I love coin shows because I never know what I will find. Last Thursday was no different. I arrived at the Pittsburgh Convention Center and hit the ground running. Within minutes I ran into an old friend who had a really cool group of 1882 Morgan Dollars. All were certified at different levels of Mint State but had obviously been stored together forever. They all had the exact same beautiful original toning. He admitted to me that they had been in old paper envelopes and were purchased from a small local auction house in Long Island, NY. All were lovely and graded between MS62 and MS65. There was no passing on this deal.
After perusing the floor for several hours and finding a few more goodies it was off to dinner with some coin dealer friends. It was at dinner this evening that I was offered the single most unusual item of my entire career, although not quite numismatic. As I enjoyed my appetizer and Belgian brown ale the offer came… “You wanna sell a dinosaur?” Well not quite art or coins but a pretty cool offer. I politely said I would talk to Barry, but didn’t really think it was for us.
Friday was another whirlwind day. I scoured the floor looking for anything unusual. I landed in front of the table of a good friend from New Jersey. We discussed the coin market in general and more specifically Chinese coins after seeing an attractive silver dollar sized Chinese coin in his case. He noted that he purposefully made sure to have one Chinese coin to make sure everyone looked in his case. The Chinese market has been super hot over the last year or so. There is one coin called the “Auto Dollar” which I have always wanted. This is a coin that sold for $1,500- $3,000 in Uncirculated condition 2-3 years ago. I was kicking myself a few months back when I saw an About Uncirculated example sell in auction for $74,000. Holy cow, what a crazy increase in value! I guess that’s what happens when a billion people decide they want to collect coins.
I hoofed the floor a bit more looking for a few hidden gems, but it was tough. I tried hard to buy anything with nice toning, but everything was priced 5 to 10 times more than I was willing to pay. The only Redfield Dollar I found was one that I had basically bought a week earlier. A friend bought it in a deal and agreed to sell it to me when we met in Pittsburgh. I did get a lead on some colonial currency, but we’ll see what happens. I love this historical type of material. I snooped around for a while more but didn’t find anything too intriguing.
Then it was off to the auction to try to buy something super special. I sat in the room which was not nearly as crowded as I had anticipated. This was good- less competition. I anxiously anticipated the lot and my heart was pounding as it approached. After a brief flurry of bidding the coin was ours. Art and Coin Television were the owners of something unique and truly special. Unfortunately I am not at liberty to divulge what exactly we bought, but it is an unbelievable, mind blowing coin. I have seen a lot in my day including several million dollar rarities, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coin quite like this. I’m sure Barry will clue everyone in soon, so keep tuning in.
After the auction I ran around and found a few more nice deals for both television and for the website. Later it was back to view more auction lots. This is actually more work than one would expect. There are always a lot of what I call “trap” lots. These are coins that might seem nice at first glance but have some hidden problem. I looked at as many coins as humanly possible for about 3 hours until I was told that the viewing period was over and I had to leave. I somehow timed this perfectly and saw every coin I was interested in (about 400).
I ran back to my hotel to review my notes and figure my bids. This is way trickier than it sounds. I want buy things, but I don’t want to over pay. The problem with auctions is that most people get caught up in the moment and pay way too much for coins. I don’t. I eventually was able to get all of my bids together and faxed over to the auction house since I would be on a plane during the next morning’s session. At long last it was time for bed.
I won’t bore you with all of the details of Saturday but I will give a brief synopsis. Wake up early, taxi, plane, another airplane, car. About ten hours later I was home. With some time left to spend with my family and even catch much of the Saturday night Coin Show with surprise guest Shawn Leflar. Great show Shawn!
Well, hopefully you enjoyed my first show report. I hope it was entertaining and gives you a glimpse of what it is like to search out those hidden gems that Barry is able to offer. It’s not easy finding amazing quality coins at the best possible price, but I love doing it.
Check back next week and I’ll give you a brief history of all of the US mints. Thanks for reading.