U.S. Coin Price Guide

Coin Collecting

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The Coin Market As We See It
By Legend Numismatics

With all the turmoil in the financial markets you would think the rare coin market would be on its death bed. NOT! Without a doubt, even though we have been harping the coin market has been going through what we will call a “quality correction” of 10-20% (probably more like 30-40% now), nice, fresh, original, and truly rare coins have NOT decreased in value by any noticeable measure. Do note: you MUST have FULL quality and TRUE rarity to be safe. People do still need to sell and raise money, but for every person who had to sell, we seem to have found a buyer.

While we have had millions of dollars worth of surprisingly great coins sold to us in the past 30 days, we have also SOLD millions of dollars as well. The 1893S PCGS MS67 Veremule piece came to us not out of financial desperation, but because the owner had personal issues. We wired the money. The coin was sold instantly to the first collector we mentioned it to. He had no fear of spending over $1,000,000.00 and fully understood that he had the opportunity of a life time to acquire the piece. In fact he did not understand why a person that has “passion” and money why they wouldn’t be aggressive buyers today.

We told everyone in our last report to watch the Heritage Auction results. With one day to go, we thought things were going to be very bleak (the sell through at that point looked very weak). However, sitting in the office watching the bidding live and coin by coin being outbid, we saw strong signs of stability. From what we understand, the sell through was over 80%. Many coins that did not sell were (of course) over reserved dealer retreads or, they were “off” quality pieces.

For a better understanding, lets compare two coins from that sale. Lot 256. 1864 Small Motto PCGS MS65RD CAC. Sold: $21,850.00. Lot: 1197 1880S $1 PCGS MS68 CAC. Not sold. The 1864 was a monster. Its reserve was either low or none. The coin blew away ALL records for an MS65 RD when bidding closed! We also believe there was highly aggressive multiple bidders. The 1880S was a monster also. BUT, it had a reserve of $6,000.00 (or a total price of $6,900.00). You can buy a VERY nice high end GEM MS68 for $4,500-$5,000.00 these days. Plus, even in high grade, its still a widget. Did these come down? Yes and no. The reserve probably was based on people spending freely in a rising market. Now that the music has slowed, people demand value for their dollar. They do not seem to be paying multiples for commoner coins either. However, when a coin like the 1864 pops up, their is still a frenzy of bidding. If the market were truly declining, the 1864 would not have sold for what it did.

The bottom can definitely still drop out. Every major dealer we have spoken to does admit some of their better customers are on the sidelines. Several of our better customers have requested that unless something is like the 93S (a once in a life time purchase), that we wait until FUN before offering them coins. ALL of them still have money-but they have indicated they do not “feel flush” because of stock market hits. We believe many of the weaker or scared players have sold out already. Although we know of several people who are racing the train to the crossing by trying to hold out from selling. We also know of several collectors making a huge mistake by gambling that some of their gold holdings will rise if gold goes back up soon. This market is too volatile to play that kind of game. We had 3 people get quotes from us on various gold coins they sent us. All three felt the prices were too low (we made offers based upon the prices we knew we could replace the coins at). In a week gold dropped. Of course they come back knocking. The premiums and prices had dropped even more!

FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME, THERE IS NO SUBSITUTION FOR QUALITY!

Quality is, has been, and always will be what is a major issue in determining a coins value. When bull markets cool, the coins of lesser quality always take a hit. In fact, “off quality” coins always take by far the worst price drops. Here is a hypothetical example based on something that we witnessed recently: You buy a washed out 1858 PR66 25C (pick a service) out of a major auction. You pay $10,000.00 two months ago at ANA in the heat of the major sale. Today you need to sell it. The coin is starting to turn a little. You call us, you call dealer X, Y, Z. No one wants to make an offer anywhere near what you paid. It’s a tough call, put it back in auction and wait 2 1/2 months for the sale, or take the top offer which our guess would be $6,500.00-$7,500.00 if even. Since you need money today, you end up losing $3,500.00. This is NOT an isolated event recently.

Had the 1858 25C been a true GEM with gorgeous eye appeal, even in this rugged market, your loss would be slight. The days of it being a sellers market are done for now. Accept that. So you MUST be clear that what you own or what you are now buying is of TRUE quality for the grade.

SHOULD I STILL SELL?

If you have “off” quality or boring duplicates, you are far better off getting out of those now and sitting on cash to buy anything good that might pop up. Also keep this in mind, because so much “stuff’ is coming out now (weak gold, junkie type, low grade low end coins, etc)dealers will pick and choose what they will pay. In a crazy market like this the saying goes: “sometimes buying cheap, may not be cheap enough”.

Also, if you think you are going to need money in the upcoming few months or year, SELL NOW! Do not take for granted that because coins are some what stable they will remain that way until you need to sell.

OUR EXPECTATIONS

We were totally surprised we had record October numbers (both buying and selling). It is our opinion, that due to the extreme crisis Wall Street is having the rare coin market WILL indeed feel some pain shortly. So far, we have had just the fringes suffer real weakness: “off quality” coins have dropped like rocks in demand and value. We can NOT predict if there will be a deep or just a short term hiccup in the market. Position yourself so you can take advantage of it-rather than have any possible down turn take advantage of you! Our gut feeling is unless the world really stops totally from all this (in that case EVERYTHING will be gone), coins WILL emerge as one of the surprise financial winners of 2008. People still go to work every day, houses are still being built, filling up the car is more affordable again, and life does go on beyond the stock market and banking messes.

COINFEST (Legend is a partner in it) should be a good barometer. The show is November 7th-9th. We consider it a major regional show. It is in the heart of probably the largest collector bases in the US (and is loaded with Wall St types). Who shows up and what they spend will definitely be critical to judging which direction our market is going. Keep in mind, the financial services people of that area, for as much as they have huge pay checks, also are now among the hardest hit with firm closings, layoffs, etc.

We expect COINFEST to be a decent show with a ton of traffic (we spent a fortune promoting it).

The Baltimore Show which follows it in two weeks will be good-but probably not as strong as usual. We do think the economy will keep a few people home. Also some of the major GOLD dealers who will be there could be having some cash flow issues (these guys couldn’t catch a break-gold went up they all got hit with margin calls, gold shot back down, now they have the coins at losses)!

Sorry we had to put a little gloom and doom into our report. We feel it would be irresponsible not to tell you that even though things seem good, there is a dark underbelly that could possibly burst through and make prices and demand weak. We hope it does not happen. Remember though, its a buyers market-take advantage of it! Do NOT be afraid to indulge your passion especially on the “right” coins!

A LAST WORD ABOUT GOLD

We spoke to the chief buyers for two of the biggest telemarketers in the business. They said last week they sold record amounts of gold bullion. What is truly amazing is that there is ZERO gold to be had. It’s at least a 3 week wait for Maples or K Rands. The premiums for these coins range from $75.00-$100.00 per coin! Remarkably, people are still willing to buy all they can get.

In a few months this should lead to more generic gold being sold and people coming in and buying rare coins. We are experiencing the push to generics now as people want gold and can’t get any bullion. Over time, you know the brokers will push these people into buying a rare coin or two. The “bull” market will be back. It will just take some time. Knowing this, do not be afraid to take advantage of opportunities that exist today!

Gold is down again and is now in the lower $700.00 range (around $715.00). We do think it IS a VERY GOOD time to buy generic gold. Saints are off their highs and the best buys are in coins that never moved up and actually lumbered down-Indian Gold. Better semi-generic gold had quieted as well. As the wave grows from people seeking bullion and are denied due to supply, they will move into these areas and drive up the prices. There is plenty of opportunity if you buy gold now.

 



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