Sales of rare U.S. coins reached about $5 billion in 2014, according to the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), a nonprofit organization composed of many of the country’s top rare coin and paper money dealers.
Nearly $536 million of the total was realized at major public auctions this year, soaring 36.4% above last year’s record of almost $393 million. And a dozen rarities scored sales of $1 million or more.
These figures were derived from public records and auction companies responding to a PNG survey. Specifically, the $5 billion total includes auctions and private transactions made at coin shows, by mail order, online and at coin stores, explained PNG President Terry Hanlon, and it does does not include numismatic bullion items or modern coins sold directly by the United States Mint.
Demand has been solid all year for rare U.S. coins but common issues have seen some price weakness of late, according to 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.
There are a number of significant rarities up for sale in 2015, and that should make for yet another impressive year.
"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 Hanlon.
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."
The 12 U.S. rare coins that went for $1 million or more in 2014, and the auction companies that sold them were:
1787 Brasher Doubloon with designer Ephraim Brasher’s "EB" punch mark 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).
All prices include the buyer’s premium, if any, to reflect the actual total prices paid by the winning bidders.
Auction companies responding to the 2014 PNG questionnaire included 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. The PNG survey did not include sales of paper money or coins produced by other countries, 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 who must adhere to a strict code of ethics in buying and selling. A complete listing of PNG member-dealers is available online at www.PNGdealers.org.