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The Insider’s Edge
Volume 1- Edition 5
Hello and welcome back,
We hope that you enjoyed your last edition of The Insider’s Edge. We continue to receive positive feedback from our continually growing subscription list. Several readers stopped by our table at the Whitman Baltimore Convention to compliment us on our newsletter’s first four editions. Thank you for the kind words. Rest assured, we are continually trying to improve content and exceed your expectations.
This month, in Exposing the Myths, we will discuss the prospects of buying coins in a recessionary economy. Blue Chip Picks focuses on an overlooked, but surprisingly rare, 20 th century coin from a popular set. Our Find Me One column still has not turned up any coins through four editions, so our picks must be as tough as we anticipated. The date of this month’s coin may not surprise you, but the denomination probably will. Finally, our feature Interview will be with Georgia dealer and southern gold specialist, Al Adams. Al is one of the old school coin dealers who still approaches the hobby with the passion of a collector. His take on the rare coin market is both interesting and informative. We think that you’re going to enjoy the read!
Market Report
By: Robbie Jenkins
The rare coin market is in the midst of its annual summer breather before the ANA’s World Fair of Money in Baltimore, Maryland beginning in the end of July. Collectors and dealers alike are taking time for vacations, anxiously awaiting the ANA Convention. Although activity in the coin market is generally a bit slower during June and early July, the rare coin market itself remains strong and healthy. In the face of record high energy prices that are impacting the prices of consumable goods, collectors and investors continue to pursue rare coins. The goals of these buyers can vary. There is a contingent of collectors building sets that they have dreamed of since childhood. Others are competing to build certified Registry Sets of their preferred series. Investment-minded buyers view coins as an alternative storehouse of wealth, especially while the U.S. Dollar continues to weaken and other traditional mediums are providing lackluster results. Some investors are amassing diverse portfolios of coins, based upon rarity rather than type or denomination. Most coin buyers would fit a combination of these profiles.
Our weak dollar has prompted another group to take a position in U.S. coins: the foreign investor. The dollar’s favorable exchange rate has both Europeans and Asians buying U.S. goods that they view as inexpensive. Coins are no exception. Numismatic items such as rare Morgan Dollars, low-pop dated gold and even high-end U.S. currency are leaving the country to foreign investors. Many of these buyers, both domestic and foreign, have deep pockets and long-term holding power. Consequently, many numismatic treasures are going off of the market, most of which will not be seen again for decades. 
Even in the face of uncertain economic times, the coin market has retained most of its strength. Many U.S. series continue to see significant activity. Copper coinage of all forms remains red hot! Recent auction results for Large and Half Cents show that buyers will ignore all relative pricing information when the right coin surfaces. Lincoln Cents continue to be strong, as collectors anxiously anticipate the centennial of the design next year. Early U.S. type remains especially active. Collectors are learning just how difficult accurately graded, unmolested early coinage can be to find. Morgan Dollars also show strength, with key and semi-key dates disappearing into collections. Pre-1933 gold is catching the allure of buyers, as the run in bullion has generated renewed interest in numismatic issues. Many rare date gold pieces continue to see monthly price increases. 
As for precious metals, prices continue to fluctuate up and down depending on the nature of the day’s economic news.   As of this edition, Gold spot price is $880.80 per ounce, silver spot at $16.59 per ounce and platinum spot at $2004.50 per ounce. These levels are up slightly from the prices in our last Insider’s Edge. Precious metals are being supported by the continuance of record energy prices, the lack of consumer confidence in the U.S. Dollar and a tentative worldwide economy. Some recent gains in the Dollar against foreign currencies have kept price advances in check. The news that the Federal Reserve has likely made its last interest rate cut, and may even increase rates by year’s end, has also placed downward pressure on precious metals. Summer tends to be a slow time for markets in general, with more active trading occurring during the fall. One personal observation about the precious metal’s market is that there seems to be more buyers of physical metals at present than sellers. We are still selling gold and silver to those who believe the pullbacks in spot prices are temporary. The upcoming month should be interesting.
