Archive for September, 2010

September … just another month.

Posted on September 26, 2010 by No Comments

This is my first weekend at home in three weeks. It’s a welcome relief to play ball with the dog and watch my first football of the season. And of course, not to work too much, but it is impossible to get away from the computer and smart phone…

It started just after Labor Day as we held another of our Members Only shows in Las Vegas. We hold these at the Venetian Hotel & Casino (we have investigated several alternatives but the Venetian keeps coming out on top). This past show was again oversold as we squeezed in a couple of loyal PCGS dealers who at the last minute asked us very nicely if they could have a table. Our Members shows have a unique quality that you will not find in any other show. They are by definition – invitation only – as you must be a PCGS authorized dealer or Collector Club member to enter the show room. That eliminates the tire kickers and the “just curious”, the result of which is that everyone in the room is a serious numismatist (ok, some are more serious than others but you get the picture). The shows are small, typically with a couple dozen dealers setup and a hundred or so visitors mingling in the aisles. I usually hear of several sizable transactions and witness a lot of trading. Many dealers report they do as much business there as at most major shows.

The day after the Members show found me on an overnight flight to Paris. We opened an office in Paris this past June. We grade coins in that office on a regular schedule, app. every 6 weeks. So off we went to meet our many new friends from all across Europe. During this trip we had dealers from a dozen different countries submit coins for grading. Mostly World coins with some U.S. It is fast paced action as our team is only there for one week. All coins submitted are graded onsite and returned by the end of the week. In many ways coin collecting in Europe resembles coin collecting in the US back in the 60s & 70s. Third party grading is a relatively new concept, although it is rapidly catching on. I really feel that PCGS is providing a great service to the dealers and collectors of Europe by offering our independent opinion. Not only that, but there is a tremendous lack of information that we take for granted here in the States such as population reports, pricing information, rarity rankings etc. This is just the beginning, but I foresee PCGS having an extremely positive effect on coin collecting not only in Europe, but around the world.

After an 11 hour flight home my wife and youngest daughter were waiting for me at LAX. We drove directly north to Santa Cruz were my daughter was enrolling as a freshman the next day. That was a long trip! After helping her move in to her dorm room we spent the night in Paso Robles. We toured a couple vineyards the next morning before making the long drive home.

Then it was a couple days in the office trying to catch up on two weeks worth of issues. The good part of email, messaging and all of our technology is that we can stay fairly current on most things. Wednesday was the first day of the Long Beach show. I try to be at all the major shows because I think it is important to meet face to face with as many dealers and collectors as possible, as often as possible. I always get lots of questions, issues to resolve and good input to consider. This past Long Beach show seemed especially hectic as the crowd around our table was several people deep for much of the show. We not only grade thousands of coins at every show but we also receive thousands more coins to bring back to the office for grading. Shows are a great opportunity for collectors to get an opinion on their coin and some advice on their submission.

I got home Friday night about 7 PM. I am a home-body and there is nothing like collapsing in your favorite chair. It is a lot of work but I am so lucky to be doing something that I truly enjoy! I am already looking forward to October!

Filed Under: News

How to Determine a Value for Unique Coins?

Posted on September 24, 2010 by 7 Comments

Most of us have heard the breaking news of the unique 1943-D PCGS MS64 Brown Copper Cent selling for a record 1.7 million dollars.

So the question is how did they determine the value of the coin? Simple… the seller of the coin loved the coin so much, that he was only willing to let it go for 1.7 million dollars and not a pennny less!  

1c 1943-D-PCGS-MS64BN So, this brings up another point. There are other unique coins out there which have not broken the million dollar price tag, yet. Does this mean that all other unique coins are also worth a million dollars or more?

For example, there is only one known 1974 Aluminum cent in public hands, one 1976 No S Dollar known, several other patterns that are also unique. Since the 1943-D Copper Lincoln cent is considered an error, there are many error coins that are also unique.

There are also other coins where there are only a few known, such as the 1958 Doubled Die Lincoln cents, with two or three known, What are those worth?

 On the other hand, there are also other coins like Proof Gold Dollars with mintages of 25 that can be purchased for under $5,000 each.

 One thing is for certain, the 1943 copper cents have always been significant coins throughout American History. The same is true for other coins like the 1913 Liberty nickels, they are not unique by any means, as there are 5 known, but yet, the coins bring several million dollars each, which is much more than the unique 1943-D Copper Cent.

 When it comes to unique coins, every coin is different. Some coins with only one known, may bring a much lower price than coins with multiple examples known, and vice versa.

