20-year-old Canadian consignor strikes big at NYINC sale

By Jesse Robitaille

Realizations include buyer’s premium.

A noteworthy Canadian moment took place amid the feverish bidding at a recent U.S. auction, where more than 3,200 bidders pushed total realizations beyond $17 million US (about $21.75 million Cdn.).

While the 2021 New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) was cancelled due to COVID-19, the event’s official auctioneers – eight in total – went ahead with their respective sales this January. Heritage Auctions kicked things off with its NYINC Platinum & Signature Auction on Jan. 21-22, when 76 Canadian coins and colonial tokens crossed the block for more than $250,000 US (about $320,000 Cdn.).

“The realizations from the Heritage sale make it obvious that the market is strong. In fact, it’s not just strong, but it’s amazing – especially for unique pieces and quality,” said 20-year-old Canadian dealer Will Christie, a self-described “passionate collector and small-time dealer” who consigned three lots in the recent sale.

“I’m used to reading a lot of complaints about the market – that it is dying – but I think those people are stuck in the mindset of the post-2008 crash. The Canadian coin market isn’t hurting, it isn’t doing just okay; it’s actually flourishing.”

Christie, who goes by the name Upper Canada Coins as a dealer, consigned Lots 32397-98, the obverse and reverse uniface die trials, respectively, for the Royal Canadian Mint’s 1985 one-ounce Gold Maple Leaf (GML).

The Mint launched the GML bullion coin six years earlier, in 1979.

Both trials were certified as Specimen-65 by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) with estimates of $800-$1,000 US (about $1,025-$1,275 Cdn.) each. Described by auctioneers as “undoubtedly extremely rare,” the obverse trial is one of only two examples certified by PCGS and the first sold by Heritage. The reverse trial is the only example certified by PCGS and was offered as “the ideal companion to the prior uniface obverse trial,” according to auctioneers.

The obverse ended up bringing $4,080 US (about $5,210 Cdn.) while the reverse sold for $5,040 US (about $6,430 Cdn.), topping their estimates by four to five times.

“I was in shock to be quite honest with you,” said Christie, who purchased the trials last year for “substantially less” on the advice of several experienced dealers and collectors, who all reportedly told him to expect no more than $1,000 for each piece.

“I’m a young guy, so it was a welcomed surprise,” he said, adding he’ll invest the extra money – about $11,000 – into his personal collection while “saving the rest for my future.”

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