By William Shamhart, Jr. – Numismatic Americana ………..
As most of you know I am from Missouri. So was Mark Twain. He had many famous quotes, but the one I like the best (with a little artistic license) is:
“Rumors of my retirement are greatly exaggerated”
Many of you have emailed me or Tom asking if I retired. Well I’m here to say “NO!” In fact I’ll probably never retire…
A lot of people make “New Year’s” resolutions, and I am one of them. Mine is to you. I will really try and write more show reports and articles for my website on a regular basis. I’ll try my best.
So…what about the FUN show that kicked off this year’s coin show schedule?
In a word, impressive.
When I left New Jersey on Tuesday heading to the airport it was a cold 0 degrees with a wind chill of -15. That’s cold. When I got to Orlando I checked into my hotel and promptly went over to the Heritage lot viewing. Of course I saw many people I know and exchanged the usual “Happy New Year’s” salutations. And then the topic turned to the chill gripping most of America. It was cold in New Jersey but I heard of many places that were much colder. But…everyone was in a good mood and looking forward to the show and what it would bring (including warm weather).
The Heritage sale was, how should I say…HUGE! Never in my life have I ever seen such a large auction catalog. I had looked through the catalog beforehand to narrow down the lots I was interested. Otherwise I wouldn’t have ever got to view the lots I wanted to. There were some really neat coins in this sale and of course the prices realized reflected this.
I left lot viewing and returned to my hotel to look at some fellow dealer’s inventory in the privacy of my own room. I like this practice because it allows me time to talk with my contacts while viewing coins. No interruptions or distractions. Of course I was able to buy some really neat pieces that will be up on my website shortly so check back throughout the week.
Tuesday night I had the privilege to dine with a dozen of the most knowledgeable collectors in the hobby today. I don’t normally like large dinner crowds, but this was different. Dinner was at a restaurant called “The Ocean Prime” and the food was outstanding. Many of the attendees brought something special to share with their friends. In the middle of dinner I couldn’t help thinking of how we all looked to the rest of the restaurant patrons. A dozen middle aged men (with one special lady) passing coins around the table, illuminating them with the flashlight from their iPhones. Total coin geeks! Kind of what I’d expect a middle school coin club to look like…except for the gray hair, few extra pounds, bi-focal glasses, wine glasses, and porterhouse steaks!
Wednesday started with meeting a couple clients at lot viewing to discuss possible additions to their collections. Then back to my hotel for another “secret” meeting. The bourse floor opened at 2:00 in the afternoon and from there on it was like the great Oklahoma Land Rush. A constant flow of dealers and collectors stopping by to say “Happy New Year” and “Got anything for me?”. Tom and I got our submissions for PCGS ready and took them over as soon as we got a chance. One of the nice things about being in the business is that I’ve built some really strong and long lasting relationships with dealers and collectors alike (surprise?) that allows me to look at coins at my table (they bring them to me) throughout the show. The only downside to this is that I rarely have time to leave my table anymore and scout the floor for coins to buy. That’s okay though because I get to see alot of coins as well as talk to my friends and colleagues about coins. How cool is that?
Thursday brought another action packed day with a TON of people stopping by to look at coins (and sometimes sell me some). You’ll recall that I’ve changed my game plan a little in the past few months. Fewer coins with an emphasis on relationship building. Really getting to know my customers and clients. Well that’s starting to pay off as our sales were very strong even with a higher per coin value than I’ve had in the past. In addition people realize that I really do want to buy back, and resell, coins that they’ve bought previously. So I was able to buy some old, yet beautiful, friends back and subsequently resell them. It’s really a win-win situation for everybody involved!
Thursday night I decided to have C.J. (a really bright and upcoming Young Numismatist) bid in the auction so that I could go out to dinner with a couple clients. The night was one of those that you don’t soon forget. The food and service left a little to be desired, but the camaraderie was great. We laughed like we were at a comedy shop. Thanks guys!
