Important News! CoinLink has merged..... Visit our NEW Site www.CoinWeek.com

BREAKING NEWS:....... Vist Our NEW Site at CoinWeek.com

Category: Commentary and Opinion

Ancient Coins: The Yin and Yang – A Smorgasbord of Views on Cultural Property

This week I was treated to a smorgasbord of views on cultural property from members of the archaeological and collecting communities.

On Tuesday morning, I listened with interest to the presentations of several archaeologists at the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) in Washington, DC. This was my fifth appearance at a CPAC hearing in as many years. In every case, the general tenor of oral comments by public presenters has reflected a dichotomy of interests—those of collectors versus those of nationalist governments (defended mainly by the archaeological community). The dividing line has always been clear, and not just in the rhetoric that is entered into the public record at these events. Even the informal assemblage of speakers prior to the event (call them gaggles, if you will) is indicative of the diverse philosophical views. I suppose it’s only natural for like-minded people to congregate, but the atmosphere is and has very much been one of “us and them” . This is not to say that either camp is overtly unfriendly, in fact the opposite is true. I think both camps try very hard to be polite and cordial in a personal sense. But camps there are, and gaggle they do.

The Collector camp is comprised mainly of collector advocacy groups. Occasionally, individual collectors, dealers or concerned citizens have appeared or have been represented by counsel. However, the lion’s share of opposition to Memorandums of Understanding these days has come from the Ancient Coin Collecting community and the Art Museum community. The former is represented by advocacy groups, like the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) and the American Numismatic Association (ANA), along with representatives of the numismatic trade and other non-profit organizations like Ancient Coins for Education. The latter is represented primarily by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD).

The proponents of Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) are primarily the representatives of governments seeking import restrictions and the archaeological community, including its related museums—most of which are institutional. The advocacy group Saving Antiquities For Everyone (SAFE) has consistently supported import restrictions, but has not appeared before CPAC in the public sessions lately. A rather late attempt by SAFE to compile and introduce a petition in support of the MOU with Greece was apparently aborted when it failed to meet the State Department imposed deadline for public comment. (more…)

The Gold, Silver and Rare Coin Market Report

By Laura Sperber – Legend NumismaticsBelow is a portion of the most recent Legend Market Report

GOLD

This is hard for us to believe that gold spot went up, yet ALL Generic $20’s came down! That is the most ridiculous thing we have ever seen. We have been told that the market makers here are flooded with coins. Plus, there seems to be a huge flood of gold coming from Europe. We have even heard some grumblings that the quality of these new arrivals have been poor (more gradeflation?). So no one wants to step out and make bids.

At one point last week, the LARGEST market maker in MS65 Saints quoted us $2,000.00 as his “buy” on a day when gold went up $20.00 (MS65 BID did end the week at $2,200.00). In the meantime, we know dealers who badly need CAC MS 65 Saints and have open BIDS of $2,300.00-$2,400.00 per coin and are buying very few.The demand for NON CAC generics is obviously thin.

The demand for CAC coins is huge with many MAJOR Funds or financial advisers selling the coins easily. We know they cannot get enough, because we supply them and we haven’t bought squat. We will still buy ALL the PCGS /NGC W/M MS66 CAC we can get at $3,475.00 sight UNSEEN. We will pay $2,675.00 for NON CAC PCGS coins only on a SIGHT seen basis. BTW, for anyone who wants to cat call, the CAC market is NOT artificial, its as real and powerful as you get.

The CAC coins sell by demand, not dealers creating phony bids and trying to pump the market. With gold (especially generics) right now for sure there is a two tier market, and quality is what people want.

You know there is something seriously wrong when graded MS61 $20 Libs are priced at $100.00 OVER melt!

With $20’s, it also seems to us that the market feels they are too high (along with the price of gold). We doubt at the lower grade levels quality is the issue. Something has to give in that market. We believe there will be a correction in the price of gold sometime soon. But, its really the hedges who control the price of gold and it seems they want to take it up a little further.

Its totally bewildering to us why there are not stronger premiums since gold is climbing daily into record territory. Something is just not right with this picture.

Right now the BEST buys are $10 Indians and $5 Indians (no 09D) in MS64 and higher. You can not find them emass, and the grading seems to be OK. If you insist on playing the $20 generic market we still believe MS66’s are too cheap or, you can buy NICE MS61/62 $20 (if you can find them) for little over melt and hope one day the premiums expand. We still recommend building a Gold Type set. You can include ANY coin you want then.

SILVER

People are finally waking up to the fact silver is at its all time high. Here too, things like MS65 Morgans and Walkers have come down. That’s insane! How can such a huge market as coins show little demand for simple $100-$200.00 items that actually were popular? Where are all the collectors? (more…)

Wall Street Journal video: “Gold will probably approach $5,000,” Guggenheim Partners exec says

“People have lost faith in paper money” as the Fed debases the dollar. Gold at $1,387 over 2 record days

After settling above a record $1,370 an ounce Wednesday, gold continued its blistering run Thursday by piercing the $1,380 level, going as high as $1,387. What do the experts say is driving gold?

“Gold is an international currency phenomenon. Around the world, people are turning disdainful of their own currencies and everyone else’s. So, where do they turn? They turn to the gold market.” – Dennis Gartman, hedge-fund manager and Gartman Letter publisher.

“If there is further dollar weakness surrounding quantitative easing … it is almost certainly going to be highly supportive for gold.” – RBS Global Banking & Markets analyst Daniel Major.

“With the weaker dollar, inflation will pick up in the commodity space, which is the most sensitive to monetary stimulus. So, it’s only logical that gold will do very well in that environment.” – Axel Merk, who manages $500 million in mutual-fund assets.
!

“Although [quantitative easing] expectations are an important element of the rally, currency disputes are also a prime driver of gold prices. The recent [International Monetary Fund] meeting saw the public airing of sharp disagreements between China and the United States on currency policy.” – HSBC’s Jim Steel.

“Because we are in a world of quantitative easing in the developed economies, and as QE is almost synonymous with competitive devaluation … gold and the precious metals (are) taking on the function of an alternative currency. As we go into the next one to four quarters, the role of precious metals as alternative currency will become much more paramount. The role of gold as an inflation hedge is not important now, but it may become important in the next cycle when the time to reverse quantitative easing comes.” – Ashok Shah, chief investment officer at London and Capital.

Despite record highs, gold can be expected to rise even higher, says Guggenheim Partners’ Scott Minerd in an Oct. 12 interview with WallStreetJournal.com.

“People have lost faith in paper money, and the monetary substitute – the old maid of monetary substitutes – is gold,” Minerd says.
(more…)

Opinion: Laura Sperber’s Hot Topics – SO WHATS (NOT) NEW?

By Laura Sperber – Hot Topics

MY HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

NOT! I can not believe how lethargic and pathetic the leadership of the coin business has become. PCGS launched their lawsuit back in May. Other than scaring the greedy bastards into slowing their dirty deeds-NOT MUCH ELSE HAS HAPPENED. No hobby groups have stood up what so ever and done anything about the situation. The attitude among dealers still seems to that the grading services are there to be abused.

I think its a crime that the best the PNG could do is announce they have a definition of coin doctoring. Whuppie! Did they do anything? Apparently not a damn thing. They are hiding behind the lamest of lame excuses (they are a reactionary, not proactive group). The perpetrators named in the suit got caught (by their own stupidity) still trying to ruin coins yet again recently (the evidence was even posted in Coin World). Even better, at the ANA Show this past summer one of the parties in the suit set up and proudly displayed his PNG banner at his table! What a slap in the face to those of us who do care. I know the PNG’s time has come and gone. They do nothing and are nothing for this coin biz-in MY opinion. Their PNG Days prior to major shows not only have become a show case for the parts of their membership they refuse to punish, they are a complete joke anyway (one must be invited for admission-how arrogant and stupid). I hope the PNG tries to prove me wrong about their total waste and ineffectiveness.

My head hurts from shaking so much after seeing what they are NOT doing! Besides, we all know its not the entire group of PNG dealers who are bad-so where are the innocent ones? You telling me they have little to no powers on these critical issues? Just more of a point about the bad dudes who apparently control that organization. if they wanted too, they could chase after and maybe even prevent coin doctoring-btye clearly choose not too. Looks like I will never have to pay $1,000.00 I promised for anyone the PNG catches and expels for coin doctoring. Yeah PNG, I am grandstanding for attention (NOT)! -at least I am not sitting on the sidelines with rose colored glasses doing nothing about all this!

Its not just them. I have only seen a handful of smaller dealers-the ones who get screwed by the coin docs perpetually stand up and make statements. Where are all the other big shot retailers? Why I am the lone wolf speaking out? But then I guess when you have a coin doc who sits behind your table and who sells you a lot of coins cheap your not going to complain about them. This doesn’t rock the boat culture has to change. Its for the good of the hobby for the long term.

