An Estate Auction tip

Not long ago I wrote about alternative places to find coins and other numismatic collectibles that included some of my secrets. As an addendum, I am going to provide another secret to an estate auction from a company I have done business with in the past.

If you are in the central Virginia area or willing to pay for shipping, you can bid on the Coin and Postcard Auction from JLR Auctions of Culpeper, Virginia.

The auction has 144 lots of coins along with eight lots of supplies. If you are into old postcards, there are a few nice lots in this auction. A little something for everyone.

I have bought items through JLR Auctions and have consigned surplus items. They are a good company to work with. I have no stake in this auction but passing along a tip to my readers.

Happy bidding!

You know there are more ways to bid than eBay

There are many ways to collect numismatics and there are many places that a collector can find items to add to a collection.

Collecting can be an expensive hobby regardless of what is collected. Whether it is numismatics or comic books, one piece is never enough and there is always a desire to collect an entire set regardless of the parts that make up the set.

When collecting numismatics, we know about the coin dealer, coin shows, and online auctions from the major auction houses and eBay. But did you know there were other online auctions that you can tap into to find collectibles with better prices?

There is an entire community of resellers working with estates, relocations, downsizing, and liquidation that offers a way to find bargains.

Estates are an easy concept to understand. Someone dies and the family, executor, or personal representative of the estate has the responsibility to clean out the home, apartment, or condominium of the decedent so that everyone else can move on. Regardless of how gentle we try to be, everyone dies and something has to be done with the stuff left behind.

This is where estate sale companies are a help. These companies are contracted to whoever is trying to sell off the estate and hold a sale of the goods. Some estate sales are held over one or two weekends. Buyers go to the house to see what is for sale and buy what they want.

Over the last few years, there has been a growing number of online estate auctions. Rather than holding a sale, the items are either staged in the home or in a warehouse and people bid online. Estate auctions have been extended to relocations, downsizing, and liquidation of seized properties and even commercial assets.

Online estate auctions work like any other online auction. You bid for the item you want and hope you win. When the auction is over, you pay for the item plus a buyer’s premium, similar to what you would pay if you were buying from an auction house. In most cases, the buyer’s premium ranges from 10-15 percent of the selling (hammer) price. In most cases, local sales tax is charged.

Although you can find bargains at these auctions, it is not always an easy process.

First, not every company works the same. Unlike eBay where there are consistent rules sellers have to abide by, estate auction terms and conditions can be very different than what you are used to. Before you bid, read the terms and conditions. If you cannot abide by them, do not agree to bid on the auction.

How do you agree to the terms and condition? Register on the auction site and click the button for that auction. Registration requires you to identify yourself including entering a valid credit card. When you agree to the terms and conditions of the auction, most companies will put a hold on your credit card for a set value to determine that the credit card is valid. These holds can range from $1-100. Remember this if you use a debit card. In most cases, your credit card will be charged for the purchases immediately up the close of the auction.

The auction platforms may be very different than what you are used to. These auction platforms take their cues from services offered by major auction houses and not eBay. Their catalog is a list of lots for sale that includes pictures an additional information. Not every item includes good pictures or descriptions and not every auction service uses their software to its best capabilities.

Some companies offer a live preview. If the auction is being staged onsite, then you can go to that site during the designated time and examine the items up for bid. Auctions held from warehouses usually hold multi-day previews. If you cannot attend a preview or if there is no preview offered, you have to rely on the pictures. If the picture does not give you the confidence you need to bid, pass on that item.

These auctions allow you to enter a maximum bid and will raise your bid price until someone outbids your maximum, similar to what you may be used to on eBay. One big difference is that most of these auctions use a soft close system. A soft close happens when a bid is received at the last minute of the auction. When a bid is received the end of the auction is extended. Most auctions will extend the end time 3-5 minutes to prevent sniping.

Most of these estate and liquidation auction services set their lots up with a low starting price. Usually, the opening price is $1.00 and sell with no reserve. Some have other practices that they use to protect the seller of higher-priced items. But this scenario can be a recipe for finding bargains. In one auction, I was able to purchase three Carson City Morgan Dollars in GSA holders for about 75-percent of than their Greysheet value even after sales taxes and buyer’s fee were added. I was then able to sell the coins to a client who paid their Greysheet value giving me a nice profit for the day.

Another issue you will have to work around is that many of these auctions do not provide shipping. If you read their terms it will say that if you win you will have to pick up your items at a specific place during the designated pickup time. If you want your items shipped you will have to work with a third-party shipping service such as the local Parcels Plus or UPS Store.

There have been mixed reports using third-party shipping services. Some are very good, contientious, and will take care of you but at a cost. There are others that are not very good and have been known not to pack the items well and pilfer from your winnings. There is no way to know the rating of the auction service’s recommended shipper. You may want to try to find online reviews of that shipper.

A few of these estate auction companies will provide shipping services. If you require shipping, you may have to do this as part of the registration or contact the company immediately following the close of the auction. Those companies that provide shipping will charge a service fee in addition to the postage.

