From the Coin Commentary Archive

December 31, 2009: The Year in Review

In the most vivid illustration yet that ‘Time Flies’, we have now reached the end of 2009, our 4th full year together as CRO and, by any objective (or subjective) measure, the best one yet.

By my count, we attended 19 coin shows this year, participated in 81 auctions (including the international events and a bunch of small ‘secret’ ones), went to 14 numismatic parties, drove in over 100 different cabs and became stuck in only one elevator.

And through it all, we had as much fun as is possible to have while dealing in coins, met a lot of great people, ate considerably more than our fair share of extremely delicious things, pored through old auction catalogs, blogged extensively, got annoyed by a bagpiper (see below), bought and sold some spectacular coins and, because of (or in spite of) it all, managed to register our highest sales totals ever.

And while we can’t recap every single thing that happened this year (actually, you can read about a lot of them in this year’s Road Reports), there are a few highlights which we feel are particularly noteworthy as follows:

Coolest Coin Handled
In a year in which we sold a Maryland Denarium, a Bar Copper in MS66, a high grade 1793 Liberty Cap Cent and a slew of other fantastical things, we believe the coolest single piece was the 1776 Continental Dollar with the Ornament After Date, tied for finest of just three known, only two of which are in private hands (with the third example permanently impounded in the museum at Colonial Williamsburg):
 


 

Worst Musician
That would have to be the mysterious and very loud bagpiper who marauded through the halls of the Marriot Hotel in Baltimore in March pounding on doors and shouting at 6:30 AM in an apparent attempt to wake up his over-sleeping band mates (and startling your author in the process).

Most Shocking Auction Price Realized
It might not have been shocking to everyone else, but it was to us. We speak of lot #128 in Goldberg’s September auction of the Dan Holmes Collection, Part I, the 1795 S-79 Reeded Edge Large Cent graded VG10 [PCGS] which brought the extremely healthy price of $1,265,000. Now, that is surely a very rare coin, but we struggle with the idea that this relatively low grade example of an edge variant is now not just the most expensive Large Cent ever sold (E-V-E-R), but is actually the most expensive copper coin of any kind. Think about that for moment while enjoying an image of this piece:
 


Best Argument for Requesting Two Hotel Rooms

Despite what the title may suggest, this one does not involve Dave and me, since we always get our own rooms and frequently stay in different hotels. I refer instead to my trip to Baltimore in March during which I was sitting at the gate ready to fly home when I was notified by Delta that my return trip was delayed 24 hours. With little choice, I decided to get a hotel at the airport for the night and, feeling sorry for another dealer who was booked on the same flight and who planned to sleep on the floor of the airport, I invited him to share the room. Now, he’s a nice guy and all, but I started to think this was a bad idea several hours later when he set the thermostat at 62 (only because it didn’t go any lower than that), stripped down to his underwear and started smoking, while your author averted his eyes and huddled by his laptop wearing a parka (sorry – no photos of this one).

Most Unexpected Provenance Rediscovered
There were actually quite a few during the year, but the most surprising to us was a fantastic 1786 Vermont Landscape copper originally purchased from a very knowledgeable long-time collector who said he had acquired it “from a flea market in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1960 from a man named Sikes”. We figured that was the end of the story, so we were very surprised to later find this same coin plated in Henry Chapman’s storied 1918 sale of the Allison Jackman Collection.

Least Appetizing Dessert
That would be the dark chocolate canolies at the otherwise excellent Wildwood Restaurant in Portland, Oregon in March, presented here in an eye-witness cell phone image with no amusing comments whatsoever:



Best Numismatic Shindig

That would have to be the fantastic party held at the stately home of Larry Goldberg right before the Dan Holmes auction, an event whose lavishness can perhaps best be measured in the number of valet car parkers present (since there were eight of them).

Most Compelling Reason Not to Eat Sushi
As has been well documented on this site, Dave and I have been to known to scout out some fine sushi restaurants during our travels, visiting some of them multiple times per show. But sometimes it doesn’t work in your favor, like the time we both ordered an innocent looking spicy tuna maki appetizer at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion restaurant in Los Angeles during the ANA and became violently ill that evening. Next time we go there, we are both having soup.

