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All Posts Tagged With: "Jay Brahin"

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…)

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…)

Brahin Collection of Key Date Saint Gaudens $20 Gold Coins to be sold on Platinum Night at Fun

The Jay Brahin Collection, a selection of seven key date Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles assembled by a collector with a keen eye for quality will be offered as a part of Heitage’s Platinum Night festivities at 2010 January Orlando, FL FUN US Coin Auction, taking place January 6-10 in Orlando and over the Internet at www.HA.com/Coins.

1920-s_saint_Brahin_funJay Brahin’s name is well known to both the numismatic and investment communities. Although he can trace his first interest in rare coins back to the 1960s, he became a serious numismatist after the Millennium. His rise to the upper echelon of gold collectors was rapid, but it was based on three decades of investment acumen as a personal portfolio manager.

He quickly developed personal relationships with the key players and dealers in American gold, and his list of friends is a Who’s Who of American numismatics. The search for quality was the natural result of old business lessons and this new expert advice, and following old traditions.

Mr. Brahin also gives back to the coin community, currently serving as President of the 20th Century Gold Club. He has also become a sought after resource for books and articles on twentieth century gold coins, and his opinions can be found in the Wall Street Journal as well as CoinLink.

All seven coins in the collection are graded by PCGS, and all seven coins have received CAC stickers signifying that they are among the very best examples of their grade. (more…)

The Basis for Collecting and Appreciating Naturally Toned Coins, Part 2

By Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

In Part 1, I discussed the fact that almost all sophisticated collectors of U.S. coins have a very strong preference for natural toning, as opposed to coins that have been artificially toned, doctored, or dipped in brightening chemical solutions. As more and more rare coins are becoming subject to such deliberate, artificial modifications, this issue is crucial and needs to be urgently addressed. Although the two leading grading services have, since 2007, been rejecting a larger percentage of submitted ‘doctored’ coins, too many still become graded and encapsulated. Collectors will benefit by learning about such matters. Here in part 2, I focus on the connection between natural toning and the greatest collections, I emphasize the tradition of strongly preferring naturally toning, and I point out that naturally toned, 19th century coins are often not expensive.

Vermuele_93S_Morgan_pvgsHolderIn many instances over the years, I have mentioned the importance of naturally toned coins in the all-time greatest collections. I never claimed that my thoughts on this matter were path-breaking. Quite the contrary, I always believed that most sophisticated and knowledgeable collectors, plus advanced dealer-experts, agree that, usually, the naturalness and originality of the coins is a substantial and very important factor in determining the greatness and importance of a collection of U.S. coins.

Of course, there are other factors, such as completeness and the rarity of the coins included. Yes, collections that do not score at the highest levels in the originality category can still be excellent, such as the Harry Bass and Ed Trompeter collections. Undoubtedly, however, these collections would have been even better had more of the rare coins included been characterized by natural toning and/or original surfaces.

Certainly, natural toning and original surfaces are not the only factors to take into consideration when analyzing an individual coin. A coin may have natural toning and still have many problems. Natural toning has, though, been regarded as an extremely important factor throughout the history of coin collecting in the U.S.

Over the last half century, the Eliasberg, Norweb, Pittman, and Garrett collections are the four greatest to be auctioned. Numerous coins in these collections can be definitively traced to specific auctions that were conducted prior to 1915. Records exist of auction purchases by the Norweb and Garrett families. Moreover, most of the gem quality, 19th century silver and gold U.S. coins in the Eliasberg collection were earlier in the Clapp collection, which largely documented by the elder John Clapp. In addition to acquiring coins directly from the U.S. Mints, Clapp purchased coins at auction, possibly through or with the assistance of an agent. These had original (or at least mostly original) surfaces. Clearly, he avoided coins that were brightened with acids or artificially colored.
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The Basis for Collecting and Appreciating Naturally Toned Coins, Part 1

By Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

In the history of coin collecting in the U.S., most of the greatest all-time collections were characterized by many coins with attractive, natural toning, especially including many coins that had never been cleaned, dipped or otherwise deliberately modified. I have personally and carefully inspected a substantial percentage of the coins in the Eliasberg, Norweb, and Pittman collections. Further, I have seen a significant number of the naturally toned coins that were previously in the Garrett family and James A. Stack collections. Most of the very scarce or moderately rare coins from these collections that brought surprisingly high prices at auction, and generated the most enthusiasm among collectors, are those that have (or then had) natural toning and/or mostly original surfaces. Over a period of more than 125 years, sophisticated collectors in the U.S. have tended to strongly prefer naturally toned coins.

jay_brahinCurrently, three of the most sophisticated collectors who are widely recognized are Dr. Steven Duckor, Stewart Blay and Jay Brahin. Considerable information regarding their collecting accomplishments is found in the PCGS registry. While Jay is more of a specialist in early 20th century gold coins, Blay and Dr. Duckor have built phenomenal collections in several areas. Not all of their coins are listed in the PCGS registry. Most sophisticated, advanced collectors have similar sentiments and a preference for natural toning. Many of them, however, wish to remain anonymous and thus will not be mentioned. Duckor, Blay and Brahin are all very much willing to share their knowledge with the coin collecting community.

Mark Hagen is another collector who is willing to share with the collecting community. He has been collecting coins for over forty years. I have seen him at many auctions. Further, he reports that he attended the Norweb, Eliasberg and Pittman auctions and ALL of the FUN and ANA Platinum night sales. Indeed, Mark has “been to over one hundred major auctions over the past twenty-five years” and he has “seen most of the classic rarities and gem type coins that have sold at public auction over that period.”

Hagen observes that “there are a lot of artificially toned coins on the market.” Further, Mark laments that “in addition to those that have been recolored, thousands of rare coins have been dipped; the number of original coins is getting smaller every year.” On this issue, Jay Brahin agrees with Hagen.

“To the eye of a true collector, originality is more important than shiny,” declares Brahin. “Natural toning is a testament to the age and natural process that the coin has gone through. What makes antiques appealing is their antiqueness, a normal aging process of the items. The natural aging of a relic attests to its authenticity. If you saw an 18th century original document that was a bright manila white, you would realize that something is wrong with it. You would expect an old document to show natural signs of aging. If you see an 18th century silver coin that is bright white, it is suspect; or if it has bright purple toning, it means something is wrong.”
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