What Does $18 Million Buy These Days?

On June 8, 2021, Sotheby’s auctioned the Stuart Weitzman Collection. The auction consisted of three of the rarest items in the world, including the Farouk-Fenton 1933 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle. It is the only 1933 Double Eagle coin that anyone who can afford it can legally own.

The coin sold for $18,872,250!

Although not confirmed by Sotheby’s, the price realized suggests that it includes the buyer’s premium. Sotheby’s has not disclosed the buyer’s name.

Farouk-Fenton 1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle was sold by Sotheby’s for $18,872,250 in a June 2021 auction.
(Picture Credit: PCGS)

Arguably, the most famous coin in the world, the price was over the auction estimate of $10-15 million but under what the numismatic industry expected. The price is significantly more than the $7,590,020 paid in 2002 for the coin, including $20 to monetize the coin officially. The auction included the U.S. Mint’s monetization certificate.

U.S. Mint’s Certificate of Monetization for the Farouk-Fenton Double Eagle (Picture Credit: Sotheby’s)

Also included in the auction was The Inverted Jenny Plate Block sold for $4,860,000 (estimated at $5-7 million), and The British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta stamp that sold for $8,307,000 (estimated at $10-15 million).

Numismatists may want to save the catalog link for the sale of this coin. Sotheby’s catalog listing includes the coin’s history with an updated history of the other 1933 Double Eagle coins. The update includes the ten coins “discovered” by Joan Langbord, daughter of Israel Switt, and her family’s fight to retain ownership. Documentation from court filings adds to the story.

David Tripp wrote the original catalog description for the first Sotheby’s/Stack’s auction. In 2004, Tripp published his research in Illegal Tender. Given the new information, would it be worth updating the book?

Weekly World Numismatic News for May 16, 2021

It has been a long 16-months. During that time, a virus caused a worldwide pandemic still being felt in much of the world. Thanks to science and the government removing barriers that slow the development process, the pharmaceutical industry found vaccines to reduce infection rates.

The increase in vaccinations and the reduction of infections has government easing restrictions that shut down the country for three months in 2020. As the restrictions ease, coin shows are appearing. Small shows have been running for a few months, but last week, the ANA announced the World’s Fair of Money would go on.

Over the last six months, hobby and other spending have dramatically increased. The demand for goods has outpaced the supply. Big-ticket items like housing and vehicles are experiencing low inventories as people leave their homes and spend money. I regularly pass a few used car lots on my way to work, and their inventory is the lowest I have seen.

Numismatics is also seeing a surge. Even though analysts note that lower sales of bullion coins from last year, the demand for collector coins has caused prices to skyrocket. Services that monitor online markets say that the 2021-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin price is averaging $140-160 or 100-percent over their issue price.

Because silver is in high demand, dealers are charging high premiums over the spot price and sellout out of their inventory. When I recently looked at buying circulated coins whose value is tied to the silver spot price, the premiums were the highest that I have seen.

It has been a long time since silver coins were this popular. There is no telling how high this market will go with the expanding market for non-circulated legal tender (NCLT) and bullion coins drawing people into collecting.

And now the news…

 May 10, 2021
What do ancient coins tell us about the Omer period and the time of the Bar-Kochba revolt, when the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot became associated with death and mourning? According to the Bible, the seven weeks between the two holidays referred to as ‘omer’ – a unit of measure which was used to quantify the amount of produce to offer as a sacrifice to God – was not meant to carry any specific connotation other than its agricultural meaning.  → Read more at jpost.com

 May 11, 2021
An early pandemic problem that plagued businesses is back: not enough change to go around. Why it matters: The pandemic broke America's coin flow. It has repercussions for millions that rely on it for daily transactions.  → Read more at axios.com

 May 13, 2021
Nov.  → Read more at theglowup.theroot.com
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A Good Step For the Future of the NLG

Dr. Ursula KampmannLast week, the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) announced the appointment of Dr. Ursula Kampmann of Lörrach, Germany, to their Board of Governors. It is an announcement that has more significance to the numismatic community than captured in a press release.

Dr. Kampmann is an accomplished numismatist with a significant international following. I “met” her through CoinsWeekly (coinsweekly.com), an English language website that reports numismatic news from all over the world. She contacted me about a post I made, and it led me to become a regular reader.

CoinsWeekly looks at the entire world of numismatics, not from a single country. There have been articles that cover special issues, the appeal of coins minted outside of the United States, and even criticizes U.S.-based numismatic news for their myopic view of collecting.

The appeal of having Dr. Kampmann working with the NLG is to inject her experience outside of the United States into the hobby. The hobby needs new ideas and to break out of its old ways to grow; having a view outside of the United States border will have a significant impact.

Dr. Kampmann is not so much of an outsider as one might think. Readers of CoinsWeekly will recognize that the stories understand the U.S.-based hobby but have constructive criticism based on what is happening in the rest of the world.

