US Coins

Taking a look back at 2011

This 1855-S Indian Head gold $3 coin graded Proof 64 Cameo was one of several coins offered at auction in 2011 to cross the million dollar threshold. It realized $1,322,500 at Heritage’s 2011 August Platinum Night auction in Illinois.

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As this market analysis is the final one of 2011, it’s perhaps appropriate to reflect on the great year the rare coin market has had.

Rising precious metal prices drove much of the rare coin market during the year, with silver nearly hitting $50 an ounce in April while gold hit record-high prices several times during the year, breaking the $1,900 an ounce barrier in late August and staying generally strong for the rest of the year.

A robust auction market continued for coins, evidenced by Heritage’s “First Week” January auctions — consisting of the Florida United Numismatists convention coin and paper money auctions and its New York International world and ancient coin auction that realized $62 million.

In August, more than 16,000 lots were offered in the auctions immediately before and during the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money. The auctions totaled $71 million and the official Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ various sessions realized more than $40 million.

Globally the appetite for rarities expanded as top Chinese, Islamic and ancient coins exceeded expectations toward record high prices at auction.

In the U.S. market, generic Morgan and Peace dollars and Walking Liberty half dollars showed elevated demand, while rising gold prices did not lift premiums for many classic pre-1933 U.S. gold pieces.

It is hard to believe that in January 2011, five-coin sets of 2010 America the Beautiful 5-ounce .999 fine silver bullion coins were trading at $2,700. Today, these sets sell for much less, including one sealed box that realized $1,279 in a Nov. 25 eBay auction.

On Oct. 27, collectors and speculators overwhelmed the U.S. Mint’s website and phone lines to purchase their five-coin 2011 American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin sets at the issue price of $299.95. The sets quickly shot to more than $800 on the secondary market once delivery started in November, providing quick profits to the lucky collectors (and speculators) who wanted to sell.

In November, the Mint sold out of Proof 2011-W American Eagle silver dollars, which raised the price on the secondary market for all Proof silver American Eagles from $60 to $70 within the week, as shrinking supplies combined with increased holiday demand.

It has been an exciting year! What will 2012 bring? ¦

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