READ THIS AND WEEP

Many people ask me why I do not like so many other dealers. It has nothing to do with them being competition. It has to do with them not caring or worse, they are phonies. One of the problems in today’s coin market place-many of the “newer” dealers just can not grade. That’s right, give them a raw coin out of the holder and they are clueless. Sadly, they have the best web sites and act like they are kings and hook the public. They are just one more means keep to the coin doctors longevity going. These unqualified dealers certainly are not going to be involved in stopping the coin docs. But we can make them change since they are too dumb to know what to do. Yet again, I call for more public scrutiny of dealers. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1796 quarter, San Francisco Liberty Seated Dimes, 1931 Denver Mint $20 gold coin

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #21

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Last week’s column was devoted to cents and half cents. This week, I am writing about a few silver coins and a 1931-D Saint Gaudens Double Eagle ($20 gold coin). Though 1931-D Saints may be extremely rare or almost so, the 1796 quarter and San Francisco Mint Liberty Seated dimes that I mention below are condition rarities rather than being extremely rare in absolute terms.

Recently, I have written about coins that are extremely rare in all grades, thus in absolute terms. In my column of Sept. 22, I wrote about the NGC graded “EF-45+” 1856-O Double Eagle that Heritage sold in September. It realized $345,000, which is a very strong price. Last week, I wrote about the 1795 Reeded Edge cent that the Goldberg’s auctioned for $322,000, even though it does not merit a numerical grade and is in a PCGS genuine holder. Early in the summer, in my column of June 30th, I wrote about Great Rarities that were then to be auctioned in Boston. I followed up with ‘news’ regarding these same Great Rarities in later columns, including my column of Aug. 11. As few collectors may own extremely rare coins, condition rarities, especially of coins that are scarce in absolute terms, should receive a great deal of attention and news coverage.

I. Choice 1796 Quarter

I really liked the 1796 quarter in the most recent Stack’s auction, which was conducted a few days ago in Philadelphia. I would admit that I was more enthusiastic about the Norweb 1796 in the Heritage ANA Auction in Boston. This one, though, is livelier. (As always, clickable links are in blue.)

This 1796 quarter was formerly in the official auction of the Summer 1976 ANA Convention in New York, a convention that reportedly drew more than 25,000 people. At a later time, it was PCGS graded MS-63. I thought that it was undergraded. Yes, there are some very small, though of medium depth, contact marks in the field to the viewer’s right on the obverse (front of the coin). Further, there is a significant small scratch near the last star. Additionally, there are minor hairlines on the eagle on the reverse (tail of the coin). These, though, are imperfections that can be consistent with a 64 grade, especially for a coin that has a lot of eye appeal and other positive characteristics.

This 1796 quarter is very attractive and even more so when it is tilted under a light. It has full, naturally reflective surfaces. At some angles, this coin nearly dazzles. While it is not unusual for a 1796 quarter to be semi-prooflike and some are very prooflike, this one has more personality than most other uncirculated 1796 quarters.

Some experts wondered about the naturalness of the pinkish-russet, blue and green shades. I maintain that the toning is natural. This coin may have lived in several envelopes, cabinets and/or albums, since 1796. It may possibly have been dipped at some point in the middle of the 20th century. (more…)

Coin Collecting: Thoughts on Originality?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

“Originality.” It’s one of the most overused terms in all of numismatics. And it’s one of the most misunderstood as well. Given the choice, I believe that most people would rather own an “original” coin instead of one that has clearly had its appearance changed in recent years. With the help of some good quality images, I’d like to show some of the characteristics that I equate with “originality” and offer some suggestions on how to judge if a coin is original or not.

1844-D Quarter eagleThe first coin that we are going to look at is an 1844-D quarter eagle graded AU55 by NGC. (Disclosure: this coin is currently in my inventory and it is currently for sale. I am not using this coin as an example in the hope that someone will buy it as I am certain someone will and I don’t need to go to this much trouble to sell it. I am using it to illustrate this report because I believe it represents what I believe is complete originality.)

One other quick topic before we review this 1844-D quarter eagle. My definition of an “original” coin is one that appears to have never been cleaned, lightened or in any way altered. I would be quick to point out that the flaw in this definition is that, of course, there is no way to make such a comment without having had access to this particular coin at all times since 1844.

There is always the possibility that, in the 1850’s or the 1860’s (or even the 1960’s), it may have been lightly cleaned. But there are some things to look for on a coin that I think gives a reasonably good assurance that it hasn’t been messed with. The most obvious is hairlines. If a coin has been improperly cleaned at one time, it is going to show hairlines. These may range from subtle to very obvious. If a coin has nice seemingly “original” color but it shows noticeable hairlines, this probably means that it was cleaned years ago and has subsequently retoned. Such a coin may have a natural appearance but, from the standpoint of semantics, it can’t truly be called “original.” You can also look for areas of cloudiness or haze. If a coin has these, the chances are good that something has been applied to the surfaces at one time.

In looking at this coin, there are a few points to note. The first is its depth of coloration. Take a look at the color on the obverse and the reverse and note how the hues in the fields are richer than in the protected areas. On coins with natural color this is generally going to be the case. On a coin that may have been dipped at one time, you are going to see the opposite; the color tends to be lighter at the centers and deeper at the peripheries. Also, note how on this 1844-D quarter eagle there is color present even on the high spots and relief detail. A coin that has been cleaned or dipped typically lacks color on these areas as they are the first places that the original color is lost. Finally, note the depth and intensity of the color. On natural coins, the color is “sharp” in hue and depth. On dipped or cleaned coins, the color tends to be “fuzzier” and less intense. (more…)

Some Recent Observations From A Coin Show Perspective

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com
Having just come from the Philadelphia Whitman Coin Expo show and, the week before this, the Long Beach show, I feel pretty qualified to make some market observations. Without further ado, I’d like to share them with you.

1. There Are Too Many Coin Shows Right Now. I’m sure I’m not going to make any friends with coin show promoters for saying this but with Long Beach occuring last week, Philly this week and the St. Louis show next week, this is too many coin shows in a short period of time. I saw few fresh coins in Philadelphia because I looked at many dealer’s coins in Long Beach and the thought of turning around next week and going to St. Louis…uh, no thanks. The market just can’t support this many shows and this is why you are seeing many formerly good regional three and four day events beginning to die rapid deaths.

2. Buying Nice Coins Is Tough, Tough, Tough. If you thought it was hard two or three years ago to buy nice coins at shows, it is as tough now as its ever been; maybe tougher. I’ve heard dealers all of all sizes and shapes complain how hard it is to find interesting fresh material at recent shows. I was lucky and I had an amazing ANA show with lots and lots of great new coins to offer DWN clients. But it is a real grind to find coins now and, clearly, the good stuff is going off the market and staying there.

3. Everyone Wants to Buy Type One Double Eagles. There are many firms and individual dealers (myself included) who are very active buyers right now of Type One double eagles. At the Philadelphia show I saw almost nothing for sale other than the usual motley assortment of Uncirculated S.S. Central America 1857-S , a few lower grade common dates and the odd overpriced rarity here and there. This is clearly an extremely popular area of the market and coins in the $2,000-15,000+ price range are exceptionally popular right now.

4. And CC Double Eagles Too. You can add $2,000-10,000+ Carson City double eagles to this list as well. They are most definitely in strong demand and if the coins are properly priced (or even just a hair too expensive) they are easy sellers. Even big money coins like 1870-CC double eagles are beginnig to sell again and I am aware of at least two EF examples changing hands since ANA. If you have any nice CC double eagles for sale, please contact me as I’d like to buy them from you!

5. Nice New Orleans Gold Has Disappeared. Where has all the nice New Orleans gold gone? Good question. The last few months have seen very, very few interesting New Orleans gold coins available and the few choice or rare pieces that I have had in stock have sold quickly. Clearly, this is an area of the market that is very active.

6. And Dahlonega Gold Also. I think you can safely add choice, original Dahlonega gold in all denominations to the “where the heck are the coins?” list. I can generally only find two or three decent D mint coins at a major show and they seem to sell very quickly when I list them on my website.

7. Coin Pricing Is a Total Disaster. I’ve mentioned this a number of times but I am finding it more and more of a hassle that coin pricing is such out of touch with reality. What typically happens is that one very low quality rare coin trades cheaply at auction and Trends whacks the price for the issue down. This has recently happened with rare, desirable coins like the 1796 No Stars and 1808 quarter eagles and the 1795 eagle. I look at this as, in its own way, as big a concern in the coin market as the doctoring issue. One reason why good coins aren’t being sold is that pricing doesn’t reflect the real value of choice, high end pieces. Fix this problem and you will fix the lack of supply that is hurting the market right now. Don’t fix it and new buyers will be more interested in purchasing MS64 Saints than “real” coins. (more…)

Gold’s astounding ride

By Steve Roach – Rare Coin Market Report Blog
First published in the Oct. 18, 2010, issue of Coin World

Gold continues to astound as it broke the $1,300 ounce level for the first time on Sept. 28, closing in New York at $1,306.60 an ounce.

The next day, gold hit a high of $1,313.20 before closing at $1,308.50.

In a nice contrast to the previous week’s House Subcommittee hearings focused on fighting fraud in the sale of gold coins, the Sept. 29 Wall Street Journal featured a front-page story that was overwhelmingly positive about gold’s potential to top $1,500 next year.

It focused on investors’ growing desire to hold actual gold in the form of coins and bars.

Reports by numerous analysts and banks seem to share a bullish view for gold, evidenced by a Sept. 28 report by Deutsche Bank that stated that $1,600 an ounce gold would not be surprising for 2012 and that gold would not be in a “bubble” until hitting $2,000.

