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Coin Commentary

Our Opinions on All Things Numismatic

December 31, 2023: The Year in Review

23

Wow.  That was quite a year.  Starting with a flight to Orlando for the FUN show waaaaay back on January 3rd, and culminating with the very last order of 2023 received here by email less than 12 minutes ago.

And in-between was our usual organized chaos, during which we traveled like crazy, bought and sold a gazillion coins, graded and stickered tons, did a whole bunch of Early Birds, shipped and received countless boxes (many of which were extremely heavy), handled several of the coolest collections we’ve had in the looooong history of CRO and, in all, enjoyed our best year ever.

From which we have carefully extracted the following highlights:

Coolest Coin Handled
After buying and selling our requisite condition census colonials, original, toned type coins, old holders, gold stickers, fabulous world coins, creepy skull tokens, hefty architectural medals and pretty much everything in between, we honestly could have chosen 20 different coins for this honor.

But after careful consideration we’ve decided this rare, extremely popular, totally cool, Choice AU, old holdered, gold stickered 1795 Small Eagle $5 towered above all others:

1795-cro23092203s

While that was our coolest coin, it was not the most popular, an honor that goes to this super original (and very cool in its own right) 1799 Draped Bust $1 which was ordered by 8 customers:

1799-cro23061820s

Unfortunately, that coin (like every other one we handled this year) was unique in our inventory and sold on a first come, first served basis.

Latest Slide Show
Let’s see – you work all Saturday at the National Money Show in Phoenix in March, pack up at the end of the day, schlepp to the airport, wait around at the gate, fly home for 5+ hours to Boston, fight for your luggage, stand in an interminable cab line, finally pull into your driveway at 1:27 AM and then immediately go to sleep, right?

Wrong!  Because first you have to stand there while your extreeeeemely enthusiastic cab driver shows you photos of his family (and it is a very, very large family).

Doggone Best Bird Dogging
That would be at the FUN show in January when I got a phone call from a long time dealer friend telling me he was supposed to attend the show where he was promised first shot at a super-cool coin, but now could not make it and so told the owner I would stop by to see it.  Which I did pronto, and bought it instantly:

1916-cro23012312s
And then happily paid the bird dogger a finder’s fee.

Furthest Hat
While it was pretty close, this year’s winner was this limited edition and beautifully coordinated royal blue version being worn by a good customer in front of the Four Seasons Hotel in Taormina, Sicily (setting for season 2 of HBO’s The White Lotus in which attractive B-list celebrities behave horrendously):

Four Seasons of White Lotus fame

That’s a healthy 4,376 miles from our office here in Weston:

WestontoSicily

The Faith in Humanity Restoration Award
So there we were at the NYINC in January when a young collector came to our table and sold us a Mexican coin. And then returned a few hours later to ask if we had seen a pricey Chinese coin that had apparently fallen out of his bag at some point during the day. Unfortunately we hadn’t. But the next day another collector came to our table, said “Hey, what’s this on the floor?” and produced said Chinese coin which apparently had just been sitting there near the leg of our table the entire time unseen by us or any of the hundreds of attendees who had walked by.  And instead of sticking it in his pocket, or holding it hostage for a fat reward, he wanted nothing more than to return it to its rightful owner. Which happened 4 minutes after we made a quick call to the young collector.

Worst Combo Platter
Many CRO customers know that your author had shoulder surgery in May and was in a sling (and, according to MaryAnn, in a foul mood) for the 5 weeks right after.  What most people do not know is that we also went through an IRS audit during that exact same time period, a combination of activities which could best be described as “an extremely terrible combination of activities”.

We honestly do not know how we made it through both with flying colors.

Sometimes the “Gloom of Night” Can Be a Problem Award, 2023 Edition
We’d like to begin by saying that we really love the USPS.  We mean really-really.  We do not, however, have positive feelings about all of their various product offerings, including Express Mail, since they’ve lost too many of the packages we shipped that way in recent years.  So now we use Registered Mail instead, which is by all accounts the safest way to ship anything. And that was our experience too, until we sent a Registered box to the west coast in July which subsequently disappeared from tracking and, after 3 months of exhausting all efforts to locate it (including involving the Postal Inspector), we presumed it lost or stolen much to our disgust and dismay.

Until it was suddenly delivered to the customer in perfect condition with this cheery handwritten yellow note from the USPS affixed indicating it was just sitting in Chicago the whole time:

FoundinSupposedly

About which we have several thoughts: 1) Who knew there was a USPS “Registry Division”?, 2) Hey, better late than never, 3) We genuinely appreciated receiving that explanation (or frankly any explanation), since otherwise the not knowing what happened would have gnawed at us forever, and 4) If that package had not turned up we’re not sure what we would have done, since it would have been tough to feel confident ever sending anything via the USPS in the future if even Registered Mail packages were simply vanishing without a trace.

