Remember when LVA's coins sold?

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DHalladay
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Location: Boise, ID area

Remember when LVA's coins sold?

Post by DHalladay » Mon Apr 17, 2023 8:30 pm

The annual Central States Numismatic Society show and sale is fast approaching at the end of this month – and is a reminder that it has somehow been 15 years since a landmark event in the VAM collecting world took place.

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Everyone who was a VAM collector in 2008 knew that the Central States Numismatic Society sale held April 16-17-18 by Heritage Auctions was a “you’ll never see this again” event. That’s because it featured 10 Morgans and one Peace dollar from the personal collection of Leroy Van Allen – a Mt. Rushmore VAM pedigree that appeared on all 10 of the coins graded by PCGS.

The timing of the sale was awful, coming at the beginning of what history now calls the Great Recession. Even so, bidders pushed most of the 11 hammer prices to levels never seen before – and some have not been seen since. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire an attributed link to the co-founder of VAMs – a situation that saw the old adage, “Buy the coin, not the holder” go out the window. Bidders did not hold back.

Fifteen years later, it is obvious that the coins continue to be held near and dear to the hearts of their buyers. Serial number checks at PCGS show that perhaps only one of the LVA-pedigreed coins has been re-sold at auction since, and the buyer of the ANACS coin says he still has it.

Here is a look at the 11 Leroy Van Allen coins that sold:

1878-P 8TF VAM 9 ANACS MS62DMPL Presentation Piece – sold for $11,494.25

This is literally one of the first 12 Morgan dollars ever made, having been struck during the first day of ceremonial coining that was set aside for making speeches and presentation pieces. It is one of four LVA coins in the auction that realized more than $10,000 and its hammer price set a new VAM 9 record at the time. Today it ranks #2 all time for VAM 9s in the VAMview Index of Prices Realized, behind Van Allen’s ANACS MS64DMPL Presentation Piece that Heritage sold six weeks after the 62DMPL.

1878-P 8TF VAM 14.7 “Flake on Ear” PCGS MS62PL – sold for $13,800
Although it is little known outside of VAM circles, 14.7 was and still is an ultra-rare 8TF variety. Curiously, in Mint State grades it appears in PL or DMPL far more often than in non-PL/DMPL. This coin was just the second 14.7 in any grade known to the Index at the time of the sale and it nearly doubled the then-record price (which was for a PCGS-63PL in a private party sale). The winning bid for LVA’s coin set a record that still stands.

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1880-P VAM 6 “Spikes” PCGS MS64 – sold for $12,650
Although PCGS has now attributed over 200 VAM 6 in all grades, this coin was pop 1/0 in 2008 and Mint State examples had rarely come to market in any grade. This coin was 2 points higher than the next highest VAM 6 in the Index and its winning bid was breathtaking: almost 15 times higher than the previous record. An April 2022 check of its serial number at the PCGS website shows it is no longer an active number, perhaps because it was broken out and tried for an upgrade, or it was sent to another grading company for crossover.

1880-P VAM 7 “Crossbar” PCGS AU50 – sold for $1,265
VAM 7s in 2008 were scarce in general and exceedingly rare in Mint State – so much so that there were no previous MS sales in the Index. Several XF45s had sold for $500 or more and the AU50 record was $625. Thus, it seems clear that the 100% premium for this coin was because of the LVA pedigree.

1884-P VAM 4 “Small Dot” PCGS MS64 – sold for $1,380
There is no way to sugar-coat the bidding on this coin: it got absurdly out of hand. VAM 4 was not rare at the time of the sale and is it not rare now by any stretch of the imagination. At the time, the record high in the Index for a VAM 4 was $403 for an MS64, and nearly all Mint State examples had sold for $100 to $200. But as the saying goes, just about anything can happen in an auction when two or more determined bidders are involved.

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1888-O VAM 1B “Scarface” (stage H-10) PCGS MS62 – sold for $8,912.50
Scarface was already a high-profile variety in 2008 that enjoyed strong crossover demand from non-VAM collectors. No circulated examples had yet appeared at public auction and the majority of sales in the Index were for MS62s. This coin set a new price record for the grade and it barely missed (by just $47) matching the overall record held by an MS63.

1888-O VAM 4 “Hot Lips” PCGS MS60DMPL – sold for $25,300
Just one Mint State Hot Lips was known in 2008 (a 61) and most AU58 examples in the Index had sold for $8,000 to $12,000. Thus, the appearance of a Mint State DMPL was startling for the VAM community. It is still the only PL or DMPL ever certified by PCGS. The record price for any Hot Lips at the time was $12,000. This coin has held the record ever since – and the winner says he was prepared to go much higher. The second highest VAM 4 price today is a distant $12,925.

