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A Landmark Event In Australian Numismatics - Pacific Rim Online Auction #3

You may or may not be aware of it, but there was a landmark event in Australian numismatics in late June 2012 - it was the first major online auction of a comprehensive collection of PCGS-graded Commonwealth coins in superb quality.

Initial estimates show that Pacific Rim Online Auctions Number 3 generated over $800,000 in sales - all in about four hours no less! This auction was notable for a number of reasons:

  • It was conducted entirely online - a printed catalogue was not made available;
  • With a very few exceptions, each and every coin in the auction had been graded by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS);
  • The auction was comprised entirely of an important collection of Australian Commonwealth coins from just one vendor;
  • The auction included many “condition rarity” coins, (as presently assessed by PCGS) - in numerous cases, these coins were the finest of their date to been seen in a number of years;
  • Many new prices were set as a result of a combination of the above four factors.

Most collectors will be more interested in hearing about the record prices rather than the economic consequences of the auction, so we’ll get onto them first. Let me preface these figures with a warning - if you are holding a small child, are drinking cup of hot coffee or believe you may be prone to irrational shouting and are presently in a public place, please take preventative measures to ensure that you don’t do yourself or a loved one an injury when you react to these figures!

RANK LOT DESCRIPTION START PRICE HIGH BID NETT PRICE GRADE %
1 122 1955 Penny  $100.00 $2,000.00 $2,300.00 PCGS MS65RD 2200%
2 121 1953 Perth Penny  $100.00 $1,200.00 $1,380.00 PCGS MS64RB 1280%
3 169 1943S Threepence  $250.00 $2,000.00 $2,300.00 PCGS MS65 820%
4 84 1952 Shilling  $50.00 $375.00 $431.25 PCGS MS64+ 763%
5 127 1958 Penny  $75.00 $505.00 $580.75 PCGS MS64RD 674%
6 161 1939 Threepence  $500.00 $3,250.00 $3,737.50 PCGS MS66 648%
7 155 1928 Threepence  $1,000.00 $6,250.00 $7,187.50 PCGS MS66 619%
8 32 1946 Sixpence $500.00 $2,800.00 $3,220.00 PCGS MS66   544%
9 48 1951 London Halfpenny  $100.00 $550.00 $632.50 PCGS MS65RD 533%
10 59 1964 Halfpenny  $25.00 $125.00 $143.75 PCGS MS65RB 475%

How’s about that - a “humble” 1955 penny that makes no less than 22 times the start price! Or the 1953 Perth penny that made nigh on 13 times it’s opening price! The 1943-S threepence that sold for $2,300!!! Please keep in mind that these comparisons are only between the nett price paid and the start price - the strength of these prices are even more evident when compared to the figures achieved by near-comparable coins in recent years. (I assert that if “fantastic-er” can be a word, then I assert that “near-comparable” can be one also.)

Top 10 Commonwealth Coins by Dollar Value

RANK LOT DESCRIPTION START PRICE HIGH BID NETT PRICE GRADE %
1 71 1920 Plain Penny  $40,000.00 $75,000.00 $86,250.00 PCGS MS64RB 116%
2 101 1914H Florin  $25,000.00 $50,000.00 $57,500.00 PCGS MS64 130%
3 84 1930 Penny  $35,000.00 $35,000.00 $40,250.00 PCGS EF40 15%
4 102 1915 Florin  $25,000.00 $33,000.00 $37,950.00 PCGS MS64 52%
5 79 1925 Penny  $25,000.00 $25,000.00 $28,750.00 PCGS MS63RB 15%
6 157 1933/34Threepence  $8,000.00 $25,000.00 $28,750.00 PCGS MS66 259%
7 116a 1933 Florin  $25,000.00 $25,000.00 $28,750.00 PCGS MS64Plus 15%
8 60 1921 Star Shilling  $20,000.00 $20,000.00 $23,000.00 PCGS MS64 15%
9 9 1918 Halfpenny  $7,500.00 $12,500.00 $14,375.00 PCGS MS64RB 92%
10 11 1922 Sixpence $5,000.00 $12,500.00 $14,375.00 PCGS MS65 188%

There should be no surprises here - the 1920 “Plain” penny has been known to be a rarity by all discerning Commonwealth collectors since the dawn of time; even folks in the general public are aware that the 1930 penny is a rare coin; anyone that has built date sets of Commonwealth coins in any grade will know that the 1914-H and 1915 florins, as well as the 1925 penny are rare in superior grade.

The record price of $28,750 for the 1933/34 overdate threepence was just as astonishing as the $7,200 paid for the 1928 threepence, but perhaps not as astonishing as the $7,200 paid for the 1910 sixpence!

