I didn’t know that Baltimore was called the “charm city.” I’ve always called it the city of sirens because that’s what you hear all night in your hotel room. You could take our experience at the recent Baltimore show and plunk it down at any major show and it would be the same story, a lack of fresh material. It is incredible that at a major show with several hundred dealers such an absence of material was so evident. When I speak of rare coins I am using that term interchangeably with fresh material because the same old coins that are in dealers cases are still there show after show. The same pattern of behavior became clear after speaking with several major dealers. They buy coins at auction or on the floor of a show, play the upgrade game and take their shots with the retail public and if the coin doesn’t sell it reappears in auction in a few months. The result is a lot of recycled material with some fresh coins smattered throughout. I even saw a few coins we sold in the past that were upgraded and now are in plus holders or a full point higher. Nice coins are always nice!
As with most questions like this the answer is it depends. Gold over the last month has taken it on the chin going down in price from about the $1200/oz level to the $1150 /oz level. It is no wonder that gold and tangibles have reacted downward with the dollar on an unprecedented run especially against the Euro.
How are tangibles going to perform in the future? We got a brief preview on Wednesday afternoon (March 18, 2015) after Fed Chair Janet Yellen spoke. To prove how the market is on pins and needles Ms. Yellen eliminated one work, “patience” from her speech and the market went crazy. Within minutes the gains the dollar made for the day were eliminated, gold went from down $9/oz to up $20/oz and oil went from down $1-$2/bbl throughout the day to up $2.50/bbl after her speech.
We apologize for this late FUN Show report but we have been extremely busy filling orders and getting caught up from what seems like one never ending snow storm that has inundated us for the last two weeks. The FUN show is always a well attended show by dealers probably because by early January they have had enough of winter and want a warm weather break in sunny Florida but this year’s show was surprisingly well attended by the retail public. Most of the retail people there were lookers not really spending much money and being very selective but we were able to sell a very original 1893-S $1 in PCGS XF CAC for close to $10,000.
I received the latest issue of Canadian Coin News the other day and my mouth dropped after I read the first article. Titled “Chinese fakers up the ante with thick plating” the article outlined how a company based in China (should I be surprised?) that sells through Alibaba is advertising a line of gold plated tungsten based bullion products. This company brags about the fact that their products come with 60 microns of gold plating which is thick enough to pass the acid test, x-ray test and scratch test. We checked with Thermofisher, the company that makes the electronic gun that x-rays gold that most dealers use and were told that their gun goes to a depth of 10 microns and that is the best that can be done with current technology. This would confirm the Chinese company’s claim that their product would pass the x-ray test. They also advertise that their products correspond exactly to the originals’ weight, diameter and thickness specifications.
I’ve never been to the Michigan State Show so I decided it was time to take a trip out there and see how it was. I always heard this was a strong collector show but it is held on Thanksgiving weekend, which is probably why I’ve never attended! I had a good feeling about the show and anticipated a nice mix of coins. There were about 150 dealers with tables. Driving in from the Detroit airport, I was depressed at all of the dilapidated buildings that I could see while driving to the show. Unfortunately, this was a harbinger of things to come. There was a good amount of public attendance and I liked the fact that the show organizers required a government I.D. to enter the show. Once inside, I started looking at the tables and the lack of fresh material was a huge disappointment. The dealers I knew there said that it was a well below average Michigan State Show from the standpoint of the mix of coins and that I should try it again. There was also an impressive auction catalog of ungraded “raw” coins being sold by a local numismatic auction firm. The catalog gave the impression that the coins were mostly high grade and the pictures were beautiful. Once I started looking at the lots I realized why the coins were not graded, they were horrible! As one national dealer said to me, “You can really get hurt in this auction there are a ton of trap coins here.” Other dealers I spoke to about auction lots were also disappointed. This seems like a theme lately. The lack of fresh material is making it hard to keep a nice inventory. My advice, when you find the fresh coin for your collection, buy it and don’t look back. Another nice piece may not come around for a while.