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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

On The Road Again…By Bill Shamhart (Not Willie Nelson)

On The Road Again…By Bill Shamhart (Not Willie Nelson)

I usually try to come up with some cute opening line. Not so this time. Hey, that rhymes…

Okay I’ll quit trying to be funny and get back to the real reason why ya’ll are reading my website. That is to get a sit-rep of what’s happening in my little segment of the numismatic world.

To put it simply, quite a bit.

THE EUGENE H. GARDNER COLLECTION, PART 1

On the afternoon of June 23 I had the pleasure of attending the much anticipated auction of Mr. Gardner’s collection. The first of 4 scheduled ones.

Earlier in the day I was viewing the lots and looked around. Hardly a person was there! What the heck was going on? In fact there was a time when I was the only person looking…with the exception of Mr. and Mrs. Gardner. I could only guess what was going through his mind as he looked at this selection of his babies for the last time. Like he was saying good-bye. It was a sad vision, in a joyous kind of way.

A few minutes later I was joined by a good friend and client to look at some lots with the intent of buying them for his collection. He too was befuddled by the lack of people in attendance at lot viewing, but we quickly shrugged it off and got down to looking at coins of interest.

After an hour lunch with the above client, I went to the sale. It started at 3:00 promptly, and again, I was shocked by the lack of people in the room. Of course the usual dealers were there, and maybe a dozen or so collectors, but that was it. Mmmm….

Heritage prepared a great catalog, complete with wonderful descriptions and photographs. And as it should be they auctioned the coins in denominational order, followed by date, starting with half cents. To be candid, I wasn’t really all that excited about Mr. Gardner’s copper coin. It appears that, with the exception of a few isolated pieces, not many others were either.

Lot 30021: 1793 Wreath Cent, Vine and Bars. PCGS MS68 Brown hammered to an internet bidder at $280,000.

Folks, an MS68 Large Cent, of any date or type, should be a VERY special coin. This piece certainly was not.

Don’t get me wrong. There were some really neat coins in the copper section, and they brought really neat coin prices (an 1848 PCGS MS64+ RED CAC realized a whopping $11,500 hammer. See?).

This trend continued until some very cool three cent silvers came up. Most of you know that I have always been a BIG fan of this series. Believe me when I say that there were some KILLER coins in this section.

1854 3CS PCGS MS68 CAC…………$55,000 hammer. And deservedly so.

1863 3CS NGC MS65 GOLD CAC………$20,000 hammer. A quintessential “Shamwow” example of this series.

1863/2 3CS PCGS PR66 CAMEO CAC………..$40,000 hammer. Wow!

After that momentary burst of insanity the nickel coinage came up and it was back to reality. Sort of. Real coins, regardless of what they were graded, brought real money. The others, not so much.

And then the silver sold.

Starting with the half dimes and continuing through end of the sale, it became apparent that collectors, whether represented by an agent or bidding on Heritage Live (something I forgot about early in the sale) were willing and ready to win some trophy coins! Win they did. But with a caveat.

Rare coins, with outstanding eye appeal, sold for record prices. I sat in amazement and watched as lot after lot went to a collector for BIG BUCKS.

I always knew that there were really serious collectors out there for virtually all series, but not to this extent. I saw seated half dimes and dimes sell for 50% more than I was asking for comparable pieces not too long ago. It was magical. Good for those who won pieces for their collections.

What about those that didn’t bring record prices. There could have been many reasons why, but the one that comes to my mind is that they were optimistically graded. Plain and simple (1793 Large Cent MS68 anybody?).

All in all it truly was a memorable event. One that I am really glad I attended in person. Not only because I was able to buy some phenomenal coins for clients and inventory, but because I’ll never forget the electricity in the room that afternoon (and evening).

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Gardner.

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO COIN SHOW.

Less than 48 hours after being in New York City for the Gardner sale I was on a plane to Denver and the ANA’s Summer Seminar down in Colorado Springs with a coin show in between.

Set up was at 8:00 on Thursday morning, and being an early riser, I was amongst the first dealers there. So I had a little extra time to set up my booth before the majority of the other dealers arrived. That worked out to my advantage, as I was able to see dealers almost immediately after they got there.

I know, I know. I missed Baltimore. But let me tell ya’ll something; I’m glad I did. While I really like the Baltimore venue, and the great job that the Whitman crew does putting it on, I REALLY like these smaller, regional shows. They’re laid back and generally have a pretty good following of collectors that come with them.

