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Here's my Baltimore report

12 posts in this topic

I was at the show Wednesday and Thursday.


Generally speaking, I thought activity was strong. One dealer I talked to said that coins were being priced at levels that were too expensive to make a decent profit on in a resale. He said: "It's fine if you're an end-user, but we can't make any money on them."


It seemed to me that a lot of the activity was occurring in the "back of the counter" rather than in the display cases, that is, a dealer would come to the table with a box of coins and the dealer behind the table would look through them and make his purchases, or a dealer would sit at the front of the table and the dealer behind the table would reach behind him and bring out a box or two for that dealer to look through. (I suspect that a lot of want lists were being serviced.) I saw a lot of dealers writing checks. There was a lot of "buzz" and a lot of people in the aisles, but it was never hard to get down the aisles (nice wide aisles!)


Interestingly, almost all of the coins I looked at on Wednesday were still in the dealers' display cases on Thursday, which tells me that they were not "priced to move", to say the least!


I saw a lot of "higher-end" coins - if I was looking for a particular coin in XF-40, I saw it in AU-50; if I was looking for it in AU-50, I saw it in AU-53 or AU-55. I saw at least eight Pan-Pac $50s, both round and octagonal, I saw a lot of Pioneer gold, including (for the first time ever) Mormon gold. The Daddy dollars (pre-1804) were out in force, including lots of VF and nicer ones in PCGS slabs. I saw a pretty good amount of no-motto Coronet gold, including lots of C- and D-mint gold (mostly AU, though). I also saw my first pre-Civil War S-mint half eagles, plus an 1863 half eagle in AU, I think.


I attended my first meeting of the Liberty Seated Collectors' Club. I think that almost every living author of a book on Seated coins was there! (I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!) There was extensive discussion of the growing problem of counterfeit Seated and Trade dollars coming out of China (and mostly being sold on eBay). Up till now, the coins have been low-silver content (about 25%) and have used the same reverse die, so they've been easy to spot. The 'coins' are usually VF and XF and aren't rare dates, so a buyer thinks he's buying a $400 or $500 coin. One dealer said that he was recently in China and at a market where these 'coins' were being sold. He asked how much it would cost to have his own fake die created and was told "a couple of hundred dollars"!


Larry Briggs said, however, that the counterfeits have been getting more sophisticated and the new ones are higher silver content, die-struck and have luster! He said he's gotten fooled a couple of times! (If they can fool him, they can fool most everyone else!) He said they're still VF to XF. He also said that he and ANACS have been exchanging information and they're trying to keep on top of the problem.


Two people from Coin World were in the room and said they'd do an article on the problem. The ANA rep to eBay was also there and said that he'd talk to eBay about it.


I also have a good PCGS story: A buddy of mine brought an expensive ANACS-slabbed (AU-50) coin to PCGS to be crossed (overnight service) at "XF-40 or better". When the coin came back still in its ANACS slab, he took it to David Hall, who pulled it out of the box and said "nice XF-45." My friend said, "I told them to cross it at XF-40 or better." David Hall got a look on his face and said "take the coin to so-and-so and tell them you want a Presidential Review." When my friend did so, the person asked "Is this a review you're paying for?" My friend said "I don't know, he told me to come over here." the reply was "I guess you're not paying for it." My friend had no idea why the coin didn't cross, whether they mis-read his instructions or what, but he's now expecting to receive a PCGS slabbed coin in the mail!


As far as who I saw, I had a really great couple of conversations with Dahlonega (who said he can read the Board, but can't post for some reason, so he'll post when he gets home), talked to TomB for a couple of minutes and broke Texas Bullion Trader's (sorry, forgot his nickname) heart - I referred to his beauties as "tarnished"! He perked up a bit, though, when I told him that they were very attractive! I asked if he submitted a lot of his coins from Mint Sets and he said they submitted them to PCGS still in the original Mint packaging, so PCGS would cut them apart and slab them, without sending them all back as "questionable color." I also said hello to Steve at Legend and had nice conversations with Doug Winter and Winn Carner.


I overheard an interesting conversation. A gentleman was buying a toned Silver Eagle in a PCI holder, and after he concluded the purchase, he said that he looked for them in PCI slabs, because he believed that the coins were toning in the slab. (It sounded like he had once put a white one in a PCI slab and that it subsequently toned.)


As for myself, I bought an NGC-40 1854-S eagle (very 'crusty' and original) and an ICG-50 1847-O eagle (also very original). I thought both coins were very clean (a marked absence of dings and bagmarks) and they both have some nice die breaks! (Who needs fancy toning when you can have some really attractive die breaks, anyway?)


By the way, almost all of the O-mint gold I saw was NGC-slabbed (I saw one coin in a PCGS slab and two in ICG slabs), while a lot of the C- and D-mint gold was NGC-slabbed and a lot of it was PCGS-slabbed.


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Great report! I heard PCGS and NGC coins were moving briskly and even PCI coins were trading along with ANACS, but SEGS and NTC and the others were dull to lifeless (including ICG). Is that accurate from your vantage point?