Unlikeliest Unlikely Source for a Rare Coin
During a year in which we acquired one very rare colonial variety from a collector in England, discovered a rare CT copper in a bargain-priced group lot in a non-descript auction and bought a really nice uncirculated 1914-D Cent in an antique store, the unlikeliest of unlikely sources would have to be the numismatic appraisal Dave did in the spring which included a bunch of tokens with no numismatic value, a large bin of clad coinage of the sort one would use to feed a parking meter, a Kennedy Half Dollar on a key chain, and a 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar which we later sold for over $10,000 on behalf of the very, very surprised owner (I don’t think she was as surprised as we were, though).

Which is precisely the sort of numismatic experience that makes this job such a hoot, and has us enthusiastically looking forward to another year of exciting coin dealering in 2010.

Which for us begins in Orlando, next week.

But before then, we’re going to kick back and celebrate with our families, and wish all of our friends and colleagues a happy and healthy New Year.

All the Best!

Dave and John

 

Coin Commentary Archive

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March 30, 2016: First Quarter Colonial Auction Recap

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January 23, 2016: Stream of Coin-sciousness

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December 31, 2015: The Year in Review

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October 31, 2015: October by the Numbers

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March 30, 2015: CRO's View of the Kendall Foundation Collection

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February 6, 2015: CRO's View of the Donald Partrick Collection, Part I

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January 1, 2015: CRO's Numismatic New Year's Resolutions

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December 31, 2014: The Year in Review

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April 16, 2014: The Numismatic Fall from Grace

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December 30, 2013: The Year in Review

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July 21, 2013: Stream of Coin-sciousness

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January 23, 2013: Stack's-Bowers Americana Colonial Auction Recap

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December 28, 2012: The Year in Review

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September 15, 2012: Stream of Coin-sciousness

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April 26, 2012: The Salmon Classification System for Massachusetts Silver Coins

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March 1, 2012: Rosen Numismatic Advisory Crystal Ball Survey, Part 2

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February 1, 2012: Rosen Numismatic Advisory Crystal Ball Survey, Part I

We are herewith pleased to present the 35th Annual Rosen Numismatic Advisory Crystal Ball Survey, Part I, a forward-looking questionnaire sent to a group of numismatic industry heavyweights including John Albanese, founder of Collector's Acceptance Corporation (CAC), William Paul of American Heritage Minting, Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics, Scott Travers of Scott Travers Numismatics, Doug Winter of Doug Winter Numismatics and our own Dave Wnuck...

December 29, 2011: The Year in Review

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September 23, 2011: Stream of Coin-sciousness

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August 7, 2011: What is that Red and White Square on Your Home Page?

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May 23, 2011: Stream of Coin-sciousness

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March 31, 2011: First Quarter Colonial Auction Recap

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January 21, 2011: Stream of Coin-sciousness

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December 27, 2010: The Year in Review

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November 12, 2010: CRO Goes Hollywood, Part Deux!

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August 31, 2010: CRO's 'August by the Numbers'

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June 11, 2010: The Find

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March 15, 2010: Corrections to the Whitman Encyclopedia

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December 31, 2009: The Year in Review

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November 25, 2009: So you want to be a cataloger, eh?

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November 9, 2009: CRO Goes Hollywood!

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September 27th, 2009: We Have a Winner(s)!

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August 31, 2009: CRO's 'August by the Numbers'

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July 11, 2009: The Mentor-ist

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May 21, 2009: Book Review, Part II

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March 25, 2009: Book Review

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March 5, 2009: So you're going to a coin show, eh?

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February 18, 2009: Notable Numismatic Quotables, Part I

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December 27, 2008: The Year in Review

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Thanksgiving, 2008: Thank you

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October 1, 2008: Coin Collecting in an Uncertain World

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July 23, 2008: On CAC

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July 14, 2008: What are Your Choices for the 100 Greatest US Coins?

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May 19, 2008: My Love Affair with a Fat, Old Woman

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March 31, 2008: An Ode to . . . John Agre(?) by Dave Wnuck

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February 9, 2008: Colonial Coin Collecting Q & A, Part 2

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December 26, 2007: The Year in Review

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November 15, 2007: How Come the Coins Went so Cheap?

I got an email from a customer the other day who had been watching the Stack's 'Amherst & Waccubuc' catalog colonial session online and seeing (with a handful of notable exceptions) very low prices or coins not meeting reserve...

November 2, 2007: Ten Coins we Could Buy and Sell Ten Times

This idea for a Coin Commentary was submitted by one of our customers, and I liked the idea so much that I just started flailing away on the keyboard immediately...