The recent bull run-up in gold prices has been attributed to many things: continued uncertainty in the real estate market; concern about the value of currencies, especially China’s; low consumer confidence in the United States; and general concern about large central banks’ ability to control the money supply adequately.

But to collectors, one thing is clear: gold coins are much more expensive than they were in 2000, in large part due to the price of gold rising 353 percent over that time.

The increased threat of intrusive federal regulations in the coin industry, such as the recently introduced Coin and Precious Metal Disclosure Act (H.R. 6149) have done little to dampen the public’s appetite for gold coins.

But dealers have responded vocally to fight multiple pieces of legislation that could affect the coin market, forming political action committees aimed at fostering better communication between the coin community and legislators.

Many dealers reported that gold was the lone bright spot in the market at the recently completed Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectables Expo, where several market-makers elected to stay home, instead budgeting to attend the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Philadelphia Expo, another major show, scheduled for the following weekend.

Legend Numismatics Market Report – THE PHILADELPHIA COIN SHOW

HOW MANY TIMES CAN WE SAY THIS?

David Chrenshaw, Mary Counts, Lori Hamrick, and the entire Whitman team run some of the best shows to attend. The Philadelphia Show was yet another incredibly run show. Legend Numismatics LOVE ALL Whitman shows and plan on doing them as long as they are in business.

Everything is always perfectly set up. The Whitman people are incredibly friendly and accommodating. They even care about what dealers want at shows (and of course they show lots of LOVE the public). However,, they need to understand that the Philadelphia market is the same virtually as Baltimore. The Philadelphia Show actually cannibalizes those shows (Baltimore is three times a year). Even if it has to do with planning far ahead, you cannot have a major show on top of another (Long Beach was just last week). Thus, while public attendance was good at the show, few real buyers showed up (you also just had two major auctions at Long Beach). Of course very few West Coast dealers attended. We did not have a good retail show at all.

Attendance of serious BUYERS (of expensive coins) at coin shows is clearly diminishing. Save for an occasional FUN or ANA Show, it is rare that someone unknown will walk up and buy an expensive coin. We only did THREE retail sales at the show-and the biggest one was set up before hand. This time we tried to speak to a cross section of dealers where we saw collectors at their tables. EVERY ONE told us they ended up doing little in the way of sales. The crowds were mostly tire kickers. Its a little of everything (the market, the Internet, too many shows, etc) that probably caused this.

We really hope ALL show promoters start looking around and maybe even cutting back from 3 to 2 shows. As dealers, it makes no sense to keep shelling out $5,000.00+ per show to be tire kicked. We can all just meet in a hotel and go room to room and save the money and be done in a day. In fact, last Long Beach we actually skipped the show and did just that. The only thing holding us back from giving up our table there: 30 years of habitual attendance. Can’t break the habit. If we saw more serious buying public, then we would not even think of skipping a single show. But all coin dealerships in the end are businesses. Businesses need to make money to survive.

You can argue Philadelphia is only in its second year, but it still needs a huge jump start. Our concern is that this show will have raided the upcoming Baltimore Show. This show proved without a doubt, you can not stack major shows week after week. Maybe cut out the Baltimore summer show (BOTH dealer and collector attendance is MUCH lighter) to make all three shows stronger? The days of “if you build it they shall come” are over. People can sit home and buy coins with just one click. It would be ashame for the public if their favorite dealers had to stop attending shows.

THE PHILADELPHIA SHOW RESULTS

We did a tremendous amount of WHOLESALE. Of course the day before the show opened, it was easy to sell all gold-including BETTER more expensive pieces. Prices were a small concern, but if the coin was really rare and made sense, it sold. Proof Type also sold VERY well for us. In fact, we did not expect to sell much, and we out did our pre-show estimate by 400%! (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1943-D copper cent, 1795 Reeded Edge cent, 1811/0 cent, and half cent errors

News and Analysis on coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #20

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I had originally intended to write this week about a variety of coins that were offered in the recently concluded Southern California auctions by the Goldbergs and Heritage. News regarding auction results, however, has been superseded by a 1943-D copper cent selling privately for a reported price of “$1.7 million.” So, I will discuss this piece, some of the early copper in the Goldbergs auction, and the 1811/0 overdate large cent that Heritage sold. This column is devoted to copper.

I. 1943-Denver Mint Copper Cent

In 1943 only, in order to allocate more copper for purposes relating to World War II, U.S. cents were made of zinc coated steel and have a whitish-steely appearance. Probably by accident, a few were struck in copper, almost certainly on planchets (prepared blanks) that were leftover from 1942. Perhaps a few copper planchets were temporarily stuck in the hoppers and became loose over time. Likewise, some 1944 cents were accidentally struck on steel planchets dating from 1943.

I am very skeptical of claims that any of these off-metal strikings were intentionally made. It is possible that U.S. Mint employees may have discovered one or more such errors and intentionally released them from the premises. These are, though, probably true errors. In the 1940s, it would have been extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, for U.S. Mint employees to strike their own fantasy pieces.

Ten or eleven 1943 Philadelphia Mint copper cents and five to seven San Francisco Mint 1943 coppers are known. Curiously, only one 1943-Denver Mint copper cent is believed to exist. It is PCGS graded MS-64 and Laura Sperber sold it to a collector for “$1.7 million.”

Stewart Blay feels “the price has been inflated because the buyer seeking the coin is a billionaire. He loves coins. He wanted to own it and eventually paid what the owner was willing to accept.” Blay is the leading collector of Lincoln Cents and is a long-time participant in coin markets. Stewart also collects silver coins.

A price of “$1.7 million” is, by far, a record price for a Lincoln Cent and for a Mint Error of any kind. For the same collector, Sperber was responsible for the previous record of $373,750 that a 1944-S steel cent realized in the Summer 2008 ANA Auction, which was conducted by Heritage in Baltimore. Furthermore, a 1943-S copper cent was sold privately, a day or so earlier, at the Summer 2008 ANA Convention. I focus on both coins in a two part series that I wrote shortly after this convention ended (Part 1).

Sperber reveals that this “deal really was four years in the making. We agreed to terms in late July. The deal closed Sept 16th.” A total of $2 million, she says, was paid for three items, this 1943-D, a 1944 Philadelphia Mint steel cent and a 1942 pattern cent in “white metal.” This collector is “not seeking” patterns, Sperber relates, “the white metal pattern was just part of the deal.”

Sperber used to collect these off-metal strikings herself. The building of this set “started when” Laura sold this collector her “personal 1943-S PCGS AU-58” copper cent, “which he still has.” She and this collector “have been working on [a set of 43-PDS coppers and 44-PDS steels] for about five years.” Sperber maintains that “completing the 1944 [three piece steel] set was a very underrated piece of work.” I (this writer) point out that there are only two or three known 1944-S steel cents and Sperber acquired the finest 1944-S steel in 2008, as I then reported (in part 2).

Much background information regarding the rarity and importance of 1943 coppers and 1944 steel cents may be found in my two part series in 2008: part 1, part 2. I also discussed then the reasons why 1943 coppers and 1944 steel cents are extremely popular.

To save time and space, I usually refer to all coins, patterns, and errors that are at least 90% copper as being ‘copper.’ The distinction between copper and bronze, which is usually 95% copper, is beside all points put forth herein. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1943-D copper cent, 1795 Reeded Edge cent, 1811/0 cent, and half cent errors

News and Analysis on  coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #20

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I had originally intended to write this week about a variety of coins that were offered in the recently concluded Southern California auctions by the Goldbergs and Heritage. News regarding auction results, however, has been superseded by a 1943-D copper cent selling privately for a reported price of “$1.7 million.” So, I will discuss this piece, some of the early copper in the Goldbergs auction, and the 1811/0 overdate large cent that Heritage sold. This column is devoted to copper.

I. 1943-Denver Mint Copper Cent

In 1943 only, in order to allocate more copper for purposes relating to World War II, U.S. cents were made of zinc coated steel and have a whitish-steely appearance. Probably by accident, a few were struck in copper, almost certainly on planchets (prepared blanks) that were leftover from 1942. Perhaps a few copper planchets were temporarily stuck in the hoppers and became loose over time. Likewise, some 1944 cents were accidentally struck on steel planchets dating from 1943.

I am very skeptical of claims that any of these off-metal strikings were intentionally made. It is possible that U.S. Mint employees may have discovered one or more such errors and intentionally released them from the premises. These are, though, probably true errors. In the 1940s, it would have been extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, for U.S. Mint employees to strike their own fantasy pieces.

Ten or eleven 1943 Philadelphia Mint copper cents and five to seven San Francisco Mint 1943 coppers are known. Curiously, only one 1943-Denver Mint copper cent is believed to exist. It is PCGS graded MS-64 and Laura Sperber sold it to a collector for “$1.7 million.”

Stewart Blay feels “the price has been inflated because the buyer seeking the coin is a billionaire. He loves coins. He wanted to own it and eventually paid what the owner was willing to accept.” Blay is the leading collector of Lincoln Cents and is a long-time participant in coin markets. Stewart also collects silver coins.

