Welcome to the Winter Edition of The Rare Coin Enthusiast
Welcome to the latest edition of the Enthusiast. As promised from our F.U.N. Show report, please find my answers to the latest Rosen Crystal Ball Survey. I’ve known Maurice for 40 years and anytime he asks me to contribute to his award-winning Rosen Advisory I am honored. It’s few and far between that you can find dealers that actually try to put their customers objective first. He and I are kindred spirits here! The questions and answers will follow, as well as the subscription information to the Advisory. If you have any questions or would like me to elaborate further on anything, please give me a call.
By Warren Mills
My Answers to the Questions from the 2023/24 Rosen
1. In 2022 collectors and investors were besieged by a number of adverse financial forces, including: soaring inflation exceeding income gains; declining prices for stacks, bonds, precious metals and crypto-currencies; higher interest rates affecting their debts and planned financial transactions. A) How has all this affected their participation in the rare coin market? B) What do you see ahead in the 2023/2024 market and how can collectors/investors best prepare themselves?
Numismatic Advisory, Crystal Ball Survey.
By Warren Mills
A.) The upper crust that are more insulated from the average working collector are not affected at all from these adverse financial forces. They are aggressively pursuing and purchasing top quality rarities. The average working collector or investor is being more judicious about their acquisitions. Financial advisors are trying to figure out why the tangible market had not moved up in the face of soaring inflation so they are advising their collectors to take a wait and see approach.
B.) I see a strong market for coins ahead. The ramifications of a new grading service may cause a pause until collectors can get a handle on how well it will be received. Every time something new has been developed in the coin market, there usually is a time of assessing how things are accepted before they move forward.
To prepare, I would set my objectives early on and not be afraid to seize the opportunity to buy a coin that is needed or liked. I anticipate higher prices as the year goes on, However, a war or financial collapse would change everything for the world so take some precautions, have some gold or silver put away.
2. How can you explain the poor performance of gold and silver prices in the face of high inflation, the government’s out-sized spending and deficits, the raging war between Russia and the Ukraine, and the increase of government intrusions into our privacy and liberties?
I know I will be labeled a conspiracy theorist, but I really feel that government and central bank manipulations of the gold and silver prices is why gold and silver have reacted the way they have. Look at the new J.P. Morgan prosecutions for gold manipulation. Are three of their execs going to resort jail this time? Will the fine be in hundreds of millions when they’ve made billions on the manipulations? It’s the same old story. New central bank this time, then it will be another one until it’s J.P. Morgan’s turn again in another two years. When the government fines them millions, but they make 100’s of millions, do they care? It will keep happening ad nauseum until the government seizes assets and closes them down. This will never happen because of a potential financial collapse so gold and silver will remain the whipping boys. In spite of it all, gold is averaging about 10% a year appreciation for the last 20 years.
3. There will soon be a new grading service in town! John Albanese will be introducing his new grading service soon. A) What do you think the impact will be on the coin market? B) What do you see as the benefits for collectors and investors? C) How successful do you think it will be against the well-established competition?
This is no slam dunk! I appreciate the fact that John truly has the best intentions for the long-term health of the coin market and the collector, but how many of the 125 partners do? I decided not to become a partner because I thought it would be a conflict of interest. I wish more dealers felt that way. How long will John be in control?
A.) Could be a positive because coins will be technically graded and not subject to the up and down standards of commercial or market grading that the services have used for years. Technical is a constant, commercial or market can loosen or tighten ½ a point to a point anytime. In anticipation, it seems that PCGS and NGC have tightened their market grading when the new service was inevitable. Technical grading will mean that less doctored coins and strictness will be employed in the grading room so we will not have to live through the decades long price drops coins have suffered because of the oversupply of commercial grading ruining price support levels.
B.) Stricter standards and higher prices.
C.) This is the wild card. If I ate the pablum and have a 7 to 9 figure coin collection and then find out a new grading service is now potentially looking at my coins as a half a point to two points over graded, wow! Do I throw in the towel? Sell my collection, leave it all as is and start to buy the new service’s coins, continue to just buy PCGS and NGC and hope the new service goes away? Do I want to risk my seven-figure coin collection being worth six figures? This will be a big problem. Will PCGS and NGC be relegated to only grading certain types of coins? Credibility for all three services will be called into question. We have a huge unknown on the horizon.
