Why you can’t necessarily believe “prices realized” indicate current market value.

Above is the actual E-101, aluminum 90-mm medal sold at the opening bid of $859 on Ebay.

The 90-mm diameter example of the high relief Mayer liberty head has been one of the most popular and scarce medals from the WCE for decades. Struck in high and low relief and a variety of diameters (primarily aluminum only in the small and medium sizes) NGC has slabbed a very small number of examples as proofs. Also, it should be noted that no low profile examples exist at this largest size.

NGC identifying these very few as proofs validates their existence as more than “gem BU, prooflike” medals. I have sold Mayer proofs but believe that despite the experts identifying them as such, that the proofs and the gem prooflikes are both the latter.

By definition, a proof is struck on a specially prepared or selected planchet and struck twice. There is no record of any proofs being minted and given NGC’s eyeball test, and I seriously doubt that any third-party grader could select a proof from among several gem, cameo and “prooflike” strikes.

Those identified as proof strikes are, I would say, probably superb first strikes. I am also confident that collectors will continue to accept them as proofs as long as they are in a holder professionally labeled as such.

That is, I know, a bit of a digression and side story to the one I am posting, which is that you can’t/shouldn’t automatically assume current prices realized are concrete examples of current market value.

The above Eglit 101–the 90mm version of the Mayer high relief medal–is the one I sold on Ebay for the opening bid in early 2022. The following text is from the medal’s listing in my online store (www.thehistorybankstore.com) and set off in italic to indicate the text exactly how it was in the store listed very briefly for sale at $1095, pulled immeidately when the medal sold on Ebay..

I rarely list the same item in this store and simultaneously on Ebay. In this case I did, with a very low opening price in the Ebay auction. I was shocked and of course disappointed that only one bidder who happened to be looking those few days of the auction won it at the opening bid of $859. I do know that if another bidder jumped into the fray that it would have sold for significantly more.

A BIT OF BACKGROUND: Always in great demand, this 90mm Columbian medal is almost impossible to find. More than 15 years ago I acquired a group of 4 different E101 medals–and sold them (directly, without listing) to a longtime customer for a reduced price of $800 each, $3200 for the four; then finally, in 2019 I had examples again (aluminum and white metal) to sell, which I also did without listing them, for $900 each to a client without competitive bidding.

The only sale since then was on Ebay only a few months ago. You should always study prices realized before buying, but you can’t necessarily rely on that past experience to get a true picture of current value. In that sale I was the high bidder at $550 until the end–when two bidders went a tad nuts, outdueling one another to a final price of $3200! There may have been other private sales over the years that I missed, but with those few sales noted of 4x$800, 2x$900, $859…and $3,200 it should be clear that the $3200 was an anomaly rather than the current market. The $1095 Buy it Now price at which I listed the medal here should be viewed as a reasonable estimate of current market value–with no competitive bid at $859 and two rather crazy bidders pushing up that one example to a ridiculous $3200.

Because of the value of the information I decided to update my text (here) and leave the medal posted as sold to provide updated information….and I’ll post it in The History Bank Journal as well.

It is also worth noting that there is no buyer premium on Ebay, so the high bid was a net of $859; I as the seller did have to pay a fee, however, of approximately 15%. Had the sale taken place in my store at $1095 as intended, there would not have been either a seller’s fee or a buyer’s fee. You should always note when auction houses sell an item if the price cited is the hammer (closing, final bid) or if it includes a buyer’s fee. And buyer’s fees have nearly doubled in recent years to 29-30%. Imagine if this medal sold at auction at my intended $1095 in-store price. And it may well have sold for even more at Goldber’s, Stack’s or Heritage.

So, when looking at the entire picture, which typically is not seen by those not involved in the transaction, that comparative mark as a future reference point could indeed have been quite different:

  1. The actual sale (opening bid) on Ebay–$859
  2. The intended list price in my store–$1095
  3. The intended listing price of $1095 taken place in a major auction +30%–$1423.50!

Without even considering that a Heritage or other house might have sold it for more than that $1095 opening bid, just looking at the figure at opening bid plus seller’s fee. In a very real potential sales scenario, you could be looking at prices realized of $1423.50 instead of $859.

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