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

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

All Posts Tagged With: "CAC"

Laura Sperber: 2010 IN REVIEW-MY VISION

EVERYTHING WRITTEN HERE IS THE SOLE OPINION OF THE AUTHOR.

2010

What a year it was. We saw gold hit a new record and the stock market made a semi come back. The coin market had what I would call a turbulent but productive year. Prices did not go up as much as good coins weren’t being drowned by dreck anymore. There actually has been a small influx of new collectors.

It was also great year in the sense of we dragged certain taboo subjects (like gradeflation, coin doctoring, etc) through the mud and brought them out in the publics eye in the nick of time. While the bad guys all have been pissed off, it unquestionably has given the collecting public a better feeling and renewed sense we can self police ourselves and that some of the “leadership” of the hobby does indeed care. Consumer confidence is critical to having coins rise in value and maintaining a healthy marketplace.

I do NOT regret saying or doing what I did to help make coins and the coin market a better place.

COIN DOCTORING

Exposing how bad the coin doctoring issue had become, was by far the MOST important POSITIVE thing to have happened. Had everyone just kept their heads turned and let these criminals rape coins and the coin market, it would have killed the hobbies future.

PCGS took a heroic lead in firing off a lawsuit with absolute hard evidence against a small crew. Other coin small to mid size docs took notice and are running scared. Now, PCGS is coming out with even more sophisticated technology to catch these guys and hopefully make them stop forever. I knew this was a critical problem when the Kutasi Collection of $10’s and $20’s was sold a few years ago and the putty was so thick on many coins sometimes you could not see all the details! I do not regret standing up and speaking out about this subject when it was really taboo to do so. Just passing on a coin certainly was not stopping the doctors fromtheir reign of destruction. In my opinion, destroying a coin should be considered a full criminal act. These low lifes are taking away the few pieces of original history we have and are slowly ruining our enjoyment of collecting. They deserve to be harshly punished and shamed.

The grading services are definately doing their share to work on the problem, however I am disgusted with so many retail dealers who will not speak out. No, its not just the lame PNG (next topic), but the dealers who want to be your friends, the ones who can’t grade for crap, or have huge web sites. They are greedy cowards in my book, worth no more than the bad slabs they sell. There needs to be a shake out of these people.

I know there is still a long, long way to go in this fight. A few major firms who still employee doctors are still quietly practicing thinking they are just too big to tackle. I believe in 2011 they will be exposed and will fall. Its a matter of compiling more evidence. They certainly have been frustrasted at the very least in 2010. At least this issue is moving forward and not backwards. I hope this year to get more people speaking out. EVERY voice is important-no matter what size collector you are! (more…)

Thoughts on the Simpson Dime Sale

By Jason Feldman – The E-Gobrecht

The Simpson dimes were being broken up. [ Heritage Long Beach Sale #1144] This would be a great opportunity to upgrade dimes in an advanced Seated Dime collection. The big problem was there were so many coins that few buyers would be able to purchase them all and no one did surface who did. Even more amazing are some of the coins left in the collection like a MS66 1844 Dime. Legend (Numismatics) has made available to me so many wonderful dimes that news of this sale created euphoria.

It would come as no surprise that most of the coins were either crossed over to PCGS at the same or in many cases a lower grade. Seeing the secure plus holders and Simpson pedigree would make this obvious. There was a lot bidding research needed prior to bidding. There were cases where buying too many coins early would limit the ability to chase coins later. One the highlights of the sale being a simply gorgeous 1872-S, I was not the only one to think so as the coin went to the moon.

One of my regrets of the sale was not being able to purchase the 1845-O dime in mint state. This is a very rare opportunity indeed but as a rule if you set a maximum bid and exceed it by 10% you have to know to stop. Being the under bidder was really not satisfying and maybe a higher bid was warranted. Another highlight of the sale was a gem 1860-S. Prior to the sale, Laura (of Legend Numismatics) and I spoke as to where the coin would sell. It was another on my short list. I think we both underestimated the demand for this coin. It went far over preauction estimates but I don’t doubt it to be well worth the hammer price $40,250. A nice return on investment considering one sold for roughly $7,000 in 1994.

One of the interesting notes about these coins is how many were not picked up by Seated Dime registry collectors but rather a just collectors and dealers. I know one dealer picked up roughly 10% of the coins and most all have been sold. There were many bargains in this sale too. Mostly the coins following the Simpson dimes went too cheap. One example is an 1858-O is a MS64 PCGS holder population 1 with 8 finer sold for just under $3,000 while the Simpson PCGS MS65 population 7 with one finer soared to $9,200. With the grade covered it was not really possible to call either coin much better than the other.

