Coin Market Isn't Cooling Down This Fall
Posted on 9/14/2017
Cooler temperatures at night here in New England are a dead giveaway that autumn is fast approaching. Numismatically, that trend is confirmed on the trusty coindexter calendar, as the last Long Beach Expo for 2017 is in the books.
Yet unlike in my neck of the woods, there appears to be little cooling off in the rare coin market at this juncture. Most full-time dealers I contacted confirmed they had on par a very good show in the Golden State. More selling than buying perhaps, yet overall an active venue.
This coupled with a much more active metals market helped Long Beach draw in the ravenous corps of regulars and the bullion bugs — each looking to capitalize on the boost in gold and silver spot prices.
It is really a significant development in my estimation, especially with the yellow metal charging over the $1,300 level — a benchmark last witnessed in October 2016. Silver, although a bit more of a roller coaster ride, is still trending upward, with designs on accelerating beyond the $18 level, something not registered since late April of this year.
As 2017 winds down, both of these trends bode well for the average dealer and those whose clientele are more interested in acquiring individual coins in the four-, five- and six-figure range. As my old boss reiterated on numerous occasions, when the metals markets are flat, there is little impetus to draw new business. Yet when there is sustained movement, either up or down, collectors of bullion and semi-numismatic related material respond, and this type of collectible is a rapid seller.
One major West Coast dealer said that he had substantial interest and sales targeting MS 66 grade classic silver commems.
“Coins that normally would be trading in the $350 to $500 range, I had one couple buy out all the nicer pieces I had. They spent around $10K. Another customer bought a 1926 NGC MS 65 $10 Indian. Boy that was a terrific looking coin! Then he selected a couple of MS 64 $5 Indians, 1911, 1912.”
Certainly, the dealer was glad to make the sales, but what is quite telling is that this type of material had been dormant for months. “I mean the stuff hasn’t budged. I attribute the movement in gold, combined with more world tensions, since our president has been creating an uneasy dialogue, shall we say.”
Personally I have found that many collectors are happy to use dollar cost averaging in this regard, primarily for the $10 & $20 Libs and 90% bags of US silver. Conversely, for the average numismatist, those spending perhaps on average $1,500 to $2,000 per year, there seems to be a bit of resurgence for 20th century silver coins. Several Long Beach attendees I had spoken to were anxious to fill their Franklin and Walking Liberty Half Dollar folders and Roosevelt and Mercury Dime binders as well.
One avid collector, Harry, hailing from Sedona, Arizona, was busy scouring the bourse at Long Beach and spent his $1,650 coin budget on this type of material.
“Yeah, it took a bit longer than I thought it would. I spent my time primarily going through dealers' outcasts, usually in so-called junk boxes of slab coins. Prices can be marked $10 per coin on the box or sometimes three for $25, and so on. Take your pick — most of the time the coins are pieces that dealers would’ve submitted and hoped for a better grade and just want to get some quick cash for new stuff. I am really, really quite happy with what I was able to get. Forty-three NGC slabs, better dated and nicely-toned Roosevelts, Mercury Dimes, Franklins and Walkers. The most I spent for a coin was $75, and I picked up a few nice late date Roosy’s for $6 each!"
Per Harry, his goal is to get a nice run of 20th century silver coins in the MS 62 to MS 64 grade range.
“I think these coins are solid buys at these prices. It seems everybody is after Gems and wonder coins. I am more than content carefully picking up nice eye-appealing certified coins. The best thing is that all of the coins I bought are nice — really solid for the grade. They don’t need a little green sticker or a plus sign.”
Sal, another self-proclaimed serious numismatist from Southern California, always attends the Long Beach Expo. Per Sal, this show was average to him because his specialty Mint State Seated Dollars were few and far between. "Not much (I am picky, granted), but most of what I saw were common dates in scruffy condition. Even the Heritage auction had next to nothing in Mint State Seated Dollars. Those that were at dealers tables were limited to the 1859-O or 1860-O. Those I don’t need — every dollar dealer has those coins.”
As for the Heritage Long Beach signature US Auction, $9.2 Million was realized. While this was highly respectable, the last time a Heritage Long Beach early fall sale's results were less than this was in September of 2011, when the US signature Auction captured $8.5 million.
Quality and high-end certified material is definitely becoming more difficult to bring to market as many collectors are wisely holding on to their respective treasures for the long haul. Interestingly, the average price per lot just realized reflects a 9% increase over the average prices realized in the 9/11 US Signature sale.
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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