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All Posts Tagged With: "greg reynolds"

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Collection of Carson City Half Eagles, WPE Classic Commemoratives & Summer Coin Shows

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #9

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Summer Topics

Today’s main discussions are about Carson City Half Eagles and commemorative silver coins. I admit that I am not a specialist in either area. I will not, however, limit my writings to my favorite topics, as other coins ‘make news’ and are important in a variety of ways. I aim to write for a wide audience. Plus, I have a fondness for most all rare coins and I learn when I prepare to write. I enjoy researching rare coins of almost every kind.

Typically, the coin business is relatively slow between the Spring Long Beach Expo and the Summer ANA Convention. Collectors and dealers often vacation, or are just less active, during this period.

The relatively new, Summer FUN Convention is moderately successful, though it makes far more sense to hold it in West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale. It was in West Palm Beach for three years and I attended all three events, which seemed successful. The Summer FUN Convention was developing a following in Southern Florida. Was it a good idea to move it to Orlando?

Many wealthy coin collectors live in Southern Florida, which is much more densely populated in general than Central Florida. As people are not eager to travel to Florida in the middle of the summer, a Southern Florida location, for a coin show, makes more sense in the summer than does Orlando, which is a city that has evolved into a destination for travelers. Besides, people elsewhere are more likely to have relatives, friends or business ties in Southern Florida than in Orlando. Consider the populations, wealth and business activities in the metropolitan areas of Fort Lauderdale and Miami!

Boston seems to be a good choice for a Summer ANA Convention. Many (though not all) rare coin sales are exempt from sales tax in Massachusetts. There are thousands of serious coin collectors within driving distance of Boston and hundreds more who may fly to Boston. Certainly, it is a city with attractions for girlfriends, spouses or kids. Besides, in relation to the founding of the United States, and the pre-revolutionary period, Boston is of tremendous historical importance.

It has been a very long time since an ANA Convention has been held in New England. Further, there are no longer any regularly held, first tier coin conventions in Massachusetts or the State of New York. CoinFest is held, annually each autumn, in Stamford (CT). In my view, CoinFest has been very successful and may eventually become a first tier event. It would be better if the fourth CoinFest, in October, were not scheduled within a week of the Fall Baltimore Expo. Could its time frame be moved a week or two earlier?

In August, both pre-convention shows will attract collectors. While the “Boston 2010” show at the Park Plaza Hotel has received some recent attention, the Bay State Coin Show has been a tradition in Boston for decades. The special summer Bay State Coin Show will be at the Radisson Hotel, at Park Square, from Friday, Aug 6th to Sunday, Aug 8th.
(more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1793 Half Cents, Chain Cents, Wreath Cents, 1808 Quarter Eagles — one-year type coins in general

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #8

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme Is On One-YearType Coins

Although some expensive coins that appeal to advanced collectors will be discussed below, this column is largely introductory in nature. Learning about one-year type coins is important. Furthermore, many are not expensive, and may be especially reasonable in modest grades. In addition, one-year type coins are important elements in the history of U.S. coinage. Moreover, knowledge of one-year type coins is central to understanding the relative values of many significant classic U.S. coins. My aim here is not to provide a lesson on type coins. Rather, I am mentioning some one-year type coins in the upcoming Boston ANA auction in August and discussing the general significance of these issues.

One-year type coins have always fascinated me. These are both the most common and the rarest dates of their respective types. As a kid, I dreamed of owning all one-year type coins. I remember my acquisition of an 1859 Indian Cent. I was eight or nine years old at the time and I was thrilled. I was later able to obtain other one-year type coins that are accessible to low-budget collectors, 1883 ‘No Cents’ Liberty Nickels, 1913 ‘Buffalo on Mound’ Nickels, and 1909 VDB cents, though it is debatable as to whether 1909 VDB cents are really one-year type coins. In circulated grades, 1853 ‘Arrows & Rays’ quarters and halves can be obtained by non-affluent collectors. The ‘Arrows & Rays’ and just ‘Arrows’ issues, though, are sometimes regarded as subtype coins rather than full type coins. Likewise, 1839 ‘No Drapery’ Halves are typically thought of as a one-year subtype as the design of these is not substantially different from that of the Liberty Seated ‘No Motto’ half dollar type that was adopted later in 1839.