A price of “$1.7 million” is, by far, a record price for a Lincoln Cent and for a Mint Error of any kind. For the same collector, Sperber was responsible for the previous record of $373,750 that a 1944-S steel cent realized in the Summer 2008 ANA Auction, which was conducted by Heritage in Baltimore. Furthermore, a 1943-S copper cent was sold privately, a day or so earlier, at the Summer 2008 ANA Convention. I focus on both coins in a two part series that I wrote shortly after this convention ended (Part 1).

Sperber reveals that this “deal really was four years in the making. We agreed to terms in late July. The deal closed Sept 16th.” A total of $2 million, she says, was paid for three items, this 1943-D, a 1944 Philadelphia Mint steel cent and a 1942 pattern cent in “white metal.” This collector is “not seeking” patterns, Sperber relates, “the white metal pattern was just part of the deal.”

Sperber used to collect these off-metal strikings herself. The building of this set “started when” Laura sold this collector her “personal 1943-S PCGS AU-58” copper cent, “which he still has.” She and this collector “have been working on [a set of 43-PDS coppers and 44-PDS steels] for about five years.” Sperber maintains that “completing the 1944 [three piece steel] set was a very underrated piece of work.” I (this writer) point out that there are only two or three known 1944-S steel cents and Sperber acquired the finest 1944-S steel in 2008, as I then reported (in part 2).

Much background information regarding the rarity and importance of 1943 coppers and 1944 steel cents may be found in my two part series in 2008: part 1, part 2.  I also discussed then the reasons why 1943 coppers and 1944 steel cents are extremely popular.

To save time and space, I usually refer to all coins, patterns, and errors that are at least 90% copper as being ‘copper.’ The distinction between copper and bronze, which is usually 95% copper, is beside all points put forth herein. (more…)

Long Beach Coin Show and Market Report by William Shamhart

By William Shamhart – Numismatic Americana

Everyone wants to know: So how was Long Beach? In one word: HOT!

OH…you meant how was the coin show? Well if you’re an optimist, it was partly sunny; if you’re a pessimist, it was partly cloudy. Confused? So was I.

I’ve been going to Long Beach for almost 30 years now. And it never ceases to amaze me. This year’s fall show didn’t suffer the Long Beach curse of falling precious metal prices as most have. In fact gold is at an all time high. And? And generic gold was dead. No demand that I could see. While Christine and I don’t really make a market in bullion or generic gold, we do get some in deals at times, or from customers that are changing their collecting strategy. So we sort of deal in it I guess. Anyways, I would have thought that generics would have shown some sort of surge in demand. But alas, they didn’t. In fact we sold MS 62 Saint Gauden $20 pieces for $1,500. And that was with gold just shy of $1,300!

There was definitely a larger amount of no-show dealers this time. I blame that on the fact that as I write this, I am getting ready to leave for Whitman’s Philadelphia show. I heard that many of the East Coast dealers just didn’t want to do back to back major shows. I can’t say that I blame them.

Retail customers – There were several people that I expected to be there that were also no-shows. Maybe they are saving their money for this week. I guess next weeks show report will tell if I was correct or not.

So from what I am writing, you’d think that Long Beach was a bust, right? Wrong. While not as heavily attended as usual, those that were there, came to buy. Most of the customers we saw there were again (I’m seeing a trend here) carrying want list and would wait for just the right piece. Quality was paramount and price was secondary. Today’s collector wants quality, with no excuses. And they are willing to pay for it. Slightly off quality, and low quality weren’t really sought out. At least from what I could see. That’s not to say that they aren’t selling because we saw a lot of coins trade hands at some very attractive prices. Oh wait, that was wholesale.

So what was selling? Ready? Drum roll please…Proof Walkers and Mercury Dimes. Yes, it surprised me too. But then again, they are dirt cheap in comparison to some other series. And they can be downright pretty. Sound inviting?

Commemoratives – This series has a somewhat “cult” like following. Those that collect them never stop. Maybe they slow down, but they never stop. They just graduate to the “top pops”. Even seasoned veteran commem people were buying duplicates, and even triplicates, but only if the coins were “all there”. Don’t rush out and buy all the commems you can get your hands on though. Be picky, like our customers, and wait. When that special coin presents itself, then, and only then, do you pull the trigger.

Gem Gold – While the lower grade, i.e. MS 61-64, pieces weren’t as in demand as one would think, Gem specimens, were. We sold many at the show, and while we bought some to take home for customers there just are not that many around. Whether a collector is building a set of Gem $3 pieces, or just looking for a few MS 66 $5 Liberties, it can be a daunting task.

Confused? I understand.

Like I said earlier, I will be attending the Whitman Show in Philadelphia this week. If you go, and have a chance, stop by the table and say hello.

What would happen if the United States lost its AAA credit rating?

by Adam Crum – Monaco Rare Coins

Two years ago‚ a company that performs financial research and analysis on commercial and government entities and has a 40% share in the world credit rating market warned the United States government that it risked losing its triple A rating if it didn’t get its finances under control. That company was Moody’s and the warning was motivated by the future of healthcare and Social Security costs and long before the present financial upheaval.

Does our government deserve a triple A credit rating?

While the U.S. government has had a triple A credit rating since 1917‚ there are those who feel that if the United States were any other country‚ its coveted top-tier credit rating might have been stripped away by now.

“For too long‚ the U.S. has delayed making the tough but necessary choices needed to reverse its deteriorating financial condition‚” David Walker‚ chief executive of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and a former comptroller general of the United States‚ recently wrote in the Financial Times. “One could even argue that our government does not deserve a AAA credit rating based on our current financial condition‚ structural fiscal imbalances and political stalemate.”

“The triple-A rating is undeserved‚” suggests Peter Morici‚ a professor of international business at the University of Maryland. “If Washington were a state capitol‚ we would have lost the AAA with the current budget.”

Here are just some of the reasons Mr. Walker and Professor Morici would make such statements:

* Equal to about 80 percent of total output of the United States‚ the Treasury Department recently reported that the total U.S. government debt is $11‚270‚547‚397‚564.64.
* With the U.S. relying on foreign buyers to keep its borrowing costs low‚ China and Japan alone hold more than $1.4 trillion of U.S. Treasury bonds as of March‚ according to U.S. Treasury data. A sovereign downgrade would certainly alarm at least some of those buyers.
* The Fed is now burdened by the same kind of toxic paper that has been plaguing private U.S. banks for several quarters.
* Leveraging its capital 48-to-1‚ Fed banks are holding total capital of just $45.7 billion against the sum total of $2.19 trillion in assets. Two years ago the ratio was only 27-to-1.
* The government’s $787 billion economic stimulus package and $700 billion bank bailout fund have strained the country’s resources and the jury is still out as to whether any of this will actually make a difference.
* The International Monetary Fund expects the debt-to-GDP ratio to hit 97.5 percent next year. Standard & Poor reaffirmed its AAA sovereign rating for the United States in January; however‚ the ratings agency also cautioned that the hundreds of billions of dollars committed to bailing out the banking sector would lead to a “noticeable deterioration in the U.S. fiscal profile.”
* The Chinese premier and the head of the People’s Bank of China have expressed concern over America’s long-term credit worthiness and the value of the dollar. China has also called for the creation of a new international reserve currency to replace the U.S. dollar.
* With a loss of 5.7 million jobs since December 2007‚ the number of workers collecting unemployment checks increased to a record of more than 6.6 million in the week ending May 9‚ the highest level of unemployment since 1983.
* The present economic situation in the U.S. is taking a huge chunk out of tax income‚ reported to be down 34%.
* Manufacturing in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic area shrank in May for the eighth straight month.
* States like California have been hit hard by the credit crunch and are struggling to arrange backing for municipal bonds and short-term debt.

(more…)

Rare Coin Road Warrior: Tales From The Road – September 2010

By Vic Bozarth – Rare Coin Road Warrior
This is a NEW Monthly Column by Vic Bozarth, the “Rare Coin Road Warrior” who spends over 200 days a year traveling to Coin Shows. We hope you enjoy Vic’s unique perspective on the coin collecting and the rare coin Market. – Editor

Hi, my name is Vic Bozarth and I am a Rare Coin Road Warrior. My wife Sherri and I own Bozarth Numismatics Inc. Our website is Bozarthcoins.com. Last year we spent over 200 days on the road on nearly 45 different trips. As a professional numismatist and buyer for other companies I have been a ‘rare coin road warrior’ for nearly 25 years. My wife and I attend all major coin shows, as well as most large regional or state coin shows.

Many fellow numismatists and collectors have expressed an interest in hearing about our experiences during our coin show and buying trips. Recently I decided to write a short article each month on the shows we attend as well as the coin buying trips we take to different cities across the United States.

Buying NICE rare coins at reasonable prices becomes more difficult each year. There are a lot of logistical and security considerations we have to plan for with every trip. Not only do we have flights to book, but we also have to find a comfortable and safe hotel or motel preferably close to the show. If we have appointments with customers or other dealers we often rent a car. Those are most of the logistical considerations. Security is the biggest concern. We do have one big advantage. Because we are most often able to travel together, one of us can always watch the coins. We never leave our coins unattended.

Although we have tables at most shows, sometimes I buy an ‘Earlybird’ dealer badge and just attend a show by myself to buy only. During weeks with no major shows, we often fly to a major city and ‘hit’ the shops and offices of the coin dealers in that area. Over the years, I have visited virtually every major city in the continental United States at least once. Fortunately both my wife and I love to travel, because the schedule can be grueling.