September 10, 2007: So How's the Coin Market? (Parts 1 & 2)

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July 31, 2007: How Can You Avoid Buying Doctored Coins?

We recently received an email from a collector who was dismayed by the number of doctored, conserved and enhanced coins in TPG holders in the marketplace...

July 4, 2007: Life is Too Short to Buy Ugly Coins

At the recent Baltimore show, I spent a fair amount of time walking the floor perusing the gazillion dealer tables looking for nice coins to buy...

May 27, 2007: The Right Stuff

Is what I saw during a recent visit to view a customer's collection. He graciously invited me to travel to meet him and view his coins, and, of course, I enthusiastically accepted...

April 14, 2007: What should you do with a sub-par coin?

Let's say you have a coin in your collection that really isn't up to snuff. And I don't mean one that is too low grade, or not expensive enough...

March 16, 2007: Why are we talking about trains?

That's an excellent question - thank you for asking. Actually, the answer is quite simple. One of the most informative and important articles I've ever read about coin collecting actually wasn't about coins at all...

Michael Kent Ringo: 05/28/54 - 01/28/07

We lost a good friend and numismatic colleague this week with the passing of Mike Ringo. Most coin collectors and dealers may have never heard of Mike...

January 18, 2007: Should Coins be Purchased as an Investment?

You're in for a treat today, especially since Dave and I totally disagree on this topic. Which means this will be our first Point-Counterpoint Coin Commentary, almost certain to be filled with polite disagreement possibly culminating in pure, unbridled acrimony with computer YELLING in all caps...

December 1, 2006: How NOT to Buy Coins at Auction

We felt compelled to write this week’s Coin Commentary as a sort of numismatic public service announcement after watching all kinds of people buy all kinds of coins at auction over the last couple of decades...

October 10, 2006: Dave Speaks About the Market

Interesting times in the coin market. After an almost unprecedented multi-year run-up in demand, prices and euphoria, we are seeing some changes...

August 30, 2006: Colonial Coin Collecting Q & A, Part 1

An increasing portion of our business is in colonial coins, and so we thought it was about time for us to speak up...

July 18, 2006: One Vote for the 'Box-of-20' Concept

We have been around coins for a long, long time, and we've seen people collect coins of all different kinds in all different ways, from type sets to die varieties to date and mint runs in all series to the odd...

June 9, 2006: Once sold, what item(s) in your inventory will be hardest to replace?

Someone asked us this on the phone today and we thought it was an interesting, thought provoking question...

May 26, 2006: So how much of a premium above sheet levels would you pay for a choice original coin?

Lots of people say they want them. That they value originality. That they hate to see original coins stripped and dipped and ruined...

May 6, 2006: What makes a good client?

Someone asked us this at a recent show and, as is our want, we like to answer particularly interesting or provacative questions right here on the ol' website...

April 16, 2006: Top 10 things we would change about coin slabbing

In no particular order: All slabbed coins would be photographed by the services and would thus be traceable, and it would therefore be impossible to crack out and resubmit a coin and receive a higher grade than the one originally conferred...

April 4, 2006: Do you guys BUY coins for these prices?????

A gentleman came to our table at the Baltimore show a couple of weeks ago, looked in the case for a while, admired a couple of coins, asked a few prices and then with a slightly pained and sarcastic scowl asked me what was apparently intended to be a stinging question: Do you guys buy coins for these prices? The implication of this question was, of course, that our prices are high...

March 19, 2006: Will the last original coin to leave please turn out the lights?

Heres an experiment for you: Go to view lots at a typical major auction. Look through every box of every series and jot down how many original, uncorrupted coins you find...

March 5, 2006: Thoughts on Coin Grading, Part 1

We thought we'd tackle a not-controversial, simple and easy topic like 'coin grading' this week. We’ll start with how we, as dealers, grade and assess a coin: Whether it is in an auction, in another dealer’s case, raw or slabbed, we evaluate a coin by studying it carefully and determining, regardless of the level of wear in evidence, whether we like it or not...

January 15, 2006: Why should I buy from a dealer?

In our experience, this question is typically followed by a statement that goes something like this: "I can just buy from auctions myself, so I really don't need to pay a dealer...

December 26, 2005: The Big Picture

As we’ve had a few days to relax, enjoy the holidays and spend some time with our families, we’ve had a little time to step back and reflect on the year...

 


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