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Baltimore (and a few other) Show Reports


Baltimore (and a few other) Show Reports

Many of you have emailed or called and asked where my latest (few) show reports were.  Well candidly until this last Baltimore show there wasn’t really anything, good or bad, to write about.  But you asked for them so here they are:

PHILADELPHIA EXPO by Whitman Coin and Collectibles;

A lot of people had mixed feelings about this show and it being held the week before Long Beach.  Their worries were totally unfounded, unless you take into consideration ”THE UNIONS”.  The show itself wasn’t half bad.  It was well attended and we even did some business with local collectors.  But the BIG scuttlebutt was “THE UNIONS” and how they KILLED IT.  As in Whitman pulled the plug on this show.  There will be no more Philadelphia Expos put on by Whitman. And it is all true.  It’s sad.  At least the local coin collectors have the option of traveling down to Baltimore.  I wonder what all those union workers at the convention center will do for a living after they’ve run the last convention out of town.  Honestly…I don’t care.

LONG BEACH COIN EXPO;

This on the other hand is a show that has over time worked out all the bugs and is now gaining momentum at lightning speed.  As you will recall I have changed up my game plan quite a bit and this was the first show where I really implemented it.  And it went really well.

I had fewer coins in my case for sale so that enabled a lot of the foot traffic to quickly pass me by.  But the customers and clients that know what I’m doing were there and ready to buy.  Again, I didn’t sell a lot of coins, just some really COOL ones.  You know the kind; coins that you have a hard time putting down until you’ve got the deal done.  One of my clients was so excited to get a very special piece there that I actually started to visualize him as an 8 year old getting a “Red Rider” BB gun for his Birthday.  I don’t know who smiled bigger…him getting the coin or me seeing his enthusiasm.

As usual PCGS was there doing on site grading.  And as usual they did a great job with the product they put out.  They hobby sure has come a long way since I attended my first Long Beach way back in the early 1980s…

THE SILVER DOLLAR & RARE COIN EXPOSITION;

I didn’t go.  For the first time in many, many years I didn’t attend one of the three major shows held in the greater St. Louis area.  And for good reason…I took some well deserved time off and went out to Montana with some friends.  Sometimes you just gotta get away.

From what I heard though if one was to miss a St. Louis show, then this was the one to skip.  My colleagues who did attend told me that the public attendance was down, and virtually no deals broke there.  Guess I picked the right one to bail on.

PCGS MEMBERS ONLY SHOW;

This was held the same week as the above mentioned St. Louis so I wasn’t there either.  I did however send some coins out there to be graded.  Not a lot mind you, but some pretty neat ones.  And as I expected PCGS did a great job.  Reward the really fresh pieces and spank the tired old sometimes altered ones is what I say.  And that is exactly what they did.

BALTIMORE EXPO;

So now we’re all up to speed and are on real time.  I got down there on Wednesday with the intention of looking at the entire Stacks/Bowers auction hoping to pick out the best and try and buy them for inventory.  Well that did not go as planned.  From the time I got down there until early evening on Wednesday I was busy looking at some coins from my many contacts.  It’s that whole relationship thing I keep talking about (got it in there didn’t I).  In this business first shot at a fresh deal means quite a bit.  So when the opportunity arises, I jump on it.  And as you probably figured out, it worked out.  I bought what was in my mind one of the freshest groups of coins to show up there.  Some needed to go to PCGS and some were ready for sale, but most of them have made it to my web site by now (in fact they were posted yesterday and several have already been sold as I write this).

From talking to my friends who also had tables there it seems like it was a pretty decent show all around.  I’m not saying that the market is on fire, but it is very healthy from all indications.  It kind of seems that those people who do have a little extra money are looking for ways to get rid of it.  Coin collecting is an easy and fun way to do just that.

ERIC P. NEWMAN AUCTION

For the last few months the Numismatic Community has been abuzz with the upcoming Newman sale.  And rightfully so.  I have seen all these coins up close and must say that there are some really spectacular pieces in his collection.

Since the first section of Mr. Newman’s coins were sold back in April of this year in Chicago, there has been a lot of talk about what would be in the next group.  Folks they are really cool.  So cool that Heritage had many of the highlights available for viewing at the ANA this past August and collectors couldn’t stop talking about them.  I spoke with several of my clients and customers (who I will be representing later this week) who actually decided to “keep their powder dry” until this sale.  I expect a blood bath and that is okay.

Garrett.  Eliasberg.  Norweb.  Pittman.  Every time that these types of collections come up they bring run-a-way prices for the time.  And the really special coins without a doubt seem like they were bargains a few short years later.  Make no mistake, the same will happen in this session of the Newman collection.  I really believe that there will be some absolutely stupid prices realized.  Stupid today; smart tomorrow.

So if you want to buy some really neat coins in this sale, sharpen your pencil, figure out the most you’d pay.  Then double it.  And then add ten percent on top of that just for extra measure.  Then maybe, just maybe, you’ll end up with a coin or two you will cherish for decades to come.

So there you have it.  My latest attempt at writing.  I’d like to tell you that I’ll have a report on the Newman auction up early next week but you and I know the odds of that happening.  But hey, you never know.

Remember…I love to talk coins.

Bill

American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money, 2013 Show Report

I thought I’d take a proactive approach this time and write my show report while the event is still fresh in my mind.  As you read this, and my opinions flip flop between positive and negative, I’m doing this not to attack anyone, but to point out areas that could stand to be improved.  So bear with me…

First off I’d like to complement the ENTIRE ANA STAFF on a job well done.  They in their own right have got this show thing down to a science.  They’re a well oiled machine doing a thankless job.  I personally had no complaints about that end of the show, but there are always dealers and collectors who find something to bring up.  Keep up the good work!

I decided to skip the pre-show and arrive on Monday morning for a late afternoon set up.  I personally think that the whole pre-show thing is a waste.  In my opinion it is an attempt to get more money out of the dealers by playing on their fear of missing out on some deal; and from what I heard more and more dealers are taking that approach, too.  Let’s hope that something can be done about that in the future.

As I said above, set up was Monday afternoon (at 3:00).  I got in Chicago early that morning because…TADA…I had some appointments with dealers who were also coming in that day.  After about six hours of looking at coins in my hotel room, and buying some really great pieces (aren’t relationships great!), it was off to the show!

This year I decided to do a little something different than in the prior years.  I got a “super” booth and invited some of my clients to join me by setting up and displaying items from their collections.  I came about this idea awhile back when talking to a customer who commented that there weren’t any really “cool” coins on the floor “just for display”.  After thinking about it I realized he was right.  So I decided to do something about it.  I asked a few clients, who had varied collecting interests, if they would care to participate.  Imagine my enthusiasm when they all said yes!  Below is a list of displays that were available for the public to view:

1) The Ray Levoi Collection of Half Dollars.  A phenomenal set of Bust, Seated, and Walking halves painstakingly put together by a very fussy collector.  Many of the viewing public kept asking for prices on pieces, even after they were informed that they weren’t for sale.  Unfortunately the owner wasn’t able to attend the show.  I wish he had just so I could see his face when the attendees viewed his collection.

2) Big Moose’s collection of Christian Gobrecht’s Transitional Head Middle Date and Early Late Date Large Cents.  An unbelievable group of incredible large cents.  The owner, a friend with a wild sense of humor, has brought these together, over a long period of time, waiting on just the right coin, with that right look, before making any additions.  A GREAT collection displayed by a true coin weenie!  (And he’s a pretty good painter too!)

3)  The Bay Area collection of U.S. Gold Coins.  While trying to assemble this set, this collector passed on many coins waiting on the ones that spoke to him.  His diligence paid off.  An amazing group with outstanding eye appeal that created quite a stir.  Virtually every dealer and collector who stopped to view them started his/her dialog with “I’d like to see…” before being informed that they weren’t for sale.  I sort of felt bad seeing their faces go from delight (as in they just found that “right coin”) to depression (as in sorry these are for sale).  But I like to think that at least they came away realizing that there were coins out there that they’d like for their collection.

4)  So what do a Continental Dollar, an 1868 Aluminum $20, and a 1907 Wire Edge $10 have in common?  Each of those was on display, on different days, by this eclectic numismatist.  On one day he had a complete 1868 Aluminum set of coins (along with their original period box), the next a collection of pieces with the “Mind Your Business” motif (complete with Fugio and above mentioned Continental Dollar, as well as a denominational type set of Continental Currency), and then a display of Saint Gaudens 1907 coinage along with the beautiful paper money that complements them.  Many a collector came by the next day for a second look at his stuff, only to see something totally different.  Seeing these pieces (with their off the chart eye appeal and colors) was like looking at a Sherwin Williams paint chart…sensory overload to say the least!