If you have even a passing interest in Australian Commonwealth coins, you owe it to yourself to survey the lie of the land and review the prices realised of this auction - you can be assured that many competing collectors are doing exactly that as you read this.

I expect it’ll take you a fair bit of time to peruse the listed coins and the prices realised, so I’m going to leave my comments on what this auction (may / should / does) mean for the Australian numismatic market to another article.

Feel free to post your thoughts / reaction to the auction results in the comments field below, I’m extremely interested to hear what other collectors have to say.

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Comments (7)

Comments

Bruce, Thanks for your comment on our website.

There were probably two factors driving the prices achieved in that auction - not only were the really high graded coins obviously in high grade, but the collectors chasing them were even more keen than they would have otherwise been due to the fact that adding those "condition rarities" (ie finest known to PCGS to date) would increase their set's standing within the PCGS registry set system.

Although you or I or any other collector may take issue with the grades assigned to certain PCGS-graded coins, there are obviously many more collectors out there that have no such qualms.

There will always be demand for attractive coins, no matter whether they have been graded by PCGS, NGC or are in fact "raw", I don't see PCGS grading defining the entire market for Australian coins, however the impact they've had to date certainly indicates they influence values at the top end of the market at the very least.

Many comparable coins have been advertised before and since that auction that have not achieved similar prices - partly because they have not been PCGS graded, partly because they were not offered via auction. That certainly doesn't mean there's a Clayton's market going on - real money has changed hands for real coins, make no mistake.

While I'm pleased that you have confidence in the Commonwealth Coin booklet that ANDA issued some years ago, I do want to point out that it isn't a standard but a guide to grading coins. It was intended to give collectors information they can use to gain their own understanding about how to grade Commonwealth coins, not as a guide that ANDA members must adhere to when grading.

As you say, unattractively toned coins are not much chop, even when they're in a PCGS slab.

- andrew

Hello,
Please note I have entered your homepage as I do not have one of my own. The comment I am submitting is below:

Dear Andrew,
I tend to agree that the auction did appear to attract bidding battles between some buyers who were intent on purchasing the highest PCGS graded coins. I imagine the prestige associated with such an honour is attractive to the buyers. But personally, I did not find several of these highest graded coins to be attractive. Some were quite unattractively toned IMO. I am not sure of what to make of this, in terms of what it means about numismatics. It is almost as if there is a separate and new discipline of coin collecting where the PCGS grading of the coin is the key criterion, rather than the actual quality of the coin. I can't help wondering what the coins would have fetched if they had been listed as GEMs by Mr. Buesnell. All up, I suspect the outcome of the auction is good for the market, but is it a Clayton's market now? I for one am still attracted to the better graded coins by Australian (ANDA) standards. This is mainly because a truly GEM coin makes me salivate with envy as I admire the beauty and detail of excellence. I'm afraid an unattractively toned coin just doesn't do it for me, even if it does have the PCGS badge.
Regards,
Bruce

- Bruce Jackson

Dear Andrew,

Further to my reply on Mr Wayne Borg's delightfully successful result in selling his collection (or part thereof) of Commonwealth Pre-Decimal coins, I would like to clarify that just because coins are slabbed and graded by US(American0, (so called) independent grading services, and quoted as "the highest graded", or "second or third highest" and the like; these somewhat missleading statements (as there are more than likely better coins in privately owned collections) are designed to impress and excite the naive and/or "numbscull" collectors out there with more money than sense. It seems to me that collectors that purchase slab graded coins at ridiculously high prices, have no idea on grading standards and rely solely on the certification created by the given US(American) grading service.

Well, with 50 years of numismatic collecting under my belt, I know how to grade, and although I also have purchased slabbed coins at some stage, the purchase price was ALWAYS established on the grade based on our "Aussie" adjectival system to which there are several price indicative reference catalogues available. All slabbed coins that I have purchased have subsequently been removed from the slabs and in most cases re-graded accordingly. The certification means absolutely nothing unless the coin itself can stand on its own merit. Anyone that has any incling on grading the Australian Commonwealth series will look at the item and take no notice of the certificate; if the two views happen to concur them it is simple to establish a value. If (as in almost all cases that I have observed) the slab grade is higher than the coin merits, then it would be doing a great disservice to a prospective purchaser (who one day may become a vendor) to offer the item at a higher price based on perception and dellusion. Afterall, can someone please show me a legitimate and professionally accepted value reference for slabbed grades ranging from 1 (being POOR) to 70 (being FDC)? This would help enormously in validating pricing, hence bonefied sales; providing the numerical grading is accurate.

