summerBy Jim Bisognani for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation….

The Strategy Session Before the ANA is Underway; Technology Improvements and Expanded Inventory; Exciting Opportunities to Communicate With Fellow Collectors.

Early summer has been traditionally a time for families to get out and enjoy the great weather, plan vacations or merely enjoy a cookout or picnic with family and friends. It was also a time in the numismatic world when things went into a bit of a leisurely hiatus. It wasn’t that long ago (but looking back I guess it has been several decades) when coin dealers and collectors would take extended vacations from the coin biz.

Most small town dealers who had modest inventories would often put up “Closed—Gone Fishin’” or some other colloquialism on the shingle of their brick and mortar establishment. Many big time national dealers also eased up on the business front as well although many of the more influential and well-to-do made junkets over to Europe. Traipsing about the village greenery they were hoping to find some old untapped collections and often visited some financial institutions to see what type of holdings might be lurking about in their vaults in the way of gold coin.

Yet most of the chatter and press back in my youth was reading about or planning for the ANA show. For me it was the big event; the only event of consequence! As this article posts, it’s six months before Christmas and for many “Coindexters” such as myself, the summer ANA was the Christmas season all wrapped in a big bow. Then after the ANA, the hobby got into what would be considered high gear.

But somehow over the last several decades, the summer season has become an ongoing tactical battle and strategy session before the ANA is even on the horizon. What is hot right now? What are the big ticket coins to buy? What are the shows or auctions to attend in person or online? Who offers the best numismatic material to bolster and dress up an inventory for the ANA?

No one wants to be left out in the cold so-to-speak at the big show in August. Here in late June, mere weeks prior to the ANA World’s Fair of Money slated for August 11-15, there are two major shows for collectors and dealers to attend. First up is the 9th Annual Summer FUN Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, on tap for July 9-11. Nothing against the show—it’s a fine event and it has been picking up steam over the last several years—it is just that the winter edition is a much more popular show with collectors and dealers. I know personally the extreme heat, humidity and tropical dew points makes it a less than enjoyable time especially when the A/C goes out in the convention center (which it has on several occasions when I attended).

The following week is the summer installment of the Baltimore Whitman Expo, scheduled for July 16-19 in the Old Line State. Each venue features a major auction to entice the numismatic populace. The Heritage Auctions Signature Sale in Orlando, July 9-12, features nearly 3,300 lots featuring Colonials, Territorial Gold, inspiring Early Federal issues, and key coins in high-grade represented from many popular series. This followed up the next week by the Stack’s Bowers sale in Baltimore. Over 5,200 lots are scheduled, a solid mixture of collector friendly US coins and currency featuring a superb selection of early large cents is on tap, and there will be something for everyone.

Yet coins of consequence and numismatic relationships are everywhere.

One of the most exciting advancements technologically speaking is that the world of numismatics has become much closer—like in the palm of your hand. When I was a youth back in the analog age, having a pen pal during the summer school vacation was a great fun thing to do. Corresponding with a peer, someone perhaps a world away in England or Germany, then anxiously waiting for a response to that letter was snail mail fun at its best and perhaps most tedious. I usually sent a few coins and asked my pen pal to do likewise. Then when the return letter came from my overseas pal I would enjoy the foreign postmark and stamps as well as a coin or two.

Today, communications that would have taken several weeks can be made in an instant on your iPhone, laptop or other mobile device. While some of the joy in life comes through anticipation, that ensuing anxiety and expectation has, for the most part, been eliminated in many areas of our daily lives in the early part of the 21st century. On the other hand, it is truly marvelous to have so many numismatic venues available to the average collector as well as for the advanced dealer or hobbyist. Technology improvements and expanded inventory that’s what you’ll find in 2015 my fellow collector.

There are numerous coin forums, thousands of dealer websites and marvelous and compelling auction data to decipher for the numismatist of any level. NGC Collectors Society is a wonderful site to visit and stay awhile. Chat boards, forums on US, ancient and world coins as well as paper money will keep you busy. It’s hard to break away even if you have to!

Another formidable site is eBay. Certainly an overwhelming amount of numismatic items are listed every day on this behemoth of a website. Coins, medals and currency of every description in every grade seem to be available. There is a lot of junk to be sure—volumes of raw material which you have to use your grading instincts and imagination to extract the approximate grade and value. Here a visit to the NGC website will be of great help to the new hobbyist or veteran collector. Just click on the research tab and visit Price Guides for US or world coins. If you are trying to get a good deal on something more bullion-related, then the Coin Melt Value tab will be of considerable importance.

There are also hundreds of thousands of desirable NGC-certified coins of every description and denomination which will make the bidding experience more enjoyable. For me, there are perhaps more important, exciting opportunities to communicate with fellow collectors and dealers and get their insights on the hobby, the business and what they enjoy. A recent contact of mine is an “eBayer” by the name Casey who resides in California and has been an active member dealer on eBay for nearly 20 years.

My new friend started collecting American coins when he was still a young boy. “I was about eleven when we moved back to my native Holland and I started collecting foreign coins.”

“While I was in high school and got night jobs I started spending money on my pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars. I managed to create several complete sets. After high school I worked full-time and got married to my first wife. That was a big mistake!”

It seems after several years of matrimony and having two children, the Mrs. absconded with most of Casey’s coin collection and their younger child.

“She took my youngest son to Maryland. I did get the boy back, but not the coins.”

A few years later, my friend officially joined the eBay fraternity and started collecting again.

“I went to a few coin shows in San Diego. I sold my full set of Buffalo Nickels there. Of course in retrospect, I was sorry that I did that rather than selling them individually on eBay.”

That’s when Casey really got into making up sets of coins and buying and selling.

“At some point my work and my new wife took up all my time and the coins were ignored for several years. Now I am retired and selling my coins is my way of having fun.”

According to the California gent, watching the coins get views and bids is what makes this fun.

“I’ve emptied some fine English albums and now have some rather nice farthings and Victoria Pennies coming up.”

While presently selling some nice Commonwealth countries issues, Casey’s favorite collection is his complete set of Walking Liberty Half Dollars.

“I don’t think I will ever be ready to sell them. I still have a nice collection of Lincoln cents too.”

As far as his thoughts on what constitutes a success on this forum?

“My main feeling about success on eBay is the amount of positive feedback I get. I try to be good. I’d say the important thing is to be accurate and be happy to answer any questions.”

Eloquently said, my friend…

Everyone take time to enjoy the summer season with your family and of course coin collecting!

Until next time, happy collecting!

Jim Bisognani has written extensively on US coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He currently resides in Southern California and frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.

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