 There is no question that the 1943-D is a very special and unique coin. And it will definitely be very interesting to see what prices for unique coins, do from now on.

Filed Under: News

Legend Sells Unique 1943-D Bronze Lincoln Cent

Posted on September 23, 2010 by No Comments

The only known 1943 Lincoln Cent mistakenly struck on a bronze planchet at the Denver Mint has been sold for a record price of $1.7 million by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey. The unique coin, not publicly known to exist until 1979, is graded PCGS MS64BN.

The new owner is a Southwestern United States business executive who wants to remain anonymous. He also purchased in the same transaction through Legend a 1944 Philadelphia Mint cent struck on a zinc planchet, graded PCGS MS64, for $250,000, and an experimental 1942 Philadelphia cent mostly composed of tin for $50,000. The unnamed new owner plans to exhibit these coins and others at the Florida United Numismatists convention in January.

“The 1943-D bronze cent is the most valuable cent in the world, and it took four years of aggressive negotiations with the coin’s owner until he agreed to sell it,” said Laura Sperber, President of Legend Numismatics.

“The new owner is a prominent Southwestern business executive who’s been collecting since he was a teenager, searching through pocket change looking for rare coins,” explained Sperber. “As a youngster he thought he’d actually found a 1943 copper cent in circulation but it was not authentic. He still has that in his desk drawer, but now he’s the only person to ever assemble a complete set of genuine 1943 bronze cents, one each from the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints. He will display that set at FUN along with his 1944 Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco zinc cents.”

The anonymous collector who formerly owned the coin “donated it to a charitable organization so they could sell it with all of the proceeds going to the charity,” according to Andy Skrabalak of Angel Dee’s Coins and Collectibles in Woodbridge, Virginia who acted as agent on behalf of the former owner.

“As a specialist in small cents, this transaction is the ultimate accomplishment for me and I’m privileged to be part of it. I don’t think it will ever be duplicated in my lifetime,” said Skrabalak.

Zinc-coated steel was used for producing cents in 1943 to conserve copper for other uses during World War II, but a small number of coins were mistakenly struck on bronze planchets left over from 1942.

“We estimate that less than 20 Lincoln cents were erroneously struck in bronze at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints in 1943, but this is the only known example from the Denver Mint,” said Don Willis, President of Professional Coin Grading Service.

Filed Under: News

Is it Still a Good Time to Buy Gold?

Posted on September 16, 2010 by No Comments

Gold hits another all time record high today as it last traded at $1,277 an ounce. It’s hard to imagine that in 1970 the price of gold was only $35 an ounce! (Yes, that’s thirty five dollars an ounce).

Gold Bars When gold makes big jumps, so do the prices of many modern gold bullion related coins. For example, Gold eagles trade very close to spot prices, just like Gold Buffalos, many Gold Commemoratives and even most Gold Spouse coins.

 The U.S. Mint first began striking Bullion Gold eagles back in 1986, when Gold was at about $340 an ounce. Every year since then, the Mint has offered some form of bullion gold related coins to collectors close to the price of gold. Most collectors, who purchased coins directly from the U.S. Mint or at a close percentage close to the spot price of gold, have done tremendously well with their coins.

I sure wish I would have purchased Gold eagles back in 1986, but unfortunately, I was only 7 years old at the time. So it makes me wonder, with the price of Gold being at an all time high, is it still a good time to Buy Gold?

Filed Under: News

2010 Proof Gold Eagles

Posted on September 10, 2010 by 1 Comment

Last year, the Mint had a difficult time keeping up with the demand for bullion related coins. As a result, it did not strike any 2009 Proof Gold Eagles as well as several other silver, gold and platinum bullion related products.

For several months, the production of 2010 Proof Gold Eagles had also been in doubt. However, to everyone’s surprise earlier this week, the Mint indicated that 2010 Proof Gold Eagles are already being struck in the four different denominations of $5, $10, $25 and $50. The coins should all be available sometime in the middle of October.

We will soon find out if collector interest will be high for the 2010 Proof Gold Eagles or if the cancelation of last years’ coins deterred many from collecting this series. In the next several weeks, we shall find out.

Filed Under: News

PCGS CoinFacts – What A Value!

Posted on September 9, 2010 by No Comments

OK, time for some shameless promotion of the PCGS CoinFacts website.

I spend virtually my entire working day stomping around the PCGS CoinFacts website, looking for empty places that need information, updating old information, fixing errors, adding missing images, locating weird navigation issues, etc.  I can state with confidence that I know the site better than anyone else because I spend more time there than anyone else.  So, trust me when I say that the improvements and additions made to the site over the past year are simply amazing.