5)  When you get the bug, you got it.  Not even a physician can cure it.  So when this collector put out his display of Pioneer coinage and related ephemera many a viewer was spell bound and oblivious to the outside world.  California, Colorado, Utah, you name it…they were all there.  A passionate collector (as was evident by his case) who’s interests are as diverse as could be.  From Pioneer Gold to Sample Slabs, this gentlemen hunts them down like there’s no tomorrow.  And his eye for quality doesn’t stop with coins.  He even bought an antique bookcase at the antique show in the adjacent hall!  But that is what these displays were all about…FUN!  And sharing your joy with others.

So set up was at 3:00 and as usual there was a lot of handshaking and pleasantries exchanged all the while trying to get those fresh coins.  There was a buzz, but not one that was defining.  Many of the people there had arrived the week before for the pre-show and were already worn out.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, those pre-shows have got to go.

In addition to the collectors mentioned above, Tom Bush was with me and we proceeded to set up.  That isn’t really all that easy when everyone wants to see your coins before you put them in the cases.  But we managed to get through it without any SNAFUs.  Before we knew it six o’clock rolled around and the bourse floor was closed.  It was then off to dinner at the best restaurant around, “Gibson’s”, and a good night’s sleep before the opening bell at 8:00 on Tuesday.

Tuesday morning was kind of like late December and holiday shopping.  Dealers were jumping from table to table looking for that right “gift”.  Or perhaps one that might get a gift from the grading services.  By mid-day, when the public was admitted, it was more like mid-November holiday shopping.  Collectors took their time asking questions and prices, politely replying “I might be back”.

It was at this time that “C.J.”, a YN who I met at the ANA’s Summer Seminar, arrived and joined our team.  To say that he is enthusiastic is an understatement, and his grading skills consistently put him at the top of my class.  Between Tom, C.J., and myself I think we pretty much had it under control. We bought quite a few coins from dealers and collectors alike, and by Tuesday afternoon had submitted them to PCGS.  More about that later…

Having the “Collectors Displays” as well as my own inventory meant that there was always a constant flow of people coming by.  A busy show makes the time fly (Fugio!) and that’s always better than boredom.

So here is my first gripe.  On Tuesday I looked in the “official” ANA program for food options for lunch.  It showed the location of a snack bar in the convention hall.  Well…that was closed.  I guess nobody told them about the show.  There was however a “food court” WAY in the back of the hall.  And that would be okay if you were starving out in the wilderness because their selection SUCKED!   I find it hard to believe that with all the money and wealth in the coin show that we have to eat food that’s primary purpose is to cause health issues.  So…back to Gibson’s for take-out lunch.  Guess I wasn’t the only person that thought that way as the wait time for carryout was over an hour!  Mmmm…not good.  Folks, in this day in age there has got to be a better way.  Let’s work together and figure this out.  Please!

By Wednesday the show was in full swing.  We were expecting to start getting our grading back later that afternoon but it seems that PCGS got overwhelmed.  As in one or two submitters clogged up the system.  But, being the troopers that they are, PCGS worked at making it work.  A big “Thank You” goes out to David Talk and his crew.  They’re great!

Wednesday night I had the pleasure of dinning with a friend/client at…Gibson’s!  Gibson’s is a great place, but as with all good things, sometimes too much isn’t a good thing.  My friend and I had a nice (not so quiet) dinner talking about cars, dogs, and of course coins.  It is evenings like this that makes spending so many nights away from home tolerable.  Unfortunately my buddy had to leave the show the next morning.  I would have like to have spent more time talking with him.

Thursday…

By this time pretty much everybody had settled down into a routine.  Dealers were hunkered down at their tables waiting for the influx of collectors.  I can’t speak for anybody but myself but it seemed like we were busy all day long.  No frenzy, just nice and steady.  As you know, that’s how I like it.  Looking in the safe I could tell by the number of new purchases as well as the number of invoices that it was going to add up to a decent show, despite what other dealers may have seen.  Throughout the day we did our best to help each and every collector who stopped by.  Sometimes we had one or two wanting to talk to us, or look at a coin, but usually there was just that steady flow of potential, and established, collectors coming up to the table.  Again, it seemed like the day flew by and before we knew it six o’clock rolled around and it was off to a special dinner honoring the survivors of the Shanghai Ghetto.  It was a wonderful venue and I had the honor of spending dinner talking to two different survivors.  If you aren’t familiar with the Shanghai Ghetto; Google it.  Their story is amazing.

Thursday night was also the Stacks Bowers Rarities session of the official ANA auction.  As I was at the Shanghai Ghetto event, I wasn’t able to attend but a friend offered to bid for me.  I had spent many hours last week in New York viewing selected lots for clients, as well as looking at a few last minute possibilities.  Well, the auction was VERY strong and I was only able to win one lot for a client.  But, one is better than none and the collector was happy to get it.

What about the buying and selling going on at the show you ask?  Quite a bit actually.  From the number of inquiries at our table, between my inventory and the displays, we saw lots of interest.  Without a doubt the coin market is very much alive.  The only problem is finding the right coins for the right people.  And sometimes you don’t know that you have the right coin.  What?  One example would be Saturday afternoon.  Some of you might realize that I also deal in medals and tokens, not just Gem quality rare coins.  I’ve had a few medals/tokens from Colorado for awhile.  I even had them at the Colorado Springs coin show in late June (kind of thought that’s where they might sell).  Anyways, right after lunch time a gentleman came up, saw them, looked at them, asked a price, and then bought them.  Lock, stock, and barrel.

In addition to the tokens/medals above we sold quite a few really GEM type coins.  You know the type.  The ones that you ask yourself “how did this ever survive?”  We also had the privilege of selling a couple really cool items that we can’t really talk about (to protect client interest).  Again, all of these coins had a common denominator:  EYE APPEAL!

As I write this report Tom Bush is busy photographing our new purchases and getting them ready for the website.  A few of my favorites are:

1855 Large Cent Upright 55, PCGS MS66RD…An unbelievable piece that quite frankly defies existence.

1909 Lincoln Cent, PCGS PR66RD CAC…As fresh as the day it was minted.

1885 Seated Liberty Dime, PCGS PR67+…Amazing color and worthy of any cabinet.

1935-D Walking Liberty Half, PCGS MS66 CAC…Not your typical 35-D, as this piece has a strong head and intense luster.  Best looking piece for the date I’ve ever seen.

1946-S Walking Liberty Half, PCGS MS67 CAC…Phenomenal concentric rainbow toning that must be seen to believe.

1882 Gold Dollar, PCGS MS67…One of the coolest 1882 gold dollars I’ve seen.  Blazing luster with a blanket of copper color.  Breathtaking.

So there it is.  I’m sure I missed something important, but hey this report has taken three hours and 4 shots of espresso to get done!

Check back often this week, and if you see anything you like email me or better yet, call me.

Remember…I love to talk coins.

Bill

Colorado Springs Coin Show and ANA Summer Seminar Report

Colorado Springs Coin Show and ANA Summer Seminar Report

After being gone for over ten days I have finally caught up with things enough that I can sit down and write this show report.  Okay, maybe not completely caught up, but enough time has gone by that this needs to get done.

Some of you may know that I have been going out to Colorado Springs for the past 15 years and teaching at the ANA’s Summer Seminar.  In fact, many of you have been students in my class.  I am not shy (never have been) about my feelings for this time of year.  It is without a doubt the best time and value in Numismatics.  Over a two week period there are two different sessions of classes held on the Colorado College campus covering a wide variety of subjects.

In addition to the two weeks of classes, there is a coin show put on by the Colorado Springs Coin Club on the weekend between sessions.  For students and instructors alike this has been a hidden little GEM on the show circuit.  I arrived in Denver on Wednesday afternoon and made my way down to the “Springs”.  Many of the students and teachers take advantage of the housing available on campus.  I do not.  I like to stay off campus.  Not that I’m a snob or anything.  I just like the privacy that it affords me.  This year I had the privilege to stay at the newly completed “The Miners Exchange”, a Wyndham Grand Hotel and I was very impressed.  Spending over 30 weeks a years on the road, believe me when I say it takes alot to impress me.  Note:  “The Miners Exchange” was originally built as an exchange for stocks and bonds for the many mining companies that sprang up in the Colorado Rockies in the first part of the twentieth century.  It is grand and opulent, just like you’d expect for a city built from new found wealth in the gold and silver mining industry.

The show set up was on Thursday around 12-2.  There weren’t a lot of people there earlier on, but as classes winded down, and more dealers arrived, it was in full swing by late afternoon.  At this leisurely pace I was able to hook up with some dealers I see only once a year, as well as catch up with some of the Seminar attendees who I have met over the years.  This show, what I’d call a regional one, isn’t near as hectic as a major one.  There is a totally different pace there, with the collector definitely being the dominant factor.

