January 16, 2014 – The U.S. rare coin market was estimated at $5 billion in 2013 and soared with nearly $393 million of coins sold at auction the past year, according to the nonprofit Professional Numismatist Guild (PNG).
From a multi-million dollar nickel to a $10 million silver dollar, the market for high-quality, historic United States rare coins established unprecedented records in 2013 for the number of coins that sold for $1 million or more and the highest price paid for any rare coin, according to a year-end tabulation by the PNG. The PNG is a nonprofit organization composed of many of the country’s top rare coin and paper money dealers.
“We estimate the overall coin market in the U.S. at about $5 billion in 2013. That includes auctions and private transactions made at coin shows, by mail order, online and at coin stores, but does not include numismatic bullion items or the modern coins sold directly by the United States Mint,” said Terry Hanlon, PNG President.
Why did the market for high-quality, historic rare U.S. coins do so well in 2013?
“Over the course of this year we continued to see the precious metals market decline and the stock market rise. The U.S. and other world economies, specifically the Eurozone, are seeing an economic recovery, however temporary it may be. A growing interest in rare coins is typical in this type of environment. The same for fine art which is booming right now. Rare coins and fine art seem to coincide with one another in this economic environment,” said Hanlon.
“Smart investors and collectors see a good buying opportunity with some of their profits taken from the increase in stocks being reinvested in rare coins. There’s also the continuing interest in hard assets with the confidence that rare coin values will grow with the success of the economic conditions, even as the precious metals themselves may be declining,” he explained. “The prices realized for U.S. coins at public auctions this past year totaled nearly $393 million, the highest aggregate total anyone can recall,” said Hanlon.
“There was incredible competition for so-called ‘trophy coins’ with 11 U.S. coins selling at auctions for more than $1 million each in 2013. One historically significant coin, believed by many to be the first silver dollar struck by the United States Mint in 1794, sold for $10 million. That’s the highest confirmed price ever paid for any rare coin.”
A 12th U.S. coin also crossed the seven-figure mark in a private transaction conducted by a PNG member-dealer.
The most valuable U.S. coins purchased by winning bidders at auctions in 2013 were:
• 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar, $10,016,875 (Stack’s Bowers Galleries)
• 1804 Type I silver dollar, $3,877,500 (Heritage Auctions)
• 1913 Liberty Head nickel, $3,172,500 (Heritage Auctions)
• 1880 Coiled Hair gold $4 denomination Stella, $2,574,000 (Bonhams)
• 1796 silver quarter-dollar, $1,527,500 (Heritage Auctions)
• 1792 silver half disme (early spelling of dime) $1,410,000 (Heritage Auctions)
• 1796 silver dollar, $1,175,000 (Heritage Auctions)
• 1783 Nova Constellatio Quint Type II, $1,175,000 (Heritage Auctions)
• 1852 Augustus Humbert $10 gold coin, $1,057,500 (Heritage Auctions)
• 1792 half disme, $1,145,625 (Stack’s Bowers Galleries)
• 1879 Coiled Hair gold $4 Stella, $1,041,300 (Bonhams)
The 12th U.S. rare coin that changed hands for more than a million dollars in 2013 was an 1894 San Francisco Mint dime that sold for over $2 million in a private sale conducted by David Lawrence Rare Coins.
A year-end survey by PNG of auction houses in the United States indicates they sold an aggregate total of $392.8 million of U.S. rare coins in public auctions in 2013:
• Heritage Auctions, $236.5 million
• Spectrum Group International (Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Teletrade), $105 million
• Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, $21.1 million
• Bonhams, $13.5 million
• Legend-Morphy Rare Coins, $7.2 million
• David Lawrence Rare Coins, $5.5 million
• Scotsman, $2.8 million
• Krueger & Krueger, $1.2 million
All prices include the buyer’s premium, if any, to reflect the actual total prices paid by the winning bidders. The PNG survey did not include 2013 auctions of paper money or coins produced by other countries (“world coins”), two areas of the numismatic marketplace that also experienced record prices for many items.
With the boom in prices for high-quality, historic rare coins, Hanlon cautioned: “We have an important saying in the numismatic marketplace. If you don’t know rare coins, you’d better know your rare coin dealer.”
More information and a complete listing of PNG member-dealers is available online at PNGdealers.org.