The show opened with a bang and stayed very steady. Baltimore is an excellent venue and always well attended but this show was more active than the last three. Most of the interest was in the gold area. We were fortunate to acquire a nice group of fresh original pieces.
I was very nervous because we were shut out at Long Beach. It was tiring to see re-tread stale inventory with the usual re-colored, enhanced, iodined and old putty stuff. The handful of nice original gold pieces there were being offered at about double bid levels. Baltimore attracted a lot of East Coast dealers that held back inventory for the show. I was very happy with our purchases.
I’ve decided to institute a new buying strategy at shows. If something is nice and original, I’m stretching for it! There are so few original coins left in the marketplace. On many occasions, I bought multiple coins from dealers so I could adjust the costs to justify some of the purchases. The grading services aren’t doing a thing to educate clients about original coins and in my opinion are actually encouraging dipping and lightening of coins that are sent in to certify. Over 90% of coin buyers in the marketplace now have no idea of what an original surface coin looks like. Take a look at Bust, Seated and Barber Registry Sets that are white! It makes no sense. These coins hardly ever existed by the roll. People want early Mercs, Standing Liberty Quarters and early Walkers that are dipped white, not original because they have no idea that an eighty or ninety year old silver coin should have some patina. It’s sad but that is the nature of the beast.
Grading services remain very strict except for $20 Saint Gaudens. You need to look at 50 coins to get 4 or 5 accurate pieces. I found PCGS to be very inconsistent at this show. They need finalizers that actually know how certain coins come from the mint. How accurate can a grader be if they’ve just sat in an office for 25 years? It’s the inconsistency that’s a killer. CAC coins are very well received but not just anything with a sticker sells.
I was called over to a table by an older dealer regarding a 1935 Peace Dollar in MS-66 PCGS. I viewed the coin for a client at an auction during the F.U.N. Show. His question was “will it grade MS-67?” I said no but it is a truly superior MS-66 and worthy of a premium bid but not a 67. Grey sheet bit is $1,920 and it sold in the auction to this dealer for $6,900. PCGS has not graded an MS-67 1935 Peace Dollar so if one grades that way it is worth a bundle! This dealer sent the coin through PCGS and they graded it an MS-65. What a shame. It is the nicest 66 I’ve ever seen; was in an old green holder as a MS-66; was bid up among knowledgeable collectors and dealers to over three times grey sheet and they grade it MS-65. I attribute that to an incompetent finalizer. This is just one example of many from the show.
From circulated type coins to gem original gold, fresh original coins are going the way of the dinosaur. Less are available and older collectors that appreciate them are going on to greater rewards. Call us anytime to talk coins or feel free to e-mail. We are going to issue an e-letter soon. Get us your e-mail.