As I update my website the morning of Long Beach set-up, it got me to to thinking what are some of my numismatic favorites: shows, series, books, sales, etc.? Indulge me as I attempt to entertain you... Favorite City for a Coin Show: New York, by a significant factor. Yes, rooms are expensive and, yes, space is at a premium at any exhibit hall where a show is held. But the last two ANA shows held in New York were by far the two best coin shows I ever had. Not only is New York the financial capital of the world (for now...), it is the epicenter of American coin collecting with thousands of serious, deep-pocketed buyers within a few hundred miles. If it were up to me, I'd have a major coin show in Manhattan at least once year.
Favorite Coin Series: My favorite series seems to change on an annual basis. Obviously, I'm a dealer who favors gold and, equally as obvious, I tend to favor early gold and Liberty Head issues. Right now, I find myself especially intrigued by No Motto half eagles. But I am also very intrigued by Type One double eagles, early quarter eagles, New Orleans eagles and so much more. That's what makes my job fun.
Favorite Coin Book: I would vote for S.S. Crosby's Early Coins of America as the best book on coins ever written and the Garrett/Guth 100 Greatest U.S. Coins as the book that has had the biggest influence on the market in the last decade. But for me, the single best coin book has always been the Redbook. It has everything I need in one neat, simple package and it is the book I refer to more than any other; even my own.
Favorite Coin Website: Based on the amount of time I spend online, I'd have to vote for the PCGS and Heritage sites; the former for its auction prices realized and the latter for its elegant design and unrivaled technology.
Favorite Coin Show: For me, this is a pretty easy one: the FUN show in Orlando, held every year in January. From an economic standpoint, I think the tables are a good value. From a symbolic standpoint, I like the fact that it represents the beginning of the year and seems to offer a Karmic Cleansing (or something like that...). The show is well-run, it's nice to go to Florida in the middle of winter, it's well-attended, and it's a show that has to be considered one of the very best of the year for retail sales. I find the atmosphere more laid-back than the Summer ANA (which is my runner-up for best show) and its a show that, after all these years, I still look forward to attending.
Favorite Coin Auction: That would still have to be the Bass II sale, conducted by Bowers and Merena in October 1999. There were thousands of lots with nearly every single one containing a coin (or coins) that I wanted to bid on. And the coins were fresh, fresh, fresh with an incredible array of depth and quality. What's really remarkable about this sale is that although it was conducted just 13 years ago, in some ways it seems like a hundred; what with no internet, sparse attendance and prices that now seem cheap, cheap, cheap. It is scary to think what this sale would bring in 2012.
Favorite Auction Firm: Given the fact that the coin auction business is essentially a duopoly at this point, it's a lot easier to point to a favorite firm today. Due to their transparency and great customer service, the clear favorite for me is Heritage. I love how Heritage provides me with all the information I need to help me bid and I love how, despite their size, Heritage is willing to go the extra mile when it comes to things like having someone stay late after a long day at a coin show to let me view lots.
Asterisk: Had ANR been able to survive the contraction of the auction business, this firm would probably have been my favorite. They had great people working for them, got nice consignments, produced exceptional catalogs, and were building a first-class website. Their demise was sad for the numismatic auction business.
Favorite Regular Issue Coin Design: This would be a toss-up between the so-ugly-its-charming Capped Head half eagle design of William Kneass (especially the Reduced Diameter issues of 1829-1834) and the cool, elegant Indian Head eagle design produced by Augustus St. Gaudens.
Favorite Pattern Issue Coin Design: Judd-1776. If you don't know what this design looks like, Google it.
Favorite Coins I've Handled In 2012: While not yet half over, this has proven to be a watershed year for DWN in terms of cool individual coins. A few stand-out so far: the finest known MS63 1855-D quarter eagle I bought in the Goldberg's February sale, the NGC MS60 1863 half eagle I recently sold to an eastern specialist, the PCGS F12 1854-S quarter eagle I bought at the "secret" auction in San Francisco, and the group of three Gem Charlotte gold coins I just finished selling over the weekend. I can only hope the second half of 2012 turns out to be as full of great coins as the first half was!
What are some of your numismatic favorites? Let me know by contacting me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.