To borrow from a Chinese Proverb, after this year’s FUN show it looks like we will be living during interesting numismatic times in 2007. I would give the FUN show a grade of B (or possibly a B+) on the Winter Coin Show Grading Scale. It wasn’t the best FUN show I’ve had but certainly not the worst. Most of the dealers I spoke with had similar mixed results.
I go to coin shows mainly to buy and from that standpoint, FUN was a rousing success. I was thrilled with what I was able to purchase (much of which is already listed on my website, FYI. I try to have the majority of my new purchases described and imaged within 24-48 of returning from a major show, even if it means working all day on Sunday). Through a combination of luck and hard work, I was able to purchase some of the most interesting United States gold coins I’ve owned in some time.
You are, no doubt, wondering what was hot at the show and what wasn’t. Unlike last years’ FUN convention where just about anything that was round and gold flew out of my case, buyers were more selective this year. I noted a lot of interest in choice, original coins (I think my years and years on the Originality Soapbox may finally be paying off!) in a number of areas. Nice, affordable Charlotte and Dahlonega issues in all denominations were in demand but were, as usual, hard to find. Rare Liberty Head double eagles were highly sought after as were interesting, truly rare early gold coins. Carson City gold also seemed to be in strong demand, especially rare dates in higher grades and nearly all CC double eagles priced in the $1,500-15,000 range.
What wasn’t hot? Coins which were schlocky. By this I mean coins which had an obvious “processed” look; items which, although over 100 years old, had surfaces which seemed irradiated. These were nearly impossible to sell, although they were very easy to buy. Generic gold wasn’t helped by the fact that bullion dropped around $30 per ounce while we were at the show.
I had wondered if the gigantic Heritage sales would take the wind out of the FUN show. While over $75 million in coins sold at auction in the space of just four days, it didn’t have as big an effect as I thought. No, there were no Numismatic Tumbleweeds blowin’ down the aisles while crowds swarmed at the auction. I guess if you had a coin like a 1930-S eagle (of which there were no less than five in the Heritage auction) you were going to have a hard time selling it at the show. But if you had nice, attractive coins they were selling.
Being the Numismatic Contrarian that I am, my FUN strategy was probably different than most other people. Instead of focusing on the auctions as a place to buy coins, I figured that I would aggressively pursue my various dealer contacts on the bourse floor. As I mentioned above, I think it really paid off. There weren’t all that many interesting dated gold coins in the Heritage sale but I found many neat items on the floor.
You might also be curious to know what my take was on the Heritage sale. Basically, any really fresh, really nice coin brought big bucks. Tired coins brought prices which ranged from downright cheap to surprisingly strong. There were instances where too many examples of the same date or same type appeared in the sale and in these instances, the lower quality coins tended to really suffer. I will be very interested to see how many of the big coins which were sold reappear in sales a few months from now and how many go away. I’m guessing more of the latter than the former will occur.
One observation I made from attending the auctions is that the day of the Instant Expert Investor may be coming to an end. The market has been so good for the last few years that it was possible for a new investor/collector to roar through a high dollar set in a year or two, place it in an auction and reap good rewards. In my opinion, these days may be coming to an end. In 2007, buyers seem to be more sophisticated than in the past and they will pass on certain coins in order to merely fill holes. This is just fine with me as I have been preaching patience when in comes to collecting for as long as anyone would listen.
I will be adding some more comments about the show in the days to come and invite you to check back for these.