Friday, January 20, 2017

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

Happy New Year to all fans of coins, and especially to fans of early copper coins! I am excited about the collecting year ahead of us. The past year saw rare coin prices languish somewhat, but there are reasons to be optimistic. For one, there is a large auction of copper coming in early Feb. The Goldbergs have announced the sale of four large collections on a single day. Later, the Pogue Collection (Part-V) is scheduled at Stacks / Bowers. Records could fall!
In other coin news, I just happened to be on-line watching the recent Heritage Auctions internet session, and I witnessed something that altered my understanding of the rare coin market: A 2004 Texas statehood quarter, graded NGC MS-69 was sold for $3055! That is NOT a typo. No, I did not forget to put the decimal point into that price. A single statehood quarter sold for Three Grand! The coin was part of a NGC Registry Set collection known as "The Mile High Collection". Now, for the really astounding part - this was not the highest price for a statehood quarter from this collection. A 1999 Pennsylvania quarter (also NGC MS-69) sold for $7050! WOW!
You can find the entire Mile High Collection auction at the Heritage web site. I will provide a link here:
The prices realized by these statehood quarters are a surprise to me because: 1. I do not collect this series. Therefore I do not really know how to grade the coins, or what the appropriate values should be. 2. I do collect early copper coins (half cents & large cents), and I have a pretty good idea of what can be purchased for $3000 in these categories (you can get something really NICE for $3K). 3. The statehood quarters are (for the most part) 21st-century U.S. coins, so they are plentiful. I believe there are many rolls of such coins (in uncirculated condition) sitting in desk drawers. 4. The MS-69 coins which sold for so much money are so-called "condition rarities". However, a huge overhang of "ungraded" coins is out there. If/when these are certified, the populations of these higher grade ranges can be radically increased. Would someone be willing to pay $3000 for a 2004 Texas quarter in MS-69 if they knew the population was 100, rather than 1? I would think not.
I urge you to consider your own collecting / investing strategy. Are you buying coins for pleasure or profit (or both)? Are you spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars per coin? Are you buying coins that have proven rarity, or are you buying low population modern coins (according to the grading service pop reports)? Have fun, but be careful!