By Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatics ……
INCLUDED IN THIS MARKET REPORT ARE EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW. LEGEND NUMISMATICS MOSTLY DEALS IN THE TOP 5% OF QUALITY AND RARITY, SO WE WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE SHOW THAN OTHERS.
We’d like to offer a prayer and our thoughts for our good friends in Florida–especially our friends in the Keys. We hope Irma brings only minimal damage and everyone is okay. Having stayed through Sandy then suffered for weeks after, we can tell you a hurricane is not something to just blow by. We will never stay through one again or not be prepared for weeks out!
THE PRE AUCTION
To start, we must comment attitudes were much better here then at the ANA. Dealers were not saying “Why did I come?” or “This is torture” while trying to find people. Dealers seemed eager to buy and sell from the start. We felt much better too.
This time for the first time in years, there were TWO very decent pre-sales. Goldberg had a big fresh deal of “stuff” including some gold (again, these were not even circ Bust gold coins, but there was a $20 27S PCGS MS62 CAC, etc). We actually did spend some money at the sale and we certainly did not have to pay really crazy strong. However, we were shocked to have been blown out on a $50 Pan Pac Oct which ended up selling for $61,688. We ended up paying a record price of $39,362.50 for the J-81 1838 PCGS PR64 RB Pattern. We had expected to pay $20,000.00 hammer. But then there are only three known and this was a heck of coin. Our favorite buy was the $3 1880 PCGS MS65 CAC, which we paid $18,800 for (the coin is sold).
Bonhams actually had an interesting estate sale. ALL the coins had been bought within the last few years (including last year) – but they were ALL UNRESERVED. The sale results overall for the quality included (which was weak) were strong. Apparently the dealers who sold coins to the collector had no consciousness for quality. This is why we harp about buying CAC pieces. Sure, the collector would have paid more, but they also would not have lost as much if they had to liquidate immediately. On the better coins and coins of quality in the sale, prices were strong. Here, too, we were happy with our purchases.
Even back at the hotel, no one had anything really juicy. We saw a ton of NON-CAC puke gold trading hands for strong money (these were coins like a dirty $10 1893 NGC MS63 – nothing to write home about). In fact the main chatter was that in the end, ALL the dealers and auctions were as dry as anyone ever remembered. It’s very hard for any dealer to survive in a climate where there is nothing to trade. Dealers were overwhelmingly concerned about this issue.
Legend Numismatics used to spend $1-2 million at Long Beach (including the auctions). Now, we have re-adjusted mentally to be used to buying $100-$250 grand on the floor and LESS then $500,000 in auction and $250,000.00 in the pre-auctions. In fact, take away the two Pattern Stellas from the Heritage Sale we bought ($223,250 total), over all in Heritage, we spent LESS than $80,000 and way UNDER $250,000 total everywhere else! OUCH!
Special note: the 20% buyers fee did NOT seem to hurt prices in any way for better coins.
This clearly is the new way of the world for the top-end coin market. The juicy big coins end up in auction when they do appear. The days of finding great coins at shows are over–at least for the short term. We’re not sure when coins will ever come out again. The newer buyers seem younger, wealthier, and are a bigger group than we ever knew of. Many are smart and are buying today for tomorrow. This rubber band can not stretch forever, prices simply MUST go up. The market is demanding supply.
NOTE on Sales: From day one, we sold far more than we ought. Our secret buyer made his usual piles and was motivated apparently to buy a lot. While our Stealth seller was busy from start to finish and sold a higher percentage then usual for us. This is kind of the way most shows will be from now on.
Next up? The Philadelphia PCGS Invitational, which is turning into a well-attended show. We spoke to several West Coast dealers who are now going. Yes, there is a PCGS Invitational September 27-29 in Las Vegas; it will be smaller and we do not have an auction there.
It is Legend Numismatics’ strong opinion that the majority of better quality and better coins’ prices are depressed because of inaccurate pricing systems.
World-class problem here. In Legend’s orbit, we buy coins you can’t really find. When we do find a “Legend quality” coin, it costs us usually much more then any listed prices in any guides. Our worst foes here are BAD or ugly coins. We can pay $6,000 for a GEM 1881S $1 PCGS MS68 CAC that looks better then 95% of coins out there. Yet, one single BAD coin (NON-CAC, too) sells at auction for $3,500 and that is the new price that gets posted. Very problematic. The public for the most part only sees what is posted in price guides and does not understand why our 1881S is worth so much money. In time, our coin will always sell for more and yield more profits, but few people can see that in the short term. For Legend, every day we struggle in a clear two-tier market place.
Making matters worse is a rag like the Coin Dealer Newsletter, which is more confused now then ever. Are they WHOLESALE or not? If so, why does the public get to look? Their prices simply are NOT an accurate guide for the public to use. Yet they push themselves on the public. As dealers, we do NOT use their pricing. In fact we are infuriated that they have the nerve to ask us to contribute information for free, which they then sell. We have a better online dealer network to use and, for us, our primary information for Legend comes from the same place every one can get theirs: auction results. The only difference is that we know how to interpret the prices realized (example, our ’81S vs. a non-CAC drecky one).
