"Big D" Center of Attention - ANA Fall National Money Show Underway in Lone Star State

Posted on 10/18/2012

Heritage Signature Sale Features A Host Of Numismatic Icons. Fierce Demand For Rare Coins And An Aggressive Metals Market Bode Well For ANA and Beyond.

Just a few weeks away from the hotly contested Presidential elections there has also been much serious debate amongst dealers as to the direction of the coin market. As market makers and serious collectors have made the trek to be a part of the ANA National Money Show being held at the Dallas Convention Center October 18–20, both professional and hobbyist took some time away from the big show to share some enlightened observations.

Brian Hodge, of Lee Minshull Rare Coins informed me that it’s been much slower for LMRC the last few weeks. “I suspect people are holding off until after the election to make big moves. I anticipate a great ANA though, as there are many phenomenal coins that will be there that we are very interested in buying.” Hodge said that the firm is also on the lookout for all NGC Prooflike and Deep Prooflike gold coins.

Florida dealer Cedric Reeves advised me that he is reorienting his business more towards bullion and bullion–related coins. “I sold a lot of foreign proof and mint sets to a prominent Venezuelan collector about a month ago.” Per the Sunshine State dealer, better world coins are strong in South America–hard assets are king in the inflationary environs. Conversely, and not all that surprising due to anemic economic conditions, business in Spain is slow. “It seems that the really high end is strong and the middle and low end stuff is pretty dead. At the bigger shows, like the ANA, world Crowns do well and aesthetically appealing coins do well, but few people are filling out books with obscure countries.” Personally, I still like foreign coins better than US as there is much more room for growth asserted Reeves.

Astute Minnesota dealer Craig Gantner shared the following market scenario. “The numbers don't lie. The US (as well as most of the rest of the world) is backed into a debt and budget/entitlement corner. The only way out is inflation. Governments simply have to reduce the ‘value’ of the money owed. When the inflation pendulum begins to swing the other direction the only way to at least keep up with it will be if you are into hard assets like rare coins, metals, commodities and real estate. For any person that chooses to read the handwriting on the wall and wants to buy metals, for the life of me, I cannot understand why they would not be adding it as NGC–certified common date US Gold ($10 & $20 Libs and $20 Saints) or Morgan or Peace Silver Dollars. The premium on these coins over mass produced bullion material is at historical lows. And for collectors, keep in mind that unless your income keeps up with or exceeds the rate of inflation, the amount of your disposable income will be lower as more is dedicated to the cost of living. Not only that, but the purchasing power of what's left will be also be degraded. As good a reason as any to start or build on a coin collection now,” stressed Gantner.

Hailing from my home “Granite State” of New Hampshire, Greg at Seacoast Coin & Jewelry confirmed that the coin market in the seacoast town of Hampton (and the tri-state area) is quite brisk. “Gold & Silver Eagles are flying out the door, while nice original type is strong” relayed a very busy Greg. “Anything better date from just about all US series is also moving well. I have also observed a lot of new collectors coming in as of late, mainly looking at getting started with Morgan Dollars.” I expressed to Greg that has been my observation, too. The tried and trusted “Silver Cartwheel” continues to make many loyal friends in this business. I would say that 75% of the new collectors I speak to have been drawn into the hobby by the venerable Morgan.

I also had a chance to catch up with Dave Wnuck, senior Numismatist for Harry Laibstain Rare Coins. According to the well respected Virginia firm, because HLRC attends every major (and some not–so–major) coin auction in the US and sets up at every major and regional show, they are lucky to enjoy the opportunity to observe the coin market “on the ground,” as they say in the Army, advised Dave.

According to Wnuck, he feels attendance by collectors at all but the largest national shows has been light. “Retailers like us are still doing very strong business off our websites; we presume this is because collectors are buying coins off the internet at a greater rate. Dealer–to–dealer activity remains strong. Beautiful and high end coins are still in demand (same as it ever was). There seems to be interest stirring in several select areas of the market. We are noting increasing demand for Indian $10 Gold very recently, for instance. We have also observed increased interest in more esoteric issues as well. For example, we recently sold a lovely 1861 Confederate Half Dollar in NGC MS 61. These have always been popular, but prices have been rising in recent years due to the increasing appetite from advanced collectors for famous coins and esoterica. In the same vein, we recently purchased a lovely matched late 19th century eight coin proof set from 1881. It contains all coins from the Indian Cent through the Trade Dollar, all in NGC Proof 63 to Proof 66, including several Cameos. A set like this sells for less than one 1907 High Relief $20 in NGC MS 63, yet provides a lot more numismatic enjoyment for many.”