Here’s an example that blew me away, and it’s just one example of many.

Take a look at PCGS Coin #6853 (1795 Silver Dollar 2 Leaves).  The page starts with three images: an MS-62+, an MS-62, and a third image that clearly shows the difference between the 2 Leaves and 3 Leaves varieties.  Clicking on the “View All Coin Images” link shows pictures of not five, not ten, not twenty, but over 40 demonstrably different 1795 2 Leaves Dollars, ranging in grade from Good 4 to MS 62+.  All of the images can be viewed in a huge, high-resolution format and you can match your coin to the images to get a close, approximate grade.

Next comes technical information, rarity and survival rate information, prices from the PCGS Price Guide, and data from the PCGS Pop Report.  The Condition Census listings shows the ten finest examples (did you know that all of the ten best 1795 2 Leaves Dollars are MS-64 or better?  I’m impressed!).

Next comes Auction Prices Realized information that shows data from the five most recent sales.  A quick link provides a complete listing of auction appearances in all grades going back to at least 1994 (and sometimes further back).

Thus, everything you need to know about the 1795 2 Leaves Silver Dollar is in one place.

And that’s for just one coin out of the thousands that are on CoinFacts.

If you’re not a subscriber to PCGS CoinFacts, you’re missing out on one of the best numismatic resources ANYWHERE!  Join today at

Filed Under: News

The Great Coin Dealer Wedding

Posted on September 7, 2010 by 2 Comments

This weekend (Sunday) was the coin dealer wedding of the decade as two coin dealer families united. PCGS founder John Dannreuther’s daughter, Drew, married long time dealer Walt Ankerman’s son, Erik. It was a beautiful wedding and there sure were a lot of coin dealers there. Best wishes to Erik and Drew.

wedding photo, Erik and Drew Ankerman

Filed Under: News

Bourse Etiquette

Posted on September 7, 2010 by No Comments

Even the smallest coin show offers something new and exciting. Every show begins with the promise of the unexpected, what you might find, what you might learn, chances to buy and sell. For both collectors and dealers coin shows are a great opportunity to meet and greet fellow hobbyists and conduct business. Even in today’s Internet driven society coin shows are an integral part of the business.

If coin shows are so important, why is it that so many people are unaware of how a bourse operates and of the unwritten rules. We hear all the time from collectors who feel unsure how to interact with a dealer, or who feel intimidated, mistreated or even insulted at times. Then again we hear from dealers who tell stories of collectors wasting their time, interrupting them in the middle of a sale, or making ridiculous requests or offers.

We should suppose that it takes all kinds, meaning that whenever there is a large group of people there will be all types of personalities, levels of knowledge and sophistication and a wide range of just plain manners. Everything else aside, here are some basics that would improve the experience for all.

First of all there are many different types of dealers. At most shows dealers will break down into two groups – wholesalers and retailers. Of course some dealers do both, but when the bourse is open to the public it is pretty easy to identify which is which. A dealer who is interested in retailing will have his table prepared and look like he is open for business. His cases will be uncovered and coins will be assembled so they can be seen. Usually someone will be standing by ready to answer questions or assist as needed. Here we need to mention the sole proprietor, the coin dealer that is all by himself. It’s unavoidable that there will be times when he’ll be taking care of some paperwork on the back table, or even leave his table unattended for a few minutes. It’s not that he isn’t interested in your business; he can only do so much. Everyone needs to cut this guy some slack.

When a dealer is engaged with another customer you need simply to remember those basic manners we were taught in elementary school. Do not interrupt. Be patient. Wait your turn. Most dealers will attempt to make eye contact and recognize your presence. As soon as they can they will be with you. You must recognize that every interaction between a dealer and customer could result in a sale. If you are in too much of a hurry to wait or it seems that their conversation might go on too long, then move on and perhaps you can circle back. Demanding to be noticed or being rude is most likely to produce a similar kind of response.

Once engaged it is helpful to let the dealer know what your interests are, specifically what you are looking for and even your budget guidelines. If you are just looking then let him know. It’s not necessary to give away information that will compromise your negotiating position, but at the same time don’t spend a lot of time trying to ambush or cherry pick the guy. There are plenty of dealers that don’t mind getting cherry picked, but there are no big “rips” in the coin business. Just don’t waste his time, or yours, with any cloak and dagger stuff when you know darn well what you are looking for. And by all means don’t try to haggle with the guy if you do cherry a coin! On the other end of this issue, if you really aren’t familiar with the market, or the coins you are looking at, be up front about it. All dealers laugh about the guy who stands at their table for 30 minutes deciding between coins and when he is quoted “1750” for the coin he selects, pulls out a $20 bill and asks for change.

