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Coin Show Reports- The Rare Coin Road Warrior

by Vic Bozarth – Bozarth Numismatics

My name is Vic Bozarth and I am the Rare Coin Road Warrior.  I travel to 40 coin shows a year.  I have never worked in a coin shop. I have always been a ‘show’ guy.  I had my first table at a coin show at the age of fifteen with two other classmates.  We called ourselves VDB Coins, which stood for Vic, David, and Bill.  Something magic and somewhat extraordinary happened to me at that show.  I fell ‘head over heals’ in love with the ‘bourse floor’.  The hunt, the negotiation itself, the ‘players’ on the field-ugh I mean ‘bourse’.  Seriously, coin shows are an addiction for me.  I still get butterflies in my stomach the night before a big show.  In fact, the feeling I get is almost like the feeling I used to get the night before a ‘big’ game back in school.  At 50 years of age, I still get the biggest charge out of walking into a show!  This year’s Central States Show was a real BARNBURNER.  Wow!

Rising gold prices pushed action on the bourse at the Central States Numismatic Society Show in Chicago’s Rosemont Convention Center.  Over the decades the Central States Show has been very pivotal in regards to what direction the market will take for the remainder of the year.  In fact, one of the most infamous shows in the rare coin business was ‘Stinkin Lincoln’ Central States Show in Lincoln, Nebraska in April of 1980.  The coin market, partially from the huge bullion market collapse, collapsed-BIGTIME!

At the 1989 Central States Show in Overland Park, KS ( a suburb of Kansas City) the coin market was RED HOT.  The market was just weeks away from another collapse.  Just four short weeks later, the crash occurred at the Long Beach Show.

This year’s Central States Show was highly anticipated.  The bullion market is ‘finally’ spilling over into rare coins.  Like the ‘frenzy’ in the coin markets of 1979 and 1989, buyers were driven.  We haven’t seen this ‘buy it now or it will be more later’ mindset since early in the last decade, but this was different.  The ‘frenzy’ has spread to dealers that are predominantly bullion dealers.  The rare coin market is driven by confidence and belief that the market is going UP.  The bottom line is that I haven’t seen this level of ‘dealer buying confidence’ at this level since early 1989.  This rare coin market is MUCH different than the coin markets of 1979/80 and 1989.

Dealers have seen markets change quite rapidly and they don’t want to ‘miss the bus’.  Bullion dealers especially need to put their profits in something-right?  Bullion dealers are buying RARE coins because they know the rare coin market has largely been flat through the rising bullion market.  What happened in 1979.  Coin and Bullion dealers, who were profiting immensely in the metals markets bought rare coins.  The thing is though, dealers are dealers and most often they immediately sell the better rare coins to another dealer who offers them a bigger profit than they can refuse.

The whole key to this frenzy is that the supply of really rare coins is finite.  In 1979 dealers that bought really nice coins didn’t have them long.  There just weren’t enough really nice coins to be bought.

Average and low end coins went up in price because frankly there just weren’t enough nice coins available.  You have to buy something-right?

O.K., I will get to the point.  Coins are hot. Let me give you an example.  Recently both Morgan and Peace Dollar common dates in PCGS and NGC holders have appreciated more than 100% in some grades.  That’s right, generic dollars more than doubled in the last several months.  Remember there are literally thousands upon thousands of generic PCGS and NGC dollars.  Guess what, when some, albeit huge, orders hit the market dealers couldn’t buy enough MS65 Morgan dollars at $125, then $150, then $180, then $200, and finally at the Central States Show $214!  From a recent low of around $115 Morgans rose nearly 90% in three months.  These are GENERIC dollars.  What does this mean?

Rare coins are poised for a tremendous push.  Bigger dealers are quietly taking ‘positions’ in several different key areas.  Coins with proven demand in investment grade are being bought and stockpiled.  What is different now than in 1980 and 1989?  The amount of money itself is staggering while the supply of coins is finite.  There is so much more money coming into rare coins now the potential is really amazing.  Nowhere is this ‘push’ this ‘frenzy’ more evident than on the BOURSE.