I will say that I am very pleased with the new finalizers John has hired. Those two true professional graders are the best of the best!
4. Modern era coins are still bringing very high and record prices when in super-high grades, ex. 1952-S Washington-Carver 50c in MS68 at $76,000. Has this trend gone to an irrational level or can it be explained solely by wealthy collectors pursuing their Registry sets?
It’s absurd! Ego trumps rational. However, it doesn’t mean that these coins will not make a registry buyer money! Sadly, a wealthy more ego driven buyer could actually pay more in the future. However, the risk of increasing populations could drive prices down significantly.
5. Silver bullion buyers are facing very high premiums for such coins as Eagles and pre-1965 90% silver coins. What is your advice for them?
I’d really be concerned if I were a short- term speculator. These are the highest premiums I can remember. My advice would be to have a long-term outlook, price average your way in, lean more toward 90% then Eagles due to future counterfeiting problems, and remember most alternatives to 90% are being widely counterfeited as we speak. The gold silver ratio is still over 80 to 1 so silver looks like a good long term hedge. Also, remember when a full bag of junk silver is sold, it triggers a 1099-B.
6. The same for gold buyers, premiums are higher here, too. What is your advice?
I prefer the U.S. products due to the tight buy sell spreads. A strong case can be made for other gold products such as K-rands and Maples etc. but beware of counterfeiting. Nothing leaves our offices without non-invasively being tested. Some buyers may worry about their privacy due to certain quantities of some gold products being sold that trigger a 1099-B.
7. What technological advances would you like to see developed that would be beneficial for the hobby and the individual collector and investor?
Whatever can be done to make certification holders tamper proof and counterfeit resistant would be the best form of protection for collectors and investors.
8. What are you Best Buys in U.S. Type Coins, Mint State and Proof?
I always loved silver type coins. Commercial grading and the aging out of knowledgeable collectors has hurt this market. Virtually all small eagle and large eagle 18th to early 19th century type are wonderful coins. The history behind them and the hard-to-find original coins make them something to behold. However, grading can be a problem. Just look at the price differences of CAC and non-CAC pieces; a fifty percent price difference or more is not unusual. For now, buy CAC but be selective. I’d say about 25% or more of CAC’d 18th century to early 19th century coins should not have a sticker. I like them from Circulated to Uncirculated.
9. What are you Best Buys in U.S. Gold?
Same as above, but I also like proof gold. As more and more affluent money enters the market, look for proof gold to be aggressively sought after. Attractive Proof-63 or better coins are a sight to behold. CAC approved or new service holder coins should be strongly considered. I have complete faith that the knowledge possessed by CAC’s new finalizers, John and Ron, will deliver a great product.
10. What are your Best Buys in the Morgan and Peace Dollar series?
The last couple of years has seen a large price move in these series. I am not as comfortable with the Morgan Dollars right now, there is very little that is undervalued. I still like nice MS-64 Peace Dollars. Watch out for aggressively priced 64+ coins. There can be gigantic spreads between 64 and 65 graded coins and with patience, you can find solid graded 64’s that are nicer or as nice as many 64+ coins. A plus sign gives most dealers the vision of sugar plums to charge giant mark-ups so be careful. Purchase CAC coins, but watch out for CAC Coins with PVC or residue on these pieces. Many peace dollars were stored for years in old PVC flips.
11. What are your Best Buys in the vintage U.S. Silver and Gold Commemorative series?
Gold Commems. are still so far off of their old price highs that they’re a consideration to assemble a complete set. If a set is out of the question, I would focus in on an ’04 or ’05 Lewis and Clark. CAC or new service only.
For those with the financial ability, the Pan Pac slugs are impressive coins. Those mintages should keep them high on the list of well healed buyers. CAC or new service.