Some of the real steals in the Simpson collection came in the coins in NGC holders. The obvious assumption is these are coins that on a given day did not cross over at PCGS. A good many of them did regrade at NGC. In the case of the ultra-rare 1853-O MS64 the coin was simply overgraded. The coin did have a wonderful and original look to it but just had too many marks to be graded higher than MS62 in my opinion. The coin could easily be traced back with little effort to its previous holder. In general the ultra high grade trophy coins were the ones hitting the moon. Clearly one of two mint state 1845-O Dimes should be worth more than a other coins that sold in the low $20,000’s. This was a sale where knowledge was king. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The B&M Auction of the Malibu Collection of Standing Liberty Quarters

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #27

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. The Malibu Collection

In Baltimore, on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010, B&M auctioned the ‘Malibu’ collections of Standing Liberty Quarters (SLQs), Liberty Seated Halves and Liberty Seated Dollars. Though I have a strong affinity for Liberty Seated coins, I will focus here on this collector’s Standing Liberty Quarters (SLQs), as his set of SLQs is phenomenal.

Since the collector who formed the Malibu collection wishes to remain anonymous, Malibu will be employed here as the code name of this collector and of his collections of specific series. All the Malibu collections auctioned in Novembers were of business strikes. In January, B&M will auction the Malibu collections of Proof Liberty Seated Quarters and Liberty Seated Halves, in Tampa, just prior to the winter FUN Convention.

II. Malibu SLQ Registry Set

Among the collections that Malibu has formed so far, the Malibu set of Standing Liberty Quarters (SLQs) is the most famous. In the category of “Basic” sets of Standing Liberty Quarters with Full Heads on Miss Liberty, the Malibu collection is the second “All-Time Finest” in the PCGS registry.

All of the quarters in Malibu’s set have a ‘Full Head’ designation from the PCGS, and the FH indicator is best referred to as part of the grade, though it is technically a designation that is considered separately from the numerical grade. An MS65FH SLQ is generally considered to be ‘of a higher grade’, so to speak, then an MS-65 grade SLQ of the same date with a weakly struck head, which is typical for most dates of SLQs. For some SLQ issues, only a very small percentage of those struck have a full head (FH).

In the PCGS registry, the Malibu Collection of Standing Liberty Quarters (SLQs) has a weighted grade point average of “67.92.” Relatively scarce SLQs are weighed more than relatively less scarce dates. The rules of the PCGS registry provide for “bonus points” that are awarded to SLQs with FH designations.

The sixth “All-Time Finest” Basic SLQ set in the PCGS registry was formed by Pat McInally, who was the lead punter for the Cincinnati Bengals during the football seasons from 1976 to 1985. In 1977, 1978 and 1980, he caught a significant number of passes. In the NFL, it is very unusual for a punter to also be a regular receiver. McInally’s SLQ set had a “Weighted GPA” of “67.59.” While “67.59” not nearly as high as the “Weighted GPA” of the Malibu SLQ set, “67.92,” it is impressive. Also, Malibu’s set is the #2 SLQ set in the NGC registry as well, though Malibu did not fully update his listing in the NGC registry and some SLQs that were just auctioned are not listed.

Both the PCGS and the NGC registries provide the most weight to the scarcest dates. Generally, the 1916, the 1918/7-S and the 1927-S are the queens of the SLQ series, closely followed by the 1923-S and then the 1921. The 1919-D and the 1919-S are very rare with a FH, but not rare without. The 1920-S SLQ issue is also relatively rare with a FH.

In the PCGS registry, the “Basic” SLQ sets do not include the 1918/7-S overdate, though the ‘variety’ SLQ sets do. It seems that, according to the PCGS, the 1918/7-S is the only ‘major variety’ in the SLQ series. In my view, the 1918/7-S is an overdate that has the status of a distinct date; it should not be referred to as a ‘major variety.’

In any event, Malibu’s set is ‘100% FH’ in accordance with the rules for ‘Basic’ sets of SLQs in the PCGS registry. The #1 SLQ set is ‘91.89% Full Head’ because three SLQs in the set, including a 1927-S, lack a FH. The Malibu SLQ set is thus the “All-Time Finest” in the PCGS registry that is ‘100% FH.’ Indeed, on the PCGS ‘all-time’ list of Basic sets of SLQs, the Malibu set is one of only five sets that are both ‘100% Complete’ and ‘100% FH’! (more…)

What Gold Coins Do CAC Stickers Add the Most Value to?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

After two+ years of being traded on the open market, I think few collectors and dealers would argue the statement that CAC stickering has added considerable value and liquidity to many types of United States gold coinage. But are we now able to determine with a decent degree of accuracy which coins are most affected by a CAC (or the absence of a sticker)? Let’s take a look at some areas of the gold coin market and see how CAC is adding value.

One of the areas that CAC has added the greatest amount of value is in the St. Gaudens double eagle market. The impact is seen two ways. The first is with common “generic” issues in MS65 and MS66. One of the main reasons why the premium for non-CAC certified MS65 Saints is so low when compared to MS64 coins is that most of the coins in MS65 holders are not significantly better than those graded MS64.

What CAC has done is to identify those coins graded MS65 that are nice quality and which are “real” 65’s. Currently, non-CAC Saints in MS65 trade for around $2,300. Those with CAC stickers are worth at least 10-15% more. They are also quite liquid and can be sold even when dealers have extensive numbers of non-CAC coins in stock. Non-CAC MS66 Saints are currently worth around $2,750-2,850 per coin. The premium for MS66 Saints with CAC stickers is at least $750-1,000 per coin. Given the fact that the stickered MS66 coins I have seen are very nice (as compared with the non-stickered coins which range from inferior for the grade to decent) this premium makes sense.

