Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.
|July 2016 Issue|
A Newsletter By:
My Coin Journey Part XIII
By Warren Mills
We found ourselves with our backs against the wall. I knew it was time to start a company. I’d had enough of working for individuals that had different perspectives and objectives than mine or my customers. Often, what I believed was the most honorable thing to do was met with incredible resistance. I always believed that if you protect and preserve the interest of your customer, you would be doing the same for your business. You instill loyalty by earning it!
I can say that it doesn’t always work. In some instances, customers get caught up in the sizzle of the presentation and not the steak, i.e., the coin. In many cases, one is at a disadvantage if they tell the truth when others lie about everything. Some people just don’t understand the coin business and feel every certified coin should be priced the same and that there is no difference from one coin to another. This is refuted in auction records every week! So, I resign myself to the fact that the customers we have are the ones we are meant to have and I’m thankful for them.
It’s now June of 1990 and we incorporate Rare Coins of New Hampshire. Due to non-compete contracts, we had to find a source of leads and money to buy inventory and advertise. So I took my coin collection and sold it for capital, and then acquired coins and bought leads. I had a long background in the coin industry and I was able to negotiate a deal to acquire the customer mailing list of Joe Flynn, someone I had known as a dealer for many years, and who was retiring. I felt good about the acquisition because he had an educated customer base and we both knew coins.
I also acquired a partial list of Security Rare Coins customers from a lead broker. Security was not a source for knowledgeable coin buyers, but it gave us the opportunity to work with people that needed help. We also started to advertise in Coin World, Numismatic News, Coinage and others. I was reviewing a copy of one of our early ads and remembered that I acquired a hoard of 1893-S Morgan Dollars, all graded by PCGS from Good 4 to Fine-15. There were 19 coins in the hoard and they were all priced at less than a $1,000 in the ad. Though 26 years have gone by, it’s still hard to believe that not only would those coins be priced much, much higher, but they were also original and nice for the grade. Now you see many of these early coins or scarce dates that are commercially graded, and cleaned or altered, and that never would have certified years ago.
It was fun to get a response from an ad in a numismatic publication. Right away, you knew you were dealing with a knowledgeable collector, which was right up our alley. Back then, you also had people that were collecting for decades that knew that each coin had its own uniqueness and character. Every attribute for grading was considered, not just rarity and condition; bag marks from severity and location; luster from blazing to subdued; strike from weak to full; color from pastel to rainbow… and one of my personal favorites, originality. Add all of these factors together and you get balance.
I have always acquired coins from a balance perspective. If a coin has many positive attributes, but it has a small mark somewhere, I own it. The one thing about coins is that there is always something on which to focus that takes them out of the MS-70 category. If you have sufficient wonderful, desirable qualities in a coin, but you reject it for a minor reason, you may want to examine your criteria. In our next issue, I will expound on our fledging experiences.
Coin Trivia Questions:
1. Name the only father/son team to be Chief Engraver of the US Mint.
2. Who donated the silver used to make the half-disme and disme pattern coins of 1792?
3. Who was the first “real” woman on a US coin?
What Happens When Coins Are Over Graded
By Warren Mills
Or Altered and Still Certified?
We have a long-standing customer that will not buy a coin with any mint imperfections, noticeable marks, specks, etc., and it must have a full strike. I asked to examine some of his pieces to see if I can help him add to his collection. Every coin was certified, but they were all compromised to some degree -- old light cleanings, wipes, etc. There were no die cracks or laminations, and no real noticeable marks or carbon flecks. Yet, give me original balanced coins every day and all day long. None of the pieces I examined from his collection were original.
The reason I focus on originality is because you do not have to worry about a coin changing in the holder. About 15 or 20 years ago, there was a big dust-up in the coin industry about certified coins changing color in the holder. The coin publications printed that it was because the holders were not airtight. I said to anyone who asked that the airtight reasoning would be minor, if anything. The major reason for the coins changing in holders was because of improper dip neutralizing or chemical changes or drying putty on coin surfaces, plain and simple. Today, the services are very in tune with alterations, but they make allowances. Now, if we can just get them to not grade so many cleaned and altered early circ type issues. The more coins you grade that are inferior, the more you dilute the price.
Let’s look at Early Dollars. Customers look at pop reports on Bust Dollars and see that over 10,000 Heraldic Eagle Bust Dollars from 1798 to 1803 have been graded by PCGS in all circulated grades. That’s a fair amount if you’re looking for a type piece. However, my guess is that maybe only 25% are original pieces. It’s only a guess from what I have seen over the years in the marketplace, but consider that effect on pricing a series when the supply is inflated. This also has an effect on desirability! If you exclude the 1799, there are about 7,000 pieces available. If 25% are original, the rarity and desirability increase dramatically. Factor in then how strictly or loosely graded the coins may be and the whole picture changes on the series.
Many old timers may feel that most of the XF-40’s should be VF-30 or VF-35’s. I feel that unless a coin is blatantly over graded, an allowance for wholesome pleasing examples should be made. I recently went to a small show and a very experienced and knowledgeable dealer had about ten early Bust Dollars. Every coin was severely compromised and some were over graded, too! What this does is distort rarity, lessen desirability, and negatively impact pricing today and also in the future.