If you were a fisherman and wanted to feed your family would you join a tournament along with the best fisherman in the business, or find yourself a small, out of the way river or lake that wasn’t fished that much and sometimes gives up trophy fish?

Thought so…

This show in particular was very well attended by both the collecting public and the attendees of the ANA’s Summer Seminar so there was a constant flow of people to talk to. I got to see many of my prior students and met several of the following week’s subjects. It was coin geek nirvana.

Sales were what I expected from a show dominated by these types of collectors. And the purchases were really good. Knowing so many of the dealers there allows me to get “first shot” at many neat pieces. This year didn’t disappoint me either.

One such group came from a collector/dealer (who happens to be an alumnus from my class). Notice I said collector-dealer, not dealer-collector. That’s because he was a collector first, and then made the leap to the dealer ranks. These are the dealers you want to deal with. They understand you because they WERE you. Once you’re a collector it’s pretty hard to get that gene out of your DNA. They still look at coins as if they were buying it for their collection. Not because they were cheap. Remember, cheap coins are cheap for a reason.

What did I buy from him? Just some really cool California Pioneer Fractional Gold pieces. They’re on the web site, look them up.

I had a lot of fun at this show. As I found out later, it was just a precursor to the following week.

AMERICAN NUMISMATIC ASSOCIATION’S SUMMER SEMINAR

This year there was a little different schedule than in the past. It started on Sunday morning at 9:00, instead of 1:15. It also ended on Wednesday afternoon, as opposed to Thursday at 4. So we lost 1/2 a day’s worth of teaching. No worries. All went well.

Usually we have one or two (sometimes more) stand out students. Numismatists that go on to jobs working for professional grading services, or straight to the ranks of Rare Coin dealer. Not this year. What we had was a classroom of really enthusiastic, eager to learn, coin nerds. And it was a blast.

About midway through the four days of class a pattern started to emerge. This year’s students did something I’ve never seen before in 17 years of teaching.

One of the exercises we do in class is have the students break down into groups, elect a finalizer, and compete against the rest of the class. Sort of like having four different grading services competing against each other. Think PCGS vs. NGC vs. ANACS vs. ICG.

When the grades were tallied I was amazed at how tightly grouped they were. Generally they were no more than half a point off. Incredible.

Guess they had some really good instructors. (This is where I would insert a big smiling icon if I knew how to).

I was able to catch up with some friends (who were students first, made the transition from customer to client, and finally became good friends) over great meals and coffee.

Before I knew it the time to leave had arrived. Another year of teaching under my belt. I smiled all the way on my drive to the Denver airport.

PCGS’ MEMBERS ONLY SHOW

After a week off following the above activities, it was on to another show.

I had to make an executive decision as to whether I would be going to St. Louis or Las Vegas. Believe me it was a tough choice. But Vegas won. Not for the reasons you’re thinking. I had a lot of coins that I wanted to get graded before the ANA in Chicago and it was just the logical decision.

As you know, I try to call a show as I see it. And I try to not be negative. But honestly, this show was a bust. Seems that Las Vegas, with its 100 degree temperature, isn’t high on the list of places for coin dealers and collectors to go. And deservedly so.

So there weren’t a whole lot of the regular dealers and collectors in attendance.

But I got done what I went there for. And Tom is busy imaging them as I write this. A couple items stand out in my mind right now.

1914-D Lincoln Cent, PCGS MS65+ RD CAC. I can’t remember that last time I saw an example as nice as this one. And I’ve seen a lot of 14-D Lincolns

1883/2 Shield Nickel, PCGS MS67 CAC. The finest known (or TOP-POP in coin lingo). Amazing.

1941-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar, PCGS MS67 CAC. I’ve owned this coin for a month or so. Tried it at PCGS three times for a MS67+. No avail. If you collect Walkers in TOP-POP then this is for you. Intense luster with just a titch of light blue patina throughout. Beautiful.

1881-S Morgan Dollar, PCGS MS64 CAC. Unbelievable color on the reverse. In fact, if this color was on the obverse it would be a $15,000-$20,000 coin. Check it out.

There are many more but I think I’ll let Tom’s photography do my talking. Remember, if you like the photo you’ll love the coin…

AMERICAN NUMISMATIC ASSOCIATION WORLD’S FAIR OF MONEY

It’s coming up sooner than you think.

