Long Beach Expo Underway

Posted on 6/8/2017

The price is right; June anniversaries to remember

Wow, as if it was magic, a sea of green and vibrant floral varieties are now the welcome focal points as I view outside my home office windows. The season seemed to have changed so rapidly. Although time is a constant as we age it does appear to have accelerated! It is still hard for me to wrap my head around that it is 2017 and, as we go to press, the summer Long Beach Expo is underway. It has been 30 years, yet it seems just like it was yesterday, that I attended my first Long Beach Expo in 1987! NGC was in its infancy and the new NGC "fatty holders" were the exciting collecting option.

I recall navigating my way through the well-lit never ending aisles of tables with my mental customer want list tucked in my noggin. I scanned hundreds of coins and even enjoyed the insistent blabbering of collectors and dealers that reverberated throughout the huge bourse.

It was the beginning of a true numismatic renaissance. White cardboard and PVC flips were being supplanted by graded coins in third-party plastic holders. This infiltration met resistance as does most change. Yet the need for a more standardized grading platform in the late 1980s was a necessity. In many instances a single grading point or adverb modifying an adjective resulted in a much higher sales price. Many a so-called very choice coin (now commonly referred to as MS 64) witnessed an enormous price escalation in gem (or MS 65). This was and still is especially true in the Morgan dollar series for example. While accurate grading is paramount in assembling a uniform collection, the market pricing structure is almost equally important.

While it is true that not all MS 63, MS 64 or MS 65 coins in the same series are going to look alike, they should all share similar traits. Yet if you were to scan auction prices realized for a particular Morgan dollar coin in the same grade you are likely to see considerable differences in price based in part on the coin's visual presentation. Usually a bright, lustrous coin will take a premium over a well struck yet unevenly toned coin.

A popular semi-key to the Morgan dollar series and my first better date Morgan I owned, the 1894-S in MS 63 grade delivers a good illustration with the following trio.

It was just a year ago at the Long Beach Expo Heritage Signature June 2016 sale that this 1894 S S$1 NGC MS 63 coin brought $1,998. Truly a totally blast white vibrant coin with minimal marks and endowed with slight PL tendencies.

Conversely there have been numerous like graded NGC MS 63 coins that have sold at auction in the $1,200-$1,500 range. This solid creamy white 1894 S S$1 NGC MS 63 coin yielded $1,528 at the Long Beach Heritage sale in February 2016.

Another 1894-S S$1 NGC MS 63 appeared at the CSNS Heritage sale last April 2016 capturing $1,175. She too, a well struck white semi-PL coin.

Fact is all three coins are graded MS 63 yet each coin enjoys distinct attributes. The first coin possesses solid eye appeal and seems to aspire to a higher grade, hence perhaps the higher price realized. The second coin, while solid and creamy white, appears to be more in line with the typical MS 63 specimen. The last Morgan dollar of this trio defines more of the MS 63 standard for the NGC US Coin Price Guide caliber coin. This is why thorough visual assessment of coins and prices realized in like grade is critical in basing the pricing structure for the current market.

Both myself and friend and coworker Keith Zaner, Senior NGC Price Guide Analyst, strive to get pricing right! Many sources are researched and vetted for our calculations. In part this includes frequency of appearance and dates of transactions and viable dealer "bids" and "asks". Certainly a major source of pricing data is amassed via public auction venue. That said a plurality of the certified coins sold in live auctions are still bought by dealers for inventory or customers. Of course the dealer has to turn a profit when they sell to a client so there will be a mark up from the price paid at auction. All of this data goes into the final pricing quotient. Although the grade has already been determined, a careful review of price and coin must always be made.

I guess Keith and I are true coindexters—we love it. Amazingly Keith just informed me that he is celebrating his 35th anniversary in the numismatic pricing industry this month! Coincidentally yours truly is also celebrating his 13th anniversary in the numismatic pricing and analytic venue this June 14. Wow, time flies when you’re having fun.

For those of you attending the great Long Beach Expo and Heritage Signature sale enjoy. I won’t be attending this one as I am getting married. Beth my love and faithful companion for the past 17 years are tying the knot as this article posts on June 8. Another very, very important June anniversary for me to remember!

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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