As usual, I am discussing coins that were minted prior to 1934. Types of so called ‘modern issues’ constitute a different topic. Most rare or at least somewhat scarce U.S. coin issues were minted prior to 1934. In the upcoming Heritage ANA Auction in Boston, there will be offered a sizeable number of pre-1934 one-year type coins.

II. Half Cents of 1793

Among the most popular of all U.S. coins are the copper coins of 1793. While some patterns were made in 1792 at a private location, including half dimes which circulated, 1793 is the first true year of the U.S. Mint.

As U.S. silver coins were not minted until 1794 and gold coins not until 1795, only copper coins were struck in 1793, half cents and large cents. The half cents of 1793 are a one-year design type, and three different types of large cents were struck during this same year, Chain Cents, Wreath Cents and Liberty Cap Cents. Chain Cents and Wreath Cents are certainly each one-year types.

It is debatable as to whether 1793 Liberty Cap Cents are a one-year type. The PCGS and some large cent experts regard 1793 Liberty Caps as a one-year type; the NGC and other experts view Liberty Cap Cents dating from 1793 to 1796 as all being of the same design type. The main difference between 1793 Liberty Cap Cents and those Liberty Cap Cents dating from 1794 to 1796 is that the 1793s have beaded borders while the later Liberty Caps have dentilated borders. Dentils, which are sometimes called denticles, are tooth-like devices near the edge. Dentils are different from beads, which are sort of like oval buttons. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: an 1870-S Silver Dollar, an 1817/4 Half Dollar, and an 1854-O $20 gold coin

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #7

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

So far, I know of two Great Rarities that will be auctioned in Boston in August, and of a third coin that it is very likely to be a Great Rarity. It may be true that there are others of which I am not yet aware. B&M will offer an 1870-S silver dollar and an 1854-O Double Eagle ($20 gold coin). Heritage will put an 1817/4 overdate half dollar ‘on the block.’

For a coin issue to be a Great Rarity, there must be a maximum of twenty-five pieces known to exist in the present, including business strikes and Proofs. As Proofs of these three issues were never minted, there is no need to discuss the possibility of their existence.

Curiously, 1817/4 halves and 1870-S silver dollars seem to be equally rare. I am nearly certain that there are nine known 1870-S dollars. Specialists in Capped Bust Half Dollars have concluded that there are nine known 1817/4 halves. Seven have been known for many years, and two have, strangely in my view, somewhat recently surfaced, not long after the finest known 1817/4 sold for a then record $333,500 on Nov. 29, 2004.

The 1854-O Double Eagle is not as rare as either of these two silver coins. It is likely, though, that fewer than twenty-five exist. If there are thirty, than this issue is a ‘Near Great Rarity’!

Why are these Great Rarities and not 1794 silver dollars, which are more famous? In last week’s column, I discussed the Boyd-Cardinal 1794 dollar that will also be auctioned in Boston. While it is a very desirable coin that is of tremendous importance in the culture of coin collecting, it is not a Great Rarity. There are between 130 and 160 1794 silver dollars in existence. In 2004, Martin Logies, a leading expert on this issue, estimated that 140 survive.

Merely being popular does not make a coin a Great Rarity. In addition to the requirement that twenty-five or fewer be known to exist, each Great Rarity must be traditionally considered a component of an established series. Die varieties, particularly those that require a microscope to identify or are otherwise obscure, generally cannot be Great Rarities, though these are highly prized by some advanced collectors.