I’ll be there. As will Tom. And C.J. And some really cool coins from our client’s cabinets for your viewing pleasure. Oh, and some really swell coins for your consideration (I’ve been writing too long tonight).

So that’s it.

Cue Garth Brooke’s “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”

See ya’ll in Chicago.

Stop by and say hello.

Remember…I love to talk coins.

Bill

Long Beach Show Report and Miscellaneous Announcements

Long Beach Show Report and Miscellaneous Announcements

I watered the plants. Did the dishes. Vacuumed the house. Changed the laundry around. Guess it’s time to write a show report.

I know I said I was going to try to write them shortly after the actual show, but sometimes life gets in the way (or more likely I’m just not motivated). Realistically I have a hard time writing about a show if nothing special happened there. I’m not a fan of show reports that are filled with fluff, whether positive or negative, if there wasn’t much to write about. So…what about Long Beach?

It is easy to say that the team producing the show has done a phenomenal job of turning this event around. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but I really thought the Long Beach Coin and Collectibles Expo was dead a few years ago. Man was I wrong. Unlike an ocean liner turning in open water (a feat that takes miles), this show turned around like a Donzi on Lake Como. Quickly. No fast. Really fast.

As you’re aware, my business plan has changed quite a bit in the past year. And it’s working. The only problem with it is that if you don’t have the right coin, or coins, for your customers then they don’t really buy anything. It’s not that they don’t want to. In fact the demand for the right coin on a collector’s want list has probably never been higher. Truly high end, scarce or rare, coins are in great demand. Plain and simple.

I’d like to take this time to tell you about a young man who helped me at the show. His name is Daniel and I met him last year in Colorado Springs, CO, while teaching at the American Numismatic Association’s annual Summer Seminar. He’s a young and talented college student who quickly rose to the top level of the class, Advanced Coin Grading and Problem Coins. We exchanged email throughout the year and decided it would be a good idea for him to assist me in Long Beach. Let me tell you, this boy in sharp and very tolerant (anyone who can work with me has to be). It was a pleasure to have him there and show him just exactly how things go at a major coin show (at least according to me). We had a lot of fun, laughed until our sides hurt, and learned some things. Yes, he taught me. I’m a firm believer that if we keep an open mind we can all learn new things. No matter our age.

I had some coins for grading and must say that PCGS is doing a great job. They didn’t give away the ranch, but rather rewarded the ones that deserve to be. As it should be. By now Tom’s already got them photographed and listed on the web, so check them out.

CHANGE OF PLANS…

Originally I was going to attend the Baltimore show starting next week. That is until I realized that it conflicted with the smaller regional show held in Colorado Springs in between the two sessions of Summer Seminar. So, you guessed it, I won’t be in Baltimore this time. But Tom will. Stop by and say hello, I’m sure he’d appreciate it.

ANA SUMMER SEMINAR

Starting on June 29th and ending on July 2nd, I will be in Colorado teaching for my umpteenth time. If you’ve never attended one of these “Coin Camps”, you owe it to yourself to. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

If you see something on the site, or need to talk to me, please remember that I’ll be in class throughout the day. I will however return phone calls and emails as soon as time permits.

EUGENE H. GARDNER SALE

I plan on going into New York later this week, or on the weekend, to view the sale. Requests for representation are starting to come in so try to get in touch with me soon if you’d like me to look at something for you.

There ya go. I’m done writing for now, but not thinking about coins. I’m always thinking about coins.

So if you have any questions or comments, or see something of interest, give me a call or send me an email.

Remember…I love to talk coins

Bill

ANA National Money Show 2014

ANA National Money Show 2014

GOLD!

The last time there was a gold rush in Georgia was over 150 years ago. And from that came the mints at Dahlonega and Charlotte, which produced some of the most desirable gold coins today. But you already knew that ‘cause you’re a coin nerd. But did you know that the word Dahlonega comes from the Cherokee language and literally means “yellow metal”?

History has a way of repeating itself, and last week in Atlanta was no different. People came from miles around to the latest “Gold Rush”. Not to pick up the metal laying on the ground, or to mine for it; but to see the fortune in gold that was recently found by a lucky couple in California. Unless you’ve been deep in the jungle for the last few weeks, cut off from civilization, by now you’ve heard of this once in a lifetime find. I won’t retell the story here (it’s all over the web!), but I will make a few observations about it from my viewpoint:

1) Some of the coins were on display in Atlanta last week at Kagin’s table. And man, are they cool! I saw before and after pictures of the coins and can say that the conservation methods really brought the coins back to life. Again, THEY ARE COOL!!