It costs a fair amount for dealers to set up at most shows. I used to plan on $5,000 per show minimum. If your goal is to pay the least amount possible for any coin you buy, that’s fine (you’ll get what you pay for), but understand the guy you are buying it from needs to make a living. Most dealers don’t mind being asked what their “best price” is, but don’t expect to buy a $5,000 coin for $2,000. Unrealistic expectations can lead to insulting offers and bad feelings all the way around. Again, it is up to everyone to do a little homework and know the market. Even though some price guide says the coin is a $2,000 coin, the coin may be selling in auction for $4K-$5K. Some price guides don’t work too hard at staying current and just because you have one in your pocket does not make you an authority on the issue. Dealers had better know the market because they are investing their hard cash in their inventory. If you get quoted something that you know is too high all you have to say is “that’s more than I want to spend”. It may be that that particular dealer is priced too high on that coin, or on everything he has, but once you’ve asked for his best price there is nothing to be gained by further arguing price.

Most dealers will accept cash or check (some are setup for credit cards as well). If you have never done business with a dealer he will probably ask you for references before he will complete the sale. Don’t take it personally. There are teams of scam artists that prey on dealers by passing bad checks. If you can’t provide an immediately verifiable reference, you should be willing to have the dealer ship the coin to you after your check clears. If you have any concerns almost any dealer would be willing to provide you with plenty of references. There are rules and regulations on cash transactions and forms that are supposed to be completed. It really isn’t smart to pay cash when the transaction is over $10k. I once had a guy flash me a briefcase full of $100 bills. I guess he was trying to impress me by telling me it contained $250k. I told him he had a better chance of getting robbed than impressing anyone if he kept opening his case like that!

Dealers whose cases are empty and who sit with their backs to the aisles are not interested in doing business with the public. They are there to wholesale and are focused on dealer to dealer transactions. Wholesalers play an important role in the overall market, but unfortunately they are taking up valuable bourse space that you just have to walk by. Shows for them are just a place they can meet and trade with each other.

There are thousands of bourse floor stories that could be told. Good material for another day. There are good guys and not so good guys in the coin business just like anything else. Some of us were paying better attention in school than others. The bottom line for today is common courtesy goes a long way on the bourse floor.

Filed Under: News

The PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census Needs You!

Posted on September 1, 2010 by No Comments

PCGS CoinFacts™ is compiling a Condition Census for every United States coin… a list of the ten finest known specimens for all U.S. coins including Colonials, Patterns and Territorials. It’s a massive multi-year project. A lot of the work has already been done and you can view it at But there’s still a lot of work to do, including imaging all of the Condition Census coins. We need images and if you have a Condition Census coin, we can image your coin and promote it on the PCGS CoinFacts website. So ask yourself…

Is your coin one of the finest known of its variety?

Would you like to have a professional photograph of your coin?

Would you like to have your coin recognized as part of the PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census?

If you answered yes to each of these questions, then we have an offer for you! And there are two easy ways you can participate in this special offer:

  • Submit your coin for grading through PCGS Secure Plus™ at the standard fee, and; if it is a Condition Census candidate, we will take a TrueView™ photograph at no additional charge (a $20 savings). Your coin will then take its place of recognition as a member of the PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census. The TrueView photograph will of course be available to you as well.
  • OR

  • Submit your coin simply for photographing and, if it is a Condition Census candidate, we will take a TrueView photo and reholder your coin in a PCGS Secure Plus holder for only $20 (a $20 savings). Your coin will then take its place of recognition as a member of the PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census. The TrueView photograph will of course also be available to you.
  • Plus, if you have a Condition Census coin photographed under this special offer we will give you – at no additional charge – a one-month subscription to PCGS CoinFacts! Or if you’re already a PCGS CoinFacts subscriber we will extend your subscription one month for free! (Limit one free month subscription per person.)

    This is a limited-time offer. In the case of ties for Condition Census, coins will be acknowledged in the order they are received.

    Give your coins the recognition they deserve by becoming part of the PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census!

    To take advantage of this offer, simply complete your submission form as usual and write “Condition Census Offer” in the “Other” box at the top of the submission form. If you have any questions call PCGS Customer Service at 800-447-8848.

    Filed Under: News