The Rare Coin Road Warrior – October 2011
Dear Rare Coin Enthusiast,
My comments in this month’s Rare Coin Road Warrior have been written at two points in time. I wanted to share my thoughts both before the show and after the show without my ‘pre show’ comments being ‘tainted’ by my experiences at the show. My ‘post show’ comments are included at the end of this article and I think you will find my conclusions interesting.
This afternoon, Monday October 10th, I am at 35 thousand feet on a Continental flight to Pittsburgh for the NEW American Numismatic Association Fall Show. Both Sherri and I are excited about this new venue on the rare coin show circuit, but whether or not this show proves to be successful is still anyone’s guess. Although the ANA Summer Show in Chicago was a fantastic show, we have seen some sluggishness in the market since August. With the drop in gold and silver bullion prices there is definitely some uncertainty as to the direction the market will go.
Over the last several months I have been pretty vocal about the booming rare coin market to come. Personally I still believe the coin market is on the edge of a ‘great run’. The question is when? With the uncertain metal markets my prediction of a market run is definitely questionable. Yet, I believe the coin market is poised for great things. Why?
Let me tell you what the rare coin road warrior has seen recently on the road.
After the metals market took a big correction nearly thirty days ago, I am certain many of us had the ‘here we go again’ feeling. Is this just a correction or will gold and silver continue to fall? The manipulation of the marketing of the metals itself is quite interesting. Although my specialty is high grade U.S. certified coins, the biggest factor in the metals market today is physical supply. What is the old saying ‘he who has the gold makes the rules’.
Unfortunately our government is printing ‘green gold’ as fast as they can. But, dealers who actually have a physical supply (or ready access metals) still make the markets. For example, just because gold is down doesn’t mean you can buy bullion gold or Saints at the lower levels. Yes, there are coins available, but not in any huge quantities. AND, the premiums dealers charge on bullion has increased pretty dramatically percentage wise. Why is that?
Many believe the market is taking a ‘breather’. When I asked a major dealer at the PCGS Trade and Grade Show in Las Vegas what was going on with the $20 Saint/Liberty market, he was quick to reply ‘no one has any quantity’. And, he said…….’those that do, won’t sell them at these levels’. What I am seeing is higher premiums for the type gold coins that are available.’ My friend is a buyer for one of the largest type gold market makers in the country. He is at the top of the market.
Let me give you another example from a smaller dealer here in Texas. This gentleman does 35 shows a year, although some are one day shows with as few as 25 tables. When I bought some other rare coins from him recently the topic of the supply and pricing of type gold came up. His comments were very similar, albeit from a different angle. He said, ‘last week I had a customer who wanted 50 Saints in MS64. Over a three week period where I attended three smaller shows, I was able to buy ten. I was forced to buy the remainder from one of the ‘big boys’ because there were NONE available at the shows I attended.’
Don’t get me wrong, if you want to buy 50 Saints in any grade up to MS66 it can be done. But you are going to have to pay a bigger premium. Not only isn’t there any physical supply at the smaller shows, but if you really need them you have no choice but to pay the premium. Wouldn’t the premiums be smaller if the market was SOFT?
Increased demand for high grade U.S. rarities is a fact. This rare coin market is different than it was just a couple of short years ago. At the Vegas Trade and Grade, our wholesale inventory was picked over. In the previous three weeks we had attended both the Long Beach Coin Show and the Whitman Philadelphia Coin Exposition. My expectations for sales at Las Vegas were mediocre at best. We had lots of coins in the system for grading or CAC approval, but we had very little fresh material.
Much to my surprise, our sales were good to very good considering our overall inventory. Dealers were stocking coins I would best describe as average-I would not have listed them on our website. All of these guys (dealers) and I are on a first name basis-we talk. When I asked one close dealer friend what he was buying, his reply was kind of funny. He said, ‘I am buying the nicest coins I can find and they aren’t very nice’.
One of the biggest draws for PCGS at their Trade and Grade Shows is the ‘fresh material’ dealers get back from PCGS after being graded at the show. These are great venues for dealers because we can submit our coins and find fresh material without the distractions and security risks associated with bigger shows like the ANA in Pittsburgh this week. Ironically, I found one of the biggest benefits from doing the show was selling ‘old’ inventory. Nice coins just aren’t out there in any quantity and average coins are selling quickly-doesn’t sound like a DOWN market to me?