Remember, the larger and more expensive the item, the more will be required for it to be shipped.

When purchasing anything from an estate auction, it is important that you read and understand their terms and conditions before you bid and buy. Each service has different terms and conditions that could turn your purchase into a nightmare. If you are careful, you can find bargains.

Where can you find these bargains?

This is where I give up the secrets that have allowed me to build a collectibles business. I have used these resources to travel the region to find cool items that have made a lot of people smile.

My first go-to resource is EstateSales.net. I have found no other resource with the most complete listing of every estate sale and auctions for whatever region of the country I am located. It is a free service for buyers. Either select your state or enter your zip code to find all of the sales in your area. Even if you are visiting your relatives out of town, enter their zip code and see if you can find some bargains.

Listings on EstateSales.net include the address and hours of the sale. If it is an online auction, it will provide a link to the auction site. Each sale page can include photos of the items for sale. While photos are not required, most listings include them. You can get a preview of the items for sale to help you decide whether it is worth the trip or the effort to bid.

They also have a mailing list you can sign up for that will send you sales in your selected region.

Using the listing on EstateSales.net, you will learn who some of the local auction companies are. You can either watch for their sales on EstateSales.net or go to their website and sign up for their mailing list. Some of these auction companies continue to have live, in-person auctions and it may be something you will consider attending.

Another place to find estate auctions is on the site that provides the auction services to the various companies. One of the largest services is HiBid.com.

HiBid is a great site for finding a lot of auctions in a lot of places and supports a few different auction formats including online only, live webcast auctions, absentee bidding, or just catalogs for auctions that will be live or even on another platform. They will allow you to search across auction companies and regions.

As I am writing this, there are 1,134 open auctions with 794 being internet online-only. Of those online-only auctions, there are 3,607 lots in the Coins & Paper Money category.

AuctionZip.com is another auction hosting service that is very auction company-centric. While you can search across auctions its model is to try to protect the propriety of the companies that use its site. Once you see the difference in the interface between HiBid.com and AuctionZip.com, you will understand why the former is more popular.

One nice feature about AuctionZip.com is that when you do a search it lets you look at the auctions open for a particular day. If you have time restrictions, it will allow you to better tailor your bidding times. This is good if you are traveling so that you do not have a conflict with the end of the auction.

LiveAuctioneers.com is a similar service but serves a more upscale audience. Their service has stricter requirements as to who can list auctions on their platform. What this does is provide better assurances for the buyer that they are dealing with a more established company. Currently, there are 7,780 items listed for auction in the Coins, Currency & Stamps category.

A feature of LiveAuctioneers.com, aside from its clean interface, is that they have a consignment service that helps connect you with an auctioneer that will help sell your items. If you have something that you want to sell at auction but do not know who to speak with, this is a good service to help get you started.

One of the oldest services is icollector.com. They are a strictly collectible market auction service. Although their catalog is smaller than the others listed, their listings are comparable in the collecting categories. iCollector.com may not be as elegant as other services, but they do have the inventory for you to look at. There are just under 15,000 lots of various numismatics. Their strength is that the numismatic categories are divided by country and type. Where other auctions make have a general category, iCollector.com has categories to allow you to narrow your search down to what your interest.

Last, but definitely not least, is Invaluable. Auction companies that use Invaluable are what could be classified as mid-to-upper range companies. These companies are more concentrated around art and furniture but have added collectibles and other categories likely to facilitate sales from companies that buy higher-end estates in order to keep them as clients. Most of the auctions on Invaluable are absentee bid auctions with some items available for immediate sale. As I write there, there are 20,485 lots available in the Coins, Money & Stamps category. In fact, over the last few weeks, gold and silver bars dominate the listings on the first page of the category.

Invaluable is also a site with a very clean interface that is very welcoming. They also divide their larger sections into individual categories so whether you are interested in US Coins or Ancient Coins, you can browse that section without clutter.

Since I started writing this article, I won several silver Chinese Panda coins from an online estate auction. Most of the coins were purchased at or below the spot price of silver even when adding the buyer’s premium. One of those coins that were purchased a little over the spot price is the very popular 2000 Panda that can sell for a lot of money. There are other coins that I purchased at less than market value.

Even though I am not a fan of third-party grading services, especially for modern coins, I will send these coins to one. Although I think all but one is genuine, and it is possible it was a pocket piece, as long as the 2000 and amake up of the pre-2000 silver Panda coins are genuine, I will more than makeup for the cost of the entire purchase plus the grading fees.

Now go out and find your own bargains!

My trip to Balmer, Hon

Whitman Spring 2016 Expo looking into Hall C

Whitman Spring 2016 Expo looking into Hall C

It has been over a week since I attended the Whitman Baltimore Expo Spring show at the Baltimore Convention Center and finally found time to write about my visit.

Those who followed me on Twitter knows that I had a late start. We working stiffs do have weekend responsibilities that have to be taken care of before we can go out to play. Once I was able to complete my errands, I was able to travel north to Baltimore.

