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Wednesday, November 11, 2020 - 12:50

Auctions & Coin Shows

In a normal year, there would have been a few very large coin shows since the ANA, and a myriad of small coin shows. This year however, there was a smattering of very small shows (with lots of masks and the like), and no big shows at all since March when the ANA in Atlanta, Georgia was held.

As a result, the market has been unusual to say the least. Dealers have had to find inventory in different ways than normal since coin shops have less activity than normal and coin shows have been nearly non-existent, and as a result, auctions and dealer’s websites have taken on a more prominent roll in both the buying and selling of coins since they are not "in person" events (most bidding occurs online for auctions.)

There are a number of major auction houses, as well as the sites such as eBay among others. But as dealers have run low on fresh inventory, so also it seems to be more the case with auction houses having trouble getting fresh material in.

The bottom line is that until there's a greater interaction with the “public”, all "venues" for coins will be slower. It's not to say that amazing, fresh, wonderful coins aren't coming in to all these venues and dealers (and us!), but the supply is smaller. Instead of 100 coins, for example, it might be 25 or 50, etc.

The smaller supply of fresh inventory has generally caused the low end coins to be generally pretty hot. It has been amazing to to see the often sky-high prices achieved in some auction venues for low priced coins (say under $1k value.) On the other hand, higher end coins have been mixed. Some have brought unbelievably high prices double, triple or more of what they should, while others seem to have littler demand and fall through the cracks, selling for half of what they should. So it's a mixed picture, but the "right coins" are bringing some of the highest prices I have seen, while some of the other rare error coins are more soft (always exceptions, of course.)

Retail Buyers

So are collectors still buying? Yes, but with fewer coins to offer collectors, coin dealers generally are not selling as much as they have been pre-covid. It’s not a lack of demand as much as a lack of supply of fresh coins. However, although there seems to be as much “demand” for collector coins as prior to covid, sales are lower for dealers because the normal venues of coin shows, coin shops, etc, and the give and take of the buying and selling of inventory that happens between the public, middle men, auctions, coin shops, dealers, wholesalers, etc is not there with the nationwide varying degrees of shutdowns.

The good thing is everyone is “ready” for the post shutdown market. Dealers are ready, the collecting public seems to be ready, and we foresee a boom in activity once things start to reopen. Collectors want to collect, and dealers want to deal in coins, so it’s just a matter of time.

For Now

We have the online opportunities, coin clubs to participate in, club journals to read, coin books to catch up on, and the enjoyment of our collections to stay involved in. We are optimistic for the year ahead, and look forward to seeing our customers when the coin market is able to open up at full throttle once again.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 - 08:40

This year will be one for the books for a number of reasons, one of which is that there was no ANA Convention this year. As one of the largest coin shows of the year, it annually heralds the beginning of activity in the coin market after what is often referred to as "the summer doldrums." This year, however, there was no ANA. There were still major auctions which would have normally been held in conjunction with the show, with the typical tens of millions of dollars of coins sold. Amongst those millions, was the tiny sliver of error lots, which are of course what we paid attention to. The errors in the sale overall did very well, with a few that "fell through the cracks", and going for far less than they were worth, but with a number selling for (frankly) crazy high numbers, and the rest "average." So it was mixed, but not especially high or low on average. 

What about the lack of dealer-to-dealer sales or dealer-collector activity stemming from few if any coin shows, and coin shops being limited or temporarily closed? Online is where this activity has moved, to a large degree. For most dealers, the problem is not so much selling coins as much as it is acquiring fresh inventory. This posses challenges to dealers, but it seems most dealers are doing ok.

For us, fresh coins have been coming in to us at a reasonable level, and especially some incredible proof errors, which although a decent number have come into the market over the last year or two, the number has been generally well absorbed but the coin market. Many of the more rare pieces appeal not just to pure error collectors, but also to the U.S. coin collector. As a result, sales have often been well above what we would expect a particular proof error to sale for. Because some of the pieces are rare enough to have few, if any, "prices realized" from auctions, some have also resulted in very high and occasionally very low prices. The market for major proof errors will certainly sort itself out over time, as we think there are very few left to come to market (we could be wrong, but that's our 2c.)

