The FUN Show
By Legend Numismatics
thing about the show this year-was the weather!
Finally, it was not rainy or cool. For the 11
total days we were there, we were stuck inside
during beautiful sunny and warm days. Of course,
we come home to NJ during a raging ice/snow
This show and the pre auctions were exactly as
we had predicted. The great bull market of the
past 6+ years is now over, leaving many in
denial and confused. Yes, prices are off,
however rare coins have still held there values
better than ANY equity, real estate property, or
financial type of holding.
First we will answer the two most asked
questions to us (note all information is written
from Legends perspective of the marketplace, it
does not apply to everyone):
HOW WAS THE SHOW?
True to form, the FUN Show people put on one of
the BEST shows around. It is large, well
attended by major dealers, has terrific exhibits
(the PCGS exhibit of the Sunnywood Colored
Morgan Collection was awesome), and you
certainly should be able to find just about any
coin you need.
This year, much to our surprise, there seemed to
be as big of a crowd as ever. We saw MANY major
collectors there as well as many people who are
just getting started in coins. The most heavily
attended day seem to be Thursday. This was
definitely a positive.
Our show was slow at the table, but strong out
on the floor wholesale wise. We did have a
totally new customer simply walk up and write us
a check for $145,000.00 for a single coin!
Generally, that kind of fantasy deal happens
only at a FUN or ANA. Besides that, we did not
retail any coins higher than $10,000.00. We knew
we had to move old inventory-and unlike so many
dealers in denial, we took our losses. So for
us, this show was the first FUN Show in 10 years
we lost money. Its hard to stomach, but it set
us up for where we want to be starting off 2009.
We can’t say how dealers did overall. We think
some did really well (one told us he did $1.5
million and made six figures) while others just
moaned it was bad. Everything seemed hit or miss
to us. It for sure seemed like there were two
camps: group number one had been around in 1991
and remembers how badly coins collapsed. Those
dealers were the ones doing business. They knew
to dump the old and trade with the new no matter
how much pain it took to clean things up. The
newer, younger dealers were more stunned and a
confused state of denial. They grew up in a
“bull” run like we have never seen before and
now are almost totally panicked. They do not
believe in losses and many of them are heavily
leveraged. Those guys seemed to be the ones
having the worst shows. Crackout dealers didn’t
fare well either, we heard reports of 1 for 72,
3 for 48, etc. Seemed like the grading services
have solidly adopted tougher standards (or old
standards). So far in this market, there is one
major player who is rumored to be on the skids
and could be gone shortly. Otherwise, the
majority of dealers seem stable enough to out
last the correction-if they can adjust to the
Many people seemed to be walking around with
their hands in their pockets simply asking us:
how is the market? They were in shock that coins
have held up so strongly while all other areas
are in the tank. Even though many of there
people we spoke to wanted reassurance, they
still were trying to buy something-either they
were looking for a particular coin (instead of
being willing to buy anything) or had placed
bids in one of the auctions. Money clearly has
become less free flowing at the shows.
HOW IS THE COIN MARKET?
This was the second question everyone asked.
First, we warned everyone for at a few months
that the money would slow and when it did people
would become more selective. We stressed (and
still do) you clean out anything old,
duplicated, unwanted, overgraded, or whatever
BEFORE the lesser quality or commoner coins fall
in price to levels you won’t believe (especially
if you are going to need cash in the upcoming
The FUN SHOW of 2009 was finally the show where
prices actually proved they had fallen. The rare
coin market is officially in a correction. We’d
guess ALL prices are off a good 10-20% from the
summer peak at the ANA show. There is now a HUGE
disparity (as clearly proven in the auctions)
that if you do not have a coin that is 100% ALL
THERE, it could be worth as much as 60% or even
75% LESS! How can this be? As we have said
before, the euphoria of the market is now gone.
Gradeflation coins are now unwanted. We do not
have those crazy “investors” around buying
anything at random. We now have a more educated
and demanding public who insists on getting
their monies worth. They also have a more solid
“comfort level” and never liked the crazy prices
we saw over the past year. The best line we
heard from along time dealer who really just
traded plastic for the past few years: “gee, now
I have to look at the coins again”.