I may be one of the few people who are not from Baltimore who likes Baltimore. But going to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area can be a lot of fun, even if it is frustrating trying to find parking. Then again, show me any city that does not have a parking problem and I will show you a city that is not as fun.

Once I was able to find parking I walked to the convention center. After entering in the early afternoon on Saturday I was struck by the number of empty tables that could be seen from the entry door. In all areas of the three convention center halls, the number of empty tables was surprising. I was also surprised to see a number of shared tables being half used.

As I walked around the convention center floor I was struck by the number of tables that were either never occupied or the dealer did not show up at all on Saturday. You can tell these tables from the others by the number of fliers left on the table. Some tables had rental cases with the keys in them showing that these tables were either unused or the dealer left early.

Dealer attendance inside Hall B

Dealer attendance inside Hall B

Another view of the dealer attendance on Saturday

Another view of the dealer attendance on Saturday

I recently learned that a table for the Baltimore show costs $750. Add the cost of travel, food, lodging, and the inventory, does the costs justify leaving and not trying to make money? When I discussed this with a regular dealer, I was told that some that are not having a good show will leave early to cut their losses.

Of the dealers that were left, there was a nice mix of items. For once, I did not get the impression that one type of coin was more popular than the other. In fact, I think this is the first show where bullion and bullion-related coins were not the focus. I was able to find American Silver Eagles without problem but finding some of the foreign bullion coins was a little more challenging.

Obverse of the to be released 2016 Mercury Dime Centennial Tribute

Obverse of the to be released 2016 Mercury Dime Centennial Tribute

Reverse of the to be released 2016 Mercury Dime Centennial Tribute

Reverse of the to be released 2016 Mercury Dime Centennial Tribute

Medals on display at the U.S. Mint booth

Medals on display at the U.S. Mint booth

Shawnee National Forest 5 ounce silver coin

Shawnee National Forest 5 ounce silver coin

Whitman, the sponsor of the show, had their own booth and was actually selling discounted items. In prior years, Whitman would sell their own products at full price but this time offered some discount. And they had a clearance table. I did not buy from the clearance table because they did not have anything I wanted but there were some nice and current items that were worth the value.

Sale at the Whitman Booth!

Sale at the Whitman Booth!

There were good collectors guide books on the sale table

There were good collectors guide books on the sale table

One thing Whitman did was to give away hardcover copies of the 70th Edition of the Red Book autographed by Ken Bressett and Jeff Garrett. All I had to do was fill out a ticket at the Whitman booth, return to the booth at the time of the drawing, and wait for them to give away the eight books being offered on Saturday. I think I was the fourth book given away.

Drawing for the autographed Red Book

Drawing for the autographed Red Book

I WON! It looks like I received lucky #7.

I WON! It looks like I received lucky #7.

Previously, I noted that the choices of numismatic literature has diminished. While the death of numismatic book dealer John Burns is a tragic story in and of itself, what has not happened is that someone has not stepped into that market. Aside from being intelligent and a character with a sharp wit, his inventory was so varied that I was always able to find something a little off-beat or out of the ordinary that was intriguing. If someone wants to move into numismatics but wants to occupy a different space, this might be something for you to get into.

Swimming in the pools of inexpensive slabs.

Swimming in the pools of inexpensive slabs.

The most fun thing I found was the dealer that used kiddie pools as their junk box. Rather than going through boxes or bins, they set up three kiddie pools and threw in a lot of low value slabs and some other items. They had a lot of slabs and it was interesting diving into the pools looking for something fun. Although I did not buy anything from the pools, I did buy some other coins and a non-numismatic related book from their discount table.

Every show I try to find one neat item that is out of the ordinary. As I approached one table I noticed there were a few large brass medals on the table. I am intrigued by brass medals both for their size and a lot of the artwork. I have seen many brass medals with art that rival anything produced on canvas for their beauty. But this one was different in that it bore the local of Carnegie Mellon University, where I went to graduate school.

Carnegie Mellon was formed in 1967 when the Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Tech, founded in 1900) merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research (founded in 1913). I earned a masters degree in one calendar year 1999-2000. Although I was an older student, it was a great experience for me and my (late) first wife.

The reverse of the medal is an image of Hamerschlag Hall, the first permanent building of Carnegie Tech and the home of the current College of Engineering. Around the rim celebrates the 50 Year Reunion with a space for the college which is having the reunion and the year being celebrated. Since the date engraved on the reverse is 1938, it was given to its previous owner in 1988. But that does not bother me. The front has the Carnegie Mellon logo and a great reminder of my good year in Pittsburgh.

Obverse of the Carnegie Mellon University medal features the school's logo

Obverse of the Carnegie Mellon University medal features the school’s logo

Reverse of the Carnegie Mellon University medal features Hamerschlag Hall and proclaims the 50th Anniversary reunion.

