It is said that records are made to be broken and 2021 was the year for Stack’s Bowers Galleries to break them. 2021 saw numerous individual price records set by numismatic rarities, as well as astonishing overall records for several product categories and sale venues. Overall, Stack’s Bowers Galleries sold at auction over $212 million in numismatic items across nearly 75,000 lots, making it the single strongest season of auction offerings in their 89-year history. (All prices include the buyer’s fee.)
The year started off with tremendous momentum in January with the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Auction for the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC). Containing 3,690 lots and comprising ancient coins and world coins, tokens, medals, and currency, this sale realized over $8.43 million, well surpassing the median pre-sale estimate of $7.24 million. This exciting offering was shortly followed by the firm’s February Collectors Choice Online Ancient and World Coin Auction which realized over $1.5 million, confirming Stack’s Bowers Galleries as a clear price leader in these categories.
The Stack’s Bowers Galleries March Showcase Auction, held at the Bellagio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, marked the firm’s first onsite auction with live bidding since the start of the pandemic. The primary highlight of the auction was the D. Brent Pogue 1822 Capped Head Left half eagle that earned $8.4 million and is now the second most valuable U.S. Mint gold coin ever sold. Accompanying this piece was the finest known 1797 Draped Bust half dollar, also from the Pogue Collection, that set a record as the most valuable U.S. Mint half dollar at nearly $1.7 million. In addition to these record prices for U.S. coins, nine lots of U.S. paper money crossed the six-figure mark. Overall, the March sale was a tremendous success with more than $28 million in numismatic items sold.
In their April 2021 Hong Kong auction, Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio eclipsed their highest total for any previous Hong Kong auction, realizing over $35.5 million and setting a record as the firm’s highest value sale of non-United States numismatic items. This sale was anchored by the magnificent Pinnacle Collection which earned nearly $19.2 million, with five lots that crossed the $1 million mark, two of which brought more than $2 million. The standout of the sale was the 1825 Pattern Ruble of Constantine which realized $2.64 million – setting a record for the firm, and representing the highest amount achieved by any American auction house for a non-U.S. coin.
The Stack’s Bowers Galleries June Showcase Auction represented a major milestone in auction technology as the first event hosted at Griffin Studios, the state-of-the-art auction and broadcast studio in the firm’s Costa Mesa, California headquarters. Over $7.8 million in United States coins and Numismatic Americana was sold, including over $971,000 for the Lulu Collection of Walking Liberty Half Dollars, making it the single most important public offering of Short Set dates. In addition to the phenomenal results for their Showcase sale, the June Collectors Choice Online Ancient and World Coin Auction realized $1.6 million, topping even the stellar results realized in their February offering.
The momentum developed over the first half of 2021 continued in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries official ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction in August, in which over $50 million in coins, paper money, and other numismatic treasures was sold. This total represents the largest ANA sale held by the firm since their first offering at this venue more than 80 years ago in 1939. This record setting sale was fueled by numerous individual records across all product categories, led by $7.68 million realized for the finest known 1804 dollar from the Pogue Collection. The price elevates this example to the fifth most valuable coin ever sold at auction and the second most valuable silver dollar, behind only the firm’s $10 million sale of a 1794 dollar in 2013. The World and Ancient coins portion of the sale realized $13.47 million, a remarkable 24.7% above the high-end pre-sale estimate! Additional records from the Stack’s Bowers Galleries August 2021 ANA Sale include the most valuable U.S. Mint medal at $600,000, the most valuable Proof Saint-Gaudens With Motto $20 that realized $336,000, a firm record for the most valuable ancient coin at $312,000, and a rare uncut sheet of $5 notes from Macon, Georgia that brought nearly twice the high estimate at $156,000. This $50 million in overall prices realized represents an increase of 70% above the firm’s 2019 ANA sale results and more than double the total realized in August 2020.
This record-breaking sale was shortly followed by the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio September 2021 Hong Kong Auction, which realized over $33 million, double the published high estimate. Highlights include a pair of Republic of China Year 10 “Pavilion” Dollars struck in gold, one with a legend and one without, which sold for $600,000 and $720,000 respectively. A popular Year 28 “Bamboo” Dollar also reached $660,000.
In the October Collectors Choice Auction of World and Ancient Coins, a Russian 37½ Rubles established the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio company record for the most valuable item sold exclusively online at $138,000. Less than two months later, this high-water mark was smashed by several lots in the December Hong Kong Collectors Choice auction.
