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Wednesday, December 16, 2020 - 08:34

With the recent mint error sale with Heritage Auctions, which was comprised of some 261 lots, it was interesting to see the prices the coins fetched. (Here is a link to the sale: https://coins.ha.com/c/search-results.zx?N=3183+790+231+4294944697&ic=Items-ClosedAuctions-Closed-BrowseCatalog-051914)

Many of the coins were on the high end, although there were some that sold cheaply. In fact, some coins we sell in our regular inventory stock sold for substantially at auction.

1.Collectors think they will get a better deal at auction than from a dealer. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes the coins that sell "cheap" are cheap for a reason--they have problems that might not be noticeable to the untrained eye, which is why they won the coin "for a steal!"

2.Collectors (and dealers) sometimes get carried away in "live bidding" environments, resulting in their paying more (sometimes multiples more) than the coin could be purchased from in a dealer's inventory.

3. Collectors will often frequent well-publicized auction events, see a coin, and bid it up thinking that the coin is worth the price. In a dealer's inventory, the same coin may be available at half the price, but because the dealer's website isn't regularly checked up on by the collector, they fail to realize the same coin is available at the lower price there. 

4.Collectors sometimes think a coin is worth, for example, $1,000, and plan to bid that, but at the bidding rises to their valuation, and surpasses it, they think "if other people are willing to pay this, it must be worth more." This is almost always a bad idea, since all it takes is one uninformed bidder as one's competitor for the price to go "to the moon." 

All these reasons are just my 2c, and you can get a good deal, but there are a number of pitfalls (including those just mentioned) to take into consideration when bidding in an auction. 

So what can be said for the error sale? Well, most of the high end coins went for full price and then some. Some went for substantially more than I had thought they would bring. There were a few coins that fell through the cracks, but overall, the $2,000+ errors brought "all the money." It was surprising to see a number of coins sell for DOUBLE or TRIPLE what the price realized should have been! Proof errors were strong in the sale, with the off-metals and other misc proof errors bring very strong prices. 

The "mid range" errors, in the $500-$2,000 range for the most part were strong as well. A few coins fell through the cracks, but overall strong prices.

For the lower priced market, under $500, some of the best deals were to be had, with some nice mint errors selling cheaply. However, many of the coins that are extremely common and worth about $10-$50 brought $100-$300! This is nuts, but it's what can happen in an auction environment! 

So overall, my estimation of the sale was an "A" for prices--the error market is strong if judged by this sale. 

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. [email protected]

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.