What Will It Take To Jumpstart The Charlotte Gold Market?

In the last few months I’ve been asked a similar question by at least three collectors: what will it take to jump start the Charlotte gold market? This is an excellent question and I’d like to raise a few points that I think will explain what possible scenarios could affect these coins and the impact that they might have. Before delving into these specific points, I think a little background is in order. Charlotte gold coinage has been in a price and popularity slump for the last five or so years. I attribute this to the following reasons:

There are a lot of really low quality coins in PCGS and NGC holders on the market. When one sells for a low price at auction it tends to drag down the nice examples of this issue along with it.

My book on Charlotte gold coins is out of date and scarce. An updated third edition should be ready by the spring of 2008.

A few of the larger marketing firms who traditionally have sold Charlotte coins (both high end and low end pieces) have shifted their focus to other areas of the rare date gold market.

There haven’t been any really interesting collections of Charlotte coins that have come onto the market for a number of years. Often times, when a neat, fresh collection is offered for sale at auction, this generates new collector interest.

Many of the long-time specialists in this field have completed their sets and are not currently in the process of upgrading. This fact, combined with a relative lack of new collectors, has caused the supply of Charlotte coins to outstrip the demand.

I do not mean to give the impression that the Charlotte market is totally dead because it isn’t. I have personally had a good amount of success selling Charlotte coinage in the past few years but I have become extremely selective with what I buy. I will only purchase choice and original coins and I am probably less willing to make a slight allowance for “off quality” as I am in a more popular area such as Dahlonega gold or New Orleans double eagles. I know for a fact that there are a number of collectors working on VF-EF date sets in all three denominations and I have had a relatively easy time selling any very high quality (MS63 or better) pieces I find which have great color and eye appeal and/or which have a great pedigree.

Now, for some answers.

There is absolutely no question that the Charlotte market is not being helped by the existence of some really piggy coins in holders. I think this problem will be helped by the CAC stickering of nice coins which will generate new interest by collectors and dealers alike. New collectors will be helped by the fact that they can determine which coins are believed to be nice for the grade.

From my experience, a new (or updated) book on any subject generates a lot of interest. I can’t imagine that an improved and easily available Charlotte book won’t get a few new collectors interested. It will probably also motivate a few marketing firms to start selling Charlotte coins as they will have a guide to send collectors and to assist their sales force in making presentations.

The combination of CAC stickers, a new book and available product would certainly be good motivation for said marketing firms to sell Charlotte coins again. This might help remove some of the lower end and very high end pieces from the market which will leave the middle to upper middle end coins for collectors. When the Charlotte market was at its healthiest stage in the 1990’s, strong interest was seen not only in the collecting segment of the market but in the mass marketing segment as well.

In their January 2008 FUN sale, Heritage is going to sell a wonderful, fresh group of Charlotte coins called the Carolina Circle collection. This will be one of the first really important groups of Charlotte coins to be offered at auction since the incomparable run of collections sold at auction between 1995 and 2002 (Pittman, Bass, North Georgia, Miller, etc) and I would not be surprised if this creates a few new collectors.

The economics of any market are very simple. If the demand exceeds the supply, prices go up. Prices for nice EF40 and EF45 Charlotte coins have doubled in the past five or so years because there is a strong collector demand for these. Prices for overgraded, unattractive AU55 and AU58 coins have actually dropped (in some cases considerably) in the past five years because collectors do not want them and demand is—rightfully—very low for said items.

Personally, I think the sweet spot of the Charlotte market right now is nice AU55 and AU58 coins. These are, in most cases, very scarce but premiums are much lower than in the past. As an example, around five years a common date Charlotte half eagle in EF was worth around $800-1,000 while a common date in AU55 was worth $3,000-4,000 (or approximately 4x the price of an EF). Today, the EF is worth around $2,000-2,500 while the AU55 is still worth $3,000-4,000 (or approximately 1.5-2x the price of an EF).

2007 Milwaukee ANA Show Review

I went to this summer’s ANA Convention expecting a good but not great show. I left the show having had one of my better ANA’s in many years and I think most other dealers can honestly say the same. On the DWN grading scale, I’d have to give the 2007 ANA a solid A-. I decided not to do any of the pre-show activity. In my opinion, doing the extra three or four days leaves me too tired during the regular ANA week and this isn’t fair to my customers who are anxious to meet with me. Plus, to be perfectly honest, I just don’t have the unlimited energy I had when I was in my 30’s and could work for days at a time at an ANA level of intensity.