Reverse of the Carnegie Mellon University medal features Hamerschlag Hall and proclaims the 50th Anniversary reunion Class of 1938.

The next Whitman Expo will be July 14-17. I hope the dealers that show up will be there if I have to spend the morning running errands.

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An auction hunter’s lesson

Over the weekend I attended an estate auction that included coins for sale. While my new business venture concentrates on all vintage collectibles, I am still a collector and continue to look for those interesting items and the good coins to add to my collection. As I was looking over the lots I noticed one had several blue folders of Lincoln cents. The collector in me could not resist and I picked up the folders and started looking.

Every hold was filled.

What drew my eye first was the hole marked “1909-S VDB.” Even though the 1914-D may be worth more, the 1909-S VDB is considered the Holy Grail amongst change hunters. With only 484,000 struck the odds of finding one are not in a change hunter’s favor. But we keep looking and hoping.

After reaching into my pocket for my ever present loupe, I asked the attendant if I could remove the coin to see the reverse. I had to check for those three letters on the back because it did say it was a 1909-S on the front. With the attendant watching me, I removed the coin from the slot, turned it over and brought it up to my loupe.

Using a 16X loupe I zeroed in on the area where I could find the “V.D.B” only to find something unexpected. On this coin, the “VDB” with no periods were punched into the coin. Holding the coin and turning it in the light to see how the light reacts, it was easy to see that the coin was not real.

Being very disappointed I quietly told the attendant that the coin was altered. She did not know what to do. When I suggested she tell her boss, she took the coin from me and went into a back room. A moment later, she returned and asked me to follow her to the office.

Scott’s 1909-S VDB

Scott’s 1909-S VDB

While the owner of the auction house was a bit upset, we talked to establish who I was and how I was qualified to judge the authenticity. After asking him to bring up my blog and showing him that I own a real 1909-S VDB, I told him how I know that the coin was altered. I handed him my loupe and told him to look at the letters. When he saw that the letters were punched into the coin instead of being in relief, he became upset again, but not at me.

I understand how he felt. In the auction business, they earn money from the buyer and seller fees. If the item sells for a high price, the auction house makes more money. In this case, since the coin was a solid VF, it could have sold for $700-800 alone.

Before he became too angry, I asked to see the 1914-D. At VF that coin is about $400 in the retail market. When I looked carefully I could see that the mintmark was added to the coin. It was not a very good job when you see it under magnification but looked all right on first glance. I showed the auctioneer how I know it had the mintmark added. He agreed with my assessment.

He asked if there were any more important dates that he should know about. I zeroed in on the hole for the 1922-D that had “No D” written in pen under the date. Even before finding the date under the loupe I could tell the coin was whizzed. That is a bad sign to begin with but if the coin was real, it would diminish its value but not make it worthless. What made it worthless was that you can tell someone filed the mintmark off the coin. Whoever did the filing did not do a good job because it made a little hole where the mintmark should be. This coin doctor probably whizzed the coin in order to cover up the alterations.

To say I gave this gentleman a shock would be an understatement. He shook my hand and offered me a discount on the buyer’s fee for helping him. After leaving his office he had the attendant who helped me remove all of the blue binders from the auction. When I spoke with the attendant later, she said they were all from the same consignor and that he was going to return them as being unsalable.

This was not the first time I attended an auction at this place and it will not be my last. Aside from being able to purchase good inventory for my business, they have proven to me they have integrity. Knowing this helps me buy with confidence.

I tell this story to provide two lessons. First, always examine the items before you bid. Even for online auctions, examine the pictures and read any descriptions carefully. If you are afraid to buy ungraded coins, then buy only graded coins. But make sure you are fully aware of what is being sold. Do not be afraid of asking the seller a question or even asking for a better picture. If the seller cannot help you then do not buy from that seller.

Buy the book before buying the coin!

Buy the book before buying the coin!

When buying from a live auction, look carefully at the coins. Even if the coin was encased by a grading service, take out that loupe and examine. This means you should know what you are looking at. Educate yourself about the coins you are interested in purchasing. In a future post, I will discuss my portable reference and buying tools.

My second lesson is to know who you are buying from. This is more difficult online but you do have to take the feedback seriously. Again, if you have any questions you should ask. Every site has a way to contact the seller in order for you to ask questions. If the seller is not cooperative, let that be a sign for you.

When working with auction houses, it takes a little longer to establish a relationship. But you need to introduce yourself, talk with people and ask questions. Make yourself known and show that you are a serious buyer. It may take a few auctions to establish a relationship, but be persistent. Aside from preferential treatment and discounted seller fees, someone with a relationship can be told bout unpublished items in advance so that you are prepared to buy quicker than someone off the street. Another advantage is that if you specialize in something that the auction house cannot sell, you can buy it as a good price. As a reseller, I find that very good for business.

Even though online auctions are very popular, there is nothing better than being there live. I highly recommend the experience.

POLL: How much will the Saddle Ridge Hoard sell for?

