By Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatics ……
SHOWS NOT NEEDED
Not really, but it’s nice to have no pressure to travel and worry about being here and there, getting first shot, and of course the headache of security. At least at home we have regular human hours and even get a few surprise calls with some neat coins being offered. As of this writing we are working on buying a major world-class rarity in our offices. With no pressure from being at show, we know no one’s looking over our shoulders so hopefully we can get a much better deal.
We used to say that things were changing at shows. Now, we are convinced things HAVE changed at shows. It is our strong opinion–based on OUR performance–that the new show pecking order is FUN, ANA (depending on the city), ALL PCGS Invitationals (go to one, there is nothing else like them), ALL Baltimore, ALL Long Beaches, and then Central States. Central States has become nothing more then a smaller regional show, which, for the first time ever, we are thinking of skipping. Our sales to collectors at all of these shows have dipped to LESS than $250,000 in a year! We knew that when eBay became a monster trading platform shows were doomed. Now that millennials are looking at coins, they will probably never attend a live show–these are, after all, people who prefer to text someone in a house versus ring their door bell.
For us, shows are not even a place to buy and sell any more. In our heyday, we could go to a Long Beach and buy well over $1 million on the floor and sell six figures to collectors. Now, if we hit $500,000 in purchases INCLUDING the auctions, then that is huge. Selling, we just do not see many collectors attending any more. Why pay the money to travel when you can sit at home and see a bigger world 24/7 on the internet and not jut the restricted hours of a show? We go home, list our coins on the web or put them in our auctions and boom! Sold!
Clearly the internet has taken over. We believe the only solution is for less shows and smaller shows. Having two Long Beaches and Baltimore shows would be a huge help and keep things fresh. The ANA show is a worn-out, over-cooked event. You see the same displays, the same staging, hotels end up being nightmares, it’s expensive, etc. Dealers now dread taking tables to be stuck at such a miserable show for a whole week. That is why smaller shows with a purpose–the PCGS Invitationals–are much better. We certainly sell more to collectors there than at the major shows. And buying, we get first shot a lot of the time on fresh coins just back from grading. Doesn’t get any better than that. In fact we predict the October show in Philly will be a blast.
When we created Legend Auctions and thought long and hard what shows we could hook up with, we saw the PCGS Invites as the future of coins shows. Our auction company is holding a lot viewing in California on October 13. We thought few dealers would come East… NOT! We found half of everyone we asked ARE going to Philly; these are the same people who will NOT make the trip to Baltimore. People seem to like the smaller shows with a purpose (plus it is a really easy train ride from Washington or NYC so everyone expects a huge turnout, dealers and public). We predict this October show will be BETTER than any Baltimore Show and the ANA Philly show next year.
E-commerce is everything to numismatics these days. We don’t need to wait for shows do make things happen. Do not be surprised if a major show or two folds within the next five years. We are seriously reevaluating the expense of lugging a staff to shows. We can fly in and and out in two days doing what we used to versus sitting there a nearly a full week. It will be an interesting upcoming year for the major shows. We can’t see any growth happening. Our hobby is now fully internet based. The change has happened.
WHERE ARE ALL THE COINS?
If you stop to think about this subject, the cyber world has access to hundreds of BILLIONS of people. Way back in the early 1980s we all use to dream about and hype a lowly hundred thousand people buying coins. Today, PCGS and NGC probably have 250,000+ in yearly UNIQUE users to their web sites. While we had a great business in the ’90s, Legend only had 150-200 active customers at most. Today, we have over 3,000 collectors from all over the world who are very active. What blows our minds is that we regularly sell six-figure to million dollar coins to overseas collectors. Our web site has HUGE traffic. Five years in and Legend Auctions has a following of 27,000 people! The numbers are dizzying.
We still remember our first internet order at 2 AM on a week day. It was from a doctor from Iowa. Someone who was most likely not going to be in a position to ever make a show. Then eBay came along and made the world aware of coins. They blew past the 100,000 potential buyers mark probably the day they had the first coin posted. No one really stopped to look at the sheer numbers of people who were suddenly buying coins. If there ever was a hobby ripe for the web, coins had it all because of third-party grading.
In our opinion, this monster vacuum of coins called the internet has taken so much off the market in the last 10 years and we all failed to realize it. We had a heck of a bull market up through 2011. Today we see coins with populations of 75-100 certified that simply can not be found any more. Why? They are well dispersed in far-flung collectors’ hands.
