By Jesse Robitaille
On Thursday, the Victoria North Collection realized its magnificent value at the Canadian Legacy Sale II’s second session — the second of four days in the mammoth sale — with a few very high points throughout the evening.
Presented in its entirety by Canadian Coin & Currency’s Steven Bromberg and Charles “Chuck” Moore of Moore Numismatic Auctions, the collection realized prices well below their estimates.
The collection’s centrepiece, however, realized a price nearly $50,000 over its original estimate ater feverish bidding on the floor, the phone and the Internet. It sold for $220,000 plus buyer’s premium. The stunning 1921 50-cents Gem Uncirculated MS-65, which was Bromberg’s personal favourite piece from the sale, eventually sold to an online bidder. The coin was formerly of the John J. Pittman collection and is one of the finest examples known to exist
“It’s kind of the obvious stand-out piece of the collection, but I think what I like about the collection more than anything else is the fact that it’s consistently attractive and consistently high-quality,” said Bromberg.
“The consigner didn’t buy things if they weren’t attractive and absolutely solid, super high-grade. When you look through all the coins in this collection, it shows the eye for quality and eye for visual appearance for every one of the coins.”
Collected over the past two decades by a prominent Canadian businessman, the collection is one of the most significant in recent memory, said Bromberg. The collector maintained a strict set of standards, passing over inferior pieces in the search of perfection. To be added to the collection, a coin couldn’t just be one of the finest graded examples — it had to be well struck, completely problem-free and have superb eye-appeal.
Another elusive coin, lot No. 1727, an 1870 No LCW 50-cents piece in Choice Uncirculated-63, realized $26,000 (all prices quoted do not include buyer’s premium).
In 1870, production of the dies for the new 50-cents piece resulted in two varieties — one with the initials of the designer, Leonard Charles Wyon, and another with the initials absent. The No LCW variety has since become one of the key rarities in Canadian numismatics as an uncirculated business strike.
Don Laimon, a Canadian collector living in San Diego, purchased several 5-cents silver pieces, including a stunning 1926 Far 6 — arguably the scarcest of the George V 5-cents (especially in Mint State) — ICCS Gem Uncirculated-65.
“Some very rare pieces came up, and I’ve been following them a long time,” said Laimon. “You either take it or you don’t, but you’re not going to see them again for a very long time — if at all.”
He said the results of the G.F. Landon sale the night earlier were surprising.
“The pricing was very aggressive. I think pieces that normally would’ve sold at an auction didn’t sell today because of the onslaught yesterday.”
However, he said, aggressive pricing is probably a good sign.
“I would’ve thought that much coming on the market at the same time would’ve had prices going the other way, but the demand is there even after all that.”
Bromberg said the Landon sale showed a positive side of the coin community.
“I think a lot of people were afraid about what would happen with the price levels when a large amount of new material came into the market. I think what it demonstrates is that there is in fact a solid depth to the market in Canada. There’s a lot of interest, and those coins will continue to be available to collectors over the next generation, and I think that’s a really positive thing.”
He said he believes prices will remain high.
“If anything, what happened was there were so many people looking at the opportunity to acquire these coins that prices held firm and maybe even went higher with the interest in the fresh material available.”
Laimon echoed Bromberg’s comments on the Landon sale.
“It goes to show you that quality pieces can hold up,” said the life-long numismatist, who has collected coins since he was six years old.
While he was living in Vancouver, Laimon’s father lived in a small town on the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border called Kamsack, where he owned a small shop.
“Every night, he took coins out of the till and threw them in those old velvet bags — anything that looked interesting.”
When Laimon went to visit his father in Kamsack one year, his uncle opened all those old velvet bags and placed all those old, interesting coins on a table beneath them.
“That’s how it all started,” said Laimon, who joined a numismatic society in Vancouver after returning home.
Greg Jones, of Lighthouse Numismatics, also purchased several 50-cents pieces, including lot No. 1733, a 1904 ICCS Gem Uncirculated-65 with a mintage of only 60,000. The incredibly rare piece was sold in the equally rare Gem Mint State for $25,000.
Overall, the sale was phenomenal, Bromberg said.
“There was a lot of strength — especially the ’21 half. It’s really exciting to see that kind of strength in the market. There were phenomenal quality coins in this sale, and I think that’s what brought a lot of the success,” he said.
“I think we’re already at a record for the highest total for any Canadian numismatic auction and we’re only halfway though.”
The Legacy Sale II continues tomorrow with Session Three. Lot viewing is between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., with bidding starting at 5:30 p.m.
“I think it’s going to continue to be strong with more good things to come,” said Bromberg, “and we’re looking forward to it.”
For the complete results of the Victoria North Collection sale, click here.
The four-day auction concludes on Saturday with Session Four.