May 2006 Long Beach Show Report

The Summer Long Beach show went pretty much as I expected. It started slowly, got exciting in the middle and finished with a whimper. My week began with the Goldberg and Superior sales. I was not hugely impressed with either of these auctions from the standpoint of quality but was able to purchase a few choice pieces including one of the finest known 1840 quarter eagles, a superb Gem 1851-O gold dollar, a glorious Gem 1915-S Panama-Pacific Octagonal $50 and a small group of reasonably crusty southern gold.

This was followed by the usual hum of activity in the pre-show hotel room circuit down in Long Beach. I looked at a ton of coins and was significantly underwhelmed by what I saw. I was, however, able to sell a number of coins including some tired pieces that I was not unhappy to get rid of.

Dealer set-up on Wednesday was a chore to slog through as most people’s attitudes were not great and few coins were available. I was able to find a few interesting pieces here and there, many of which are now listed for sale in the inventory section of my website.

Things picked up considerably when the show officially opened on Thursday. I was able to buy more coins and my wholesale sales were extremely strong. Some observations: scrubby, overgraded C&D gold was everywhere and it was generally hard to sell unless it was priced at big discounts relative to Trends. New Orleans gold was very hard to find. I was not able to find many pieces that qualified as Finest Known or Condition Census examples but I did locate some nice mid-level pieces in the $1,000-$5,000 range. I saw more Three Dollar gold pieces than in quite some time. With the recent price increases in this series there is some profit taking occurring. Early gold was also a bit more available than usual although most of the pieces I saw were common dates in the EF40 to AU55 range.

I was very surprised by the strength of the gold coins in the Heritage sale. Coins that I felt were relatively nice for the grade often sold for more money than I would sell them for retail and most of the old holder upgrades I saw went for exceptional prices. I was able to buy a few goodies but most of the lots that I liked the most went for a lot more than I was willing to pay. My favorite coin was an 1893-CC eagle in NGC MS62 that was extremely fresh and had great coloration and surfaces. I figured it would sell for around $15,000; it brought over $30,000 with the buyer’s premium.

The show slowed down considerably on Friday as many of the major dealers left and gold prices took a major hit. By Friday afternoon, it was officially done, although I did stay until Saturday in a last-ditch attempt to buy some more coins.

I found grading at the show to be pretty realistic. Both NGC and PCGS appeared to be trying to “make” some coins and most of the submitters I spoke with were a bit happier than usual. In my own experience, I was quite pleased and I made some impressive coins, most of which were quickly placed with clients who had want lists on file.

What did the Summer Long Beach show prove? The market is still strong but some areas are showing definite signs of profit taking. The recent ups and downs in the gold market are being reflected in the prices people are paying for generics. At the show, MS65 Saints dropped over $100 per coin. I would urge caution playing this market unless you are very knowledgeable and have a strong constitution.

My next show isn’t until mid-July when I attend the Summer Baltimore convention. I expect activity between now and then to slow down from the frenetic pace of the first five months of 2006. But I expect things to pick back up in August and think that the ANA show in Denver will be superb. I remain convinced that this market still has a long way to go.