One of the 1,427 "Saddle Ridge Hoard" buried treasure gold coins certified by PCGS.

One of the 1,427 “Saddle Ridge Hoard” buried treasure gold coins certified by PCGS.

Kagin’s, the rare coin firm hired by the couple who found the Saddle Ridge Hoard, partnered with Amazon.com to sell the coins online. At some point, I will contact Kagin’s to ask why they chose this route to sell these coins, but I find it an interesting choice.

In the middle of the 20th century, recognized sales expert Elmer Wheeler came up with the phrase, “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.” Wheeler says, “it’s the sizzle that sells the steak and not the cow.” He has a point. How many relatively common coins sell at higher prices because of their pedigree. How many coins have sold for more than expected because they were ex-Eliasberg, ex-Norweb, ex-Bass, or ex-Ford pedigrees? Right now, the Saddle Ridge Hoard has a lot of sizzle. Even in a few months at an auction, can you imagine the interest that would be generated by opening these coins up for public bid?

For this week’s poll, I am not going to ask if you are interested in purchasing a coin from the Saddle Ridge Hoard. Given the sizzle, I am sure many people would love to own one of the coins. Rather, given what may be seen as an unusual way of selling these coins, how much do you think the collection will realize? Of course if you have a different opinion, add it as a comment. I would love to know what you think!

How much do you think the Saddle Ridge Hoard will bring in?

More than the $10 million estimate. (49%, 23 Votes)
Why aren't they selling it at auction? (23%, 11 Votes)
Less than the $10 million estimate. (19%, 9 Votes)
Right around the $10 million estimate. (9%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 47

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Adding to the Top 10: #2 More Auction Records

PNGAs a follow-up to #2 Records have been broken in the Coin Collectors Blog Top 10 countdown, the Professional Numismatists Guild published a “State of the Industry” report that included the list of 12 U.S. coins that sold for over $1 million. One was a private sale while the others were sold at auction.

The eleven most valuable U.S. coins purchased by winning bidders at auctions in 2013 were as follows:

  1. 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar, $10,016,875 (Stack’s Bowers Galleries)
  2. 1804 Type I silver dollar, $3,877,500 (Heritage Auctions)
  3. 1913 Liberty Head nickel, $3,172,500 (Heritage Auctions)
  4. 1880 Coiled Hair gold $4 denomination Stella, $2,574,000 (Bonhams)
  5. 1796 silver quarter-dollar, $1,527,500 (Heritage Auctions)
  6. 1792 silver half disme (early spelling of dime) $1,410,000 (Heritage Auctions)
  7. 1796 silver dollar, $1,175,000 (Heritage Auctions)
  8. 1783 Nova Constellatio Quint Type II, $1,175,000 (Heritage Auctions)
  9. 1852 Augustus Humbert $10 gold coin, $1,057,500 (Heritage Auctions)
  10. 1792 half disme, $1,145,625 (Stack’s Bowers Galleries)
  11. 1879 Coiled Hair gold $4 Stella, $1,041,300 (Bonhams)

The 12th U.S. rare coin that sold for more than a $1 million in 2013 was an 1894 San Francisco Mint dime that sold for over $2 million in a private sale conducted by David Lawrence Rare Coins.

A PNG survey of auction houses showed that they sold a total of $392.8 million in U.S. rare coins in public auctions in 2013. Based on the PNG survey, the sales scoreboard is as follows:

  1. Heritage Auctions, $236.5 million
  2. Spectrum Group International (Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Teletrade), $105 million
  3. Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, $21.1 million
  4. Bonhams, $13.5 million
  5. Legend-Morphy Rare Coins, $7.2 million
  6. David Lawrence Rare Coins, $5.5 million
  7. Scotsman, $2.8 million
  8. Krueger & Krueger, $1.2 million

All prices include the buyer’s premium, if any.

This survey did not include paper money or world coins. It would be interesting to see the impact of the currency and world coin market alongside the U.S. coin market.

Counting Down the Top 10: #2 Records have been broken

This past year saw the high-end market get even higher with the auction of significant rarities bringing in significant prices.

1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, PCGS SP66 CAC, sold for a record $10,016,875 to Legend Numismatics in 2013

1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar sold for a record $10,016,875 to Legend Numismatics

The year started Stack’s Bowers January 2013 New York Americana Sale where a rare, only known die variety 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar graded SP66 by Professional Coin Grading Service sold for $10,016,875. The record price for a single coin was paid by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, N.J.

Legend Numismatics’ Laura Sperber took control of the bidding when she invigorated bidding that stalled at $5.5 million when she bit $8,525,000. She called it “shock and awe.” Sperber said that she knew that a $10 million coin would create a huge buzz for the industry and went on to predict that a coin would sell for $25 million before the end of the decade.

1913 Walton Specimen Liberty Head Nickel, PCGS PR63, sold for $3,172,500 at Heritage Auctions on April 25, 2013 to Jeff Garrett of Lexington, Kentucky and Larry Lee of Panama City, Florida.