The meaning of a Great Rarity is not dependent upon emotions or opinions; there must be underlying facts that establish such a high level of rarity and the acceptance of the respective date. Some other Great Rarities are: the unique 1873-CC ‘No Arrows’ Dime, 1894-S dimes, 1873-CC ‘No Arrows’ Quarters, 1838-O half dollars, 1841 Quarter Eagles, 1854-S Quarter Eagles (and Half Eagles), 1815 Half Eagles, 1822 Half Eagles, 1875 Eagles and 1927-D Saints. There are more than ten others and I look forward to compiling a thorough list in the future. I just mentioned some famous and indisputable Great Rarities in order to illustrate the concept.

There are a few reasons as to why Great Rarities are important. Most have to do with the culture of coin collecting and cannot be simply explained. The most obvious reason, however, is that Great Rarities are needed to complete sets. Unlike the collecting of paintings or vintage automobiles, coin collecting often involves attempts to complete sets that are widely recognized. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1794 Silver Dollar, 1795 Reeded Edge Large Cent, and selected coins in the Summer FUN Auction

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #6

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Herein, I discuss an assortment of rarities ‘in the news,’ the NGC graded “MS-64” 1794 dollar, a newly re-emergent 1795 Reeded Edge Cent, an 1882 $20 gold coin, 1865 $2½ coins, and 1865 quarters. The 1795 Reeded Edge Cent is certainly much rarer than most collectors realize and many have forgotten that the finest known Holmes-Naftzger 1795 Reeded Edge set an auction record for a copper coin or pattern, and is the only copper to sell for more than $1 million at auction. Another representative of this issue was just encapsulated by the NGC.

Today’s primary item is the ‘news’ that the Boyd-Cardinal 1794 dollar has been consigned to the B&M pre-ANA Boston auction. Additionally, I will discuss a few coins that will be sold as part of an upcoming Heritage auction, which will be held in conjunction with the Summer FUN Convention in Orlando, July 8th to 10th. Though it would make far more sense to hold it in Fort Lauderdale or in West Palm Beach, where it has been since its inception in 2007, I expect the Summer FUN Convention to be a success.

My comments about a handful of coins are not meant to constitute an analysis of this sizeable Heritage auction, which includes desirable U.S. coins of almost all types. The offerings are particularly strong in so-called small denomination coins, Indian Cents, Lincoln Cents, Two Cent pieces, Three Cent Silvers, Three Cent Nickels, and Five Cent Nickels. Further, this auction contains a large number of early 20th century gold commemoratives. Additionally, there are numerous better-date gold coins of several denominations. Also, the Kallenberg collection of Proof Washington Quarters is the first “All-time Finest” in the PCGS registry in the category of a “Basic Set” that covers Proofs from 1936 to the present.

II. Boyd-Cardinal 1794 Silver Dollar

I have been informed by Martin Logies that the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation has consigned the Boyd-Cardinal 1794 dollar to the B&M August auction. This coin is graded “MS-64” by the NGC. When it was last auctioned, on June 30, 2005, it was so graded. This coin is widely regarded as the fourth or fifth finest 1794 silver dollar.

Logies is the director of the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation. Recently, in May, he was prominent ‘in the news’ when this foundation acquired the finest known 1794 dollar from Steve Contursi for a reported price of “$7,850,000”! The Carter-Contursi-Cardinal 1794 is certified as Specimen-66 by the PCGS. It was specially prepared. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Bowers & Merena auction, Proof 1876-CC dime, and $150 million for the CAC

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #5

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

I will not be discussing the most expensive or the rarest coins that are coming ‘on the auction block’ this week. Rather, I have selected a few that I find to be both newsworthy and particularly interesting. Admittedly, these are expensive. I continue to insist, though, that an understanding of rare coins, and of the values in the coin collecting community, requires knowledge of coins that most collectors cannot afford.