In November over $14.7 million in U.S. coins, currency, and Americana was sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in their official auction for the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Winter Expo. This was the first such event held since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, with lot viewing offered in-person at the Baltimore Convention Center and the auction itself hosted remotely from Griffin Studios in the firm’s Costa Mesa, California headquarters. Significant results in this auction included an 1870-CC half dollar at $102,000, an 1897 dollar that set a new category record at $45,600, an original 1873 three-dollar gold piece that set an NGC-graded record at $144,000, an iconic Proof-62 (PCGS) 1879 Flowing Hair Stella that brought $120,000, a Sandblast Proof 1912 Saint-Gaudens $20 that earned $108,000, and a magnificent 1849 Mormon $20 that sold for $300,000. The sale also featured a physical Lealana 0.1 Bitcoin that sold for $33,600, representing a nearly 500% premium above the face value, or “peel value,” at the time of the sale. Graded SP-70 by PCGS, it was the very first bitcoin from the Lealana series to be certified by that grading service and was also the very first piece of physical cryptocurrency offered in a major live auction.
In addition, November saw the official opening of the firm’s new rare coin gallery in historic Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offering the entire range of numismatic services including appraisals, retail sales, and auction consignments. It is located at 1735 Market Street on the corner of 18th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, just blocks from iconic landmarks like the Comcast Center, Reading Terminal, and beautiful Philadelphia City Hall. With the opening of this new gallery, Stack’s Bowers Galleries is thrilled to unite America’s greatest numismatic city with the country’s most accomplished rare coin firm.
Also in November, Stack’s Bowers Galleries announced the sale of the famous Hawaii Five-O specimen of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel to a private client for a price exceeding $4 million. Previously on display at the firm’s table at the Long Beach Collectibles Expo in October, this 1913 Liberty Head nickel ranks as the second finest of the five known, only three of which are in private hands. While Stack’s Bowers Galleries has been renowned as a leader in numismatic auctions for over 85 years, they can also claim an impressive record of private transactions involving world-class rarities that will never see a public offering. Collectors interested in a more concierge and discrete transaction are encouraged to contact the firm with any inquiries.
In an astounding conclusion to their 2021 auction season, the firm’s December 2021 Hong Kong Collectors Choice Auction totaled over $10 million between coins and paper money, a 229% premium over the high estimate for all lots. This sale capped a banner year for the world and ancient coin department at Stack’s Bowers Galleries, pushing final sales figures over the $100 million mark for the year. Proving that online-only sales can compete with traditional live auctions, nine items exceeded the firm’s previous highest online-exclusive price realized. Leading the way was a Chinese Silver Tael Pattern Restrike that realized $1,350,000, nearly three times the previous auction record for the issue. A pair of specimen Dollars from 1906 both pedigreed to a Lester Merkin sale, one Chinese Empire type and the other a Chihli Provincial Dollar reached final prices of $1,260,000 and $960,000 respectively.
With over $212 million sold at auction over the year, 2021 will certainly be remembered as a milestone for both Stack’s Bowers Galleries and the numismatic market as a whole. Overall, 10 individual lots auctioned by the firm exceeded a price of $1 million, while 30 lots earned more than $500,000.
What’s coming 2022?
Looking ahead to 2022, Stack’s Bowers Galleries is poised to continue their leadership in numismatic expertise and auction presentations, as well as expand their dominance of retail and wholesale markets. Their Showcase auction season will commence with an astounding offering of World and Ancient Coins in their official auction for the 2022 New York International Numismatic Convention in January. Anchored by the first installment of the magnificent Salton Collection, Roman gold coins from the Dr. Michael Rogers Collection and British Campaign medals from the Gem Collection, it is sure to be another historic offering at this premier venue. Their first Showcase event for United States coins and paper money will be their official auction for the Whitman Coins & Collectibles Spring Expo and consignments are being accepted for this popular venue through the end of January.
The firm returns to Hong Kong with the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April 2022 Hong Kong sale, which is sure to present magnificent rarities in the categories of Asian coins and paper money. The firm will be accepting consignments to this exciting venue through the beginning of February. In April, Stack’s Bowers Galleries has announced they will sponsor and hold an official auction at the MIF Paper Money Fair in the Polfermolen in Valkenburg, Netherlands Saturday, 23rd April and Sunday, 24th April 2021. The firm is currently accepting auction consignments for this inaugural event and the fair is open for registration.
The hugely successful Stack’s Bowers Galleries Precious Metals Auctions are now presented two times each month, offering the most convenient resource for building gold, silver, and platinum portfolios with bidding based on a percentage of the spot price, and with no buyer’s premium. 2022 will also see continuation of the firm’s specialized Collectors Choice Online Auctions, which have included dedicated presentations of CAC-Only, Old Holder, Tokens and Medals, Ancient and World Coins, and will feature a Colonial and Early American Copper offering in February. With collector demand at an all-time high and strong indicators for continued market strength, 2022 is sure to be another historic year at Stack’s Bowers Galleries!
To consign your collection to one of their exciting auctions or for any other inquires, call 800-458-4646 or via email.
For further information, visit the Stack’s Bowers website.
In this short video Stack’s presented some of the many highlights from 2021: