1839-O Reeded Edge Half Dollar PCGS MS65

The 1839-O Reeded Edge half dollar might be considered one of the quintessential “cool” coins of American numismatics. It is the first regular issue branch mint half dollar in United States history; prominently sports a terrific, large “O” mintmark just above the date on the obverse; was issued from a now defunct, Southern mint; has […]

Cuba 1897 S Peso Star Above PCGS MS67

Descriptions will be posted soon. PCGS Population: 1 Higher: 0 CAC Population/Higher: -/- On Hold

1864 Liberty Quarter Eagle PCGS PR66+DCAM (CAC)

Descriptions will be posted soon. PCGS Population: 2 Higher: 0 CAC Population/Higher: 3/0 Priced at: $157,500.00

1861-S Seated Liberty Half Dollar No Motto PCGS MS66+ (CAC)

Descriptions will be posted soon. PCGS Population: 1 Higher: 0 CAC Population/Higher: 3/0 Priced at: $65,000.00

Recent Articles of Interest:

Exonumia of the Week

Large Bronze Lincoln Plaque on Hardwood by Charles Calverley

Charles Calverley (1833-1914) began work as an apprentice stone cutter in Albany, NY, but his exemplary work earned him early recognition and his career progressed rapidly to the point that he was able to open his own studio in New York City in 1869. Calverley’s work appears in many art museums and his bust of Senator Lafayette Foster is on permanent display at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

This large and heavy plaque is firmly attached to a wooden backing board by two screws. The overall dimensions are approximately 15 x 16 inches with the central bronze artwork approximately 10-1/2 inches across. Near the bottom it is signed “C. CALVERLEY 1898” with a notation under that stating it was produced by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Co. Founders, New York in 1900.

Lincoln ALincoln C

Priced at: $950.00

Coin of the Week

1839-O Reeded Edge Half Dollar PCGS MS65

The 1839-O Reeded Edge half dollar might be considered one of the quintessential “cool” coins of American numismatics. It is the first regular issue branch mint half dollar in United States history; prominently sports a terrific, large “O” mintmark just above the date on the obverse; was issued from a now defunct, Southern mint; has a relatively low initial mintage and a sparse number of extant pieces; and has an avid collector following. General awareness within the numismatic community of the attractive characteristics for this coin has grown in recent years, since the publication of the presently definitive work on the Reeded Edge half dollar series. It is one thing to find a low grade problem coin, but to find any 1839-O Reeded Edge half dollar with substantial meat and attractive surfaces is a mighty tall order. Indeed, anything from VF or above with original and attractive surfaces rarely comes to market, and when these pieces do surface, they tend to disappear quickly into strong hands.

Here is an opportunity to acquire one of the finest 1839-O Reeded Edge half dollars that one is ever likely to see. At first glance the surfaces appear nearly white, but a closer inspection reveals a light lilac blush throughout most of the coin with stronger lime and gold hints near the rims. The patina is thick and wonderful, the diagnostic die cracks that connect the obverse stars and invade the reverse design are easily visible and the re-cut “O” mintmark is obvious. The coin is even replete with three carbon marks, which could be used as pedigree marks, on the reverse. This is not an issue found in a high level of preservation with any frequency and to find an extant gem is enough of a reason to build a one-coin collection, if needed.

PCGS Population: 4 Higher: 2
CAC Population/Higher: 1/1

Priced at: $65,000.00

Exonumia of the Week

Shreeve and Company Catalogue 1910-1911

This Shreve and Company catalogue comes bound in a heavy paper cover that has embedded within it a dramatic copper plate with an approximate size of 1-3/4 x 3-1/2 inches. Shreve and Company is a luxury jeweler and silversmith entity that has been in San Francisco since 1854. Their building was one of the few to survive the earthquake of 1906. This catalogue might be considered the Sears catalogue of high end jewelers and silversmiths. It is a heavy book of approximately 225-pages with nearly every page featuring a large photograph (halftone plates) of a group of items for sale with prices listed on the bottom of each page. At the back of the book there is still the attached order form with the date of order listed as “191_”. The off-white cover has some light staining and some of the interior pages also have some light discoloration or staining. The pages are made of high quality material and are intentionally ragged cut on the edges.

Priced at: $1,200.00

Coin of the Week

1936 Walking Liberty Half Dollar PCGS PR66 (CAC)

Many strongly believe that proof Walking Liberty half dollars are among the most attractive coins that the United States Mint has ever produced. These coins carry the iconic Walking Liberty design of Adolph Weinman, which itself is reminiscent of Oscar Roty’s Le Semeuse (The Sower) that strode across the coins of France during the same time period. However, no reverse design of The Sower could match the large and powerful eagle that adorns Weinman’s work, complete with seemingly impossibly complex plumage.

Walking Liberty half dollar proofs were only issued from 1936-1942 with the earliest issues being far tougher to find in gem levels of preservation. Only 3,901 coins were issued and aside from the difficulty in finding gems, finding those coins with original surfaces is even tougher. This particular example has wonderful splashes of toning around the rims that are consistent with long term storage in the original mint packaging material. It is amazing that a coin in a series this popular, which looks this attractive and with this low an original mintage to go along with its conditional scarcity could be obtained in today’s market at these levels. Perhaps the greatest trick to obtaining a coin such as this is the opportunity to purchase it, rather than the price level.

cac

PCGS Population: 295 Higher: 45
CAC Population/Higher: 82/18

Priced at: $5,850.00

Exonumia of the Week

A Pair of Lorillard (Lorrilard) Wise Plaster Models Submitted for the New Rochelle Commemorative Half Dollar

Lorillard (or Lorrilard, as per Don Taxay) Wise was the first artist contacted about producing models for the proposed New Rochelle commemorative half dollar design. Interestingly, the designs and plasters were originally approved only to be highly modified and later rejected entirely with the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) moving to another artist (Gertrude Lathrop; designer of the previously issued Albany commemorative).

A July 20, 1936 letter from Charles Moore to acting Mint Director Mary O’Reilly requested that certain aspects of the submitted design be reworked and, after this was done, a follow up letter of August 17, 1936 to acting Mint Director O’Reilly stated that the models should be approved with some additional modifications. At that time the conditionally approved design featured a Native American crouched along the shore with ship in background on obverse paired with the New Rochelle coat of arms on reverse, which would match the pair of plasters offered presently. Photographs of these plasters are also included in Taxay’s “An Illustrated History of US Commemorative Coinage” on page 197. Instead of smoothly transitioning to coinage production, additional critiques of the designs were ongoing and a complete reworking of the Native American obverse was later submitted as a sketch including merely the shoreline of New Rochelle. At this point the CFA was split as to approving the designs and plans were put into place to remove Lorillard Wise from involvement and to instead go with Gertrude Lathrop for coinage design and production.

The initially approved designs by Wise, included here, offer a very different view of what might have been for the New Rochelle commemorative half dollar. The positioning of the Native American, in an apparent crouch, seems somewhat odd today and this was also the case in the critiques of 1936 as well as in 1967 when Taxay wrote “The obverse featured an Indian who anatomy can only be described as unfortunate.” There are two positions that the word LIBERTY appears on these first-draft models; one obverse has the inscription on the sun and another has it in the vegetation directly behind the Native American. The plaster included here has the inscription on the sun.

The two plasters included are quite clean with a crisp white appearance and essentially smooth, unmarked reverses. They are approximately nine inches across and one inch deep and neither is a perfect circle, but instead each shows irregular borders immediately surrounding the raised borders that encircle the proposed design.

Priced at: $7,500.00

Coin of the Week

1879 Seated Liberty Quarter PCGS MS68+ (CAC)

The Seated Liberty denominations can be a bear for type set collectors and are definitely among the most difficult for the date/mintmark collectors. Taking the quarters by themselves, there are six varieties or sub-types generally recognized for inclusion into a type set, which include No Drapery, No Motto, Arrows & Rays, Arrows No Motto, With Motto as well as Arrows With Motto. Those collectors who buy gem or near-gem coinage typically do not obtain each of these varieties and instead will concentrate on one or two superb examples of the type. This coin would satisfy nearly anyone wanting to obtain a super-gem for type purposes.

The With Motto coinage is the most easily obtained in high grade, but even in this variety there are gradations to the definition of “easily obtained”. The great majority of the latter date issues, starting with 1879 and continuing through the end of the series, were produced in such strikingly low quantities that there basal price levels are quite high. The coin offered here is from that latter production period and had an original mintage of only 13,600 pieces. Both obverse and reverse are awash in a rich blend of blue and violet that start as swirls of deep navy around the rims and gradually change to violet in the center. The coin is very clean of marks, as would be expected at the MS68+ grade level, and the strike is quite strong throughout including the eagle’s talons and wing tips, Ms. Liberty’s hair and fingers and along the rims of both obverse and reverse shields. This coin glows when rotated in the light and has superb “curb appeal” as well as superb eye appeal under a loupe. This could be a one-coin collection, the highlight of a complete type set or the cornerstone to a fabulous Seated Liberty type set.

cac

PCGS Population: 1 Higher: 0
CAC Population/Higher: 3/0

Priced at: $42,750.00

Exonumia of the Week

The Coins of the Bible Illustrated-Scott & Company 1884

Although this is a physically small book, it measures approximately 3-1/2 x 5-1/4 inches and is only approximately ¼ inch thick; the book carries quite a bit of heft. The reason for that would be the four “Fac-Similies of Coins Mentioned in the Holy Bible” nestled neatly into die-cut holes in the back cover, as issued. The book is 38-pages in length with minor scuffing along the covers, but the interior pages are nearly completely devoid of any stains, stray marks or other injuries. The pages are thick and crisp and the typeface bold and easy to read. Perhaps most surprisingly, the reproductions in the back are complete as a group and have not been abused in any obvious manner. It seems that this book was originally produced to allow school age children a chance to learn about coins in the Bible and as such it would stand to reason that the great majority of pieces still extant would show significant handling. This is not the case with the current example. The reproductions included in the back include one each “Shekel of Israel”, “Widow’s Mite”, “Shekel or Stater” and “Penny or Denarius”.

Priced at: $995.00

Coin of the Week

Lincoln 1918 PCGS MS67+ (CAC)

The Lincoln (or Illinois Centennial) commemorative was one of the first wave of commemorative half dollars issued by the United States Mint. It was produced in relatively large numbers, with approximately 100,000 issued, and the design responsibility was split between George T. Morgan and John R. Sinnock. Morgan had risen to Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint just one year prior, in 1917, and would keep that position until his death in 1925 whereupon Sinnock would replace him and remain there until 1947.

The earlier commemorative half dollars often suffered from careless handling upon sale, which can make the initial mintage numbers somewhat deceiving when searching for gem examples with terrific eye appeal. Although the Lincoln commem has survived in relatively plentiful numbers in near-gem, those examples much nicer than that are fairly scarce. The present piece has fantastic eye appeal with wonderful, complete luster rolling about the surfaces enrobed with glowing auburn, navy and golden toning along the obverse rims. Indeed, the obverse toning serves to frame the clean shaven and mournful portrait of Lincoln, based directly on the statue by Andrew O’Connor. It would be a difficult task to find a coin as fresh and attractive as this commemorative half dollar.

cac

PCGS Population: 14 Higher: 2
CAC Population/Higher: 40/0

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Exonumia of the Week

American Bank Note Company (ABNCo) Robert Lucas (1781-1853) Portrait Vignette

Robert Lucas was a Brigadier General, first as the Speaker of the Ohio State Senate, President of the first Democratic National Convention and Governor of the State of Ohio serving between 1832 and 1836; he was later appointed as the first Governor of the Iowa Territory in 1838. This steel plate is approximately 2-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches with a bold, stern facing portrait, which makes him appear to be the missing sibling to Zachary Taylor and Andrew Jackson, within oval frame and ornamentation. It is a typical steel grey color with minor handling marks and marked John Sellers on the reverse. The original paper envelope is included and has V46943 written in bold, red ink as well as No. 18 in black ink below. Included is a proof impression on white stock paper with notations in pencil and red ink as well as a proof room index card from ABNCo that records the identity of the engraver as James Bannister.

5496

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Coin of the Week

1874 Seated Liberty Quarter with Arrows PCGS PR66 (CAC)

There were two “types” of with arrows Seated Liberty quarter dollars produced; those of 1854-1855 and again from a portion of 1873 through 1874. While the former denoted a reduction in the silver content of the coins, the latter was an indication of an increase in silver content. All proof with arrows Seated Liberty quarters are tough as there were fewer than 1,400 produced for this sub-type. To find a piece with wonderful, original toning that is devoid of bothersome patches of hairlines is a difficult task, yet there are a precious few super-gems in existence.

This particular coin would be one of those super-gem pieces. It features a lovely array of violet, navy and magenta throughout much of each side that frames lesser toned centers. The center of the obverse matches quite well with the peripheral toning while the center of the reverse sports more of what might be considered target or bulls-eye toning with the central portion being a fair bit lighter in color. This coin is completely original, devoid of signs of abuse and would be a highlight to all but the most special type sets.

cac

PCGS Population: 5 Higher: 5
CAC Population/Higher: 1/0

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Exonumia of the Week

American Bank Note Company (ABNCo) John Frederick Hartranft (1830-1889) Portrait Vignette

John F. Hartranft was Governor of Pennsylvania from 1873 to 1879, but may be best known for winning the Congressional Medal of Honor, in 1886, for his part in the First Battle of Bull Run where he appeared as a volunteer after his active service period had expired. His political agenda included such radical ideas as greater racial equality and worker’s rights as well as attempting to minimize political corruption. The steel plate is approximately 2-3/4 x 2-1/2 inches, is light grey in color with minimal hatching on the reverse along with the mark of John Sellers. Included is the original paper envelope with V45095 written in bold, red ink as well as other red ink marking. Additionally, proof impressions on two pages of white stock paper, both with pencil notations, and a proof room index card accompany the plate and envelope. The proof room index card indicates John Bannister was the engraver and that it was approved in April, 1877.

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Coin of the Week

Antietam 1937 PCGS MS67+ (CAC)

The Battle of Antietam, otherwise known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, was both the first major Civil War engagement in the North as well as the bloodiest day in American history. Greater than 22,000 men were killed, wounded or missing by day’s end. The withdrawal of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces from Maryland to Virginia, while McClellan’s Union Army stood still, allowed the Confederate Army to escape, but also allowed the Union to declare victory on the battlefield. This victory, while not definitive or crushing, helped to support and give legitimacy to President Abraham Lincoln’s decision to declare the Emancipation Proclamation, which immediately halted both French and English plans that may have recognized or helped the Confederacy.

This commemorative half dollar features the conjoined busts of Lee and McClellan on the obverse and the Burnside Bridge on the reverse. The coin is primarily white, or untoned, but has good skin and a mild ring of golden-yellow on both sides indicative of storage in the original cardboard holder. This coin has good luster and is wonderfully devoid of marks.

cac

PCGS Population: 12 Higher: 17
CAC Population/Higher: 92/10

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Exonumia of the Week

Two Unsigned Plaster Models for the Jefferson Nickel Competition of 1938

A Treasury Department Art Projects Bulletin, No. 14, of 1938 announced an open competition for the design of the new Jefferson nickel. Although the competition was open to the public, there had been a number of announcements already mailed off to known artists who might be interested and capable. The winner of the competition would receive $1,000 and the committee to pick the winner would be composed of Nellie Tayloe Ross, Director of the Mint along with the sculptors Sidney Waugh, Albert Stewart and Heinz Warneke. Two of the major requirements were that the models could not be signed and that any artist that would have liked to have had his or her models returned would have to pay for the return shipping. Additional detailed instructions as to the format and content were included in the announcement. Approximately 390-entries were submitted and, unfortunately, the great majority of those entries have not been found and/or connected to their artists. The winner of the competition was of course Felix Schlag, with Honorable Mention going to Henry Kreis. Kreis is better known to modern numismatists as the designer of the Connecticut and Bridgeport commemorative half dollars and the artist who engraved the obverse of the Robinson commemorative half dollar. Although Schlag won the competition, the final reverse design chosen to be placed into production bore little resemblance to his dramatic three-quarters view of Monticello.

The two plaster models included here are without signature marks of any type. They are most likely a pair submitted at one time by a single artist as their patina and style look quite similar. The creamy, antique white obverse has IN GOD WE TRUST in front of the portrait, a widely spaced LIBERTY above and a closely spaced date set off-center below. There are some pencil marks that appear to be guidelines on the model as well as some tape on the edge, though the tape does not appear to have any function. The reverse is unmarked aside from some red, violet or pink ink that has long ago bled. The most dramatic feature readily visible, aside from the design, are a pair of holes drilled neatly through the model, each with an outer diameter of approximately 3/8 inch, perhaps for mounting on a wall. The likely mate for this obverse is a reverse that is strikingly similar to what was finally put into production later in 1938. It has many of the features we are familiar with on the first Jefferson nickels, but also has a pair of bold stars and the fine details of Monticello are in striking relief. Interestingly, the ink seen on the obverse mate is also seen on this piece in the field beneath E PLURIBUS UNUM as well as on the reverse. Additionally, myriad pencil markings are on the surfaces, generally along the edge and plain back, as well as a fairly large chip that has been lost from the rim above the A in AMERICA. This model also has holes drilled into it.

Each model is approximately 8-1/2 x ¾ inches.

Priced at: $7,500.00

Coin of the Week

1860 Clark Gruber Quarter Eagle PCGS MS63 (CAC)

Descriptions will be posted soon.

cac

PCGS Population: 7 Higher: 2
CAC Population/Higher: 1/0

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Priced at: $47,500.00

Exonumia of the Week

Charles K. Warner Catalog 1906 with Original Envelope

Charles Warner sold “fine proof American medals and medalets” from his 1906 catalog. Each of the 45-pieces is listed with some combination of subject description, medal size and composition, method of production and price. The catalog is four pages total (two pages of listings along with front and back cover) and the cover pages contain many wonderfully done illustrations. Inner listings are in black ink while the covers are in a salmon-red ink that is quite similar to the 1894 Washington two-cent Type I stamp (US #249) produced in carmine lake. The pages are good and the catalog has deep folds in it to facilitate mailing in a standard, letter sized envelope.

The accompanying envelope has been opened by ripping the extreme left side, is stamped December 11, 1906 out of Philadelphia, PA and addressed to Mr. Morris Palmer in deep, thick black ink and the most gloriously bold penmanship that one might hope to find. It would make anyone practicing the Spencerian or Palmer methods of penmanship proud.

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Warner A

Coin of the Week

1826 Capped Bust Half Dollar PCGS MS66 (CAC)

Descriptions will be posted soon.

cac

PCGS Population: 7 Higher: 2
CAC Population/Higher: 10/1

25207735obv25207735rev

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Exonumia of the Week

(1892-93) Columbian World’s Fair Saint Gaudens-Barber Medal Elgit-90 Bronze Awarded to Sociedad Rural Argentina with Original Box PCGS SP65BN

There is a veritable cornucopia of material associated with the 1892-1893 Columbian World’s Fair that includes coins, medals, programs, tickets and any manner of badges, magazine articles, photographs and other materials. Of particular note to the numismatist are the medals designed in a joint effort by Augustus Saint Gaudens and Charles Barber. These large, nearly three inch diameter medals are prized by collectors today, but are seldom offered in gem condition or with their original box. This piece is a warm brown with glints of lighter copper highlights and devoid of corrosion, verdigris or other surface insults. The included box has some spotting on both top and bottom and opens up to reveal deep blue velvet interior with circular cut out center piece that was designed to hold the medal. Overall the box is in very good condition.

 

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… Click Here to Continue

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead…

I’ll sleep when I’m dead…

The Bellagio, Las Vegas.

Long Beach, California.

Houston, Texas.

Dallas, Texas.

The Bellagio, Las Vegas.

New York City.

St. Louis, Missouri.

South Dakota.

Baltimore, Maryland.

Parsippany, New Jersey.

Those are all of the places I’ve been since I wrote my last show report (ANA August 2014). And I just wrote those down on my iPad at 36,000 feet in the air on my way to Chicago. (Que Nickelback’s “Rockstar”)

I need a life…

Oh wait…I have one. No…I have a great one!

To be candid, if I don’t write a show report right after I return home they all start to blend together. And it’s difficult to remember what happened where. That’s why you’re getting this one. Its time you got a new one and I’ve got some things to say.

CURRENT STATE OF THE MARKET.

I just did back-to-back shows in Baltimore and Parsippany. As in Baltimore on Saturday and Parsippany on Sunday. Think Jupiter and Pluto. Vastly different in size and totally different in every way imaginable.

I got down to Baltimore late Wednesday afternoon, which is a little late for me. After checking into my hotel, I was promptly met by one of my secret suppliers who had…nothing! Boxes full of coins but nothing that jumped out at me and said “Buy Me”! As the old saying goes, some days peanuts, some days shells.

I had made plans to look at a few lots for clients and made my way over to the convention center to find that I had exactly two hours of viewing time available. As I wasn’t planning on doing the whole sale that gave me just enough time to look at specific lots of interest before going out to dinner with two couples who I call friends (although they were customers when I first met them, they have for the most part made the transition to dealer).

Then back to the hotel to send emails detailing my opinions on the auction lots, followed up with a good hour or so of writing up coins for submission to PCGS.

Set up was at eight on Thursday morning and Tom and I were there half an hour early talking to fellow dealers trying to ferret out some fresh material.
If any of you are upland bird hunters you know that looking for really nice coins can be a lot like that. Some days you limit out in two hours, other days you walk 10 miles only getting one shot (which of course you missed). I’m not going to say that we hit the mother lode, because we didn’t. But with some patience and looking through boxes and boxes of coins we were able to find some pretty cool pieces.

There was a lot of talk at the show regarding all the auctions coming up. Gardner, Newman, Pouge, and now Partrick. The optimists look at each of these sales as an opportunity to acquire coins that might not become available for years to come, while the pessimists squawk about the market place not being able to handle everything. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. Sure there are a lot of coins coming on the market, but man what an opportunity. I’ll write more on this later when we get closer to the big money sales.

I wanna tell you a story.

As you know I teach at the ANA’s summer seminar. And usually we have some pretty sharp students, many who are dealers or the offspring of dealers (trying to learn the business). This year I had the son of a dealer who I’ve known for 30 years or so. The dad’s business model and mine are totally different but sometimes they do intersect, so I was glad to have the opportunity to help them. The son was young, malleable, and eager to learn. That and the fact that he was good made my job just that much easier.

Fast forward a few months and I see him in Baltimore. He calls me over and (politely) asks if he could have my opinion on a coin. Of course I said yes. I always tell my students that their education doesn’t stop after summer seminar and I’d be happy to explain things to them at a show if they had any questions. So I look at the coin and then turn it around on him; asking him what he thinks and why. I won’t tell you what the coin was but I will say that in addition to the grade, there was some question about the designation (FH, DMPL, CAMEO, etc). We discussed it for a bit and it became obvious that he needed to try and buy the coin. So he did. And then he submitted it to PCGS for grading.

In the end, he was close…

But I was closer. The result was an unrealized profit of about $3-4,000 for him. All because he took a class at the ANA’s summer seminar.

Stacks-Bowers had an auction with some great lots in it. After a bunch of email it became evident that I would have to attend not only Thursday’s evening session, but about half-an-hour worth of the session in the middle of the day. Glad I did because I was able to win numerous lots for clients as well as stock. Tom has been busy imaging the ones I bought for stock, so don’t forget to view our new purchases web page.

Friday brought about a really cool situation that I also want to talk about. I have a friend who really likes coins. So much in fact that they take a lot of other dealer inventory on memo and try and sell them (striving to get into the game). After a few shows of looking through their boxes I started to notice a pattern. Most of the coins were just that. Coins. Nothing cool. Nothing exotic. Nothing “Sham-Wow”. Except occasionally they’d have a coin or two that was pretty neat. When I would mention that they explained to me that, of all the coins they had to sell, those were the only ones that they had actually purchased themselves. This discussion took place a few weeks ago in St. Louis and it was there that we decided that they (my friend) wouldn’t take other dealers coins for the next few shows, but instead concentrate on buying only coins that they themselves liked.

Baltimore was their second show using that approach. Wow what a difference! While their sales numbers were down by about 90%, total profit was up by over 100%. Get the picture? Quality sells. Eye appeal sells. “Stuff” doesn’t. At least not without a lot of work. Work smart, not hard I always say.

On a closing note (regarding Baltimore), I kind of think that collectors who attend this kind of event are evolving at a rapid pace. They know what they like, know what they want, and don’t seem to deviate from that game plan much. Impulse buying appears to be a thing of the past at these bigger shows.

I left Baltimore on Saturday, which allowed me one night at home before heading to the monthly one day show in Parsippany, NJ. Pluto to Baltimore’s Saturn. Much smaller and one day only.

AND PACKED!

Wall to wall people. So crowded that I wondered what a Fire Marshall would have thought had they seen it.

The collector is king here in a land where raw coins rule. Table after table was filled with either cases full of uncertified pieces, three ring binders full of raw coins in 2X2s, or in some cases, just raw coins on a table. It was like a North African numismatic bazaar. Bullion (gold, silver, and copper) were haggled over in a cornucopia of different languages. It was like I was watching a National Geographic special on coins!

So why did I go? It really is quite simple…money.

I’ve always said all it takes to make a show successful (monetarily) is one coin. And that’s exactly what I bought. One coin.

Before I end this article (which by the way has taken four flights and three days to write), I like to mention one bit of news.

Recently a client and friend decided we needed to build a world class set of three cent silvers. So we did. We started off buying not just one, but two complete sets and evaluating each piece to see just which ones would look best in “our” set. Not an easy task at all. Especially when the sets you buy were ranked #2 and #3 on the PCGS registry set boards. When building one set out of two it is easy to get lost in all those coins. A coin that would make it on Monday might not get the nod on Tuesday. And vise versa. But we worked hard at it with many, many a discussion before we made our final choices.

So…

That leaves me with a virtually complete set of three cent silver pieces in GEM proof available for sale. Trust me when I say that each and every one of them could just as easily ended up in “our” set. The coins are that nice.

Look them over (as well as the rest of my NEWPS) and if you see anything that catches your eye give me a call.

Remember…I love to talk coins.

Bill

DON’T TELL YOUR FATHER

DON’T TELL YOUR FATHER

I don’t remember the exact date but I do remember the event. Sometime in the mid 1970s as a fledgling, young numismatist I went to a local “farm auction” that advertised coins in their flier. As a relative newcomer to the hobby I was still trying to fill up my blue Whitman album for Lincoln cents, 1909-1940, and was excited to see several that would help me “fill those holes”.

Again time has stolen the specifics, but I do remember buying one in particular. An S-mint in the teens.

When I got home my mom asked me how it went and did I get anything. I told her all about it and what I had won. The most expensive coin was the above mentioned Lincoln cent. She asked me how much I had paid and when I told her ten dollars she said “Oh God, don’t tell your father!”

That scenario repeated itself several times throughout the years until she was no longer shocked (or impressed) by the amount of money I spent on coins. $100, $1,000, $10,000, or $100,000. She always smiled and said “that’s nice honey, did you sell it?”

Although she didn’t always say it, I knew she was proud of me. Neighbors, family friends, and family members would always tell me how she talked about me and the fact that I had followed my childhood dream of becoming a coin dealer. She and I never talked about it. But I knew.

She passed away on Saturday the 2nd of August. Right before the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money show in Chicago.

I’ve always said that I’ve never worked a day in my life. I mean after all I get to play with coins all day. And hang out with like minded collectors. How can that be called work?

So as I got ready for this year’s show in Chicago I realized just what the hobby means to me. And those close to me. I’m the luckiest man alive.

Silently, I dedicated this show to my mother and all she’d ever done for me.

And every time I bought an expensive coin I heard her say “DON’T TELL YOUR FATHER!”

ANA’S WORLD’S FAIR OF MONEY

ANA’S WORLD’S FAIR OF MONEY

Like many of the regular table holders at this year’s ANA show, I decided to skip the pre-show. Ten days in Rosemont, Illinois is WAY too long. So I showed up at the pre-show around noon on Monday thinking that I could go in and start conducting business. That didn’t happen. Seems the pre-show went to one way traffic around noon and even regular table holders couldn’t get in. Ugh…

The “official” set up time for the ANA was 3:00. And that’s what time they started letting dealers into the bourse.

For the second time in as many years I had one of those “super-booths”. Half was for me and my wears, and the other half was for my clients to showcase some of their coins. And just like last year we all had a blast. There were five different cases showing highlights from some really great collections.

1) A wonderful exhibit of coins and paper money, all with the denomination of $1. From Colonials, Gobrecht dollars, gold commemoratives, and everything in between. A spectacular group!

2) An interesting grouping of coins, in which every one was housed in old PCGS “doily” holders or “black” NGC ones. This case caused quite a stir among the cult followers of “holder collectors”.

3) An incredible collection of Standing Liberty Quarters, which were painstakingly put together from a fine gentleman from the Bay area. Most of which were in old green label PCGS holders! Really cool…

4) The UNBELIEVABLE Seated Liberty Half Dollar date set of “Ray Levoi”. Although we exhibited some of the coins last year, many new additions were present and without a doubt this was one of the most viewed cases.

5) A newcomer to the club was a fine gentleman, and friend, who hails from the great state of Texas. The collection of type coins he displayed was simply stunning. If you’ve ever wondered where all the “Sham-wow” coins have gone, you needed look no further. In fact there were so many AMAZING pieces that it was sensory overload, and quite easy to be spellbound and stand there for hours. Think 1822 Bust Half Dollar in PCGS MS67. Or 1901-S Barber Quarter in PCGS MS68+ (yes, THAT coin). A collection that I am truly honored to have built.

So set up was from 3 until about 6. Just enough time to get the coins in the cases, shake a few hands, look at a couple dealers boxes, and make dinner plans. And like last year, Monday’s dinner was at Gibson’s right across the street (sometimes I feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”). Tom Bush and I had the pleasure of dining with a client/friend (and a friend of his who quickly became a friend of ours). Excellent meal and conversation to start off the show. And the first of many 16 ounce bone in filets. After dinner I spent a few hours getting my coins ready to submit to PCGS. Then a brief 6 hours of sleep and the start of another day in “coin geek heaven”.

On the way to the show Tuesday morning, around 7:30, I saw a line in front of the convention center full of a mixture of people. I remember thinking to myself “wow, that’s cool all those young numismatists waiting to get their example of the new Kennedy gold piece. But what are all those old (Asian) women doing in line so early?”

By now you’ve heard just what exactly was going on. Not just in Rosemont, but in Philadelphia, Denver, and Washington D.C. as well.

I’m not going to go on a rant here, but I’ll remind you of a similar incident many years ago. 60 Minutes did an episode on the Franklin Mint and their so-called limited edition coins. In my humble opinion that is exactly where this whole thing is headed. When that happens, not if, it’s going to take the modern segment of the coin industry decades to recover from the black eye it gets. If it ever does…

(If you don’t know what I talking about, Google Denver Mint and John F. Kennedy. Or go to www.pcgs.com and read the forums. It’s pretty much spelled out there.)

Tuesday is actually the first full day at the ANA, even though it was technically set up day. Early badge holders got in at 10 while the show officially opened to the public (ANA members) at noon. I was at my booth talking to another dealer when they let the early badge holders in and was immediately shocked by the mad rush of said “collectors”. A herd of them came RUNNING into the bourse, quickly passed my booth, and bee-lined for the Mint’s table. The great gold rush for JFK was afoot. It was pathetic. And scary. Think flash mob.

After the JFK incident things got down to regular business. Clients came by to say hello, dealers brought boxes of coins for me to look at, and we were besieged by a ton of questions from the public. Throughout the day there was a constant flow of collectors and dealers at the table, both buying and selling. Okay, mostly selling, or looking to sell. From my perspective the collectors in attendance were armed with specific want lists and didn’t fall prey to impulse buying. And unless you have an unlimited amount of money that’s the way it should be. Many a collector has a safe deposit box or home safe with more than one impulse buy in it. I’m not saying that a person shouldn’t buy a coin right then and there, on the spot if you will, when they see it. Quite the opposite. If you see a great coin, with fantastic eye appeal that fits in your collection, you should buy it. Learn to make a snap decision and pull the trigger. Why? Because the chances are that it won’t be there when you return. Murphy’s Law. But don’t buy the first coin on your want list that is sub-par. Or super cheap. Or one that you’ve never seen before. Do your research, learn about it. Believe me when I tell you that there are always cool coins, with really neat stories behind them, outside of your collecting parameters waiting to be bought.

