By William Shamhart - Numismatic Americana
I tried my hardest to come up with some catchy phrase for this report but came up empty. Not that I didn’t have many different headlines that I could have used, but they all seemed so down and out and the coin market is over for good ,or everything is Rosy and the market is on fire. Neither of those analyses could be further from the truth. But before I get to this let me tell you a little story…
When I was just a fledgling young numismatist in the mid 1970’s I went to the Heart of America coin show held in the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. And I went on a Sunday afternoon. When I got there, well over half of the dealers had already packed up and left. Most of the dealers that were still there were in the process of packing up. I remember stopping at one table, a corner I believe, and while the dealer emptied one show case, I tried to look, quite quickly I might add, at what was left in the other ones. I finally asked him what was going on, why was he leaving at 3 in the afternoon? He replied, very politely, that he had been there for several days already and the show had slowed down by this time and he thought it would be a good idea to leave a little early so that he could spend some time with his family before the weekly regime started up the next day. I didn’t quite get that concept back then. But I do now.
Long Beach is one of those shows that suffer from several ailments. One: It is old. This show has been going on for decades now. Not much can be done about old age. If something else doesn’t get you first, old age will. Two: It is just a few weeks before Whitman’s Baltimore show. And Baltimore is basically a newer show. Three: In the interest of profitability, the management has priced the table fees to the level where many dealers are crying “Uncle”. I personally know of several “MAJOR” dealers who refused to pay HUGE bourse fees just so they could be up front. They chose to pay around 1/3 of the normal price and be moved to the back of the room. This created a large amount of bourse tables to remain un-sold up front. These weren’t tables where the dealer didn’t show up, these were tables that the show promoters DIDN’T SELL! When you combine this with many of the East Coast (and West Coast) dealers that left on Friday or Saturday, the show looked pretty empty on Saturday afternoon.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve heard every argument there is for making dealers stay until the closing of a show, and every argument against it. I also know that most, but not ALL, serious collectors show up early on knowing that most of the coins they are looking for would be sold by Saturday afternoon. I also realize that many collectors can’t make it to a show during the week. That is why we stayed until closing on Saturday, to service you, our clients.
To the un-informed eye, or someone who hasn’t been to a major show before, then Long Beach was a bust. But if you looked closely, and watched a dealer’s table for a while, then you would have seen something totally different. Collectors were there. With close to half of our dollar volume in sales going to collectors it is clear to me that if you have the right coins they sell. There is no doubt that the serious collector is still actively seeking pieces for his/her collection. What I didn’t see that many of were the casual, sort of interested in coins, attendees. Perhaps the economy has something to do with that. I don’t know. What I do know is this: The collector is alive and well. And buying!
I don’t want to continue repeating myself, but high end, solid for the grade coins were in demand. GEM proof type coins, slightly better date (as well as the better dates) mint state type coins, high end mint state Walkers, and colorful Commems were the most sought after at our table. Lower grade mint state coins, as well as those with problems, along with generic gold coinage appeared to be very weak throughout the show.
Christine has been busy imaging our new purchases and getting them ready for your consideration. Check them out and then give us a call if you see something of interest. And remember…we love to talk coins.