1913 Walton Specimen Liberty Head Nickel sold for $3,172,500 on April 25, 2013 to Jeff Garrett of Lexington, Kentucky and Larry Lee of Panama City, Florida.

At the April Central States Numismatics Society, Heritage Auctions auctioned The George O. Walton Specimen 1913 Liberty Head Nickel. This is the coin that was once thought to be counterfeit. Following the untimely death of Walton following an automobile accident in 1962, his family tried to have the coin authenticated but was thought to be one of the fakes that Walton used to carry with him.

At the 2003 World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore, a conclave of experts examined the coins for hours, debated, and determined that the coin was real. One of those involved in the marathon meeting was Jeff Garrett, the current Vice President of the American Numismatic Association.

Nearly ten years later, the coin was auctioned for the first time. Graded PR63 by PCGS, the coin sold for $3,172,500 to Jeff Garrett and his business partner Larry Lee.

Silver dollar known as "The King of Coins" has sold for more than $3.8 million.

Silver dollar known as “The King of Coins” has sold for more than $3.8 million.

B. Max Mehl wrote in the Dunham Collection catalog of 1941, “In all of numismatics of the entire world, there is not today and there never has been a single coin which was and is the subject of so much romance, interest, comment, and upon which so much has been written and so much talked about and discussed as the United States silver dollar of 1804.”

Maybe the discovery of the 1933 Double Eagle coins may have the 1804 dollar beat, but only one version of that coin is legal to own. There are 15 known coins dated 1804 even though they were struck later. In 1834, eight dollar coins were struck with the 1804 date to include in a special set created as a gift for the King of Siam. The set was presented to the King by President Andrew Jackson during trade missions to the Middle East and Asia.

It is known as “The King of Coins.”

The coin is designated as The Mickley-Hawn-Queller Class I Original 1804 Dollar, graded PR62 by PCGS, sold for $3,877,500 to an anonymous bidder.

1796 25C MS67+ NGC. CAC. B-2, R.3. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. The finest certified 1796 quarter.

1796 25C MS67+ NGC. CAC. B-2, R.3. Ex: “Col.” E.H.R. Green. The finest certified 1796 quarter.

While the records for coins listed above were for dollars, the year saw a record price placed for a quarter dollar. Sold as part of the Eric P. Newman Collection, the 1796 B-2 Quarter Dollar, once owned by “Col.” E.H.R. Green and purchased by Newman in 1931 for $100, the coin sold for $1,527,500. Graded MS67+* by Numismatic Guarantee Corporation is the finest known 1796 quarter.

In case you were curious, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator, $100 in 1931 has the same buying power at $1,533.35 today. Conversely, the $1.5 million sale price is equivalent to $99,618.57 in 1931.

The coin was sold as part of the November 13, 2013 “16 Selections from the Eric P. Newman Collection Part II Signature Auction” held in New York. Proceeds from the sale goes to support the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.

1891 Marcy $1,000 silver certificate (PMG VF25) sells for $2,600,000 by Stacks-Bowers in a private sale.

1891 Marcy $1,000 silver certificate (PMG VF25) sells for $2,600,000 by Stacks-Bowers in a private sale.

Not to be outdone, the currency market saw its own record. Although not sold at auction, a $1000 silver certificate from 1891 sold for a record $2.6 million to an anonymous buyer by Stack’s Bowers Galleries. The note features William L. Marcy who served as U.S. Senator and the 11th Governor of New York, and as the U.S. Secretary of War and U.S. Secretary of State.

The note was graded VF25 by Paper Money Guaranty.

The note was sold as part of a collection of more than 85 large-size Silver Certificates that are the finest ever put together. Five notes were sold as part of this transaction. The other 80 went for sale at the 2013 World’s Fair of Money.

Can you imagine what would happen if the Langboard Hoard of 1933 Double Eagles ever make it to the auction block?

Image Credits:

  • 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar and 1891 $1000 Silver Certificate images courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
  • 1913 Walton Liberty Head Nickel, 1804 Dollar, and 1796 Quarter dollar images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Hola NOLA!

It was a rainy day in the Crescent City but that only mattered when I tried to leave my hotel to go to the convention center. Thanks to Michael Weir, the Director of First Impression at the Hilton Garden Inn, a group of three show attendees including myself, were able to get to the convention center without being rained on. Mr. Weir gave us door-to-door service dropping us off under an overhang.

Before I continue, let me give the New Orleans visitors bureau fodder by recommending the city for your next vacation. No matter when I have come here, the people of New Orleans have been accommodating, courteous, and fun. And when you are away from home, having fun is the most important part of a visit!

After stopping to speak with ICTA’s Director Elloise Ullman, I picked up a cup of coffee before walking down to Hall G. Before entering Hall G, I went upstairs to the meeting rooms where I found I missed a talk on so-called dollars because I started to schmooze outside of the hall.

