Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.
|April 2016 Issue|
A Newsletter By:
My Coin Journey Part X
By Warren Mills
Did I ever tell you how much I love and enjoy the hobby of collecting coins? I hope you can tell from my previous coin journey articles that I feel I am very blessed to work at my hobby. I am thankful for the path of learning on which God put me, so that we can offer assistance and advice “from soup to nuts” to almost all of our RCNH customers. I always tell people that I am still learning many things in numismatics. There are many collectors and dealers of rare coins that specialize in a certain area or two. We try to be more general practitioners in the field and thus have a working knowledge of many series.
From 1979 to 1987, I personally handled tens of millions of dollars’ worth of coins. That exposure to so many coins gave me an opportunity to hone my grading skills and to gather more knowledge on many series of U.S. coins. In 1987, I found myself back in the retail end of the market. I was fortunate to have a good numismatist, Joe Presti, now an RCNH colleague, go to bat for me with a large retail company that had a good reputation. I worked hard to never compromise my standards, so a firm with good standing was very important to me. Dealing with an end user of the product was also wonderful. Every day I was allowed an opportunity to speak with new and old customers that loved the hobby as much as I did. It was always fun and exciting.
Once in a while, I’d speak with a customer that had some bad experiences. I was always determined to make a customer feel like he found the right company and to be with a numismatist whom they would have more positive experiences in the future. One day I received a call from a career military man named Bill Edwards, a retired Lieutenant Colonel and diehard collector. We had a good conversation, which was followed up with another one. He then called me one morning to say he was in a hotel in town and would like to come over. I said that would be fine, so I invited him to visit.
I had no idea that his sole purpose of the visit was to check things out at our company and gain a lay of the land. So, for two whole days he and I sat at my desk, talked about coins, and looked at coins. He was able to observe how I conducted business with anyone whom I spoke with, talk about due diligence! Needless to say, we had some wonderful business dealings and developed a great personal friendship. Whenever I visited in his area, I would stay with Bill and his wife. He even taught me about U.S. currency and gave me a great appreciation for the field. He passed onto glory about 10 years ago; I still miss him. That’s a tremendous added benefit of working in the retail end of coins. Most of my customers turn into personal friends.
During 1987, we had a sizeable stock market correction and started to get calls from people that were more interested in the appreciation potential of numismatics. Nothing is a sure thing, but with a focus on quality, good diversification and a favorable market, coins can sometimes appreciate dramatically. It was around this time frame that certified coins started to get a lot of traction. As more pieces entered the market, the exposure became great. Brokerage firms started to offer rare coins in varied forms, namely Kidder Peabody and Merrill Lynch, and the coin market started to appreciate dramatically. The years 1988 and 1989 were an incredible time in the coin business. Common coins, like most commemorative halves from the 1920s to 1950s, exploded; 19th Century type coins were on fire and most U.S. coin series were experiencing unbelievable upside growth.
In April of 1989, I thought the coin market was overheated. I had a weekly call-in taped message service that I would run to keep people apprised of the market. I went to a coin show in Arizona and saw dealers fighting over how much of a percentage they would pay for coins over the published coin dealer sheet bid-prices. Many of these dealers were new kids on the block and had no real market knowledge, but were riding an up-wave in the market cycle and were calling themselves ‘coin dealers’.
It was at this show that I determined there was a market top. I issued a “sell” signal to my clients, and put that on our weekly phone message tape. It’s better to get out a little too soon than a second too late. From my extensive wholesale contacts, I worked out a deal with a solid longstanding deep-pocketed nationally-known rare coin company that would pay us 20% over bid for any of our certified PCGS or NGC coins. It was a perfect storm. We could cement our relationship with all of our clients and get them huge profits as a result of their trust in us. It was an absolute win-win scenario. If they wanted to keep some of their funds in tangibles, I recommended 18th Century gold and silver issues, circulated to uncirculated, that were original. This area was virtually ignored in the 1989 market and offered tremendous future opportunity.
For about a month, it worked like clockwork. Then the owner of the company pulled the plug. It was unfortunate for everyone. A win-win is hard to come by and it was probably the last time we had such a dramatic upswing in the market, even up to the present time. Then June 2, 1989, hit and the overheated market started to cool like lava that spewed into the ocean. It stopped on a dime and I witnessed another long market downturn.
In our next newsletter, I will focus on what factors led to the market top and correction in 1989, and will continue my journey into the 1990s.
What Else Do You Like?
By Warren Mills
I love the idea of assembling a U.S. type set. A type coin is a representative single coin from a specific U.S. series. As an example, let’s say you enjoy the U.S. quarter series. The 1796 is just too much for your budget and you want to keep your cost at $200 or less per coin.