Another area where CAC stickered coins are selling for a significant premium is in the better date Saint market. Let me pick a random issue: the 1927-S in MS64. This coin has a current bid of $70,000 in this grade and a bona-fide Gem is worth double this. The quality of 1927-S double eagles varies greatly and there are coins that are very low end and hard to sell for $55,000 and coins that are very high end and worth over bid. I can’t recall having ever seen a 1927-S in MS64 with a CAC sticker but if I had a PCGS/CAC coin that I liked I’d quote $75,000+.

Early gold (i.e. gold coins struck from 1795 to 1834) is area that has shown itself to be influenced by CAC stickers. I don’t like every single piece of CAC-stickered early gold that I see but I like at least 90% of the coins. Compare this to non-CAC early gold where probably 50-60% (or more) of the coins offered at auction or through dealer’s websites are not, in my opinion, nice for the grade. I find this to be especially true with early gold in the MS63 and MS64 grades. As an example, an 1812 half eagle in MS64 with a CAC sticker is currently worth around $40,000. The same coin in the same grade that is not stickered and which is not a CAC-quality coin, in my opinion, might be hard to sell for $32,500. More and more collectors of coins like this are demanding that they be CAC stickered and the premium for the pieces that have the Green Bean is at least 10-15% and climbing.

Because so many Proof gold coins have been doctored over the years, CAC-stickered pieces are currently garnering high premiums. This is more so with Matte Proofs than Brilliant Proofs. I can’t remember seeing more than a few Matte Proof gold coins in the last two years that weren’t doctored to the point that they weren’t even the right color. When the few remaining fresh pieces come onto the market, they realize strong prices. As an example, Stack’s just sold at auction a lovely 1913 Matte Proof gold set. All four coins were CAC stickered and all four brought exceptional prices. I see similarly graded washed-out NGC Matte Proof gold from time to time and it brings Greysheet prices or lower; these superb, vibrant Gems brought numbers that were way over “sheet.” (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The CoinFest, Washlady Dollar, 1861-O $20 gold coin, Connecticut Coppers

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #25

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. The CoinFest

The fourth annual CoinFest was held in Stamford (CT) from Oct. 28th to Oct. 30th. For the first time, Heritage conducted the official CoinFest auction and this auction was very successful. Below, I discuss specific coins that were sold in the auction. Also, the exhibit of Gerry Fortin‘s collection of Liberty Seated dimes added luster to the CoinFest. Listings of Fortin’s dimes may be seen in the PCGS and NGC registries.

In my view, bourse floor displays and trading activity were much more impressive at the second and third CoinFest events, in 2008 and 2009. This is partly because the scheduling of the show was then better. This year’s event was just too close to the better established Baltimore Expo and related auction events. Lot viewing in Baltimore for a Stack’s auction started less than forty-eight hours after CoinFest closed. More importantly, this year’s security policies at CoinFest were just too aggressive.

A lot of collectors who attend coin shows do not know that a particular show’s owners are nice people, and, whether a show’s owners are nice or not, collectors often do not wish to be placed on mailing lists or on any other kind of list. Over the last ten years, it has become common for marketing firms and other firms to keep relatively secret databases regarding consumers and to trade such information. Adults certainly should not have to reveal their home addresses or their ages. A list owned by nice people may be sold to nasty people in the future, or stolen by computer hackers.

Indeed, collectors should be able to anonymously attend coin shows. They should have the right not to be bothered and the right not to have their personal information scrutinized. Like identity theft, an individual’s privacy can be invaded without him knowing about it.

Collectors who attend coin shows know that they are likely to be video recorded, which is a sufficient deterrent for wrongdoing, and video recording should be the limit to privacy invasions. The very rare attendee who causes trouble because of severe psychiatric problems is not going to be deterred by aggressive security policies. Moreover, a criminal who is planning to follow dealers from the show is certainly not going to attend the show and be video recorded. Such a criminal will wait outside or use binoculars from a distance.

Aggressive security policies do more harm than good, and when collectors tell their collecting friends about such policies, coin show attendance drops. Besides, I strongly recommend that a collector who attends a coin show keep his driver’s license in his car or in a hotel safe (as people often do with passports in Europe). If a collector is robbed after walking from a coin show, he would not wish for the thief to get his driver’s license, too, which could lead to problems more serious than a loss of a few coins.

Coin show personnel, security or otherwise, should not be asking collectors for ID or pressuring people to reveal their home addresses. Before a few years ago, this was never done at a coin show, for good reason.