Last week we attended the Illinois Numismatic Association show in a suburb of Chicago called Tinley Park. A couple of days before the show we flew in to Detroit, rented a car, and did some business with other dealers on our trip west to Chicago. We really enjoy these trips. Although we experienced a flight delay out of Houston due to bad weather from a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, we were able to see several dealers in Michigan before arriving at the ILNA show in Tinley Park.

The weather in Michigan and Chicago is gorgeous this time of year. The summer heat has softened and the nights are cool and comfortable. The folks with the ILNA Show did a great job in putting on the show despite the construction to enlarge the current convention center in Tinley Park. ILNA moved to this location a couple years ago. They are to be commended for running a good show in a location that has both safe and reasonably priced lodging and good restaurants.

Business on the bourse floor is always busy during dealer set-up. Getting ‘first shot’ at someone’s inventory is the prize for those lucky enough to get there first. Basically ‘first shot’ is what we dealers refer to as the person (usually a dealer) who gets to look at another dealer’s inventory before any other dealer looks. Often times you will hear, ‘Joe got first shot, but I still want to look’. Many dealers attend only a few shows a year and their inventory is ‘fresh’ to other dealers. They have often purchased coins from collections or estates that other dealers haven’t seen, thus the desire to get ‘first shot’. (more…)

Commentary: Glenn Beck, Goldline and the “Precious Coins and Bullion Disclosure Act”

One of many factors pushing the price of gold upwards is the demand for physical gold from investors who strongly believe that the U.S. dollar and world currencies in general are becoming worthless scraps of paper. Distrust of the President’s social programs and Congress, combined with Trillion dollar deficits, inept oversight, huge government bailouts for mismanaged companies, greedy bankers, Wall Street Ponzi schemes and the Flash Crash make arguments supporting gold ownership an easy sell.

This is particularly true for the conservatives amongst us who see the path being taken since the election of President Obama as moving the country in the wrong direction.

Enter Glenn Beck and NY Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Since the inception of  both his Radio and TV show, Glenn Beck’s popularity along with the sarcastic analysis of the President,Congress and our financial condition has risen significantly. Part of Beck’s overall presentation is his belief in the security and benefits of owning gold.

This past April, Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner (NY) launched an “investigation” into the sales practices of one of Beck’s sponsors, Goldline International of Santa Monica, California. His “concern” was twofold: First, that Beck and other conservative talk show/TV personalities had formed a “unholy Alliance” with Goldline by unduly influencing their trusting viewers to purchase gold from Goldline and second, that Goldline was ripping its customers off with “bait and switch ” and hard sell tactics, and “peddling overpriced collector coins.”

Basically, Beck was seen as scaring his viewers with doom and gloom analysis and then inappropriately influencing his viewers to buy gold from one of his sponsors, who were paying Beck a handsome sponsorship fee. In short, Weiner accused Beck of being a shill for Goldline, who in turn was running a scam and grossly overcharging customers.

Weiner strenuously insisted that there was no political agenda behind his attacks on Beck and Goldline, and that his primary objective was to expose this situation and to protect both the viewers of Beck’s show and customers of Goldline against the abuses he saw. Weiner also called for congressional hearings on the matter, which are scheduled to begin this week, September 23rd at 10:00am.

In tandem to all of this, Brian Ross at ABC News ran and “expose” about Beck and Goldline (07-19-10) outlining in greater detail the “questionable” practices of Goldline and the connection to Beck and other conservative TV and Radio personalities. The report included interviews with individuals who were “ripped off”, each describing pressure tactics used by the Goldline sales people: directing them away from low margin bullion coins to the high margin foreign gold coins that would not be subject to another Gold confiscation order like the one FDR signed in 1933. This order made it illegal to own certain types and quantities of gold.

Subsequently, Beck has posted up a rather sophomoric website called Weinerfacts.com which basically defends his position by mocking Representative Weiner and marginalizing his claims. The LA County prosecutors office has opened an investigation (See ABC News Report Here) based on about 100 complaints they have received and it was reported that Goldline had retained the services of Prime Policy Group, a Washington lobbying company to assist them in preparing for the upcoming congressional hearings. (more…)

Some Further Thoughts on Carson City Double Eagle Gold Coins

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

I’ve been working on a third edition of my book on Carson City gold coins. For some odd reason, I’ve been working from back to front, meaning that I’ve done the new research of double eagles before following this with eagles and half eagles. I’ve been able to uncover some really eye-opening new information on the rarity and price levels of Carson City double eagles and I’d like to share a few tidbits.

The last Carson City book that I produced was published in 2001, so almost a full decade has passed. My first impression about the market for Carson City double eagles is that it has become far, far more active than ever. Prices have risen significantly since 2001, especially for rarities and for high grade pieces.

In 2001, the five rarest Carson City double eagles in terms of overall rarity (i.e., total known) were the 1870-CC, 1891-CC, 1871-CC, 1878-CC and 1879-CC (these last two issues were tied for fourth rarest). In 2010, the five rarest Carson City double eagles in terms of overall rarity are the 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1891-CC, 1879-CC and 1885-CC (these last two issues were tied for fourth rarest).

The 1870-CC has remained an extremely rare coin, despite a surprisingly high frequency of auction appearance in the middle part of this decade. I had previously thought 35-45 were known. Today, I think that number is around 40-50. This includes a number of low grade coins and at least five or six that are either damaged or cleaned to the point that can not be graded by PCGS or NGC.

The rarity of the 1891-CC seems to have diminished quite a bit. I think there are two reasons for this. The first is that I overestimated its rarity in 2001. The second is that a significant number of examples have been found in Europe and other overseas sources. This date hasn’t become plentiful in higher grades but it is far more available in AU50 to AU55 than I ever remember it being before.

The 1871-CC seems more available as well. In 2001, this issue was very hard to find in any grade and it was almost never seen above AU50. Today it is more available and the number of coins graded AU53 to AU55 has risen dramatically. I would attribute much of this to gradeflation as the majority of the 1871-CC double eagles that I see in AU53 and AU55 holders are “enthusiastically” graded, to say the least. In properly graded Mint State, the 1871-CC remains exceedingly rare.

A date whose rarity has become more apparent is the 1885-CC. In the 2001 edition of my book, this date was not even listed in the top six rarest Carson City double eagles. I now rank it as being tied for fourth along with the 1879-CC.

Everyone loves a sleeper, right? The dates that I believe are underrated (and undervalued) in the Carson City double eagle series include the 1872-CC, 1877-CC, 1882-CC and 1892-CC.

In higher grades (AU50 and above), the rarity scale of the Carson City double eagle series has remained remarkably consistent. In 2001, I stated that the 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1879-CC, 1878-CC, 1891-CC and 1872-CC were, in that order, the six rarest issues. In 2010, I believe the six rarest are the 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1878-CC, 1879-CC, 1872-CC and 1891-CC. In other words, the same six dates are still the keys in higher grades but there are now some minor changes in the order. (more…)

GUEST COMMENTARY: Coin Doctors – CAN’T STOP NOW

All Editorial and Commentaries posted on CoinLink represent the opinions of the author(s), who are soley responsible for this content. All points of view are encouraged and comments are welcomed.

By Laura Sperber – Hot Topics Blog

I say a heart-felt thanks to everyone who has emailed me support concerning the fight against coin doctors the past several months. Due to my hectic travel schedule, sometimes I just can’t respond to all your emails-but do know I read EVERY SINGLE ONE!

EVEN IF YOU ARE A NOT BIG DEALER, YOU COUNT

Every single person counts and is needed in this fight. Every single person has a voice that counts. Do not think there is nothing you can do.

You do not have to right on a blog like I do, you can just talk to your fellow collectors or dealers, at shows, clubs, or wherever. Send an email or a letter to the grading services, the numismatic organization, or the coin papers. The more “pressure” that is put applied, the better the results will be. If people don’t speak up it will be back to biz as usual for these bad guys.

A small dealer came up to me at the PCGS Invitational. He told me “I support you 100%”. He told me how badly he HATES the docs and anyone who is a mule for them. He told me how he has told one dealer friend why he won’t do business with him anymore and how he shoos away the docs from buying his coins. But he was upset because he felt he has no where to speak out. I told him if he can write a letter to an editor of a publication that’s great. I also told him-his voice has already spoken and he is a HUGE help. He definitely has the “RIGHT” attitude. Just imagine if very non doc did what he did-or had his attitude. I believe he also told me he is quitting the PNG.

At this point, the PNG has PROVEN (to me, in my opinion) with out any doubt to be the most WORTHLESS organization ever formed in coins when it comes to protecting the consumer and the coins themselves. As predicted, the PNG came up with a definition of coin doctoring and then all has been quiet since. I was totally disgusted that one of the PROVEN trouble makers of the PCGS lawsuit proudly displayed his PNG flag and was set up and doing business PNG day. That is a slap to EVERYONE (from the smallest collector to the biggest dealers). Meanwhile a high ranking PNG official told me he thought I was grandstanding on these issues for publicity. That’s why nothing makes me prouder than NOT being a PNG member.