For this simplified example, I did not factor in resubmission to PCGS. If you have 10,000 circulated examples of coins that are fairly expensive in all grades, the resubmissions could represent 2,500 to 5,000 coins. It’s all speculation, but when you crack out a coin, you have to factor in the risk vs. the reward. If the certification fee is $50, but the upgrade is a minimum of $500, it’s worth the shot. However, if there is a question about how original a coin is and you crack it out, if it “no grades,” your risk goes through the roof. That is one reason why originality is so important to me. It protects our clients and if we consign wholesome coins to an auction for our clients, we know knowledgeable buyers will key in on them. Many coins that we have consigned for our clients or they have consigned and bought from us have set record prices.
The bottom line is the larger the supply of an item, the less likely it will appreciate due to rarity distortion. Again, the rarity distortion can lead to a lack of desirability, too! When I am looking for early circ type in auctions or the bourse floor, I always find that the most wholesome pieces for grade sell for the most in auction or are priced in dealer cases for the most money.
Another factor that hurts commercially graded coins is that a collector will never learn the correct criteria for grading coins. I don’t want to hear about another client telling me that they want to assemble a set or buy a single type issue of an 18th Century coin in circulated condition that is brilliant. I will try to offer my opinion, but the comeback is always that I see them graded at the shows and they are bright white in all conditions from Good on up. And the person is right! And they are not net graded, either!
It makes me sick to see an early Bust Dollar in V.G. that is not net graded but looks polished. I tell people to try and buy coins that appeal to the most knowledgeable buyers. Original coins have character, and as long as there are stewards that want to pass on their knowledge of the importance of originality, you will have character coins leading the way. These coins will always be the easiest coins to sell and the most knowledgeable buyers will climb over themselves to buy them. Once you clean a coin, you can never go back!
CAC Grading Submissions
By Warren Mills
We have a reputation for trying to buy the strictest coins for the grade. Our submissions to CAC reflect that a very high percentage of our coins we submit will receive a CAC sticker. These are coins from our regular inventory or coins we have sold to our clients in the past that want them CAC’d. Recently, we had a combined two invoices of 26 coins we submitted. We went 27 for 26 because of a gold sticker on one of the coins. In other words, all 26 coins received a sticker, but one piece received a gold one.
Since we are a CAC submission dealer, some collectors want us to submit coins for them in the hope that our reputation for quality will allow their coins to get the benefit of the doubt. I may tell them that I think certain issues have no chance, but they want them submitted anyway. We will submit them, but I assure you that CAC plays no favorites… period. They examine each coin on its own merits, as it should be, and affix a sticker only if the coin meets their strict standards. So if anyone reading this article would like us to examine their coin for CAC, we will do it free of charge. However, don’t expect any CAC favoritism if we submit coins for you.
Partner and owner of Rare Coins of New Hampshire, Inc. since June, 1990 and a full time coin dealer since 1979. Warren is a full member of the Professional Numismatists Guild and a life member of the American Numismatic Association. He was selected by the Rosen Numismatic Advisory as one of the ten leading numismatists in the country for twelve consecutive years. He was selected by PCGS and written up in their newsletter as handling and submitting some of the nicest coins they have ever seen.
By Joseph Presti
In 2000, General Mills, maker of Cheerios cereal decided to celebrate the new millennium by including a specially packaged one cent and new dollar coins as a giveaway in Cheerios boxes. A total of 10,000,000 cents and 5,500 dollar coins were given away.
Everything went great until a collector happened upon a 2000 Sacagawea (Sac) dollar from a Cheerios box and thought it looked different. He submitted the coin to ANACS for authentication and they graded and labeled the coin with the Cheerios pedigree. In 2005, he submitted the coin to NGC and they consulted with expert Tom Delory about the coin. After some research, Tom discovered that it looked similar to examples he saw at the mint in 1999. The primary difference was that the eagle’s feathers were much more distinct than on circulating examples.
During an interview with the designer of the reverse of the Sac dollar, Tom confirmed that the change in the reverse tail feathers was done very late in the design process, “probably in October 1999,” with business strike production beginning in November of 1999. It was also confirmed that General Mills needed the 5,500 promotional coins late in 1999 so they could be boxed and on grocers' shelves for the beginning of 2000. The thought is that the mint used the prototype or pattern reverse to strike the coins for General Mills, but thought nothing of it. So it wasn’t noticed until 2005 when NGC first confirmed the difference.
Another interesting tidbit is that the mint produced thirty-nine Sac dollars from 22K gold and flew some on the space shuttle. Of the original thirty-nine, twelve coins remain and are housed at Fort Knox. Interestingly, the gold Sac dollars and the Cheerios dollars were struck using the same prototype reverse.
With a total of only 139 coins graded by both services, the coin is rare, but beware. Like most modern rarities when first discovered, they bring big money, but as more get discovered, the price comes down. Just think how many more coins could be waiting to be found sitting in drawers or how many were spent. So check every 2000 Sac dollar you come in contact with and maybe you will get lucky.
