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    Recent Auction Sales Show Resurgence in Collector’s Market

    Posted on May 05, 2017

    Coin collecting and the purchase of silver and gold bullion coins don’t always go hand-in-hand as indicators of the strength of the market. Collectors, generally speaking, care more for the condition of a coin and the rarity of a piece than they do the metal content and value of the coin as an investment.

    While rare coins, and other collectible pieces, offer intrinsic value because of their metal content, there is also the intangible value found in the eye of the beholder. If the results of the Heritage Auction in Dallas, TX from April 4-6th are any indicator, the collector’s market is experiencing a period of revitalized interest.

    What Happened at Auction?

    Heritage Auctions’ Dallas event in early April experienced a 100% sell-through rate on more than 4,100 lots that included rare US coins. The total haul from the auction was an impressive $9.8 million. According to the company’s news release following the event, many of the coins sold at the event exceeded their prices from the collector market’s peak in 2014.

    What undoubtedly surprises very few avid collectors are the three coins that led the way in the auction. An 1892-S Morgan Silver Dollar with an NGC grade of MS63 brought in $76,375, and a 1795 half-dime graded MS66 by the PCGS also brought in the same figure. The final piece in the trio leading the way was a 1908-S $20 Gold Double Eagle with MS66 grade from the NGC, which sold for $70,500.

    Other standouts from the three-day auction include the following:

    • 1929 $20 MS65 PCGS: Sold for $61,687
    • 1873-CC $20 MS61 NGC: Sold for $55,239
    • 1891 $20 AU58 PCGS Secure: Sold for $54,080
    • 1870-CC $5 AU53 PCGS: Sold for $54,050
    • 1895 $1 PR63 Cameo NGC: Sold for $54,050

    The Morgan Silver Dollar

    The 1892-S Morgan Silver Dollar sold at the auction was impressive. While there are numerous circulated examples of this coin from that date, only 13 of them remain that have been assigned Select status by the NGC or PCGS.

    US silver dollar production was halted in 1873 with passage of the Coinage Act of 1873. This brought an end to the use of the Seated Liberty dollar design from Philadelphia Mint engraver Christian Gobrecht, and also brought to an end the free coining of silver in the United States.

    With passage of the Bland-Allison Act however, the silver dollar was reinstituted in the United States, though the free coining of silver did not resume. George T. Morgan, an engraver who had sought employment with the Royal Mint in London, was in the midst of a six-month trial at the United States Mint when his Liberty design for the new silver dollar was chosen.

    On the obverse of the Morgan Silver Dollar is a left-profile of Liberty wearing a wreath upon her head with a headband featuring the word “Liberty” engraved upon it. Her effigy is surrounded by 13 stars and the phrase “E Pluribus Unum.”

    The reverse of all Morgan Dollars includes a version of the heraldic eagle of the United States. Though no heraldic shield is featured, the bald eagle is front-facing with its wings outstretched. It is depicted holding arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other, with its head looking to the viewer’s left, where it clutches the olive branch of peace.

    The 1795 Half-Dime

    1795 Half-Dime coins feature the popular Flowing Hair design that originated from the Philadelphia Mint on some of the nation’s very first coinage in 1794. On the obverse of the coin you’ll find the right-profile portrait of Liberty with her hair flowing behind her and a circle of 13 stars around her. Eight are featured behind her head, with seven set in front of her face. The word “Liberty” is engraved above, with the year of issue below.

    The reverse of the Flowing Hair Half-Dime includes the image of what some call a “delicate” eagle. It is shown perched within an open wreath and surrounded by a simple engraving of “United States of America.” One curious fun fact about these half-dimes is the lack of an engraving marking the denomination or value of the coin.

    While it is relatively common, for its age, to find 1795 Flowing Hair Half-Dimes today, there are only seven of these varieties certified in finer numerical grades.

    $20 Gold Double Eagle

    Without question the most popular coin design in American history, Saint-Gaudens’ Gold Double Eagle appeared as a top seller in the auction as well. The 1908-S Gold Double Eagle is rare and highly valued for two reasons. Original Gold Double Eagles were struck without the national motto “In God We Trust” above the image of the sun on the reverse of the coins.

    The 1908-S is one of the lowest mintages in the program’s history, at just 22,000 from the San Francisco Mint that are known as “With Motto” coins, indicating they were struck after the decision was made to include the national motto in the coin design.

    In 1905, President Roosevelt summoned the nation’s most gifted artist to a meeting in hopes of convincing him to help reinvent American coin design. Saint-Gaudens accepted the commission and set about designing what would become the most memorable and inspiring design in United States Mint history.

    Saint-Gaudens’ Lady Liberty depiction features Liberty walking forward out of the setting sun. The torch held aloft in her right hand provides a guiding light for the nation, while the oak and olive branches in her left hand represent civic success and a desire for peace.

    On the obverse side of the $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle is the image of Lady Liberty. Her depiction is surrounded by stars representing each of the states in the US. When the coin was first released in 1907, there were just 46 stars around her. In 1912, two more stars were added to represent the addition of New Mexico and Arizona to the Union.

    The reverse side features a bald eagle in flight over the rising sun. Again, there are differences in the design depending upon the year of minting. Coins struck in 1907 and 1908 feature no motto along the rim of the sun, while all subsequent coins feature “In God We Trust.”

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