2) Virtually every news organization has picked up on the story and plastered it all over every form of media. When you do that it attracts alot of people; some who aren’t really qualified to speak intelligently about such a find but do. When you read the news flashes, whether in print or on the web, or see it on TV, keep in mind (and an open mind) that some of what is being said simply isn’t true. There are a lot of “instant” experts all of the sudden. When your neighbor asks you about this find do your best to get the facts straight. After all, we’re the Numismatists, not “Joe the Plumber”. Thanks.

3) The public really like stories like this. These coins were found by a couple through luck and nothing else. They weren’t treasure hunters, or a large salvage company with an agenda. Just a couple of people in the right place at the right time. As the tag line for the New York lottery says…”Hey, ya never know”. Chalk up one for the little guy. And let’s not forget that we’re talking about GOLD, not a winning lottery ticket.

As I said, the public really likes stories like this. As my table was right next to Kagin’s last week, I got to see firsthand how much. All day long there was a line of pedestrians (non collecting public) waiting to get a chance to see the coins. There was a constant barrage of flashes from smart phones as people took a photographic souvenir. Lots of excitement and enthusiasm. The electricity surrounding their table was great. At one point I actually thought I saw Andy Warhol standing in line to see them.

There is a lot of speculation with this find. Stories of bank and train robbery abound, but the most prominent is one supporting the theory that these are the ill-gotten gains from a theft at the San Francisco mint in 1901. There are a lot of similarities I admit, but most of what is being said is circumstantial. I for one hope that these have nothing to do with the mint theft, and that the couple get to keep the proceeds from their sale to collectors.

Enough about that…What about the rest of the show?

Well, actually that was the show.

I don’t know why, but the ANA’s National Money Show doesn’t have a very good track record for being a good one. I could come up with a list of reasons a mile long, and probably wouldn’t hit on the real reason. I don’t think anyone really knows. It’s just the way it is. But it’s a major show, put on by the ANA, so I went. As the saying goes “you can’t hit a single, let alone a home run, if you’re not in the game”.

As I said above, there were a lot of people in the show. But I really think most of them weren’t collectors. Yet. If only a small fraction of the “non-collectors” get the bug from coming to see the “Saddle Ridge Hoard” then I guess the ANA did their job. Let’s hope so…

From a sales stand point it appeared to me that many in attendance were looking for something different. A couple of the “different” things I sold were:

1) Encased postage stamp. A fellow dealer, who actually collects these, was there and immediately snatched this one up. Good for him.

2) A wonderful 1864 3c Feuchtwanger piece in PCGS MS64 from the famous Eliasberg collection. The gentleman who acquired this was like a kid in a candy shop upon buying it. This was his “home run” hit, which he’d never had done had he not been there. Gotta be in the game…(see above).

3) A great counterstamped Stone Mountain half dollar. This piece was struck in Philadelphia, PA for the Stone Mountain Monumental Association in Georgia, counterstamped ALA, sold at an auction in Alabama, brought back to the collecting fraternity by a Missouri boy living in New Jersey, and finally repatriated back to Alabama by a southern gentleman attending a show in Georgia. What a yarn this coin could spin if it could talk…

See a pattern here?

No?

Think about it. All of the above have a direct connection to the American Civil War. We are after all celebrating its sesquicentennial until next year. I once heard that for every bullet fired during this era there have been a hundred words written about it. Have you read your fair share?

In addition to the above Americana, I did sell some neat, GEM quality coins to some new customers. As always it’s a pleasure getting to know a collector (and their spouses) in person. Thanks to all that stopped by my table (and braved the masses trying to look at the “Saddle Ridge” coins). I appreciate it.

Purchases? This is where I’d normally list a few but I think I’m going to make everyone come back in a day or so and look at them (I will tell you that there is a really neat piece having to do with one of the events mentioned above). As I write this Tom is busy photographing them and putting them up on my site.

When you do, if you see anything of interest send me an email or give me a call.

Remember…I love to talk coins.