Non-proof errors have been selling well, such as Ike dollar off-centers, any denomination or design of major double-strikes, off-centers, Morgan and Peace dollar errors, the more common double-denominations, major clips and defective planchets, interesting and unusual pieces, as well as 11c double-denominations (which as a side note, are a good example of "buy them when they're cheap", since a year ago they had dropped a lot in price, but have since rebounded since all the supply has dried up.) As is the case 9 times out of 10, when there is a lot of something on the error market, buy it if you want it, since prices usually rebound and collectors and dealers alike look back and say "why didn't I buy more when I had the chance!" 

But not all error categories are in demand. Some of the errors right now which are down in price include state quarter errors (especially missing clad layers), nickels on cent planchets, Kennedy half off-metals, and the somewhat more "common (meaning 10 or so known) proof off-metals. You can buy most of these types quite cheap right now, as well as some other types and series of errors. All these are some areas which come to mind that are "cheap" right now in general.

As we enter the 2nd half of the year, there is some hope that there will be coin shows and a general "reconnecting" of the hobby in person. The Baltimore coin show is probably going to be held (they're planning to have it at a new venue we're told) later in the year, and perhaps more coin shows will open up. As they say "time will tell", but we are optimistic since the year so far has stated surprisingly busy and active, which is of course a good thing for the hobby. We all can stay connected over the internet, phone, and through our coin clubs such as CONECA, the ANA, and many other speciality clubs (if you're not a member, join!)

Friday, May 29, 2020 - 09:38

As we’ve mentioned in many of the recent blog posts, with the slowdown in “social interaction” nationwide, it’s been a challenge to get fresh inventory in. When coin shows were open, it was was a major source of fresh error coins. Dealers with one or two coins to sale would bring them to the table, and we would buy them. If a collectors had decided to get rid of a coin or perhaps even their entire collection, they could bring it to a coin show and we could make an offer, and perhaps acquire it. But right now, that’s just not possible since coin shows have been shutdown nationwide, and when the next one will be is anyone’s guess. Currently, the next major coin show is the huge ANA World’s Fair of Money, held this year in Pittsburgh, PA, but will it happen? Hopefully. The FUN show in Orlando was cancelled just last week, and so the next show in like is the aforementioned ANA unless it gets cancelled at the last minute.

 

So, what does this mean? Well, we continue to hound our sources for fresh coins, and look to other venues for fresh coins. What we have noticed is that online, sales in auctions and the like have often been much higher than normal. Sure, some coins go “cheap”, but in general, it’s been retail or retail+ for many coins. Why is this? Well, the lack of coin shows for one thing, and the collectors (in our opinion), still generally being financially ok, has made a situation where in general, there is good demand, and a lack of supply.

 

As the economies in states across the U.S. begin to open up more and more (here in Florida, things are quite open compared to a month ago), and as state governments start allowing coin shows, things will likely return to some version of “normal” once again. We look forward to that, and to being able to work in person with our fellow dealers, and also see our customers again! But until then, the internet is a busy place for coins and collecting.

 

We were very busy last month, and sold a lot of coins, and this month has been quite busy as well. Collectors have been working on their sets, buying pieces to “fill a hole” in a date run of errors, or buying major errors that fit into their collections. Is there a slowdown? Maybe a tiny bit, but we think most of that is attributable to the lack of fresh material. Fresh coins and regular inventory have been selling alike. Customers asking us for fresh coins is about like normal, which is good, and speaks well of the state of the coin market and collecting.

June will be the start of the summer season, and with it, likely the restart of the coin show season after the shutdown of coin shows in March. Spring, always the busiest coin show season of the year was entirely MIA this year! Will Summer be the "busy Spring" season this year for coin shows? We hope so and think it will be.

