|Summer of 2019 Edition|
By Warren Mills
It’s hard to believe that June is here and soon we will be in the dog days of summer. This is a classic time for the market to slow down. Keep an eye on the Middle East, and have your emergency bullion stash in place just in case.
The market seems very slow right now. Smaller coin shows are very quiet and the Summer Baltimore Show was slow and poorly attended. There are not many nice coins entering the market, but when they do, they are aggressively sought after. However, there are great coins in the market that are just languishing too! Gold coins seem to have the most aggressive buyers, but there are the odd and wonderful 19th century silver type issues and 20th century rarer top pop silver pieces that are sitting. I’m not sure if customers need to be reeducated on the history of these issues or if they are doomed to idly sit until the market wakes up and realizes how rare and neat these numismatic jewels are. Type coins for decades were the bread and butter of numismatics, it’s a wonder how tastes change!
By contrast, modern Lincolns, Jeffersons and other 20th century issues in high grades are very strong now. There are a large number of dealers pawing through rolls of these issues in the hopes of finding high grade examples of these relatively modern issues and getting them graded in the hopes of selling the MS-66 or better examples into this modern coin frenzy. Beware, most of these coins were saved in the great roll craze of the 1950s and 60s. One cherry roll of a scarce date could collapse the pricing. For my money, I’d rather stick with undervalued coins like 19th century issues.
Finally, I would like to announce that RCNH is going to become more involved in the paper money market. I’ve always enjoyed paper money, but I never had the expertise that I felt that I needed to protect the interest of our valued clients. Now I do! I’d like to introduce Don Severance to you. Please give us the opportunity to help fill your currency want list or buy a collection you have assembled. We take pride in every coin we have ever sold and rest assured, we will only sell a piece of currency we will stand behind and be proud of. Here is a bit of background information on Don.
Don has been a professional numismatist for over twenty-five (25) years. His interest began originally collecting coins, but then was soon introduced to paper money. Although versed in both, Don’s passion was with paper money. Intrigued by the history, beauty and detail of each piece he researched and assembled an impressive collection of U.S. currency. He eventually formed his own company, buying and selling every type of currency, attending shows across the country and building a client base that trusted and relied on him to find that perfect piece.
In 2000, Don became a contributor to the Standard Guide To Small-Size U.S. Paper Money. Shortly thereafter, Don joined Spectrum Currency as their East Coast Representative. While at Spectrum he traveled the country buying and selling currency and acquiring collections for auction. Don has made many currency discoveries in his career including a new Friedberg catalog number that was chronicled in the Bank Note Reporter. A note that was previously not known to exist.
Don eventually left Spectrum to continue his career working for himself and to focus on his expansive clientele. Don works very closely with Rare Coins of New Hampshire as a Currency Consultant and together we have bought and sold over 7 figures in currency. How can we help you?
Don is a member of the PCDA (Professional Currency Dealers Association), ANA (American Numismatic Association) and FUN (Florida United Numismatist).
By Warren Mills
As you should be aware by now, RCNH is trying to contact our older customers about sending in their past purchases to CAC for review. Since we have an over 80% success rate with our older coins, it behooves our customers to be educated about the importance a CAC sticker may bring to your coin. The potential for increasing demand and liquidity, as well as the profit potential, are some of the positives that a CAC sticker brings to the table.
We recently had a customer that wanted to send in all of the NGC coins he acquired from us for cross-over. We sent them to PCGS as he requested and they all crossed. Since they were CAC to start with, they all re-CACd too! We have always tried to skim the cream off the top of the graded coins for our customers. By being picky, we have had many RCNH coins that were highlights of some great collections and set some record prices when sold. We always try to be strict with our grading and only buy and sell what we feel is the best coin the grade.
