Long Beach Expo Underway—But I'm Snowbound

Posted on 2/16/2017

As winter rages on, it is so nice to have order and decorum, at least in the numismatic world.

Well I spoke too soon in my last report. I had addressed that, much to my relief, we who reside in New Hampshire had not been on the receiving end of a large “named snowstorm” to end the month of January; the first time in three years. Actually, I was able to see some bare ground in spots and fleeting thoughts of a quick transition to spring raced through my mind like the Patriots comeback in the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, on February 8-9 we were on the short end of Old Man Winter’s wrath; 16 inches of heavy, wet snow were followed up two days later by the monster winter marvel named “Orson,” who pounded us with gale-force winds and deposited an additional two feet of snow! With the frozen mantle of white mounded up to my door handle, any thoughts of an escape to sunny SoCal for the Long Beach Expo were put on ice, literally. Even my Beth’s work called her Sunday afternoon to announce that her office was closed on Monday! That never happens!!!


As snowblower engines roar and snow plows roll and thunder around the neighborhood like a column of Sherman tanks, it was time for me to reflect on the enjoyable, soothing aspects of this great hobby of ours.

Over the weekend I took time to view part of my own collection and target a few lots I was vying for on eBay. I was successful on three and missed out to a “sniper” on two others. There are so many opportunities to find rare, common, high grade, raw or certified coins. US and world coin listings could—and have—kept me occupied for many, many hours. A quick search of "US coin" revealed nearly 1 million listings and a search of “world coin" displayed nearly 700,000 offerings! Many well-known dealers serve up assorted wares as do scores of part-timers and general hobbyists. Of course, there is really no downtime for the coindexter that I am. Most of the time I am busy scanning the prices realized for continuity as it pertains to retail pricing.

Sunday night I reviewed the upcoming roster of “featured” lots scheduled for Long Beach Expo and related marquee auctions this week.

My weekday work ritual begins with the “Martini In The Morning” Internet radio broadcast (martinimorning.radio.net) playing softly in the background of my home office. For those of you not familiar, it is a great blend of tunes from the great American songbook. The music is so calming; stars of yesterday and new performers carrying the torch without scorching the best music in the world. It is both current and nostalgic as well. For me, the vintage music goes hand-in+- hand with vintage coins! I am sure veteran collectors and dealers of all ages will really enjoy it! A cup of tea in hand, and with the Internet finally up and running, Monday morning allowed me to take part in the first session of the Goldberg’s Pre-Long Beach sale running Feb 12-15. Observing prices realized and comparing previous stats for similar lots at public venues helps to insure that our proud NGC US Coin Price Guide is fresh.

While the focus of the numismatic nation is clearly on SoCal and the first Long Beach Expo of 2017, our numismatic treasures are truly everywhere. Featured in ads on commercial TV, they are “stars” on various cable shows, the Internet and printed media! There is so much information to digest, especially for the new comer to the hobby. Sometimes it is all going too fast. We old timers have been through the magical transition of third-party grading. Thirty years ago the concept was new. I don’t think anyone would have believed that NGC-certified coins would be the hobby’s mainstays, traded sight and sight unseen to dealers on electronic trading networks and prized possessions in millions of collectors homes. For me, the online auctions are satisfying and intriguing. In most instances they are similar to eBay format. You can track coins that interest you. On the day that the lot you desire goes through the final countdown you can be notified via text or email. You can place your electronic bid and inevitably it seems other cyber bidders will wait to the last few seconds to strike and raise the ante! All the major auction houses employ these sales today and thousands of certified coins are sold in this manner each month! In my native Granite State a perhaps lessor known, yet highly viable, player is NH Mint Products.

NH Mint Products' owner Jeff Kierstead has been an avid collector and involved with coins since 1979 and has proudly operated online out of Bedford, NH, since 1999. In December 2015 he introduced online and “live” auctions.

Per Kierstead, he has observed an uptick in auction prices realized, “Most of the material is consigned so that has been good for both the consigner and NH Mint products.” The most recent online sale featuring a quality blend of currency, Colonials and regular US and world coins concluded 1/17/17 and was the firm's most active online sale to date. At present the Granite State company has 10 employees and Jeff is the main buyer. “It has been a family business as my son works part time.”

Jeff has had a long relationship with NGC and they are his primary source for grading, “They have been more than fair and their product is consistent and well received by our customers.”

The firm is strictly online and provides the collector with an exceptional interactive website. I have observed and have been very impressed with the company’s strong market presence as they always have a multitude of viable bids on the electronic trading networks. While their emphasis is on modern mint products, they do a lot of business with Morgan Dollars and pre-1933 US gold coins too.

A quick glance at the Heritage Long Beach Signature sale scheduled for February 16-19 features just under 4,000 lots for dealer and collector competition. However, a single lot for me stands out as a favorite: the finest known 1788 New Jersey Copper Running Fox M77-dd variety. The tremendous coin from the Eric P. Newman Collection, Part IV, was first offered up in May of 2014 and captured $105,750. The coin is a true prize and with such a bold strike the detail on the horse’s mane is impeccable. The coloring is superb. As we go to press, this lot has been viewed 1,685 times (versus 1,667 views for the 2014 sale). With the buyer’s premium, the coin is already $99,875, which means the next acceptable bid would tie the price generated nearly three years ago.

Regardless, the new owner will have a tremendous irreplaceable numismatic treasure. I have had a fondness for this issue since I had the exciting pleasure to unearth a 1788 Head Facing Right New Jersey Copper in Stratham, New Hampshire. I found my dark old copper buried in an old house foundation the summer of 1969. Although that was only a VG/F example has always been so important for me. A true treasure that excites me each time I gaze at that copper. How did it migrate from NJ to NH in the first place? I have the coin sitting on my desk wrapped in a decade’s old piece of tissue wrap tucked inside a small draw string leather pouch. If I had the wherewithal, I would love to acquire the exceptional Colonial in the Heritage sale!

As winter rages on it is so nice to have order and decorum, at least in the numismatic world!

Until next time, happy collecting!

Jim Bisognani is an NGC Price Guide Analyst having previously served for many years as an analyst and writer for another major price guide. He has written extensively on US coin market trends and values.

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