I’ll tell you one cute story.  A collector, who I’d never met before, came to my table and looked through my cases as if on a mission.  Then he left.  He came back about an hour later and asked to see an 1847 Hawaiian Cent in PCGS MS63BN.  He asked the price and after a little negotiation, purchased it.  Then his story came out.  Seems he lived in Hawaii as a child and was doing some yard work for a neighbor.  Upon completion of his tasks, he was paid with two Hawaiian cents.  As a kid he didn’t really care that much about the coins, and at some point in life sold them.  But the memory never escaped him.  Now, later on in his adult life, it was time to replace them.  A symbol of his childhood and the time spent in Hawaii was now his forever.  I didn’t sell a tremendous amount of coins at this show, but each and every one had a story attached to them.  Usually from the collector’s side and their adventure to find them.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

Buying, well that was a mixed bag.  After the first few hours of walking the floor, I limited myself to going out to about once an hour for a few minutes looking for possible new additions.  Funny thing about shows.  Most people (mainly dealers) tend to think that if you don’t get there first thing, you’ll miss all the good deals.  That is generally correct, but they forget that collectors are constantly showing up at the show and either selling or trading something there.  So if you have the time, and are already at a show, don’t run off so quickly.  Some of the best deals I have bought have showed up later in the show.  And this my friends is where the “relationship” part of the business comes into play.  Chances are I wouldn’t have gotten offered a few little deals had I not been there on Saturday afternoon.  But I was and I took advantage of it by buying some pretty cool pieces.  They aren’t up on the web yet, but will be after a short trip out to Las Vegas for PCGS’ Members Only show.

Now on to the ANA’s Summer Seminar.

This year marked my sixteenth year of attending.  Wow…how time flies.  For the past nine years I have had the honor of teaching with Charlie Browne (no, not that Charlie Brown, he’s a comic strip character silly).  In addition we had Don Ketterling and Ken Park teaching with us.  In the past I have tried many different people, all very successful coin dealers, to teach alongside Charlie and me.  Believe it or not, it isn’t that easy to find qualified instructors.   Many of them, while very good at grading and dealing coins, weren’t quite able to convey grading tactics to the students.  The dynamics in the classroom are very important.  Synergy is paramount.  The classroom antics are hard to explain, but if you ever get the chance to take our class I highly recommend it.  You’ll have a blast.

Throughout the week Charlie, Don, Ken and I did our best for the students.  Oh, did I mention that we had 27 in our class?  Yep, about half of them were YN’s (Young Numismatists in ANA speak) and the other half had an average age of over 50.  Quite the mixture.  For four and a half days we challenged the students to see the coins in a different light.  Some of them got the concept right away, while others took their time, getting their Eureka moment later in the week.  I’m pretty sure that they all came away with a new appreciation for what goes into grading coins nowadays, as well as being able to spot some of the more subtle “doctoring” techniques.

And then it happened…

Thursday evening, after all the classes were over, and everybody was getting ready to return home, we had our banquet.  In the prior 15 years of teaching there, I think I had attended maybe 2 or 3 of these at the most.  But my fellow instructors wanted to attend so we did.  It was a wonderful affair, with great barbecue, and held on the 4th of July to boot.  Our table, comprising of students and instructors alike, ate and laughed as if the night would never end.  There is nothing better than eating watermelon while busting on each other.

After everybody had a belly full of food, they started the awards ceremony.  All I could think was “Another one is in the books”.  I was talking with Ken Park when I realized that the MC was talking about a “grading class”…our grading class.  I looked at Charlie…and then they read our names.

Charles O. Browne and William Shamhart had each been given the honorary degree of “Doctor of Numismatics” in recognition of Distinctive Career Achievements, Service to the Hobby and Selfless Contributions to Summer Seminar by the American Numismatic Association School of Numismatics.

And while no one got to see it…I smiled.

Bill

June 2013 Baltimore Show Report

June 2013 Baltimore Show Report

I spent over half an hour trying to come up with a catchy title for this show report; and you see what I came up with. So if there was ever any doubt that I suffer from writer’s block, rest assured I have it.

By now you’ve read in other dealers show reports how the June Baltimore (as well as the June Long Beach) show is the slowest of the three. I am not going to fill my report full of fluff about how great it was or how many millions of dollars worth of business I did. Because it wasn’t and I didn’t. But I am going to tell you why this show was pivotal for me and the future of Numismatic Americana. In the past few months there have been some changes in my life. Some would say good, some would say bad. But I say all change plays a positive roll in that it brings about growth. And growth is always good. I won’t lie and say that I haven’t questioned my position as a retailer, because I have. Sometimes I wonder whether that really is my lot in life; my calling if you will. After being a wholesaler for over twenty-five years (25!) it was a little hard to make the transition. But I did. There is a learning curve as well as growing pains associated with it. Remember nothing in life is ever free, and numismatics is no exception.

So where am I going with this you ask? I don’t know myself so I can’t really answer that question. But I do know I love coins and I love talking with people about them. Hearing the story of the hunt and how a collector finally bagged the “Big” one. Or perhaps the research that a collector did on a coin to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. It fascinates me. It intrigues me. I love it. Really I do.

I got down to Baltimore late Wednesday afternoon. I didn’t see any reason to hurry up and get there because I didn’t have any appointments lined up. Seems most of my “secret” connections weren’t going. And I understand that position. But I think they missed the boat. The ENTIRE team of Whitman deserve a big round of applause for their work putting this show together. It isn’t easy making a show overly attractive when your clients don’t really want to come. But they did it. Great job people.

I think I should mention at this time that neither PCGS nor NGC were there doing on-site grading. That in its own right put a slight damper on the show. Kind of funny how important that has become to the success of a show in such little time. Evolution my friends, evolution.

The show officially opened to dealers for set up at eight o’clock on Thursday. This I like. Believe it or not, that one extra hour allows the table holders just a little more time to get settled in. I know that I and many others appreciated it. Early-bird badge holders got in a few hours after that with the general public getting in a couple more hours after them. Before I knew it, it was midday and the show was in full swing. Oh, I forgot to mention that this show was held in another hall, a smaller hall at that. And that’s okay. It worked and I didn’t hear any complaints about it at all. Another great decision on Whitman’s part. Keep up the good work.

As I have mentioned before in my show reports I like a smaller, more intimate setting. That is kind of hard to accomplish in a convention hall. But this show, a June Baltimore show, had that feeling. There wasn’t a rushed sense about it. Big as it was I was able to spend LOTS of time talking with customers and clients (see my last show report to find out the difference) about coins and life and everything in between. It was great. I was really pleased to see several clients make the trip to Baltimore. Clients I didn’t expect to see there. And that allowed me the opportunity to spend some time talking with them. Hearing about their collections and what their goals were. And that my friends is a lot more exciting than hearing about what a dealers goals are. So it was there in Baltimore that I had my moment. That moment when I realized that selling coins to collectors is why I am in this industry (yes industry, this is a real business). So as the saying goes, “I’m all in”.

So if you ever find yourself at a coin show where I have a table stop bye and say hello. Don’t let my gruff exterior scare you away. I’m just a “coin geek” who loves coins, and loves talking about them.

Bill Shamhart

P.S. Check out my new listings. If you see something of interest give me a call or send me an email. I will be traveling for the next ten days to Colorado Springs (teaching at the ANA’s summer seminar), but I promise to get back to you as soon as possible.

June Long Beach Show Report

Over the past few weeks many of you have emailed or called asking if I was going to continue to write show reports. So, as they say, “Back by popular demand” I present to you my latest writing…

The June Long Beach show has traditionally been the slowest of the three times a year event. People seem to be busy with graduations, end of the school year, vacation planning, and the likes at this time of the year so I’ve come to not expect a whole lot at this show (so that I’m not disappointed). And on the surface it seems to have been right on course. But then I started to evaluate the show a little more in depth. Sometimes things just aren’t what they appear to be.

I have changed my business plan just a little so this show was a combination of the old one and my new one. Let me explain. I am trying to handle less coins that appeal to more collectors. Example you ask? Take for instance a 1943 50c in PCGS MS67 CAC. Great coin. Beautiful and a joy to behold. But you can find dozens of them at any major show. I’m not saying that collectors shouldn’t buy one (or the series). Just the opposite. I think they should. But I can’t compete with low end coins (un CAC’d) that are available by the truck load. Nor can I compete by hand selecting each and every one for its overall quality and eye appeal only to have collectors get frustrated because I won’t sell them at the same price as a “supermarket” dealer would. It’s pure economics. I should however tell you that I will continue to buy and sell those types of coins to “clients” for sets that I am building on their behalf (see below).

