Whitman Expo

Whitman Expo – Delaware Couple Hunting Buffalos in Blue Moon; Gold in a Quagmire?

By Jim BisognaniNGC Contributor ……..
 

According to the calendar, summer is officially here! As I write this, the temperature is knocking on the upper side of 90, confirming that with a hot exclamation point. Since the season is all too brief here in New Hampshire, I will revel in it.

As we go to press, it is so appropriate the Summer Baltimore Whitman Expo is getting underway. Early birds have already descended onto the beautiful inner harbor, traipsing to the convention center, scouring the huge Baltimore bourse, hoping to score the best of deals that dealers have to offer. Running June 22-25, this is always a well-orchestrated venue for family, collector and dealer.

‘Socking away some gold and silver coins’

Bob, a regular at the Whitman Expo who hails from Vermont, told me:

The market is really strange: Most of the middle-of-the-road stuff has been kind of stagnant — type coins and US ‘commems’ stuff in the $500 range is like watching summer reruns. I mean, prices are the same as last fall. Gold has spurted up only to get swatted back down. It seems like it has been living in the $1,250 neighborhood for sooo long, it’s in a quagmire.

So some of my collecting buddies aren’t sure if it is a good time to get a few $20 LibsSaints or Gold American Eagles. I told them to buy what they can afford but stick to the originals. I mean, for little more than a modern $50 Gold American Eagle, you can pick up certified MS 63 $20 Saints — you know, the real coins. Even though it may be very modest, there is still numismatic value and appreciation in this type of gold. I am not a doomsayer by any stretch, but I think socking away some gold and silver coins right now is wise.”

I asked Bob how long he has been collecting and if it was just semi-numismatic? His response was a resounding no.

I really like colonial coins and early US copper, and had fun putting together a pretty serious collection about 30 years ago. But I had to sell off most of it to help pay for my kids’ college. Hey, at least I had fun when I owned them — a lot of fun. That is why I am now in it more for diversification and protection. I like to buy stuff that has narrow trading margins in case I have to liquidate in a hurry.”

Bob said he doesn’t want to speculate or get tied down to coins that “have to have the right buyer” or might have to be put in auction etc.

I am not one for chasing the ultimate coins for a registry set anymore. I can still be a collector, but I know if need be, I may have to sell quickly and even sight unseen. The bullion-related gold stuff I have is all NGC graded — mostly MS 63 and MS 64. I also have a few hundred MS 63 and MS 64 Morgans — the common dates. But I have a nice variety — you know, 1879, ’80, ’81-San Francisco, 1899, 1901, 1904 O-New Orleans, etc. It is really a good trade-off — I can still feed the collecting beast in me and keep tight reins on my nest egg.”

Brought together by coin collecting

Another attendee couple said that they were looking forward to viewing lots and participating in the “Blue Moon” auction by host auctioneer Stack’s Bowers (underway as we go to press), with three live sessions June 21-23.

According to the Wilmington, Delaware duo: “We’re both from families that collected coins and tossed them in coffee tins or bottles to be sorted out as a fun hobby. In fact, that is how we met.”

Marty said that he and Clara discovered they were both hunters of Buffalo nickels in high school.

“Yes, we were in line at the cafeteria for lunch and she spied the Buffalo nickel I got in change, and approached me and asked if she could buy it from me. We soon found out that our parents were very enthusiastic, shall we say, about collecting. That was about 25 years ago, and we have been collecting Buffalo nickels together ever since.”

Clara chimed in and said: “There are a few better-dated Buffalos in our price range and grade that we have our eyes on in the 2nd session, the NGC MS 63 1920-D and NGC MS 63 1927-S would both be great to add.”

1920-D Buffalo Nickel. MS-63 (NGC). Images courtesy NGC

1927-S Buffalo Nickel. MS-63 (NGC). Images courtesy NGC

Marty seconded that, and said that he’d prefer locating MS 63 examples, as the semi-keys and rare dates are decidedly more affordable in choice unc.: “We have the 3-legged (1937-D), but don’t have the budget to tackle the 1916 Double or 1918/7 D in mint state.”

Is it time to splurge?

The couple did say they would also be viewing a trio of spectacular and high-grade NGC-graded Buffalos scheduled for the third session of the Stack’s Bowers sale. According to Marty: “Yep, the 1914-S in NGC MS 65 and the 1915-S in the same grade both really look great — and then that really beautiful Technicolor-looking 1936 Satin Proof graded NGC PF 68.”

1936 Buffalo Nickel. Satin Proof-68 (NGC). Images courtesy NGC

Clara enthusiastically concurred.

“The photos online really got us excited, and if we were to splurge, it might be the time we aren’t after an MS 63!”

I wish the couple from Delaware good luck in their quest — as I do for all the passionate attendees in Baltimore. What a great way to start the summer season!

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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