This is what you can do!
A Heraldic Eagle Quarter would require you to stretch your budget to a few hundred dollars for a Good-4 condition piece. You could opt for an About Good-3 for a high $200 price or even a Fair-2 for less than $200. I always recommend trying to acquire the highest affordable grade. If you stretch for a Good-4, you can average it down on later series to keep your cost under $200.
The Capped Bust series is next: a large size was issued from 1815 to 1829 and a reduced size from 1831 to 1838. If you want one of each, a nice VG in the large and a VF-20 in the small keeps you within your budget. Or, you can opt for just one Capped Bust type. The Seated Quarter series, 1838 to 1891, has seven sub-types. If you only want one piece, a nice “With Motto” in Almost Uncirculated is doable.
From there, the Barber Quarter series, which was issued from 1892 to 1916, allows you to acquire a nice Almost Uncirculated piece here and also keeps you with your budget. Next up is the Standing Liberty Quarter series. The 1916 and 1917 are Type I and the 1917 to 1930 represents the Type II issues. If you just want one, an MS-63 keeps you within budget for a Type II, while an AU keeps you in play on a Type I, if you wish both to be represented in your set. Next up, is the Washington Quarter. You can acquire a 1930’s issue in a superb grade and stay within your budget.
This was just the quarter series. Some collectors want a U.S. type set from ½ Cents to gold. Others try to acquire a complete type set with all sub-types represented. Or you can do an 18th Century type set, a 19th Century type set, or a type set from the 20th Century. The alternatives and selections can be determined by your budget or collector desires. Some people even try to assemble the lowest grade type set they can find and some opt for sets in the higher Mint State grades.
I feel all coins should be selected with a discriminating eye. I had a collector call me one time to say he was putting together a collection of Bust Halves and wanted only coins in Very Fine-20 to Very Fine-35 grades and they all must be PCGS & brilliant. I told him that we are the wrong company for him. We are stewards of the hobby and that I find over-dipped and washed out 18th and 19th Century circulated type coins to be an abomination. He said, “PCGS grades them.” I said that PCGS is in the business to make money on grading fees. I am in the business to assist collectors with their most desirable coins and value so that they might be sold to other knowledgeable collectors in the future. For less expensive issues, I feel that PCGS or NGC coins are fine and don’t need to have a CAC sticker. If they are wholesome and original, they are in demand. For coins that are $500 and up, particularly $1,000 and up, I’d recommend a CAC sticker. If you have a long standing and deep collector knowledge of circulated type coins, it is not a must for these to be CAC’d, but I’d recommend it.
Uncirculated US type coins in MS-64 or better grade have been suffering through a tremendous downturn. Most circulated issues are very steady and stable for decades, but higher grade issues are subject to large run-ups and corrections. We have been in a long correction for higher grade type issues, probably for over a decade. I feel that these 19th Century issues, particularly in the Seated and Barber series in grades MS-64 to MS-67, offer good potential. I only recommend these issues with CAC stickers. However, if you’re a very knowledgeable grader and just don’t like a green or gold sticker on your holder, that’s fine; however, I still feel that a CAC sticker has the potential to yield greater demand and liquidity, and the confidence factor it brings to another buyer is hard to overcome.
During the 1980s and 90s, type coin collectors were extremely active and most new buyers to the hobby started with cents, dollars or type coins. Things have changed and the overwhelming number of modern issues has led new buyers to become entranced with them. As knowledge is acquired, I feel that the type collector may be well rewarded. The historic appeal alone is tremendous and many issues in the 19th Century, in solid circulated grades, can be acquired for less than $100.
A quick note on our last issue’s “Bullion Consumer Alert:” Counterfeit bullion is going to hit like a tidal wave! More and more of it is being discovered daily. You can’t exercise too much caution!
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 Coins, Worth Collecting?
By Joseph Presti
In my opinion, the short answer is no. Now the explanation, when individuals come to our office for an appraisal of their “collection” and it consists of proof and mint sets, I often tell them that the quickest way to turn $1000 into $500 is to buy these items. I go on to explain that proof and mint sets, like most collector coins issued by the mint, are in special protective packaging, and as such, survive for decades in virtually perfect condition provided there is no environmental damage. Also, the other factor affecting value is the pent up demand for a newly issued set. Collectors are eager to add a proof or mint set to their collection from a new year, but once that collector's need has been filled, demand drops off dramatically. Think of it as a bathtub filled with water. Take out the plug and the water will drain, but it takes a while. On the other hand, an empty bathtub that has a faucet that drips, has plenty of room for more water in the drain. The result is that once the demand has been filled, or the water has all drained out of the tub, prices go down and keep going down. Today, I can purchase proof and mint sets for $2, that originally sold for $5 or $10 forty years ago, great investment right? The same rule applies to the modern commemorative coin market.
