A Heaping Helping of Hospitality in Houston
Posted by Jim Bisognani on 12/15/2011
Despite December’s early winter chill, both dealers and the collecting public received a warm reception at the 55th Annual Money Show of the Southwest in Houston, Texas December 1–3. For those of you that did not attend the show perhaps it would be wise to include this on the docket for next year. Sponsored by the Greater Houston Coin Club, Claude Mathes, Carl Schwenker, Gail Brichford and associates do an admirable job with this late season venue. The show itself, manned by an all volunteer staff, is certainly a well orchestrated event.
Dealer set up as well as the opening day went off without a hitch and the public, which was allowed in at one o’clock, was energetic and most importantly ready to buy! One dealer from the East Coast that had set up shop in Houston for the first time confirmed that they sold over $100,000 worth of certified coins to retail customers within the first four hours of the show. “It was a pleasant surprise. Most of the coins sold were better date gold, Half Eagles and Double Eagles in the low four to mid-five figure range, and I even sold a handful of NGC MS 67 Wells Fargo twenties to a new customer.”
Early copper specialist Greg Hannigan advised that several top census early Large Cents exchanged hands including a superb 1797 Draped Bust Large Cent S–135 NGC MS 63 BN pedigreed to the Jules Reiver Collection. Other dealers with less high profile inventory also did very well as many intermediate collectors were anxious to acquire circulated key date Lincoln Cents, mid–range Classic Commems or fill those last few spots in their Mercury Dime collection folder. All told it seemed to be a fairly well balanced show. Dealers with inventories of mid–five and low–six figure coins did very well as did those setting up shop with coins in the $50–$1,500 range. As is usually the case, it’s not necessarily what you have for sale, it’s the quality of the coins that you’re offering. If something was just outright ugly, it still languished in that dealers’ inventory. Conversely, coins that had the right look and a fair price were immediately gobbled up by the public. Icing on the Texas–sized cake were the avid attendees from the surrounding towns within the Lone Star State and beyond that turned out in sizable numbers. I must admit that every novice hobbyist and advanced collector that I spoke to was very grateful to have the opportunity to buy, trade and sell rare coins. An appreciative collector from Austin put it: “We don’t get that many shows of this caliber and we really appreciate it and look forward to heading out to the George R. Brown Convention Center.” A well-known California dealer stated, “They do an exceptional job here. They are collector oriented and dealer friendly, which is no easy task. It is certainly a significant and well received combination.”
Topping off the heaping portion of hospitality there was a complementary Texas–style barbecue for dealers after the bourse closed down Thursday night. There was also live music, which was a nice touch while having dinner with colleagues and friends. Abraham Lincoln was even in attendance…well at least his modern day double. Actor Dennis Boggs was observed making the rounds with stovepipe hat in tow seemingly as if on the stump campaigning for office on the spacious bourse of the convention complex.
On Saturday morning one of the largest contingents of Boy Scouts that I have observed at this type of venue appeared on the bourse after attending the merit badge clinic. This type of unbridled enthusiasm bodes well for the future of our hobby.
Although the Silver Eagle mania surrounding the 25th anniversary issues has cooled a bit, Teletrade, the inventor of the online certified auction, is in the midst of a 2–day auction commemorating their 25th anniversary. As I write this article, this colossal 2–day extravaganza, the largest in Teletrade’s history, is underway. Auction 3187, which commenced on Sunday, December 11, and Auction 3188, which began on Monday, December 12, include more than 8,500 lots of US and World–certified coins and currency valued at over $3 million. This historic pair of internet only auctions feature numerous Pop 1 highlights and is most certainly a record for any non–live floor bidding format. Since its inception in 1986 this market innovator has spawned untold legions of similar events, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Teletrade is bursting at the seams with thankful admirers.
A few of the many rare and key date collector coins in the sales included:
- 1914–D Lincoln Cent NGC MS 65 RD, only 19 coins at this level with a mere five finer.
- 1936–D Lincoln Cent NGC MS 68 RD, a mere three coins at this level with none higher.
- 1870 Two Cent Piece NGC PR 66 RB, an attractively toned Gem; only 19 coins at this level with none finer.
- 1902 Liberty Nickel NGC MS 67, only four coins at this level with a single example achieving higher grade.
- 1900 Morgan Dollar NGC PR 66 CAM, a flashy white Cameo.
- 1920–S $20 St. Gaudens NGC MS 63, a tough branch mint Saint.
Rounding out a very busy pre–holiday schedule was Heritage’s US Coin Signature Auction in New York on December 8–11. Boasting nearly 4,000 lots and realizing a formidable $6.8 million, there was something for every collector’s budget as well as ample opportunity to bolster dealers’ depleted inventories with fresh stock before taking some time off for the holidays and heading into the New Year. As always, key dates and dazzling type coins courted strong competition. Also noteworthy, select Liberty and Buffalo Nickels in high grade performed very well. Some of the more distinguished NGC participants included the following roster:
- 1652 Small Planchet Pine Tree Shilling NGC VF 35 $4,025
- 1793 “AMERICA” Chain Cent NGC VF 20 $25,300
- 1848 Large Cent NGC MS 67 BN $10,925
- 1857 Flying Eagle Cent NGC MS 64 $1,610
- 1915–D Lincoln Cent NGC MS 66 Red $4,313
- 1883 With Cents Liberty Nickel NGC MS 67 $7,475
- 1904 Liberty Nickel NGC MS 67 $4,888
- 1925–S Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 65 $12,650
- 1935 Doubled Die Reverse Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 65 $16,100
- 1937–D Three–Legged Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 64 $9,200
- 1895–O Barber Dime NGC MS 65 $19,550
- 1875 Seated Liberty Quarter NGC PF 68 Cameo $10,125
- 1913–S Barber Quarter NGC MS 67 $46,000
- 1936 Walking Liberty Half NGC PF 67 $12,650
- 1895–S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 65 PL $18,400
- 1805 Draped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC MS 60 $25,300
- 1885 Liberty Quarter Eagle PF 65 Cameo $25,300
- 1854–D Three Dollar Princess NGC AU 55 $37,950
- 1884 Three Dollar Princess NGC MS 64 $13,800
- 1811 Small 5 Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 61 $16,675
- 1913–S Indian Eagle NGC MS 62 $10,638
- 1860–S Liberty $20 NGC MS 62 $16,200
- 1908 No Motto Saint–Gaudens $20, Ex West Fargo Nevada NGC MS 68 $18,400
- 1995–W Silver Eagle NGC PF 70 Ultra Cameo $10,350
Until next time, happy holidays!
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.