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Beryl - Personally, I'm not sure that the ANA will get very far with eBay (I guess I'm just cynical). The ANA rep himself said that he thought of the problem as one of consumer education(!). However, I was talking to someone on the Bourse floor later who said that the way the stamp guys fixed the problem they had with counterfeits on eBay was to get the Post Office involved from the protection of trademarked designs point-of-view. My feelings are that the Post Office is much more collector-friendly than the Mint (or BEP, for that matter), and that eBay is (and should be) much more afraid of the Post Office than the Mint; after all, the Post Office carries so much of their volume! I also wonder if we can't interest the Secret Service in this - after all, it's counterfeiting of US legal tender!


Braddick - I saw lots of PCGS, NGC and ANACS slabs and few ICG, PCI or NTC slabs. I saw a few SEGS slabs (mostly at Larry Brigg's table) and, I think, exactly one Accugrade slab.


Steve - "I" should say more about the LSCC meeting? (Yeah, right, make the newest kid in the room do it!)


OK, here goes - Darrell Low is definitely younger and better looking than Steve is! grin.gif


But, seriously folks, Steve is very nice in person, and, although he was busy, he took the time to show me a really nice Seated dollar and talk to me.


Back to the LSCC meeting:


In addition to the extensive discussion of the counterfeits,


John McCloskey discussed the work involved in bringing out the next collected volume of the Gobrecht Journal; he said he hoped to have it available for sale at the next ANA annual convention. He said he's having it printed by a printer who does short-runs for college professors, so he can print a hundred copies at a time and not have to print 500 copies at once, which leads to leftover inventory. (At which, somebody jumped up and said he had a full set and wanted the new volume to be of the same dimensions, so it would match his other copies and not be taller, etc. sheesh - book collectors, what nuts! grin.gif I bet all his slabs are from the same slabbing service, too!)


Gerry Fortin discussed his forthcoming CD on Seated dimes. He talked about a very sophisticated offering, with everything 'clickable', that is, you'd click on a date, say 1846, which would bring up a menu listing of every know die variety for that year, you'd then click on a variety, which would bring up a menu for every known diagnostic picture of that variety. He also discussed the ability to do "rolling" updates, that is, he'd have everything on his hard drive and just burn a new CD every six months or so (since he was sure that a lot of new information would come out of the woodwork as soon as he published his CD!).


Needless to say, this sparked some discussion between the "book" guys and the "CD" guys. The book guys said that people want to have a book they can take to shows, while the CD guys (I think it was Steve) said you could just download some data to your PDA and take it to a show. (Obviously, this is a discussion all authors will be having more and more often over the next five to ten years.) Then there was the discussion between the date-and-mintmark collectors and the variety collectors. One of the date-and-mintmark guys said that Gerry's book was going way beyond anything they needed and perhaps Gerry should also publish a book of the "top 100" varieties (hey, it worked for the VAM guys), with the CD as a supplement for the hard-core variety guys.


Gerry replied that he hadn't even considered preparing a book, and his information wasn't even formatted for easy transfer to a book.


There was also some discussion about how often Gerry would bring out a new CD, how much would he charge the folks who bought the first edition, etc. Gerry said that he might not bring out a new edition for a couple of years, it depended on how much energy he has left after having spent 15 years on this.


I think that's all I remember. If I recall anything else, I'll add it later.

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DaveG: that you think Darrell is better looking than I says more about your sense of eye appeal than you realize! wink.gif


As for Gerry's CD book, this reminds me of a Star Trek movie where Kirk was reading a first edition digital copy of Moby .


Gerry's work is contemporaneous with the 21st century. I think it is nice that there are traditionalists amongst the bibliophiles, but no one can stop progress. I spoke with Gerry afterwards, and he seemed to indicate positively about my idea about a small-format digital version with updates, etc.


Try as they want to be traditional, but a wholely digital version is much cheaper to produce, much more easy to access, and much more easy to update.


Dr. Fey's suggestion for a Top 200 or so is a good one. It should serve as a nice compromise between the date/mint guys and those who collect by Greer varieties. Additionally, the Top 200 can be used to prime the data cache for more efficient searches.




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Steve - I grade that one MS-70 with killer toning! 893applaud-thumb.gif893applaud-thumb.gif


I agree with your comments about a wholly digital publication. When John McCloskey was talking about the difficulties of producing the next collected edition of the Gobrecht Journal, I was about to raise my hand and ask why he doesn't put it out on CD. After all, it's all "in the computer" already, and if it's all digital, he can just burn additional CDs as needed, with no inventory expense.


Well, maybe in a few years!

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Hey Dave, it was good to see you again at the show. Did you make it to Parsippany on Sunday? I did the show for a few hours.

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It was good to see you as well.


I didn't make it to Parsippany; we slept in instead.


How was it?

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Parsippany had many empty tables since nearly half of the regular dealers also had tables at Baltimore, however, there was heavy floor traffic. Since I did not take a table this month I only stayed about two hours.

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I just remembered that I forgot to mention that Dahlonega was also showing off a PCGS MS-65 1851-O three cent silver!


It was truly a to-die-for coin and the one and only branch mint three cent silver.

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