One of the biggest coin auctions of recent times took place at the Long Beach Coin, Stamps and Collectibles Expo earlier this month. Heritage Auctions‘ Signature World and Ancient Coins Auction, which was held on 8-9 September, proved to be a record-setter. The auction fetched $20.5 million, the highest recorded total since coins were introduced as a category at Heritage 11 years earlier. The prime attraction at the event was the $6.8 million Norman Jacobs Collection. Winning bidders paid up to $1,391,500 for a set of Korean gold coins that dated back to 1909, from the same collection.
The Heritage Auctions event has set another record by becoming the largest multi-consignor world coin auction in the United States. The Signature World and Ancient Coins Auction presented 2,835 lots. 3,580 bidders participated in the auction, providing an admirable sell-through rate of 98 percent. Christian Bierrenbach, Executive VP of International Numismatics at Heritage, described the auction as having been “just tremendous”. He said, “Putting together a $20+ million world and ancient coin auction is a privilege very few firms have ever experienced…”
Bierrenbach also admitted that Heritage Auctions had not expected such a successful showing, considering that the coin market has been doing very well in the recent past. As it turned out, the auctioneers did business that surpassed even their most optimistic pre-auction estimates by 40 percent.
The highest earners were the 1909 set of Korean gold coins. Of these, the top earner was the Yung Hi gold 20 Won Year 3 that fetched $690,000. The Yung Hi gold 5 Won Year 3 took the second spot with $460,000, while the Yung Hi gold 10 Won Year 3 came in third with $299,000. The last of these is the sole 1909 Korean gold 10 Won in private hands.
Other big money-makers from the Norman Jacobs Collection included the Meiji silver Pattern Trade Dollar Year 7 that fetched $299,000 and the Meiji silver Pattern Trade Dollar Year 7 from 1892 that sold for $276,000. The latter was specifically struck for the 1892 Worlds Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Another valuable coin that went for $276,000 was a Meiji gold Pattern 10 Yen Year 3 from 1870. A Japan 1880 Meiji 13 Proof 10 Yen brought in $253,000. And for an example of how well the coins performed, take the case of the Japan 1875 1 Yen that fetched $207,000. Pre-auction estimates for the coin were as low as $20,000.
Among the ancient coins that shone at the auction was the top earner of the event, the “Ides of March” Denarius. This coin was struck by Marcus Junius Brutus to celebrate Caesar’s assassination in 42 BC. No wonder the silver coin fetched $546,250. Apparently, there were pre-auction doubts about whether the famous coin could be this successful. However, David Michaels, Director of Ancient Coins at Heritage, said that the final price put to rest these speculations and “confirmed the expectations of Heritage’s experts”.
Bidders also competed furiously for a Marc Antony and Octavian aureus that went for $80,500. Rare coins from Africa, Mexico and Great Britain also featured at this numismatic auction. The success of the Long Beach event will definitely prove a big boost for Heritage Auctions as it prepares for its NYINC auction, which is scheduled for January 2011.