Therefore I am trying to find rare coins that by definition are, well, hard to find. Coins that collectors look high and low for, show after show. And as hard as that is for collectors, believe me when I say it isn’t that easy for dealers either. But try I do and try I will. Want some examples? Look no further…

1864 2c Small Motto PCGS MS66 RB. A classic that has been in demand forever.

1815/2 50c PCGS AU58 CAC. Another true classic that has had collectors asking themselves if they will ever find the right coin for their set.

1900 Lafayette S$1 PCGS MS66+. While available in lower mint state grades, true gems with exceptional eye appeal are few and far between.

So keeping my new plan in mind I would say the show was a success. I had the privilege and pleasure of spending some time with customers who are now friends and clients. Whoa! What is the difference between a customer and a client you ask? Simple. A customer buys something from a dealer. End of story. A client is someone who spends time with a dealer explaining their collection and game plan. They build a relationship with each other (got it in there didn’t I!), knowing that they are both on the same page. The fruits of that endeavor are immeasurable compared to that of a customer/dealer transaction. So I guess you have to ask yourself (or maybe not), do you want to be a customer or a client?

Enough philosophy. How about grading? Well as has been the norm for quite some time PCGS held the line. They reward great coins and well quite frankly, spank not too nice/fresh coins. Kudos to them. That’s how it should be. NGC? Uh, they weren’t there doing on-sight grading.

So there it is. My latest attempt at writing. I have sent my new purchases off to be imaged and put up on the web. I won’t be sending out a new purchase email highlighting them, so check back often throughout the week. I do however promise to work on getting the ability to send out future new purchase emails shortly. So…check out my latest offerings and if you see something of interest, email me or give me a call.

Remember…I love to talk coins.

Central States Show Report

I’m not a writer. You know that. I know that. So who am I trying to kid? I have great intentions when it comes to show reports; really I do. I spend countless hours in my hotel room, on an airplane, driving home from the airport, thinking about what I’d like to say. And then it comes time to sit down at the computer and my mind goes blank. Oh well.

A lot has happened recently here at Numismatic Americana. First I would like to thank all of you who contacted me regarding the recent personnel changes. Thank you. I have a new photographer who just finished imaging the new coins and putting them up on the web site. Look them over; I’m sure you’ll agree they are top notch. As a one man operation I’d also like to thank those whose emails were a little slow in getting a response. I promise to do my best. Now on to the show…

I was originally scheduled to arrive in Chicago EARLY Tuesday morning. But I decided to change all that and get there mid-day. I didn’t really miss much in my opinion. I went straight to auction lot viewing to look at some things for clients. Wow! The auction viewing room was packed! Seeing that certainly raised my expectations for the show. But I was reserved and didn’t get my hopes up for the show starting on Wednesday morning.

Set up was what I would call typical. Lots of hand shaking and pleasantries exchanged. But only for a short while. It didn’t take long before the show was in full swing with a constant flow of collectors and clients coming by the table. One of the good things about a show with a major auction associated with it is that it tends to bring out the more serious collectors. The sale of the Eric Newman patterns and the 1913 Liberty nickel did just that. In fact I would say that there were more advanced collectors here than at any show in my recent memory. I was thinking about this on the way home and realized that we sold more BIG coins there than little ones. Big as in $50k or more. It appears that there is a lot of money chasing coins right now. That brings up a point I’ve wanted to mention for quite some time. There is an old saying…”You can overpay for the wrong coins, but rarely do you overpay for the right ones”. Never has this been truer than now. “Coins with Character” (Doug Winter), “Coins that matter” (Joe O’Connor)…these catch phases ring loud and clear now.

I was able to buy quite a few spectacular pieces in Chicago. Unfortunately some of them didn’t make it home with me or were sold over the phone to client who couldn’t attend the show. A few of them are

1831 25C PCGS MS65 CAC

1806 50c PCGS MS64 CAC

1861-D $G1 PCGS MS63 CAC

1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific Octagonal PCGS MS64 CAC

1836 $1 J-58 PCGS PR63 CAC

In addition to the above I was able to buy so really cool coins for my web site. By the time you read this they will all be up and listed (with photographs) for your consideration. Check them out and them call me or send an email (that I promise to answer promptly) if you see something of interest.

Remember…I love to talk coins.

PCGS’ Members Only Show Report

While preparing for the PCGS Members Only show last Tuesday evening I set the alarm on my iPhone for 3 and went to bed around 11 after writing up my submissions. Well, I guess I really am technologically challenged, because I set it for 3 p.m. And you guessed it, I woke up at 5 a.m. wondering why my alarm didn’t go off. A quick call to the airline and I was booked on the next flight out after my originally scheduled 6:30 one.

An uneventful five hour flight later and I was at the beautiful Venetian/Palazzo resort and ready to do business. Its kind of funny, but after 30 years of attending coin shows I still can’t figure them out. When ever I think I will have a great show, I don’t. And when I don’t get my hopes up, it turns out pretty good. So I’ve learned to just go and do my business and let the chips fall where they may (Vegas lingo). Well this was one of the shows that surprised me with the results. From the very beginning I was busy selling coins to other dealers (after submitting my coins for grading) as well as looking at potential items for inventory. You may recall that I really like this type of environment for coin shows. They aren’t too big that a person can’t get around to see everyone in the room. Unhurried and laid back. Just like I like them. After a few hours of the show it was time for dinner and I had the pleasure of dining with 3 of my fellow dealers at a great restaurant. A fitting end to a very long day.

Thursday morning arrived very early for me. Living on the east coast my internal clock is set to wake up around 5 EST. Well that my friends is 2 a.m. in Vegas. I tired to get a little extra sleep, but that is easier said than done if you know what I mean. So I answered emails and made notes of the things that I wanted to accomplish at the show that day. When the show opened up at 8 a.m. I was there for the bell and ready to go. From the onslaught it was busy and let up only when lunch arrived. Seems that the only thing coin dealers and collectors like better than talking coins is talking coins over a meal. After an hour or so business got back to usual and time started to fly. Early in the afternoon a customer, who awhile ago became a client, and is now a friend, showed up and we talked coins, collecting strategy and everything in between (as well as dinner plans). This is a classic example of relationship building that I have mentioned time and again. As the day went on business was done and coins were bought and sold. It was early Thursday afternoon that I started to get coins back from PCGS and I am pleased to say that, in my mind, they did a great job. Fresh, no problem coins were rewarded as they should be. After writing a few more invoices it was off to dinner and evening festivities. It was another great night of fellowship with yet another “coin geek”.

Friday was like watching “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray. Coins were bought and sold throughout the day, and I was constantly getting freshly graded inventory back from PCGS. “Coin Nirvana”. As hard as I try I still can’t predict what happens at a coin show. I sold coins that I never thought would sell there, and was able to buy a lot more that I would have anticipated.

To sum it up the show was great. From wholesale to retail I can honestly state that the market is very much in good health. And this is a trend that I think will continue for quite a while.

Christine has been busy getting my newps and freshly graded coins ready for the web. So check out the listing of new inventory and if anything rings your bell give me or Christine a call (or send an email). We’ll do our best to make sure its the right coin for your collection and get it to you P.D.Q.

Remember…we love to talk coins!

Long Beach Coin Expo February 2013

I apologize for this very short report in advance. I was writing it on my home computer and it ate it. So now I am writing an abridged version on my iPad.

In a nutshell it was great. The show doesn’t even resemble the show of years gone by, smaller and more refined if you like. During set up there wasn’t panic to get things done, just grown up and methodical, business in a relaxed environment by my account. Just like I like it.

Our buying speaks for itself. Our new purchases are some of the nicest in recent memory, and many of the coins we took to the Beach found new homes. I did notice that collectors are getting a bit more finicky in their purchases, which is just fine with me. Nice coins sell themselves.

Christine and I had the pleasure of dining with a couple of clients while out there and as usual it was great to hear what makes a collector tick. It was a blast.

One thing that does need to be addressed, as I heard it from MANY people, is the PA service. The public announcements were extremely loud and obnoxious. It made it very difficult to speak with anybody in the room. Other than that I think that the staff of the Long Beach Coin and Collectibles Expo did a wonderful job. Keep up the good work.

So there’s my show report, short and to the point! But fret not as our new purchases are lengthy and should provide hours of enjoyment. Look them over and if something rings your bell, give us a call (or email). Remember…we love to talk coins.

