The Wexford Collection
By Doug Winter
Itís a rainy Monday
morning here in Portland and the sudden lack of
sunshine is leaving me highly unmotivated. To
try and shake out the cobwebs, Iím going to
touch on a few miscellaneous topics of interest.
If I were a syndicated folksy newspaper
columnist, Iíd call this Monday Morniní Musings.
Lucky for you, Iím not.
Sales of the Wexford Collection of Dahlonega
Coinage have been excellent with close to
$500,000 placed within the first few weeks of
being posted on my website. I have noted a few
definite trends thus far.
I have been surprised (but not shocked) by the
extreme popularity of the key dates in this
collection. One of things that was especially
nifty about the Wexford coins was that nearly
all the key Dahlonega issues were present and,
for the most part, they were extremely nice. I
could have sold half a dozen examples of the
1861-D gold dollar in PCGS AU55 and probably
even more examples of the 1838-D half eagle in
While many of the coins were bought by existing
clients, I did sell coins to at least two brand
new people including one who had never bought a
Two other observations can be gleaned from the
first few weeks of sales. The first is that the
Dahlonega quarter eagle series is clearly alive
and well. I sold a number of expensive, key
issues to serious collectors. The second is that
gold dollars are a little weaker than I would
have expected. I did sell the three most
expensive gold dollars in the set but other
examples, including a few that I felt would sell
quickly, have not yet found new homes.
One last thing. In my rush to get the coins
cataloged and imaged and out on the web for a
few days before I took them to the ANA show, I
didnít have time to fully research them. It
turns out that the 1840-D quarter eagle is the
ex: James Stack coin while the 1856-D quarter
eagle was formerly in the Bass collection. The
new owners of each coin were quickly able to
deduce this and I congratulate them on these
terrific new additions to their collections.
Iíve been asked by a number of collectors how I
think CAC is affecting the coin market. I canít
really speak for areas like Indian Cents or
Buffalo Nickels but I think CAC is having a very
strong affect on selected areas of the United
States gold coin market.
In my experience, CAC is extremely tough on
generic issues, especially common date Saint
Gaudens double eagles. I have heard of dealers
sending groups of 25 or 50 common date Saints in
MS65 to CAC and having as few as two or three
stickered. Because of this fact, MS65 and better
Saints with CAC stickers are currently trading
for significant premiums.
Another area that is definitely being affected
by CAC is early gold. CDN Bids for early gold
are continuing to go up but these bids are
posted by John Albanese and are reflective of
only CAC quality coins.
What this has done to the early gold market is
to make it, effectively, two-tiered. As an
example, Johnís current bid for an 1812 half
eagle in MS62 is $15,000. My guess is that a
really nice, CAC-quality MS62 is pretty easy to
sell for $15,000-16,000 on a wholesale level and
might be worth as much as $17,500-18,500 on a
retail level. But a nasty, overgraded MS62
example of the same date is not going to be of
interest to John (or any other quality-oriented
CAC dealer) at $15,000; it is more likely a coin
with a wholesale value of $13,000-14,000. What
the challenge for buyers of coins of coins like
this is to determine which 1812 half eagle in
MS62 is ultimately worth $13,000 and which one
is worth $16,000+.
Speaking of early gold, Iíve had a few people
ask me lately if they feel that prices on this
material are going to continue to rise in the
coming year. My answer to this is ďyes but with
As I mentioned above, the early gold market is
becoming much more selective; partially on
account of CAC. If coins like the aforementioned
1812 half eagle in MS62 are going to continue to
bring these strong new price levels (remember,
this is an issue that was trading for
$8,000-9,000 just three years ago) they have to
be very solid for the grade. By this, I donít
mean that every 1812 half eagle in an MS62 has
to be an upgrade candidate. But for me (or John
Albanese or whoever else) to pay $15,000 for
one, it has to have good luster, a lack of
significant wear or rub, nice color and a
reasonably pleasing overall appearance.
I believe that there are certain areas of the
early gold market that have become very pricey.
For me to pay $35,000 for a 1799 eagle in MS61,
it has got to be a nice coin that I feel is
really ďnew.Ē If it is recolored, obviously
worn, full of unsightly hairlines or covered
with goop, Iím out at the current price levels.
Same goes with Heraldic Eagle and Capped Bust
Left half eagles in AU55 to MS64. If they arenít
really solid, original coins then I have a hard
time liking them at current levels.
Conversely, there are other areas of the early
gold market that I still like. As you no doubt
know, I am a big fan of nearly all early quarter
eagles, especially the Draped Bust series of
1821-1827 and the ďmini-Fat HeadsĒ of 1829-1834.
And despite very strong price advances in recent
years, I still feel that the half eagles of
1813-1834 form one of the most interesting and
exciting series of United States coins for
collectors with large budgets.
Most importantly, the demand for early gold
remains strong. In addition to many avid
collectors, there are a few coin funds that love
early gold and they are continuing to buy it as
long as the coins are ďall there.Ē