My first stop this morning was to see Steve Roach, the Editor of Coin World. We had a nice conversation where we talked about everything from the upcoming American Numismatic Association Board elections to the production of Coin World Next, their weekly publication that concentrates on one topic.

After a lively conversation with Steve and Tom Mulvaney, who is best known as the instructor of the coin photography class with the ANA Summer Seminar. Tom’s work can be seen all over the numismatic industry. Some day I will be able to take the time off to go to Summer Seminar to take his class.

I wanted to tour the bourse floor but decided to finish touring the exhibits I did not finish. While in the exhibits area I ran into Hollie Weiland, counsel for the ANA. She then introduced me to Beth Papiano. This became an interesting conversation following the criticism I wrote about her. We did talk about what I wrote and why. Hopefully, I will have another opportunity to speak with Beth again and maybe I can understand more about what happened.

Lunch was a little hole-in-the-wall poboy place where I had fried oysters before returning to the convention center to try to do more looking around and meeting people. First, I had to go back to the exhibits and see what I missed. My favorite was the Travancore Chuckram Count Counting Boards. It was an exhibit of these metal boards that were used to count small coins. These are mainly form countries in southwest Asia. There were a lot more involved with this exhibit. Hopefully, I will have a chance to spend time carefully reading the text to learn more. Otherwise, I hope the exhibitor will display it again in Chicago.

At 2 o’clock it was time for the open Board meeting. After a delay because some of the governors were caught in traffic, the meeting proceeded with thunderstorms booming in the background. I do not know if that was a message, but considering the controversies of the past few weeks, there may have been something prophetic about the scene.

But the meeting started with an interesting “ritual.” ANA Past President Barry Stuppler invited his “spiritual advisor” Zar, a Voodoo Priest, to bless, spiritually cleanse, and add good luck to Kim Kiick on her appointment as executive director. Upon the end of the “ceremony,” someone in the crowd commented that this should have been done 10 years ago—referencing the problems with executive directors over the last 10 years.

I will comment about the meeting at another time, but one of the central discussions was the ANA’s web presence and the security of the technical infrastructure. I am glad to hear that the board is taking the move to expand the ANA’s technology seriously. Yes, there was skepticism and references to age-specific issues, it does not appear that the current board will hold back progress. There still needs a few more technologically aware members of the board, which is why I am running for the board.

After the meeting, it was back to the bourse floor to shake a few more hands before going to a reception for Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). Rep. Scalise from Lousiana’s first district and succeeded Bobby Jindal after Jindal became governor. Scalise co-sponsored newly introduced H.R. 1849, Collectible Coin Protection Act. This is the same bill that was introduced last year.

Finally, a walk down the hall to the Stacks-Bowers auction to watch the bidding on the various auction lots. Since most of the lots were out of my price range, I watched the action. The few items I could have afforded, I decided not to be a buyer. Some of those coins were hammered at a price higher than I expected. I would have dropped out before the top bids.

After being exhausted from a long day, I availed myself of the dinner service at the auction including the coffee. Meet a few people outside of the auction room came back the hotel. I did call my wife only to listen to one of my neurotic dogs bark at the thunderstorms throughout our conversation.

Tomorrow is the last day of the show and my last day on the floor. The candidate forum will be at 12 noon Central Time. I heard that the ANA arranged to have the two-hour forum broadcast on the Internet. I urge ANA members to watch the forum. If they have a way for you to ask questions, please try to do so! It is your ANA and you have to let the Board of Governors know how you feel.

I will be flying home after the candidates forum and arrive in the Washington, DC area very late. I will have a third-day update sometime on Sunday.

Heritage Publishes A Great Auction Catalog

Front Cover of the Heritage Platinum Night Sports Auction

Front Cover of the Heritage Platinum Night Sports Auction

Whomever said “Don’t judge a book by its cover” did not see the recent auction catalog from Heritage Auction Galleries for their Platinum Night Sports Auction that will be held in New York on February 23-24. The catalog is a work of art worthy of the fantastic sports collectibles that are described in its pages.

Opening the Priority Mail envelope delivered in February 4 was a beautiful holographic image of iconic image of the 1980 United States Men’s Olympic Hockey Team celebrating their victory over the Soviet Red Army team. The eye-popping three-dimensional image is far more impressive than the image that appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated because of the visual texture it delivers.

The “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team may have been a bunch of guys trying to play hockey, but to the rest of us, they were a proxy in the Cold War. With the games being played in Lake Placid, New York, the nation gathered around television sets across the nation to hope and watch our boys beat the Soviets—just because they were the Soviets, long suspected of cheating by twisting the rules to pay players at a time when the Olympics were an all-amateur competition. I remember a group of us transplanted New Yorkers watching hockey in the dorms at the University of Georgia trying to teach the southerners about hockey was almost as entertaining as the games.

After staring at the cover you tilt it and the image of Mike Eruzione’s jersey can be seen. Eruzione’s “Miracle on Ice”, game worn gold medal game jersey, and other memorabilia from the 1980 gold medal winning hockey team is what Heritage picked as the highlight of the auction. Current bid for “The Miracle on Ice” jersey is $325,000.