2013 FUN Show Report…A sign of things to come?

I am an optimist. I really am. But at the same time I am a realist. The annual FUN show, usually held in the first week or two of the New Year in the resort town of Orlando, is a bell-weather of the year to come. After a month and a half long Holiday season most collectors and dealers are chomping at the bit to start the New Year and their numismatic quests. It’s no wonder that attendance records are set as collectors and dealers alike make the trek to Florida. Along with this comes the anticipation of a good and profitable FUN show from a Dealers point of view. But, and this is a big but, I had my reservations. There has been a lot of press lately about the fiscal (financial) mess and new tax rates coming down the pike. Usually there is a little trepidation with unknowns like this hanging around. Read on to see the outcome…

I arrived in Orlando early Tuesday morning and Christine (who had to travel across the country diagonally) landed later that afternoon. After attempting to check into my hotel, which I couldn’t do early, I went to the auction lot viewing to check out a few things for clients and inventory. Have you every done that? If you get the catalog for the FUN sales then you have a concept of what its like; it’s like looking through a New York city phone book, a daunting task to say the least, but even then you don’t really get the full experience. Try and visualize thousands and thousands of coins and a few hundred people at any given time trying to see them. Now remember that Mr. Murphy (of SNAFU fame) is an ardent coin collector and made sure that you had to wait for hours to see the boxes you need. He and some of his buddies are the consummate coin hogs. Perhaps they did that on purpose, perhaps not. It didn’t help the staff at lot viewing try to accommodate you buy with a little perseverance I was able to see everything I needed to and make the appropriate notes. Then off to dinner after a very long day.

Wednesday started with a few appointments (relationships, remember?) to buy some really fresh to the market pieces and then off to the auction for the first session, which started at noon. Christine and I sat through most of the first session waiting for the really cool Three Cent Silver pieces being offered. I know the dealer who helped assemble this collection (and respect his eye) and had some very strong bid on the pieces I wanted. We even had a client who sat next to us, anxiously waiting to buy one. Well we left empty handed. These coins went for prices that were off the charts. Both Christine and I have loved this series for many, many years and have several advanced collectors that we advise with their acquisitions. I have always said that “trimes” have a cult following, but after this I would say they shot to the top of main stream numismatics. Perhaps 2013 will be their year.

Right after the first session of the auction the bourse floor opened for dealer set up. There was a lot of “Happy New Years” exchanged, talk about the holiday season, and the usual pleasantries exchanged. With this many dealers and tables to view Christine and I tried to concentrate on buying for the first few hours, occasionally showing our inventory to other dealers and making a sale. As you can see from the new purchases that have been recently added to our web site we were pretty successful. After another long day it was off to a quiet dinner, just two of us.

The first full day of the show, Thursday, had the bourse opening at a reasonable 8:30 and we were there ready to do business. For the next hour and a half it was again dealer to dealer, until the collecting public was admitted at 10:00. After that there was barely any time to breath. From 10 until 7 it was non stop with at least 2 and sometimes 3 or 4 people at our table looking at or talking coins. Many old clients and customers came by as well as some new and potential ones. At times I felt like I was running for office as I shook what seemed to be ten thousand hands (if I ever ran for an office or something I’d like to think you all would vote for me). By the end of the day we were completely exhausted, but in a good way. Talking all day about something you love can’t be all that bad…can it? As tired as Christine and I were we were happy when we were invited to out to dinner with a few really great people who just happen to be clients as well. I can’t remember when I laughed that much, but that’s what this is all about isn’t it? Coins and camaraderie. An unbeatable pair.

Friday. What a day. It started off a little slow but by noon I have to say that I don’t remember a show like this in recent history, truly non-stop, with virtually every person who stopped by ending up walking away with a new addition to their collection. That coupled with numerous phone calls with those who, unfortunately, couldn’t make it to FUN this year. I’d like to take the time to again mention that NONE of this would be possible without the many relationships we have built over the years. I know that those are the most valuable assets I have; as well as the most cherished. As with the night before, Christine and I were invited out to dinner with two other great guys, and very advanced collectors as well. Again, laughter throughout the night!

Enough of that though…what about the coins?

Well we really did buy some “stellar” pieces. From the phenomenal 1836 Lettered Edge Half in PCGS MS66, to the unbelievably rare 1872-S Seated Half in PCGS MS65, I think this is one of the best selections we have acquired in a long while. Keep in mind that many of the coins we bought never made it to our web site as they were bought with specific customers in mind and dealers as well. Early on, as in before the show even started, we had the opportunity to by a really cool 1911-D $10 Indian. We didn’t have a customer in mind, but I knew a fellow dealer who might. We offered it to the dealer and they were happy to buy it, finally finding one for their very patient client. It’s great when you know that a collector finally gets their white whale, and that you were part of it.

I could go on and on about the coins we bought, but I think I’ll let Christine’s photos and descriptions do the talking. As I’ve always said, “If you like the photo you’ll love the coin”. Check them out and then give us a call (or email) if you see something on your wish list. We can have them to you before the weekend (and then you can have a play date with them and your collection).

And remember…we love to talk coins.

Ringing in the New Year with a little FUN!

Now that the Holiday season of 2012 has come and gone, I thought I’d take a time to write down a few thoughts about the past year and the up-coming new one.

As a relatively new company (Christine and I have had Numismatic Americana for a little under three years now), we are grateful for the success that has been bestowed upon us. It is a fairly known fact that most start-up companies don’t make money for the first few years, but through hard (and smart) work, what we think is unparalleled customer service, and some of the most eye-appealing coins available we have had the privilege to provide hundreds of collectors with coins (from gem Walking Liberty half dollars for under $1,000 to superb proof gold coins). It is a simple mission statement for our company, but it works. Thank you to all of you for another successful year.

It has been said that if you don’t evolve with the times you become extinct. Keeping that in mind Christine and I are constantly striving to streamline our company, all the while keeping it simple, so that your coin buying experience is an easy and FUN one. If you have any ideas or suggestions that you would like to see from us we welcome your input.

In the upcoming months we will be trying a few new ideas and implementing some new strategies. One of them is to revise our want list program. So now might be a good time to think about updating your want (or wish) list. We sell a lot of coins directly to our clients that never make it to our website, so this definitely could benefit you and your collection. Think about it, and if you like the idea, give us a call or send us an email.

As some of you know, Christine and I are not sales people. We are coin people. We love to talk coins with our customers, even if it means talking someone out of a particular piece. That’s just who we are. One of the great innovators in our hobby in the past 50 years is David Hall. Yes he is a competitor of ours, but more importantly it was he who, although he didn’t come up with the concept, took third party grading to the level it is now. A lot can be said of Mr. Hall, but there is one thing that keeps sticking in my mind. His company tag line: Have FUN with your coins. I don’t think I could have said it better.

HAVE FUN WITH YOUR COINS! Wow, what a concept…

And if you happen to be in Orlando next week, stop by the FUN show and look us up. Table 904.

Remember…we love to talk coins.

PCGS’ Members Only Las Vegas Show Report


The last major coin show of the year was held this past week in Las Vegas at the beautiful Cosmopolitan Hotel. Put on by PCGS, the Members Only Shows are attended by a small but dedicated group of dealers and collectors alike. Most serious collectors are starting to realize just how important this venue is and are starting to show up in greater numbers. Dealers in the know regularly attend. A lot happened this week in Vegas, some good, some bad, but I promise that what happened in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first. We have a customer who lives in Las Vegas and was planning on attending the show. He even went to the bank and got his coins out in preparation of attending. Unfortunately he made the grave mistake of leaving his coins at home unattended for just a short while. And yes you guessed it, he was robbed. I am telling you this story because it happens all too often. Please don’t make this mistake. It only takes a few minutes for your life to be turned upside down. Safety and security should be paramount when it comes to your valuables. Be vigilante.

Now for the good…

One of the good things about shows is the ability to socialize with friends, clients and dealers alike. Christine had received a text a few weeks ago asking if she and I would like to go out to dinner on Wednesday. Of course she graciously accepted. Well, as the party who invited us so appropriately put it, we were “punked”! Seems that the couple had planned on getting married that night and wanted to surprise us (along with virtually everybody at the show) and surprised we were. Congratulations to Irma Kane and her new husband (and fellow dealer) Doug Winter. It was a beautiful ceremony followed but an outstanding dinner/reception.

Oh, did I mention that both of the above mentioned events took place on the same day? Talk about highs and lows.

Now on to the show…

Set up was at 11 a.m. and when I arrived the doors had just opened. Right away there was a buzz in the room. Dealers came trying to take advantage of some last minute, and year end, business. Many came in anticipation of the Legend-Morphy auction being held there. While I wasn’t able to attend the sale, it was a great success. Another congratulations is due; this time to the staff and owners of Legend-Morphy Auctions. Good job!

Early in the afternoon the public was admitted and that is when Christine and I really got busy. Not overly busy, as in no time to breath, but just a slow and steady flow. If you’ll recall I like this type of show and being able to spend some quality time with our customers and clients is really nice. No frenzy, no pressure, just great conversation and the occasional sale.

We submitted our coins early Wednesday and started to get them back late Friday afternoon. My experience was that PCGS was again holding the line just where it should be. Reward the really nice coins and well, and from the complaints that I heard from other dealers, error on the side of conservative with the not so nice or fresh.