I arrived on Monday and attended the pre-PNG set-up for a few hours. My major goal for the week was to buy and I had decided to focus my energy on the bourse floor as opposed to the Heritage auction where I knew prices on the DWN-caliber material would be extremely high.

PNG day was Tuesday. I generally hate PNG day. It starts absurdly early (8 a.m.) and seeing other dealers in suits scares me. Plus I find this to be a generally lackluster day with little of interest going on. This year’s edition started slowly but it seemed to really pick-up steam after a few hours and by the end of the day, things were very active. I literally ran from table to table searching for interesting coins and was able to buy a number of really neat items. I had hoped to find at least one interesting deal and was disappointed that this didn’t really pan out but I was very pleased with what I did find; albeit one or two items at a time.

Wednesday was a little bit of a let down. There was not a very good turn-out as far as collectors went, so I continued to do quite a bit of wholesale business. I can’t recall a show where it was easier to sell nice coins than at this year’s ANA. And here’s something surprising: a number of formerly “dead” areas of the market are suddenly coming to life. There were numerous dealers looking for type coins, especially items like Proof-64 and better Liberty Seated silver, scarcer date Liberty Seated and Barber coins and even such perennially overlooked items as Liberty Nickels and Three Cent silvers.

What else was hot? Everyone (and I do mean everyone) was looking for coins that were either very pretty, very rare or very interesting. And early coins (i.e. those dated prior to 1835) were in huge demand. I bought and sold a number of interesting early gold coins; mostly in the $7,500 to $15,000 range.

Thursday was the best—and longest—day of the show. I started answering emails at 6:30 a.m. and didn’t finish until I left the Heritage Platinum Night sale at close to 11 p.m. I stayed busy the entire day meeting with clients, preparing coins for submission to PCGS/NGC, buying coins from other dealers, figuring bids, etc. I typically had two to four people at my table all day and I could definitely sense a real buzz in the room and from what I could tell, most other dealers were quite busy as well.

So what were some of the more interesting items that I bought and was able to bring home? A few include the following:

    An incredible original 1865 Proof set in an original presentation box, graded PR65 to PR67

    A glorious 1795 half dollar in NGC AU55

    A choice 1802 half dollar in PCGS EF45

    An Uncirculated 1861-D gold dollar (which is currently being graded at PCGS)

    An 1832 quarter eagle in choice original PCGS AU55

    A superb original 1844-C quarter eagle in PCGS MS61

    A select group of Carson City gold coinage

Some choice Liberty Head double eagles including a nice PCGS MS60 1861-S

One of the more interesting things that happened at the show involved a Midwestern investor/collector who brought a number of rare coins with him for sale. He placed his coins on display on Wednesday and there was a complete feeding frenzy as numerous dealers in upper-end coins descended on him. He sold well over $5 million in coins in two days including a number of very rare double eagles, choice early gold and a great group of choice early dollars. I was intrigued that this individual decided to forego the auction route and it didn’t seem to hurt him any as he got excellent prices for his coins.

Speaking of auctions, the Stack’s, Bowers & Merena and Heritage sales were all very strong. I attended only the Platinum Night session at Heritage and was amazed at the strength of the prices. I expect great coins to bring strong money at these sales but what surprises me these days is what the mediocre material sells for. As recently as two years ago, I could buy “product” at a Heritage sale and flip it to other dealers for a 15% profit the next day. Now, these same coins bring more than what I would sell them for. Clearly, auction prices now represent the new retail price levels for most series and I am convinced that, at least for me, I’d rather try my luck buying on the bourse floor.

My book “Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint” was given an award for “Extraordinary Merit” in the field of United States coin books by the Numismatic Literary Guild. I wasn’t able to receive my award in person (I was too busy working!) but had it in my case for the majority of the show.

All in all, it was a tiring but very rewarding ANA. I think the strength of this show will carry over into the late summer/early fall months and we will continue to see a good market for the immediate future.

State of the Market: Three Dollar Gold Pieces

In the fourth installment of my series of State of the Market articles, I take a look at the popular Three Dollar Gold piece series. How has this cult favorite fared in the past few years and what does the future look like for this denomination? After years of neglect, interest in the Three Dollar series spiked dramatically in 2004 and 2005. This can be directly attributed to two reasons: the publication of the first book on Three Dollar gold pieces (written by myself and the legendary Q. David Bowers) and expert marketing and promotion of the series by a few firms which introduced many new collectors to this interesting series.