She can help influence the authors and writers of numismatic content to understand the hobby more broadly than the myopic U.S. view. There is a big world outside of the U.S. borders producing coins that have great appeal to many. Those of us who write about numismatics must learn to think beyond collections of discs that all look the same.

Dr. Kampmann’s appointment appears to be the first move by new Executive Director Charles Morgan, editor of CoinWeek. Morgan, who is also known for wanting the hobby to break away from the mindset of the blue and brown albums, appears to be off to a good start. There is a lot we can learn from our European counterparts. I hope the U.S.-based writers will take this opportunity to grow.

Weekly World Numismatic News for May 9, 2021

Do you know what happens if the blogger does not press the button that says “Publish?” The post does not get published to the site. This week’s delay was because I forgot to press the button. Sorry!

There were two other news items that collectors should be aware. Last week, the ANA held an online Candidates Forum. Only one of the candidates did not attend.

The forum demonstrated two types of candidates: the status quo and those who want to do something. The status quo candidates refused to think outside of the proverbial box and look to continue using the same methods that have not advanced the ANA beyond its current state. The others have different ideas to move the ANA forward.

Few of the candidates have ideas discussed in the past but taking advantage of the current climate. These are the candidates that need to be elected to the ANA Board of Governors. A full review of the Candidates Form is forthcoming.

Another bit of news was a May 4 conference call by the U.S. Mint with members of the media. Even though I asked questions they answered during that conference call the previous week, I was not invited to participate. There are additional questions that the U.S. Mint did not address, which I sent via email. The U.S. Mint has not answered those questions.

I will wait a few days for the U.S. Mint to answer my questions before explaining how they do not care about the collectors and what I suggest the community can do to correct their behavior.

And now the news…

 May 2, 2021
A silver English shilling found during a dig in St. Mary’s, Md., is more proof that archaeologists have pinpointed the correct location of an old fort.  → Read more at washingtonpost.com

 May 4, 2021
Editor’s Note: With so much market volatility, stay on top of daily news! Get caught up in minutes with our speedy summary of today’s must-read news and expert opinions. Sign up here!  → Read more at kitco.com

 May 4, 2021
When heavy metal guitarist Ed Fuhrman hits the road, one of his priorities is seeking out a local collector’s shop. Is he looking for a vintage guitar or a hard-to-find record? No.  → Read more at northjersey.com

 May 6, 2021
How did people living in the Bronze Age manage their finances before money became widespread? Researchers from the Universities of Göttingen and Rome have discovered that bronze scrap found in hoards in Europe circulated as a currency.  → Read more at sciencedaily.com

 May 7, 2021
An 1804 silver dollar is expected to sell for US$7 million at auction in August. Stack’s Bowers Galleries  → Read more at barrons.com
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World’s Fair of Money Is ON!

Two days after questioning whether the ANA will have to cancel the World’s Fair of Money this year, they issued a statement saying that the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, will be open for shows.

The ANA press release said that the show would be limited to 300 dealer tables to configured the bourse floor to allow for social distancing. Those attending the show will be asked to maintain social distancing, and masks will be required.

Currently, there are no indications as to whether there will be capacity limits.

I am sure the ANA will do what it can to make the show safe. I encourage you to assess your risks and make an informed decision as to whether you will attend.

Admittedly, I may be more paranoid than many people. Having lost two family members to COVID-19, a long-time friend, and seeing a few others who have had long-haul health issues, I may wait until the last moment before making my decision. My original plans were to attend the last two days of The National (National Sports Collectors Convention) and stay for the World’s Fair of Money. I will skip The National this year and decide whether I go to the World’s Fair of Money by July.

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Will the World’s Fair of Money Be Canceled

Trying to assess the short-term future of our life during this stage of the pandemic has many of us wondering when the numismatic shows will restart? Smaller shows have found ways of being held with required social distancing. A few medium-sized shows have moved to larger venues to allow for social distancing, but what about the big shows.

Organizers of the significant shows canceled their shows while the pandemic caused problems. As the vaccination rate has increased and the infection rates decreased, there is hope that life will return to normal.

In the first sign of the post-pandemic life, Florida United Numismatists continue to plan to hold Summer FUN starting on July 8 in Orlando. Florida health officials have lifted crowd restrictions that would prevent the show from happening.

It is a different situation in Rosemont, Illinois. Currently, the Stephens Convention Center, where the World’s Fair of Money is scheduled for August 10-14, remains closed. Illinois state health officials continue to restrict large gatherings throughout the state.

Although the ANA has not said anything about the World’s Fair of Money, the National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) issued a statement warning that their show could be canceled. The NSCC, known as The National, is to the sports collecting business as the World’s Fair of Money is to numismatics. The National is scheduled to be held at the Stephens Convention Center July 28 through August 1, before the World’s Fair of Money.

According to The National’s organizers, the Illinois Department of Public Health will publish their rules about large conventions on or around June 1.

Since the ANA is not communicating with its members about the World’s Fair of Money, watch what The National is saying. If The National is canceled, the World’s Fair of Money will likely be canceled.

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