II. Washlady Silver Dollar

The Washlady Dollar is one of the most famous of all U.S. pattern issues. In 1879, there were also minted Washlady dimes, quarters and half dollars. These designs were considered and never adopted for regular U.S. coinage. Though the Washlady patterns are of silver denominations, these were struck in copper as well. Copper is much less expensive than silver. On Oct. 29, Heritage auctioned one of the finest known Washlady Dollars in silver. (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…)

Five Things You Can Do to Make Your Coins Worth More

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

If you have been collecting rare coins for more than a few years, there is a good chance that you have “found money” in your holdings. What I mean by this is that there are a number of things that you can do–often with little or no cost–that can significantly improve the appearance and value of your coins. Here are five suggestions:

1. Send Your Coins to CAC. CAC is now well established as an important factor in the high-end segment of the market. In certain areas, CAC coins trade for a nice premium and there is no doubt in my mind that a CAC sticker makes a coin more marketable. Submitting a coin to CAC is very inexpensive; typically just $10 to $20 per item. Another thing that’s nice about submitting coins to CAC is that you are getting an expert’s opinion (in this case John Albanese) for next to nothing. You might try sending a sample of your five best coins to CAC. If you get CAC approval on all five coins, you know you are doing something right. If only one or two get the coveted “green bean” then you can assume that the dealer you are buying from needs to be replaced.

2. Attribute Your Coins. Let’s say that you are a date collector of early half eagles. It makes sense to purchase the Bass-Dannreuther book on early gold to attribute all your coins to “BD” numbers. You might get lucky and find that one of the coins that you own is a very rare die variety. This isn’t necessarily an immediate financial upgrade, as it would be in a series like Bust half dollars or Large cents which are avidly collected by variety. But wouldn’t you rather keep the potential financial upgrade for yourself than to read on page three of Coin World how some lucky collector just cherry-picked an excessively rare variety of 1806 half eagle? Also, if PCGS or NGC attributes varieties in the series you collect and you find a good variety, have it marked on the slab.

3. Pedigree Your Coins. If you have a coin from a famous collection like Bass, Garrett, Eliasberg or Norweb, a pedigree can add value. Some coins from these collection are clearly marked on the PCGS or NGC insert. But there are hundreds of others that have “lost” their pedigree for one reason or another. I’d suggest that you purchase all of the major auction catalogs in the area that you specialize in and spend a few hours searching through them. Your coin(s) may have a different appearance than they did in an earlier sale, but if they have an obvious mark this will make it easy to trace them. If a great pedigree is easy to prove, send the coin along with a xerox of the catalog page to PCGS or NGC.

4. Reslab Your Coins. Please note that I didn’t say “regrade” your coins. That’s another subject entirely and one that, if you have coins in old green label or “fatty” holders, I do not necessarily think will add value to your coins. What I mean by “reslabbing” is that many coins are in holders that show severe scuffing, wear, or dullness. A great coin can look just so-so if the holder it’s in doesn’t present itself well. I know this sounds a little hokey but its no different than deep-cleaning your house when you get ready to sell it. If all of your coins are in pretty, fresh slabs it is going to make your coins look nicer. (more…)

All-Time Greatest Collection of Barber Half Dollars to be Auctioned in Boston, Part 1

by Greg Reynolds

On Wed., Aug 11, during the Platinum Night event of the Summer 2010 ANA auction in Boston, the all-time greatest collection of Barber Half Dollars will be auctioned. This set was assembled and consigned by Dr. Steven Duckor.

I. Overview

Here in part 1, I will introduce Dr. Duckor’s collection, mention the last two coins that were added, focus on his 1904-S half, and discuss the evolution of his set of Barber halves. In part 2, the historical and cultural importance of this set will be analyzed, along with references to other landmark sets of Barber Halves, including those of Thaine Price, Louis Eliasberg and the Norweb family. Plus, there will be some additional information in at least one of my Wednesday morning columns. Please read tomorrow’s column.

All of Dr. Duckor’s coins are authenticated, graded, and encapsulated by the Professional Coin Grading Service. During the Spring, the entire set was re-evaluated by the PCGS under the new SecurePlus™ program. Twenty-seven of Duckor’s halves received plus grades, Duckor himself reports, and “one coin fully upgraded to the next grade.”

In accordance with the rules of the PCGS registry, Duckor’s primary set has a “weighted” grade point average of “66.776.” With inclusion of the rare and recognized 1892 Micro O variety, his GPA drops a little to “66.72” The second ‘current finest’ set is owned by Dr. Peter Shireman and it is third on the “all-time” list. My guess, though, is that the Thaine Price collection is superior to that of Shireman. In accordance with current grading criteria, some of Price’s coins would merit higher grades than these received in the 1990s.

I am not referring to Dr. Duckor’s set of Barber Half Dollars as the ‘all-time’ best because it is the number one “All-Time Finest” in the PCGS registry, though this is so. I am referring to it as the greatest collection of business strike Barber Halves of all time because it is superior to any other, better than those that were disbursed before the PCGS was founded, and better than those that include a mix of PCGS and NGC certified coins. I have spent considerable time researching and analyzing the topic of business strike Barber Half Dollars.