For a variety of reasons, the promoters who focused on Threes moved on to other series in the middle of 2006 and the last year or so has seen a fairly dramatic drop in prices in the series. I would estimate that high grade common dates Three Dollar gold pieces have dropped between 30 and 50% while rare dates have seen price drops more in the range of 10-30%.

Perhaps the most dramatic price decreases in the entire series have been for common dates in MS64. These can now be bought for $6,000-7,000 but they were priced at $12,000-14,000 around two years ago. MS63 common dates are now $5,000 to $6,000; they used to be $9,000 to $11,000. MS62 common dates now sell for $3,500 to $4,500 and were priced at $6,000 to $7,000 at the height of their popularity.

In my opinion, common date Three Dollar gold pieces are a great value right now if they can be bought at around $6,000. These coins are generally very nice and if you can find a high end example with good color and luster as well as minimal marks at the low end of the current value range, I think this is an excellent coin to put away for a while. I find it a little strange that an MS64 common date is selling for just a $2,000 premium over a common date in MS62. My gut feeling is that an MS62 is not a great deal at this level.

The rarer date mintmark issues in this series are, for the most part, doing rather well. There is strong collector demand for issues such as the 1855-S and the 1857-S and the 1860-S seems to have become extremely hard to locate in grades above AU55.

One issue that is especially interesting to follow is the 1854-D. I have always thought of this as being a coin that, while technically a Three Dollar gold piece, is totally different from the other issues in this series. The reason for this is obvious: its primary source of demand is from Dahlonega collectors, most of who will never aspire to own another Three Dollar gold piece besides this date. Nice AU examples seem to have formed up considerably in the last six months and I would say they are worth between 5 - 15% more than when they hit a comparatively low level last summer.

Another interesting issue is the 1854-O. This date has become the most two-tiered Three Dollar gold piece in terms of value. It is clear to me that NGC tends to be considerably more liberal when it comes to the 1854-O in AU, especially in the upper ranges of this grade. A nice PCGS AU55 or AU58 1854-O is really quite a rare coin and it now commands a strong premium over the typical NGC graded AU55 or AU58. I have also noticed that 1854-O Threes with original color and surfaces and good strikes are commanding strong premiums over bright-n-shiny, processed examples.

So what lies ahead for this denomination?

I think Threes are far too interesting and far too collectible to stay inactive for long. My prediction is that you will see some of the marketing companies that dropped out of the series a few years ago get back in. It’s hard not to like a Three Dollar gold piece that was priced at $10,000 as recently as a few years ago when it is now priced at $7,000.

My guess is that you will see the greatest new interest in the series occur with the most interesting coins. These include the following:

    1854-D, all grades

    All San Francisco issues (except for the 1856-S) in AU50 and above

    Civil War issues, all grades

    Rare low mintage dates such as the 1858, 1865 and 1877 in all grades

Issues with mintages of less than 1,000, AU50 and above

When you take a hard look at this series, it’s easy to see what happened in 2005 and 2006. Prices went up too quickly, too many coins came on the market and the speculators who were driving the market bailed. My best guess is that, starting soon, the Three Dollar gold series will go back to being mostly collector-driven and it will regain its spot as a popular, oddball gold denomination that has long been in demand.

Winter's New Book Reviewed

A review of my book “Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint 1839-1909” was recently featured in the on-line publication “The Esylum” dated October 1, 2006 and listed as Volume 9, Issue #40. The Esylum is the online weekly publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society and I very highly recommend it to anyone with an appreciation for numismatics as it is a really exceptional publication made all the more wonderful by the fact that it appears, like clockwork, every Sunday night in the in box of my email. To subscribe, contact Wayne Homren (the newsletter’s editor) at his email address which is whomren@coinlibrary.com. BOOK REVIEW: GOLD COINS OF THE NEW ORLEANS MINT 1839-1909

One new book I've had the pleasure to review recently is the second edition of Doug Winter's "Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint 1839-1909." The 237-page paperback is published by Zyrus Press ($34.95). From the publisher's web site: "In 1989, the first edition of Doug Winter's book Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909 was published. It popularized these under-appreciated coins and introduced many new collectors to the field.

In the ensuing two decades, much has changed in the New Orleans gold market. Newly discovered hoards have changed the rarity levels of certain dates while others remain very difficult to locate."

Well, it hasn't quite been two decades since 1989, and the book wasn't published in 1989, it was published in 1992. Still, fourteen years between editions is a long time. But it's been worth the wait. The new edition is much improved, starting with the all-new enlarged color images of each coin. But this new edition is more than just an update - it is essentially a new book with completely updated information encompassing all that has been learned about the series in the past fourteen years.

