

Market analysisImages courtesy of

July is typically a quiet month for the rare coin market as dealers enjoy a breather, perhaps take a vacation, and prepare for August’s American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money.

Heritage’s July 11 to 14 auction in conjunction with the summer Florida United Numismatists show in Orlando saw nearly $10 million in rare coins trade hands across nearly 5,000 lots.

Tiny jumps in quality continue to be separated by huge dollar amounts as seen by a 1937 Walking Liberty half dollar graded Mint State 68 by Professional Coin Grading Service, with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, that brought $35,250.

It was described as an incredibly preserved coin that could be mistaken for a Proof and was one of three comparable PCGS coins and the only one with a green CAC sticker. A year ago Heritage sold an MS-67+ example of the issue with a green CAC sticker for $8,812.50, and “normal” MS-67 examples sell at the $1,300 level. Again, proof of what a difference a single grading point can make.

At the other end of the quality spectrum was one of the most affordable gold $4 Stellas in today’s marketplace. An 1879 Flowing Hair Stella graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. as Extremely Fine details, Plugged, Harshly Cleaned, would not win any beauty contests but serves as a solid “filler” for the type and brought $47,000. As the cataloger aptly wrote, “For many collectors who would otherwise be shut out of owning this famous issue, all the problems taken together are not enough to wipe away this truth: it is still a Stella.”

At Heritage’s Jan. 4, 2012, FUN auction, the same coin brought $32,200, with the new price representing a substantial increase. It was offered in the same NGC holder both times.

Modern coins continued to do well. A handsome chocolate brown About Uncirculated 58 (again with a green CAC sticker) 1969-S Lincoln, Doubled Die Obverse cent realized $28,200.

An NGC MS-70 1999 American Eagle silver bullion coin brought $18,800. Perhaps surprisingly, while NGC has 90 MS-70 examples of this issue included in its population report, PCGS has graded none MS-70. A 2000 NGC MS-70 silver American Eagle — one of 200 graded perfect by NGC — brought $8,812.50 while two comparable examples in the same auction each sold for $5,875. ¦

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