I BELIEVE THIS IS THE BACKBONE OF TODAY’S PROBLEMS

Nothing disgusts me more than how dealers-especially young dealers disrespect the coin business. I watch the brightest potential talent all lean toward being “crack out” dealers and eventually fading in to full coin doctoring. Why isn’t the PNG working to scare them straight? Why can’t they educate them that coins are a treasure that need to be carefully saved in their original form? We desperately need to break this negative attitude or in 20-30 years it is a real possibility that the % of coins that will have been messed with in as high as 50%. The docs are all about making money. They will do whatever they can to a coin to gain a profit.

All the dealers refuse to blame their buddies or are in pure denial about the issues. So many dealers tell me I am so wrong and that its the grading services who should catch the bad coins. Here is what they need to wake up too: DEALERS WHO FEEL ITS THEIR RIGHT TO VIOLATE THE GRADING SERVICES SUBMISSION CONTRACTS AND FRAUDULENTY SUBMIT “WORKED ON” COINS. Key word: FRAUD. These guys should not only be exposed, but they should be forced to pay back ALL their ill gotten gains in multiples and perform numismatic community service of retraining and supporting dealers from NOT being doctors.

THE PCGS LAWSUIT HAS STARTED TO SHOW SOME CHANGE

I was speaking with John Albanese (the founder and finalizer at CAC). He confirmed to me that the amount of “messed with” coins he has seen since the lawsuit has been seriously reduced. That’s a huge plus. But that does not mean these rats are on the run. As evidenced in a Coin World Article recently, even after the lawsuit was filed one of the defendants still had the disgusting audacity to be ready to doctor more coins. So as you can see, this is nasty and serious war against sick and greedy individuals. (more…)

Gold Confiscation Past and Present

There was a recent article posted  by David Ganz in Numismatics News titled “Protect Your Gold Against Seizure” (actually it is just the first part of a multi-part article), where several topics were discussed, not the least of which was FDR’s Executive order from April 5, 1933.

Many “Gold Bugs” in addition to just regular investors who have moved into the gold marketplace are concerned that if the economic crisis worsens, there is or might be the possibility that we could see new efforts to confiscate gold on the part of the government.

Indeed the Glen Beck-Goldine controversy with NY Congressman Anthony Weiner is in part about what Rep Weiner calls misleading statements and fear-mongering on the part of Beck and Goldline, to use the 1933 Executive order to steer buyers into numismatic coins (and common date foreign gold coins) which were exempt under the 1933 confiscation order, rather than purchasing lower margin bullion products, such as American Gold Eagles, Krugerrands and the like.

CoinLink is going to have an article about the Beck-Goldline-Weiner story next week which is sure to piss off a number of people.

Back to David Ganz’s article. There were several thing in the piece that raised our eyebrows and were just interesting.  Mr Ganz is both an attorney and a highly intelligent and insightful coin enthusiast. We always follow his articles with the highest degree of interest.

FDR Ends Gold Standard in 1933

He related that there was some disagreement on whether or not FDR’s Executive order was indeed a confiscation order, or a request for voluntary compliance in the national interest.  It is true that the police did not come knocking at the doors to take all of their gold, but we would have to disagree with Maurice Rosen’s conclusion that this was a voluntary situation. Clearly Section 9 of the Executive Order  (See full text of Executive Order 6102 below) calls for a $10,000 fine and Up to 10 Years in prison for ‘non compliance. That does not sound very  “Voluntary” to me. (more…)

The Top Ten Mint State Saints

Much has been written about the $20 Saint-Gaudens series since it is quite possibly the most popular gold coin sought after today. I’d like to discuss the rarity/value relationship of the top ten scarcest dates, in mint state condition. I will exclude the 1933 from this discussion since there is only one coin legal to own and therefore unobtainable by the majority of registry collectors. Although most coins have appreciated in value over the last 10 years, the Saint-Gaudens series has been the area of some of the biggest increases. In compiling this list, PCGS and NGC population numbers are used as a starting point as well as CDN values over the last ten years. Needless to say, population report numbers are not entirely accurate due to resubmissions; however they do still represent a high degree of accuracy. The increasing popularity of registry sets makes such analysis important for current and future collectors. (All population data is current as of 2/2/07)

#10) 1908-S:

The 1908-S has the distinction of being the lowest mintage date (22,000) in the series (aside from the 1907 $20 High Relief) Since we are focusing on mint state examples today, some would be surprised to see this date in the top ten list, however with a certified PCGS population of 121 and an NGC population of 124 in all mint state grades I rank it number 10.

Most Uncirculated coins have soft satiny luster and an adequate strike. There are a small number of heavily abraded and unattractive lower grade mint state coins which came over from Europe in the last few years. None of those coins were above MS-63 in quality. This may be the reason that the CDN bid price has not adequately reflected this date’s value over the last 3 or 4 years. For example; 1908S has a current MS-63 CDN bid of $15,500. These have been trading at auction in the last year for between $19,578 and $21,850. The latter coin I purchased out of the ANR sale in Chicago, July of last year. Needless to say I resold the coin for a profit. The relative grey sheet value of the 1908S should therefore resemble the value of other key date Saints with equal rarity and population.

One date that comes to mind is the 1926-D. The combined certified population of both dates in MS-60-62 is 139(1908-S) and 123 for the 1926-D, roughly equal, yet the 26-D trades for over twice the price of the 08-S. Moreover in MS-63 the 1908-S has a certified population of only 31 while 1926-D has certified population of 50. (more…)

Anti-Penny Video Rant . He Hates Nickels Too

Certainly it would be hard to logically justify the continued manufacture and use of the US penny from an economic standpoint.

The Penny costs 1.7 cents to produce and is worth only 1/26th of what it used to be worth when Lincoln was President.

In fact it is estimated that the US Mint loses over 70 Million dollars a year producing this denomination of US coinage.

Let us know what you think!  Is the Penny Useless? Should we get rid of it or Keep it?

Post a Comment

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Defining Coin Doctoring and Dipping, Additions to the PCGS Lawsuit Against Alleged Coin Doctors

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #17

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. The filing and re-filing of this lawsuit

Over the last forty years, especially from the late 1990s to 2006 or so, the coin collecting community has suffered from the terrible problem of coin doctoring; coins are deceptively altered for the purpose of tricking experts, particularly those employed by the PCGS and the NGC, into concluding that a coin is of higher quality than it was before it was doctored. The process of doctoring a coin reduces its level of quality and, in many (though not nearly all) cases, permanently damages the coin. Coins ranging in value from less than $50 to more than $1 million have been doctored.

In many instances, doctored coins ‘turn’ at a later time, as unintended byproducts of doctoring processes result in unsightly delayed chemical reactions or the decomposing of added matter on the doctored coins. It is not unusual for a coin doctor to deliberately harm (often permanently) a coin that grades MS-64 in order to try to deceive experts into believing that it grades MS-66.

John Feigenbaum is president of David Lawrence Rare Coins (DLRC), and has been involved in the coin business for more than twenty years. In 2004 and 2005, DLRC sold one of the fifteen greatest collections of classic (pre-1934) U.S. coins ever to be publicly auctioned. Feigenbaum says, “in general I [John] applaud PCGS for taking action on this matter, and I think they should take any and all actions in the future towards parties that are trying to slip doctored coins past them.”

In my column of June 2, I analyzed the CU-PCGS lawsuit against alleged coin doctors, which was filed in late May. I encourage readers who wish to learn about this lawsuit, its importance and its implications, to read my column of June 2nd. On Aug. 10, CU-PCGS filed a “second amended complaint” along with a new motion.

II. The basics of the lawsuit

Although technically PCGS is a subsidiary of Collectors Universe (CU) and it is CU that filed this lawsuit, the PCGS predates CU and the PCGS is the core of Collectors Universe. Further, the PCGS certifies coins. So, it is clear and helpful to refer to the plaintiff as the PCGS as the lawsuit concerns allegations that dealers deliberately submitted doctored coins to the PCGS, without disclosing intentionally added defects, for the purpose of deceiving graders at the PCGS into assigning higher grades to such coins than the coins would have merited before they were doctored. Coin doctoring, of course, reduces the grade of a coin, often to the point where the coin no longer merits a numerical grade.

The submission contract that each dealer signs to be a dealer-submitter of coins to the PCGS for grading and authentication prohibits dealer-submitters from sending in doctored coins for numerical grading. At the very least, it is argued that dealers who submit doctored coins for numerical grading have breached their respective contracts with the PCGS. Moreover, the PCGS argues in the lawsuit that such coin doctoring is in violation of several Federal and California State laws. Curiously, attorneys for the PCGS declare that conspiracies to doctor coins and submit them to the PCGS fall under RICO statutes, and are thus said by the PCGS to constitute racketeering.

Importantly, attorneys for the PCGS argue that coin doctoring is not just a civil offense, a racket and a breach of contract. Attorneys for the PCGS maintain that coin doctoring is a crime under Title “18 U.S.C §331,” which is cited in the lawsuit as follows, “Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales or lightens any of the coins minted at the mints of the United States … [or] … Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish or sell … any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled or lightened … Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years or both.” (more…)

Tips on Selling Your Coins Via Dealer Consignment

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Many retail dealers, myself included, welcome consignments from collectors. It’s a great way to increase the size of a dealer’s inventory without laying out cash and it is often an excellent source for dealers to place useful, fresh attractive coins to new or existing clients. As a potential consignor, what are some of the questions you should be asking a dealer and what are some of the expectations you should have?