May is a not a big coin month.  May is bracketed by the aforementioned CSNS Show and the Summer Long Beach Show.  Other shows of note in May include good shows in Pittsburgh, Denver, Ft. Worth, and NJ.  We started our May show travels with a NGC Trade and Grade in Sarasota, FL.  NGC and PCGS grading services both host invitational shows several times a year.  This month, NGC hosted a T&G at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.  Although attendance was down somewhat, the business was great and this is a great venue for dealers to get coins graded and available for sale and trade with other dealers in a totally secure environment.  This is not open to the public.

The Denver Show is held twice a year at the Great Western Exposition Center.  Because of scheduling conflicts in the last several years this show as well as the TNA/Ft. Worth Show, the Garden State Show, and the PAN/Pittsburgh Show were all in conflict.  It hurt them ALL.  The scheduling this year was coordinated to a certain extent and the PAN/Pittsburgh Show, The Denver Show, and the TNA/Ft. Worth Show all found different weeks to hold their shows.  Because of this and the stronger market all three were active and well attended shows.

Jerry Morgan, the Denver Show promoter, does a great job and this year his normal active bourse was very active with quite a few East Coast dealers in attendance that would normally attend the show closer to them.  Although I was only in Denver to buy coins, I witnessed very strong sales and was able to buy a couple of very nice ‘fresh’ deals.  During a conversation with Jerry, he let me know that his show next Spring will be the week before the ANA’s Spring Show scheduled for Denver also-kind of like a pre-ANA?   The ANA had arbitrarily scheduled their new Spring Show the week before Jerry’s show originally.  Jerry has moved his date.  Touche Jerry!

The ANA continues to act like an 800 pound gorilla in scheduling their shows without much regard to local shows that have been held, in some cases, for decades.

This week, my wife Sherri and I attended the Texas Numismatic Association Show in Ft. Worth, Texas.  This is a good show!  The folks with TNA and most importantly Doug Davis, the show coordinator did a great job this year.  The facilities at Will Rogers Exposition Center are really neat.  This facility and the adjacent museums, galleries, and arboretum are all located in the Ft. Worth Cultural Neighborhood.  The TNA Show has hosted their annual show here for quite a few years.  There is plenty of parking, security is good, and the area has lots of other attractions.  This show has always had a strong following.  Dealers from all over the U.S. attend, but this year the bourse was bigger and more active.

The Long Beach Show at the beginning of June is growing again.  This is the second of three Long Beach Shows held each year.  Ron Gillio has promoted this show for over a decade and lots of dealers who were ‘more or less’ run out of California by spurious and absurd tax regulations are starting to come back.  Ron lowered some bourse fees, added some less expensive tables in the back of the huge bourse hall and dealers have responded by coming back.  The February Show was excellent.  The June Long Beach has a really strong Heritage Rare Coin Auction and buyer and bidder activity will be brisk.  Remember, this is the first major show being held since Central States.

The June Show schedule is going to be fun.  In addition to the Long Beach Show, we are attending the Sharonville, OH show in a suburb of Cincinnati, the Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo., and the Colorado Springs Show at the end of the month.  With both the Long Beach and Baltimore Show, June will be extremely active.  In fact, I expect Long Beach to be very active because dealers are short on nice inventory.  Unfortunately we will not be able to attend the new Chicago Summer Show which conflicts with the Colorado Springs Show.  The Mid-America Coin Show held the last several years in June at the Rosemont Convention Center is no more.  We hope to attend the ‘new’ Chicago show held in Tinley Park in the future.

Bozarth Numismatics Inc. is a full service rare coin dealer.  We travel 200 days a year to buy ‘fresh’ rare coins for our customers.  Our new purchases are listed on our website Bozarthcoins.com on a regular basis and we have list hundreds of PCGS and NGC coins in our Ebay store.  We offer free want list services and are often able to locate coins others can’t find.  You can contact us at [email protected] or via our website or Ebay store.

Thanks and Best Regards, Vic Bozarth.

Vic Bozarth
Vic Bozarth
Vic Bozarth is a member of the Professional Numismatics Guild (PNG), the ANA, the CSNS, FUN, and many other regional and state coin clubs and organizations. Vic has extensive experience buying and selling coins into the mid-six-figure range. Both Vic and his wife Sherri attend all major U.S. coin shows as well as most of the larger regional shows.

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