Silver commems. are tricky. There are so many over-dipped pieces in the market that collapsed the prices that it’s hard to make a best buy. I like the Izzy and Lafayette issues because of the denomination uniqueness. The rest have been so beaten down that I would say buy what you like and stick to CAC for protection. I’ve been looking for a CAC 66 or better Hudson for years for a client, but every coin I have seen has been too baggy to justify the sticker and/or too porous.
12. What are you Best Buys in any other area9s) of your choice?
I have always loved seated type coins. Especially halves and dollars, but from ½ dimes all the way through dollars are great coins. Try to focus on original surfaces at price points you are comfortable with. CAC is very weak on stickering circ. issues in theses series, so be picky, but non-CAC issues are a total mine field. CAC is very good grading uncs. and proofs of all seated type coins.
13. What inexpensive and fairly available coin issues are especially good buys and can be accumulated for the long-term?
I really like bust halves from 1807 to 1839. There are some scarce dates and types, but many issues in original XF to choice XF are under $300. These were workhorse coins for banks to hold as reserves so a lot of them are around and they are affordable. A customer called me once and said, “I want to buy all the white bust halves you have in V.F. that are certified by the major grading services.” I said that I will never sell a circulated bust coin that’s white so he should go somewhere else. Then I asked him how a 200-year-old circ coin that’s white has not been cleaned and he responded, “Well the services grade them don’t they?” That’s commercial grading at its worst. So, focus in on nice original coins.
14. Some people have put money into a precious metals IRA account or are considering to do so. What advice would you give them?
Customer needs to work with a precious metal firm that is reputable, preferably APMD dealer. Many companies are recommending esoteric gold and silver so they can make big profits. Set up an allocated account. Many dealers dump impaired coins in IRA’s. Call trust companies and speak to them too! Many have poor customer service. Stick with U.S. Eagles or Buffalos for gold and silver eagles for silver. Here, the dealer selection is crucial! Counterfeit pieces could be dumped into these IRA’s. That’s why APMD dealers should be sought out.
15. What coinage series is overlooked and undervalued, an attractive long-term investment?
I love Seated Dollars, circulated to uncirculated. Most are cleaned or worked on to varying degrees. For type, a 59-O or 60-O is readily available in Unc. due to the bags that came out but they are frosty and nice. Original circs are undervalued, stick with CAC pieces. Another series where CAC coins can command large premiums.
Numismatic Counseling, Inc.
P.O. Box 35
Plainville, NY 11803
I want to thank Maurice and also ask that if any or our Enthusiast readers have any questions to feel free to call or email me.
Customer Education is still lacking
One thing I have always found in this business that is a tremendous disappointment is how little a customer knows and understands about grading and the market. When I attend any coin show, I try to spend as much time as necessary with anyone that asks me a question. If it takes 30 seconds great, if it’s an hour then it’s an hour. I find more customers are given misinformation rather than the truth. This can stem from two different sources. First, a dealer really doesn’t know and tries to fake it. Second, old school mentality was always to keep the customer in the dark! I prefer to tell customers the truth and if it’s too much, let other dealers try to discredit me so they protect their own reputation.
I thought that when CAC started doing business, 15 years ago, people or collectors would finally believe in high end, mid-range, and low end. The old buy the coin not the holder finally had been declared legitimate! Sure, dealers still try to discredit CAC, but auction results prove that the sticker adds value. However, CAC graders are human. There are mistakes out there, coins that have no business with a sticker on them. So, the number one truth always remains to buy the coin, not the holder, sticker or not. Also, watch out for old putty and PVC residue manifesting itself on coins in all holders. Yes, even CAC approved coins.
At the F.U.N. show I was asked to examine hundreds of coins for my opinion. Some people get offended if you critique a coin. I try to tell them to learn from it! Also, if you look for an opinion on the grade of a coin and a dealer doesn’t rotate a raw coin or a slab, move on! Rotating a coin is the only way you get to see all you need to see under a good light source. Learn these few tips or you will always be left in the dark. Never let ego get in the way. If something is pointed out that you weren’t aware of, take the coin home and examine it. When you can consistently find the problem, you will hardly ever miss it again.
