From a million dollars paid for an early American penny to $4.5 million paid for the first gold coin struck for the young United States, the market for high-quality, historic U.S. rare coins set another record for numismatic auctions in 2014. The overall U.S. rare coin market was estimated at about $5 billion, and a dozen coins sold for $1 million or more each at public auctions in 2014, according to a year-end tabulation by the Professional Numismatists Guild (www.PNGdealers.org).
The PNG is a nonprofit organization composed of many of the country’s top rare coin and paper money dealers.
“The prices realized for U.S. coins sold at major public auctions in 2014 totaled nearly $536 million, surpassing 2013’s record of nearly $393 million. Several important collections will be offered at auctions in 2015, and I anticipate we’ll again see record prices for so-called ‘trophy coins’ that combine historic significance, rarity and superb condition,” said PNG President Terry Hanlon.
“We estimate the overall coin market in the U.S. at about $5 billion in 2014. That includes auctions and private transactions made at coin shows, by mail order, online and at coin stores, but does not include numismatic bullion items or the modern coins sold directly by the United States Mint,” explained Hanlon.
“In the second half of the year, there was some softness in prices for relatively ‘common’ coins as gold and silver prices dropped, but the market for truly high-quality, historic rare U.S. coins continued to do quite well,” he said.
With the continuing trend of high prices for high-quality, historic rare coins, Hanlon cautioned: “We have an important saying in the numismatic marketplace. If you don’t know rare coins, you’d better know your rare coin dealer.”
These are the 12 U.S. rare coins purchased by winning bidders for $1 million or higher in 2014, and the auction companies that sold them:
- 1787 Brasher Doubloon with designer Ephraim Brasher’s “EB” punchmark on the eagle’s wing, graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) as Mint State 63, $4,582,500 (Heritage Auctions).
- 1913 Liberty Head nickel, NGC Proof 64, $3,290,000 (Heritage Auctions).
- 1927 Denver Mint Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle ($20 denomination gold coin), NGC Mint State 66, $1,997,500 (Heritage Auctions).
- 1804 Draped Bust Dollar Class III type, NGC Proof 63, $1,880,000 (Stack’s Bowers Galleries).
- 1861 “Paquet Reverse” Double Eagle, graded by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) Mint State 61, $1,645,000 (Heritage Auctions).
- 1792 Pattern Cent (Judd-1, Pollock-1), NGC Mint State 63+, $1,410,000 (Heritage Auctions).
- 1776 silver Continental Dollar, “CURRENCY” and “EG FECIT” variety, NGC Mint State 63, $1,410,000 (Heritage Auctions).
- 1927-D Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, PCGS Mint State 63, $1,292,500 (Heritage Auctions).
- 1797 Half Dollar (Overton-101a) PCGS Secure Mint State 65+ PCGS Secure, $1,292,500 (Heritage).
- 1792 Half Disme (an early spelling of “dime”) (Judd-7, Pollock-7 variety) PCGS Secure Specimen 67, $1,292,500 (Heritage Auctions).
- 1794 Half Cent PCGS Mint State 67 red and brown color, $1,150,000 (Ira and Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles).
- 1811 Half Cent, PCGS Mint State 66 red and brown, $1,121,250 (Ira and Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles).
The auction companies responding to the PNG questionnaire about their 2014 auctions of United States rare coins were Bonham’s, David Lawrence Rare Coins, GreatCollections Coin Auctions, Heritage Auctions, Ira and Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Legend Rare Coin Auctions, Scotsman Coin and Jewelry, and Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
All prices include the buyer’s premium, if any, to reflect the actual total prices paid by the winning bidders. The PNG survey did not include 2014 auctions of paper money or coins produced by other countries (“world coins”), two areas of the numismatic marketplace that also experienced record prices for many items.
Founded in 1955, the Professional Numismatists Guild is composed of many of the country’s top rare coin and paper money dealers. PNG member-dealers must adhere to a strict code of ethics in the buying and selling of numismatic merchandise.