The next major event for the coin market is the ANA Convention in Baltimore, held from July 29th to August 2nd. Dealers are anticipating a strong show with hopes that there will be fresh numismatic material to purchase. Collectors and investors are preparing their want lists with the same hopes. Fresh, PQ coins will be the order of the day, but they won’t come cheap. One only needs to view the results of the recent Teletrade PCGS Old Green Holder Auction to see the staggering prices realized for this type of material. The ANA Convention often provides an excellent venue for the reappearance of coins that have been off the market for some time. The success of the ANA will likely provide a strong indication for the direction of the rare coin market. 
Exposing The Myths
By: Rob Lehmann
“With the economy softening, I don’t feel that this is a good time to be buying coins.”
To begin, you may pay a bit too much for your coins, even in a downward market cycle. Most of us are not lucky enough to catch the market bottom, when prices truly are at their cheapest. However, using this conventional wisdom, you definitely will pay too much for your coins in an upward cycle. And unfortunately, that’s exactly when most folks choose to do their buying.
Quite a few people have become wealthy or increased their wealth through rare coin investing. But, it’s definitely not a no-brainer. If you look at the profile of these successful investors, one characteristic stands out almost without fail. The prudent coin investor will almost always be a contrarian. When the masses are buying, they are selling. And when the market nears its bottom, that same investor is buying. It’s the old law of buy low-sell high. It sounds so simple. So then, why do so many would-be investors struggle with this principle?
The argument could be made that now is NOT a good time to invest in anything. Gas is at an all time high. Our national debt is at a staggering 9 trillion dollars and rising. The U.S. dollar is weak, and goods and services are more expensive then ever. The upcoming election does not seem to be providing any answers. Consequently, the American consumer’s confidence and outlook are both poor. Have I given you enough reasons NOT to buy coins right now? If so, discontinue reading, close this email and go wallow in your sorrows. But, I would bet the contrarian coin investor is looking at all of the aforementioned negatives and thinking, “Herein lies opportunity”.
Inflation historically comes in tandem with high oil prices. Anybody who believes that we are not in inflationary times has their head in the sand. My guess is that inflation will only worsen before it improves. The good news is, inflation has not impacted the coin market. Coin values have not spiked during the “oil crisis”. Although your dollar is buying you less and less at the gas pump, it is not buying you any less in the rare coin market. I also mentioned the national debt. Do any of our readers have any concept of how much money 9 trillion dollars is? On average, if every American owned an equal share of this debt, it would come to about $31,000.00 per person. With interest on our debt accruing at over $1 billion per day and no end in sight, the savvy coin investor understands the necessity of an offset. The U.S. dollar has weakened considerably, and many believe that it will continue to do so. Examining the effects of this, several observations come to mind: 1) A weak dollar has lured European and Asian investors to the U.S. markets. It’s only a matter of time before these investors impact the coin market by putting constraints on the current supply. This will inevitably drive coin prices up. 2) The dollar is buying less and less. Some economists are predicting that our dollar could be worth 50% less by this time next year. If you subscribe to this thinking, then your dollar may buy only ½ of the coins next year that it can buy today. 3) As the national debt continues to rise, so will our liability as Americans to pay it down. This could likely translate into higher taxes. Coins are one of the few investment mediums that the U.S. government doesn’t either value, monitor or tax. Until you disperse of your coins, there is no profit, and consequently no capital gains. This has always been one of the allures of rare coin investing. In these tumultuous times, this line of reasoning makes more sense then ever. The upcoming election does not appear to provide any answers either. The one word I have not heard come out of either candidate’s mouth is downsizing. Until Washington gets control of our spending, this situation is only going to exasperate itself. Again, if you believe like I believe that goods will continue to become more expensive and the dollar will continue to buy less, then now really is the time to buy your rare coins.
Let’s get away from all of the economic conditions that support a contrarian approach, and examine some historical models. Consider some of the more successful coin investors, in particular John Pittman and John Ford. John Pittman comprised a world-class collection on a working man’s salary. How did he do it? Without getting into a lot of particulars, Pittman stayed away from many of the mainstream U.S. series, favoring amongst other things esoteric U.S coins, world coins, medals and high-end exonumia. Never compromising quality, he would always seek out the highest grade that he could afford. He did his due diligence, set a budget and then waited for the right opportunity. Quite like Pittman, Ford amassed a legendary collection by going against the grain. Some areas of the Ford collection that stood out were his colonials, tokens and obsolete paper money-all areas that were both under collected and underpriced when he acquired them. If I had the time, I could cite other individual examples of successful coin investors, and the one common denominator that would resonate throughout that group is their contrarian nature.