Bill

FUN Show Report 2014

FUN Show Report 2014

As most of you know I am from Missouri. So was Mark Twain. He had many famous quotes, but the one I like the best (with a little artistic license) is:

“Rumors of my retirement are greatly exaggerated”

Many of you have emailed me or Tom asking if I retired. Well I’m here to say “NO!” In fact I’ll probably never retire…

A lot of people make “New Year’s” resolutions, and I am one of them. Mine is to you. I will really try and write more show reports and articles for my website on a regular basis. I’ll try my best.

So…what about the FUN show that kicked off this year’s coin show schedule?

In a word, impressive.

When I left New Jersey on Tuesday heading to the airport it was a cold 0 degrees with a wind chill of -15. That’s cold. When I got to Orlando I checked into my hotel and promptly went over to the Heritage lot viewing. Of course I saw many people I know and exchanged the usual “Happy New Year’s” salutations. And then the topic turned to the chill gripping most of America. It was cold in New Jersey but I heard of many places that were much colder. But…everyone was in a good mood and looking forward to the show and what it would bring (including warm weather).

The Heritage sale was, how should I say…HUGE! Never in my life have I ever seen such a large auction catalog. I had looked through the catalog beforehand to narrow down the lots I was interested. Otherwise I wouldn’t have ever got to view the lots I wanted to. There were some really neat coins in this sale and of course the prices realized reflected this.

I left lot viewing and returned to my hotel to look at some fellow dealer’s inventory in the privacy of my own room. I like this practice because it allows me time to talk with my contacts while viewing coins. No interruptions or distractions. Of course I was able to buy some really neat pieces that will be up on my website shortly so check back throughout the week.

Tuesday night I had the privilege to dine with a dozen of the most knowledgeable collectors in the hobby today. I don’t normally like large dinner crowds, but this was different. Dinner was at a restaurant called “The Ocean Prime” and the food was outstanding. Many of the attendees brought something special to share with their friends. In the middle of dinner I couldn’t help thinking of how we all looked to the rest of the restaurant patrons. A dozen middle aged men (with one special lady) passing coins around the table, illuminating them with the flashlight from their iPhones. Total coin geeks! Kind of what I’d expect a middle school coin club to look like…except for the gray hair, few extra pounds, bi-focal glasses, wine glasses, and porterhouse steaks!

Wednesday started with meeting a couple clients at lot viewing to discuss possible additions to their collections. Then back to my hotel for another “secret” meeting. The bourse floor opened at 2:00 in the afternoon and from there on it was like the great Oklahoma Land Rush. A constant flow of dealers and collectors stopping by to say “Happy New Year” and “Got anything for me?”. Tom and I got our submissions for PCGS ready and took them over as soon as we got a chance. One of the nice things about being in the business is that I’ve built some really strong and long lasting relationships with dealers and collectors alike (surprise?) that allows me to look at coins at my table (they bring them to me) throughout the show. The only downside to this is that I rarely have time to leave my table anymore and scout the floor for coins to buy. That’s okay though because I get to see alot of coins as well as talk to my friends and colleagues about coins. How cool is that?

Thursday brought another action packed day with a TON of people stopping by to look at coins (and sometimes sell me some). You’ll recall that I’ve changed my game plan a little in the past few months. Fewer coins with an emphasis on relationship building. Really getting to know my customers and clients. Well that’s starting to pay off as our sales were very strong even with a higher per coin value than I’ve had in the past. In addition people realize that I really do want to buy back, and resell, coins that they’ve bought previously. So I was able to buy some old, yet beautiful, friends back and subsequently resell them. It’s really a win-win situation for everybody involved!

Thursday night I decided to have C.J. (a really bright and upcoming Young Numismatist) bid in the auction so that I could go out to dinner with a couple clients. The night was one of those that you don’t soon forget. The food and service left a little to be desired, but the camaraderie was great. We laughed like we were at a comedy shop. Thanks guys!

Friday I started the day by giving a talk to the Liberty Seated Collectors Club. I love to talk coins but I’m really bad at preparing speeches (or writing show reports) so I just winged it. A question and answer type of forum. The audience was filled with collectors and dealers alike and they asked some really good questions. I loved it and based on the feedback I got from some of the attendees on the bourse floor so did they. Thanks for asking me. It was my pleasure.

