Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dan Holmes part-2 Highlights

The 2nd sale of the Dan Holmes collection was held by Goldbergs Coins & Collectibles in Beverly Hills, CA on May 30, 2010. This sale, of Dan's middle-date large cents (1816-1839) followed the triumphant sale of his early dates in Sept. 2009 (during which the first U.S. large cent was sold at auction for more than $1 Million!). Two more sales are planned for the remaining Holmes coins - the error coins will be sold in Fall 2010 and the late-date cents (1840-1857) will be sold in early 2011.

Dan Holmes is a copper connoisseur of the 1st order, and his collection of middle-date cents is a strong reflection of his tastes - many condition-census coins and finest-known coins can be found among the 654 lots that were sold.

I was fortunate enough to attend this sale, and I even managed to bring home a few of the lots. Attendance for the auction was very much in line with what I have seen at past auctions of major copper collections. The bidding was generally strong, but not incredibly impressive. The median hammer price was about 40% higher than the pre-sale estimate. There were a number of coins that brought many multiples of their pre-sale estimates, and yet some of the marquee coins in the sale fell short of their pre-sale estimates.
Below I will attempt to capture some of the "surprises" in the Holmes part-2 auction, from my perspective. Please keep in mind that, while the reported hammer prices reflect reality, the opinions are mine alone.

  • LOT 20 provided an early surprise. This 1816 N8 (R3) in PCGS MS64 RB had a lot of flash, and plenty of red color. After spirited bidding, it was hammered for $9750 (vs. an estimate of only $1000).
  • LOT 56 was an 1817 N12 (R3) in a very rare terminal die state (with a large cud die break connecting stars 1-3). Although it was only graded G-5, this coin sold for a hammer price of $2800.
  • Just a few lots later, LOT 71, an 1817 N17 (R4) graded G-6, but in terminal die state was hammered for $1650. I concluded that these die-state collectors mean business!
  • LOT 73, a relatively problem-free G-5 example of the very rare 1822 N14 (R7) brought a winning bid of $18,000 (vs. an estimate of just $8000).
  • LOT 254 (1827 N12 (R5) graded only VG-7 but in terminal die-state) and LOT 267 (1828 N8 (R3+) graded only G-6 but in terminal die-state) continued the theme of extremely strong bids for rare die states.
  • LOT 322 and LOT 323, both 1830 N9 (R6+) were surprises because of the weakness of the bidding for these rarities. LOT 322 was hammered for $15,000 (vs. estimate of $20,000-up) while LOT 323 realized a hammer price of $6500 (vs. estimate of $8000-up).
  • LOT 398 was one of the marquee coins in this sale - a very rare proof-only 1834 N7 (R7) and tied for finest known. I was surprised when the bidding for this wonder-coin stopped at $43,000 (vs. a pre-sale estimate of $50,000-up). Rest assured the winning bidder is very satisfied with his purchase.
  • The 1839/6 (N1) Cents in the Holmes sale (three beautiful coins, representing different states of the famous obv die-break) provided some drama. The first coin (EDS in EF-45) surprised on the down side when it was hammered at just $14,500 (vs. an estimate of $25,000). However, the 2nd coin (MDS in EF40) met expectations(with a hammer price of $17,500 vs. an estimate of $15,000), while the 3rd coin (LDS in choice VF35) provided an upside surprise when it was hammered at $19,500 vs. an estimate of only $10,000.

    In reflecting upon this sale, I have this to say:
    As always, quality & rarity ruled the day, but there were many surprise bargains among the marquee coins in this sale. One of the biggest surprises for me was the strength in low-grade coins in rare die-state. This is an area of early copper to watch closely!