Most Enchanting Escalator Ride
Our clear winner this year would be our ride down to the bourse floor Saturday morning at the FUN show in January just as a heavyset, middle aged man in front of us performed an extremely deep hamstring stretch by placing his right heel on the top of the high handrail and then leaning into it like a ballerina.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) we were so stunned we forgot to get a picture.

Kitchen Nightmares Award, the Sequel
That would be our group dinner at LeMont in Pittsburgh at the ANA in August. In the spirit of offering balanced commentary, we will say they sure do have a fine view there:

Confluence

Unfortunately, the food served was so abjectly terrible it simply had to be the result of sabotage by a disgruntled member of the kitchen staff.  Actually, we really hope that was the case, since the alternative – that they tried their best and created a bunch of stuff that was utterly inedible – seems somehow worse.

The Most Secret Secret Hiding Place
We bid on this coin raw in a sealed bid auction at the aforementioned NYINC show in early January:

4RNew

After which we were notified that we won, dutifully sent in our payment and were told that it would be shipped to us shortly. Yay! But then we got an email a few days later from the seller saying he couldn’t find it. Apparently he was having some work done in his office and, in an effort to put it somewhere safe while the workmen were milling around, he stashed it in a secret hiding place so unbelievably secure that he himself could not remember where it was. Until months later, when it finally turned up, arrived to our office, went off to grading, and eventually returned to us looking like this:

1474-cro23112611s

And then was immediately listed on our website on November 28th, a lightning quick ten and a half months since we bought it.

Tallest Tower
At first we thought it might be the spire on this Duomo di Siena medal we sold in July:

1860-cro23050723r
But then we remembered this extremely tall stack of new CACG slabs at Witter Coins’ table at the ANA in Pittsburgh:

Tower

Which they constructed as some kind of durability test / marketing bonanza involving a large number of YNs, an excited crowd of onlookers and an Easton ADV 360 aluminum baseball bat.

The Pomp and Circumstance Award
We love massive celebrations and over-the-top decorations as much as anyone, so of course seeing this incredibly elaborate red carpet at the Sheraton Hotel in Baltimore made us feel like royalty:

Pomp

Pointiest Item Offered
After a careful analysis of all the items we have offered this year, we determined that only one of them has nine (9) points on it, namely this circa 1890 Knight Templars Medal:

1890-cro23102401sA

Actually 15 points if you count the ones on the design itself.

The Coin We Wished We’d Kept
Another tough choice, but we’re going to go with this fantastic, old holdered, old toned, gold stickered, utterly irreplaceable 1836 Reeded Edge 50¢:

1836-cro23061818s

But of course that sale helped make 2023 another excellent year for CRO, for which we owe our sincere thanks to all of our many numismatic friends / customers / colleagues who make this all possible.

All the best in 2024!

Team CRO

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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...

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...

October 16, 2007: Stack’s Ford XX and XXI and 72nd Anniversary Auction

Part I: (Silence). That was the sound of us trying unsuccessfully to hoist our bidding paddle in the air at what was, apparently, the last and final evening...

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

That’s a question dealers (including us) hear all of the time from customers. And while responses to this question may vary wildly depending on who you ask, this...

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. Despite his...

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. And after...

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...

May 22, 2007: Stack’s Ford XVIII and Henry Leon Auctions

We planned to bring home a lot of loot, and that’s exactly what we did. From the 3 PM kick-off of the Ford session through some early Americana,...

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...

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...

February 22, 2007: Trip to the Bennington Museum

You’re in for an unexpected treat today as I recap my trip to the Bennington Museum (in Bennington, Vermont, of course) to view the collection of Vermont colonial...

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. He...

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...

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...

October 17-18, 2006: Stack’s Auctions

I packed up my lot-viewing psyche, my loupe and halogen lamp, my ‘What would PCGS grade this thing?’ prognostication hat and trucked on down to New York for...

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. Some areas of softening. Some areas...

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. So, where do we start?...

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...

July 1-7, 2006: ANA Summer Seminar

What could be better than a week of intensive numismatic activity surrounded by other numismatists in an idyllic mountain setting? Well, actually, a lot of things, but for...

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. Not easy to answer though. Lets see, there is one...

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. And we agree. So how...

May 23-25, 2006: Stack’s May Auctions including Ford XIV

We like coin auctions as much as anyone, but this week at Stack’s was pushing it. We had 4 separate catalogs to be offered in three separate sessions...

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...

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...

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...

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...

January 28, 2006: Heritage’s Jules Reiver Sale

We just returned from one absolute endurance test of an auction – the $8.5 million Jules Reiver Collection auction conducted by Heritage and held at their Dallas headquarters....

January 16, 2006: Stack’s Ford XIII Auction

The latest installment of the John J. Ford collection – the French Colonial Coins and Tokens and Betts Medals Part I – came to auction at Stack’s on...

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...

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...

October 19, 2005: Stack’s Ford XII Auction

Wasn’t it just yesterday I was sitting in a cramped room breathlessly waiting for Ford I to begin? Actually that was 2 years ago. And so there we...