I think if you ask most dealers if they had a good show at the spring ANA in Charlotte they would give you a resounding “no!!” To be honest, I didn’t think I had an especially successful show either until I added up my sales numbers on the plane ride home. My sales volume at the show was actually extremely impressive. There were some definite problems with this show. First and foremost was the fact that it was exactly a week before the Baltimore convention. A number of larger dealers decided that they did not want to attend back-to-back shows on the east coast. I know I was not excited about having to fly from the left coast to the right coast twice in less than a week (except for the 10,000+ miles I’d be adding to my Frequent Flyer Account balance...) For the most part, this show lacked any buzz and the public attendance seemed pretty light on Thursday and Friday.
I go to coin shows primarily to buy and from that standpoint, the Charlotte show was not a success. There was an almost total lack of fresh material available. Luckily, I was able to purchase a few very neat items from collectors who I know in the Charlotte area (some of which are already listed for sale on my website; others are out being graded at PCGS or NGC and will be listed in the next few weeks).
Due to a lack of submissions, NGC stopped taking coins for on-site grading and this meant that almost nothing was “made” at the show. That, combined with the fact that most people brought just a small portion of their inventory with them, meant that very little interesting material was available for sale.
I would suggest to the ANA that in the coming years they make sure that their spring convention is held a few weeks before or after Baltimore. I am not attending any shows in April and, upon reflection, I’d tell the ANA to choose a slower month like this to hold their show.
Some dealers complained about the location but I think Charlotte is an excellent coin town and a really first-rate city. The convention facility was excellent, I liked my hotel and you can’t beat the friendliness and hospitality of the locals. I just wished I didn’t have to fly 3,000 miles to get there.
I didn’t participate in the Heritage sale with my usual enthusiasm for a number of reasons. I did attend part of Friday night’s gold session, mainly to watch the sale of Steve Duckor’s amazing 1920-S $10.00 in PCGS MS67. As I had written in an earlier blog, I expected this coin to set a record for the Indian Head eagle series and to become the first example of this type to eclipse the $1 million mark. My prediction proved prescient as the final price realized was an amazing $1.725 million.
The 1920-S opened up at $550,000 and it quickly shattered the $1 million mark. There were at least five people bidding on the coin and three were still very much alive at over $1 million. Needless to say, Dr. Duckor was thrilled about the sale and I’m happy that he did so well. If I’m not mistaken, this is very likely the most money any living collector has ever made on a single coin. Steve paid $85,000 for the 1920-S back in 1982. I’m not sure what this works out to on an annualized basis but a profit of nearly a million-and-a-half bucks on a single coin seems pretty impressive to me.
Prices at the rest of the sale seemed strong. I didn’t buy much and even some of the coins which I thought I bid strongly on went primarily to Internet bidders.
The market seems more two-tiered than ever. As an example, I had some exceptionally nice high quality fresh Charlotte and Dahlonega half eagles available at the show and nearly every one of them sold quickly. But I saw tons of low quality, overgraded dipped-n-stripped pieces which, even at substantial discounts relative to Trends, weren’t selling. This seems to be the case in nearly every series. Most of the coins available for sale now are extremely low end and this is having a negative impact on the prices of the nice coins. But knowledgeable specialists know that really nice coins are really rare and that they sell for really strong prices in this really two-tiered environment. (Got that straight?)
I expect next week’s Baltimore show to be very active. This doesn’t necessarily mean that lots of great coins will magically appear on the market but every dealer I spoke to in Charlotte is excited about the show, meaning that the mood, at least, will be very upbeat.