 

What are you working on in your collection? Do you have holes to fill or coins you need? Let us know and we will do our best to track them down for you. jon@sullivannumismatics.com

Wonder what the coin in the photo is? Here's a link: https://www.sullivannumismatics.com/coin/ngc-10c-1945-mercury-dime-netherlands-east-indies-10c-blank-ms64?v=4452

Friday, May 15, 2020 - 07:18

Well, we're starting to see some "reopening" of businesses across the U.S., which means that perhaps there will be some coin shows sooner than later. That will be determined by the obvious factors, which we needn't get into, but the bottom line is that perhaps we will have access to coin shows in the next few months or so. Perhaps the ANA in August will be the first major coin show since things started shutting down nationwide back in March? Your guess is as good as mine.

In the meantime, coin sales have been pretty much exclusively online for the last few months. For us, that's normal, since perhaps 80% of our customers do not attend coin shows, and so online selling is the normal routine. The big difference is that there is the lack of dealer activity that happens at shows (buying for us), as well as some sales that happen at shows aren't able to occur. This has been made up for somewhat by doing more business over the phone/email, and then just mailing coins back and forth through the mail.

We're confident that the coin business will exit the other side of this situation in relatively good shape, although with a shakeup no doubt (perhaps some dealers and collectors no longer in business/collecting for the time being.) However, we all love coin collecting, and dealers love dealing in coins, so although it may be a little different when we all start attending shows again, we thing the future of the coin hobby is lustrous!

How are coin sales going in the market more broadly? In the various auctions, prices generally have been strong. A lot of people stuck at home, many of which have the means no doubt to afford to collect regardless of the economies ups and downs, have the time to enjoy their coin collections, and spend time chasing down coins to buy. At least, it seems like that to us. The coin market is not weak that we can see, and perhaps that's partially due to the make up of many coin collectors; they have extra money (no pun intended) and they view their collections as something of an "asset" and not simply something that they are wasting money on (maybe their spouses would disagree?) Whatever the reasons, it's good to see the activity in the coin market.

Totally unrelated to this post, but did you see the video we just posted? Here's a link to it: https://www.sullivannumismatics.com/information/videos/minting-coins-philadelphia-mint

We hope all our customers are doing well, and if we can be of service, please let us know. 

 

Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 07:12


Although the Coronavirus has left many of us working from home, or working with restrictions, it is great to see that the coin collecting community and the dealers are for the most part, fairly close to "business as usual." Of course, these restrictions make it more difficult to do simple things like delivering mail to the post office, or interacting with customers or other dealers in person (coin shows are shut down across the United States, for example), the internet is a thriving place for collectors and dealers. With a few clicks, photos and prices can be sent to customers, and with Pay Pal payments can be made. The USPS and other mail services are still running, and will continue to, and so shipments can be both sent and received. So although things are more difficult, it's still a thriving marketplace and community of collectors and dealers. We hope all out customers stay safe, and we look forward to helping you do some work building or collection (even if it's just through phone calls and the internet!)

We have had a very nice run of major and also less expensive errors lately, which are mostly up on the website (although there is still a quantity of fresh inventory coming down the pipe, which will be listed over the next month or so.) Some of the more interested errors include the 1978-S proof Roosevelt dime split die (which is one of three that we acquired--all different die stages, which is incredible!), and some exciting proof off-metals and more. It's an exciting time to have some fresh, major errors like these on the market, and prior to this, most major errors were coins that were well-known, and had been on and off the market over the last several decades or longer. Truly fresh, major mint errors have been absent from the market, and we are pleased to be able to offer these fresh major errors. 

Additionally, as we have recently mentioned in an email to our customers, we have relocated to sunny Florida, and we are quickly getting back up to speed with having had to move all our equipment, inventory, and other resources. It's been a lot of work, but we are glad to have it down and be back in action after a slow down of a few weeks. 

If you have any updates to your want list, feel free to send it to us, or if you are interested in any coins we have, we are here to serve. jon@sullivannumismatics.com