It is our opinion that the price reporting and data offered the public are seriously broken. This actually IS holding back the market right now. There are NO real fixes.
Collectors need to understand (especially with what we deal in) that you have to evaluate each coin differently. An 1882CC $1 in MS65, yes the price guides do work. Any coin with a pop of LESS then 10 most of the times they are wrong (especially if none have traded in two to three years).
The market is clearly ready to snap because of little to no supply. We see many new people entering and we know other major dealers are seeing the same thing. ANY really fresh and better coins that do spring up in auction always bring strong-to-record prices. You can’t be afraid to step up on the better coins–it will be the ONLY way you will ever own any. Know that today’s price guides are not accurate for the bigger and better coins. Working with a good, competent dealer will help you through all of this. Know that even we get frustrated over the price reporting but our 40 years of experience is what guides us when buying. We are not going to pass up on a coin because the price guides say $8,000 and we can by a killer for $11,000. We like to say, in the end, that he who has the best coins wins.
Last, in many cases we buy coins where the last published price was from 2013 or 2014. Some people think that is recent (we do too); however, if you think about it, if a coin or similar coin has NOT appeared in auction in three to five years, that is forever ago. That is a rare bird. Today, the coin certainly is worth more to obtain. Do know that this doesn’t mean if you bought a really rare coin one to two or two to three years ago that you can sell it for a profit. We can never say this enough: coins are a long-term hold. There will be cycles in between. Even if you buy on a high cycle, if you hold long enough you WILL get your desired yield.
Right now, so many coins are off in that big black hole so dealers have zero supply. We predict values WILL and are starting to move up. The pricing guides won’t get it because one bad coin sells at auction–that is what is reported.
UPDATE: Still no $20 1907 HR WE MS 66-67 for hedgie. Here, too, you’d think with what the pops show we could find one. We know when we finally do, we’ll be paying a stronger price then anything published. We’ve been looking hard (as have our friends) since January when one was in the FUN Sale. Where the heck did all these go?
IDEAS WHILE WAITING
If you are building a major collection and are waiting to buy the special pieces you need (which might seem like a forever wait), start some smaller projects that can be completed. We did a 2C PR set in PCGS CAC PR66 RB for ourselves–NO 1864 SM DT… yet.
You can do a 3CS set in PR65-66 1859-1873.
PR Shield and Liberty Nickels in PR65-66 is something cool.
ALL PR Barber sets can be done in PR65-66 easily – and very reasonably.
A Proof 66 set of dimes (no cameos) can be completed for under $30,000. We highly recommend gold Type sets in GEM. Or a subset of gold like a 1900-1907 $2.5 group in MS65-67.
We did a $3 set 1880-1889 in AU-MS 64 for a customer. Those coins have such tiny mintages and are great values. Or, you can even build something like a AU Seated Dollar set, NO MOTTO. The opportunities are endless.
NOTE: while these sets can be completed, there is still a rarity factor and not every coin is as easy to find as you’d think. Still, it’s better building a smaller set than sitting frustrated waiting for that one special piece you need for a major collection.
We did not buy anything earth shaking at Long Beach. In fact, we only bought four coins for Want Lists. We were able to buy some nice and reasonably priced pieces for change – not in any quantity, though.
- 3CS 1873 PCGS PR66 Cameo
- H10 1860 PCGS MS67
- 50C 1834 PCGS MS65
- $1 1898 PCGS PR67+
- G $1 1882 PCGS PR66 CAMEO
- $10 1914 PCGS MS65+
ALL NEWPS WILL BE POSTED BY NOON SATURDAY.
Do not forget to check out our regular inventory. We have some coins we are scratching our heads over the fact they have not been sold. We will make the best deals possible to place them in good homes!
We have some exciting news: Legend Auctions will have the entire October Regency Sale available for viewing October 13 in conjunction with PCGS Public Day in the Holiday Inn Grand Ballroom in Santa Ana. Our lead numismatist Greg Cohen will be there if you have any questions or wish to consign. While appointments are not needed, they are suggested. And bring your coins to submit to PCGS!
Consignments to this monster sale are now closed. Shortly, we will be posting a huge list of highlights. One coin that stands out to us: an OGH $2.5 1848 CAL PCGS AU50. Now that is something you never, ever see anymore!
BID NOW on our current live Premier Sessions Internet Only monthly sale. We assure you, EVERY coin in the sale has been handpicked by our world-class team of numismatists. You do not have look though 500 lots of widgets or modern slop to find better coins! The sale closes Thursday September 14 at 10 PM est.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR WISH TO ORDER, YOU MAY ALSO EMAIL US AT firstname.lastname@example.org. WE DO NOT CHECK OUR MESSAGES UNTIL MONDAY 9 AM.
For more information, please visit www.legendauctions.com.
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Legend Rare Coin Auctions (LRCA), based in Lincroft, NJ, is a boutique-style rare coin auction firm.
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