Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.
|June 2017 Issue|
A Newsletter By:
THINK LONG TERM
The Pogue sales have ended. What a collection of numismatic treasures. When it was done, over $106.5 million of coins crossed the auction block. Keep in mind, that does not include two pieces that the family decided to keep that would have pushed the total to over $120 million. Wow, it shows that top quality for the grade and wholesomeness still rule the day among knowledgeable buyers.
There are lessons here to be learned for all collectors of rare coins. The following is a list any buyer of coins should consider. These are listed in no particular order, but try to focus on all of them at some point.
- Be patient with your acquisition. Most collectors want to have everything yesterday! This simply does not work when trying to assemble a strictly-graded collection on a piece-by-piece basis. The exception to the rule is when you are fortunate enough to buy an intact collection from one knowledgeable buyer that knew what they were doing. When you rush the process, you are more apt to settle for marginal quality. Always remember, you are assembling a collection that will appeal to the most knowledgeable buyers in the business. Top quality is always in demand.
- Try to work within a budget. If you are comfortable, exceed it on a nice piece, which is fine. Stretch where you find it prudent to do so or you may never get the opportunity again! However, if you see a magnificent coin that you must have, you may not want to blow your allotment for the next few years on one piece! However, I would not discourage someone from acquiring their coin of a lifetime, if they would have no regrets in the future. Objectives can change and flexibility is a must in building a set. The joy of ownership on a special piece can last a lifetime. If the objective is a complete set or bust, then you need to exercise discipline.
- Find a mentor….one who really loves the hobby. Usually, a short conversation will allow you to determine if this person is knowledgeable, wants to exercise good stewardship, and will spend the time to educate you. I have spent countless hours working with collectors that have never done a lick of business with us. Some will think nothing of tying you up for hours at a show or auction just to pick your brain. Unfortunately, I find this to be the norm.My advice is that if you are that self-serving and don’t care or respect a dealer’s time, at least be courteous and thankful. When I look at a dealer’s inventory, I do everything I can to try and buy at least one coin. I want them to know that I’m appreciative that they took the time to allow me a chance to find a coin I may need for a customer.
- Look at a lot of coins and make notes. This is especially true at auctions. Large auctions are a treasure trove of coins for your viewing pleasure. Pick a series or a few in which you have the most interest and make detailed notes. Focus on color, luster, eye appeal, etc. Then, attend the auction and watch who is buying the lots. If only dealers are spending, it may mean that the coins are going cheap or that knowledgeable eyes recognize the exceptional quality of the coins in the sale. If they are going to the book, it may mean that the quality is marginal and a reserve has been set. If they go to the phone or internet, it may mean that dealers are bidding that way so they cannot be seen or some heavy-duty customers are jumping in. The final step to assess these auctions is to go on the bourse floor and ask dealers their assessment of the sale. In addition, ask if they saw a few of the lots that you really liked and get feedback from them on what they thought of the same lots. However, don’t monopolize a single dealer’s time. This is how they make a living.
- Don’t be intimidated. Some buyers wonder if a dealer will give them the time of day if they are buying coins for less than $100. Remember, it takes a lot of raindrops to make a puddle. If I could sell a hundred $50 coins at a show or out of the inventory from the office, I’d consider that to be a successful day! Years ago, I had a couple of collectors come in to show me (2) Indian Cent sets. They were both labors of love for them. The coins were wholesome and fresh and I examined every one of them in each set. A handful could be replaced, but overall, they were exceptional. I asked each collector if they wanted to sell their sets multiple times… they declined. I asked if I could get first shot when they sold. One was a VG to Fine set and the other was a rock solid XF to Choice XF set. I wanted them both!Quality is always in demand. If they went to a dealer that only handled $10,000 coins and up, they may not have been well-received. However, a dealer with a knowledgeable collector base for bread and butter coins would crawl through glass for them.
- Think long-term with your acquisitions. Market cycles are like the tide -- you cannot stop it. You may acquire the odd pieces that rise in a down market, but that’s the exception to the rule. That’s the reason why you want to buy exceptional coins for the grade. Unforeseen circumstances could come up and you need to raise money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen collectors try to sell the usual cleaned, re-worked, and over-graded coins in a pinch and have been told by the dealer from which they bought the coins, that he can’t use the coins! If you learn your lessons well, nice coins are always wanted and needed. It just may not be at the price for which you were hoping. Low-end PCGS & NGC coins can go begging, too!
