$1.6 million for an ounce of gold? If your grandparents or great-grandparents would have known that those $20 gold coins in circulation one hundred years ago would be worth $100,000, $500,000, or $1 million. Do you think they would have looked at them differently? Would they have had the foresight to set aside a few?
Well, fast forward to the 21st century and that is exactly what the market holds for these great numismatic treasures. In fact, earlier this year a one-ounce gold coin from 1933 sold for a numismatic record $19 million.
Further, thirty-three years ago this month, I watched U.S. Ambassador Norweb’s collection sell and in it a rare 1861 Paquet $20 gold coin set a world record for a U.S. minted coin. It sold for $660,000. Having dinner later that night, six young brash coin nerds laughed and talked about how coins were going to sell for $1,000,000 someday soon.
New York Times, Nov. 27, 1988
“A rare 19th-century gold piece was hammered down for $600,000 at the third and final segment of the Norweb Sale held on Nov. 15 in New York City. With the 10-percent buyer’s fee, its total cost came to $660,000, the fourth-highest price paid at auction for a single coin.
The coin was a Mint State-67 specimen of the 1861 Paquet double eagle or $20 gold piece. Only two examples are known, and this was the finer of the pair. It was purchased by the MTB Banking Corporation of New York, the nation’s largest private dealer in rare coins, precious metals and foreign currencies.” – Note: This record setting $20 Type I double eagle sold in 2004 for $2,000,000, and again this year August 22, 2021, for $7.2 million
Today, 33 years later, I find myself reminiscing about the many million-dollar coins I have personally bought and sold, and I can’t even begin to keep track. Last night’s sale confirms that bidding remains brisk as major rarities set new records and continue to lead the market higher. The highlight of the night, an 1870 Carson City minted Double Eagle graded AU53 by PCGS sold for $1,620,000. The same cion was last seen in March 2014 when it sold for $411,250. Last nights $1.6 is a record for this highly desirable key date double eagle. I watched with an eyebrow raised as this Carson City rarity set a record. I was reflecting on the AU55 (finest graded) I sold eighteen years ago for a then record of $750,000. I thought what that coin may bring today, $2,000,000, $3,000,000, or more. Who knows?
For newcomers, these points are new and mind boggling, but for me they are not. I will keep doing what I have done for 35 years and that is pursue interesting rarities. As for what a collector or investor should be doing, well that is for them to decide. But I believe we will see a major move upward in values in the next few years as the financial uncertainties continue to manifest themselves. The policies of central banks around the world and the coming stagflation should drive big money to continue their pursuit of a private, tangible storage of wealth.