Thursday night Christine and I had the pleasure of dinning with a couple of clients and talking coins, family, and everything in between. We had a great time and look forward to doing it again soon.

As I promise in my last show report we have some pretty special coins available for your consideration this time. These coins are really cool and represent some of the best pieces available, as well as highest graded in some cases. Those, in addition to some neat purchases from our secret sources (relationships, remember?) will soon be listed on our web site under the “all new coins” drop down page of our “coins and currency” page. Christine has been busily imaging them and getting them ready for your perusal. And if you see something of interest have your spouse or children give us a call. We can have it there in the “Nick” of time for the holidays.

This will be the last show report of 2012. So we’d like to take this time and wish each and every one of you a Happy Holiday season and great New Year!

Bill and Christine

Greater Houston Coin Club’s Money Show

Last week was the 56th showing of the Greater Houston Coin Club’s Money show of the Southwest. A Texas size shout out (thank you) goes to Carl Schwenker and all the members of GHCC that volunteered at the show. Their efforts make this venue a must attend event of the year (as always).

I arrived in Houston early in the afternoon, with enough time to attend Heritage’s lot viewing for their auction that week. I met a couple clients there and we talked about the lots as we looked at them. After lot viewing it was off to my hotel and a couple hour meeting with clients regarding their collections. It is always good to sit down (or plan a phone call) with your dealer of choice and talk about what direction you want to head with your collection. Times change, client’s taste change, and life changes, it is a good idea to keep up with it.

The show set up at 8 o’clock on Thursday (9 on Friday) which allowed a few extra hours of wholesale, or should I say dealer to dealer, time. I’ve always had a hard time with the phrase wholesale in this industry. There isn’t any set pricing or warehouses where a dealer can go and buy his inventory and then mark them up a certain percent. In fact I’ve looked at a coin (at somebody’s table), asked for a price, passed on it, and then watch a collector (not a dealer) ask for a price while I am still there, get quoted the same price and then buy it. I guess one man’s wholesale is another man’s retail.

I did a little “wholesale” business in the morning (Christine couldn’t make it this time) and then got ready for the collecting “public” to arrive. And they did. As usual this show gets a large crowd of collectors, dealers, vest pocket dealers, speculators, and everything else. There was a constant flow of people throughout the three days the show was open. I got to talk to a lot of customers of ours as many of them made the trip to Houston. In particular there were four different clients that I had the liberty of spending quite a bit of time with. It was the high-light of the show. These relationships Christine and I have built of the years really mean a lot to us.

As I said, there was constant flow of people through the George R. Brown convention center for the duration. Sales were a little weak for what I expected, but our buying more than made up for it. Sometimes you just don’t have the right coins for the right collectors at the right time. That is why we are continuously buying new coins for inventory. And, you guessed it, if it weren’t for the relationships we have built over the years there is a good chance Christine and I wouldn’t get as many coins as we do. In fact it is because of these bonds that we are able to offer the items that Christine is busy putting up on the web. Virtually all of them were purchased from existing customers or dealers with whom we have done business for a long time. It would be nearly impossible to acquire this many high quality pieces one at a time on a bourse floor, they simply aren’t out there (lying in dealer cases).

I’m not going to list any of my favorite purchases here because I don’t think I could pick two or three that I like better than the rest. I think they are all pretty cool. Oh, and remember that meeting I had on Wednesday night? Well the outcome of that is that we will have a few VERY neat gold coins available after PCGS’ Members Only Show next week in Las Vegas (this time at the Cosmopolitan). Stay tuned for those or if you get to attend that show take a look at them. I know you’ll be pleased.

The Holiday season is in full swing now, and we wish everyone a great one. And thank you for your patronage throughout this past week. We really appreciate it.

Happy Holidays!

Bill and Christine

Whitman’s Baltimore Expo Show Report

A lot has happened since I last sat down at my computer to do a show report. In a word: Sandy. I’d like to take this time to thank all of our customers, clients, and friends who inquired about how we weathered the storm. Everyday I see trucks from all across the U.S.A. working feverishly trying to restore power to the residents of the East Coast, as well as helping to just clean up the damage. I know that not everyone would agree with me, especially those still without power, but I for one am impressed with the progress made in the wake of this disaster. Thank you to those who are working around the clock over here, it is greatly appreciated.

The first major show after Sandy was Whitman’s Coin & Collectibles Expo held in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. It was a little hectic getting ready for the show, but once Christine and I arrived in the Inner Harbor (as the locals call it) it was almost as if Sandy had never happened. After checking into our hotel we immediately welcomed our first appointment. I know that I keep talking about our relationships with dealers and collectors alike, but the reality is that without them our business would be a fraction of what it is. In this case it was with another dealer who we do a lot of business with throughout the year. Our purchases were, well, great. Christine is busy imaging them (as well as all of our other NEWPS) and getting them ready for your consideration. After a few hours of business in the hotel, it was time for dinner and getting ready for Thursday, the first day of the show.

Set up was an early 8:00 in the morning. We barley had time to get to our table when we were inundated with fellow dealers wanting to see our coins, as well as ask how we survived Sandy. We did some wholesale selling, and looked at many dealers boxes. As has been the case lately, the boxes of coins we looked at were the usual tired stale inventory. We were lucky if we found one or two coins after looking at hundreds. But as with anything in life there are always exceptions, and we were very happy that three other dealers came straight to us (first) looking to sell fresh, new to the market, deals. Of course both Christine and I did everything in our power to buy those coins. These, along with the aforementioned deal, are among the new purchases being offered this week.

Around noon on Thursday the public was admitted to the show. Again many customers and clients stopped by to see how we fared with Sandy, exchange pleasantries, and also to BUY coins. I must confess that the retail aspect of the show was greater then I had expected. A good many coins in our inventory found new homes among their other high quality pieces. There were a few of our clients that had asked for our opinion on some of the auction lots being sold there, we advised them as if we were buying them for ourselves. Some were successful, some were not, but each and every one of them came away with a little more insight to the market.

I must confess that I am a little rusty with my show reports. I promise that the next one will be more in depth. In the mean time Christine and I, would like to give thanks to each and everyone of you for your support throughout the year. We hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and get to enjoy some time with your families. But if you find yourself in a position this weekend of either going holiday shopping (really?) or spending some time at home, might I suggest you get some of your coins out of the bank and enjoy them. After all isn’t that what this hobby is all about? And if you find a coin in our latest offering that might fit into your collection, give us a call. Remember…we love to talk coins.

Hurricane Sandy Update

By now most of you should have heard of the widespread devastation on the East Coast caused by Hurricane Sandy. As bad as it looks on the television I can assure you it is worse in person. And while there has been an outstanding show of unity and humanity here in New Jersey (Numismatic Americana’s headquarters are less than 50 miles from the Jersey shore) as with any natural disaster there are always a few bad apples that try and capitalize on it.

In particular I am talking about the mail system. I received an email this morning (on my I Pad as I have no power at home) telling dealers across the nation about a rash of thefts that have occurred due to Sandy. Therefore Christine and I have decided not to attempt to ship any coins for at least another week (that is assuming we can get to the bank and retrieve them). I know that many of you have ordered coins from our web site, purchased them on eBay, or have deals currently in play. Rest assured that we will honor ALL deals already made, and will put coins on hold for you in the order in which they are received. If you have already ordered coins and sent a check you have the option of waiting another week or so for the coins or canceling your order. There will be no questions asked regarding your decision either way. Many of you have already contacted us (Christine in particular as she is on the West Coast), and understand the situation. To you I say “thank you”.

I would also like to take the time to say “thank you” to those of you who called or emailed Christine or me inquiring about my safety. I am without power but because of friends over here I am able to clean up and get hot food. Word on the street is that I might have power early next week, let’s hope so.

I have to tell you about a conversation I had with a client (who quite awhile ago evolved to friend status). Both of us grew up in the mid-west and have experienced many natural disasters. He actually went to the bank and got his coins out before the storm hit. And get this, he has been spending time looking at his collection admits all the devastation. All this by FLASHLIGHT! That is a resourceful and dedicated collector.

Thanks again and if you have any question please feel free to email either Christine or I and we will do our best to answer you promptly.

Bill and Christine

Big Tex, JFK, and Me! My Dallas ANA show report

When I was driving home from the airport after returning from “The Big D” Saturday night I was listening to an interview with the members of the group Crosby, Stills, Nash, or CSN as they’re known, on the radio. It was one of those interactive shows where members of the audience could ask questions. Let me tell you they asked a lot of good questions, but one in particular and their answer really hit home with me. Someone asked how, after nearly 50 years of touring, they do it or better yet, why they do it. I believe it was Stephen Stills who answered it best. He said it was the 3 hours on stage that made the other 21 hours of the day bearable. Riding on a tour bus and constantly being woken up, right after you fell asleep, by an expansion joint on the highway was part of the deal. It was those three hours that made everything else okay. Boy could I relate to that.