When it comes to gold, silver and platinum Eagles and gold Buffalos it is slightly different. I still would not purchase them for investment unless you feel the underlying metal value is going to rise, but do not get sucked into the top pop game that are making some dealers obscenely wealthy. There is nothing rare about any Eagle or Buffalo coin that is issued by the mint. Most of these coins will grade 69 or 70 without trouble. In fact some of the larger dealers and television hawkers will have their boxes of eagles shipped directly from the mint to the grading companies for grading. The only people making money from Eagles are the Mint and dealers. Collectors very rarely make any money.
When a collector makes money from a modern issue it is usually by accident. When it comes to proof and mint sets, money will be made when a variety is discovered after the sets have been issued or there is an error, again, after issue. Some examples that come to mind are the no “S” proof sets, Wisconsin 25c with extra leaf and major varieties recognized by the collecting community. Collectors have also made money with Eagles and Buffalos only under rare circumstances. Usually this occurs when the mint announces an error or a limited mintage after the ordering deadline has passed. Examples that come to mind are the $5 and $10 Eagles minted in mint state with the proof dies, these were discovered well after issue. The 2008 proof Buffalos and the 1996 silver eagles, were announced as having lower than average mintage after the ordering deadline. So, the collectors who were fortunate enough to buy them directly from the mint got lucky and made some money, if they sold into the craze.
If you want to purchase these products to have fun collecting that is great, but do not buy them from the mint thinking that there is a huge score in your future. Remember that classic rare coins are worth something because they were never meant to be saved. As such, classic coins sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars in high grades, as opposed to a 1980 proof set that is still going to be kicking around in a hundred years in perfect condition.
O.G.H. – This term refers to old green holder. Some older PCGS holders had green or green/blue labels listing the date, denomination and grade.
Generic or type gold – These two terms are interchangeable; however, there is a slight difference in the use of the two. They refer to coins that are the most common date for a particular denomination and design. For instance, a 1924 or 1927 $20 St. Gaudens is a type coin, but the same date that is just average for the grade would be considered a generic coin.
Troy ounce – This is the measurement by which precious metals values are calculated and has its origins in the metric system. In the United States, where the metric system has not been fully adopted, we still use the avoirdupois system to weigh most items. The major difference between these two systems is that a troy ounce weighs 31.1 grams and a pound consists of 12 troy ounces. While an AVP ounce weighs 28.35 grams and a pound consists of 16 ounces.
Ignoring It Won’t Make It Go Away
By Dave Carleton
It’s getting so you can’t open any hard-asset related publication these days without encountering an article about counterfeit silver and gold bullion. I recently received the March 21st issue of Coin World, and right on the front page is the headline, “More Fake Bars in Marketplace”. The particular hallmark this time is the Lady Fortuna 1-ounce .9999 fine gold bullion bar from PAMP (Produits Artistiques Me’taux Pre’cieux) in Switzerland.
This struck a note with me as we have a counterfeit Perth Mint bar in-house that looks very much like the PAMP bar as seen in the Coin World article. We use it for show and tell, and for comparison purposes. I believe Warren referred to it in a previous article. The unfortunate person that brought it in said that it had been purchased on eBay.
We told the individual that the only recourse we thought he had was to bring the transaction to the attention of eBay and, hopefully, the problem would be resolved. We eventually heard back from him and he said that PayPal was going to resolve the situation but not after he had gone through a very stressful process. He gave us the bar because, despite the incredible hassle he went through, he was happy that we had brought the problem to light before it could have become an even bigger problem. I don’t think eBay would have been so helpful if a year had passed before he found out the bar was a dud.
PAMP products are being reproduced, but the company hasn’t taken this situation lightly and has patented a new technology that will be available next month. They call it VeriScan, and basically what it does is that it digitally documents every bullion product they make based on the molecular topography of the surface of the item. With the bigger bars, they scan all six sides of the item. There will be an app for the iPhone and software that will become available for conventional document scanners to use for verification of authenticity.