By the time I got to the bourse it was in full swing and abuzz with activity. Collectors were out in full force looking for that special coin (as were dealers). If you’ve never been to a major show let me paint you a mental picture. Think of a football field filled to capacity with 8 foot table with nothing but coins. Hundreds of thousands of them. There is no way to view the merchandise at every table so it helps to have a network of people who might get the opportunity to see something you missed. It’s all about relationships (remember that phrase?). In addition to the bourse there are countless meetings (like the one I spoke at) along with auction lot viewing as well as the auction itself. Truly paradise for coin nerds!

At the end of the day it was off to dinner at The Capital Grille. Again the company was as great as the food. Jokes and laughs briefly interrupted by the mention of something that was bought earlier in the day. Then a short walk back to my hotel afterward for a well deserved good night’s sleep.

Although Saturday was the last day of business at this year’s FUN, you’d never have known it by the business we did. Constant and steady, only broken up by a short break now and then. By this time we were getting our coins back from PCGS that we’d submitted earlier in the show. And again they did exactly what they should have. Reward the really special coins and hold the line. In fact I can’t remember seeing any coins graded there that I thought were liberally evaluated. Both PCGS’ grading team and show customer service people should be commended for the job they did. Thanks guys and girls!

Ya, I know…enough with the generalizations. You want specifics. So I’ve listed some of the coins we bought and or sold down in Florida below:

1794 1c Head of 94, S-59, PCGS MS66+BN; One of the fabled Lord St. Oswald pieces that first came to the market in 1964 via an auction in England. An amazing piece that was last available publicly when Bowers and Ruddy sold the famous John W. Adams collection in 1982. Superb in every way.

1825/4 (2) 25c, Browning 2, PCGS MS64+; An incredible coin that I’ve had the pleasure of placing 3 times now. Every time that I handle it, it wows me more that the time before. Truly a great coin that is a highlight of any cabinet.

1832 $2.50 PCGS MS62; A very rare piece that last appeared in the Paramount (Akers) session of Auction ’82. Very fresh to the market, it was snapped up by the first person to view it. Good move…

1915-S 50c Panama Pacific, PCGS MS67+ CAC; Arguably the nicest Pan-Pac half I’ve ever seen, let alone handled. A real GEM destined for a like minded collection. Check out Tom’s photo of it when he gets it posted.

1915-S $2.50 Panama Pacific, NGC MS67+ CAC; Standing alone at the top of both the NGC and PCGS pop reports, this piece too was acquired by the first client to see it. It now resides in the cabinet of a fine Southern Gentleman.

1853 G$1 California Pioneer Gold, PCGS AU55; One of the real stoppers when it comes to California Pioneer Fractional Gold. An R-8 according to Breen-Gillio and deservedly so. With less than 5-6 known, this one was sold literally a few hours after we bought it. It’s good to see collector based coins sell so quickly when they come to market.

1897 Proof Set, 1c-$1, PCGS PR67 (Except the cent that is PR66 RD); Totally original sets like this, as opposed to put together ones, are virtually non-existent in today’s marketplace. Real GEMs with outstanding eye appeal, this set would knock out 6 slots for those of you who collect by type while at the same time giving the owner the pride of having an original proof set from the 1890s.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll make you cruise the new purchases section of my web site. I think you’ll be glad you did.

SAD NEWS…

Late Saturday afternoon I was informed by a friend that John Burns, a friend who deals in out of print numismatic literature, had passed in his sleep the night before. A fixture for years at many east coast shows, John touched each and every life that he came in contact with in a manner that only who had that pleasure could understand. I know that I can speak for all of us when I say we’re gonna miss ya buddy. RIP.

Doesn’t seem right to end this report on such a somber note, but I’d like to think there’s a hidden message:

Collect what you like. Live every day as if it were your last. And when your time is up, go out doing what you love…

Bill

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

The 55th Money Show of the Southwest

The annual Money Show, held in Houston, Texas at the George R. Brown Convention Center was held last week, the second week of the Holiday season. And while I didn’t really meet any people there that were looking for Holiday gifts, it appeared that many were giving themselves a little something early this year. One of the ways I measure a show is by the number of new clients we meet. That is those collectors that give us their want lists or take a little extra time in explaining their collection. The second is ratio of wholesale to retail sales that we make at a show. At this show the retail won by a landslide.

