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Hawaiian coins robust
By Steve Roach

The market for Hawaiian coins is robust, especially for the rare Proof issues, as evidenced by the strong results of the Sept. 7 auction of a collection of Hawaiian coins offered by Larry and Ira Goldberg Auctioneers in conjunction with Stack's.

The collection, described in the catalog as "the most extensive ever to appear at auction or elsewhere in the history of American numismatics," offered a wide range of Hawaiian issues, of varying quality, rarity and price levels.

As background, five official coins were issued for the Kingdom of Hawaii. The 1847 cent was produced in Massachusetts and issued by King Kamehameha III. The 1883 production of dimes, quarter dollars, half dollars and dollars of King Kalakaua I bear a portrait by Charles Barber and were produced at the San Francisco Mint.

This series is often collected by U.S. collectors, and most of the circulation issues offered brought strong prices above their estimates.

Because many U.S. dealers are unfamiliar with the Hawaiian series, it has been an area where counterfeiters have been active recently, casting a slight question mark on the market as collectors have been rightfully suspicious of uncertified Hawaiian coins.

The connoisseurship evident in the strong prices for the rare Proofs carried forward to the top Uncirculated issues, with two coins of the same grade often achieving wildly different prices.

Lot 1373, an 1883 10-cent coin that Numismatic Guaranty Corp. graded Mint State 65 went for $3,450 while the next lot, with the same grade, sold for $7,188. A toned 1883 Hawaiian dollar Professional Coin Grading Service graded at MS-64 realized $8,913, an NGC MS-64 example brought $9,200, and a brilliant untoned piece grading PCGS MS-63 sold for $13,225.

More than 50 1928 Hawaiian Sesquicentennial commemorative half dollars were offered, traditionally an expensive issue. The selection offered a cross-section from MS-65 to polished About Uncirculated 50, and they sold at prices comparable to other recent sales.

However, the recent influx of these halves on the market may make it a good time to buy one.


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