The recent Stacks Bowers Baltimore auction contained a group of comparatively high grade New Orleans eagles which contained a few very important pieces. While admittedly a small sample size (just seven coins), the prices realized were all very strong. This leads me to conclude that this area of the market has become very strong. Let’s look at and analyze each coin.
NOTE: All prices realized below include the 17.5% buyer’s premium charged by the auction house.
1841-O, PCGS AU55 (Lot 2150). While I love this date and loved the pedigree, I didn’t care for the coin itself as I thought it had been harshly cleaned and should have been net graded. In fact, I checked my notes from the 1998 Pittman II sale where this coin originated and I believed, at that time, that this coin was a “no grade.”
The coin realized $61,688 which I thought was an extremely strong price. The last APR for an 1841-O eagle in this grade was Heritage 2/09: 2862 at $25,300. I expected this piece to bring in the $32,500-37,500 range. I can see why bidders got excited about this piece as it is truly a rare date in a comparatively high grade. Just wish I had liked the coin more…
1842-O, NGC AU58 (Lot 2151). The 1842-O is a really rare date in higher grades and the few Uncirculated pieces known have brought crazy prices in their auction appearances.
I disliked this coin as it was “choppy” and overgraded in my opinion. It sold for $11,750 which was a very strong price. The last APR for an NGC AU58 was $6,998 in a Great Collection’s May 2014 sale and I expected this coin to realize around $7,000-8,000.
1848-O, PCGS MS61 (Lot 2152). The 1848-O is the second most available New Orleans eagle from this decade in higher grades despite being a fairly scarce coin overall. I am aware of around nine or ten known in Uncirculated.
This coin was fresh and aesthetically appealing but it seemed to have minor environmental damage, as if it had been buried at one time. It sold for $23,500 which is strong for the date/grade. There are two recent APR’s (different coins) from 2016 at $14,700 and $15,275; neither was as nice as the present example. I expected a price realized of around $16,000-17,000.
1852-O, PCGS MS60 (Lot 2153). This was the prize of the group: the only known Uncirculated 1852-O and a lovely example to boot, from the Byron Reed collection and housed in an old holder. I graded the coin MS61+ and was willing to bid up to $75,000 hammer to acquire it. I knew this lot would be competitive but I didn’t expect to get blown out.
This coin brought $111,625 all in; a record price for the date (it last sold for $30,800 in 1996) and a really stunning price for a coin that was great but admittedly esoteric.
1856-O, NGC MS60 (Lot 2154). Unless you really know this series, you probably aren’t aware that the 1856-O eagle is really, really rare in Uncirculated. I know of two: a PCGS which I sold in 2005 and the present coin which I had never seen before but which I really liked. I thought it was a real Uncirculated coin and that it would cross to PCGS if and when it was submitted.
I bought the coin for $47,000 which seems expensive when you consider that the only APR for a 56-O in MS60 was $15,588 for Heritage 2/09: 2902. But that coin, in an NGC holder, had been stripped and showed obvious wear. I consider this to be a strong price overall but seemingly better value that the aforementioned 1841-O and 1852-O eagles.
1880-O, NGC MS60 (Lot 2156). The 1880-O is the rarest of the trio of low mintage New Orleans dates struck between 1880 and 1882. It is very rare in properly graded Uncirculated with just eight or nine known to me.
I liked this coin and noted in my catalog that it was a “real BU but choppy and bright.” In other words, it was fine as an MS60 although it wasn’t likely, in my opinion, to sticker at CAC. The coin sold for $17,625 which was a very strong price; the last APR for an NGC MS60 was $6,325 for Goldberg 9/10: 2982.
1883-O PCGS AU53 (Lot 2157). Prices for this rarity have advanced dramatically in the last decade. The 1883-O eagle used to be very undervalued; today I’d call it “fully valued” especially given the fact that most seen are overgraded and unappealing.
I wasn’t crazy about this coin as it was cleaned at one time and lacked any originality. It sold for $64,625 which was a seemingly reasonable price; an NGC AU53 had brought $67,333 as Stacks Bowers 3/11: 6741.
I am too familiar with the rare coin market to make prognostications based on a seven coin sample size. But of the New Orleans eagles which sold at the November 2016 Stacks Bowers auction are any indication, this area is receiving considerable attention, especially at the high end of the market.
Are you interested in assembling a high quality set of New Orleans eagles? Contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (214-675-9897) and let’s figure out how I can help you.