1. What rate should you be paying a dealer?

I can’t speak for every dealer, so I’ll share this from a DWN perspective. I generally charge between 5 and 10% to sell a coin on consignment. I’ve heard of dealers charging more than 10% and that seems a bit on the gouge-y side. On the other hand, to expect a dealer to sell your coins for less than 5% is unreasonable unless you are talking about a very low spread item like bullion or generics (which probably shouldn’t be consigned to dealers in the first place).

2. What should my expectations be as a consignor?

Obviously, your first expectation is for the coin to sell. But there should be other expectations as well. You should expect a dealer to work hard at selling your coins. This means listing them promptly on his website, imaging them, giving them good descriptions and offering them directly (via phone or email) to existing clients. You should expect clear, concise paperwork from the dealer including a receipt stating the terms and conditions of the consignment. You should expect prompt payment with good funds. And you should expect honesty and integrity. No games, no “funny stuff.”

3. What sort of payment terms should I expect?

There is no set answer to this so, once again, I’ll share with you how I take care of payment. First of all, I am very careful to sell consigned coins to collectors or dealers who I know will pay me. There are certain dealers, for instance, whose check I absolutely will not take. I wouldn’t sell these guys any of my own coins so why would I subject a collector to the risk of “will I or won’t I get paid?” I generally pay clients for coins within a few days of being paid myself; a few days usually meaning two or three. In the case of having multiple coins on consignment from one collector, I pay them as they sell. I never wait until the end of a deal to pay the consignor and I don’t think that’s fair, unless that’s what the consignor requests.
(more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Eliasberg 1795 Eagle, Gem Oak Tree Shilling and 1806 quarter of the rarest variety!

News and Analysis:  scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #16

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Yes, there are more rarities, available in Boston this month, which should be discussed. In my columns over the last two to three months, I have covered many important rarities that sold or appeared in Boston, especially coins in the Heritage, B&M and Stack’s auctions. In my column just two weeks ago, I discussed rarities that were ‘on the floor’ at the ANA Convention in Boston, which was held from Aug. 10th to 15th. Even so, three additional coins are each extremely important in their own different and very distinctive ways.

Perhaps few collectors would be enthusiastic about all three of these, though I find all three to be intriguing. These are an Eliasberg 1795 Eagle ($10 gold coin), the gem quality Earle-Boyd-Manley Oak Tree Shilling (of colonial Massachusetts), and an 1806 quarter in Very Good condition that sold for $18,666! An expected retail price for a VG grade 1806 quarter would be in a range from $600 to $900.

I. Eliasberg 1795 $10 Gold Coin

To the best of my recollection at this moment, this Eliasberg 1795 Eagle is the second best 1795 Eagle that I have ever seen, and it has more eye appeal than the first best. Gold coins were first struck at the U.S. Mint in 1795. As the 1796 and 1797 dates, of the Bust – Small Eagle type, are much rarer, the 1795 Eagle is one of the most popular of all U.S. gold coin issues. Plus, the Eagle ($10 gold coin) was the largest denomination of all U.S. coins until 1850, and zero business strike Eagles were struck between 1804 and 1838. (Please see my columns of Aug. 18 and July 28th for comments on a Proof 1804 Eagle.) As 1795 Eagles were the first U.S. $10 coins and are of a scarce design type, collectors tend to be extremely enthusiastic about them.

Louis Eliasberg, Sr. formed the all-time greatest collection of U.S. coins. After his death, one of his sons consigned his U.S. gold coins to Bowers & Ruddy, which auctioned them in New York in Oct. 1982. This coin, which is thought to be the finest of Eliasberg’s 1795 Eagles, was later graded by the NGC as “MS-65.” At the ANA Convention in Boston, it was in Kevin Lipton’s display case. Kevin’s asking price is “$1 million”!

It was Kris Oyster who drew my attention to this 1795 Eagle. “It is just a magnificent coin, a lustrous gem,” Oyster says. “It is the best 1795 Eagle that I have ever seen. It has bold detail, frosty devices, and fantastic appeal. I [Oyster] was struck by it.” Oyster is the managing director of numismatics for DGSE, which operates stores in Texas and elsewhere. In 2007, DGSE acquired Superior Galleries, a name that is well known to coin collectors.

I (this writer) also like this 1795 Eagle, which has a terrific overall look. It is very brilliant, with strong cartwheel luster. Its soft grass green tint is particularly appealing. There are a significant number of contact marks and hairlines, most of which are not noticeable without a magnifying glass. My hunch is that it is the fourth or fifth finest known.

Originally, I had planned to compile a condition ranking for 1795 Eagles. This project, however, will have to be postponed. I wish to be contacted by those who have examined 1795 Eagles that grade MS-64 or higher. The two that the PCGS and the three that the NGC has graded MS-65 probably amount to just two to four different coins.

My guess is that the Garrett coin, the coin in the leading collection of pre-1840 gold, and the coin that is PCGS graded MS-66 are all the same 1795 Eagle. John Albanese reports that “Dave Akers submitted a beautiful 1795 Eagle” to the NGC “in the late 1980s.” I (this writer) suggest that it is the coin that the PCGS later graded MS-66. “It is just amazing,” Albanese exclaims. “We [at the NGC] were talking about for months afterwards.”

Saul Teichman attended the auctions of the Eliasberg and Garrett collections. He states that the “Garrett 1795 eagle was an awesome coin” that is (or was) similar in quality to a few superb pre-1840 Half Eagles in the Eliasberg collection, which Teichman found to be spectacular. “The Eliasberg 1795 Eagles did not strike me as being in that class. They were nice pieces but not like the Garrett coin,” Teichman relates. (more…)

Ancient Coins: Freedom of Information and New Import Restrictions sought on Greek “Cultural Property”

By Wayne Sayles – Ancient Coin Collecting Blog

Comments related to issues of cultural property management

The Freedom of Information Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966, was born from the notion that “the people” (as in each individual citizen) have a constitutional right to know how the government acts in their behalf. This is of course a democratic notion that nationalist governments do not share. One might wonder at times if it is a notion that the U.S. Government shares?

FOIA has been amended and altered in its execution by Executive Branch order or parallel legislation many times during the past 24 years. While a forest of trees have been exterminated in filling FOIA requests, the amount of information provided to the public has been a matter of constant and continuous concern and variability. What the situation boils down to, in a nutshell, is that the Executive Branch of the U.S. government releases eactly and only what it wants to release and when it wants to release it. The public often is obligated to fight in the courts for the most innocuous of details about some item or action of interest.

Filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit is an adventure in frustration—fraught with government impediments. The prosecution of a simple suit can be delayed by repeated government requests for extensions of time and the excruciatingly slow pace of the legal system in general. Then, the ultimate judgement is not always a black and white reflection of law. Political persuasion is not a stranger to the bench, and the outcome of litigation can depend, it seems, nearly as much on luck of the draw as on the merit of arguments presented. The consequence of this cumbersome review process is that the impetus for a request may well be moot by the time a judgement is rendered. The suit itself is sometimes more important, as a statement of dissatisfaction with government, and demand for accountability, than the material that might conceivably be released.

Why should any person, or organization, have to endure the trials and tribulations of litigation against their government to affirm basic rights promised by the law of the land?

The cause of this pervasive and untenable attitude of secrecy and unresponsiveness in American government is its very structure. Law is rightly regarded by the Legislative Branch as a means to assure rights and protections. Elected officials within the Executive Branch typically espouse a similar view. However, neither elected officials nor political appointees are directly involved in the execution and enforcement of law. This key, and often most important, element of any law is delegated to an army of bureaucrats that are directly responsible for that part where the rubber meets the road. The technical authority of politically appointed Secretaries and Undersecretaries, etc., means little in a world of revolving doors. Just as bureaucratic agencies can drag an issue on in the courts for years, they also can “stonewall” the most ardent elected or appointed official with relative ease and virtual impunity. The judiciary often seems, perhaps understandably, reluctant to serve as the nation’s guardian against government excess. (more…)

Coin Collecting – Set Premiums: Fact or Fiction?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

One of the things that new collectors are often told is that if they build a set, the collective value of the coins will be greater than the individual value when it is time to sell. Is this correct or is it just clever marketing hype?

I believe that the answer to this question is yes, no and maybe. Let’s take a random example of a set–Charlotte quarter eagles–and look at instances where there would or would not be a premium factor established upon completion.

There is, in theory, a clear-cut instance of when a set of Charlotte quarter eagles would gain value if it were complete. This would occur if all the coins were very high high grade and the set would be almost impossible to duplicate at any price. But what if the coins themselves are not as impressive as the plastic they reside in? I have seen sets of Charlotte quarter eagles in which all the coins were accorded very high grades by PCGS and NGC but the coins themselves were unimpressive; some were recolored while others were puttied. Among well-informed collectors of Charlotte quarter eagles there are high grade sets that are famous for having great coins and there are sets that are (in)famous for having coins that are “maxed out” and unappealing despite impressive grades.