What I will describe to you next is very disappointing and should be upsetting to many rare coin buyers. Here is what happened…
I received a call from a gentleman that was the executor of his father’s estate. He had a substantial coin collection and he needed a professional appraisal for him and his four brothers. In the collection were 87 gold numismatic coins, graded and certified MS-64 or higher. I explained that the family may want to consider sending the 87 coins to CAC, that way the family can be assured that everything possible was done to maximize the value of the collection. It made sense to the family and I explained the cost to them was $14.50 per coin, plus a small amount for shipping. They agreed and thought it was a good idea.
The father acquired these coins from a founding PCGS dealer and a world class blow-hard. This industry is replete with bum kissers and this guy enjoyed people kissing his bum. I took joy in telling him what I really thought about him over the years, and it wasn’t complimentary! These coins looked like commercial fodder dumped on an unknowledgeable buyer. Of the 87 high-grade U.S. gold coins, a whopping 8 received a CAC sticker, less than 10%!!! Talk about a dumping ground. When I examined the coins, I said that only a small percentage would work, but hopefully enough to justify the submission. It fell a bit short, but at least they did all they could to make sure nothing was left on the table. Imagine this though, a founding PCGS member that was just selling the label and not the coins, what a bad way to do business! Keep in mind, less than 10% CACd!
Now, here’s the other side of the coin people don’t think about, this is extremely important! Suppose you acquire some very nice coins over the years from a dealer that actually cared about the quality they sold! A novel idea, but it could happen. If you did, then send them into CAC. You could leave many thousands of dollars on the table by not doing so! An educated buyer is the best buyer. Since you know about CAC, use them for your benefit. Don’t be a dummy.
Also, if you are spending four figures or more on coins, why are you buying non-CAC coins?! Use your head, if a CAC coin on average brings more money, and in many instances, a lot more money, why are you buying non-CAC pieces?! It makes no sense. I had a coin in our inventory pop-2 CAC, none higher for $14,950. A beautiful coin too! A customer had it on a want list so I offered it to him. He said he was going to buy a non-CAC piece for less than $10,000 and get it CACd.
I said, “You’re kidding right?! You’re going to spend 4 and 5 figures on coins and hope they CAC later?! How many dealers sent those coins to CAC before it was offered to you and it didn’t CAC and then you’re stuck with it?! Use your head and buy this one now.”
He passed and a couple of days later, bought it. Don’t be obstinate, stupid, ignorant or a combination of all of these. Use your head to make sense you are getting the best bang for your buck.
A Fish with a Coin in its Mouth
By Dave Carleton
Here we are saying goodbye to spring and knocking on summer’s door. I always look forward to this time of year because that’s when Warren and I have our annual stockholder meeting. We’ve been having this meeting every year for the last thirty years, in an 18-foot boat with a 20-horsepower motor in the wilds of Ontario, in what’s called “The Canadian Shield”. Warren is fun to fish with because he’s as good a fisherman as he is a numismatist so I get to learn a lot when we fish and talk coins. We had a great trip this year and I can’t believe it has come and gone. We’ve always tried to weave our interest in fishing with our coin business, so it’s not uncommon for us to ask a client about how the fishing is in their area. Sometimes we strike gold (no pun intended) and the person not only has a pond or lives on a lake, but they invite us to come fishing and do a numismatic evaluation of their collection. A win, win situation.
Years ago, we were invited to Thomasville, Georgia by the minister of a church group. They had some coins that they had been given and they wanted to know their value and to build a nice numismatic portfolio. As it turned out, the minister knew several plantation owners and he got permission to allow us to go fishing on their bass ponds. Fishing these private ponds is awesome because these fish have never been fished for before. We always catch and release, and if the size warrants it, we take pictures.
We went to Thomasville many times over the years and developed a very close relationship with the minister. He thought that our enthusiasm over coins and fishing was remarkable. One day he said to us that he had been thinking about our logo, which is a coin with a rock formation called, “The Old Man of The Mountain”. This rock formation was the New Hampshire state symbol until it collapsed about 15 years ago. The minister said that he had been thinking about us and thought that an appropriate logo would be a fish with a coin in its mouth. I knew he was referring to some pretty heavy symbolism and with some further investigation my thoughts were justified. I always think about this when we’re having our annual meeting.
