Multi-billion dollar market for U.S. rare coins in 2017: PNG

All prices in USD and include buyer’s premium to reflect actual prices paid by winning bidders

According to a recent report by the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), U.S. rare coins selling for $50,000 or more as well as for $500 or less “generally did well” during 2017, which saw the U.S. numismatic market grow into a multi-billion dollar industry.

Four historic, vintage U.S. coins sold for $1 million or more last year—two at public auctions and two by private transactions.

PNG estimates the overall U.S. rare coin market in 2017 was between $3.4 billion and $3.8 billion, not including sales by the U.S. Mint or bullion coins such as gold and silver American Eagles.

The aggregate prices realized for U.S. coins sold at major public auctions in 2017 totaled $306,199,305 (about $384,969,075 Cdn.). Two auction houses accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the overall total with Heritage Auctions reporting $169,100,000 sold at auction and Stack’s Bowers Galleries at $74,099,305.

Stack’s Bowers sold at auction an 1804-dated U.S. Class I silver dollar for $3,290,000 and a 1794 silver dollar for $2,820,000.

“Over the decades, the rare coin market has moved in cycles,” explained PNG President Barry Stuppler. “High-grade, historic coins valued at over $50,000 and so-called ‘collector’ coins under $500 generally did well in 2017.”

“Unlike the last few years, there were few old-time collections that came into the marketplace, and some of the investment money that may have gone into numismatic purchases went into the booming stock market and the speculative cybercurrency market,” he added.

“Despite that, demand for extremely rare investor-collector coins rose in 2017.”

The auction firms that responded to the PNG survey include Bonham’s; Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers; GreatCollections Coin Auctions; Heritage Auctions; David Lawrence Rare Coins, which reported private sales of two coins for $1 million or more; Legend Rare Coin Auctions; Scotsman Coin & Jewelry; and Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

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