FUN - A Serious Surprise
Posted by Jim Bisognani on 7/24/2014
For those of you who made the trek to the eighth annual Summer FUN show, you were treated to a pleasantly active event, albeit a steamy and showery affair in the Sunshine State. The bourse at the Orange County Civic Center was bustling and the solid showing of manned tables was reaping the rewards of the enthusiastic floor traffic. According to a sizable number of attending dealers to whom I spoke, Summer FUN 2014 was a satisfying and profitable surprise.
Well-known veteran dealer, John Hamrick, was ecstatic with his Sunshine State outing. “The summer FUN show was the best show of the year for us.” When I asked John what were the keys to success at the Summer FUN, he replied, “Lots of public and they were spending money; we did over $240,000 in sales.” Hamrick also believed that the host Heritage auction was a great sale to bid in, as there were, in his opinion, “bargains to be had.”
I also met up with the always congenial Florida dealer, Lance Tchor, President of Worldwide Numismatics, Inc. “Hey, Jim, it was a surprisingly stronger than expected Summer FUN show. The US and world coin markets are hot, and buyers were proving this over and over again at the show. If you have quality and rarity and fresh coins, it just makes it easy to do business.
Lance also advised that he was able to make great acquisitions in Orlando. “The Summer FUN was also really great for me buying wise, as the public was bringing deal after deal to our table. It was almost comical; it was so much "fun." After it was all said and done, it was probably the best Summer FUN show business-wise I ever had. I also have to say the FUN staff and security at the show made it as pleasant as I could expect for a convention.”
Bob Green, President of Park Avenue Numismatics, also had a good outing. “Our emphasis on this show was to buy inventory. We arrived early to do some preshow wholesale trading with dealers and made a few nice purchases for our want list clients.”
Collectors whom I caught up with relayed to me that they were having a good time and were able to scout out some good buys, too. One serious collector, Mike from nearby Melbourne, FL, advised that he put his business on hold temporarily to attend the Summer FUN. “It wasn’t as active as the winter show, but it was busy. I did come early, and I think that worked to my advantage. I was able to make some deals with a few of the major players. I think that several of them wanted to unload some of the slower movers and increase their cash position for the ANA.”
Mike then advised me that he picked up a rather nice group of high-grade type coins. “Capped Bust Half Dimes, Three Cent Silvers, and Two Cent Pieces, all NGC MS 64 or better. I like all three series as a collector and as an investor, there are no major rarities in any of these series, so it’s relatively easy for me to collect and upgrade them. I also think they are underrated; you can get bucket loads of other coins, but not these.”
I told Mike that I also enjoyed the three series that he mentioned. With the exception of the half dime series, all were relatively short-lived and were all obsolete as of 1873, all meeting the fate of the government overhaul of our coinage in that infamous year. As always, the Summer FUN delivered a great opportunity to purchase, barter, and bid for desirable collector coins on the bourse, as well as at the feature auction by Heritage. The Summer FUN Signature Sale delivered a little over a tidy $9.7 million. In total, nearly 4,800 lots were sold, which equated to nearly a superb 98% sell through rate! Perhaps even more amazing for a sale of this size and scope, there were no coins that came close to the six-figure plateau.
The top NGC performer was a lustrous and well struck NGC MS 63 1889-CC Morgan Dollar. This key Carson City installment in the always popular Morgan series claimed a solid $41,125. Next on the roster, a 1920-S $10 Indian graded NGC AU 55, powered to an impressive $38,188, which appears to be a record price paid for an NGC coin at this grade level. This issue has always been popular with date and type collectors, and the 1920-S is definitely in the upper echelon of rarities within the series.
Other notable NGC coins meeting the hammer at the Heritage Summer FUN signature auction:
- 1903 Indian Cent NGC MS 67 RD $4,406
- 1851-O Three Cent Silver NGC MS 67 $11,163
- 1807 Draped Bust Quarter NGC MS 64 $30,550
- 1927-S Standing Liberty Quarter NGC MS 66 $11,750
- 1871 Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo $25,850
- 1873-CC Liberty Seated Dollar NGC VF 25 $18,213
- 1889 Morgan Dollar NGC PF 67 $28,200
- 1795 Small Eagle Draped Bust Half Eagle NGC XF 45 $32,900
- 1869-S Liberty Half Eagle NGC MS 61 $17,625
- 1908-S Indian Half Eagle NGC MS 65 $17,038
- 1911-D Indian $10 NGC MS 61 $12,338
- 1866 Liberty $20 NGC MS 61 $19,975
As I previously mentioned, although there were no six-figure coins sold at the host auction, the sale was definitive affirmation that the mid-range priced coins, those in the low-to-mid four figures, are continuing to attract an enthusiastic and growing audience of active buyers. Taking a closer look at the sales results for the Heritage 2014 FUN Signature Sale, we find that 45% (or some 2,122 lots) met the hammer in the aforementioned $1K-$10K price range. This is a sizable and noteworthy increase of 11% over the previous four year average (2010-13) of the lots sold within the same price perimeters at the Summer FUN Heritage sales.
It is amazing to me that considering that there is such a low percentage of new or “fresh” material that surfaces at most major auctions, not only month-to-month, now even week-to-week, that it is still common place to witness multimillion dollar sales results. The numismatic machine is still very much the juggernaut. There is a great demand for collector coins and established rarities! The key to generating these ongoing results is the enormous amount of consignments which the major auction houses and dealers have and continue to solicit. Is quality here? There of course will be differences of opinion, yet according to numeric grade there is and while a very small percentage of the coins are truly rare, all are collectible and all have a place in this vibrant market.
I know I am showing my age, yet it wasn’t that long ago that during the course of a year there would only be a handful of sales which even came close to generating a million dollars in revenues, usually a marquee auction or the ANA summer sale. What has happened over the last decade is a proliferation of online only auction venues which, initially, many dealers overlooked, as they were not viable, in their opinion, to live viewing and floor bidding. Yet, through the advent of independent third-party grading of NGC, higher resolution photography and more accurate and timely price guide valuations, many collectors as well as dealers find the online certified auction venues exciting, rewarding and convenient to conduct business—you don’t have to travel to an auction site to view the coins!
Just to give a quick indication of the current status of the online auction market I can offer you sales data from the following two mainstays of the popular online genre—Heritage and David Lawrence Galleries. As we go to press, January 2014 to date, Heritage has generated $7.9 million and David Lawrence has captured $4.6 million in their online-only efforts! Of course, there are more online auction companies, yet just these two major players are easily on pace to total more this year than what the 2005 ANA sale realized in San Francisco, ($19.3 million,) not even a decade ago!
Where is this market as we steam towards what portends to be a rousing ANA? Based on revenue, attendance, and participation at coin shows and Internet action, it’s easy to believe that sales will continue to be extremely strong for problem-free, high-grade, scarce and collectible coins. The more difficult part of the equation will be locating new certified coins to offer up to this ravenous base of collectors. Demand is certainly broad-based. For a good percentage of the new hobbyists coming on board, initial interest is targeting modern issues and more bullion related coins; the US Mint has a great deal to do with the enthusiasm and excitement generated in this market segment. (Get ready for the 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half!) However, the vast number of collectors are interested in old school, true numismatic coins, and established, scarce, and collectible coins. So, as we prepare for the big ANA show in Rosemont, Illinois, there is sure to be a lot of excitement building. Before the big shindig, I suggest that collector and dealer alike take time to review the fantastic upcoming ANA auctions by host auctioneer Stack's Bowers, as well as the enormous, varied sale offered by Heritage. They are both going to be doozies.
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.