Heritage Auctions chalks up record year with $806 million in total sales

heritage auctions coins help hit record yearThis 1793 Chain plate coin sold for $1,380,000 during Heritage’s Jan. 4-8 coin auction in Orlando, Fla.

Heritage Auctions is reporting it sold more than $806 million worth of antiques, coins, comics and fine art in 2011, an amount that represents the company’s best performance ever.

“The bottom line is that service and value will always sell,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions, “and Heritage specializes in the very best of both.”

U.S. coins continue to be the backbone of the company with the category registering an impressive $196 million auction total, including its weekly U.S. coin Internet-only auctions, which realized $22 million – a new record for the subset and an 80 percent increase over 2010 – and gallery U.S. coin auctions, which accounted for $5.3 million, another record total for the subset and a 70 percent increase over 2010.

Heritage’s world coins category continued to prove itself a juggernaut, with a record total of $39.45 million – an increase of 60 percent over its 2010 record performance – while the vintage comics and comic art bore direct witness to the evolution of the category into a true investment quality asset, posting north of $26 million, a 13 percent improvement over 2010, which had already set the record for any auction house.

“World coins and comics are emblematic of Heritage’s continued growth,” Rohan said, “among the several categories that continue to perform well for us. Collectors and investors alike, from some non-traditional corners, are all taking a close look at these categories.”

Jewelry auctions continued to see an explosion in sales, ringing up a record $17.4 million in all (more than double the category’s 2010 record total). Vintage sports collectibles vaulted itself fully double its 2010 total to finish the year at more than $16 million, earning it the ranking of the No. 1 sports auction house in the United States.

Fine wine made its debut at Heritage in 2011 and quickly proved to be a profitable force as it brought in nearly $11.4 million in total prices realized. Heritage’s continued dominance in illustration art was re-asserted by an $11.1 million total, the category’s second best year.

Heritage sold two superbly documented fragments from “The Star Spangled Banner,” the very flag that flew over Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, Md., Sept. 13, 1814 and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the words to America’s national anthem, on June 25, 2011 for $65,725.

Heritage made the decision in 2010 to spin off its musical instrument auctions from its music and entertainment auctions to create a brand new category. Collectors supported the category’s $10.5 million debut. The decision also proved a smart strategic move for Heritage music and entertainment auctions, which, even without guitars in its total, realized $8.6 million, the best year the category’s seen and more than double what it saw in 2010.

One of the year’s most significant changes at Heritage was the acquiring of the assets of Greg Martin Auctions of San Francisco, creating a separate Arms & Armor category for Heritage for the first time and recorded more than $9 million in three auctions.

Decorative arts and silver posted its best year ever, with $7.43 million sold at auction, the category’s best year yet by almost double, while Heritage movie posters auctions posted an in impressive $6.2 million total, including $1.8 million in weekly Internet auctions, a new record for the Web-only offerings and a 15 percent increase over 2010’s record total. The amount pushed the category lifetime total for Heritage movie posters past the $50 million mark since it started in November 2001.

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