The rare coin market is finally waking up and I see sellers and buyers again waking up from their lethargy and ready to do business.
Just like everyone else during these uncertain economic times, we (here at DLRC) are are constantly reading the tea leaves of our daily transactions to make some sense out the disorder, waiting for that moment when we can pull out the megaphone and announce that in bold headlines that “THE RECESSION IS OFFICIALLY OVER.”
It’s not yet, of course, but we are seeing increased signs of activity on both ends of the equation that give me cause for real optimism. For the past 6 months or so, collectors have been somewhat frozen on both sides of the table: buying and selling. With so much uncertaintly, folks didn’t know whether to sell, or both, so sitting tight made the most sense.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen some significant thawing in this pattern. For starters, I believe the Joseph C. Thomas Collection at Heritage broke the ice. This massive collection of approximately $40 million was sold UNRESERVED and everyone from Heritage management to collectors worried about the consequences. Would $10,000 coins sell for $1500? Would $100,000 coins sell for $20,000?
Rumors are that the consignor threw caution to the wind with this sale because he needed to raise money quickly. (Not the first or last time we’ll hear that scenario in this market.) To the seasoned auction buyer, we finally realized just who had been buying all these “Registry” level type coins at massive premiums over the past 5-6 years.
Personally, I long scratched my head at the auction results of many of these coins which we were now seeing offered unreserved. I had been shut out (as a buyer) of the live auction market for a while now while these coins consistently brought more than I thought they were worth. And I saw this auction as my chance to jump in and capitalize on this opportunity. Unfortunately, there were a number of other dealers who saw the same possibilities.
The auction went stronger than most of us expected. Heritage did a fine job marketing the collection and handling such a vast collection with their usual deftness and efficiency. But it was largely dealers who stepped up and bought the coins on the floor as collectors, by and large, weren’t sure what coins were worth and came in too low.
That may sound odd to the collector reading this blog, but the coin market is great and enduring because dealers are the greatest asset of our industry. We love coins, and we believe in coins. Almost every dealer is a former, or current, collector and we can’t stand to see something else get too good of a bargain.
For my part, I spent $650,000+ at the sale and would have gladly spent more but the bidding was more competitive on the high-priced coins that I expected. Platinum night afforded me the best deal…a 1913-S quarter graded PCGS MS68. The coin is AMAZING and I bought it with a dealer-friend well below our maximum. The best part…we placed it with one of my best customers immmediately. Yes, we made a handsome profit (he’ll read thsi blog to be sure) but he’s got what in my opinion amounts to one of the 3 single greatest Barber quarters — not by date, but overall! — at 30% less than it’s high auction price earlier this decade. At the fever pitch of the market, two years ago, this coin was worth double, or triple what he just paid. That makes me feel good. Markets like this create new opportunities and energy.
So, bath to my theme…of the week at DLRC.
We started the week placing the 1913-S, followed by the successful sale of several other high powered coins like a circulated 1895 Morgan, gem NGC MS65 1926-S nickel, and a surprisingly large amount of other sales in the $5-$10,000 range. We closed out the week by placing our beloved 1901-S quarter in PCGS/CAC Fine-15. Additionally, our Thursday auction contained a small partial set of Commems that had been off the market for quite a while. Some were quite beautiful and our bidders jumped all over these to set records. Take a look our our auction results for Sale #376.