ANA Reaches New Heights - Long Beach Next Port Of Call

Posted on 5/17/2012

"Rarities are absolutely on fire."

Those on the front line in numismatics can readily attest that it can be a grind. One show after another, coin dealers and avid collectors make the rounds systematically in nomadic fashion from coast–to–coast. From the dealer perspective, to perpetuate their business and chosen livelihood. On the collector’s side, gain first–hand experience, gather insights from respected numismatists and build upon their favorite series and perhaps set sights on the next collecting horizon. Of course this noble hobby has become a huge business, especially within the last few decades. With the advent of internet-only auctions, improved digital photography and electronic trading venues, all a budding numismatist needs to conduct business is a Wi–Fi hot spot, a laptop or an iPhone. Yet for a large percentage of numismatists, they just want that hands-on experience. There is nothing quite like walking a major bourse, meeting professional dealers and numismatic experts and wheeling and dealing for numismatic treasure on your own terms. The latest major attraction was in the Mile High City of Denver for the annual ANA National Spring Money Show on May 10–12. For those visiting the Rocky Mountain State a warm sunny day greeted convention goers as the doors to the spacious Colorado Convention Center opened to the public on Thursday.

Some in attendance readily admitted that they were enthusiastic first timers and wanted to see what numismatics was all about. Many were enjoying the superb exhibits and displays. An appreciative collector who made the trek from Montana expressed his delight in viewing numismatic icons from the ANA’s collection. “I can’t believe I actually saw a real 1804 Dollar and the 1913 Liberty Nickel (The McDermott/ Bebee specimen). It boggles my imagination that it went for only $46,000 back in 1967! What’s it worth now, $4–$5 million? Amazing!”

Numerous self–described investors that I spoke to were intent on buying US Gold Eagles and Double Eagles since gold was trading at below $1,600 an ounce for the first time since the first week of January. Some were successful and others met more resistance as sellers weren’t anxious to offer further discounts. Several collectors stated they were on the stump for the low mintage classic US Silver Commemoratives. Individual coins or date sets such as Arkansas, Boone, Oregon Trail and Texas have mintages under 5,000. “I am on the hunt for anything that’s MS 65 or better at current market prices. I can afford to cherry pick them and in many cases I can buy really spectacular certified examples below Greysheet. I am doing this as an investment, but I also really enjoy the hunt. For the time being I can afford to be choosy.”

A serious type collector informed me that they were anxious to acquire the king of US Type coins, the Draped Bust Small Eagle Reverse Half Dollar. “I am finally in a position to acquire an Extremely Fine to AU specimen,” beamed the Utah native. “Hey, I have been at this for over 30 years and now, just before retirement age, I can finally afford one of these babies!” With no major auctions assigned to the show, this collector was resigned to scoping out the vast bourse in search of that key half dollar. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” explained the collector. “This is something that I want to locate and compare the quality. When I find the right example, I will pull the trigger!”

Perhaps with no official auction surrounding the ANA event, Denver was more of what an average coin show would be: a time when dealers have their best coins on display, for sale or trade, and both professionals and hobbyists conduct business one–on–one. As one veteran collector from Massachusetts aptly stated, “There is still time to engage in repartee, share anecdotes about the numismatic elite, or merely discuss the virtues of a recent acquisition. It’s the camaraderie that you don’t get at a floor auction. It’s fast, furious and generally loud! And most have made the rounds more often than an ER nurse.” Another well known dealer concurred that the absence of an auction eliminated the time–consuming interruption associated with viewing, bidding and jockeying for position on a multitude of lots. “Definitely there was much more focus on buying and selling coins. After all, at its core that’s what the coin show is all about.”

Retail customers that made the trip to Denver where perhaps of a more serious buying ilk, as several six–figure sales were reported from several sources on the floor. A well known California dealer said, “ANA shows always seem to ratchet up the action and rarities are absolutely on fire. I have had a great show.” Retail traffic was moderately heavy and consistent. Friday was perhaps the busiest day as colder and wet weather returned to the region and seemed to equate to decidedly more public patrolling the bourse.

For most dealers there will be just enough time to log in new inventory and make a stop at their home turf as the calendar reveals another major show this month on the west coast. As has become tradition, the Goldberg’s will hold their annual pre–Long Beach Sale on Memorial Day weekend. US coins will meet the hammer on May 27–28 and a diverse world coin selection will command attention on May 29–30.

The US selections will feature main stream federal issues as well as the more esoteric; everything from Colonials through Territorial Gold. Perhaps the most exciting lots are NGC–certified treasures associated with our 50th state. A stunning array of ultra rare Proof strikings, all which were limited to a mere 26 strikings and earmarked for prominent dignitaries, were produced on behalf of the Hawaiian Government at the San Francisco Mint in 1883. The finest known 1883 Hawaiian Quarter Dollar, graded NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo, was originally part of a five–piece 1883 Hawaiian Silver Proof set that had been kept intact since the time of striking. This gorgeous Hawaiian Quarter brought $43,125 when it appeared at a Stack’s sale in November 2008. An 1883 Hawaiian Half Dollar NGC PF 65 Cameo is certain to cause a stir. The finest according to the NGC Census, it captured $57,500 at the same Stack’s sale. Next is a glorious 1883 Hawaiian Dollar graded NGC PF 65 Cameo. This, the finest known Hawaiian Proof Dollar realized $138,000 four years ago.

Topping off the historic Kingdom of Hawaiian coinage is perhaps the most sought after crown jewel, the finest known Mint State 1883 Hawaiian Dollar. Graded NGC MS 68 and from the Samuel Mills Damon estate, this wonder coin was a part of the historic Damon collection auctioned off by Doyle of New York in March 2006 when it brought $192,000. Truly a dynamic and underrated issue without question, this coin is worthy of any record it receives.

Several other NGC notables up for bid at the Goldberg sale include:

  • 1884 Liberty Nickel NGC MS 66
  • 1857–O Seated Liberty Dime NGC MS 67
  • 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 65 FH
  • 1814/3 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC MS 65
  • 1895 Barber Half Dollar NGC PF 68
  • 1922–S Peace Dollar NGC MS 66
  • 1995–W Silver Eagle NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo
  • 1854–O Three Dollar Princess NGC AU 58
  • 1853–C Liberty Half Eagle NGC MS 60
  • 1885–S Liberty $10 NGC MS 64
  • 1893–CC Liberty $20 NGC MS 62
  • 1908 Motto Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC MS 65
  • 1883 KM–4A Hawaiian 1/8 Dollar NGC PF 65 BN
  • 1883 Copper Hawaiian Pattern Half Dollar NGC PF 67 RB
  • 1895 Hawaiian Pattern Dollar NGC PF 64 Cameo
  • 1883 Hawaiian Dollar NGC MS 65

Immediately following the Goldberg sale in Los Angeles, the numismatic scene will motor south to the Long Beach Expo. As always, the host signature auction by Heritage will feature a dazzling array for both dealer and collector featuring nearly 7,000 lots. The following NGC representatives are sure to be standouts:

  • 1837 No Stars Seated Liberty Dime NGC PF 67
  • 1814 Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC MS 68
  • 1870–CC Seated Liberty Half Dollar NGC AU 58
  • 1893 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 68 Cameo
  • 1895 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 66 Cameo
  • 1806/5 Draped Capped Bust Quarter Eagle NGC AU 58
  • 1879 Liberty $10 NGC PF 65 Cameo
  • 1887 Liberty $10 NGC PF 65 Cameo
  • 1914 Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC PF 66
  • (1831–34) C. Bechtler 20C, 150G. Beaded $5 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.

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