What amazes us is many dealers (and even some
collectors) just don’t get it. In October when
the stock market really burned down, coins were
still trading strong. At that point many dealers
(especially) felt coins were invincible. Coins
actually continued with out a serious hiccup
until early Dec. Now, everything else in the
world markets have fallen even further. The
smarter money involved in the coin market knows
there is still possibly another 10-20% of
adjusting to hit us. Until the world markets
stop falling, do not expect the coin market to
have many(if any) price increases. But then you
also need to remember, coins are a LONG TERM
We do NOT think the coin market will crash and
burn or even come close. There really is still
too much demand. However, we do think a 10%,
even 20% further correction is possible. It is
critical to understand that correction is NOT
for everything. THIS CORRECTION IS BEING LEAD BY
THE INFERIOR COINS NO ONE REALLY WANTS. No real
collector EVER wanted this junk, nor should it
have ever been graded. It was being bought/sold
in huge sums through incompetent dealers,
auction houses especially, and crooked
telemarketers. The past year when coin values
rose almost daily, the market had attracted the
dreaded general public who sought coins out as
an “investment” and people just following the
herd. Yet again, that proved to be the peak of
The bottom of the current market will be when
the junk has hit levels so low it can be taken
off the market for good. Until then, many
dealers will suffer liquidity issues and not let
prices fall on this stuff to clean themselves or
the market up. You will see pricing disparities
up of up to 75% for the same coin, same grade.
Be prepared. It really was the coin markets
dirty little secret.
Incredible and fresh coins have survived the
turmoil just fine. Prices for coins like that
have held firm-with one or two stepping out at
record prices. With the overall market not
running up and up, for the next few months
you’ll see fewer and fewer of these great coins
being sold. Its the junk that is flooding the
bourse floors and auctions and is the anchor
holding the market down now.
Legend Numismatics does not expect nor is trying
for a record year. We are in the process of
cleaning out all the old inventory we didn’t pay
attention too (mostly remnants of deals) and
expect to have reduced the size of our inventory
for the next several months. Our turnover still
is strong, but we have decided to remain in a
cash position. If we see any incredible coins,
we will be as strong as ever in our efforts to
buy them. As proof, we can tell you the fact we
represented 15 different players in the auctions
(a record for us). Our customers desires for
great coins have not diminished.
We attended all the major sales except Superior
(sorry guys, nothing there for us).
Our general comment holds to ALL the sales: COIN
SOLD FOR WHAT THEY ARE WORTH. IT WAS ALL
COMENSURATE TO THE QUALITY OR HOW REALISTIC THE
We see many people talking about how poorly the
auctions seemed to do. When you price coins out
of the market, they will never do well.
The B+M sale was the first sale we attended.
Absent were one or two major buyers who always
sit there and try and scoop up bargains. We were
able to buy only a few nice coins really cheap.
We did notice many “average and lesser” quality
coins with high reserves. None of those sold.
Overall, we felt the B+M sale was soft, not
horrible, but then it did not have a ton of
fresh to the market coins.
The Stacks sale was a near disaster. They had a
large group of Patterns from a dealer going
against one of the worlds largest, FRESHEST, and
UNRESERVED Collections in another sale. Needless
to say, in that area they did not fare well.
Also, they allowed another major dealer to put
his personal coins in at nearly insane reserves.
The 73CC No Arrows Quarter did bring a record
$400,000.00-but many of his other coins did not
sell. In fact, it turned many people off prior
to the sale. There seemed to be an huge amount
of dealers coins in this sale with high
reserves. We’d rate this sale as poor.
The Heritage Auction, in our opinion was strong
and VERY realistic. We represented a record 15
different collectors! Our total purchases
exceeded $4,000,000.00! Heritage unquestionably
has a reach well outside of the numismatic realm
as well as the largest reach within. They sort
of had their own market with in a market. Any
lot that did not sell either was too seriously
poor quality wise, or had reserves too high for
the marketplace. Do keep in mind, many of their
collectors consigned when the market was
stronger. ALL THE NICE FRESH COLLECTIONS SOLD
STRONG-with many UNRESERVED!
Legend Numismatics on behalf of one customer
spent $3,000,000.00 on the patterns alone (as
many of you know you are exclusively involved in
building the greatest pattern Collection EVER)!
Legend also spent another $250,000.00 on coins
for inventory. We did buy the Copper Union
$50.00 (one of the most beloved coins in the
world) for a record $575,000.00 to be included
in our customers amazing collection. Our
competitor in the end was another deep pocketed
collector who does not do much in Patterns but
felt it was important enough of a piece to add
it as a trophy to his world class collection.