They say EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas, and this show certainly lives up to that. The bourse floor was large with wide aisles. And unlike many of the other shows we attend, there wasn’t an issue with either the air conditioner or the heating system. Both Christine and I would like to thank the show promoters for bringing in an outside food vendor. It was really nice to have a choice at lunchtime for a change. The weather, both inside and out, was perfect. Much like a log cabin amidst snow covered trees. Not too hot, nor too cold, just right. Plenty of collectors and dealers made the annual journey. Oh, I might add that there wasn’t a hint of snow down there like there was two years ago.

Several of the bigger dealers, many from Texas, didn’t make the trip though. And there wasn’t the usual December auction this year. Many of those in attendance would look at that as a bad thing, but we didn’t. This gave us time to spend talking to, and doing business with, numerous collectors and dealers. The action wasn’t as fast paced as we’d like it, but when we added up the sales we were surprised we did as much business as we did. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it a thousand times again, but virtually all of the collectors we dealt with were armed with a want list and knew exactly what they were looking for. Not a whole lot of impulse buying was seen by us.

One of the really neat things about Numismatists is the free sharing of knowledge. We had a coin, one which we had sold to a client, and submitted it to PCGS for reholdering. When we put it out on display with a “NOT FOR SALE” sign, it created quite a stir with every major Mexican and Latin America dealer as well as most U.S. dealers. It is really a neat coin, probably the finest known for the type. It is an 1847-A 8 Reales from the Central American Republic, in PCGS MS 66, the coin you see imaged in this show report. As one dealer put it, it was the “coin of the show”. We’d like to thank all of the specialists in the field who came up to us and shared what they know of this short lived series. It was a lot of fun.

So…what was hot? Well, the usual. Gem Commems with color, or type coins exhibiting that little something extra, like outstanding eye appeal. Christine and I were both really pleased to meet and do business with three different collectors of Three Cent Silvers. As you probably know, this is one of our favorite series and it was great to see others appreciate them like we do.

Buying on the other hand was a little more difficult. Seems those Texans don’t like to part with their coins. But we were able to find a few which are up on the web under the “All New Coins” header. Check them out and if you see something of interest give us a call.

I apologize to those of you who were expecting to see us at Parsippany this month. I just needed a day off after Houston. We will, however, be in Las Vegas next week at PCGS’ year-end Invitational, held at The Venetian/Palazzo resort. If you get a chance to sneak off for a few days during this Holiday season, stop by and say hello. Remember…we love to talk coins!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Bill and Christine

A Tale of Two Cities (or what a difference three thousand miles makes)

Taking the “Red Eye” back to New Jersey from Long Beach is never an easy task. Getting off the plane and going directly to the Parsippany, New Jersey show makes it even harder. But this is what I do.

I left for the first of three Long Beach shows this year on Wednesday. Not the usual Tuesday as I had done in the past decade. The wholesale business just hasn’t warranted it. And I didn’t think that many fresh coins would be there in other dealer’s boxes just waiting for the picking. I was right. Quality coins are definately in short supply. This Long Beach show wasn’t a “barn burner”, nor was it “dead”. Let’s call it lack-luster…plus.

pan_pac_50cWhy? I’m not sure. But I have a few thoughts about it:

First, I don’t think the economy in California helps matters much. I didn’t see many of the usual collectors I normally would have. I even got emails from clients telling me that they had to work and couldn’t make it to the show. I guess job security is paramount and they couldn’t risk taking vacation to get to the show.

Second, and maybe the most important factor, is that I think the Long Beach show may have run it’s course. This show has been around a long time, and while the promoters have tried to evolve with the times, this venue is tired.

So how was the show from a sales stand point of view? Good. Actually good and then some. I thought throughout the show that it would be sub-par. I was wrong. The numbers actually added up. Not just the dollar amount, but the number of invoices written. It is always a good sign when you can sell coins to MANY willing buyers and not just a few. As of lately, ;most sales were to collectors who knew what they wanted. We didn’t sell any coins “on a whim”. Just like at the FUN show, we noticed a lot of interest in U.S. commemoratives. The classic ones, not the modern pieces. And again, the coins had to have something, some sort of character, to sell. And sell they did. We also experienced an urgency of sort among the retailers to acquire coins for their customers. Most of the wholesale we did was to other retailers, not the crack-out artists or bottom fishers.

The price of gold taking it on the chin didn’t help. But that is the Long Beach curse, and those that adjusted their buy/sell prices accordingly did just fine. Those who tried to sell with a higher cost basis, well, they didn’t do so good. But generic gold was selling. Only for lower numbers.

