Friday, May 1, 2009

Adams-Carter 1804 $1 brings $2.3M, Halperin Twittters, and Platinum Night is a rousing success

May 1, 2009
Posted by Noah

$2.3M on a $1 coin? That’s like, what, a return of 2.3M%? Where can I get odds like that?

In all seriousness, it is after midnight as I write this and I just spent the night glued to my computer watching the “dramatic” unfolding of the CSNS Platinum Night Auction and the selling of the Adams Carter Class III 1804 $1, which did indeed bring $2.3. Either coin collecting has gotten amazingly cool – as in I’m such a cool guy – or I’ve lost all perspective on what coolness means. I guess I’d have to go with the latter, though I know all of you would heartily disagree and insist on the former…

It was indeed a good night, with the total topping $32M for the session and more than $35 for the overall event, and there are still more sessions coming. It’s looking good. If you didn’t follow Jim Halperin’s Twittering throughout the night you missed some good fun. He’s a natural for it, and he’s got the charisma to make it interesting in the voyeuristic way that makes Twitter such a guilty pleasure. Here’s a sample:

“Platinum Night just ended. Coin auction at $32,979,089 with 4 sessions to go, plus Currency, so we should break $40 million. Not too shabby.”

“John Albanese on his $2.3 million 1804 $1: 'I don't drink, I don't smoke, so I needed a coin fix, and this will satisfy me for a while.'”

Given that I can’t really speak with any authority on the real meaning of coins, I’m going to turn it over to John Dale, who relays a true inside understanding and excitement about the event:

“It's past midnight in Cincinnati and past 11 p.m. in Texas, but I might have trouble getting to sleep tonight. I just finished watching a bit of numismatic history.

“First things first: $2 million hammer price on the 1804 dollar, $2.3 million with buyer's premium. It's Heritage's fifth multi-million-dollar coin sold at auction, and though all the action was online, there was still plenty of excitement, a Digital Age version of the mail bidder against the floor bidder.

“A HERITAGE Live! participant, seeing a starting bid of $1.7 million established by an Internet bidder, put up a digital paddle twice, the second time a cut bid at $1.95 million. The Internet bidder was willing to bid $2 million, though, and the Heritage Live bidder didn't jump in for another full increment. The lot was hammered down, and the sale moved on, but not before some clapping.

“Walking into that room, then, there was an auction record set for a Class III 1804 dollar; the previous record, set back in 2003 by the same coin, was just more than $1.2 million including buyer's premium, so a minimum hammer price of $1.7 million was going to blow that figure out of the water.

“(Auctioneer) Bob Merrill also moved even higher on my Cool People list when he paused the action just before the 1804 dollar.

Mark Borckardt, the "missing name" in my earlier post about the 1804 dollar, is the Senior Cataloger at Heritage, someone who's up there on the aforementioned Cool People list, and was in attendance. Bob took time to point him out and start a round of applause, praising Mark as the best in the business. I sat at home, watching and listening, and I smiled a little. Two more decades in the business, and maybe I'll get where he is... maybe. Beyond the obvious, the expertise that comes from being a professional numismatist for more than half one's life, Mark has a level of innate numismatic talent that leaves me in awe. Oh, yes, and he's a better bowler than I'll ever be.

“Back to the auction proper. As impressive as the 1804 dollar's showing was, the Platinum Night offering was more than just the 1804 dollar and a bunch of backup singers. Platinum Night hauled in more than $27.4 million, meaning that even if one were to take away the 1804 dollar, it would still be a $25 million session. There's plenty of money out there to buy the best coins, and many bidders took opportunities when they saw them. Of course, the auction is far from over, and judging from the bidding on a few of the lots yet to come, it seems as if they would've been right at home in Platinum Night. It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out...and how the news wires respond.”

Thanks John Dale! FYI, AP has already picked up the story, it has appeared in Texas, Ohio and New Jersey, so it should break nationally today, if it hasn’t already by the time this gets posted.

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-Noah Fleisher and John Dale Beety

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