1888-O VAM 4 “Hot Lips” PCGS AU55 – sold for $3,737.50
If there was one LVA coin in the auction that was a bargain at the time, this seemed to be it. There are two reasons. First, a case can be made that it is the most historic of all VAMs: Van Allen has said it was his first variety coin, the one that started everything. Second, the price at the time was reasonable. Seventeen previous AU55 sales were already in the Index, one at a record of $5,060 that still stands for the grade. Since then, 80 more coins in AU55 to MS62 have been sold… and prices have plunged. Today, $3,737 might get you three or four AU55s – but this coin will likely never be one of them.

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1891-CC Partial Collar Strike PCGS MS64 (unattributed VAM 3 “Spitting Eagle”) – sold for $2,073.45
VAM 3s (this coin is not a VAM 7) have always been simple to find. Although not listed on the holder where the information might have generated more bids, it is unlikely that the coin’s “Spitting Eagle” feature went unnoticed by VAM collectors who made their way back to the errors section of the auction catalog. Only one MS64 VAM 3 that was not in a GSA holder had sold for more than this coin at the time of the sale, but several more have done so since.

1903-S VAM 2 “Micro-S” PCGS XF40 – sold for $2,990
Micro-S have been popular in all grades for many years. Prices take a big jump in AU, which tends to make Extra Fine the target grade for many collectors. Van Allen told me he learned about this variety in the 1963 book by F.X. Klaes, “Die Varieties of Morgan Silver Dollars”, and he found this coin in the mid- to late-1960s while going through bags of circulated Morgans. The $2,990 winning bid set a record for the grade at the time, although it has been broken a few times since. Of the 11 LVA pedigreed coins in the auction, this is the only one that PCGS shows has been sold again, in a Heritage auction six years later for $1,293.

1922-P Peace Dollar VAM 2A “Earring” PCGS MS64 – sold for $4,025
The VAMview Index of Prices Realized has minimal price data for Peace dollars, so I am unable to offer many comments about this coin. The current PCGS-64 population is 8 (with 4 higher), and this coin holds the all-time high VAM 2A price record at Heritage, well ahead of the second high price of $2,530.

Eleven very special coins. Some remarkable varieties. Some remarkable grades. Every collector who has been lucky enough to make a new VAM discovery cherishes their letter of congratulations from Leroy Van Allen as a “bucket list” achievement. But these 11 coins are something infinitely more. Their significance far eclipses simply being VAMs. Each is a piece of VAM history, having been owned by the numismatic pioneer whose initials are two-thirds of the term. It is a provenance that will forever set them apart from other VAMs.
When in doubt... don't.

morganman
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Re: Remember when LVA's coins sold?

Post by morganman » Mon Apr 17, 2023 9:16 pm

Thanks Dennis; A great post that shows/tell history of our beloved Morgans/Peace $
Many times the history/provinance is much more adored than an actual
coins value. Yes looking in the rear view mirror, those were the days, and
being around/involved to see it all happen was great part of history itself.

My Numismatic career has spanned enough decades to many such varied
stories and Buys/Sells and every story in between, which has been the
funnest of all. The people along the trip have been amazing, most good
some bad to terrible.

From LLOYD Gabbert scarfing up rarities years ago to our current Texas
vammer developing sets & paying way up if needed to secure coin/coins
Great that Dennis posts this as many members had no clue of yester years
:|

Brickie
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2022 11:06 pm

Re: Remember when LVA's coins sold?

Post by Brickie » Mon Apr 17, 2023 9:25 pm

Great read! Thank you for posting this Dennis!

vamnuke
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Re: Remember when LVA's coins sold?

Post by vamnuke » Mon Apr 17, 2023 9:33 pm

👍

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vampicker
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Re: Remember when LVA's coins sold?

Post by vampicker » Mon Apr 17, 2023 10:18 pm

I got to sit in the live session and watch some of it unfold.
often the crusher of hopes and dreams

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fogie
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Re: Remember when LVA's coins sold?

Post by fogie » Tue Apr 18, 2023 12:01 am

Yup - I still have my prize from that night (the 1878 VAM-9 presentation piece).
Have a great day!

DHalladay
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Joined: Wed May 30, 2018 4:38 pm
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Re: Remember when LVA's coins sold?

Post by DHalladay » Tue Apr 18, 2023 12:04 am

fogie wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2023 12:01 am
Yup - I still have my prize from that night (the 1878 VAM-9 presentation piece).
I've seen that one. It looks way better than 62.
When in doubt... don't.

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fogie
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Re: Remember when LVA's coins sold?

Post by fogie » Tue Apr 18, 2023 12:49 am

It is way better!!!
Have a great day!

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alefzero
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Re: Remember when LVA's coins sold?

Post by alefzero » Tue Apr 18, 2023 2:27 am

I had a prooflike VAM-9 and that piece is in a completely different league. It was clearly a different strike.

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