Actually, so few collectors have even attempted to assemble gem quality, complete sets of business strike Barber Halves, it was not that difficult to determine that the Duckor collection is the greatest of all time. References to other sets of Barber Halves are central to an understanding of Dr. Duckor’s set. In terms of the culture of coin collecting, Dr. Duckor’s set of Barber Halves is perhaps the most important collection to be auctioned in Boston this August, even though tens of millions of dollars worth of rare coins, including several wonderful collections, will be sold.

Unfortunately, I am not able here to extensively discuss many of the individual Barber Halves in the collection. The objectives of this two-part series are to explain the importance of this set, to provide information about its evolution, to relate it to other sets of Barber Halves, and to discuss the meaning of this set in the context of the history and traditions of coin collecting in the United States. I will mention a few specific Barber Halves in my weekly columns, starting tomorrow.

Mark Borckardt, surely, did an admirable job of cataloguing Dr. Duckor’s coins. I strongly recommend that collectors read the catalogue. Even collectors who cannot afford these halves will find the catalogue to be educational and interesting. In order to understand the coins that a collector possesses, it is necessary for him or her to learn about coins that are not affordable. (more…)

Legend Market Report – THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

Even though it was very volatile, the first half of 2010 was pretty amazing in the coin market. Gold hit an all time record price in excess of $1,200.00. A new “worlds most expensive coin” was crowned when the 1794 $1 PCGS MS66 sold for $7,850,00.00. We witnessed many coins hit record price levels at auction. And the hobby took several huge steps forward to self police itself (we still have a long way to go in that area). In all, we saw a lot of positive events happening.

THE SECOND HALF

We’re going to step out on a limb with a bold prediction. The second half of 2010 will be the strongest on record barring any major catastrophes or gold suddenly taking a prolonged plunge.

We can say that with total confidence from being a real “insider’ in the marketplace. If you thought that hamburger ad from years ago: “wheres the beef?” was dramatic, then just watch as time goes on and EVERYONE asks, “where are the coins”?. Right now there are many series we could not start or even finish MS64 or higher sets in. Gone are the days when we’d be offered one or two truly GEM Bust halves or rare high grade Morgans at a show. Rare gold? First, you have to wade through all the dreck to find the nice properly graded coins. Even then you won’t find many that are truely rare. Demand is not slowing one bit. The hobbies standards have changed back to the original ones that meant a GEM is a GEM.

To set the momentum, we believe that this years Boston ANA Show will be the BEST SHOW EVER. There has not been one held there since 1982-and that was a great show. Pent up demand in the area sure will help. People forget, back in the last 60’s-late 70’s, Boston had been the heart of numismatics. There are still many great collectors and incredible collections hidden up there. Plus, it seems everyone knows someone who lives there. We have heard of far more people going to attend than last years disaster in LA.

The coin market is actually quite healthy. Supply does NOT exceed demand. And demand is not weak. We think a small problem that does exist (and always has) is the fact no matter how many time you tell people, the coin market is NOT like the stock market. Yes, it is volatile on a short term basis, but you can not expect it do rise 10-15% every year. In reality, coins are a VERY long term hold. Even we have said 5 years, but realistically, its more like 10+ to feel the full effects. Just study the great old time collections. They put coins away for 30+ years and they blew away all other investment returns when they sold. The better the collector, the better the return.

Our optimism is not a case of a dealer hyping the market. In case you haven’t noticed, Legends customer base is affluent and can buck market trends easily, so we do not need to hype anyone or anything for sales. We see what really goes on and we report it to you like it is. The first half of 2010 we unexpectedly had RECORD sales. In June alone we SOLD $10,000,000.00! That’s a real number. In fact, in a few weeks (before the ANA Show) we will be making the first of SEVERAL major announcements concerning major acquisitions or sales we have done recently. If we could find the coins (we’re not even talking about the big game trophy stuff), our sales would be $20,000,000.00 immediately!

GOLD

Geez is this market crazy. The swings gold has taken recently have even stumped the group we call “forever gold bugs” (if gold is up-they say it will never stop going up, if its down, they buy all they can). We have still seen the bottom line of the large players continuing to stay their courses and buy. In the recent Heritage FUN Auction, ALL MS66 CAC $20 Saints sold for $3,750.00-$4,000.00. In fact, ALL CAC gold sold WELL ABOVE the current levels. You know it was not dealers buying the coins (for a fact we know of TWO MAJOR groups who are buying ONLY CAC MS65 or better generic-semi-generic gold). The quality DOES indeed make a huge difference in the case of gold coins. These days its easy to tell why one MS66 Saint is $2,700.00 while the others sell for $3,750.00 or more! Do NOT think for a minute the cheaper one is a bargain-we have a saying, “sometimes cheap is not cheap enough”.
(more…)

Heritage adds CAC Population Data to Rare Coin Auction Archives

A very quick way to measure a coin’s rarity is to look at how many coins of a particular date have been graded by the major grading services. Three figures are key as a rule of thumb in determining rarity:

  • The population of a coin in a particular grade, which shows how difficult the coin might be to replace exactly
  • The population of a coin in all higher grades, which shows how difficult a coin might be to upgrade
  • The population of a coin in all grades, which shows how difficult a coin might be to find at all.

