On The Road Again…By Bill Shamhart (Not Willie Nelson)
I usually try to come up with some cute opening line. Not so this time. Hey, that rhymes…
Okay I’ll quit trying to be funny and get back to the real reason why ya’ll are reading my website. That is to get a sit-rep of what’s happening in my little segment of the numismatic world.
To put it simply, quite a bit.
THE EUGENE H. GARDNER COLLECTION, PART 1
On the afternoon of June 23 I had the pleasure of attending the much anticipated auction of Mr. Gardner’s collection. The first of 4 scheduled ones.
Earlier in the day I was viewing the lots and looked around. Hardly a person was there! What the heck was going on? In fact there was a time when I was the only person looking…with the exception of Mr. and Mrs. Gardner. I could only guess what was going through his mind as he looked at this selection of his babies for the last time. Like he was saying good-bye. It was a sad vision, in a joyous kind of way.
A few minutes later I was joined by a good friend and client to look at some lots with the intent of buying them for his collection. He too was befuddled by the lack of people in attendance at lot viewing, but we quickly shrugged it off and got down to looking at coins of interest.
After an hour lunch with the above client, I went to the sale. It started at 3:00 promptly, and again, I was shocked by the lack of people in the room. Of course the usual dealers were there, and maybe a dozen or so collectors, but that was it. Mmmm….
Heritage prepared a great catalog, complete with wonderful descriptions and photographs. And as it should be they auctioned the coins in denominational order, followed by date, starting with half cents. To be candid, I wasn’t really all that excited about Mr. Gardner’s copper coin. It appears that, with the exception of a few isolated pieces, not many others were either.
Lot 30021: 1793 Wreath Cent, Vine and Bars. PCGS MS68 Brown hammered to an internet bidder at $280,000.
Folks, an MS68 Large Cent, of any date or type, should be a VERY special coin. This piece certainly was not.
Don’t get me wrong. There were some really neat coins in the copper section, and they brought really neat coin prices (an 1848 PCGS MS64+ RED CAC realized a whopping $11,500 hammer. See?).
This trend continued until some very cool three cent silvers came up. Most of you know that I have always been a BIG fan of this series. Believe me when I say that there were some KILLER coins in this section.
1854 3CS PCGS MS68 CAC…………$55,000 hammer. And deservedly so.
1863 3CS NGC MS65 GOLD CAC………$20,000 hammer. A quintessential “Shamwow” example of this series.
1863/2 3CS PCGS PR66 CAMEO CAC………..$40,000 hammer. Wow!
After that momentary burst of insanity the nickel coinage came up and it was back to reality. Sort of. Real coins, regardless of what they were graded, brought real money. The others, not so much.
And then the silver sold.
Starting with the half dimes and continuing through end of the sale, it became apparent that collectors, whether represented by an agent or bidding on Heritage Live (something I forgot about early in the sale) were willing and ready to win some trophy coins! Win they did. But with a caveat.
Rare coins, with outstanding eye appeal, sold for record prices. I sat in amazement and watched as lot after lot went to a collector for BIG BUCKS.
I always knew that there were really serious collectors out there for virtually all series, but not to this extent. I saw seated half dimes and dimes sell for 50% more than I was asking for comparable pieces not too long ago. It was magical. Good for those who won pieces for their collections.
What about those that didn’t bring record prices. There could have been many reasons why, but the one that comes to my mind is that they were optimistically graded. Plain and simple (1793 Large Cent MS68 anybody?).
All in all it truly was a memorable event. One that I am really glad I attended in person. Not only because I was able to buy some phenomenal coins for clients and inventory, but because I’ll never forget the electricity in the room that afternoon (and evening).
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Gardner.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO COIN SHOW.
Less than 48 hours after being in New York City for the Gardner sale I was on a plane to Denver and the ANA’s Summer Seminar down in Colorado Springs with a coin show in between.
Set up was at 8:00 on Thursday morning, and being an early riser, I was amongst the first dealers there. So I had a little extra time to set up my booth before the majority of the other dealers arrived. That worked out to my advantage, as I was able to see dealers almost immediately after they got there.
I know, I know. I missed Baltimore. But let me tell ya’ll something; I’m glad I did. While I really like the Baltimore venue, and the great job that the Whitman crew does putting it on, I REALLY like these smaller, regional shows. They’re laid back and generally have a pretty good following of collectors that come with them.
If you were a fisherman and wanted to feed your family would you join a tournament along with the best fisherman in the business, or find yourself a small, out of the way river or lake that wasn’t fished that much and sometimes gives up trophy fish?