Suppose that this column was geared towards art enthusiasts rather than coin enthusiasts. Would it then make sense to discuss only the paintings that most art collectors could afford? Collectors who cannot afford great and culturally important paintings enjoy learning about them and often learn to apply their knowledge of famous painting to their interpretations of a wide variety of not-so-famous paintings. Likewise, coin enthusiasts, in general, appreciate coins that are great, famous, very rare and/or important to the culture of coin collecting.

Please see my discussions below of the following coins. The 1851-O trime is the only Three Cent Silver issue that was not struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Indeed, it is curious that the New Orleans Mint struck this denomination, as the Branch Mints tended not to manufacture small denomination coins in the 19th century. The Hawaiian Eighth-Dollar is certainly extremely rare and extremely curious. The 1926-S nickel issue is just incredibly difficult to find in MS-65 or MS-66 grade. As I discussed one in last week’s column, I could not resist mentioning another, as B&M will auction it this week in Baltimore. Similarly, I discussed a rare and historically important King James II English gold coin last week and B&M will auction a coin of the same design type this week. Plus, the unique Proof 1876-CC dime is one of the most exciting coins of all.

II. The CAC Surpasses $150 Million Level

It is widely known that the CAC approves (or rejects) submitted coins that are already graded by the PCGS or the NGC. Approved coins receive a green sticker, or, in rare instances, a gold sticker. It is not as widely known that the CAC will make sight unseen commitments to pay competitive prices for CAC approved coins. These are not ‘low ball’ bids. As of June 15, the CAC has purchased $154 million of coins, almost all of which are CAC approved.

The CAC was founded by John Albanese in Oct. 2007. CAC purchases have thus been averaging more than $4.7 million per month. The $150 million level was reached in early June.

Albanese was the sole founder of the Numismatic Guaranty Corp (NGC) in 1987. Around Dec. 1998, he sold his shares in the NGC to Mark Salzberg, who is the current NGC Chairman. (For more discussion of the CAC, please see my articles on CoinFest, Jay Brahin’s Coins, the PCGS graded MS-68+ 1901-S quarter, the 20th Century Gold Club, and Dr. Duckor’s quarters.)

Although the CAC has acquired thousands of coins that are valued at under $5000 each, the CAC has approved and acquired some very famous coins. Among others, the Eliasberg 1870-S silver dollar and the finest known, Rogers-Madison 1796 ‘No Stars’ Quarter Eagle ($2½ gold coin) come to my mind.

III. Unique Proof 1876-CC Dime

Laura Sperber, of Legend Numismatics, acquired the unique Proof 1876-CC dime from a New Jersey dealer in early June. On Saturday, June 12, she sold it for an amount in excess of $200,000. It “went into a collection of Proof Seated Dimes,” Sperber reveals. It is certified as Proof-66 by the PCGS and has a sticker of approval from the CAC. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Southern California Auctions and Market Realities

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #4

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

While both the Goldbergs and Heritage auctions contained a significant number of appealing coins that attracted collectors, both firms had much more exciting offerings in their respective Southern California auctions in the Springs of 2007, 2008 and 2009. Moreover, as John Albanese has emphasized, much of the demand in current coin markets is for Eagles ($10 coins) and Double Eagles ($20 gold coins).

Albanese is the founder of the CAC, and was the sole founder of the NGC. He finds that, this year, there has been “less demand for silver coins dating after 1837.” From my (this writer’s) perspective, demand for rare silver coins has fallen since the January 2010 FUN Convention, though will probably rise again soon.

There will be more exciting offerings of rare silver coins, in Boston in August, than there have been from February to June. Exciting offerings may spark collectors. Plus, relative prices for Eagles and Double Eagles will not increase, forever. Collectors will tend to gravitate towards other areas.