By this time the show was in full swing and my table staff was all present. I was there, as was Tom Bush and C.J. If you’ll recall from last year’s ANA show report, C.J. is a very talented YN who I met at the ANA’s summer seminar several years ago. Sharp, polite, and very adept at grading, this young man is going to make his mark in our hobby.

A little after noon a trio of friends/clients came in from Texas. These guys are great. True coin geeks at heart. In fact one of the first things we did was to start negotiations on a complete set of proof three cent silvers. It took awhile, but we finally got the deal done and the coins became a well deserved addition to “The Ottoman Collection”.

Shortly thereafter, we were joined at the table by the owner of the “Ray Levoi” collections. We talked and laughed for a few, and then he went about the task of scoping out the bourse, only to come back just in time to join us for dinner at…Gibson’s of course. Two boys from Arkansas, A Texan, one from Kansas, another from Missouri, and one from New Jersey (not me, I’m the one from Missouri) all enjoyed a phenomenal meal swapping stories about coins and life. It was great!

Wednesday morning was like the above mentioned “Groundhog Day” movie. I stepped off the curb across from the convention center only to see another MASSIVE line of people that snaked around the building. It always amazes me that the U.S. Mint can sell millions of coins to the public a year, yet virtually none of those buyers make the transition to that of the classic collector. I just don’t get it.

Shrugging the scene off, I got to the show and down to business just like I do at every major one. By this time we started to get coins back from PCGS and get them ready for sale. And as usual the staff from PCGS did a great job. From the huge line of people submitting, to receiving the coins, grading them, and promptly getting the back to the bourse floor these guys and gals made it look easy. Believe me it is FAR from easy. Thanks to Don Willis, David Talk, and the entire staff from Newport Beach.

One of the cool things that PCGS does at shows occasionally is showcase some of their client’s registry sets at their table. I had the honor of being asked by B.J. Searls if I would loan them my Assay Medal collection for the ANA and upcoming Long Beach show. All I can say is…”Wow!!” The presentation along with the brochure they produced was amazing. Many of the visitors in Rosemont came by and complimented me on the set. But I think the real congratulations go to B.J. and her staff. They did a wonderful job. Thanks!

By now the show was in full swing and there was a constant flow of collectors and dealers coming by the table. It’s always great to see everybody and to occasionally get to put a face with a voice known only over the phone. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner at…Capital Grille! What a welcome change from the fabulous Gibson’s. (At times I feel like a member of ancient Rome’s privileged society, eating decadently with no inhibitions. It’s great but you know it can’t last).

Thursday was essentially the same as Tuesday and Wednesday. A constant line of people at the table asking questions, showing me coins they just bought, looking to sell coins they brought, and looking for coins to add to their cabinet. The ten hour day seemed like a short 45 minutes and it was again time for dinner with a great group of friends (clients and dealers). At…Capital Grille! And their rendition of the 16 oz bone in filet!

Friday started with us getting back a BOAT LOAD of coins from PCGS and preparing them for sale. Which leads me to this point I’d like to make; if you’re at a show and stop at a table that handles the kind of coins you like, don’t forget to go back to that table on a regular basis during the show. Dealers are constantly buying coins and taking in coins in trade for something they’re selling. Chances are they’ll get something that fits your parameters after your first stop, and unless they know you’re looking for that particular piece you might never know it. Don’t worry about annoying them…they’re there to sell coins.

This is the point where I’d normally tell you about the really cool coins that I sold and the outstanding ones I bought, but seeing as this show report has taken me four days to write (off and on, as I really do suffer writer’s block) I think it’s time to wind it down and get busy writing descriptions. What, you thought that was a thing of the past? Haha!!

Keep in mind that none of the business I did, whether buying or selling, getting to display the coins from my client’s cabinets, or having PCGS showcase my Assay Medals would have been possible without one thing…relationships. They are the keystone of my business and the most valuable asset I have.

So sit back and take a look at my NEWPS. And if you see anything of interest, send me an email or call me.

Remember…I love to talk coins.

Bill

Notes on Our Next Show

Whitman Coin Expo

November 5-8, 2015
Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, MD

If you have items to SELL please stop by our table and we will be happy to discuss purchasing them

We will also have many items with us for you to view. If you are looking for anything in particular, or have an interest in anything on our website, please email or give us a call, prior to the show and we will make sure we bring this item for you to view.

Thank you and we look forward to meeting you.

Show Schedule

Whitman Coin Expo
November 5-8, 2015
Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, MD

The 59th Houston Money Show
December 3-5, 2015
Geo. R. Brown Convention Center
Houston, TX