Last month we looked at how the sale of the Old West and the Morgan collections of Carson City gold coinage impacted the market for half eagles from this mint. This month, we’ll look at the results as they apply to Carson City eagles. Just a few refreshers before we get right into the number crunching. The Old West collection was sold at auction by ANR in August 2006. It contained a nearly complete set of CC half eagles and a complete set of eagles. I sold all the eagles to this collector in the 2004-2005 time period and I had previously handled many of them from 1995-2000 when they comprised the Orange County collection. The Morgan collection was sold by Stack’s in January 2007. It was a complete set of CC half eagles and eagles and all had been purchased from me between 1990 and 1995. All of the coins were in older PCGS and NGC holders and many were good upgrade candidates based on today’s more liberal standards.
In this article, the Old West Collection will be abbreviated as OW while the Morgan Collection will be abbreviated as MC.
1870-CC OW: PCGS AU55, sold for $115,000 MC: PCGS EF45, sold for $46,000
The PCGS AU55 example in the Old West collection was the finest known 1870-CC eagle and it shattered all price records for this date. The price realized for the Morgan collection coin was reflective of the fact that most viewers graded the coin AU50. It subsequently upgraded to NGC AU50 and is now for sale on a dealer’s website for $52,500. After these two sales I think we will see continued price appreciation for this rare and important date.
1871-CC OW: PCGS AU55, sold for $25,300 MC: NGC AU55, sold for $25,300
I wasn’t personally crazy about either of these coins. I think we can assume with a good deal of certainty that an average quality AU55 example of this date is worth around $25,000.
1872-CC OW: PCGS AU55, sold for $34,500 MC: NGC AU55, sold for $34,500
I liked both of these coins quite a bit and thought that they both had a chance to upgrade to AU58 (although I don’t think either has…yet). Again, after these two sales I think it’s safe to say that a nice AU55 example of this date is worth around $35,000.
1873-CC OW: PCGS AU50, sold for $32,200 MC: PCGS AU50, sold for $43,700
The 1873-CC in the Old West collection was decent but nothing special. The example in the Morgan collection was clearly nicer and I graded it AU53. It sold to a dealer who currently has it listed on his website (in an NGC AU53 holder) for a reasonable markup ($48,500). It is nice to see that this date is finally getting some recognition for its rarity in AU grades.
1874-CC OW: PCGS AU58, sold for $37,950 MC: NGC AU55, sold for $19,550
The Old West coin is the third finest known 1874-CC eagle and its price realized was very strong. It later appeared in the Goldberg February 2007 sale (still in a PCGS AU58 holder) where it failed to hit its reserve and was bought back by its consignor, a California dealer. The Morgan collection coin also realized a strong price for the grade.
1875-CC OW: PCGS AU53, sold for $32,200 MC: PCGS AU53, sold for $29,325
I personally liked the Morgan collection coin better than the Old West piece. Considering that it brought nearly $3,000 less, I think it was a relatively good value. These two auction appearances confirm my belief that a nice quality AU53 example of this date is worth around $30,000-32,500.
1876-CC OW: PCGS AU58, sold for $39,100 MC: PCGS EF45, sold for $12,650
The Old West coin was superb and I purchased it for a collector. The price realized for the Morgan collection example was strong for an EF45. The coin, incidentally, is now in an NGC AU50 holder. Both of these sales show that there is demand for this date but the coins offered were so far apart in quality that one can not make any good conclusions based on comparing them.
1877-CC OW: PCGS AU53, sold for $27,600 MC: NGC AU55, sold for $27,600
I thought that both of these had the potential to upgrade: the Old West coin to AU55 and the Morgan coin to AU58. I would have to say that the Morgan coin was a much better value given the fact that it was nicer yet it sold for the exact same price.
1878-CC OW: PCGS AU55, sold for $39,100 MC: PCGS AU50, sold for $20,700
This was an instance where I thought the Old West coin sold for a little too much while the Morgan coin went a little cheaply. The Old West piece was clearly nicer than its counterpart but I do not think it was worth nearly $20,000 more.
1879-CC OW: PCGS AU55, sold for $32,200 MC: PCGS AU50, sold for $27,600
Here is an example where if you hadn’t seen both of these coins in person, the prices realized might not make sense. The Old West coin was properly graded but it lacked good overall eye appeal. The Morgan coin was clearly undergraded (it is now in an NGC AU58 holder) and it brought a strong price as a result.