When truly rare and great coins like this
appear, regardless of the market, they sell for
record prices. We were the underbidder on the
GOLD Pan Pac which sold for a whopping
$345,000.00. Also, it totally blew our minds
that the room was packed and there was extremely
heavy bidding through the session. Even we were
NOT prepared for the strength this particular
segment showed. Even in this softer market,
nothing stops the power of a world class,
unreserved, and fresh collection loaded with
Our next biggest buying spree came in the Morgan
area. The highlight of what we bought was the
1892S PCGS MS67. We paid a staggering
$460,000.00 on behalf of a collector (we would
like to mention this coin now resides with the
Veremule 93S PCGS MS67-the absolute finest
known). Our main competitor on the 92S also was
a long time collector who loved the coin as much
as we did and was determined to add it to his
amazing set (needless to say our taunting him
with pics of cute puppies calling his name did
not make him leave before the sale).
The prices for Morgans were all over the board
some because of the market-but mostly because of
inferior quality. The perfect example is the
1881S PCGS MS69 CAC that sold for $48,875.00 (to
a dealer who will hold it and probably not
resell it) while another one (non CAC) which was
not as high end in quality sold for $28,750.00.
We also were thrilled that one of the coins we
bought (which had recently been upgraded), we
purchased at the next grade lower (or what it
originally should have sold as). What is even
funnier about it-we were prepared to pay MORE
than what we paid for a REAL GEM in the lower
grade (follow that?)! A killer 89CC in NGC MS65
sold for $253,000.00 in extremely spirited
bidding. This piece clearly proved it was not
about the holder of a coin, the sticker, or
whatever-we are back to where the quality of the
coin itself matters. At least in this session of
the sale, ALL the prices paid were directly
commensurate with the coins quality. Plus, BOTH
of these collections had been assembled only
fairly recently (within the past 1-3 years). So
the overall freshness factor was not there.
Also, the room was packed and there WAS much
spirited bidding on the lots that were real
A sale this large had many dealer coins. Just
about every dealer we spoke to had coins that
did not sell. No dealers we know had put
anything fresh or reasonably reserved, so they
kind of got what was coming.
Overall, we do rate this sale a huge success. We
are concerned that people correctly understand
the results-we see the gossip boards poo pooing
the sale. The fact they did over $50 million,
the fact, there were many record prices on the
FRESH rare coins, proves the market IS still
hungry and can afford to buy!
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
This is easy for us to see. As we had mentioned
before, we do see a strong possibly for the
market to correct another 10%. There is still
positive momentum, just less cash around. If you
have ANYTHING less than 100% accurately graded,
it will continue to lose value. We kind of know
this is your last chance to blow out that sort
of material before it heads into permanent
oblivion (but don’t expect to receive anywhere
near the sheets now from anyone for that kind of
It is now a pure buyers market. The long time
collectors are starting to tickle back happy as
can be. Just remember, the coins you bought
yesterday are NOT going to go up in value for
some time now. Last year is just that, last
year. We back to the basic fundamentals of the
real coin market. Buy the best quality you can
afford, and be prepared to hold for the long
term. Few people can afford to or want to be
speculative investors any more.
Be very careful about what you buy in terms of
quality. You want a coin that is 100% all there
if you are going to pay any kind of a premium.
NOTHING less is acceptable. If you do get
offered a coin not 100% but it seems cheap,
remember this rule we use: right now, cheap may
not be cheap enough! BUT, keep in mind, you are
not competing against the uneducated must have
buyers any more. Now, the majority of buyers are
collectors, and they know what they want.
We expect the coin market to bottom within the
next 2-3 months so long as the overall economy
does not worsen. Regardless of what some say, we
believe the rubber band had to break. We needed
a correction after years of impressive wild
price rises. The fact the correction may be so
minimal (for great coins) in the end is proof to
how big and strong the coin market really is.
The junk that is crashing each day and is now as
much as 60% cheaper-that stuff NEVER should have
been graded or valued where it was.
Do NOT be afraid to buy coins. Just buy them
“right” in terms of quality and price. Now for
sure is not a market peak! We definitely feel
much better about the coin market today (even
though there could still be some more turmoil)
than we did back in November. You certainly will
NOT see Legend passing on any monster coin!
ALL Half cents. Most Large cents. Proof Barber
material. MS Seated Type. Properly graded early
WHAT IS NOT HOT?
Anything (no matter what grading service or
denomination) not accurately graded is almost
dead. Indian Cents, Buffalo Nickels, Peace
Dollars, generic gold.