Jim Bisognani: Wish Lists and High Hopes for Rosemont

Posted on 8/11/2022

The World's Fair of Money is nearly here, and numismatic collectors everywhere couldn't be more excited.

The news headlines extolling rampant inflation, higher interest rates and the war in Ukraine seem to greet us every day. For many, this repetition has become numb to us. Yet, for those individuals who absorb all the data and realize the gravity and potential ramifications to them and their finances, it is precisely these types of headlines that draw in more and more individuals to numismatics.

For many of those interested in preserving their wealth, their first step is to become acquainted in the process of acquiring precious metals as long-standing assets. This first step leaves the door open for semi-numismatic bullion-related coins and rare coins. Even those who are not yet coindexters, but just have had a passing interest in coins, might hear this news and call a local dealer to talk. The next step is to scan the internet to see when and where the next coin show will be in their area.

There is no magic formula of what to collect and what to hold. Advanced dealers would likely design and recommend a diversified portfolio of rare high-grade coins for their new customers.

Yes, the coin market has a lot to be proud of

Today, our hobby has become a very potent industry. It rebounded nicely during those scary days in September 2008, when the world seemed on the verge of an economic collapse, and for the last two years during the worldwide pandemic. Collectible coins, rare coins and many other collectibles have accelerated, with demand dramatically intensified.

The numismatic industry has a lot to be proud of. Major auction houses and dealers banded together and protected our hobby. Third-party grading has provided protection, value and transparency. The advent of NGC third-party grading has been a colossal boon to the industry. The standardized acceptance and even sight unseen trading has brought in a lot of activity from the sidelines. Those looking for a secure, exciting and liquid alternative to paper-based assets are appearing in growing numbers with want lists in hand for certified coins.

With that said, NGC-certified coins are still scrutinized and carefully assessed for strengths and weaknesses in their individual holders. The adage “buy the coin, not the holder” may be true for veterans of the hobby. Yet, for those new to numismatics, it’s the integrity and respect of the NGC holder, which protects their interests and their collection venture.

It’s not surprising that, according to the NGC US Coin Price Guide, US type coins from the early to mid-19th century have been driven by powerful demand. In most instances, coins ranging from Half Cents to $20 gold pieces have all sported double-digit gains in the past year.

1884-CC Double Eagle from NGC Coin Explorer
Click images to enlarge.

It’s here, the ANA World’s Fair of Money

A great opportunity to see these changes firsthand and feel the pulse of what makes coin collecting the greatest hobby in the world awaits next week. The ANA World’s Fair of Money will be running August 16-20 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. It's a familiar locale for many, as the World’s Fair of Money has called Rosemont home for four out of the last five shows.

Talk about excitement!

How about a father-and-son duo who happen to be attending their first coin show ever — and it just happens to be the ANA? What an adrenaline rush and a truly memorable event for Bruno and his 13-year-old son, Guy.

The Illinois resident has been an avid collector and serious numismatist since well before his 13-year-old son was born. Bruno has been buying coins through local dealers when there is a lull in his work schedule or when an opportunity arises through online auctions via eBay, etc.

“My busy schedule, working remotely during the pandemic and now on the road two or three times a week just doesn’t present me with any free time — especially around the weekends, when these things (coin shows) usually happen,” said Bruno.

“This year, I have the last two weeks of August off. I really didn’t plan it — it just happened to coincide with the show — but I am so excited that it did. My son is just ecstatic. And the best part— it is only about a two-hour drive to the show.”

Guy has been collecting Indian Head Cents for three years. He has worked part-time jobs after school and has been helping his dad this past year with some projects around the house, and he has finally saved up enough to pick up a few of the key coins from the post-Civil War era to mid-1870s.

1865 Indian Head Cent from NGC Coin Explorer
Click images to enlarge.

“I really want to get all the copper nickels, an 1875 and maybe an 1872 in VG Fine condition. After that, I want to look for the rest of the 1870s coins and buy as many as I can afford to in about the same grade. Of course, I want to just look at some 1877 Indian Heads, you know, and just dream and maybe get an idea of how long it will take before I can get one — maybe in a year or so.”

Bruno, of course, is helping his son in his mission while hunting for Charlotte and Dahlonega Gold Quarter Eagles for his own collection. “I just want to get a couple of nice coins from each Southern branch mint. They are just so historic and rare. I am not well to do, so this is a major expenditure for me, but I figured that the ANA will be the place for me to see the best, and I am, of course, prepared to barter.”

1842-D Quarter Eagle from NGC Coin Explorer
Click images to enlarge.

Another coindexter from Alabama told me: "I believe that silver is by far the best opportunity in the market. The spot price of silver is still well below the cost of production, and the available above-ground supplies of bullion are drying up quite rapidly. There has been so much extra demand during the pandemic.” This fellow is a Morgan Dollar aficionado and plans on getting a couple of bags of his favorite coin in Rosemont. “What can I say? I just love Morgan Dollars in addition to the bags. I plan on getting a couple of key CC coins and a few nice DPLs.”

1889-CC Morgan Dollar from NGC Coin Explorer
Click images to enlarge.

A well-known East Coast dealer reflected on the huge disconnect he has observed in active buyers for top-echelon rarities and the “everyday coins,” as he refers to them.

“Hey, it’s true: If a coin has all the bells and whistles, rarity, eye appeal and is new or newer to the market, buyers will line up and drive the price up at auction or on the floor. Yet, if we are talking about uncirculated type coins or modern issues — you know, most 20th century and post-World War II stuff — prices are weak. But there are key early 20th century coins like the 1916-D Merc. Now there is a coin that will sell immediately in a third-party holder, regardless of the grade. I am talking any clean grade. I just picked up three of them in NGC holders, VF-XF — gone as soon as I offered them. The same with clean, problem-free 1909-S VDB Lincolns in VF-XF. The price for me has gone up $200 to $300 in those grades from the first of the year.”

1916-D Mercury Dime from NGC Coin Explorer
Click images to enlarge.

This California dealer also stated that he has seen some life injected into the Barber series (Dimes, Quarters and Halves) of late. “Key dates in VG-XF are taking off. It’s really justified and about time because many of those coins are very tough to come by, especially the San Francisco and New Orleans mints.”

1901-S Barber Dime from NGC Coin Explorer
Click images to enlarge.

Even for us veterans of so many of these events, it is still like a tiny tot entering Toyland. Whatever series or type of coin — US or world — this is the destination! Enjoy the show.

Until next time, be safe and happy collecting!

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