The show news is good. The autumn months are traditionally some of the most active in our business. This month the two biggies are the ANA Fall Show in Pittsburgh, PA and the Silver Dollar Show in St. Louis, MO. Unfortunately, similar to the September schedule, having the two biggest shows of the month on back to back weeks ‘hamstrings’ both shows. Of course, the St. Louis Show will take the biggest hit because it is second on the schedule and it doesn’t have the benefit of the marketing and membership of the 800 pound gorilla-the ANA.
Now I would like to fast forward six days and share my experiences after attending the ANA Fall Show this week in Pittsburgh.
I am sitting in the comfort of my lazy boy recliner this morning with a huge cup of strong coffee and ESPN on the TV in the background. It is Sunday October 16th and Sherri and I pulled into our driveway about ten o’clock last night after a grueling week on the road. Needless to say, Sherri and I are very happy to be home.
We had a good show. The ANA and the local Pittsburgh coin club volunteers went out of their way to make the first ANA Fall Show a success. Our business was steady from start to finish at the ANA show itself. We were very pleased and personally I would grade the show: B-. Were all the dealers I spoke to at the show Saturday happy with the show? NO.
We heard several very negative comments about sales at the show. One dealer commented that this show was only the third ‘loser’ for him in his last fifty shows. Another commented that his ‘retail’ sales weren’t enough to cover his airfare let alone the table expense, food, and lodging. All I can do is share MY impressions from the show. We are definitely experiencing some sluggishness in the market, but…..RARE COINS ARE SELLING if you can find them.
Tuesday evening the Professional Numismatists Guild had dealer set-up for the PNG day being held Wednesday. Granted the convention hall was huge, but the ‘buzz’ in the room usually experienced at least during the first few hours of set-up was just not there. PNG day itself was DEAD! When the doors opened to invited guests at ten a.m. the few numismatists through the door could best be described as a ‘trickle’. Around lunch time a few more people ‘trickled’ in, but overall the PNG day was very disappointing. The PNG sold 38 tables for the PNG day in Pittsburgh. Most PNG dealers I talked to shared the same opinion-there are just too many shows.
Pittsburgh itself is a really picturesque, historical, and vibrant city. There is money in Pittsburgh and the 2003 Summer ANA was one of the best shows I ever attended. The convention center and show hotels were adequate and there are lots of neat places to eat as well as entertainment options galore. Personally, we very rarely get past room service or dinner in the hotel restaurant at shows. We are at shows to work. Although there was a potential problem with a ‘Wall Street’ protest march being held in downtown Pittsburgh Saturday, it did not adversely affect the show, but the three big sporting events, including a Penn State football game, did not help.
Overall, I have to say the show was a success. B- is a passing grade in any school-HA! The ANA did a good job with the show, although, the lack of postal facilities at the show itself was both a security concern and major inconvenience to a lot of dealers. The ANA had no control over the post office ‘backing out’ of having a facility at the show at the very last minute.
Sales are usually the biggest factor in ‘grading’ a show, but for us purchases are the most important. Pittsburgh was one of the best ‘buying’ shows I have had in the last year. Most of these great coins will appear on our website bozarthcoins.com, or in our eBay Store, bozarthnumismaticsinc in the next several days.
This next week we are off to the Silver Dollar Show in St. Charles, MO. This is a great more regionally oriented show held in a great facility in a suburb west of St. Louis, MO.
Our show schedule for the remainder of the year includes:
- Silver Dollar Show, St. Charles, MO – TABLE
- Denver Coin Expo., Denver, CO – Buying only
- Whitman Coin Expo, Baltimore, MD – TABLE
- Pasadena, TX – Buying only
- Houston Money Show – TABLE
- Ontario, CA Show – TABLE
- PCGS Las Vegas Trade & Grade Buying only – TABLE (pending)
- FUN Show, Orlando, FL – TABLE
Bozarth Numismatics is a full service rare coin company. We offer new ‘fresh to the market’ rare coins on our website, bozarthcoins.com at least two to three times per month and we constantly add new coins to our eBay Store, bozarthnumismaticsinc. We are PCGS, NGC, and CAC authorized dealers and offer both free want list services and portfolio/collection consultations. Because we travel over 200 days a year buying coins, we can offer more NEAT rare coins than most other dealers. Check us out.