The first two figures above are often written in shorthand. For example, a coin with a population of 100/4 has 100 known in the same grade and four known in higher grades. A coin with a population of 1/0 is the finest known to the grading service that certified it.

One of the features that has long been available on the Heritage Web site listings and archives HA.com/Coins are population reports. PCGS and NGC keep track of every coin they grade, and Heritage is generous enough to post this information, in condensed form, on the web page for every US coin.

Now, Heritage has added the CAC population data to it’s population listings.

As an example, the table you see here covers an 1911-D $20 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle, graded MS65 (in this case by NGC). Under the header “Population”, you can see that the PCGS Population Report shows 1731 1911-D $20 Saints with an MS65 grade, NGC Census figures show 1831 similar coins and CAC has stickered 130.
(more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The PCGS Lawsuit Against Alleged Coin Doctors

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #3

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

Welcome to the third installment of my column. I had planned to write more about auctions and about current demand for rare Liberty Seated coins. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the most important lawsuit in the history of coin collecting: The PCGS lawsuit against six named individuals and other not yet named individuals regarding coin doctoring is pathbreaking and earth shattering.

Even if the PCGS does not prevail on all points or against all defendants, the educational value of this suit, and the impact that it will have on coin doctors, goes way beyond the fate of these defendants. For legal reasons, I will not comment on the defendants in this suit. I am asserting that a significant number of coin doctors who are not defendants will be discouraged by this lawsuit from doctoring coins.

The PCGS SecurePlus™ program, which was inaugurated in March 2010, also discourages coin doctoring. For some discussion of the ‘plus’ aspect of the program and my idea as to how the NGC can discourage coin doctoring, please see last week’s column.

Under the SecurePlus™ program, submitted coins are scanned, for purposes of identification, with CoinAnalyzer devices. The PCGS will be able to identify each scanned coin if it is submitted to the PCGS again in the future, and, when a match is found, the submitted coin will be closely compared to an image of the same coin that was taken when it was previously submitted. Changes in the appearance of each matched coin will be investigated. The positive effects of the SecurePlus program, though, will build very gradually over a period of many years. This lawsuit will be extremely effective at discouraging coin doctoring in the near future.

Four years ago, when coin doctoring was rampant in the dealer community, had PCGS officials threatened a coin doctor with a lawsuit, the coin doctor probably would have figured that PCGS officials were bluffing. I am almost certain that this is the first time that a grading service has sued some of its dealer-members for submitting coins that are allegedly doctored and misrepresented.

Now, if PCGS officials threaten a coin doctor with a lawsuit unless he stops submitting doctored coins to the PCGS, the threatened individual is likely to take the threat very seriously and believe that the PCGS might actually follow through with a suit. Yes, I realize that not every coin doctor will be deterred by the threat of a lawsuit. Most will be deterred, at least to an extent. (more…)

Certified Acceptance Corp (CAC) to Maintain Strict Coin Grading Standards

Change may be in the air at one or more coin grading services, but dealers, collectors and investors will find business as usual at Certified Acceptance Corp. (CAC).

That’s the company’s message to the hobby in the wake of reports that at least one of the two largest grading services is considering the establishment of “premium-quality” grade designations.

CAC examines and evaluates coins that have been certified by either the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America (NGC). It then affixes a distinctive green sticker to the holder of each coin which, in its judgment, fully merits the grade that was assigned. Each sticker incorporates a tamper-evident hologram.

According to Albanese, CAC will continue to evaluate submissions, and determine whether to award stickers to those coins, strictly in the context of the basic numerical grades assigned by either PCGS or NGC. He said it will disregard any additional descriptive words or symbols.

“We don’t want buyers and sellers to get the impression that by stickering a coin, CAC is confirming someone else’s ‘PQ’ designation,” Albanese said.

CAC makes a market in coins that it has stickered, and its disregard of PQ-type designations will be reflected in its buying and selling prices.

“For example, CAC’s bid price for an 1892-O Barber quarter graded MS65 is $1,150,” Albanese said. “If the coin was graded PQ and had a CAC sticker, our buy price would remain the same – $1,150. If it had a star plus our sticker, we’d still pay $1,150. And if it came with an asterisk or a rainbow or a halo, we’d still pay $1,150 – as long as it had a sticker.”

Since opening for business in late 2007, CAC has received more than 144,000 submissions from member dealers and collectors, and has awarded green stickers to just over 68,000 of these. The declared insurance value of these coins totals about $800 million.

To date, the company has bought and sold CAC-stickered coins with a wholesale trading volume of nearly $150 million.
(more…)

20th Century Gold Club Holds Fascinating Meeting During FUN Convention

By Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

I. Introduction to the Club and this Meeting

On Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010, the 20th Century Gold Club conducted their fifth meeting at a hotel near the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando where the January FUN Convention was held. In the field of choice and rare U.S. coins, the annual Winter FUN Convention is one of the leading events of the year.