One of the biggest changes, acknowledged by the author in his preface, is the number of post-1880 eagles that are now known. He writes: "Substantial quantities of these coins have been found in Europe since 1992. In some cases, total populations have doubled or even tripled and I don't doubt that the numbers will continue to rise in the coming years."

For example, I turned randomly to the entry for 1894-O Eagles and compared it with the corresponding entry in my copy of the first edition. Of the original mintage (still believed to be 107,500), the total number known is now 550-750+, whereas at the time of the first edition only 140-160 were known.

The layout of each entry follows a common format and is very easy to read, another great improvement over the first edition. Mintage, Rarity Rankings, Strike, Surfaces, Luster, Coloration, Eye Appeal, Die Characteristics, Major Varieties, Significant Pieces Known, Auction Records, and Total Known (with a breakdown by grade) are listed for each coin.

To address what he felt were two major shortcomings of the first edition, the author included research articles which in my opinion, are worth the price of the book alone. In his Preface, Winter writes "[in the first book] ... there was virtually no information about the history of the New Orleans Mint. I am not a historian and I felt that my contributions about this topic would be unoriginal at best. I commissioned Greg Lambousy, the Director of Collections of the Louisiana State Museum, who wrote what I feel is a simply brilliant concise history of the Mint. Also, David Ginsberg has written an article about how gold coins of this era circulated; a study that will explain exactly why so many of these coins are so rare today.”

Lambousy's article draws on many of the known sources in numismatic literature such as the 1862 Harper's New Monthly Magazine article "Making Money" and writings by and about Mint official John Leonard Riddell, but it also references a number of much lesser known sources. The bibliography is quite complete to my knowledge, although I didn't see a reference to the 1846 Merchants Magazine and Commercial Review article by Freeman Hunt titled "United States Branch Mint at New Orleans." The thirteen-page article includes two pages of photos of the interior of the New Orleans Mint and its workers, courtesy of the Louisiana State Museum.

I have to agree with Winter that Lambousy's article is a very valuable concise history of the Mint, and well worth reading. There are some great tidbits of history here, numismatic and otherwise, such as Riddell's invention of the rotary ingot machine, and brothers Rufus and Philos Tyler's invention and patenting of the silver dollar counting table. Along the way there are interesting diversions into Riddell's conflicts with fellow workers, structural problems of the Mint building, control of the Mint under the Confederacy, and story of William Mumford who was hanged by Union forces in front of the Mint of June 7th, 1862.

David Ginsberg's article is equally original, well-researched, and interesting to read. In addition to consulting some of my own favorite references on this era (Carothers' "Fractional Money" and Gibbons' "The Banks of New York, Their Dealers, The Clearing House, and the Panic of 1857," Ginsburg uncovered a number of valuable other sources including an 1843 publication, "The Letters of Lowndes, Addressed to the Hon. John C. Calhoun." The book has a priceless account, reprinted here, of a traveler's maddeningly difficult cross-country journey while attempting to conduct commerce with a mishmash of different paper money issues. Such difficulties make it easy to understand how having gold coinage could greatly ease the problem of traveling to distant parts of the country in those days.

On page 88 Winter reprints a delightful account by David Akers of "Debunking the Myth of the '1841-O Half Eagle,' taken from the October 1997 Pittman I catalog. It's the story of John J. Pittman's 1841-C Half Eagle, which he purchased in the Farouk sale. The coin had earlier been part of the Col. E.H.R. Green collection. The New York firm Stack's had a beautiful album of photographs of the Green Half Eagle collection in their research library, and Walter Breen reviewed it while researching his monograph on U.S. Half Eagles.

"Because of the shadows on the photo, the C mintmark looked like an O to him, so Breen mistook it for an example of the legendary (but non- existent) 1841-O." Breen's mistake was taken as fact and carried on through the decades while the grinning Pittman would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the coin, saying only coyly, "It pays to look at every lot!" Pittman later admitted "I always knew there was no such thing as an 1841-O Half Eagle, but I had so much fun going along with Breen's story."

The Charlotte Gold Market, 1987-1997: A Decade Brings Radical Changes

In 1987, my book "Charlotte Mint Gold Coins: 1838-1861, A Numismatic History and Analysis" was published by Bowers and Merena Galleries. In the ensuing decade, the changes in the Charlotte market have been so radical that I have been compelled to rewrite and totally update this book. In preparing my new book on Charlotte gold coins (to be published in 1998 by DWN Publishing), I have been amazed at the breadth of the changes which have characterized this market in the past decade. My first book on Charlotte has become so out-of-date that when people inquire as to its availability, I tell them not to buy it and to wait for the revision.

