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ANA Show-Total Insanity
By Legend

This is a very difficult market report to write. We know what we did, what kind of business others did, we participated in all the auctions, yet we can not pinpoint exactly what is happening or where the market is headed. We also do NOT want people to think we are presenting hype.

From what we see, this may very well have been the BEST ANA Show ever in terms of business transacted overall, the strongest prices realized at the auctions, incredible displays, and from what we can see, strong attendance. All that created what we felt was a tremendous “buzz’ and nothing but positive attitudes. None of the dealers we spoke to had a bad show. All the tables seemed very busy most of the time the show was open. We know from start to finish we did an awful lot of business.

We arrived late to show. This year, we skipped all PRE ANA activities and only was at PNG day for an hour or two. Of course we were itching to make some sales. The first dealer we saw not only spent six figures with us, but bought a six figure coin without any chisel other than some terms. Not totally unusual, but its the kind of thing that when you have that happen at the very start, the rest of your show is usually kaput. Fortunately, we sold a lot to the next dealer we saw that day as well. From that point on, we never stopped selling.

The one thing we absolutely could not do-buy. Our purchases at this show are the lowest EVER for an ANA and possibly the smallest EVER for ANY major show. As of 5 PM Thursday afternoon, we had spent LESS than $100,000.00 on the bourse floor. Our buying at the auctions was substantial-but still below the levels we wanted to be at.

It has finally happened, the market is out of coins-sort of! If you wanted a junky widget-they were still around. You could not go out on the floor and buy a GEM Bust Half, a GEM early gold piece, an MS65 28S Peace Dollar, a GEM 1877 MS Indian, or that long sought after non 1926/1932 $10 Indian we still need in GEM. All the good stuff now either gets put in the back of dealers cases or gets thrown in the auction. We put out a $20 1870CC PCGS XF40 CAC piece late morning Thursday. An hour or so later, not only did we have it sold to a collector (it worth in excess of $300,000.00), we had THREE other people who were willing to commit to buy it (with two of them actually hovering behind the collector) as he was buying it. We sold several six figure coins Thursday (including a $1 1863 PCGS MS66 and monster 1891 PR set in which all the coins we PR68’s).

It was easy to see why there were no coins around. We saw just about every known major collector at the show. Everyone we spoke to wanted to buy. Dealers we spoke to said the gradings services were being aggressively tight and they were not making any coins. Also, unusual for an ANA Show, we heard of no major fresh deals breaking. It does not take much for the supply of coins to decrease and remain depleted. There are still two coin funds out there quietly buying. There is a whole new breed of “super collector” who can afford to spend six figures to buy what they want and not even feel it. We have seen these aggressive big spenders dominate now for the past year. They are from the outside and are looking for a place to park their money. As everyone knows, the stock-market is not cutting it these days.


The auctions were ridiculous if a coin was fresh, nice, and rare. The B+M sale started the party but it didn’t have any earth shattering offerings. Prices were strong, but not crazy. Next up was Stacks. Nice mix that did include some serious pieces. They sold the famous Norweb 1797 50C for $1,200,000.00 to a dealer who we believe is building a Type set for a wealthy collector. We bought the really nice and UNIQUE 1916 10C PR64 Pattern and the 50C pattern that looks like the regular Half. Surprisingly we got blown away on the 1821 10C PCGS MS65 that sold for over $40,000.00! Type was red hot and we couldn’t buy much. Prices were strong for the great the stuff and of course weaker for the retreads.

The Heritage ANA Sale was obscene. The Ed Price collection realized “beyond moon money” for every single coin. Its not like they were totally fresh either. The 10C 1804 NGC AU58 CAC was purchased in 2007 for $184,000.00-it sold for $600,000.00+. ALL the pieces in his collection sold for more money than anyone could have imagined. The quality was mixed with many pieces being regraded and upgraded within the past year. Still, we gibe Ed his due, he had one amazing collection that was unquestionably a work of love. Even at the regular sessions of the sale, we tried to buy some of the DMPL’s, and we are still scratching our heads at the insane prices realized. There was record after record just shattered. And the Rollins Collection of copper (Robert was a huge customer of ours) went bizerk as well. In fact if you study all of the Rollins coins sold to date in the 3 auctions they have had, we think Robert should be noted in numismatic history as having the FINEST set of MS and PR Indians ever. We sincerely hope the copper monkey coin docs who shake and bake, strip, dip, and recolor the stuff got shut out. Legend was proud to have repurchased and old friend-the two headed 1859 J-229 mule for $195,500.00. We also bought the incredible 1C 1944S NGC MS 66 for $373,750.00 (the finest of only 2 known).