I just want to mention an observation that I’ve been making recently and it’s an observation that I haven’t made in about 7 or 8 years. Friends and acquaintances of mine have been coming up to me and saying, “Hey Dave, what’s up with gold?”, “What’s all the talk about 90 to 1?” or “Is silver too cheap or is gold too expensive?”
The last person that asked me a similar question about if it was a good time to buy gold prompted me to reach over and grab my copy of the Wall Street Journal.
I said, “Look at this front page.”
It was riddled with articles about the escalating tensions between the US and Iran, crypto currencies being backed by major US companies, Washington embracing the US debt, and homebuyers who don’t know if a house has a history of flooding or not.
“What do you think?” I asked. “Do headlines like this motivate you to seek some sort of protection like owning gold or is it just another day selling newspapers?” Most people think that it’s just the way the world is and there’s not a call of urgency. I’m of the persuasion that it’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have.
The point of this observation is that when people that never show an interest in hard assets start asking me questions like, “what is 90 to 1”, and they don’t know what they’re talking about, means that something is brewing!
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.
The Art of Grading, or Lack Thereof!
By Warren Mills
As you all know, I have sounded the alarm on over-graded and cleaned coins being certified for a long time. I wouldn’t mind if they were labeled cleaned, altered or whatever, but these coins are grading straight up! There is no mention of cleaning or damage, etc… John Albanese from CAC has said, “It’s harder to CAC sticker coins in XF and AU than the higher-grade uncs.” I believe him and I have a neat example of this.
Take a look at this 1917-D Standing Liberty Quarter in XF-45 PCGS new holder. First glance, the coin is obviously cleaned and re-toned, strikes one and two! Now the clincher, here is strike 3 in all its glory. The lower left reverse has a CA carved into the field just left of the eagle’s tail! I was hoping that I found a discovery coin for the rare California Mint! Alas, my whole perception of grading coins is shattered. The rare CA Mint never existed and this coin is no more than a cleaned graffiti damaged coin in a holder again graded straight up! You may say, “What’s the big deal? So, what if there are more damaged and cleaned coins in holders than not?” Well what is happening is a diluting effect of pricing due to oversupply of coins that shouldn’t even be in a holder! How’s a novice going to learn how to grade anything?! Why aren’t the finalizers at the services catching these mistakes? Does this mean that we are in the final death knell for the coin market?
There are too many mistakes in holders for services to buy off the market. What a conundrum. At least from here, the services need to take a stand and grade better. Finalizers need to stop rubber stamping invoices through without examining the coins. I might not mind as much, but not one of the 3 graders or finalizer caught what can be seen with the naked eye! This does not bode well for the business.
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.
$20 Gold Coins or Gold Eagles, Which is Better?
By Joe Presti
Which is better is really relative and personal, but I will attempt to point out some pros and cons for each option.
The reality is the premium on lower-end uncirculated big US gold has not been lower in recent memory. There are several reasons for this anomaly. First, there have been large numbers of coins coming to the US from European hoards. There was also a very large hoard of $20 gold coins from Canada that has been entering the US market. We have dealt with both of these issues in past decades. The market gets temporarily flooded with material and it could take some time for the coins to get absorbed into the market, but eventually they do and premiums will rise again. Also, there is the issue of dealers not doing a good job educating buyers about these impressive gold coins, because it is easier to give people what they want versus educating them or losing a sale.
First, we will examine $20 gold coins in MS-62 condition. You get a coin that has .9675 oz. of pure gold. As we speak, gold is $1343/oz, so these coins would “melt” at $1300. They are also graded MS-62 and have a CAC sticker, so you can be assured they are solid for the grade compared to being commercially graded. They have been authenticated as genuine by a major grading service, either PCGS or NGC. There are also no shipping costs when purchased from RCNH.