For decades, Jim McGuigan has been a specialist in U.S. coins dating from 1793 to the late 1830s. Jim finds that “things really slowed down after Sept. 2008.” This year, McGuigan says, there has “not been a lot of good pre-1840 stuff coming up at auction; when a good coin does come up, it usually does pretty well. 1793 half cents and large cents are as strong as ever. 1794 to 1796 [dated] coins are still pretty good” in terms of demand, McGuigan observes. The market for early coins that are not very rare is weak. “Randall Hoard large cents,” for example, “are easy to buy,” Jim points out. These are high grade, often appealing uncirculated, large cents, dating mostly from 1818 to 1820.

Demand is not great for Liberty Seated coins and Barber coins, I conclude. Matt Kleinsteuber, of NFCcoins, asserts that “this [Spring] was not a good time to auction” a collection of “gem Buffalo Nickels.” Matt twice put forth a similar point to me before the Heritage Long Beach auction.

Trading volume in common gold coins continues to be large. High End gold rarities, which are not necessarily expensive, are extremely difficult to find. (Please refer to my article on the Widening Gap for a definition of ‘high end.’)

Below, I discuss an 1854-O Double Eagle that sold at the Long Beach (CA) Expo. I devote considerable space to Dan Holmes’ Middle Dates as numerous collectors have expressed interest in reading about this event. Even collectors who do not collect large cents like to read about a comprehensive and famous collection that was built over many years by a dedicated coin enthusiast.

I talk about coins in the Goldbergs and Heritage Southern California auctions that I find to be newsworthy. Sometimes, coins are mentioned as examples to illustrate larger points. It is never possible for me to discuss all the very interesting or otherwise newsworthy coins in a major auction. (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…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Upcoming LB Auctions, PCGS Secure Plus & NGC Metallurgic Analysis

Coin Rarities & Related Topics #2News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

I. Today’s Theme

Welcome to the second installment of my column. Today’s primary topic is upcoming auctions. A secondary topic is the new policies of the PCGS and the NGC, which I will discuss often in the future. Below, I will put forth a proposal regarding the NGC’s new metallurgic testing program. For an explanation of the purpose and scope of my weekly column, please see last week’s installment.

Yes, I said last week that this year’s Spring auction offerings, in total, pale in contrast to those in the Springs of 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 or 2009. Even so, there are some noteworthy coins being auctioned. Besides, most collector-buyers will hone in on coins of interest to them, without considering market phenomena as a whole. Additionally, prices realized will shed light upon market conditions. I will focus here on the upcoming auctions in Southern California.

At the Beverly Hills Crowne Plaza hotel, in late May and early June, the Goldbergs will auction the Daniel Holmes collection of Middle Date large cents, plus assorted U.S. and World rarities. On May 30, the firm of Bonhams will conduct a coin auction in Los Angeles. The star of the Bonhams event is a 1795 Eagle ($10 gold coin) of the very rare variety with just nine leaves on the branch. (For some explanation, please see my Feb. 2007 article on 1795 Eagles.) In conjunction with the Long Beach Coin, Stamp and Collectible Expo, Heritage will auction a wide variety of numismatic items.

II. Dan Holmes’ Middle Dates

On May 30, the firm of Ira & Larry Goldberg will auction the Dan Holmes collection of U.S. cents that date from 1816 to 1839. The specialty firm of McCawley & Grellman handled the cataloguing. Previously, I reported on Holmes’ Early Date cents, which were auctioned in Sept. 2009. Furthermore, I wrote a series articles about the sale of the late Ted Naftzger’s Middle Dates on Feb. 1, 2009 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Naftzger’s collection of large cents, early dates, middle dates and late dates, is the best of all-time, in almost all categories. No one is expecting Holmes or anyone else to come close to equaling Naftzger’s collecting achievements, which required many decades, intense concentration and some luck.

Holmes’ Middle Date collection includes some exceptional representatives of ‘better dates’ and relatively rarer varieties. In my view, it is a little disappointing. I was expecting it to be of higher quality overall, or, at least, contain better representatives of some of the scarcer dates. Further, I was hoping for some more and better quality Proofs. Indisputably, however, Holmes has one of the five best, currently intact collections of Middle Date large cents, maybe one of the top three. I predict intense bidding competition for the rarer varieties.

