Although the U.S. equity markets have been in a nosedive for months, it is clear that some investors and collectors remain little affected by the recent stock market collapse and have money to set for aside a timeless store of wealth. The market for the nation’s richest classic rarities has been very active indeed.
The world famous “King of Siam” proof set has recently changed hands for the first time since January 1993, selling for an all-time record price well in excess of $4 million. The set was originally a gift from the United States to the King of Siam over 165 years ago and remains intact as a set today. It contains one of the eight original “Class I” 1804 silver dollars, along with other numismatic classics struck in 1834. Although the exact sell price was undisclosed, it was reported by those involved in the transaction to be much more than the $4.14 million that the “Childs” 1804 silver dollar realized at public auction in 1999.
This very famous set of numismatic treasures has a rich history. The set was minted sometime in late 1834, sent on a voyage aboard the USS Peacock in 1835, and arrived in Siam in early 1836 where it was presented to King Ph’ra Klao of Siam. There it remained in the Royal Family for generations. It is believed to have been in the possession of Anna Leonowens of “Anna and the King” fame after a liaison with King Rama V, a successor to the throne of Siam. Through Anna the set made its way to London and was sold in 1950 by two women reported to be descendents of Anna. There the set remained until an American collector purchased it in 1979 and brought it back to America. The famed set was later displayed at the Smithsonian in 1983 and the legend began to grow. Today this set is prized and appreciated by collectors and investors with many of the industry’s top experts predicting it will be the numismatic treasure to top the $10 million mark!
As if the excitement that the above transaction caused wasn’t enough to last the summer months, a second rarity grew wings and soared to record levels. The famous 1913 Proof Liberty Nickel, the coin known as “The Coin That Built An Industry,” hammered at an astounding $1.84 million. The nickel previously sold for $1.4 to a collector and fund manager from Kansas City at public auction in 1996, and was the first coin to ever sell at auction for more than $1 million.
The proud new owner is Dwight Manley, a Newport Beach sports agent, who actually bought another 1913 Liberty Nickel for less than $1 million eight years ago. But according to Manley, that coin wasn’t in nearly as good condition as this gem PR66. “I sold it for $1 million shortly after I bought it,” said Manley. But this coin, he says, is “a keeper” and he intends to keep it in his collection, at least until someone wants to pay $3 million! He went on to say, “This is one of the most famous coins in the world. It’s sold only two times at auction in last ninety years. If I didn’t get it now, I probably wouldn’t get another opportunity.”
Manley is so proud of the coin he actually spent another $50,000 to build a display to share the coin with the numismatic community at some of the more important coin expositions in the country. Its first showing was at the recent Long Beach Coin Expo in Long Beach, CA, and I was amazed at the public attention this display received. Due to the 1913 Nickel display, and the traveling museum exhibit of the SS Central America artifacts along with it, the Expo set an incredible public attendance record.
The sale of these important numismatic treasures is proof that there is plenty of attention being showered upon the coin market. With the economic turmoil and the current state of the equity markets, I look for the coin market to gain even more momentum in the coming months.