Gold Eagles on the other hand are made of 90% gold just like the $20 coins, but they weigh slightly more than one ounce, so that you will net an ounce of pure gold. You can buy these coins from RCNH at 1% over our cost. There really isn’t much else to say about these coins.
When put side by side, both coins are United States Mint products. The $20 coin is close to 100 years old that was commonly used in daily transactions. Governments routinely used them to pay debts and the US sent thousands of coins to Europe to pay our debts and they have been sitting in vaults for years and the banks have been systematically selling these into the market for the last 30-40 years. These $20s cannot and will not ever be minted again, the dies have been destroyed. The Eagles on the other hand are minted for the sole purpose of being bought and sold for their bullion value. In theory, the government can mint as many as the market can absorb. While you can buy Eagles that are graded and authenticated by the grading services, it is not recommended since it is not worth the premium that would be charged.
We do not take a position in gold bullion, and do not stock these coins. Bullion is ordered from our wholesaler when you place an order. When we order these coins, our wholesaler charges us a flat $19 shipping fee on less than 10 oz. to ship the coins to us. That breaks down to anywhere from $2 per coin to $19 per coin. Since we only mark Eagles up by 1%, we must charge shipping to you, adding between $25 to $50 total.
The most compelling reason to buy certified $20 coins is insurance. What do I mean? Over that last 10 years, counterfeiting has gone from a non-issue to something you now have to think about. It has become such an issue that the government is now getting involved. The counterfeiters, mostly from China are getting better at their trade by the day. We currently have machines that can tell us if an Eagle is gold or not, but what happens when they perfect a way to fool the machines? Speaking as a numismatist, it is much harder to counterfeit a classic coin than it is to counterfeit a modern coin. If counterfeiting does become a major issue, then you could opt to have your gold Eagles certified by a major grading company, but that would add approximately $20 to $30 per coin to the cost of ownership. Examining it from a different perspective, if counterfeiting is a major problem, we could see premiums of these $20 coins skyrocket.
Bottom line, if you were to take a theoretical purchase of five one-ounce gold Eagles, the cost including all shipping would be about $1376 to $1400 per coin depending on whether you wanted the Eagles certified vs. $1400 for a CAC certified MS-62 $20 Liberty or St. Gaudens gold coin. Sounds like the $20 Saints and Libs are a no brainer to me.
Original Coins are Endangered Specie, Part 2
By Lou Roten
I wanted to include the following in the previous newsletter, but time and space did not permit. The following is a more dramatic example of what lies in the future of an over dipped coin that has not been neutralized properly. The chemistry continues in the holder. It is very possible to differentiate a dipped silver coin from one that has not been dipped, particularly one that has been over dipped. The surface lacks the life of the original surface, which may have toned a bit and may not be blast white. However, what is difficult with a coin recently dipped is to determine if any of the dipping solution remains.
Here is an Arkansas Commemorative in an old PCGS green holder graded MS-65 that once was a brilliant (dipped) white. For the 20 odd years the coin has been in its holder, the chemicals used on the coin have done their dirty work, creating a blackened ugly example. A coin in the holder is protected from the environment, but the holder cannot do anything to protect the coin from the nasty stuff that remains at first unseen on the surface of the coin. The coin was not properly neutralized; it seems to me that the dipping residue remains more around the edge of the coin where most of the lettering and numerals are located, the more difficult areas from which to completely remove the dipping solution.
