After attending the recent Heritage sale of Dr. Steve Duckor’s Indian Head eagles, I was invited to have dinner with Steve and a group of elite-level collectors. The sale was a smashing success with the final prices realized at least thirty to forty percent higher than I imagined they would be. As we sat at dinner and celebrated Dr. Duckor’s success, one of the individuals at the table made a great comment: “Steve Duckor is the poster child for coin collectors.” I thought long and hard about this comment and suddenly realized that it was, in fact, completely true. Steve Duckor, in addition to being a great guy, is a great collector. There are, in my opinion, five factors that make him a truly special numismatist.
He specializes in one or two areas and doesn’t wander outside his comfort zone. Steve Duckor specializes in Barber coinage (dimes and halves) and 20th century gold (Indian Head eagles and Saints). By keeping his focus on these areas, he has been able to build great sets and become far more knowledgeable than most dealers. Collectors with a clearly defined focus are unquestionably more successful (and probably happier) than those with a scattered approach.
He found a “look” and built his collection(s) around it. I had the chance to view Steve’s collections last year and was stunned at how standardized the appearance of many of his coins was. As an example, many of his Barber coins had dazzling peripheral coloration framing frosty centers. His Saint Gaudens double eagle set contains many of the most attractively toned gold coins I have ever seen. When these sets hit the market they will bring record prices because the coins have fantastic overall eye appeal that improves as you see all the coins together.
He established a strong relationship with a great dealer. Steve was lucky to find David Akers early in his career and this enabled him to not only have access to some great coins but to have access to a great mind. Dave Akers loves Barber halves, Indian Head eagles and St. Gaudens double eagles and his enthusiasm for these series rubbed off on Steve Duckor.
He was patient and held his coins for the long-term. Many of today’s collectors sell their collections literally as soon as they are finished. This mindset has been fueled by two forces: a strong market (which allows many collectors to realize big profits in a short period) and aggressive marketing by auction firms (which pushes many collectors to sell even if they aren’t necessarily ready to do so). Steve Duckor owned many of his Indian Head eagles for two decades and he realized enormous profits on many of these long-term purchases.
He is a nice guy and he slowly built a cult following among other collectors and dealers. Steve Duckor is not only one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, he’s one of the canniest. His coins have a mystique surrounding them not only because they are superb but because they are owned by Steve Duckor. This is a case where a pedigree adds a considerable amount of value.
Will you be the next Steve Duckor? Perhaps not, but I would suggest that by following these five rules (and buying great coins) you have a chance to be.