We have always held the belief that paying 20-50% more than a coin is worth to secure it is fine. We never place great coins (premium priced) thinking they will be sold by the collector next year. We know that if you hold long enough, you’ll score triple digit returns on nice pieces. You have to remember, coins are a LONG TERM hold-that means 5-10 years or more! Right now coin prices for truly great material are exploding to the point some things are going up almost daily. To us, that is a VERY dangerous signal. The last time we experienced anything so dramatic, was back in 1980 and the market suddenly stopped overnight and then crashed. While we strongly doubt the same thing will happen today, we do see serious cracks in the over all market that most people don’t see.

It should be noted that because you may have one cool coin or even a collection, that doesn’t mean you can expect to get zoo money-or even sell it. Generally the “stupid” money is being brought from collections like Price or an estate like Rollins. Within the past 30 days, Legend has bought and sold a deal that when announced will go down as the third largest ever done. The owner was a major coin buyer who was purely a collector. The collection was comprised of phenomenal pieces that had been off the market for awhile. The deal was negotiated and completed in a few hours! Like several other top end collectors, the seller was uncomfortable with the way the market is going up. He calculated what premium he felt he should get and he sold. Yet, we have also been struggling buying two smaller collections because the seller has starry eyes as to what he thinks they are worth. We also had purchased a substantial six figure collection of Patterns right before the show. There too, the seller was afraid he left money on the table. Everyone thinks that because someone else’s set gets zoo money in an auction, theirs will too-NOT! Unless there are one or two known buyers building sets, you can forget the theory of just throwing the stuff up in the air and getting rich. We also know that there is an entire middle layer of buyers who have been knocked out because of the economy. The real deception is that the coin market is so small that one or two auction houses realizing crazy results on a few hundred lots makes people think everything is on fire. We have seen absolute proof from being partners in Morphy/Legend auctions that collectors throw most rational thinking out the window when it comes to auctions. Only a handful ever really make the fantasy money.

Right now most price guides are obsolete (we’ll do a Hot Topics soon about Price Guides). Even the dealer bidding network seems strained and can’t keep up to whats happening the auctions. To us, this is all scary. Just remember the old saying: “What goes up, must come down”. Don’t misunderstand, we are as bullish as anyone on the coin market. However, when a coin can zip up 250% in a year and is not alone, that is unquestionably unhealthy and not rational (in our opinion). If the coin had gone up 100%, that’s not as dramatic and is far more reasonable.

Overall demand definitely is strong and there clearly are no coins around. Prices for certain coins are skyrocketing up (anyone have any PCGS GEM MS Seated Dollars or MS67 Bust Halves?). Again, the key word is “certain” coins. We think the smartest play for most collectors right now is to pare down your collections. A lot of the bigger folk have been quietly doing so. Obviously you keep your core collection and any coins special to you. But if you have dupes, coins that just don’t make the grade, or pieces you don’t need-get your money out of them now! Do not wait thinking you’ll hit the top. Also, do not buy coins with the idea you’ll trade out down the road-you’ll save money by buying the exact coin you really want. Sure an empty hole may drive some people nuts, but for the most part, you’ll save money down the road and reduce risk as well.


This is the real test of the market. Typically there is good activity for the first week back from the ANA show, then things die off and its time to close for a week or two. Keep in mind, a ton of money was just spent at the show and all of the auctions. Collectors need time to digest and refresh. Dealers usually spend themselves into a frenzy-and then most have to now suffer through their coins not working at the services. This year, there are no major shows for at least 45 days. So we expect Long Beach to have a super strong demand for coins. Also helping generate a “buzz” will be two spectacular auctions-the Goldbergs Nafzger Large Cent sale, and Heritages O’Neall $10 Indian set (which we take strong exception to when they call it the finest-it clearly is not considering we built a set with the monster 20S PCGS MS67 and SEVERAL MS68’s). However the market come Long Beach should be the true confirmation to its depth and strengths.


TYPE, NON generic gold, Bust material. Commems and even Morgan Dollars make the list. All the areas we deal in experienced strong activity and aggressive pricing. GEM Saints that are specifically CAC’d are making a huge move up after being pushed to stupid cheap levels because of overgrading/doctoring.


Only generic gold is quite. Actually, any coin that is not 100% all there or has any kind of doctoring is also soft these days.

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