Coin board sales at auction continued to be irregular during the past quarter and not particularly useful in setting values. The economy continues to limp along with no signs of real recovery in sight, and the net result of this is that the many casual buyers of coin boards I have on my mailing list have been on the sidelines until discretionary income returns. Nevertheless, there are some price changes to report, and these will be found in the accompanying Check List and Value Guide 2012.
A series of better Oberwise titles were offered on eBay, and this group included the rare board for Washington Quarters. The seller was highly erratic in his dealings, and before listing the boards on eBay he first contacted me via my website to pick my brain about their values. In a series of emails I gave him a realistic appraisal of his boards and made a solid offer. He evidently realized at this point that the boards were worth more than he had imagined and should be sold separately of the coins they contained, but he had already photographed them with the coins in place. Since the boards were more eye-catching than the so-so coins offered, I advised him that it was wrong to illustrate the boards and coins together unless both were for sale. Ultimately, the coins sold for what they were worth without respect to the value of the boards, but then he began pitting me against another prospective board buyer to see who would pay the most for the now-empty boards. I ceased answering his emails at that point. Perhaps the most important offering in recent months was a four-piece lot of Colonial Coin & Stamp Company boards that appeared on eBay late in 2011. Included were those for Eagle & Indian Head Cents, Lincoln Cents, Shield & Liberty Head Nickels and Buffalo Nickels, all of them Second Edition, of course. These brought about $20 each, somewhat below their real value but a good price given that they were only partially illustrated. They were all duplicates for me, so I was once again the underbidder.
New board discoveries are turning up in even the quietest of times. Certainly the most significant of these to surface in the past quarter was a major variety within the Whitman First Edition. The Mercury Dime board is now known with the familiar glossy face and plain red backing, but with neither the two coin illustrations nor the pasteover that covered these from earlier printings. This plain masthead was already known for other titles, but it is a new discovery for this coin series, and I’ve labeled it as variety W10¢D1a.4
2. It is otherwise identical to C1¢B2a, which has been relabeled as C1¢B2a.1. The new variety is C1¢B2a.2.
As usual, there are several minor additions to the rich roster of J. Oberwise & Co. boards. These include O5¢Bt, O10¢Bv (mintages complete through 1940), O10¢Av, O25¢Cf and O25¢Cu. Speaking of backing variety ‘u’, reader Chris Buck has pointed out an additional feature that clearly distinguishes this variety from the previous variety ‘t’. Below the illustration of the magnifying glass were added the words ACTUAL SIZE. This and other book revisions to date will be found in the revised Errata & Addenda list which accompanies this newsletter. ON THE ROAD AGAIN I’ll be once again manning the NGC booth at the mighty FUN show, January 5-8, 2012 at the Orlando Convention Center.
Overview — 2011 was a discouraging year for sellers of nearly everything but gold and silver! The coin board market was affected primarily by slower sales of anything that was not very rare or very choice. The meat-and-potatoes sort of coin board did not bring the strong prices of 2008-09, as more and more people became alarmed about the economy. Whenever something special did appear, the competition was consistently strong. The sole exceptions seem to have been boards that appeared during the summer months, when many potential buyers are preoccupied with family vacations. My best buys of the year were made during that period, though boards of nice quality were offered to me in clusters spread evenly throughout the year. Still, heavily worn or damaged boards predominate in the marketplace, but I make an effort to avoid those unless very rare. Because much of the market was in a holding pattern, my changes to this year’s Check List and Value Guide are minimal. All new or revised prices are entered in red for ease of comparison against last year’s list. There are several new board varieties that surfaced during 2011, and these are also added in red.
Kent Company — There were no major developments for this publisher’s boards, simply because very few nice ones surfaced. I will usually buy any Kent Company board, regardless of condition, but it is very rare to find a nice example of any variety other than K1¢B2a or K5¢A2. I’ve lowered the catalog values for the former in grades VG and F, as more examples surfaced in these grades.
Whitman Publishing Company — This publisher’s boards continue to remain the ones most commonly seen, though this statement applies primarily to the Second and Fourth Edition boards. These are plentiful in overall numbers but extremely rare in high grades, a fact that few buyers appreciate. I believe that prices should be higher for VF-NM and full NM examples, but the sheer abundance of worn pieces precludes this. Last year’s price increases for the rare “Y” Edition boards have been vindicated, and I’ve been unable to locate additional ones for inventory. First Edition, Third Edition and “X” Edition Whitman boards remained essentially unchanged in both price and availability.
Colonial Coin & Stamp Company — A single, minor new variety surfaced during 2011, but this publisher’s catalog otherwise remains unchanged. Prices remain mostly stable for the four varieties that were included in the Atlanta Hoard a few years ago, with just a handful of increases in the highest grades. A few boards have sold recently in grades that had no previous market records, and these have now been assigned values.
Lincoln Printing Company — Lincoln boards continue to get no respect for their rarity in high grades, and I’ve found very few nice ones over the past year. These nearly all went to the few want list customers who understand their rarity. When I offer ones grading Fine or so, which are actually quite scarce, they typically receive little attention. A few values have been added or revised in red, and one variety has had its values removed, since the previous sales report proved to be incorrect.
J. Oberwise & Company — Another rather homely product, Oberwise coin boards attract little attention except from the more advanced collectors. Several new varieties have been added to the roster over the past year, all of them being known faces with new backing varieties. The most interesting is O10¢Be, which has a strip of paper printed “1916” printed over some unknown, incorrect date. Very few persons are seeking all of these by variety, and the scarce ones bring only modest premiums when offered. A few prices have been added in red to reflect known sales.
Earl & Koehler — Once again there is little to add to the story of these very rare coin boards. There were no sales known to me during 2011, and thus the published values remain static. When an actual sale occurs, there will certainly be some upward price movement.
Gramercy Stamp Company — Nothing to see here---just keep moving. Sadly, there is indeed nothing new to report. Just when it looked as though Gramercy boards were about to go from extremely rare to being simply rare, the supply completely dried up. I don’t know of any appearances during 2011. As a result, I’ve posted no value changes for 2012.
David W. Lange
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34211