So let’s grade Long Beach a B-. Not bad considering everything going on.

Landing at Newark’s Liberty International Airport at 5:30 after spending the night at 36,000 feet, we proceeded to go straight to the monthly Sunday show at the PAL building in Parsippany. Let me tell you it was COLD. Fifteen degrees to be exact. And windy.

The doors opened to the dealers at 7:00 and to the public at 9:00. By 10:00 the place was packed. I saw a few dealers here who, like me, had just returned from Long Beach. Seems business is good if you want to work for it. Parsippany isn’t like Long Beach. Finding high quality coins here has always been difficult. Harder now more than ever before. But we found a few “GEMS” for your consideration. They, along with Long Beach’s, will be up on our website within the next few days. Check back often.

Most of the people in Parsippany weren’t looking for higher quality pieces. A large percentage were looking for modern coins, both bullion pieces as well as proof strikings. Circ dollars, 90% silver, and circulated U.S. gold coins also appeared in demand. Lower grade, certified Morgan and Peace dollars were selling as well. True “collector” grade coins are King in Parsippany.

We give Parsippany an A-. Even better.

So there you have it. Two cities. Two shows. Two totally different observations. All I can say about this is that I am glad to see coins selling. Both GEM quality as well as lower grade and lower priced ones. It proves that no matter what is happening around the world, collectors are still willing to invest in their hobby. In this day and age it’s great that we have a means to escape into our own little world and relax.

Our next show is this week in St. Louis at the airport Hilton. This show has, in our opinion, always been a bell-weather for the midstream collector market. Hopefully we will find a few items for your consideration there.

I love my job. I really do.

I have spent over thirty years in this business on the wholesale level. While I have always had an interest in the history of coins, and always wanted to share it with other collectors, my career went down the wholesale road and that is the path it remained on for three decades. One of the ways that I have tried to “give back” to the hobby is by teaching a class at the American Numismatic Association’s summer seminar. This year, 2009, was my 12th summer at “coin camp” in Colorado Springs.

The first eleven years I remained purely educational. I only taught and never gave out a business card. Before this year, some might say I was standoffish, almost unapproachable. The truth is I was uneasy and didn’t know if the collecting fraternity would accept me or my style. I know coins, and I know the subject matter that I teach, but I never really thought of myself as a “salesman”. But this year something changed. Why, I do not know. Maybe it was because we had all survived the “heart attack” that America’s financial system had had, and just wanted to have fun with our coins again. My students and other collectors started asking me questions. Not just about coin grading, but about other aspects of the business. And it was fun again.

One of my students this summer, I’ll call him Stanley, was a repeat. He had been in my class before, but thought it might help him if he took a refresher course. So where is this leading to? Read on…

I’ve always have enjoyed Stanley, He is a true numismatist and a real gentleman. He collects a series, which I won’t say, where there has always been a little controversy about method of manufacture. That is whether a coin is a business strike or a proof. So this summer, at the ANA’s coin show in Los Angeles, I was excited when he stopped by my booth to chat. We talked for quite some time about a variety of things. Towards the end of our conversation he asked me if I might help him find a couple of coins he was looking for. The pieces he was looking for are scare if not downright rare. I told him I’d keep an eye out for them, and also reminded him to “not hold his breath”.

Two hours later one of them walked up to my table. Huh. What are the odds of the happening? As Stanley had already left the show, a few phone calls, and a couple of emails later, a deal was struck. Stanley wanted the piece.

Fast forward a few months, a few more emails, and a few more phone calls. Stanley had found a piece in his collection which exhibited the exact die characteristics as the coin he had purchased from me. The only difference was the holder it was in. The coin he had bought from me was a mint state specimen, and his other coin was labeled as a proof. What to do?

We met at the fall Long Beach show and examined his coin. I had another colleague look at the coin. We determined that the second coin was wrongly attributed. And so I resubmitted the coin on Stanley’s behalf.

Stanley was correct. He had done his homework, found an incorrectly labeled coin in his own collection, and had the third party grading service correct it. He was elated. It made my show to see another collector so happy.

I love my job. I really do.

Contact Information

Numismatic Americana Incorporated
P.O. Box 608
Chester, NJ 07930

William Shamhart, Jr.
email: Bill@numismaticamericana.com

Notes on Our Next Show





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