Christine and I both arrived in Dallas at what is rapidly becoming our customary 3 to 5 hour plane ride, before the show started and a rather long, yet uneventful, cab ride to the Omni in downtown Dallas. After a quick lunch we were able to check into our hotel room and then it was off to the show. The show itself was located in a convention center which was semi-attached to the hotel. As you’ll recall, I like that type of set up. Our table location, picked by Christine, was great; centrally located and towards the front. We submitted some coins to PCGS for grading, and then got down to the art of buying and selling. Sometimes I still have a hard time making the transition from wholesaler to retailer at shows. It used to be that I would sell virtually everything that I brought to a show at the beginning and at the same time buying new coins and prepping them to get graded. Not so much anymore. You and Christine have transformed me into a retail dealer. Like David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Gram Nash, I love it!

While Wednesday wasn’t anything special in terms of business, Thursday morning was the beginning of a memorable event. Several clients, and a few new customers, had emailed us before and had made the trip to Dallas to see us. One gentleman, someone who we had never done business with before, emailed me about a particular coin he had seen on Collector’s Corner and wanted to see it at the show. He stopped by Thursday morning and introduced himself, the beginning of a new relationship. Let me tell you how he found us. Collector’s Corner, which is owned by Collectors Universe (the parent company of PCGS) has a feature where a dealer can “earmark” his or her inventory that will be at a show. That feature is how this individual found us. Pretty cool, huh? After what seemed like a short three hours, the day was over and Christine and I went to dinner with a client/friend and his wife. We dined and talked for hours about everything under the sun, including how our client’s wife had attended the Texas State Fair earlier in the day. Sadly the big news the next day was how “Big Tex” had caught fire and burned to the ground, a Texas icon gone forever but not forgotten!

Friday came and it was like we never left the show on Thursday. Many of the same customers, and several new ones, stopped by and we did more business. One client again /friend, and his Dad, stopped by for most of the day. We had done a deal earlier in the month that needed a little TLC before it was finished, and proceeded to “get ur done”. I was in that above mentioned “3 hour” space for most of the show. Later that evening we had the pleasure of dining with him over great Tex-Mex. it was heaven Texas style.

We started to get freshly graded coins back from PCGS early in the day and made time to prepare them for our clients. One of our new clients patiently, and persistently, waited to see them. We chatted about his collection, how he got started, and what he liked in a coin. It was another of those “3 hour” experiences. I loved it!

I need to thank the entire ANA staff for making this show a hit. While there will always be snafus associated with any show, the ANA did their best in making this one a hit. Throughout the three days the public attended and it was non stop. Buying, selling, and building relationships (got it in there didn’t I)! I did get the opportunity to go and view the treasures brought from Colorado Springs by the ANA and they were amazing. A big thank you also needs to go out to Legend Numismatics and their client Bob Simpson for loaning coins to display. Way cool pieces indeed! I also got a chance to see the two Columbian commemorative half dollars once owned by John F. Kennedy that we loaned to the ANA for this show. Unfortunately we weren’t able to see the site made so famous by President Kennedy’s assassination. We should have made the time.

I started writing this at 4 a.m. this morning and I am just finishing it up on a plane in route to see a friend and client. Christine has worked feverishly to get the coins ready for your viewing and consideration. So if you see something of interest, give us a call or send an email. Remember we love to talk coins…

Las Vegas. St. Louis. Dallas. Racking up the miles…

I didn’t get the chance to write a show report when I got home from PCGS’ Invitational as it was off to St. Louis for the Silver Dollar and Rare Coin Expo. Well, as promised here is what I hope to be the first and last multi-show report.

Some of you might recall that I have been a big fan of the small intimate shows PCGS puts on, commonly referred to as “The Invitationals’”. This one, as expected, reaffirmed my faith in them. Back at the beautiful Venetian after a one show at “The Cosmopolitan”, Don Willis and the ENTIRE staff at PCGS are to be commended. An early flight, as usual, and I arrived a few hours before noon on Wednesday. After checking in it was a leisurely walk to the bourse and the electricity that filled the room. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of attending one of these, let me give you a mental picture. The entire show, from the bourse tables, PCGS’ table, and the dining area are in an area about 75′ X 150′, big enough to accommodate everyone, yet small enough that one doesn’t feel as if they missed seeing someone.

Las Vegas has been called America’s playground (as well as sin city) and most people there are having fun. These shows just add to the experience. I have found that most of the collectors, and dealers, in attendance look at this show as a mini vacation within a major show. That is a win-win for everyone. There is plenty of time to do the usual wholesale business as well as spend all the time you want talking coins with clients (remember we love to talk coins). It seems, in my book, that many dealers save coins up to have them graded there. And now more than ever advanced collectors are starting to realize that many great coins are produced there and make every attempt to attend. That is what I saw happen at this one.

We sold all of what we wanted to wholesale and then set out searching for “cool” coins. Let me rephrase that: We waited for the coins to find us. Remember, Christine and I have spent a lifetime making relationships and this is the type of show where that becomes evident. By Thursday the coins started to be returned from PCGS and that is when the fun started. Mind you there wasn’t a huge amount of coins graded there, but there was enough to get excited about. We were able to find more that we thought, and that included three that standout in my mind. They are:

1867 With Rays Shield nickel, PCGS PR65+ CAM

1831 Bust Quarter, Small Letters, PCGS MS65+

1882 Trade Dollar, PCGS PR67 DCAM

All three of these had a few things in common. First they all have outstanding eye-appeal, a trait that all of our customers desire. Second, we purchased them with specific clients in mind. So if you haven’t given us a want list, perhaps you should give us a try. And lastly, well they were just too cool not to buy. And while it is always fun to buy coins like those listed above, that isn’t the norm. The one thing that all our purchases have in common is quality, plain and simple.

As I said above, Las Vegas is America’s playground. That is not to say one has to gamble to enjoy them-self, as there are endless entertainment options there. My personal favorite is a good meal and I wasn’t disappointed. I had the pleasure of dining with a client, who I now call a friend, and got to know them even better. It seems that Vegas is a good environment to get to know someone. Contrary to what the Las Vegas Board of Tourism would have you believe, what happens in Vegas doesn’t have to stay in Vegas.

After a few short days back home it was on to the airport for an early morning flight to St. Louis. As much as I like the above mentioned Vegas shows, I must say that this show, The Silver Dollar and Rare Coin Expo (and its sibling show in August), is my favorite on the circuit. It is located in a new convention center that is adjacent to an Embassy Suites in convenient St. Charles, MO. I have been attending shows in the greater St. Louis area since 1977 and have met many a collector and dealer there. If you did the math you see that that is over 1/3 of a century (35 years to be exact), and a person can build many a relationships over that amount of time, which I have. That is why we were offered some pretty cool items this trip. One that stands out is a complete 144 piece collection of U.S. Commemorative coins. The collector that assembled this set had a great eye and picked some really nice coins, all PCGS, all totally original, and all with great eye appeal. Unfortunately these won’t be up on our web site until we return from the upcoming ANA’s show in Dallas, TX. Stay tuned for them. Another item of interest is an 1894 proof set, cent through dollar, in a period correct box. We bought this raw and will have it graded in Dallas next week so keep an eye out for this one.

I wouldn’t say, nor did I hear, that retail sales were off the charts. I did, however, see first hand many collectors armed with want lists and buying coins for them. This is the Heartland of America, where collectors rule. It hasn’t changed in over 30 years. I like it.

There you go, two cities, two completely different scenarios. Both of which I would do again. Christine has been working all day getting these coins really for your viewing, so check them out and give us a call if something strikes your fancy. Remember…we love to talk coins.

Bill and Christine

P.S. We will be attending the ANA show in Dallas next week, so if you have any additions to your want list please let us know.

Las Vegas Fall 2012

Right now Bill is at the Silver Dollar Show in St. Louis Missouri. We will have new coins next week from this show and a dual Coin Show Report. Please check out the new coin purchases going up on the web today and in addition on our Decorative Arts page there are some great works of Art by John Martin Blankenberg. Blankenberg was born in Tragdor, Norway, October 24, 1860. He came to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush and worked as a photographer in Dawson-Haines Alaska and possibly other locations. Little is known of his personal life. He was married at one time and spent the latter part of his life in Tenakee, Alaska, which is where he died, August 19, 1939. He is best known for his photos of Haines, Lake Bennett, and Lake Lindeman, the Chilkat Indians, and activities on the Chilkoot Pass. All information on Blankenberg was taken from the Alaska State Library. Please give me a call if there is anything that interests you or if you have any questions.