This show in particular was very well attended by both the collecting public and the attendees of the ANA’s Summer Seminar so there was a constant flow of people to talk to. I got to see many of my prior students and met several of the following week’s subjects. It was coin geek nirvana.
Sales were what I expected from a show dominated by these types of collectors. And the purchases were really good. Knowing so many of the dealers there allows me to get “first shot” at many neat pieces. This year didn’t disappoint me either.
One such group came from a collector/dealer (who happens to be an alumnus from my class). Notice I said collector-dealer, not dealer-collector. That’s because he was a collector first, and then made the leap to the dealer ranks. These are the dealers you want to deal with. They understand you because they WERE you. Once you’re a collector it’s pretty hard to get that gene out of your DNA. They still look at coins as if they were buying it for their collection. Not because they were cheap. Remember, cheap coins are cheap for a reason.
What did I buy from him? Just some really cool California Pioneer Fractional Gold pieces. They’re on the web site, look them up.
I had a lot of fun at this show. As I found out later, it was just a precursor to the following week.
AMERICAN NUMISMATIC ASSOCIATION’S SUMMER SEMINAR
This year there was a little different schedule than in the past. It started on Sunday morning at 9:00, instead of 1:15. It also ended on Wednesday afternoon, as opposed to Thursday at 4. So we lost 1/2 a day’s worth of teaching. No worries. All went well.
Usually we have one or two (sometimes more) stand out students. Numismatists that go on to jobs working for professional grading services, or straight to the ranks of Rare Coin dealer. Not this year. What we had was a classroom of really enthusiastic, eager to learn, coin nerds. And it was a blast.
About midway through the four days of class a pattern started to emerge. This year’s students did something I’ve never seen before in 17 years of teaching.
One of the exercises we do in class is have the students break down into groups, elect a finalizer, and compete against the rest of the class. Sort of like having four different grading services competing against each other. Think PCGS vs. NGC vs. ANACS vs. ICG.
When the grades were tallied I was amazed at how tightly grouped they were. Generally they were no more than half a point off. Incredible.
Guess they had some really good instructors. (This is where I would insert a big smiling icon if I knew how to).
I was able to catch up with some friends (who were students first, made the transition from customer to client, and finally became good friends) over great meals and coffee.
Before I knew it the time to leave had arrived. Another year of teaching under my belt. I smiled all the way on my drive to the Denver airport.
PCGS’ MEMBERS ONLY SHOW
After a week off following the above activities, it was on to another show.
I had to make an executive decision as to whether I would be going to St. Louis or Las Vegas. Believe me it was a tough choice. But Vegas won. Not for the reasons you’re thinking. I had a lot of coins that I wanted to get graded before the ANA in Chicago and it was just the logical decision.
As you know, I try to call a show as I see it. And I try to not be negative. But honestly, this show was a bust. Seems that Las Vegas, with its 100 degree temperature, isn’t high on the list of places for coin dealers and collectors to go. And deservedly so.
So there weren’t a whole lot of the regular dealers and collectors in attendance.
But I got done what I went there for. And Tom is busy imaging them as I write this. A couple items stand out in my mind right now.
1914-D Lincoln Cent, PCGS MS65+ RD CAC. I can’t remember that last time I saw an example as nice as this one. And I’ve seen a lot of 14-D Lincolns
1883/2 Shield Nickel, PCGS MS67 CAC. The finest known (or TOP-POP in coin lingo). Amazing.
1941-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar, PCGS MS67 CAC. I’ve owned this coin for a month or so. Tried it at PCGS three times for a MS67+. No avail. If you collect Walkers in TOP-POP then this is for you. Intense luster with just a titch of light blue patina throughout. Beautiful.
1881-S Morgan Dollar, PCGS MS64 CAC. Unbelievable color on the reverse. In fact, if this color was on the obverse it would be a $15,000-$20,000 coin. Check it out.
There are many more but I think I’ll let Tom’s photography do my talking. Remember, if you like the photo you’ll love the coin…
AMERICAN NUMISMATIC ASSOCIATION WORLD’S FAIR OF MONEY
It’s coming up sooner than you think.
I’ll be there. As will Tom. And C.J. And some really cool coins from our client’s cabinets for your viewing pleasure. Oh, and some really swell coins for your consideration (I’ve been writing too long tonight).
So that’s it.
Cue Garth Brooke’s “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”
See ya’ll in Chicago.
Stop by and say hello.
Remember…I love to talk coins.