PUTTY on Gold
A common method used to hide unsightly marks on a gold coin to enhance the possible assigned grade is to use model putty to fill those marks. This practice is another example of a process that can continue to work in the holder: here is a 1900 $5 Liberty old green label PCGS AU58 - this coin was puttied years ago then submitted to PCGS. The putty is used to obscure surface flaws and when freshly applied can be very difficult to see, as had to be the case over 20 years ago when this coin was graded. Over time the putty dries out and becomes a milky film on the coin. The film is very evident on the eagle of the reverse, noted by the red dotted line. I think the obverse shows some milky appearance in the word Liberty and around the ear and mouth as well. Should the coin be restored, removing the foreign material, chances are the grade will drop one or two points. A puttied surface is difficult to see at first, but once seen several times becomes more obvious. Moving a coin under a good light will usually expose a puttied surface. The temptation of the old green label does not help, indicating a properly, or perhaps more conservatively graded coin from the 1990’s, 20 years or more before today. Unwanted chemicals will continue to do their mischief in the holder.
The coin really needs to be scrutinized in hand. Images can be deceptive. In other words, a light area on the image of a gold coin does not mean the surface has been puttied. The coin needs to be examined to be certain.
Here is a 1901 $20 Liberty Double Eagle, PCGS MS64+ CAC. The entire coin has a bright appearance, but there is no putty on the surfaces. The coin itself has much more eye appeal than the image shows.
The goal of RCNH is to provide problem free coins, avoiding coins that have been worked on, dipped, puttied, tooled, etc. Our inventory is small compared to many dealers because of the difficulty finding coins that are problem free with original surfaces and, importantly, at a right and reasonable price. CAC is an important factor in RCNH’s choice of coins to include in its inventory. RCNH coins sometimes, but not always, may cost a bit more, a slightly higher price reflecting the time and effort, as well as scarcity of availability, involved in finding good coins. I encourage want lists, with the understanding that it may take some time to locate the right coins in the right grades. A specific coin date/mint can always be found, but there are darn few that have not had their appearance “improved”. It takes time to find the right coin at a competitive price. We appreciate and thank our clients who have the trust and patience to work with us on their want lists.
Lou Roten - adjunct instructor retired - 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 Mailbag
By Warren Mills
Question: “Hi Warren;
I’ve been reading your Rare Coin Enthusiast and I wanted to check my coins for due diligence. When I reviewed my PCGS MS-64 Peace Dollar set, the coins looked a little cloudier than I remember. I want you to look at my set and give me your opinion. Why do they look different than I remember?"
Answer: Thanks R.H.!
I appreciated looking at your Peace Dollar set. Most of the PCGS coins here are old green holder pieces. What you are seeing is PVC residue on most of the coins. Keep in mind that many coins were stored for years in soft polyvinyl flips before they were certified. I’ve seen this on old and new certified coins from PCGS and NGC. In all instances, these coins did not exhibit any trace of a residue when they were certified. PVC will lie on the surface of the coin and take many years to build to a point of being seen. At first, it will start out as a light grey haze and eventually turn green. As the years go by, the green residue can actually eat into the surface layers of the coin metal and ruin the piece! It must be removed or the set will be ruined!
Thankfully both PCGS and NGC have a restoration service for removing PVC. There is a charge for this service, but it is well worth it. Also, you can’t blame the grading service for the PVC. In most instances, PVC will take many years before it manifests itself. I contacted PCGS for this customer and had the PVC removed for him.
When it comes to coins and PVC, I have a couple of tips for you…
Tip #1: Review your coins at least once a year. PVC, model putty and other surface contaminants may take years to manifest themselves, but once it is detected, deal with it right away! If you are not comfortable with contacting the grading services, we will be happy to contact them on your behalf at no charge to you.
Tip #2: Have a knowledgeable professional look at the coins too! In many instances the grading services will just dip off the PVC or other contaminant. Now if your coins are toned, that’s a problem. We will send a note to the services with recommendation of how they could remove the PVC without just dipping the coin.
Thanks for the question and I’m very happy that we acted as a catalyst to review your collection. These coins were very close to being ruined forever. In another 2 years or so, the PVC would have eaten into the metal and could not be removed.
Please keep those questions coming!