Curiously, there are more than a thousand large cent collectors who focus upon die varieties. There are more than twenty-five thousand, though, who collect ‘by date,’ including readily apparent varieties that are collected ‘as if’ these are separate and distinct dates. Holmes has impressive representatives of some of the scarcest dates of the Middle Date type. The 1823, 1823/2 and 1839/6 are probably the only Middle ‘dates’ that are rare, or almost so, though not one of these ‘dates’ is extremely rare. While the “1826/5” may possibly be rare, it is debatable as to whether it is really an overdate. Even if it is so, the difference in the date, versus an 1826 Normal Date issue, is just too subtle to be collected as if it is a distinct date. In my view, even if the 1826/5 is a true overdate, it is just a die variety.

The 1821 large cent issue is very rare in grades of AU-50 or higher. Holmes has five 1821s. The finest he has of the first die variety is PCGS graded AU-58, and is graded AU-50 by Chris McCawley & Bob Grellman, the cataloguers. Holmes’ best representative of the second die variety of this year in large cents is PCGS graded MS-63. McCawley & Grellman grade it as “MS-60+,” which means MS-61 or -62 in standard terms. This 1821 cent was earlier in the Wes Rasmussen collection that Heritage auctioned in Fort Lauderdale in Jan. 2005. (more…)

New Weekly Column: Coin Rarities & Related Topics

Coin Rarities & Related Topics #1News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community

A New Weekly Column By Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

I maintain that the demand for rarities, while not readily apparent or provable, is very strong, and that reports of minimal supply in 2010 have been overstated. There have been considerably more transactions of rarities, so far in 2010, than even most dealers realize.

Specimen-63 1856-O Double Eagle CACYes, it is true that there are far fewer rarities in auctions during the first six months of 2010 then there were during the first six months of any other year since 2004 or earlier.

The diminishing supply of rarities consigned to major auctions is at the forefront of the ‘news.’Consider that Heritage’s ‘Central States’ convention Platinum Night, on April 29, 2010, contained only a shadow of the offerings in Heritage’s CSNS Platinum Nights in 2009, when the “Joseph Thomas” collection was featured, and 2008, when David Queller’s complete set of silver dollars was offered, including an 1804 that realized $3,737,500! All coin auction firms have experienced declines in consignments of rarities, not just Heritage.

Widely published reports of a dearth of available rarities are not entirely true, at least not in every respect. There is considerable volume in private trading of rarities, more so during the last three months than during the period from Feb. to mid-May 2009. Discussion and examples follow.

II. Introduction to My New Column

Before discussing private sales of rarities, I wish to welcome readers to this inaugural installment of my new column. While my articles tend to focus on SPECIFIC coins, coin issues, collections or auctions, each weekly ‘Rarities & Related Topics’ column will include discussions of several items that may only be loosely connected. This first column will be longer than most subsequent columns. Much has occurred in coin markets since my reports relating to events in Orlando in January. (Click to see Platinum Night review, 1913 Liberty Nickel, or Proof Denver Mint Double Eagle articles.)

I have already written about the coin that has received the most attention since the FUN Convention, the PCGS graded MS-68+ 1901-S quarter. In this column, I become the only analyst reporting on private transactions of rarities so far this year, including Great Rarities. (more…)

The Basis for Collecting and Appreciating Naturally Toned Coins, Part 3

By Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

In Part 1, I frame the topic and put forth perspectives of very accomplished, active collectors regarding natural toning. As I discuss in Part 2, preferring coins with natural toning is a tradition at the core of the culture of coin collecting in the U.S.