As I have been researching the various Charlotte issues, I have made some interesting observations. The following areas represent, in my opinion, the biggest changes which have pervaded the Charlotte market (many of these changes can also be applied to the "rare date gold" market as a whole).

I. The Advent of Certified Grading

The population and Condition Census data in the 1987 edition of my book was based on research done in the mid-1980's. This was before the creation of PCGS and NGC. Needless to say, the changes brought about by these two services have had profound effects--both good and bad--on the Charlotte market and on numismatics as a whole. Some of the changes are obvious. After ten years of grading Charlotte coins, enough pieces have been seen by the services to create a useful population and grade distribution database. Everyone knows that the numbers in the PCGS Population Report and the NGC Census Report are skewed due to resubmissions, crossovers, etc. However, this data is far more advanced than anything available in 1987. For the first time, it is possible to get meaningful comparative rarity data. As an example, the population reports are best used in determining how rare an 1840-C half eagle in Extremely Fine-45 is relative to an 1850-C half eagle in the same grade. In 1987, this data was far more speculative and open to interpretation. Today, the collector can easily find out if the information he is being told about a specific coin or date is accurate.

II. An Increase in the Population of High Grade Coins

For a variety of reasons, the number of important high grade Charlotte gold coins has dramatically increased in the past decade. Some of the reasons for this include the following: rising prices have brought new coins into the market, many old collections have been sold and some previously unknown hoards or accumulations have quietly entered the market. Population "explosions" for a few dates are readily noticeable. One example of this is the 1838-C quarter eagle. When the 1987 edition of my book was released, I estimated that only three to four were known in Mint State. In the 1998 edition, my estimate of Mint State examples has been revised upwards to seven or eight coins. In 1987, I estimated the number of Mint State 1844-C half eagles to be two or three; today, I can account for five separate pieces. These numbers may not sound significant when compared to very common coins but in a narrow, tightly traded field such as Charlotte gold, these increases are dramatic.

III. An Increase in Prices

Many series of coins have seen dramatic downward movement in prices when viewed as a whole from 1987 to 1997. Collector-based series such as Charlotte gold, on the other hand, have seen very solid increases. The following chart takes the most common dates in all three denominations from this mint and compares the 1987Redbook prices with those in the 1997 edition of this book.

EF-40 AU-50 MS-60 EF-40 AU-50 MS-60
1851-C $1.00 500 825 2,000 700 1000 2,500
1847-C $2.50 450 900 2,500 900 1,900 5,750
1847-C $5.00 750 1,000 3,000 1200 3,000 10,000

As this chart shows, the prices for even the most common Charlotte coins rose considerably in the past decade. Many coins doubled in price and one, the 1847-C half eagle in MS-60, tripled. These prices are even more dramatic when one examines the levels for rarer dates or for extremely high grade coins (i.e., Mint State-62 and above). Simply put, high grade examples of Charlotte gold have proven to be an excellent investment during a coin market which has seen a lot more downswings in price than upward movement (at least since 1990).

IV. A Change In Grading Standards

The most important thing to remember about grading is that, despite claims to the contrary, it remains highly subjective. It is hard enough to get a group of experts to agree on Mint State common date Morgan Dollar grades; let alone complex issues such as Charlotte coins. In the late 1980's/early 1990's, PCGS and NGC began grading significant amount of Charlotte gold coins. For the most part, the grading standards of that era tended to be very conservative. Today, standards have relaxed considerably. In my opinion, the EF-45 of the late 1980's is an AU-50 (or even an AU-53) today. And the AU-55 of the late 1980's is an MS-60 (or even an MS-61) today. The primary effect of this is to provide an unrealistic picture of availability for certain issues. As an example, as of September, 1997, PCGS had graded 41 1849-C half eagles in the various About Uncirculated grades. In the forthcoming revision of my Charlotte book, I estimate that the total number of 1849-C half eagles known to exist in all AU grades is 35-37. It is my opinion that many of the 17 coins graded AU-50 by PCGS (as well as some of the 10 coins graded AU-53 by this service) are coins which would have graded Extremely Fine a decade ago.