Friday I started the day by giving a talk to the Liberty Seated Collectors Club. I love to talk coins but I’m really bad at preparing speeches (or writing show reports) so I just winged it. A question and answer type of forum. The audience was filled with collectors and dealers alike and they asked some really good questions. I loved it and based on the feedback I got from some of the attendees on the bourse floor so did they. Thanks for asking me. It was my pleasure.
By the time I got to the bourse it was in full swing and abuzz with activity. Collectors were out in full force looking for that special coin (as were dealers). If you’ve never been to a major show let me paint you a mental picture. Think of a football field filled to capacity with 8 foot table with nothing but coins. Hundreds of thousands of them. There is no way to view the merchandise at every table so it helps to have a network of people who might get the opportunity to see something you missed. It’s all about relationships (remember that phrase?). In addition to the bourse there are countless meetings (like the one I spoke at) along with auction lot viewing as well as the auction itself. Truly paradise for coin nerds!
At the end of the day it was off to dinner at The Capital Grille. Again the company was as great as the food. Jokes and laughs briefly interrupted by the mention of something that was bought earlier in the day. Then a short walk back to my hotel afterward for a well deserved good night’s sleep.
Although Saturday was the last day of business at this year’s FUN, you’d never have known it by the business we did. Constant and steady, only broken up by a short break now and then. By this time we were getting our coins back from PCGS that we’d submitted earlier in the show. And again they did exactly what they should have. Reward the really special coins and hold the line. In fact I can’t remember seeing any coins graded there that I thought were liberally evaluated. Both PCGS’ grading team and show customer service people should be commended for the job they did. Thanks guys and girls!
Ya, I know…enough with the generalizations. You want specifics. So I’ve listed some of the coins we bought and or sold down in Florida below:
- 1794 1c Head of 94, S-59, PCGS MS66+BN; One of the fabled Lord St. Oswald pieces that first came to the market in 1964 via an auction in England. An amazing piece that was last available publicly when Bowers and Ruddy sold the famous John W. Adams collection in 1982. Superb in every way.
- 1825/4 (2) 25c, Browning 2, PCGS MS64+; An incredible coin that I’ve had the pleasure of placing 3 times now. Every time that I handle it, it wows me more that the time before. Truly a great coin that is a highlight of any cabinet.
- 1832 $2.50 PCGS MS62; A very rare piece that last appeared in the Paramount (Akers) session of Auction ’82. Very fresh to the market, it was snapped up by the first person to view it. Good move…
- 1915-S 50c Panama Pacific, PCGS MS67+ CAC; Arguably the nicest Pan-Pac half I’ve ever seen, let alone handled. A real GEM destined for a like minded collection. Check out Tom’s photo of it when he gets it posted.
- 1915-S $2.50 Panama Pacific, NGC MS67+ CAC; Standing alone at the top of both the NGC and PCGS pop reports, this piece too was acquired by the first client to see it. It now resides in the cabinet of a fine Southern Gentleman.
- 1853 G$1 California Pioneer Gold, PCGS AU55; One of the real stoppers when it comes to California Pioneer Fractional Gold. An R-8 according to Breen-Gillio and deservedly so. With less than 5-6 known, this one was sold literally a few hours after we bought it. It’s good to see collector based coins sell so quickly when they come to market.
- 1897 Proof Set, 1c-$1, PCGS PR67 (Except the cent that is PR66 RD); Totally original sets like this, as opposed to put together ones, are virtually non-existent in today’s marketplace. Real GEMs with outstanding eye appeal, this set would knock out 6 slots for those of you who collect by type while at the same time giving the owner the pride of having an original proof set from the 1890s.
I could go on and on, but I think I’ll make you cruise the new purchases section of my web site. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Late Saturday afternoon I was informed by a friend that John Burns, a friend who deals in out of print numismatic literature, had passed in his sleep the night before. A fixture for years at many east coast shows, John touched each and every life that he came in contact with in a manner that only who had that pleasure could understand. I know that I can speak for all of us when I say we’re gonna miss ya buddy. RIP.
Doesn’t seem right to end this report on such a somber note, but I’d like to think there’s a hidden message:
Collect what you like. Live every day as if it were your last. And when your time is up, go out doing what you love…