QUARTERLY REVIEW: BUST DOLLARS PRESENT PRICING CHALLENGES

BY JOHN FEIGENBAUM, PUBLISHER & PATRICK IAN PEREZ, EDITOR

Over the past few months we’ve received several inquiries regarding our pricing of the Bust dollar series. Since this series can be a pricing quandary, we felt it appropriate to help buyers and sellers better understand the realities of Bust dollars. Quarterly values reflect high-end coins for the grade, so it’s critical to understand our methodology.

The first aspect to be aware of is that the third-party grading services have tended lately to be more lenient when grading this coin type, even in comparison to others early type like Draped Bust halves. It would appear the market has seen an abundance of marginal coins which are realizing far below the price point of choice original material in the same grade. We have seen numerous coins that exhibit signs of cleaning, pin scratches, rim bumps, and other issues that are in full grade holders, which one would expect, historically, to see in a “Details” holder. Additionally, there are numerous tiers of collectors of Bust dollars. Mature collectors of this series are incredibly fussy, while others are comfortable with any assigned grade, seeking a price bargain. It’s not uncommon to see this degree of exacting standards among collectors of 18th and early 19th century material; this fact just exacerbates the price collectors are willing to pay for “choice” material.

As CDN pricing editors, we are again faced with valuation of “choice” coins versus those that barely make the standard for the assigned grade. The market is skewed between auction prices realized, dealer asking prices, and sight-seen bids. Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) finds itself right in the middle of this issue, as they are very picky about the Bust dollars they sticker. CDN has historically always represented Greysheet values based on the highest bids—and currently CAC is the only major market maker willing to post multiple sight-seen bids for Bust dollars. These bids which we report in this Quarterly issue.

It does not take long to find many coins which have transacted for less than these posted bids (usually without CAC stickers), the overall market is very supportive of these coins, and they often bring stronger amounts when they appear in auction. For example, in September a 1799 7×6 Stars PCGS/CAC XF40 sold at Heritage for $4,700 against a CAC bid of $4,000. Three weeks later, an unstickered 1799 7×6 Stars PCGS XF40 sold for $2,820. In the meantime, multiple coins have sold for $3,055, none of which were CAC approved.

Like so many things in numismatics, knowledge is critical. Dealers involved in this series need to understand the grading standard, and should not blindly buy coins without reviewing the coin in hand. Collectors must determine what level of quality their budget allows and find the coins that fit that quality standard. A well-trained eye can truly benefit here from working between the spread of values between CAC-quality and those that are not stickered. Many coins simply haven’t been submitted to CAC yet, so you can pick up a bargain if you can spot on at a good price. As always, we urge any newcomer to this series to seek knowledgable advice from a specialist.

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