57th Money Show of the Southwest Scene of Spirited Action
Posted by Jim Bisognani on 12/12/2013
December and the holiday rush is here and for most of the numismatic nation, The Lone Star State was the scene of the last major coin convention to scour for bargains in 2013. Held at the spacious George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, The Money Show of the Southwest, 57th edition of the event, held court to a highly hospitable and quite lively numismatic affair. Running December 5-7, the convention greeted attendees with a fleeting taste of late spring/early summer type weather on Thursday, as most of the public donned short sleeves. Yet, Friday and Saturday ushered in downright wintery conditions, as the effects of winter storm, “Cleon,” attempted to hinder the public turnout. “We have always had weather problems at the show, it seems,” bemused Carl Schwenker, the Chairman of dealer relations for the show.
According to the always congenial Schwenker, public attendance and dealer turnout was up in Houston this year and it has been on the rise over the last few years. I can personally attest that a great deal of the credit for the Money Show’s increasing popularity is a direct result of the yeoman efforts of the all-volunteer staff of the Greater Houston Coin Club. Schwenker, Claude Mathes and the crew’s hard work of networking and catering to both the dealer and collector has paid off with an amplified public turnout, as well as an increase in dealer involvement. “Many dealers have already come up to me and paid and reserved their tables for next year,” relayed an enthusiastic Schwenker.
All of the profits from this Money Show benefit the young numismatist, providing education and resources to the youth. The club also provides coins for those students who achieve a high GPA in school. It’s called the Three A’s Program; students who post at least three “A’s” on their report cards receive real collectible coins in appreciation for their scholastic efforts. “The students are eligible four times during the four marking periods. We are presently serving over 1,600 children in the greater Houston megalopolis,” advised the proud Chairman. Plans are also in the works for sending several young numismatists to ANA camp, if funds allow.
Another innovative twist this year was incorporating a “Penny Drop” a day before the show. According to Carl, The Greater Houston Coin Club had purchased six 1914-D Lincoln Cents and then set out to get them unknowingly in the hands of local businesses. “It was a bit of motivation to get the public mind into coin collecting or to know about the show. So we dropped six 1914-D Lincoln cents all around the metropolitan area and offered 200 bucks for anyone bringing a coin back to the show,” confessed Carl, the brainchild of this caper.
The local and national media ate up the story. Yet, as of late Saturday, no one had come forward with any of the aforementioned 1914-Ds. Per Carl, each of the cents had a small identifier placed on the rims at various locations. Wow! There is still a chance, in fact six, to find a 1914-D in circulation! What a thrill it would be for the collector to find one before the holidays! It is almost worth it to book passage to Houston to search for these rarities!
Well-known Beth Deisher, author and the now retired long-tenured editor of Coin World, was also a first-time attendee to the show. “I was a speaker, here with my book, Cash In Your Coins, which was written more for the general public that might have inherited coins and tells them what to do, where to go and how to value them,” advised Beth.
However, what stuck out for Deisher was what she witnessed on the bourse. “I saw something I hadn’t seen in shows in recent years - more young people. I was surprised there were people in their 20s and late teens. Usually, you don’t see that younger mix of people at the coin shows. Usually, it seemed that there might be some kids tagging along with their father or grandfather, but not being there on their own.” This, of course, is quite encouraging, as continued youth involvement only perpetuates our great hobby.
As for the vibe and action on the bourse, “I would describe it as a solid collector show. They do a really good job of bringing in people and a lot of first-time collectors were actually active, not just walking up and down the aisles, but actually wheeling and dealing and getting involved with coins,” relayed the observant Deisher. Most dealers and collectors that I caught up with also seemed to agree with that assessment; traffic was moderate, but steady, during the shows run, and most attendees reflected on a good retail show.
One dealer from the greater Houston area advised me that he had a great retail show: “In fact, I sold nearly six figures to some of my regulars within the first four hours on opening day. I sold some great NGC type coins which I had brought specifically to the Money Show.” Included in this dealer’s bounty were 10 different Capped Bust Halves. “All were really cool coins, nice original color, no scarce Overtons but just an eye appealing mix of coins from the 1820s all NGC MS 64 and MS 65.”
I certainly concur; these coins are getting very hard to come by on the bourse or at auction and so many have been dipped or otherwise played with. Great coins continue to garner great prices.
Ross Baldwin, president of National Coin Broker, informed me that he also had a really good show: “Some of my local clients stopped by and cleaned me out of some of my great NGC-certified gold coins.” The Florida dealer then advised that he sold a fabulous 1910-D, $10 Indian NGC MS 67, tied for the finest known, and a 1909 $10 Indian, NGC-graded PF 64, to one of his regular clients that always links up with him at the Money Show. “Now I need to try and replenish my inventory,” advised Baldwin.
A collector I spoke to from neighboring Tomball, TX, advised that he was there to scout out better Liberty Seated Quarters. “I am looking for key CC and San Francisco coins. I am trying to match an even toned VF-XF set I have been working on for ten years. It was tough to part with the cash, but I did locate a nice VF 1864-S, as well as an 1872-CC. Early Christmas gift for me.”
Well-liked Larry Shapiro advised me that he spent the majority of the time buying, mostly to replace missing dates in his inventory. Larry also feels that the market is solid heading into FUN next month.
The host Houston Signature Auction by Heritage supplied dealers and convention goers with over 5,000 opportunities to fill want lists and to bolster inventories. Another strong live floor and Internet Signature sale to close out the year for Heritage, this event topped slightly over $10 million and boasted a nearly 98% sell-through rate! Leading the way for NGC-certified properties was an enigmatic 1798 15 Stars, BB-81, B-2 Draped Bust Small Eagle Dollar graded NGC MS 60, which captured $76,375, a solid price for this coin. This exact coin last appeared in the Central States auction in 2008 and realized $74,750; this was at the time considered to be the top for the rare coin market! The always-popular and rarely encountered 1864 L on Ribbon Indian Head Cent witnessed heated action with a pair of proofs, one NGC-graded PF 64 Brown. According to Senior Numismatist Mark Feld: “This was one of my favorite coins in the sale and perhaps the most attractive example I have seen, regardless of grade.” This coin realized $44,063, and the counterpart, NGC-graded PF 64 RB, achieved a solid $58,750.
An utterly fantastic 1853 Type 1 Gold Dollar, NGC-graded MS 66 which last appeared in an Abe Kosoff sale in October of 1968, thundered to an impressive $10,869 to an excited floor-bidder. According to the NGC census, 40 representatives have achieved MS 66 status, with only eight grading a point higher, yet this boldly struck, frosty gem with exceptional eye appeal, easily eclipsed the NGC price guide valuation by nearly 40%! A captivating 1829 Capped Bust Half Dollar, small letters O-106, NGC-graded MS 63 PL, most likely the second-finest known, catapulted to an impressive $15,863.
Other NGC top-performers in the Lone Star State:
- 1793 Half Cent NGC VF 25 $14,100
- 1870 Liberty Seated Quarter NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo $19,975
- 1839-O Capped Bust Half Dollar NGC MS 65 $32,900
- 1915 Barber Half Dollar NGC PF 68 $22,325
- 1872-CC Liberty Seated Dollar NGC MS 61 $30,550
- 1915-S Indian Half Eagle NGC MS 64 $47,000
- 1904 Liberty $10 NGC PF 65 Cameo $41,125
- 1869-S Liberty $20 NGC MS 62 $22,325
- 1852 887 Thous US Assay Office $50 NGC VF 35 $30,550
Until next time, happy holidays and 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.