By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek....
While the July FUN Show might not be as boisterous or headline-grabbing as its much bigger January sibling, the Orlando, Florida-based summer show is a fantastic opportunity for collectors to take in a Heritage Auctions Coin Auction and walk a bustling bourse floor replete with the wares of more than 200 national and regional coin dealers. Florida has always been a great state for Numismatics, and thousands of visitors joined us at FUN to support the show and the hobby.
This is the second of three shows for me in a one-month period. I was at the Whitman Expo in Baltimore two weeks ago, and I’ll make a trip to North Carolina to take in the Raleigh Coin Club’s 41st Annual Coin, Stamp & Currency Show.
But this report is all about FUN, where I joined CoinWeek founders David Lisot and Scott Purvis. Over the course of three days, we spoke with collectors, authors and dealers to check the pulse of the hobby as we enter the busy pre-ANA season and to seek out the cool and interesting things that makes collecting so much fun.
Heritage Auctions' Summer FUN Auction Results
Heritage was taking consignments for their next great auction. They also held an auction at the show, where they offered a nice selection of material, including the auction highlight, an 1802 dime (PCGS MS-62). This coin is the finest known of the JR-2 variety, and exhibits aqua and gold toning. It’s struck flatter than the Ed Price (NGC MS-61) example because it comes in a later die state.
There was a four-way tie for second place at $52,875. The first of these, the 1855-D gold dollar in PCGS XF-45, shows a strong demand for Dahlonega Mint issues, especially rare ones. This piece comes from the J.S. Morgan Collection and is of the 7-I variety.
The 1929 $5 Indian half eagle in PCGS MS-63 also brought strong money for the issue. The value of this rare $5 Indian has more than doubled over the course of the last seven years.
Rounding out the number two spot are a frosty gem PCGS MS-65 Seated Liberty dollar and a wire rim 1907 Saint-Gaudens $10 gold eagle in PCGS MS-64.
Here’s the rundown:
Heritage Auctions' Top 10 Results:
1. Lot 3668 $70,500.00 1802 JR-2 Dime, PCGS MS-62.
2. (tie) Lot 3878 $52,875.00 1855-D Gold Dollar, PCGS XF-45.
2. (tie) Lot 3945 $52,875.00 1929 $5, PCGS MS-63.
2. (tie) Lot 3963 $52,875.00 1907 $10 Wire Rim, PCGS MS-64.
2. (tie) Lot 3816 $52,875.00 1873 $1, PCGS MS-65.
6. Lot 3920 $49,937.50 1842-C Small Date $5 AU-58 PCGS, Variety 1.
7. Lot 4047 $47,000.00 1907 High Relief, Flat Rim. PCGS MS-65.
8. Lot 3687 $44,062.50 1920-D Mercury 10c MS-67+ FB PCGS . Ex: Forsythe II. (Pop 2/1).
9. (tie) Lot 3705 $41,125.00 1853/53 No Arrows 25c Briggs 1-A, FS-301, MS-67 PCGS . Repunched last two digits. (Pop 2/0) .
9. (tie) Lot 3844 $41,125.00 1889-CC Morgan $1 MS-63 NGC.
That Gobrecht Hub Reduction!
Without a doubt, the coolest thing we saw in Orlando came from Alexandrea Zieman and her father John.
CoinWeek readers may recall that we've met Alexandrea before.
She's the 18-year-old numismatist from Spring Hills, Florida that is trying to turn a circulated Indian cent into an 1895 Morgan dollar. She's not quite there, but her impressive string of trades has taken her from a lowly $1 coin to $900 in cash, which she planned to spend on the bourse floor of the FUN show. We asked Alexandrea what she was looking for and she told us that she was hunting for a $10 gold coin, hopefully one with about $1,100 in potential value.
Reminds us of a piece we wrote a couple of years ago.
As cool as Alexandrea's "paperclip trade" journey is, it’s the Zieman family's discovery of an original Gobrecht hub reduction that made big numismatic news earlier this year.
The piece traces its origins to the estate of Mint Director Robert Patterson and was acquired as part of a large cache of Patterson’s personal effects that the father-daughter duo bought from an acquaintance.
“The entire lot was heading for a landfill, but miraculously the owner noticed a handwritten letter purporting to be from President Thomas Jefferson. He wasn’t sure of the authenticity of the items, but knew that they were very old,” Zieman said.
Zieman purchased the entire lot for a relatively modest sum when one considers the value of the entire lot, which included previously unknown letters from Jefferson to the Mint Director discussing Mint matters and the War of 1812.
"We've got mint locks, a box from his desk at the Mint, copper plates for his portrait and business card, his college degrees, and original letters from Thomas Jefferson to Patterson concerning Mint matters as well as letters pertaining to the War of 1812," said Zieman.
And although he’s been offered “ridiculous money”, John Zieman wants the collection to stay together and said that he hopes to find a way to either temporarily place it all in a national museum or make scans of the documents so that researchers and collectors can have access to this important information.
The World Coin Market According to FUN Vice President Bob Hurst
FUN puts on a great show on several levels. Many attendees not only look forward to the next great acquisition but also for the opportunity to sit in on educational lectures by some of the hobby’s foremost numismatists.
