One of the most useful tools on the PCGS website is the Auction Prices Realized. This mountain of data is a compilation of all major auction sales since the early 1990s, including everything from common coins in great condition to super-rarities that only appear once every generation. In general, most experts and users of this information believe that auction sales represent the fairest and most accurate pricing data available. Unlike private transactions, which can be difficult to verify, most auction sales are conducted in public venues where the sellers and buyers are known to just about everyone. Nowadays, auction houses do not report buybacks or instances where an item failed to sell, thus eliminating the bulk of sales that might have been subject to manipulation. What this leaves are actual transactions between willing buyers and sellers – the optimum situation for fair pricing.
As of this writing, PCGS provides just under 2.7 million individual auction sale records reported by 42 different firms. The auction records go all the way back to B. Max Mehl's 1941 sale of the Dunham collection and are as up-to-date as the Heritage and Teletrade sales held in November 2013.
Harnessing the power of this information is easy, and can be accomplished in one of two different ways. Perhaps the easiest and quickest way is to log into your PCGS CoinFacts account, enter a PCGS number or search for a particular coin, then scroll down to the ValueView section, where Auction Prices are displayed under their relevant grades. As a user, you may click on any of the links and go to a more detailed page -- in many cases, you will jump to the seller's website, where the original page for the sale might be displayed, including images, the catalog description, and much more.
A second way to locate the Auction Prices Realized is to visit the PCGS Auction Prices home page at http://www.pcgs.com/AuctionPrices/default.aspx. There you can follow a link to a list of all the auction firms surveyed, the number of their sales PCGS has included, and the total number of lots each auction house has submitted. In some cases, the numbers are staggering. For instance, Heritage alone has supplied over 1.39 million sales records.
From the PCGS Auction Prices home page, you can enter a PCGS number or find your favorite coin by using the PCGS CoinFacts-style drill-down menus. Once you arrive on the page for an individual coin, PCGS provides a listing of all auction records for that coin, including all related coins with differing designations. In other words, a Brown copper coin will include tabs for Red-Brown and Red examples, plus a tab for ALL designation. Results may be filtered using a number of different search criteria, and the results can be sorted in a variety of different ways, such as from the highest price to the lowest, or vice versa.
If you're an active buyer or seller or if you want to see market trends and historical prices, be sure to include the PCGS Auction Prices as part of your arsenal of information.