1880-CC OW: NGC MS61, sold for $18,400 MC: NGC AU55, sold for $4,140
Due to the difference in quality between these two coins, the prices realized do not really lend themselves to comparison. The 1880-CC in the Old West collection was extremely nice for the grade and it sold for a very strong price. I’m not certain if the coin ever upgraded to MS62 but even if it didn’t whoever purchased it now owns one of the finest known examples of this date.
1881-CC OW: NGC MS64, sold for $74,750 MC: PCGS MS61, sold for $10,350
These are two of the finest known examples of this date (the Morgan collection coin, which I purchased, is now in an NGC MS62 holder) and their strong prices realized reflect this. I was pretty surprised at just how high the bidding went on the Old West coin. I purchased this exact piece in B+M’s July 2002 sale (in an NGC MS63 holder) for $25,300. It had previously brought $6,600 in the 1982 Eliasberg sale.
1882-CC OW: NGC MS62, sold for $41,400 MC: PCGS AU55, sold for $8,625
Here is another instance when the difference in quality between these two coins makes a comparison irrelevant. The Old West coin, which I purchased, is probably unique in Uncirculated and I thought it was good value, given what other Carson City eagles from this era were selling for in the auction.
1883-CC OW: PCGS AU58, sold for $14,950 MC: NGC AU58, sold for $5,750
I think these results are extremely interesting. Same date, same grade yet the coin in the PCGS holder brought more than two-and-a-half times as much. Why? I think part of the reason is the fact that the PCGS coin was clearly nicer. But I also think part of the reason is that because of the PCGS Set Registry, collectors are looking for certain CC eagles in the highest possible grade at PCGS. I wonder if in the future we will continue to see such price disparity based on the brand of the holder?
1884-CC OW: PCGS MS62, sold for $46,000 MC: NGC AU58, sold for $6,038
Reasonably big difference in quality, extremely big difference in price. The Old West coin is probably the second or third finest known 1884-CC eagle and it sold for a price commensurate with its rarity. This was a record price for the date and I’m certain that in the future, other Uncirculated 1884-CC eagles will be compared with this Old West coin.
1890-CC OW: PCGS MS62, sold for $10,350 MC: NGC MS62, sold for $6,900
These were both very nice for the grade but at least two bidders clearly thought the Old West coin was an upgrade. Here’s a bit of sobering thought for those of you who like to calculate risk: if the coin grades MS63, its worth $12,000-13,000. If it stays in an MS62 holder its worth $5,500. What you have here, then, is $5,000 worth of downside risk with around $2,000 of upside. This is why coin dealers are not CFO’s of large companies.
1891-CC OW: PCGS MS63, sold for $7,188 MC: NGC MS64, sold for $17,250
The Old West coin was solid for the grade and it had the added benefit of a Pittman pedigree. With average quality MS63 examples of this date readily available in the $4500-5500 range, perhaps the buyer of this coin thought it might upgrade. Clearly, the buyer of the Morgan collection coin did see his new 1891-CC as a strong candidate to eventually reside in an MS65 holder. I thought it had a pretty decent shot as well but was not willing to gamble $17,250 to find out.
1892-CC OW: PCGS MS63, sold for $41,400 MC: NGC MS61, sold for $4,370
The 1892-CC eagle in the Old West collection was remarkable and its price clearly reflected that a number of bidders thought it would grade MS64 if resubmitted. The Morgan coin was decent for the grade but nothing special. Here is clear evidence, in case you needed more, that collectors of Carson City eagles will pay strong prices for high quality coins which are exceptional for the date and grade.
1893-CC OW: PCGS MS61, sold for $16,100 MC: NGC MS60, sold for $8,625
I bought both of these coins. Take a guess which one I consider to be the better deal. I find it interesting that of the eight or nine known Uncirculated examples of this date that two of them sold within a few months of each other. This is further evidence of how important these two sales were for collectors of Carson City gold.
I’m not certain that we will see comparable collections of Carson City half eagles and eagles sold again for a long period of time. If you are a collector of Carson City gold, 2006 and early 2007 have been important (and expensive!) times for your set.