Rare Coin Road Warrior-Coast to Coast
Hi my name is Vic Bozarth and I am the Rare Coin Road Warrior. This morning I am writing from my hotel room in Philadelphia where I am attending the Philadelphia Whitman Coin Expo. The show opened this morning for dealers and the public was admitted at noon.
Attendance has been fair to good considering that the Long Beach Show, on the opposite coast was just last week. Frankly, a lot of dealers couldn’t ‘reload’ in just four days. While there is no question that both Long Beach and Philadelphia lost attendance because of scheduling, all the ‘diehards’ were here and there!
After an outstanding ANA Show last month in August at the Rosemont Convention Center in Chicago, we had expected a better Long Beach Show. Attendance was lackluster and the drop in gold bullion price levels preceding the show really put a damper on business. A lot of dealers have returned to renting tables in the last couple of years and there was still business to be done. Part of the ‘reality’ of the coin business is that just attending a show doesn’t guarantee you will find what you are looking for.
New ‘fresh to the market’ coins just aren’t available with any consistency. I try to look at as many high grade coins as time permits. Attending the larger shows gives me access to a large quantity of high grade U.S. coins, but you have to go through a lot of average coins to find the ‘keepers’. Today I was excited to buy a nice little group of raw BU Indian Cents at the show. Although the coins are not all that rare, they are highly desirable and just not available ‘fresh out of an original set’ very often. Most coins I buy are already slabbed by PCGS or NGC. They often have CAC stickers or I send them to CAC myself.
I am always looking for coins with exceptional eye appeal. Lovely coins always sell. Finding enough nice single PQ-premium quality coins isn’t easy. Within the trade dealers call average ‘slabbed’ coins ‘Product’. If you are just looking for average ‘product’ coins will work. Nice PQ coins aren’t easy to find, but are less a function of price and more a function of quality and eye appeal. Product coins are more a function of price first and average (acceptable) quality second.
Buying coins is cyclical in that more coins come onto the market when sellers perceive that dealers are willing to pay more. Dealers are willing to pay more for nice coins, but there are two major obstacles to more nice coins coming onto the market. First, knowledge that coins are bringing more money hasn’t trickled down to the collectors and/or investors that have coins to sell. Second, prices just haven’t risen ENOUGH to make it worthwhile for those same sellers. In any case, there are coins that always sell regardless of timing or market conditions. I call these ‘already sold’ coins.
Some coins are already sold when you buy them. Some coins are in such demand at all times that there are multiple customers for that particular coin if and when it is becomes available. In other words, if you find a nice one at the right price level the coin is already sold for a fair profit. Most of the key date coins from the major collector series fall into this category IF they are nice. You can almost always sell a 1916D Mercury Dime or an 1889CC Morgan Dollar. When you find a nice example of either date at a fair price you just buy it. Even if a small hoard of key date coins comes on the market they will be absorbed very quickly.
Collectors who have want lists with one or more trusted dealers’ usually get ‘first shot’ at coins like the 1916D Mercury or the 1889CC Morgan. They never appear on a pricelist or website. They are ‘already sold’. Admittedly, I might find half a dozen coins like this at a big show. If someone is building a set you might find more, but those ‘already sold’ coins don’t grow on trees. As a dealer I am always hoping to walk into a forest of ‘already sold’ coins. To that end, I am attending as many shows as I can fit into my travel schedule this Fall and hope to find some ‘goodies’.
Our extensive show schedule this Fall includes trips to all the major U.S. coin shows, as well as several good regional coin shows. The ‘new kid on the block’ this Fall is the ANA Fall Coin Show in Pittsburgh, PA. This is a new venture by the ANA. With the ANA’s backing and extensive publicity I am excited about the show, but only time will tell. Like many ANA shows held in the past, hotels in the immediate vicinity of the show are hard to find and pricey. Transportation is also a big negative factor. If you don’t have a ticket yet-good luck. Prices to fly into Pittsburgh are quite outrageous from most markets especially after US Air closed their Pittsburgh, PA hub. Indeed, I was trying to attend the good C.A.M.P. pre-show held by John Sarosi in Monroeville, PA the weekend before, but decided against attending after being quoted over $1000 for airline tickets.
The Silver Dollar Show in St. Charles, MO is being held the week following the ANA Pittsburgh Show. This is no longer a major, although NGC still grades ‘on site’ there. The Silver Dollar Show is a pretty good show but it is not what it once was, and the ANA scheduling their new Fall show the week prior will really hurt this show. All you have to do is look at the example of the Long Beach and Whitman Philadelphia Shows this month to see what will happen. There will be empty tables at both shows. We are also attending a good regional show in Denver in late October.
November is a great coin month normally, but this year both the Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo and the Santa Clara Coin Expo are scheduled on the same week. This is very unfortunate, mostly for the Santa Clara Show, because the Whitman Fall Show is the best commercial show in the country and the empty tables will predominantly be in Santa Clara. Also in November are great regional shows in Indianapolis and Boston, MA. The Indiana State Show is a great show that I just can’t seem to fit into my schedule, although I want to attend. The Bay State Show is a good show that is being held in conjunction with the early Copper Show.
There are two good shows in December including the Houston Money Show which is as major a show as December has to offer. This show is growing and will continue to grow. We are somewhat biased because we live in the area, but you won’t be disappointed because the show has great attendance by both dealers and collectors. The Ontario, CA coin show the following week is growing. Although we don’t take tables at CA shows, we do encourage others to attend this good show in the greater Los Angeles, CA area. There is also a PCGS Trade and Grade Show being held in December in Las Vegas which we will be attending also.
Our Show Schedule is as follows:
Las Vegas, NV-PCGS Trade & Grade
Pittsburgh, PA-ANA Fall Show
St. Louis, MO-National Silver Dollar Show
Dallas, TX/NGC Trade & Grade
Baltimore, MD/Whitman Coin Expo.
Houston, TX-The Money Show
Ontario, CA-Buying Only
PCGS Trade & Grade, Las Vegas, NV
ANA-Fall Show, Pittsburgh, PA-TABLE
Silver Dollar Show, St. Charles, MO-TABLE
NGC Trade & Grade, Dallas, TX-TABLE
Whitman Coin Expo, Baltimore, MD-TABLE
Houston Money Show-TABLE
PCGS Trade & Grade, Las Vegas, NV
Florida United Numismatists, Orlando, FL-TABLE