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All Posts Tagged With: "Jeff Ambio"

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…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Collecting Modern Coins

News and Analysis on coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #24

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

The purpose this week is to put forth clear, constructive points regarding the collecting of modern U.S. coins. Readers who are already familiar with modern coins may wish to skip to section three, where John Albanese, Jeff Ambio and I provide advice and guidelines for collecting modern coins.

Before the rare U.S. coin auction climate starts to heat up again, I am continuing to address issues that are of interest to beginning and intermediate collectors. This week, I am revisiting the topic of modern coins, partly because many readers last week falsely and unfairly concluded that I was condemning modern coins. I was not saying that only pre-1934 coins should be collected and I was not referring to the artistic elements of the designs of coins minted after 1934. I was discussing the FACTS that distinguish classic from modern U.S. coins.

Indeed, there is a need to clarify some matters relating to recommendations for collectors and values in the marketplace. Last week, I wrote a two part series on 1933/34 being the dividing line between classic coins and modern U.S. coinage. (Please click to read part 1 or part 2.) Two weeks ago, I covered dealer recommendations regarding modestly priced coins for beginning and intermediate collectors.

Jeff Ambio certainly understood my central points last week. Ambio is the author of three books regarding U.S. coins and is one of the leading cataloguers of coin auction lots. In regards to “the 1933/34 diving line, I [Jeff] agree with your basic contention that coins minted prior to that period are much scarcer than those minted after. I [Jeff] also agree with your opinion that collectors paying huge sums of money for post-1934 coins in high grades should reconsider their buying strategies.”

The collecting of State Quarters is discussed in the second section. Strategies for collecting modern coins are addressed in the third section.

I. Commonality of Modern Coins

Although post-1934 coins are generally extremely common in contrast to pre-1934 U.S. coins, people who very much like post-1934 coins and enjoy collecting them should do so. Last week, in part 2, I emphasized that people should not spend large sums on a post-1934 coin solely because such a coin is, or is claimed to be, a condition rarity.

Indeed, I am against the rather common practice of spending thousands of dollars for common coins. For example, auction records reveal that a considerable number of businesses strike Roosevelt dimes have each sold for thousands of dollars.

Generally, I am very concerned about people spending even $35 over face value or bullion (‘melt’) value for a very common coin. Mint errors and recognized unusual varieties are different topics. I am herein referring to standard issues. I am aware that the 1955/1955 Double Die cent is scarce overall. It is, though, a mint error, or, at least, an accidental issue. U. S. Mint officials did not plan in advance for the numerals and some other devices of these cents to be doubled. Errors and unusual varieties require separate discussions, and tend to be exceptions to rules. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1794 Silver Dollar sells for $1,207,500, and More Auction News

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #13

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Herein, I comment upon the prices realized for three rarities in the August 2010 B&M auction that I discussed in recent columns. Also, I mention that, in September, the Goldbergs will be offering a 1795 Reeded Edge cent in a PCGS “Genuine” holder, and it is not yet clear whether this is a new discovery a re-appearance of one of the six and a half that I have discussed in three writings over the past year, mostly recently in my column of June 23rd.

Yes, the Heritage Platinum Event is being held tonight and I have already covered, in many recent columns, coins that will be offered. Moreover, I recently wrote a two-part series on Dr. Steven Duckor’s Barber Halves. (Please click to read part 1 and part 2. As usual, clickable links are in blue.) Duckor’s set is the greatest set of business strike Barber Halves that has ever been assembled. It is the main attraction of tonight’s auction, though many other terrific coins are included. The collection of Dr. and Mrs. Claude Davis is particularly noteworthy, and was covered in my column of July 21st. Also, one-year type coins in the Heritage auction that belong to Davis and other consignors are analyzed in my column of July 7th.

I. Boyd-Cardinal 1794 Silver Dollar

It has already been widely reported that the Boyd-Cardinal 1794 sold, on Saturday, Aug. 7, for $1,207,500, at a hotel in Boston. Please click to see my discussion of this coin in my column of June 23rd. Since I wrote about the consignor, the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation, and its curator, Martin Logies, in my June 23rd column, and will do so again, my remarks today will be limited to the price, especially since I have not learned anything about the buyer.

Although the B&M auction went really well, and other coins brought very strong prices, I was not impressed by the result for this 1794 silver dollar. Firstly, in May, the finest known 1794 dollar sold for a reported price of “$7.85 million” and this point was very widely published in a large number of news forums throughout the nation and even in various parts of the world. Secondly, this very same 1794 dollar was auctioned by ANR for $1,150,000 on June 30, 2005. Although rare coin price levels are not near the peaks reached in the first seven or eight months of 2008, current rare coin prices, in most areas, are substantially higher than those that prevailed in the middle of 2005.

Third, in his cataloguing of this coin for Bowers & Merena, Jeff Ambio studiously reveals that the 1794 dollars that are of higher quality than this one are unlikely to be available in the near future. I am not sure that Ambio should have employed the term “impounded” to refer to each of these. The Stellar-Rogers 1794 is probably the second finest known 1794 dollar, and other coins from the Stellar Type Set have been sold recently. Please see my inaugural column. Even so, I agree with Jeff’s point that it is unlikely that the Stellar-Rogers 1794 dollar will be sold soon. Furthermore, Ambio is being fair in asserting that the Jimmy Hayes 1794, which is likely to be the third finest known, will probably not be sold for a very long time. Ambio’s remarks regarding the Oswald-Norweb 1794 were revealing to me. While I guessed that it is the 1794 dollar that is PCGS graded MS-64, I was not certain. I had no idea that the owner of the Oswald-Norweb 1794 almost sold it recently and then decided to keep it in his family for the foreseeable future.

Although it has been years since I saw the Oswald-Norweb 1794, I suggest that there is a good chance that it is of higher quality than the Boyd-Cardinal 1794. A leading collector, who refers to himself as “TradeDollarNut”, has publicly asserted that the Oswald-Norweb 1794 is a full grade-increment above the Boyd-Cardinal 1794. My hunch is that the difference is more on the level of a third or a half a grade. It is true that the Oswald-Norweb piece has mint caused imperfections on the obverse (front) that are quite noticeable and a little bothersome. I remember being very impressed with the originality of the Oswald-Norweb 1794. I hope that it remains as original as it was when I examined it. A high degree of originality is not a priority, however, for many silver dollar collectors, and I am certain that a large number of silver dollar collectors would prefer the Boyd-Cardinal 1794 to the Oswald-Norweb 1794, which might not be available for a long time, anyway. The Boyd-Cardinal 1794 reflects light in livelier manner, as I remember. (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…)