While I’m on the subject, if you want a glimpse of what we’re (and you) are up against, go to the Alibaba.com website (they’re the Chinese version of Google) and type in “1 oz gold bars” and see what pops up . There you’ll find all kinds of gold plated bars that are trading for a couple of bucks or less each. They even advertise that they don’t have COPY written on them and that they weigh the same as real bars. It’s not that it is false advertising, they state often that these are fakes, and one would have to be nuts to buy one of these thinking it were real. Who it really appeals to is the person that thinks they can peddle these things as real to anyone that’s not up to speed on this scam.
I can’t believe our government doesn’t come down hard on these companies, especially the ones that blatantly advertise that their products will avoid general authentication processes. As the metals rise from the ashes of the last five years, more and more of these fakes will make their way into the market, and more and more people will get hurt. Dealers will have to stay on the ball as this situation evolves. Remember, if someone is offering bullion at a discount, it may be too good to be true, and you know what they say about that.
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.
A Short Reflection On Numismatic Design Evolution
By Paul V. Battaglia
The United States is not an ancient, let alone old, civilization when compared to ninety-five percent of the world’s other countries. However, we have reaped the progressive fruits of those nations’ metallic designs in our coinage. Our population is proof positive of what eventually morphed into what we all know as “AMERICA”. The Native Americans were first and foremost to the eyes of the Norsemen in the twelfth century. Western Europeans followed in the last decade of the fifteenth century. While the means of barter, trade and outright purchase/sale between the natives and Europeans was satisfied first by trinkets and items unknown to the former, eventually they figured out what was truly necessary, and needs settled into more sober/useful choices.
Today, I am still surprised by how few people know where and when so-called modern civilization began. Most folks will quickly toss out Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome or quote Genesis in the Old Testament. I believe it to be that ancient land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, well-nigh over seven millennia ago. At first, I can envision raw gold, rare scents, food, water and livestock being used as a means of physical payment. As time passed, people became lords, masters, kings and queens of their lands. With that, their visages were imprinted upon the world’s first coinage. Yes, crude by our standards, but marvelous and sufficient by their efforts at the time.
Our American currency is a far cry and rarely associated in the minds of most collectors today, excepting our scholarly brethren who are students of ancient coinage. Those collectors, and most often dealers, have the advantage of seeing the full depth, breadth and scope of what the millennia have created upon all coinage, not just ours. Many of us view a so-called crude piece of coinage with its simplistic design and fail to realize, or deny, that it had a bearing on all future coinage after its demise.
In closing, I should like to invite my customers and readers to pause an extra moment the next time they encounter any ancient coin. Give that coin its due and full credit as to how that coin once played an active part upon the ongoing numismatic stage. That ancient coin in your hand helped make possible the enjoyment of stylized American and World coins in your present life.
Hats off to those days of yore.
Paul Battaglia is the Senior Numismatist and a Life Member of the ANA. He travels with owner, Warren Mills, to the major coin shows across the country. Paul has 50+ years numismatic experience and has been with RCNH since 1990. He also cherishes reading, cooking, language, music, classic cars, lily/orchid culture, chess, economic statistics, differing viewpoints and FISHING.
Letters From Our Mailbag
Questions and Answers:
Question: Can you expand on what Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) stickers bring to the table for people interested in coins? P.J. from Florida
Answer: Certified Acceptance Corporation opened for business on November 1st, 2007. Their business is to identify the best coins for the grade. CAC holds coins to a higher standard. This standard is reflected with a higher price for the coin when it is sold.
There is no set percentage amount that you can equate to the price associated with a CAC sticker or the number of coins that CAC will consider as a higher standard quality coin for grade. Some people ask me if they are trying to identify the top 10% or 20% as being Premium Quality (P.Q.) for the grade. However, it is not that easy. Coins should be graded with balance in mind. To attain a high-end or Premium Quality ranking for grade, the coin should have most of the following attributes: nice eye-appeal, strike, luster and minimal abrasion for the grade. CAC’s fee of $12.50 per coin, plus shipping, is a bargain that can only expand the value and desirability of your coins.
The owner of CAC wants to emphasize that they are trying to identify coins that are solid for the grade. Are there disagreements? Sure. I have seen coins that I believe have no business with a CAC sticker, and I have seen CAC not sticker coins that I feel are rock solid for the grade. Overall, though, I feel that CAC is very consistent with their grading.
The proof is in the pudding and all studies show that CAC stickered coins sell for higher prices on average than non-CAC stickered coins at the same grade.
So if it boils down to “to be or not to be,” I guess I’d rather “be”. I still concentrate on the coin, not the holder or sticker, but it will never hurt if it’s CAC approved.
Thanks and please keep those questions coming.
We welcome your questions. So please send them to me directly or through our Contact Us page for future newsletters and if you prefer, I will answer them for you privately.