Several glaring truths came through during this week’s ANA World’s Fair of Money. The certified rare coin market has a general feeling of softness. Not dramatically so, but one wishes it were a little better. We spoke with scores of dealers this week who generally felt that business could be better but the level of guarded optimism seems to have improved over the past 60 days. One important reason for this is that fresh material seems increasingly elusive. The major auction companies have come off an unprecedented multi-year run of “once in a lifetime” collections. First it was the Missouri Cabinet, then Newman, Gardner, Pogue, Partrick, McClure, and Blue Moon to lead the headlines. Additionally there were the usual assortment of collections were scores of other great offerings at the same time and, while the major firms are currently getting some great consignments, it’s hard to keep up with this particular recent track record. Over the past year, we’ve seen many coins from these sales become available again, and often underperforming their recent results. This is completely understandable given that auction bidders heavily favor “fresh material”—that is, coins that have been off the market for a decade, or much more.
When truly fresh coins come to market, the bidder excitement is as strong as ever. The best example might be the 1892-S Morgan dollar, graded PCGS/CAC MS64+. This coin sold for an unbelievable $293,750 (inclusive of the the 17.5% buyer’s premium). This result with a posted CDN Greysheet bid value of $85,000, and $75,000 in Bluesheet. A very similar coin realized $111,478 in August 2012 (Stack’s Bowers). Just two months earlier (June 2012), a PCGS MS67 (yes, an MS67!!) sold for $290,529. You can understand our surprise at this impressive result. This coin was brand new to the market and that fact alone was clearly very important to the two bidders who waged a bidder war for this item.
Based on early auction results at the ANA show, it’s clear that fresh material is brining considerably more money than counterparts that have recently been offered. Perhaps this fact alone will chase out some reluctant sellers who’ve been sitting on the sidelines.