I had a chance to sit in on FUN Vice President Bob Hurst’s excellent presentation about collecting world coins and sat with him afterwards.
Here’s a brief transcription of our conversation:
Charles: Bob, how did you get into collecting world coins?
Bob Hurst: I collected world coins through my experience in the military. I started in Korea with "charm money"; it's money that's blessed by the emperors that have been given to people when they get married or engaged. I almost put a complete collection together, it was very hard to find.
When I got to Italy, I got into ancient coins. When I was in high school in Clearwater, Florida, history was the dullest, most boring thing onearth. But when I found myself in Italy... I got about 30,000 ancient Roman and Greek coins. Most were corroded and worn out.
C: Do you also collect U.S. coins?
BH: I did collect U.S. for a number of years. I collected large cents, bust half dollars by variety, and Morgan dollars.
But all the coins looked the same to me. The only thing that changed was the date. With world coins, I could put together a massive collection and no two would look alike.
C: Which world coins are your favorites?
BH: I like the Gothic-styled coins of Victorian England. They are very pretty. Also, Germany put out lots of interesting coins, especially the thalers of Luneburg. I also love the “Wildman” thalers. The Wildman is essentially the German version of our sasquatch.
C: How does the world coin market in the United States compare to the U.S. coin market?
BH: Obviously, it’s smaller. But that’s good for collectors, because that means the material is cheaper.
C: Has third party grading had an effect on the world coin market?
BH: Overseas, not much of an effect yet. But I think in the long term it will.
C: What are the hot areas of the world coin market?
BH: Obviously, people often think of modern issues like the Chinese Panda or other foreign bullion coins, but if I had to pick my top five, I’d say Russia and China are hot right now.
C: What areas would you suggest to a collector just getting into the world coin market, let’s say at $50 a coin or less?
BH: At $50 or less, there are a lot of great areas. Great Britain, for starters. These coins are clean and classic designs. Also, I’d recommend any Asian issue. Coins from Italy and San Marino. French and German coins.
C: What about Pre-Euro coinage of Europe? Hubert and I wrote a recent column about this area…
BH: Honestly, I think the collector market for the Pre-Euro stuff won’t hit for about 15 to 20 years. But it’s time is coming.
C: What does the future hold for foreign coins in the U.S.?
BH: In the past there was a lack of curiosity for the material. I think collectors are starting to demand that dealers take notice. About 10 or 15 years ago, you didn’t see foreign coins in a U.S. dealer showcase at a show like this. Now that’s changing. Even major auction houses are now offering world and ancient coins.
It's always nice to run into old friends at coin shows. National dealers tend to be road dogs, spending half the year or more bringing their latest purchases to loyal customers and collectors from all over the United States.
And while you can expect to see many of the same faces (and material, I hate to say), it’s always a pleasant surprise to see an unexpected face when a show happens to be held in the backyard of a local or regional dealer.
This is why I was happy to run into a dealer named Connie Robertson of Connie’s Coins. I know Robertson through the Richmond (Virginia) Coin Club, where she was president for six years. After her husband retired, she relocated to central Florida.
Robertson is a full-time dealer, who specializes in ancients and world coins. She recently joined the ranks of the Professional Numismatists Guild.
Despite the move, she still maintains roots in Richmond and continues to support the Richmond Coin Club’s coin shows, which feature about 75 tables but draw an enthusiastic crowd from around the state.
“It’s a popular show, in spite of the fact that Virginia charges sales tax,” said Robertson, “Virginia collectors are into history and our country from the Revolution through the Civil War, especially.”
While in Richmond, Robertson was instrumental in establishing a monthly club coin auction. By the time she left the region, the Richmond Coin Club was moving $10,000 in coins a month.
“We generated no profits for the club. This was strictly a way to provide an avenue for our members to trade coins.”
At her table were an assortment of thalers from Austria and Germany.
“There are little pieces of art that carry so much history. It took me a while to work up to this level, as these coins are expensive. But I love it.”
The Coin Dog
On the show’s second day, David Lisot caught up with a dealer that brought with him a beautiful collie service dog, one of two dogs that have been cleared to work the coin show circuit in the United States. David was excited to capture footage of the dog and speak with its owner (the dealer prefers to remain anonymous) about service dogs and the comfort they bring their companions.
After shooting the video, David asked me to take some stills of the “Coin Dog". Try as I might, I couldn't locate the dog or its the owner. I joked with Scott that I was put on a snipe hunt, but sure enough, after about an hour David guided me to the correct booth and this beautiful still of "Coin Dog" is the result.
What's on Tap for CoinWeek?
David and I will team up again to provide detailed coverage of the American Numismatic Association's World's Fair of Money, August 5-9 at the Rosemont Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.
If you plan on attending, please stop by the CoinWeek booth. We strive to be your numismatic news and information destination of choice, and love meeting and talking to collectors and hearing your thoughts on how CoinWeek can better serve the numismatic community. Hope to see you in Chicago, but if not, drop us an email at News@CoinWeek.com, or visit us on Facebook