Turn the cover over and there is a three-dimensional holographic image of Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth sitting on a bench, hats in hand holding a baseball bat. The image is from the 1927 Murders Row team. Tilt the cover to see the 1927-1928 game worn Gehrig uniform jersey that is part of the auction.

Inside the catalog are some of the most phenomenal sports collectibles that could ever be imagined from nearly every sport. One of the more unusual items if “The Bloody Sock” worn by Curt Schilling during the second game of the 2004 World Series. Schilling’s performance on bad tendons have been compared with the fictional Roy Hobbs in the 1984 movie The Natural. It also represents the end of the 84-year Curse of the Bambino. Starting bid is $25,000.

Heritage also has a ticket stub from the 1962 Philadelphia Warriors Wilt Chamberlain 100 Point Game on March 2, 1962 at the Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Officially, the attendance was 4,124 (or 10 million as the legend grew!). This PSA authenticated ticket is currently at $3,000.

For those looking for a numismatic tie to this auction, you might want to consider:

Since this is not specifically a numismatic item, I am grading it as a specimen release. I am grading this SP69 deducting a point for the typos that should have been caught in the editing process—one being in an item title that could not be ignored. It is a fantastic item and should be on the shelf of anyone who has an interest in sports and sports collectibles.

Happy bidding!

Catalog image is from the author whose catalog is not for sale!

Go Have Fun at an Auction in Penna.

How many of you look at the online auctions from the auction houses dedicated to numismatics and feel intimidated?

I can see quite a few virtual hands raised. You probably like coins shows but find the large crowds at some of those shows may also be intimidating. After all, you’re a collector, not an investor or a professional. Sometimes, you can find gems at smaller shows and even smaller auctions.

This is why I was intrigued by an auction notice sent by Stephenson’s Auctioneers and Appraisers from Southampton (Bucks County), Pennsylvania. Judging by their website, Stephenson’s is a local auction company that mainly serves buyers and sellers in its region with and probably has some clientele outside the eastern Pennsylvania area where they are located.

The nice thing about these local auction houses is that they are more accessible than the big houses and they usually have items that are affordable to the average collector. While high-end auctions are fun, if you are buying for yourself, you may not be the type looking to spend six-figures or higher on a coin.

If that is the case and you are in the Bucks County, Pennsylvania area on Friday, November 2, you may want to stop by Stephenson’s and check out their more than 200-lot coin auction that may include “some nice last-minute surprises.”

These are estate auction from the eastern Pennsylvania area. According to the information sent to me, the auction includes a wealth of Morgan silver dollars will be offered, with no fewer than 15 lots comprised of three Morgans each. An uncirculated 1882 Carson City Morgan silver dollar is one of the highlights, and another early example is a trade silver dollar dated 1877. Other antique American coins include Capped Bust half dollars from 1809 and 1838; an 1806 Draped Bust half dollar, and a Seated Liberty half dollar from 1843.

The auction includes two gold pieces. One is a 1914 Indian Head quarter eagle ($2½) and a 1917 $1 gold coin commemorating the slain U.S. President William McKinley.

There are many collectors’ books of coins, including a Washington quarter book (1932-1945) with 24 silver quarters, a Liberty Head nickel book (1883-1912) with 25 nickels, a Standing Liberty book with 10 silver half dollars, a Mercury dime book with 74 silver dimes, including 1921 and 1921-D; and a book consisting of 60 Buffalo nickels. Also included are a Walking Liberty half dollar book with 14 half dollars, a Barber dime book, Roosevelt dime book and Kennedy half dollar book with 59 Kennedy halves, including three 1964 and nine 1965 through 1970 coins. Flying Eagle and Indian Head penny sets will be available, as well as many other books, too numerous to mention.

Desirable non-monetary gold and silver items with both intrinsic and historical value include a boxed set of three 24K gold over .999 silver ingots commemorating the 1973 Triple Crown Winner Secretariat, and a framed sterling silver set titled “The Official Bicentennial Medals of the Thirteen Original States.”

Other lots of interest include two California Gold tokens (1852 and 1853) and an 1860 $5 note issued by the Miners and Planters Bank of North Carolina. Fractional currency, and U.S. Prestige and Olympic Prestige sets.

Auction will be held on Friday, November 2, 2012 at Stephenson’s gallery located at 1005 Industrial Blvd., Southampton, PA 18966. Auction preview is on the auction day from 2-4 p.m. The auction starts at 4 p.m.

For additional information, call Cindy Stephenson at 215-322-6182 or e-mail info@stephensonsauction.com. There will be no Internet bidding for this sale; it is exclusively for gallery, phone and absentee bidders. Visit Stephenson’s online at www.stephensonsauction.com.

If you are in the area, go and have some fun. Who knows, you may find something interesting to bid on!

Some of the items in this auction

All images courtesy of Stephenson’s Auctioneers.

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