By Jim Bisognani – NGC Contributor ……..
Branch mint gold for dad; Indian cents and skiing-themed coins for son
As we go to press, the greatest coin show on earth is underway! What a great time to be a new collector and to be attending your first ANA World’s Fair of Money! I mean, what could possibly be more exciting to a coindexter than this?
How about a father-and-son duo who happen to be attending their first coin show ever — and it just happens to be the ANA? What an adrenaline rush, and a truly memorable event for Ron and his 14-year-old son, Josh.
Although Wyoming resident Ron has been an avid collector and serious numismatist since well before his 14-year-old son was born, he has been buying coins through local dealers when the opportunity arises and through online auctions via eBay, etc.
“My busy work schedule just didn’t permit me free time — especially around the weekends, when these things usually happen,” said Ron. “This year, I had the first week of August off, and my wife has family in Aurora — we were going to be here anyway. I really didn’t plan it — just happened to coincide with the show — but I am so excited that it did. My son is on Cloud Nine.”
Josh has been collecting Indian Head cents for three years, and has worked part-time jobs after school and has been helping his dad this past year with some projects. He has saved up enough to pick up a few of the key coins from the post-Civil War era to mid-1870s.
“I really want to get an 1872 in fine condition. After that, I want to look for the rest of the 1870s coins and buy as many as I can afford to in about the same grade. Of course, I want to look at as many 1877 coins as I can, to get an idea what I would want — maybe in a year or so.”
Ron chimed in that he will, of course, be helping his son in his mission, and that he will be looking at Charlotte and Dahlonega mintmarked quarter and half eagles for himself.
“I just want to get a nice type coin from each branch mint. I am not rich, so this is a major expenditure for me, but I figured that the ANA will be the place for me to see the best, and I am, of course, prepared to barter.”
An Austrian Bargain
Young Josh, who also enjoys skiing, said that he will be looking for coins that feature one of his favorite athletic endeavors.
I told him that when I think of ski-themed coins, the first coin that comes to mind for me is the 1964 Austria 50 Schilling commemorating the Winter Olympics at Innsbruck. This nearly-crown-sized silver coin dramatically depicts a ski jumper in full flight. Proof or Uncirculated versions of the coin are readily available trading generally just a bit above melt price for silver.
As I mentioned before in this column, I like the entire 25- and 50-Schilling modern Austrian series, as it offers so much historical variety. And, as a bonus, many are available so close to their intrinsic value, making for an affordable entry-level collecting experience.
I texted Josh a photo of this attractive, originally toned coin that I found during a quick eBay search. Josh said he loved it and that he was “intrigued by the rad shield design” — and topping that off, the youngster’s father was born in 1964. Josh said he is going to locate a nice uncirculated coin for himself and get a proof for his dad.
Talking to this pair got me excited for them, as well as the future of our hobby. After all, young collectors such as Josh will be carrying the torch and will be responsible for inspiring the next generation of numismatists. The excitement and the quest for knowledge are already driving this young man, and I am sure that this ANA indoctrination will stay with him the rest of his life. I know it did it for me back in Boston when I was an awe-struck 16-year-old.
What’s in Demand?
A well-known West Coast dealer concurred; there is also a huge disconnect as far as active buyers for top-echelon rarities and the “everyday coins”, as he refers to them.
“Hey, it’s true: If a coin has all the bells and whistles, rarity, eye appeal and is new or newer to the market, buyers are lined up and will drive the price up at auction or on the floor. Yet, if we are talking about type coins or modern issues — you know, most 20th-century stuff and post-World War II stuff — prices are weak. But there are key early 20th-century coins, like 1916-D Mercs. Now there is a coin that will sell immediately in a third-party holder, regardless of the grade. I am talking any clean grade. I just picked up three of them in NGC slabs, VF-XF — gone as soon as I offered them.”
This California dealer also stated that he has seen some life injected in to the Barber series (Dimes, Quarters and Halves) of late.
But he was quick to state emphatically:
“Not the Proof Barbers, though; they are flatter than an IHOP pancake. I mean, there is a huge asking price difference between the super-charged toned proof coins and those that are fully gem but lack the oomph factor. Those pieces just stay in dealers’ boxes when they are hustled around for us dealers to take a look — no one wants them.”
Well, as this article posts, the ANA bourse will be bustling and buzzing as coin nirvana is once again here. If you are amongst the bevy of numismatic brethren making the rounds, enjoy the shindig. Even for us veterans of so many of these events, I am still like a kid entering Toyland. Whatever series or type of coin — US or world — this is the destination!
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.