A Small Tribute To A Great ManBy Paul V. Battaglia
Ideas, subject matter, topics of interest or none at all…. where do I tread this month?
Well, a combination of many busy evenings, some travel, appointments and a general change-up in my non-routine schedule has left me dry for this month’s newslettre. That is, until the other night, Thursday 24th June.
My wife and I needed to clear out a lower dresser drawer for some files and important papers. The dresser belonged to my father from the mid-1950s until his passing in 2006. I had a fair idea of what might be within, but nothing specific as such things are usually left static, given their nature and the sentiment they hold. I was pleasantly surprised to see items that had been out of my mind for many-a-year. As I shared with you in my earlier articles, dear readers, my dad was an avid and devoted coin collector. What I re-discovered in that lower dresser drawer immediately brought me back decades in thought. An otherwise dormant memory link came richly to life once more.
My dad would have turned 91 this upcoming 25th July had he still been with us. Therefore, I thought it apropos for me to step away from pure U.S. numismatics and share a few of my dad’s “stuffe” (my word creation here and pronounced “stoof”) for this month.
Dad turned 50 back in July 1975. I clearly recall having purchased two 1925-P Peace Silver Dollars via post from a numismatic firm on Long Island, NY State. The better of the pair cost me the kingly sum of $50 (plus postage!?-honest) solely due to the owner’s advertisement extolling the supposedly unique surface qualities and visually arresting appeal. My coin buddies were shocked at my paying that price, but my horse sense and experience told me, “KEEP IT PAUL.” The coin pictured before you was the other 1925-P and priced more in line with current prices. I gave both to my dad for his birthday. He decided to have the latter coin placed within a Capital Plastic holder that included a base and his full name. (I wrapped the other 1925 Peace Silver Dollar in tissue paper to tone it over time. When the grading services came to fruition, I had PCGS grade it for dad in 1989.) So, I am now just observing this coin again as of yesterday evening and with it a living, glowing memory.
Dad picked up this cereal box favour at some point since Cheerios remained one of his preferred daily dry breakfast cereals. Aside from an obverse fleck @ 9 o’clock obverse, this Year 2000 Lincoln Cent remains a blazing orange-red. (I daresay the surrounding holder is far, far rarer than the cent is and ever will be!)
Dad also owned this 1902-H (Heaton Mint) Canada Ten Cent Piece. He picked that one up when our entire family visited Old Quebec City in July 1966. I recall he and I located a coin shop in Quebec City proper to look for possible U.S. coin finds. We located nothing, yet he came away with this roll-fresh specimen for reasons unknown to me. However, it was graded and returned a GEM.
Last and certainly not least are these silver-denominated Italian Lira all dated 1927. They have acquired some striking deeper cobalt-blue toning with golden tinges over many decades of dormancy within old type envelopes. These coins belonged to my paternal grandfather and possibly on his person when he, his wife (my grandmother) and all their children, of whom my dad was one, emigrated from Cefalu, Sicily. Cefalu is a small mountain town in northern Sicily overlooking Palermo for you geographers. They came over in the 1920s. Grandfather Battaglia was a fresh produce and fish monger back in his town. He brought his trade over into Boston, Massachusetts. I can well imagine how much better they all fared over many other people, especially when the Great Depression hit in autumn of 1929.
Thanks again, Dad!
Your grateful son,
Questions From The Mail Bag
By Warren Mills
Question: Why are 19th Century Type coins so dead? They are historic and beautiful, but the prices have really come down.
Thanks to multiple clients that have posed this questions over the last few months!
Answer: Nineteenth Century Type is one of my favorite areas. I particularly like Seated Half Dollars, but every 19th Century series seems to be in the doldrums. I attribute this to the aging collector base. For many decades, 19th Century Type coins were a mainstay for most collectors. Dollars, though beautiful, were just looked at as common, available coins. Nineteenth Century issues had a large representation of series mintmarks and so many varieties that it captured many collectors’ fancy because they could never learn or see everything. As dollars were studied more widely, and less often seen, a flood of new collectors entered the market for them. The old timers still looked down their nose at dollars, but as Father Time marches on, the old guard is retiring or passing away; new generations take over with varied new ideas about what is desirable to them. Now, dollar collectors look down their nose at modern coin collectors, but modern Eagles and promotable mint issues are the current rage.
Does that make 19th Century Type undervalued? It sure does, but you need a group of buyers to support the market. If the interest is waning, it will take a concerted educational effort by dealers to allow new buyers to appreciate the older historical coins. Now that coins are certified and many dealers are just label readers (they couldn’t even grade a raw coin), 19th Century issues may never again enjoy the glory days of old. They are legitimately hard to find, and I love and buy the odd nice pieces when I see them, but it doesn’t mean they’re soon in for a resurgence.
Thanks again and please keep those questions coming. We welcome your questions. So please send them to me directly or visit the contact us page for future newsletters, and if you prefer, I will answer them for you privately.
Coin Trivia Answers:
1. William Barber 1869-1879 and son Charles Barber 1879-1917
2. It had been widely accepted that the silver came from Martha Washington in the form of her silver flatware set.
3. Queen Isabella on the commemorative 1893 Isabella 25c