‘Trump Effect’ lifts 2016 U.S. rare coin market, says PNG

All prices listed in USD

The optimism of increased disposable income with the election of Donald Trump lifted the U.S. rare coin market in the last two months of 2016, according to the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), which conducts an annual compilation of results of major auctions of U.S. rare coins.

“After several years of higher prices and the spectacular sales of several legendary coin collections, the U.S. rare coin market softened in 2016. But after the November elections, there was a notable increase in demand for high-quality rare coins, including those priced at $100,000 or more,” said PNG President Dana Samuelson.

The aggregate prices realized for U.S. coins sold at major public auctions in 2016 totalled $341,815,542. The totals were $439 million in 2015; $536 million in 2014; and $393 million in 2013. One firm, Heritage Auctions, accounted for $192 million of the 2016 total. All totals include the buyer’s premium to reflect the actual prices paid by winning bidders.

“In our annual survey of major numismatic auction firms, the consensus estimate is that the overall U.S. rare coin market for auctions and direct sales in 2016 was about $4 billion, not including bullion coins, such as gold, silver or platinum American Eagles, and not including sales by the United States Mint,” said Samuelson.

Robert Brueggeman, PNG executive director, added: “Over the decades the U.S. rare coin market moves in cycles, and the long-term trend is up. We believe 2017 will be an opportunity for astute collectors to be buying.”

This 1894 San Francisco silver dime realized $1,997,500 USD at a Heritage Auctions sale last year.


Four coins sold for $1 million or more at auction in 2016 compared to a record-setting 17 million-dollar coins in 2015. A fifth coin crossed the million-dollar mark in a private sale in late 2016, and although the purchase price was not disclosed, it was reported the coin is insured for $8 million for a planned public display in early 2017.

The four million-dollar coins sold at public auction in 2016 were:

  • an 1894 San Francisco silver dime graded PCGS Proof 66 that realized $1,997,500 (sold by Heritage Auctions);
  • an 1879 Quintuple Stella (pattern $20 denomination gold coin) graded PCGS Proof 64 Deep Cameo that realized $1,888,000 (sold by Legend Rare Coin Auctions);
  • an 1833 Caped Head Left, Large Date Half Eagle ($5 denomination gold coin) graded PCGS Proof 67 that realized $1,351,250 (sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries); and
  • a 1795 Draped Bust silver dollar graded PCGS Specimen 66 that realized $1,057,500 (sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries).

The auction firms that responded to the PNG survey were Bonham’s; Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers; Great Collections Coin Auctions; Heritage Auctions; David Lawrence Rare Coins; Legend Rare Coin Auctions; Scotsman Coin and Jewelry; and Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

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