Valuing a coin is also very tricky. There are certain attributes that can add tremendous value and negatives that can detract. As an example, I sold a registry client a beautifully toned 3 cent silver for $5,000 when the market was $1,500 for one of the same grade. He trusted me, bought it, and a few years went by and he had to sell. I recommended the auction route. The market was now $5,000 for the date and the coin brought $30,000 in the auction! Never discount the value of great eye-appeal. It goes both ways. A coin may be bid at $1,500 but a dark example may only bring $1,000! Even an unattractive CAC coin can sell for a discount so be aware. Don’t just accept any coin or grading service. Another thing to consider is that just because a coin does not CAC doesn’t mean it’s a bad coin. It could be that they are not weighing the overall balance of the coin from a standpoint of luster, strike, and eye-appeal. It could be that they lack expertise in a certain series. I’ve seen tremendous inconsistencies in the quality of early circ. type CAC coins. However, don’t let ego effect the realization that maybe your coin is not as nice as you think. The grading services and CAC employ world class graders. The odd coin may be a mistake, but 9 out of 10 times they are right! CAC employs more of a technical grade standard and PCGS uses market standard grading. Give me technical all day long.
Now as far as the dollar and cents, try to become familiar with auction prices realized. The values associated with what a coin truly sells for is the market. A true premium quality example is worthy of stretching. Average coins, maybe your best source is Greysheet, below average coins just pass on them. Anyone that looks at Greysheet first has no idea of market value.
If you pass on a coin, don’t be offended if it’s offered to someone else! You passed, so if a knowledgeable buyer decides to step up or has a better idea of where the market really is, learn from it.
Our next issue will have my take on the new CAC grading service and how it may effect the collectors and the market, don’t miss it and thank you for your trust.
NGC introduces NGCX
NGC announced a new grading system beginning in January 2023 called NGCX. Modern coins (1982-present) will be eligible to receive the new grades and they will initially only be available to bulk submitters. This may change in the future but for now only the big submitters will be able to take advantage of this new system. Although NGC has not said this, my thought is that this system is really designed for bullion-oriented coins such as the American gold and silver Eagles and not collector coins. NGC has not said if this system will be available for foreign bullion coins but I believe it will.
I don’t know if a new ten point grading system was needed or maybe NGC gave into market pressures from the big suppliers of this type of material but I can see why they did it. Sports and trading cards, comic books, video games, etc. are all graded using a 10 point system. Coins and diamonds are some of the other collectable/investment items that do not. The thinking at NGC could have been that if the grading were more consistent with other collectables it may open a new base of collectors who could more easily understand the grading of coins. The new grading will not eliminate the subtle nuances of grading, it will only standardize it to some degree. For instance, a coin graded 10 will correspond to a 70 on the Sheldon grading system. A 9.9 will equal a 69 and so on down the line.
This should not matter to a dealer buying or selling coins graded with this new system but it could create demand from new collectors or buyers. From the perspective of someone who has been involved with numismatics for decades, I don’t see this as a threat to our hobby. There has been discussion of a 100 point grading system in the past and it has even been instituted by a grading service in Europe but I don’t see this being accepted by the masses. I feel that the 100 point system attempts to standardize our current grading system the way the metric system tried to standardize our current weight and measures system used in the U.S. In contrast, the Sheldon 70 point system has been used by collectors since the 1940’s and is well entrenched in the hobby. In fact, we may have too many grades in the Sheldon system. Do we really need 10 different uncirculated/proof grades or four separate AU grades? Probably not. I don’t see NGCX as a threat to our small hobby but it certainly is something to keep watching.
Virtually complete set of Silver Eagles
This month, we are able to offer a virtually complete set of U.S. Silver Eagles. There are a total of 33 coins dated from 1986-2018 and graded NGC MS-69. These coins are spot free and don't have any of the common white splotches commonly seen. Another major dealer is currently offering a complete set, 1986-2021, 36 coins in the same grade for $2900. Ours can be your for only,
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We have a solid practice of getting clients more money for their coins.