PCGS, So-Called Dollars, and an emerging market

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Don Willis, President of PCGS, at one of the major shows. I’ve known Don for many years and have always respected him for his professionalism and knowledge of the coin industry, so it was no surprise to me when he took his current position at PCGS. During the course of our chat we discussed many things; from how the market is in my segment of the hobby, to my clients views on PCGS, and everything in between. One of the topics that came up was potential areas of growth for PCGS and how they might be obtained.

I mentioned that many of our customers who purchased federal coinage also bought medals and tokens to complement their collections. Two areas that came to the forefront were U.S. Mint medals and So-Called Dollars. I can now say that the outcome of these talks is that PCGS now grades and encapsulates both of the areas of numismatics. As this article is about So-Called Dollars I won’t talk about PCGS’ grading of U.S. Mint medals, but rest assured that I will write about them in the future.

So just what exactly is a So-Called Dollar? Well we get that term from two gentlemen who coined it in the 1960’s (pun intended). One of the hottest areas of collecting in the 1960’s was medals whose size was comparable with that of a U.S. silver (or gold) dollar. This was a fun and inexpensive alternative to collecting regular American coins. The big problem was that there was not a reference book, or any books, available to help the average collector with this endeavor. Enter Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen. In 1963 The Coin and Currency Institute, Inc. published their book So-Called Dollars, an Illustrated Standard Catalog. It was an instant hit.

The authors looked at thousands of medals to include in their book, eventually settling on less than one thousand. How they did this is beyond me. I have seen literally thousands and thousands of medals that met their criteria but did not make it into the book. A daunting task to say the least.

Hibler and Kappen decided to divide their book into three separate areas of medals that met the guidelines they set forth. They were:

Part l Commemorative and Expositions Medals of National Significance

Part ll Commemorative and Exposition Medals of Local Significance

Part lll Monetary and Miscellaneous Medals

I could spend hours and hours telling you just exactly what deserves to go into each of those categories, but I will let the titles do the talking. Personally I like the medals of part l and lll. National events and monetary policy appeal the most to me as a numismatist. That is not to say that the medals of part ll aren’t important, because some of them are, it’s just that some of them are so obscure that I don’t think they were that popular when they were issued. So-Called Dollars were minted by a variety of manufactures, one of which was the U.S. Mint. I find that these, usually found in Part I of the book, are generally well made, sometimes designed by artist who also did coins, and are the most popular of the series.

As with most things in life popularity sometimes comes and goes, this happened with the So-Called market. For most of the 1970-1990’s there wasn’t much demand for them, in fact collectors of them had all but fallen off of the face of the earth. But then slowly their appeal started to re-emerge. Demand picked up and during the first decade of this century there was actually a “bull” market for them. The problem was that there weren’t any copies of Hibler and Kappen’s original book available for this new generation of collectors. As more and more people became interested in these pieces it became evident that a new “revised” edition would help ease this problem. We have Tom Hoffman, Dave Hayes, Jonathan Brecher, and John Dean to thank for this. In 2008 they released a second edition, somewhat revised, and it became a best seller. I should also note that there were other major players in this field at that time, most importantly Jeff Shevlin, the newly appointed Executive Director for the American Numismatic Association. New life had been born into the long forgotten field of So-Called Dollars.

There are two other reference books that deserve to be mentioned here. They are National Commemorative Medals of the United States of America since 1873 by William Swoger and National Commemorative Medals of the United States Mint, An Illustrated Catalog, by John T. Dean. Both of these books are great in their own right, but for the sake of consistency and continuity PCGS has decided to attribute these medals by their So-Called Dollar numbers.

The medals of Part ll, to be blunt, aren’t nearly as popular as those of Parts l and lll. In my opinion they have very limited appeal to most collectors. The phrase I like to use is “nobody cares about the Shamhart Family reunion medal of 1936 except for; you guessed it, the Shamharts”. I’m not picking on those listed in Part ll, in fact they have many (okay a few) loyal followers of their own. The biggest thing these pieces have going for them is that you need them to have a complete collection of So-Called Dollars.

The medals of Part lll are really cool. Some of the neatest ones included are the Bryan issues, Lesher Referendum Dollars, and the Pedley-Ryan Dollars of 1933. In fact many of the medals listed in this section have other, stand alone, reference books of their own. If you’re a student of American monetary policy and the way it has affected our country, then these So-Called Dollars are for you. Way cool in my opinion.

After my talk with Don Willis, PCGS decided to begin grading So-Called Dollars. Mind you this ISN’T because of me. So-Called Dollars had been on PCGS’ radar screen for some time, but I like to think that my talk with Don didn’t hurt.

So now you know what a So-Called Dollar is. You know who wrote the original reference book on them and also those responsible for the new and revised edition. And you know my opinion on which areas of them are cool and which area isn’t (To paraphrase the comedian Dennis Miller…”hey that’s just my opinion, I COULD be wrong.). Now all you have to do is go out and buy a copy of the So-Called Dollar book (and maybe the others I mentioned above) and start reading. Then you can start on your new quest for them.

Christine and I have a few of the first pieces graded by PCGS. Look over our listing, then look them up in your copy of Hibler and Kappen’s book, and if you see something you like, give us a call. Remember…we love to talk coins (and medals).

Long Beach Expo Fall 2012

It is well known to the readers of my show reports that I have a hard time writing them. Sometimes, like when a show is really good, I can sit down at the computer and it all starts to flow easily. Then there are the times when the show wasn’t quite what we were hoping for and writing becomes more difficult. And then there are shows like last week’s Long Beach…..

In defense of the show promoters and their entire staff, it wasn’t them. They did all they could in my mind. All the tables were filled and on the surface it looked like the Long Beach’s of years past. But I get the feeling that it wasn’t all that good for most that attended. I try and talk to as many dealers as possible to get their take on the show, as well as read as many of our colleagues show reports as I can. From all indications you either had a great show or a lack-luster one. Ours was the latter.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad we went. We were able to buy some great pieces for our customers (and web site) either on the floor or from some of our clients who brought coins to sell. Remember we pride ourselves on the relationships that we build and are always grateful when we get offered our own coins back. Kind of like a homecoming if you will. Both Christine and I BUY our inventory because we like the coin and believe in it. So it is always nice to be able to sell a coin again. But if it weren’t for our customers and a very select few dealers (ones that we do a lot of business with because they like the same kind of coins we do) I don’t think we would have bought anything. The floor was very dry when it came to fresh new coins.

As has been the norm in the recent past, most of our clientele that attended came armed with want lists (and occasionally check books) looking for that special coin. Most of the customers we deal with are pretty disciplined when it comes to buying for their collections and would only make a sporadic on the spot purchase if the coin was really special, as in something you don’t see everyday. There is another dealer out there who constantly says they have a $25 million want list but can’t find the coins. I believe it and you should too. There is a lot of demand for coins (special coins) but the available supply is virtually non existent. That is why you see great coins go up on a web site only to be put on hold moments later. Advanced collectors know how to pull the trigger and don’t hesitate to do so.

So there’s my take on Long Beach. We have some pretty neat coins for you to entertain buying. Look over the new purchases and give us a call. Remember…we love to talk coins

California here we come!

While most of America is preparing for the highly anticipated 3 day weekend celebrating Labor Day, Christine and I have our eyes set on California. Southern California and Collectors Universe’s Long Beach Expo to be specific! It’s not that we won’t have time to enjoy what is commonly called the last weekend of summer, because we will. But we will also busy packing supplies, double checking want lists, and everything else we do before a major show. If the last Long Beach Expo is any indication then this one will be a barn burner. We sure hope so.

As usual we will be at table 633. We will have all the coins you see on our web site, as well as Collector’s Corner, along with a great group of new purchases (relationships, remember?). Neither Christine nor I will be able to attend on Wednesday, but rest assured we will be there throughout the rest of the show, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and we look forward to seeing you.

One of the many new coins we will have with us, (pictured above) is an 1879-CC PCGS MS65 (CAC), a great piece, undoubtedly from the GSA hoard of the 1970s and exhibits the ever desirable crescent toning that can be acquired only from years of storage in a canvas bag. Check out Christine’s photos and then give us a call if this is on your wish list. Even if it isn’t don’t be afraid to call us. Remember…we love to talk coins.

Christine and Bill

Notes on Our Next Show

Colorado Springs Coin Show

June 25-28, 2015
Freedom Financial Services Expo Center
Colorado Springs, CO

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

Colorado Springs Coin Show
June 25-28, 2015
Freedom Financial Services Expo Center
Colorado Springs, CO

Whitman Coin Expo
July 16-19, 2015
Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, MD

Missouri Numismatic Society 55th Annual Coin Show
July 23-25, 2015
The Saint Charles Convention Center
Saint Charles, MO

American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money
August 11-15, 2015
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Rosemont, IL

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