I told Dave that I heartily concur. For collectors which are fortunate enough to be in this enviable position, a proof set such as the aforementioned not only satisfies the hobbyists cravings with delightful 19th century representation of US numismatics, it is indeed a great investment, giving the collector considerable upward potential. Furthermore, though immensely popular, the $20 High Relief with a reported mintage of 12,367 is still readily available as a solid majority was saved at the time of issue. However, when compared to the aforementioned 1881 Proof set, all of the silver coins (dime through dollar) as an example report in with mintages of under 1,000. In the case of the Trade Dollar this is a proof only issue with only a mere 960 examples being struck, as no business strike examples were produced.

All in all advised Wnuck, despite the thinning attendance by collectors at coin shows, the market looks as healthy as ever from their standpoint. People are enjoying the “Hobby of Kings” – they are just enjoying it from the comfort of their homes.

Collectors, of course, are what makes numismatics the great hobby it is. So what are the average collectors tracking down? Well according to Nancy in South Carolina she is intent on completing a high end Mint State collection of Franklin Halves. “I have been setting aside these coins for many years from circulation; I just recently became serious about building a complete set. I figured this was an opportune time to assemble all the key dates in the best condition that I can afford. In fact, I just picked up a beautiful NGC MS 66 1949–S on eBay! Right now I am hunting for the 1953–S in MS 66.” This collector feels that the entire Franklin Half series are great unsung values in this grade. The South Carolinian is also picking up as many earlier FBL (full bell line) Franklins that she can locate. The hobbyist feels that many collectors are overlooking the more affordable NGC MS 66 FBL coins such as the 1948–D or the 1949. It is worth noting many of the earlier FBL examples are only priced at modest levels over that of regular strikes. A quick scan of the NGC US Coin Price Guide confirms that the 1949 grading MS 66 is valued at $488 while the MS 66 FBL is quoted $575. Interestingly according to the NGC Census, there are only 23 coins grading MS 66 while 47 examples are reported as MS 66 FBL. The collector also informed me that she just assembled a Proof set of Franklins, recently capturing a 1951, her birth year, grading NGC PF 67 to complete the run.

Another veteran collector advised me that he is putting together a complete set of Barber Quarters. Although I was informed that he can afford Mint State examples, this collector’s goal is assembling a matched set of pearly gray coins grading VF30–35. “I just want to put together a set that is lightly circulated but has that original “un–messed with’ look. I love quality, and while from an actual numbers tally coins in this grade range may not be truly rare, they are,” advised the Ohio native.

Collectors and dealers will have a chance to add to their collections and help facilitate want list requests as Heritage’s ANA National Money Show Signature Coin Auction is getting underway as we go to press. With six diverse sessions running through the 21st and totaling over 7,600 lots, there is sure to be decisive action on the auction floor. A roster of stellar NGC performers includes a trio of fabulous coppers. Leading off, the absolutely phenomenal 1792 Disme J–10 graded NGC PF 62 BN. A superb example of the copper striking of this historic and truly rare bit of Americana! Another truly spectacular coin is a 1793 Wreath Cent Vine & Bars S–6 graded an astounding NGC SP 66 BN. Exemplary and flashing; the electric Levick plate coin has a rich numismatic pedigree and “who’s who” history of owners. Next a robust 1795 Lettered Edge S–75 Large Cent grading NGC MS 65 RB — a coin that certainly has few if any peers. For Liberty Seated Dime fans, there is a historic and truly stunning array of early proof strikings including the finest known famed 1844 “Little Orphan Annie” dime, graded NGC PF 66!

Other NGC certified treasures:

  • 1776 Newman 1–C Pewter Continental Dollar NGC MS 63
  • 1793 Periods Chain Cent NGC AU 50
  • 1822 Capped Bust Dime NGC MS 66
  • 1839–O No Drapery Liberty Seated Dime NGC SP 65
  • 1844 Liberty Seated Dime NGC PF 66
  • 1841 Liberty Seated Dime NGC PF 63 Cameo
  • 1847 Liberty Seated Dime NGC PF 66 Cameo
  • 1798 Small Eagle, 13 Stars Draped Bust Dollar NGC AU 58
  • 1849 No L Gold Dollar NGC PF 64 Cameo
  • 1858 Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC PF 65 Cameo
  • 1877 Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo
  • 1833 Large Date Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC PF 61
  • 1890 Liberty Half Eagle NGC MS 68
  • 1882 $20 Liberty NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo

Buoyed by fierce demand for rare coins and an aggressive metals market, this second installment of the fall National Money Show bodes to be quite the telling event. Hope to see you on the bourse!

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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