V. The Fall and Decline of "Crust"

I am a fan of original surfaces on gold coins. To my eyes, there is nothing more attractive than a Charlotte piece with layers of old "crust." (I define "crust" as original toning over a heavy layer of natural "skin" on a coin's surface which develops over the course of time). To me, originality provides great eye appeal. Unfortunately, the two grading services have unwittingly contributed to the destruction of a great number of gold coins by penalizing them for originality. It is my experience that if you submit a "crusty," original AU-50 coin, it is invariably graded EF-45. But, if you take the same coin, scrub off the crust and make it bright, it will grade AU-50 to AU-55. Ironically, the financial incentive for submitters is to destroy their coins in order to maximize their value. This is especially true in a market such as Charlotte gold where the difference between an EF-45 and an AU-50 can be thousands of dollars. As time passes, I think the number of truly original Charlotte coins will continue to shrink. The few remaining coins with original surfaces will invariably trade for strong premiums among knowledgeable buyers and unwitting new collectors and investors will get stuck with the overgraded, unnaturally bright dregs.

VI. A Shift in the Supply and Demand of Charlotte Gold

One of the major reasons why common coins have dropped significantly in price in the 1990's is the fact that more and more come onto the market while fewer collectors, investors and dealers are around to absorb them. Charlotte gold coins are one of the few series where the supply/demand ratio has been such that enough new collectors have come into the market to absorb the coins which have come onto the market. A typical "common date" Charlotte half eagle has a surviving population of 150-200 pieces. At least half of these coins are in very low grades and, therefore, are of little interest to collectors. Another large group are either in museums or tightly-held private collections and are off the market. Suddenly, an original population of 150-200 may now have shrunk to twenty or fewer coins which are of the quality which an advanced collector will find acceptable. If there are 50-100 serious collectors of Charlotte gold (and my guess is that the actual number is greater than this), than there exists a demand for coins which is two to five times greater than the actual supply. The result is that prices for Charlotte gold coins have risen and should continue to do so as fewer and fewer coins are chased by more and more collectors.

VII. Many Major Collections are Sold and ManyNew Players Enter the Market

In the decade from 1987 to 1997, many of the finest collections of Charlotte gold coins ever assembled have been sold. Important collections sold at auction include Norweb (Bowers and Merena, 1987-1988), Willard Blaisdell (Stack's, 3/90), Billy Fuller (Heritage, 7/93) Reed Hawn (Stack's, 10/93), James Stack (Stack's, 10/94), R.T. Wilder (Stack's, 11/94) Ed Milas (Stack's, 5/95 and Stack's/RARCOA/Akers, 11/95) and the forthcoming Pittman sale (Akers, 10/97). In addition, the Stanley Elrod collection, which is recognized by experts as the final complete set of Charlotte coins ever assembled, was sold intact and then broken-up and sold individually from 1995 to 1997. Coins from these sales now dominate the revised Condition Census listings for Charlotte gold coins and this will be reflected in my forthcoming book.

At the same time, there has been a change of leadership in the Charlotte market; both from the standpoint of the sellers and the buyers. Of the ten leading dealers in Charlotte gold in the current market, at least half of them were not active in 1987 and others, such as myself, have only recently had the financial resources available to compete in the higher end market. Of the ten leading collectors of Charlotte gold in 1987, at least half of them are either deceased or no longer active. Many of the most significant buyers had never seen a Charlotte gold coin in 1987, not to mention the fact that they were unable or unwilling to spend serious money on their current passion a decade ago.

VIII. Summary

Collectors of Charlotte gold who have been active since the mid-1980's are, no doubt, marvelling at the tremendous changes that they have seen in the past decade. The number of high grade rare coins which have been made available to them, especially in the 1990's, has been nothing short of incredible. As one collector recently said to me, half-jokingly, "it's like they reopened the Charlotte Mint for a few years and decided to give us a second chance at the really nice, rare pieces we needed for our collections. Conversely, the prices which these same collectors now have to pay for choice pieces makes the prices of 1987 seem very, very reasonable. In 1987, the collector of average means could afford to put together a nice Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated set. Today, this set is out of the price range of the lower budget collector.

Nearly all of the major collections which have been formed since 1987 have been built around slabbed coins. Unless a Charlotte coin is from an old-time collection and is being sold at auction, the chances are good that it if it is unslabbed, it has a problem.

In my opinion, the future for collector-oriented series such as Charlotte gold coins looks very bright. Assuming that my new book creates even a moderate number of serious new collectors, the supply/demand ratio will become even more skewed. If three or four major players decide to assemble high grade sets of Charlotte gold in the next two or three years, the supply will noticeably dwindle. This will lead to further price increases and, perhaps, even more radical market changes than the ones discussed above.