Here in Part 3, I maintain that the case for strongly favoring naturally toned coins goes beyond collector opinions and tradition. There have always been logical reasons for determining that coins with natural toning and/or mostly original surfaces are superior.

nat_toned_120609(1) Coin collecting has been a popular and serious pastime for around 150 years in the United States, and there has always been a strong tradition of valuing, all other things being equal, coins with mostly original surfaces and/or natural toning over those that have been treated with acids (including dipping), artificially toned, surgically altered or deliberately chemically affected in other ways.

It is fair to conclude that experts in earlier eras were employing reason, not just following a tradition, especially before the tradition evolved. (Please read Part 2.)

(2) The layers of a coin’s surface that are stripped off, and the changes in the texture of the surfaces of coins, through standard dipping or the application of many chemical concoctions implemented via ‘conservation,’ or other deliberate, short-term modifications are, to some extent, irreparable. The original state of the coin can never be restored, and will never fully return on its own. Parts of the coin are destroyed, and, while some coins can largely recover, parts of the nature and history of each coin are lost forever.

Please note that I am referring primarily to rare or at least scarce old coins. Usually, recently minted coins are minimally or not noticeably toned. So, not much toning is destroyed when a recently minted, or modern coin, is dipped in a standard acidic solution. For high quality, rare coins, dipping or ‘conservation’ through liquids, almost always destroys toning.

Typically, a coin will be much brighter after it is dipped, and some will thus conclude that the coin’s luster is not impaired. Luster is the way that the metal flow lines on a coin reflect light. When layers are stripped via dipping, the characteristics of the flow lines are changed. The coin may end up being brighter than it was before, or even brighter than it was the moment it was minted. Destruction still occurred, however, and metal was removed.

Jeff Ambio very much agrees with the above statement (#2), and he “believe[s] that, if more collectors understood this point, it would really help to the put the coin doctors out of business.” Ambio is the author of three recent books on coins and is a cataloguer for leading auction firms and coin dealers. He has analyzed and written about thousands of U.S. coins, including innumerable rarities.

Dipping changes the texture of a coin. Ambio, Joe O’Connor and myself all agree that toning that occurs after dipping, natural or not, will be different from the toning that would have occurred had the coin never been dipped. (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…)

Rare Coin Markets in August 2009, Part 2

By Greg Reynolds

This is the second part of my August market report (Read Part One Here) regarding scarce or rare U.S. coins, with a focus on bourse activity at ANA Convention in Los Angeles in early August, along with references to pre-ANA and ANA auctions. This part mostly includes analytical comments from experts relating to copper, nickel and silver coins, along with some passages relating to very rare gold coins. Analytical remarks of mine are found herein as well. I suggest reading Part 1 first. Next, please see my companion article on the growing price gap between high end and low end coins.

Numismatic landscapeIn addition to a relative increase in demand for high end coins on the bourse floor at the ANA Convention, there was intense trading in many areas, partly because there was so little fresh material available. Most market participants, who properly recognize the current levels, are cautiously optimistic about the near future. There is a good chance that underlying market levels will hold steady or increase slightly over the next few months. Keep in mind that I am talking about pre-1934 scarce or rare coins, or condition rarities, not generics or bullion items.

The market for generics is driven by speculators, and mass marketing operations, and has little to do with coin collecting. Generics are very common, often hundreds of thousands or millions are known of specific coin issues, and collectors only buy a small percentage of them.

Since numerous market participants in 2009 are gradually adjusting, or refusing to adjust, to the lower levels that have prevailed for months, it would be easy for some to get a false impression that coin trading is very slow and demand is falling. Volume is considerable, and, on average, market prices were holding steady or increasingly slightly. Most of the market declines occurred in the last quarter of 2008 and the spring of 2009. Many of the declines were not then recorded in price guides, which are becoming relatively less useful for scarce or rare coins.

John Feigenbaum has “seen Morgans drop quite a bit lately. Buffaloes are soft as is Proof type.” Steve Contursi agrees that the market for “Proof silver type is soft.”
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