A set of Charlotte quarter eagles might not have to be high grade to be impressive and to gain value on a completed basis. I have seen sets where all of the coins were “only” in the EF to AU range but the individual coins were gorgeous with matched natural color, nice surfaces and strikes and strong overall eye appeal. In this instance, I think a set could gain as much as 10-15% premium. The reason it would gain value is that a potential buyer would realize that in today’s market–where most Charlotte quarter eagles are stripped-n-dipped–the opportunity to acquire high quality coins is rare; and the opportunity to acquire a complete set of them is even more rare.

An instance where a “maybe” answer might have to be given is with a clearly mixed quality set. I know of a few sets of Charlotte quarter eagles where the quality is wildly uneven. There might be a common date in EF45 which isn’t very nice alongside a rare date in MS63 that is spectacular. This lends itself to a sort of numismatic version of “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Would you pay a premium for a set that had some great coins but which you knew that you would be forced to do significant upgrades on others? I think the answer has to be made on a case-by-case basis. If the highlights off the set were enough to offset the low-lights than I think a premium factor would be in order; just maybe not the 10-15% that I mentioned above.

There are other instances where I think that a set premium would be in order. I would pay a healthy premium for a set that all the coins had good pedigrees (not necessarily famous pedigrees but they may have come from good retail dealers or not-so-famous auctions that have a high regard among specialists). I would pay a premium for a set of coins that were original. And I would probably pay a premium for a set of early gold coins in which each piece was better produced than usual. (more…)

Legend Offers Suggestions on Building Sets in Coin Collecting

Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatics

There is no magic wand or crystal ball that can tell you when the coin market will turn red hot again or when prices will finally rise across the board. Until then, there are many areas you can explore that we feel have awesome potential-and are actually completable.

GOLD BUGS READ THIS:

Its very interesting that we see the masses buying Saints in MS64 and higher. People have always enjoyed the feel of bigger gold. Because of this, many Gold Type coins have been drifting and actually have come down in value. WE SUGGEST YOU BUILD AN MS64 AND HIGHER GOLD TYPE SET. You can put in it whatever you want. So buy a slight better Gold Dollar for very little premium or buy an MS65 $3 Gold piece-of which we have seen so few around recently. All Indian Gold in GEM has actually fallen recently-and they are NOT easy coins to find.

ALL PROOF BARBERS

HELLO! We KNOW these are incredible values. For years we preached about PR64’s. They have since gone up and are ok, but you can do better in the higher grades. BUY PR 65-67 coins. You can build a COMPLETE 24 coin PR Barber 10C set in 66 for UNDER $60,000.00. Or how about a PR barber Quarter set in PR65? That about $50,000.00. The beauty is the coins look great and MOST have mintage’s of UNDER 1,000 pieces. We only own maybe one or two PR Barbers total-so do NOT accuse us of manipulating pr hyping a market to our benefit!

PROOF LIBERTY NICKELS

Do a PR65/66 Set. Even a semi mixed set of them should cost SUBSTANTIALLY UNDER $25,000.00! These are beautiful coins! You can’t go to a major show and finish the set in day, but you can build a set over a few months.

PROOF TWENTY CENT SET

There are ONLY 4 coins in this set-two of which are Proof ONLY! This set supplies it all: rarity, obsolete, beauty,and affordability. A set in PR64 can be built for UNDER $25,000.00. Or, go for the BEST and do a PR66 set: $50,000.00. Its all up to your tastes and budget.

WALKERS

We have learned from our McClaren Collection that the short set of Walkers (1941 PDS-1947 PD) in MS65/66 is probably one of the most popular collected areas in all of coins. Stunning GEM MS66 Walkers can be purchased for around $225-$275.00. Even the rare 1941S PCGS MS66 will only cost you $2,250.00 or so.

OUR ALL TIME FAVORITE RECOMMENDATION:

Build a Type set. A Type set is a representative of a series. It can contain the 50C 1905 PCGS MS68 we recently bought and sold for over $135,000.00, or it can contain an MS66 PL Morgan for $225.00. You simply pick the BEST examples you can afford and like. By building a Type set, opportunity does NOT pass by you. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The rise in the number of collectors of rare U.S. coins and the importance of the PCGS & the NGC

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #15

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Today’s topic relates to the number of people who collect rare or scarce U.S. coins, and, at least once in a while, spend more than $1000 on a single coin. The number of such collectors has grown tremendously since around 1998.

At various times since Sept. or Oct. 2008, a substantial number of collectors have stopped buying, not because of lack of interest, but rather because of their own personal financial circumstances. After all, in the middle of 2008, a rather severe recession began that negatively affected almost everyone. Further evidence of my point regarding the increase in numbers and in interest of coin collectors is found in the fact that rare U.S. coins went down in value to a much lesser extent than almost all other categories of assets.

There has only been a modest amount of attrition since coin markets peaked during the first seven to eight months of 2008. (Please see my remarks about coin markets in the following articles: O’Neal’s Eagles – Part1, Part 2; Queller’s Patterns; August 2009 Market Report – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3; and my Review of the Jan. 2010 Platinum Night event.)

Why is there is a reason to put forth such points now? After all, I could, and had planned to, write more about the terrific coins that I saw at the ANA Convention in Boston. (Please click to read last week’s column.) Unfortunately, very recently, in a print publication (CW), a widely recognized commentator (QDB) has put forth a theory that most “serious” collectors are well over fifty years old and that the number of coin collectors has not been increasing. This poorly reasoned theory needs to be addressed.

I. Young Adults and Coin Conventions

Without research, it can be logically deduced that most young adult collectors do not have the time to attend many first tier coin conventions or expos. Further, because of the growth of the Internet and other advances in technology, there is less to be gained, than before, by attending major conventions, though I still recommend attending them. If a majority of the collector-buyers at major events, like the ANA and FUN Conventions, are over the age of fifty, this does NOT prove that a majority of collectors who are seriously interested in expensive U.S. coins are over the age of fifty.

It should be obvious that most collectors between the ages of seventeen and fifty just do not have the time to attend ANA or FUN Conventions, or Long Beach Expos. Surely, many young adults in their twenties, thirties and forties, are busy with their careers and/or busy running their own businesses. A lot of people work ten hours a day to further their business or occupational pursuits, especially many of those collectors who spend more than $1000 per coin. It is also true that collectors in their twenties or thirties may be focused on their respective families.

In general, it is unrealistic to expect a thirty-three year old entrepreneur to be staying up at night thinking about locating a Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollar, completing a set of Three Cent Nickels, or assembling a type set of Proof Liberty Head gold coins. Of course, there is an occasional thirty-three year old, very affluent collector who devotes ten to twenty hours a week to studying coin related materials and to building his coin collection. Clearly, though, few thirty-something collectors will have the time to attend ANA or FUN Conventions. Therefore, QDB and also Doug Winter are correct in that collectors in the fifty to eighty year old range are more likely to engage in BOTH spending on rarities and extensive travel to coin events. It is indisputable, however, that there are many unseen coin collectors in their twenties, thirties and forties. (more…)

Boston ANA Show Report by Bill Shamhart

William Shamhart, Jr. – Numismatic Americana

After months of anticipation and preparation, the ANA’s annual World’s Fair of Money in Boston is over. And while there are always little details that could use a little more attention, I must say that the staff of the ANA produced a convention that blew me away. Many show reports have been written about this year’s ANA, and I sure many more are to come, so let me get to the “meat” of this one:

Bourse floor:

Held on the second floor, actually third if you count the street level, it was set up into two rooms. I have never been a fan of spitting up the bourse floor of a show for many reasons; yet this year’s show seemed to work. Christine’s and my table was in the “main” room, centrally located. We picked this table for a reason. And it worked. Most collectors had no problem finding us (especially if they use the great program the ANA put together). It didn’t hurt that it was on a major thorough-fair into the next room either. Many collectors/dealers stopped at our table, and it was great to see many familiar faces and finally meet so many of our customers in person. The aisles were wide enough so that there weren’t any major traffic jams. This is great, especially in a room where most if not all the attendees had briefcases or rolling carts in tow. I’m sure that the ANA took this into consideration when they decided to use two rooms. I personally think it was a smart move. The only downside to this that I saw was that many of the collectors/dealers never made it into the other room! Seriously! There was more than enough quality material in either room to have a stand alone show in itself.

Bourse floor sales:

Collectors
After 30+ years of attending ANA summer shows, I can say without a doubt that this was our (my) best one to date for collector sales. I can attribute this to many factors, but one stands at the top. Christine Monk. She has been in the business for nearly twenty years and has met many, many collectors during that time. Collectors I knew by sight, but had never met in person. They came up and congratulated her on her new position, chatted like old friends, sat down, looked at coins, talked coins, and walked away with many new purchases. That was what drew me to this hobby as a child, and has kept me in it throughout my adult life. In Boston, Christine reminded me of this. Thanks Chris!

At the top of the list of what was selling was U.S. Commemoratives. I always knew that this series had a great following, and in Boston I saw it in person. Don’t be fooled though. Not all commems, or any coin for that matter, are equal (no matter what the label in the holders says). The coins we sold had that little something special that I always talk about going for them. Abundant luster, wild color, or outstanding eye appeal is and was needed. This doesn’t apply only to Commems though. Every coin we sold had to have it. (more…)