While skimming Yahoo yesterday, an interesting coin story caught my eye. And, for once, it didn't involve a coin dealer being shut down by the Feds or a firm being blasted for overcharging its clients. The story involved the sale of a unique variant of the legendary Brasher Doubloon which was just sold by the New Orleans firm of Blanchard and Company for just a shade under $7.4 million dollars. As far as I know, this is the single highest price ever paid for a single United States coin via private treaty and it becomes the second most expensive coin ever sold after the 1933 double eagle that realized $7.59 million at auction in July 2002. The buyer of the coin is currently anonymous but I remember reading that it was a "Wall Street investment firm."
I think this is a very important transaction for a host of reasons, some of which I will discuss here. Before I forget, I'd like to congratulate Blanchard on a fantastic sale and John Albanese in particular for putting together this deal.
In no order of importance, here are some thoughts about the transaction.
1. This sale shows that there is really exceptional strength at the very top of the market. There are not many million dollar coins currently available but I'm willing to bet there are two, three or even four buyers for every seven figure coin that is either available now or potentially available soon. This appears to be the case is nearly all collectibles fields right now. The very best has never been more in demand than it is now and it never has been less available.
2. I find it interesting that the buyer appears to have bought the coin solely as an investment and not as a collector. We have read about Wall Street being interested again in rare coins for a few years now. While the sale was not mentioned as being part of a Wall Street rare coin fund, perhaps it is time to put some more credence in the rumor-driven world of impending (or existing) coin funds.
3. I'm sort of surprised that the final price wasn't set with the thought to eclipse the 1933 double eagle. If you pay $7.4 million for a coin, why not "stretch" a bit and go up to $7.6 million so that you can state that you just set a world record for any coin? Seems like a no-brainer for all sorts of publicity.
4. A Brasher Doubloon is a very esoteric coin despite its fame and I'm pretty surprised that this was the coin that set a record and not something like a 1913 Nickel or an 1804 Dollar. Perhaps the reason that the Brasher sold was that it was the only "big" coin available at a point in time that the client who bought it was looking for a mega-rarity.
5. If this Brasher Doubloon is worth $7.4 million dollars, imagine what some of the other mega-rarities are now, in theory, worth. I have always felt that the single most valuable United States coin was the unique J-1776 MCMVII Indian Head pattern double eagle. My gut feeling was that this coin was worth around $15 million. Now, I think it might be worth $20 million or even more. And the finest known 1804 Class I silver dollar that is owned by the Pogue family? This suddenly seems like a $15+ million dollar coin.
6. As a dealer, I'm now pretty convinced that the theory of "buy a few great coins, price them for moon money and wait until the ultimate client comes along" makes a lot of sense if you have very deep pockets. Its worked twice this year for the dealer who sold the Brasher Doubloon to John Albanese. This same dealer had another seven-figure payday when he sold his 1794 dollar earlier this year. (He and another dealer had bought the Brasher together out of a Heritage sale a few years ago for around $3 million).
7. It will be interesting to see what if any impact this sale will have on Wall Street awareness regarding coins. Will the buyer use it to promote coins as an investment or will it be quietly out away? Will it be shopped for a quick sale or held for years? Will it be motivation to put together a great portfolio (or collection) of coins or viewed as just another item in a pool of investments?
Again, my congratulations to all parties involved in this historic sale.