Numismatics welcoming a new audience - type coins a great starting point
In the event that you haven’t heard, numismatics continues to be a very exciting topic of conversation. Much of this fanfare is being caused by major rarities coming to auctions. This, coupled with tales of buried treasure and fabulous previously unknown collections coming to market, leads me to believe that at no other time has this hobby enjoyed such broad-based support. Newcomers are anxiously coming on board this juggernaut and in greater numbers, all truly excited to be part of the hobby. Some are taking in local or regional shows as their first numismatic encounter; others are pulling up dealer websites and contacting those authorities via e-mail. Whether looking for information on coin collecting to buy, trade, sell or simply invest their time and resources to the hobby, the numismatic network is a vital one.
As we approach the halfway point of 2014, I spoke to some of my learned colleagues to get their feelings on the market thus far.
According to John Brush, vice president of David Lawrence Rare Coin Galleries, “We had a very strong first 4 months of the year and the inevitable tax-time slowdown this year was not nearly as drastic as it has been in the past. Based on this, we're very optimistic about the remaining part of the year. While there are only a few shows in June through August, nice coins become a little harder to find as we simply do not see other dealers as often. However, we continue to work just as hard and when nice, fresh coins are offered, they sell quickly.
"We've also seen quite a few newer collectors come into the hobby in the first part of the year, and it bodes well for the industry as a whole. We feel that the ANA location in Rosemont has grown a bit stale, and attendance lags a bit there compared to some cities, but it has never hurt the success of the show for us. All of the major collectors, dealers, old friends, and new friends will be attending. We expect it to be the pinnacle of the numismatic year, with only the FUN show as a rival. While the show has turned into a week-long marathon, we think that the opportunities are still endless and we're looking forward to it.”
Ian Russell, president of Great Collections, reported to me, “The market is very strong at the moment. We're noticing a big increase in the weekly number of participants in our auctions, together with the number of listings, over 12,000, as I speak."
"The baseball series is hot, hot, hot, all grades and raw. I personally like the gol, due to the mintage, but even the Silver Dollar is selling for multiples of issue price. While the modern baseball coins are doing well, I did noticed some weakness in Mint State coins from the 1940s to date, series like Washington quarters, Jefferson nickels, the more modern Sacagawea dollars, and Susan B Anthony dollars."
"There is, however, strength in almost all other areas of the market. At NGC, for example, we are currently grading a very important coin collection containing hundreds of gold coins from around the world. This collection was formed in the 1960s and we've already sold coins from this grouping for over $45,000. We have a superb Humbert slug graded NGC XF 40 featured in our June 8th auction." Not surprisingly, the various electronic trading networks report in daily with thousands of buy and sell requests for such numismatic properties. Sight seen or sight unseen, the certified coin marketplace is thriving. Gold type coins and silvers dollars are and have been amongst the most popular entry points for new hobbyists, as well as favorites for veteran collectors.
Exciting and certainly competitive parts of the numismatic machine, gold coins and silver dollars are proud reminders of our rich and storied heritage. Yet, as many novices have voiced to me, they’ve never seen or heard about these coins before, primarily because they are no longer regular circulating issues. This is why my advice to most collectors getting their collective feet wet, is to go with a US type set, one which will include the cent, nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar—the coins which are currently still regular, circulating issues. Yet, let’s also pull the crank on the time machine, and go back to the early part of the 20th century. Everyone loves nostalgia, so go for a nice Mint State Buffalo nickel, Mercury dime, Standing Liberty quarter, and a Walking Liberty half. All of these coins are truly works of art, and the timeless classical design elements are sure to be admired. I feel this is the best way to appreciate a bit of history and diversity which numismatics offers and is generally the most affordable. Currently, an NGC MS 63 set of the aforementioned type coins could be had for around $325, certainly a reasonable and generally affordable expenditure for most.
For the slightly more advanced, I personally enjoy most 19th century type coins. Capped Bust, Seated Liberty, Barber coins and Indian Head cents all make for wonderful starting points and the foundation of a great collection. Type coins remain a vital component of the numismatic industry. You may ask, if the coin can be bought in quantity, is that coin or type still a wise collecting or investment option? My answer is yes. Certainly, it depends upon what coin we are talking about, yet with the exception of the extreme rarities, there will be multiple opportunities available for any collector, regardless of their finances, to acquire certain coins in all grade designations. It truly depends on your budget. Be sure to buy a reference guide or two as well. The Red Book, A Guide Book of United States Coins is a must on any collectors’ shelf. The superb NGC website also offers a wealth of diverse and timely information. Pricing guides, census reports, grading tips, and current news all bring the hobby to your fingertips in the comfort of your home and can help you make a well-informed purchase.
However, with certain issues of coins, the collector, dealer, or investor has to do a bit more research before committing to a purchase. Such is the case with the upcoming Eric P. Newman Part IV sale, which hits the marketplace as part of Heritage’s Signature auction May 16 and 17 in New York City. In total, 687 lots will appear assembled with great care by Mr. Newman. These are all Colonial coins, each historic, magnificent artifacts of our country’s earliest representatives of coin of the realm. All are proudly certified by NGC. A sale like this is truly a tremendous opportunity for those looking to sway a bit away from the mainstream of US numismatics.
I heartily concur with my colleague Dave Wnuck’s assessment: “The sale of Eric Newman's Colonials will serve to spark additional interest into this collector-dominated area. I will be bidding on behalf of several serious collectors, as well as for my own account. There will be coins in all price ranges, from a few hundred dollars up to the high six figures. Truly something for everyone.”
Although not the scope and diversity of the heralded Ford collection, demand for these Newman coins will be unprecedented in this decade. The auction will start the day after this article is posted. Be sure to visit the Heritage website or, if you can take in the event in the Big Apple at the Ukrainian Institute of America at the Fletcher-Sinclair mansion, I hope to see you there. Although there will be opportunities for collectors of modest means, I don’t think it would be too far out on the limb to predict several lots will eclipse the million dollar benchmark.
I have listed selected highlights from the prestigious Newman IV collection which have already received pre-bidding well in excess of six figures. All of the following are true treasures, the likes of which we will not see again, perhaps in our lifetimes:
- (1615-6) Sommer Islands Shilling Small Sails NGC AU 55 Finest Known
- 1652 Noe 1-A New England Sixpence NGC AU 58 Finest Known
- 1652 Noe 1-A New England Shilling NGC AU 55
- 1737 CONNECTICVT Higley Copper 3 Hammers NGC AU 50BN
- 1776 EG FECIT Continental Dollar Silver NGC MS 63
- 1787 New York Excelsior Copper NGC MS 63 BN
- 1792 Judd-1 Silver Center Cent NGC MS 63 BN
- 1783 Nova Constellatio Plain Edge 100 Units NGC AU 55 unique
- 1792 Judd-10 Copper Disme NGC AU 55
Until next time, happy collecting!
Jim Bisognani has written extensively on US coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He currently resides in Southern California and frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.