Welcome to Steve's blog, sharing stories of his professional coin career, 1963 to date. Enjoy stories of Steve's numismatic journey.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thrill of the Chase (Part 2)

In 1987 I was running a shop in the Portland, Oregon area.  Mrs. Norweb had passed away and her collection was to be auctioned off by Bowers & Merena.

The previous post briefly describes the amazing Norweb Collection, assembled by three generations of astute and dedicated collectors.  Mrs. Norweb was one of the great coin collectors of all time - she had a great eye for beauty and detail.  Under her guiding hand beautiful and rare specimens enhanced the depth and breadth of the family holdings.

Norweb Collecton Part II
March 1988
Bowers & Merena sold the Norweb U.S. coins during auctions held in November 1987, March 1988 and November 1988.  I attended the first two of these auctions.  Other portions of the Norweb collection were auctioned separately.

Perusing the pre-auction catalogs with great enthusiasm, it was easy to recognize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity these auctions provided.  I discussed the opportunity with my advanced customers, and together we formulated a plan. 

I arrive at the auction armed with big customer want lists and a wish list for inventory.  Most of the major dealers are there on behalf of themselves and their clients.  Lots of important collectors are also present.  It’s dog eat dog; bidding is ferocious. 

I dive into the melee with aggressive intent and keep battling until the dust settles, coming away from the auctions with a small selection of very nice coins.  A few lucky customers had want list dreams fulfilled.

Several of these customers still have their Norweb coins, while others have sold collections at auction.  The Norweb pieces have brought phenomenal prices.  Let’s talk about two of the Norweb coins I helped buy and sell.

Albert F. Holden
1800 Half Cent, described in the Norweb catalog as MS-60 or better.  This piece was from the Major Richard Lambert Collection, purchased by Albert Holden (Mrs. Norweb's father) from a Chapman sale in 1910.  I paid $1,500 (plus buyer’s fee) for the piece.

The coin was a beautiful light brown with sharp detail, later certified by NGC as MS-64 Brown.  A noted Half Cent collector inquired on a yearly basis if the new owner was willing to sell the coin.  The coin was later auctioned, selling for about $4,500.*

1878-CC Trade Dollar, described by the Norweb auction catalog as MS-63.  1878-CC is often considered the rarest Trade Dollar issue, edging out the 1873-CC.

This was a beautiful light toned gem with minimum marks, ultimately holdered as NGC MS-63, which I felt was conservative. 

When this lot came up for sale at the Norweb auction, it was midnight and only a handful of bidders remained in the room.  Most were waiting for 1884 and 1885 Trade Dollar rarities.  I stealthily bid $8,000 (plus buyer’s fee) and took this lot away.

This coin was later auctioned for about $27,500.*

A great pedigree adds extra value.  If you have a chance to procure an item with a pedigree, you get the coin and some of the story about where the piece has been.  Just another interesting angle of coin collecting!

* It has been 5 - 9 years since these coins were sold at auction, and I no longer have exact details of transactions at hand.  Online auction records are incomplete.

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