This club is private, small, exclusive, and sophisticated. I am honored to have been invited to attend. Moreover, I feel privileged to have the cooperation of the founders for the purpose of writing about the proceedings and communicating the educational and other purposes of this club to coin enthusiasts at large. Some of the presentations and discussions at the event were truly fascinating and the enthusiasm of the members for coins filled the atmosphere. The event was stimulating and fun.

The current president, Jay Brahin, directed the meeting. The speakers were David Hall, John Albanese and John Dannreuther. David Hall is the primary founder of the PCGS and he is currently the CEO of its parent company. Hall is an expert in early 20th century U.S. gold coins.

Hall spoke about the new PCGS program of identifying coins that each have a market value of $1 million or more, the “Million Dollar Club.” I asked if coins in museums are included, and I was surprised that they are with rather specific estimated values. I also asked why the two unique 1797 Half Eagles in the Smithsonian are not on the list. Reportedly, these two 1797s are the only known survivors of two different, readily apparent varieties. Additionally, Hall voiced intriguing comments regarding PCGS estimates of the values of 1933 Double Eagles.

In the second part of David Hall’s presentation, he introduced the results of research at the PCGS regarding the market values in 1970 of Saint Gaudens Double Eagles. The tricky part of such research is determining how specific coins in 1970 have or would be later graded by the PCGS, so price appreciation of specific dates in specific grades can be tracked and analyzed. Though David Akers voiced a critical remark or two regarding such values, most of the members of the club were impressed by the data and astonished by how low the prices were for such terrific coins in 1970. As an aside, note that Dr. Duckor has long argued that gem quality, better-date early 20th century gold coins were not really appreciated until the 1980s. One of the purposes of the club is to bring about a greater appreciation of early 20th century gold coins. (more…)

Platinum Night was Golden; Bellwether Sale Sparks Markets for U.S. Coin Rarities

By Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

I. Introduction & Overview

In 2010, the annual FUN Platinum Night event was held on Thursday, Jan. 7. It is just one session in Heritage’s annual auction extravaganza, which is conducted in association with the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Convention in Orlando. During this one night, however, an incredible selection of U.S. gold coins was offered. The total prices realized for Platinum Night alone was more than $25 million. The most famous coin in the sale is the Olsen-Hawn 1913 Liberty Nickel, which realized about $3.74 million.

olsen_1913_liberty_nickelAlthough Heritage conducts two to four Platinum Night events per year, the January FUN Platinum Night event is usually the most newsworthy. On, Jan. 7, three different items sold for more than one million dollars each, and there was an excellent offering of Brilliant Proof gold coins.

One of the most interesting coins in the sale is a Proof 1839 Half Eagle ($5 gold coin). It is NGC certified as Proof-61. This coin is, indisputably, a Proof. Many pre-1840 coins that are regarded as, or even certified as, Proofs, are questionable. Matt Kleinsteuber agrees, “it is definitely 100% Proof, other coins of the era are ambiguous” in regard to Proof status. Moreover, it is one of only two known Proof Half Eagles of this date. It was formerly in the collection of King Farouk. It brought $181,000.

Several past Platinum Night events have featured dazzling collections of U.S. silver coins and/or individual silver coins of tremendous importance. The Jan. 2010 event will be remembered primarily for business strike Saint Gaudens Double Eagles ($20 gold coins), Brilliant Proof gold coins, a Bickford $10 gold pattern, a few exceptional gold type coins, a neat run of 19th century quarters, some popular Mint Errors, and a 1913 Liberty Nickel. Please click here to read the article that I devoted to this 1913 Liberty Nickel. Therein, I cover the coin, its importance, and the auction action, in detail.

Since then, David Hall has told me that he “thought the 1913 Liberty nickel brought a good price. [$3,737,500] wasn’t a moon price, but it’s a $3 million dollar coin so an extra 25% is a lot of money.” Hall is the primary founder of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), and remains a force behind the PCGS and its parent company.

Adam Crum of Monaco Rare Coins agrees that the $3.74 million result is “a really strong price” for this nickel. Moreover, Crum remarks that, “for weeks, buyers of expensive gold coins were sitting on their hands waiting for the Platinum sale. The success of Platinum Night ignited a fire. On Friday, there was a mad rush nationwide for rare gold coins.” (more…)

Brahin’s Syrup to be Auctioned at FUN: Select Group of Saint Gaudens $20 Gold Coins

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

On Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010, Heritage’s long awaited Platinum Night event at the FUN Convention in Orlando will include a marvelous array of choice and rare U.S. coins. It is part of a larger auction extravaganza that is held in conjunction with one of the two most important coin conventions of the year, that of the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) organization.

brahin_121809_reynoldsThe famous collector Jay Brahin has consigned a select group of Saint Gaudens Double Eagles ($20 gold coins) to be sold on Platinum Night. The most valuable piece from the Brahin collection is a 1927-S Saint that is graded MS-66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

Brahin’s consignment is of just seven coins, yet these are particularly significant. These seven constitute his entire current collection of Double Eagles and were very carefully selected by him. Jay reveals that he had “no intention of selling is coins, but I [Jay] am selling for personal reasons that are completely unrelated to coins or coin markets. I would have liked to have held these coins for a decade or more. Coins are art to me, and I am proud to have obtained these coins. I love the thrill of the hunt. Finding the coin is more gratifying than selling it.”

