Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Don't have an account?
Error Message

Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal: Rare Coins Sell for Big Money at Summer Auctions

Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal: Rare Coins Sell for Big Money at Summer Auctions
August 24, 2023
Dylan Dittrich

Photos: Heritage Auctions, Graphic: Altan Insights

This article was featured in our newsletter, Alts & Ends. Click here to subscribe for free and receive the best collectible market insights straight to your inbox on a weekly basis!

Ironically, the most quietly popular category in collectibles would make more noise than most if you dropped it on the ground. We're not talking about loose change, though. We're talking about coins worth tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars.

That's right. It's time for a numismatic update. The best part of coin collecting? The ability to drop a "numismatics" in conversation and instantly sound 5-10 times smarter (and nerdier). But if coin collecting is nerdy, then call me Lewis and point me to the Tri-Lamb house, because Revenge of the Nerds is playing out in real life as rare coins rack up massive sums at auction.

In August alone, in conjunction with the ANA World Fair of Money, Heritage Auctions sold nearly $66 million in coins at Signature auction events, split about 70/30 between US and World coins. We may wax poetic about the undying and timeless allure of The Mick and his trophy assets, but some of the numismatic world's greatest treasures are right there, trading punches at those astronomical dollar figures.

Just this month, three coins sold for seven-figure sums, all from the esteemed collection of the late Harry W. Bass, Jr. As detailed in the Flip of the Week in last week's edition, the 1907 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle sold for $4,320,000. An 1829 Capped Head Left half eagle, the only proof in private hands, wasn't far behind, selling for $3,840,000. Rounding out the million-dollar cohort was a 1798 Capped Bust Right half eagle, which garnered $1,980,000.

That coin last sold in 1982 for $77,000. Over 41 years, that's 2,471% in total appreciation, or about 8% annually. That figure falls neatly in line with the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle, which also previously sold in 1982, and appreciated 7% annually. Equity comparisons can be overwrought, but just for reference, those figures wouldn't outperform equities on an absolute basis; the S&P 500, for example, delivered an approximate annual price return of 9% or total return of 12% over the period. For a presumed "sleepy" category, though, it's robust appreciation, especially for a passion asset.

There was some real depth on display too: over three events, 114 six-figure sales were recorded. Despite those large results, volume this August was down 23% from the same events last year though it was roughly on par with 2021 (down 3%). It's worth noting the number of lots sold this year was down 33% from last year, explaining the delta in volume and perhaps offering a rebuttal to suggestions of weakness, as the average sale price was actually up 15%.

To contextualize, the average sale price across Signature events this August was just over $19,600. That doesn't quite stack up to the figure realized at one of the biggest sports events of the year, which was closer to $29,000, but it tells you the coin crowd is not to be sneered at.

Turns out their pocket change is worth a pretty penny - or double eagle.

Enjoyed this article? Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

Altanin post bacgraund

Latest News