- If you don’t have time to learn or have trust issues, but you love coins, warm up to CAC, which focuses on solid coins for the grade that may be the top 25%.If you are skeptical, check auction records and you’ll see that CAC coins perform very well. I don’t agree with all CAC-stickered coins and I feel that in some instances that they should have stickered coins that they didn’t. Yet overall, they provide a necessary service in this very specialized field.
These are just some areas of focus. A case can be made for others, but consider this a thumbnail sketch for success.
I hope to interview some of the longtime dealers in our field. I find their stories and experiences to be incredibly interesting. Years ago, one dealer bought 656 Pan Pac $1 gold commems in one collection! If you would find these stories of interest, please let me know.
One May 17, Catherine Bullowa passed away… she was an icon in the business. Imagine all the neat experiences that she took with her to the grave that no one will ever know!
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.
Modern Treasure Hunters
By Dave Carleton
I’ve always been supportive of any young coin collectors and anyone that’s trying to cultivate an interest in numismatics with these youngsters. I’ve spoken with the Cub Scouts, the Boy Scouts and several of my sister-in-laws 3rd grade classes. We’ve had lots of occurrences where a parent will come in for an evaluation with their kid, but the children have absolutely no interest in the coins at all and would rather play with their wireless devises. It wouldn’t be fair to say that all the kids are like that. Some show a real interest and if so, I’ll give them some interesting coins like an Indian cent, a Buffalo nickel and maybe a colorized State Quarter. They love those colorized coins, but I tell them that they’re just for fun and it’s really not cool to alter coins like that.
As I drove into the office this morning I saw a man and probably his son, metal detecting and it reminded me of a camping trip I took last fall on the coast of Maine. My brother-in-law brought his metal detector with him and we went out searching. It was late in the fall and there weren’t many campers so we were searching different sites, especially around the picnic tables. I couldn’t believe all the things we were finding. While we were searching, we picked up the attention of three boys that were camping with their parents a few sites away. They approached us and asked what we were doing and we told them that we were looking for Pirate treasure, but really anything we could find. They asked if they could join us and we said that they could if they had permission from their parents.
This is the point of my story…the boys went wild! Every time the detector buzzed, the boys would dive down and start digging. Coin after coin was found and even though we never found anything of real numismatic value the excitement was building. Most of the coins were corroded Lincoln cents, Jefferson nickels and Roosevelt dimes but we found about a hundred.
Needles to say, I was trying to get a little bit of numismatic education in while all this crazy digging was going on. It wasn’t of course all coins we were finding. We found a bunch of tent pegs, combs, tooth brushes, earrings, and a Swiss army knife. Up until we found the knife, we were letting the boys keep the coins, but when we found the knife a big brawl ensued over who would get it. We had to end our little hunt as the boys were out of control and we told them that my brother-in-law would get to keep the knife because it was his detector.
So now it has just occurred to me that metal detecting is probably one of the best ways to introduce kids to coins. The metal detector has head phones, a buzzer, a digital screen and all kind of adjustments, just the things that attract kids these days. Now that I think of it, I’m going to go out and get one.
David Carleton, a New Hampshire native was introduced to coin collecting by his father and Grandfather in the 50’s. Gold bullion speculation dominated the 70’s culminating in 1980 when focus on Numismatics returned. He became a life member of the ANA , met Warren Mills (his coin Guru) and they cofounded RCNH in 1990.
My First Experiences with Early Copper and US Currency
I have spent most of my education time here at RCNH examining coins, attempting to get some understanding of surface conditions; for example:
- Trying to recognize what differentiates an AU-58 from an uncirculated coin, searching for, at least for me, what can be elusive evidence of rub.
- Recognizing a cleaned silver coin with no toning just to produce a ‘bright’ white surface.
- Recognizing a toned silver coin that has been cleaned and allowed to tone on its ‘brand new’ surface.