Brahin started “collecting coins as a kid.” He “filled coin albums with cents, nickels, dimes and quarters. During vacations, I [Jay] would work $20 in change several times over in one day, by going back and forth to the bank. Over the period of a summer day, I would go to a bank eight or nine times. It was fun. I loved it. I fell off the collecting wagon, but I never lost my love of coins.”

As a teenager, Brahin had other interests. Later in life, in 2002, Jay returned to coin collecting. He “always wanted to own a Saint when [he] was a kid.” So, he “turned to Saints.” Jay saw “Dr. Duckor’s Saint set on the PCGS registry, which was then blocked from view, but his e-mail address was briefly posted. I wrote to him and said I was an admirer of his Barber Half set; I inquired about his Saints. Later, we talked about the philosophy of collecting.” (more…)

Coinfest Coin Show Report

By Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatics

legend_market_report_logoFirst, we’d like to congratulate and thank Jon Lerner (Scarsdale Coins) putting on one of the BEST shows there is! Jon fought a nasty cold and made sure everything was “just right” for everyone. We also would like to offer a huge thank you to John Albanese and his team over at CAC for donating their time and effort to offer free submissions for the collectors who attended. The Q+A session that John held was heavily attended with many good questions being answered. Legends principle, Laura Sperber is a partner with Jon Lerner (in the show) and is  shareholder in CAC.  It is our goal to make Coinfest into a premier specialty show that is a ‘must attend” for collectors. We are not looking to fill a convention center. We want dealers and collectors to be able to transact in a smaller, beautiful, safe, secure, and intimate setting. Also, we have a huge preference of offering tables at our show to dealers who will attend and want to deal with the public. The big wholesalers who do nothing but “crackouts”, they can stay at the bigger shows.

Things started off very strong when all day Thursday dealers arrived and seemed eager to do business. Wholesale activity in the rooms was moderate to strong (it really depended on what you had). We came in early to see only one dealer. Biz was good, and back home we went.

Friday was true test. The dealers were allowed in at 10. Wholesale in the room again was decent to strong. The real test came at 2:00 when the public was allowed in. Collector traffic in the room was low to moderate. However, the make up of who was there certainly rivaled any major auction with a special collection! A common comment from several dealers was that the show brought in much better educated collectors then a Baltimore or a Long Beach. Of course many collectors were just mulling around until the big event-when CAC starts accepting coins at 10AM on Saturday. We saw several collectors we knew who had flown in just to attend the show. All of these collectors did shop, and many even bought coins. Many new collectors to dealer contacts were made at the show. Our sales to collectors on Friday were very good. In fact on Friday alone, we sold more McClaren coins than we did in Philadelphia (yes, we sold only 4 in Philly-but Coinfest blew that number away in the first hour)! Of course we sold a few coins from our regular inventory as well.
(more…)

The Coin Market Phenomenon of 2009 is the Widening Gap between the Prices of High End and Low End Certified Coins

By Greg Reynolds

price_gapThe key to understanding current U.S. coin markets, and bourse activity at the ANA Convention, stems from the widening gap in prices between mid range to high end coins and low end or problematic coins. This growing gap reflects underlying currents in the marketplace, the recent trend of collectors becoming better educated and more sophisticated, and reasons to be optimistic about the future of U.S. coin collecting. Markets are logically adjusting to imperfections in grading practices, and collectors, on average, are showing a greater understanding of and greater appreciation for the aesthetic and technical characteristics of coins.

Partly because of this gap, price guides have less meaning than they did in previous eras, and it is now harder for buyers and sellers to hone in on the current price levels. U.S. coin dealers must use their experience, current observations, and intelligence to set prices, as world coin dealers have been doing for decades. Coin prices are becoming a little more mysterious and trading has become more interesting.

Two coins graded X by the same grading service may be very different, whether X is Good-04, VF-30, AU-55, Proof-64 or MS-66, or any other number on the accepted grading scale.

  • 1) An accurately graded coin’s grade may fall into the high end, mid range or low end of the X range.
  • 2) One coin might be much more attractive than the other.
  • 3) There is more than one route to the same destination, as there are different sets of reasons for a coin to grade X. This is especially true of coins that grade from 55 to 62.
  • 4) Some coins will score higher in terms of originality while others will have artificially induced characteristics.
  • 5) No grading service will ever be perfect, and the grades of many certified coins are legitimately subject to question by talented dealers and very advanced collectors. Grading services, including CAC, like all other entities, make mistakes.

Herein, I am also employing the notion, though, that the tastes and preferences of sophisticated buyers is more in line with traditions of coin collecting in the U.S., rather than the criteria of the PCGS, the NGC, or the CAC.

Matt Kleinsteuber, a grading expert with NFC coins, remarks that “quality for the grade means everything.” Of course, he knows that collectors have other considerations as well. Kleinsteuber emphasizes the differences in desirability and price among coins of the same type, date (or equivalent date) and certified grade.
(more…)