Lately we’ve been looking up an awful lot of lower pop but not silly rare coins that have had their last appearances in auction three or four years ago. The major problem that is now happening is that all the good coins have people fighting over them when they appear. So when a drecky coin sells because it’s the only thing around and brings less, the broken price guide systems LOWER the values and that affects the better coins. We cannot stress enough how in just the last five years alone, the stream of available QUALITY rare coins has dwindled to near nothing ( including Gardner and Pogue collections coming to the market). These new collectors are spread out in what we like to term the “great black hole”. Why should they sell so quick (since they just bought) except for a special circumstance?
Something has to give to keep the hobby growing. Worrying about the next generation is not really a priority on our minds. This year alone, we have seen MANY people “discover” rare coins simply by surfing the web. We think more attention needs to be paid to fewer and better shows, and what we consider the most important priority is that someone, somehow needs to develop a way to post coin values better.
As we have said for the last few years, we use auction prices and NO published sheets to help us buy. Buyers need to realize that some coins, even the ones that were considered “common” just a few years ago, now are NOT. Look at the High Relief we cry about each week. Until we needed it, we would always see a few each year. The pop is 75 in PCGS MS66 and 17 in CAC. Poof! We haven’t been able to find a single one since January. So while a drecky one will probably pop up and trade for $70,000, the real quality PCGS CAC piece we need will cost us $95,000.
We are educated enough to know the market is like this. If we could make more people realize how little supply there is (we can’t even find a white 50C 1934 PCGS MS67 CAC) and how one bad coin should NOT affect a great one, we probably will have more trading happening. The rubber band of time at some point WILL burst hard when people realize all this. Coins won’t be so cheap any more. The demand and amount of collectors out there today is really scary if you can grasp the concept we are thinking. There are many sets you’d think could be complete, but due to a lack of product collectors can’t even start them.
That (in our opinion) is more troubling then teaching 10 year olds about coin collecting (at the moment).
Yes, ALL of the wicked cool coins pretty much ARE in strong hands, many flung far away into the new huge “black hole” of the coin collecting universe. Start treasuring when you get offered a great coin, think less about chiseling – it might be the last time you will see it offered for years. What is common today, may not be tomorrow!
ROUND II Long Beach NEWPS. We have a very pleasing group of coins in our NEWPS. We especially feel this time we have a larger offering with something for everyone (in our world).
The grand highlight is our old friend, the 10C 1798 PCGS MS64+CAC. What a coin!
Other highlights include:
- 3CN 1871 PCGS MS67 – ONLY pop 2!
- 50C 1812 PCGS MS65
- $2.5 1842C PCGS AU58+
- $20 1907 Saint PCGS MS66+
ALL NEWPS ARE NOW POSTED. Working on some really interesting coins for next week.
We wish to thank everyone who participated in our September Premier Sessions Sale. It was another huge success. While right now we do not think out October Sessions sale will be as large, based upon what is already consigned it will be VERY quality and rarity oriented. There is still time to consign. Contact Greg Cohen or Julie Abrams. Our internet-only sales are seen and are patronized by some of the best buyers in the hobby, Legend Numismatics customers.
As this is being written we are finishing cataloging what absolutely will be our biggest (550 lot) and BEST sale ever. We believe right now the value is OVER $6 million. We have been so swamped by it, we have had little time to post any highlights. Do know, just about EVERY coin in the sale would be a highlight! We rejected many coins. Here is an example of one coin: today we cataloged the best ever $2.5 1892 PCGS MS67 CAC. The coin is full MONSTER and sure looks a heck of lot better then any MS67 or MS67+ we’ve ever seen!!! It takes a lot to impress us, this coin blew us away! There are so many coins like that in this sale (and fresh ones too). We will keep you informed when more highlights are posted.
If all goes well, the sale should live by September 21 (our original target date is the 25th in the worst case).
We are now aggressively seeking consignments for our December Auction to be held in Las Vegas in conjunction with the PCGS Invitational Show. We can handle a $10 million dollar collection or one single coin. We have plenty of money for cash advances. Contact Greg Cohen: email@example.com or Julie Abrams: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past week we had a collector thinking of consigning a beautiful higher-grade group of specific Type coins. The reserves he was discussing were very reasonable. We bypassed the auction and got him good prices because of a Want List we had. It was a win-win for the collector, the seller and the buyer. We can discuss all kinds of options for your coins. While everyone dreams of two drunken bidders running their coins to beyond moon money, that does not happen much in reality. We can work wonders for your coins with other options as well! Call or email us now. Do not be fooled – bigger auctions are not always better!
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR WISH TO ORDER, YOU MAY ALSO EMAIL US AT email@example.com. 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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