- Tilting a coin under good lighting to finally reveal tiny hairlines resulting from whizzing or brushing methods.
- Understanding that planchet flaws are interesting features of the minting process and not necessarily a factor reducing the value of a coin, rather maybe an enhancement.
- Examining coins for die cracks and clashes; repunches; misplaced dates and mintmarks which often just barely appear in the denticles.
- Learning about copper “woodies” in the Indian and Lincoln cents series.
Grading is another story – As you all know, too much goes into grading a coin, and I may never learn enough.
Recently I went to a local coin show determined to begin my education of early copper coins. I sat down at a vendor’s table and said I would like to look at his tray with early copper cents from 1796 to the 1830’s. He quickly obliged, opened the case and handed me the tray. I sat with my loop thinking I had the time to examine a wide range of dates and several series, looking at them one-by-one; the early coins were mostly pitted while the surface conditions gradually improved in the later dates. The prices ranged from a few hundreds to several thousands of dollars. The dealer came over to ask if there was anything he could do; I told him I was just learning about early copper and that I was probably not prepared to buy anything right now because I had just begun learning about these coins. I identified myself and that I worked for RCNH, having only recently joined them. Instead of asking me how he could help me learn about his coins, he told me he was not going to let me sit there much longer. I folded my tent right then and there. If his table had been busy and he needed the chair I would have no problem moving on but, he was not busy at all. I do understand competition, but there is nothing proprietary about coins. I do think it is healthy to develop good business relations with many dealers.
One key point, all his copper coins were in “2x2” stapled holders with penned grades. I observed that the coins were all shiny, having an almost polished appearance, with no originality that even I could see; no dirt – i.e. in spite of his written grades on the cardboard holders, almost certainly professionally un-gradable. A “2x2” cardboard holdered coin costing several thousands of dollars is at the very least suspect and at worst a problem coin. There is no other reason for such a coin not to be graded and protected in a modern Third Party Grader holder.
I also wanted to look at some US currency, generated by my introduction to the 1896 Educational series $1, $2 and $5 (‘the banned in Boston note’) dollar notes – just beautiful examples of that period’s engraving. I stopped at a small table loaded with US currency, and having been asked what I was looking for, I told the dealer that I was new to currency. He spent almost an hour explaining US currency, showing me many examples and educating me on conditions. I moved off when a customer needed help, and returned to our conversation when he became free again. He was very patient and did not at any time ask me to leave. I had also identified myself and that I was working at RCNH.
The latter is the kind of dealer we should all look to work with. RCNH is such a dealer.
Lou Roten - current adjunct instructor - mathematics / physics, Franklin Pierce University; environmental scientist; fiddler; life-long interest in collecting coins and stamps with some interruptions; very interested in the evolution of the coin making process.
Questions From Our Mail Bag
By Warren Mills
Should a collector/investor ever purchase a non-CAC coin?
Yes, however the majority should be CAC’d. Why pass on the assurance of a coin being solid for the grade that’s been examined by a founding member of both PCGS and NGC? As a collector and dealer, I try to send in most of our coins that I purchase for inventory if they are $300 or more. Why? To protect the interest of our customers. A CAC sticker will enhance demand and liquidity in most cases. However, I must offer a caveat. CAC may sticker an unattractively toned coin or a coin that’s been over-dipped. They may sticker a coin that is circulated and does not have original surfaces or is cleaned and through aging has toned over the cleaning. All coins should be examined individually. Watch out for CAC copper and nickel with lots of carbon flecks.
The reason why I say yes is because if your coins are mostly CAC’s and your non-CAC pieces are rare and/or just miss coins with nice appeal, they will be desirable. Classic rarity still commands lots of interest.
I recently acquired ten gold coins in MS-63 to MS-66 grades. None were CAC’d. I sent them in and they all CAC’d! So there is also the possibility that a non-CAC coin has not been sent in. For the sake of your protection and value for the buck, I’d recommend a good mentor give you an opinion on a non-CAC coin, too!
Please keep those questions coming and if you prefer that I just answer anything for you privately, I’m happy to do so. Also, if there are any areas of the coin business you would like us to address in the newsletter, let me know! So please keep sending in your questions to me directly.