Finally, to Mr Borg; I challenge his personal attack(but take no offence) on me, on my numismatic experience and my numismatic acquisitions. I know what his collection looks like because it is of public record. He has no idea what my standards are relating to numismatic collecting as he has not witnessed my holdings (nor will he ever), but I can with emphatic certainty assure this gentleman that his lovely collection barely equates to the tip of the iceberg by comparison.

Ignorance can often stir up confusion.

As always, kindest regards,

Carlo D'Angio

- Carlo

Dear Andrew,

How does it feel being stuck as the meat in the sandwich....

It seems obvious to me that my comments have struck a nerve with Mr Wayne Borg. Although my comments were meant just to be "thrown out there", it seems that Mr Borg has taken them personally and attacked my integrity in numismatics. Well, you know me well enough to make your own conclusion on this matter. Perhaps Mr Borg needs to calm down and not assume his collection was the "be all and end all" of pre-decimal acquisitions. I am happy for the gentleman's success (allbeit overrated) as it has sent a strong (but somewhat narrow-minded) message to the numismatic fraternity that high grade pre-decimal coinage is more than holding its own. I welcome this as his auction result has most definitely sent me laughing "all the way to the bank".

"Stick and Stones......" :-)

Kind regards,

Carlo

- Carlo

Dear Andrew,

I read Carlo's comments on the hugely successful Auction #3 conducted by Chris Buesnell of Pacific Rim Coins.

I must say I was a little amazed at Carlo's public declaration of stupidty. It is obvious that Carlo has no clue as to where the market is for Commonwealth Coins nor does he understand why these price levels are being achieved.

One only has to look at some of the prices being achieved on eBay for PCGS high graded C'wealth Coins including a 36 shilling in MS66 which had 18 bidders and achieved $2,950.00 on the 18th June. I must admit I was a little in awe at the price myself. I guess there were 18 more numbskulls, to use Carlo's discription of buyers that pay high prices for high grade coins.

I dont think anyone could argue that Chris Buesnell is synonymous with C'weath coins and is recognised in the Industry as such. Chris has always had a large client base for this series and particularly in high quality. The advent of grading has given current buyers more confidence when buying expensive coins. Whether the Industry likes it or not, the energy and money for this series is going to high graded coins and predominantly those of PCGS.

Chris is eminently aware of what prices can be achieved for high graded C'wealth coins and set the opening bids accordingly. All the bidders,(sorry numbskulls), new where each of the coins stood in population reports by the grading houses because that's where they look these days to see the rarity of coins in high grade. This sort of info empowers the bidders without relying on what a dealer believes the rarity is for a particular date in high grade.

Carlo's "tell him he is dreaming" comment on the opening bids shows how naive he really is when it comes to this series. The days of slipping sliders into customers are coming to an abrupt end. I would find it hard to believe that Carlo could be "laughing all the way to the bank" or finding him self involved with "the emergence of a new trend of instant wealth" when he has no idea of the market and refers to bidders as numbskulls.

As you know I am the Vendor of the collection and can categorically state that there was nothing manufactured or contrived about the auction. The buyers got some of the equal to if not the highest graded C'wealth coins on record and I have been paid in full. If Carlo had enough brains he would have looked at the correlation between the performances of high graded coins and coins grading MS62 or MS63 before making his stupid comments. The lower graded coins had lower opening bids and some did not sell at the auction. Maybe Carlo should have bought these coins to add some higher grade material to his stock.

I would like to thank Chris Buesnell for the great result he achieved with this auction and I hope that all the buyers get as much enjoyment out of the coins as I did over the years

Rds

Wayne Borg

- Wayne Borg

Dear Andrew,

Indeed I was following this auction with great interest since I was made aware of it prior to its initiation. The initial estimates were "tell him he's dreaming" categories, let alone the "apparent" realisation prices !!!!

I must admit, if this auction does, in fact, set some sort of precedent in numismatics, I am laughing all the way to the bank, as would many top dealers like your good self.

Alas, I get the feeling that it could be a manufactured attempt to blow out values and generate greater interest in overseas slabbing of Aussie coins. If this is the case, this artificiality (is this a word?) will inevitably cause a numismatic correction (much like what happened with the 1930 penny when Kurt Jaggard made the statement that it would break through 20K barrier; quite some years ago now)

On the other hand, if numbsculls like the fellow that purchased half of the auction realised lots happens to clone him/herself, we could see the emergence of a new trend of instant wealth.

:-) ? :-(

Carlo

- Carlo D'Angio

Those high prices?

Look at the black and blue tone on most of these coins, Andrew.

I am pretty sure it is the Carbon Tax.

- Klaus Ford