I am not trying to implore a sense of urgency, as much as to impress that favorable conditions for coin investing exist right now. To overlook the opportunities that the current market affords the would-be investor could be a costly mistake. Great coins are available at very reasonable prices-prices that I feel may appear cheap in the very near future. I realize that the naysayers are preaching just the opposite, so I will leave you with this question to ponder. If John Pittman and John Ford were both still alive today, do you think that they would presently be buying rare coins? My bet is that both of their checkbooks would be in overdrive!
Blue Chip Picks
By: Robbie Jenkins
Barber Quarters have the appeal of being a tough, yet complete-able series, for the collector with both patience and a sufficient budget. Collecting this set can vary in difficultly, depending on one’s goals. Advanced collectors understand the extreme difficulty in completing sets of problem free coins in middle circulated grades. With the exception of the later-date Philadelphia issues and the 1915-16 mint marked pieces, it is possible to walk an entire coin show bourse floor without finding a single problem-free, high-grade, circulated example.   Normally when one thinks of rare Barber Quarters, the 1896-S, 1901-S and 1913-S come to mind. This group includes two of the lowest mintage coins from the 20 th century. Not surprisingly, these dates also have the highest valuations. However, there are other coins in the series that have been ignored and overshadowed by “the big three.” One such date is the 1901-O.
The 1901-O is one of the surprising dates in the Barber Quarter series. Although available in lower grades, this date is especially elusive in grades from XF-40 through MS-63. The 1901-O probably saw heavy circulation upon its release. 
With an original mintage of over 1.6 million, the 1901-O has a lower than average mintage for the series. At the same time, the mintage would seem adequate enough to make the coin more available than it actually is. In fact, there are 25 other dates in the Barber Quarter series that have lower mintages than the 1901-O. This coin’s rarity may surprise some general collectors, though it has always been recognized by the serious Barber Quarter enthusiasts.
The typical 1901-O exhibits striking weakness, especially evident on the reverse. Perhaps this caused many of the circulated examples to wear prematurely. When a mint state example is located, the surfaces range from satiny to fully lustrous. 
Let’s examine the mintage of the 1901-O quarter compared to other Barber Quarter rarities, as well as some popular 20th century key dates. 
Mintages of Key Date Coins
1901-O Barber Quarter
1901-S Barber Quarter
1913-S Barber Quarter
1909-S Indian Cent
1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent
1916-D Mercury Dime
1916 Standing Liberty Quarter
1932-D Washington Quarter
1921-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar
1921-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar
In the above group, the 1901-O Quarter seems downright common. The 2nd highest mintage coin of this group is the 1921-S Half Dollar, and it had only 1/3 of the mintage of the 1901-O Quarter.  In fact, the 1913-S Barber Quarter’s mintage was about 40 times less than that of the 1901-O. However, this illustrates an important lesson about rarity: mintage is not everything. Mintage is but only one reference point. A more important factor is the survival rate of the coin. Was a particular issue heavily saved or largely ignored by collectors upon its release? Did some event cause some or all of a coin’s mintage to not be released by the U.S. Mint? As may be the case of the 1899 Morgan Dollar, could a mintage figure have been inaccurately reported?
In the case of the 1901-O Barber Quarter, a number of factors contribute to its rarity. As mentioned above, most of the entire mintage entered into circulation upon release. As most turn-of-the-century numismatists collected by date rather than mintmark, the higher-mintage 1901-P quarter proved to be a more available space filler. When collectors did start recognizing the rarity of dates from specific mints, the 1901-O was certainly overshadowed by the rare 1901-S Quarter, as well as several other lower mintage Barber Quarters. A general disinterest in the Barber design may have also contributed to its low survival rate.
To illustrate the point of survival rate, let’s now compare the combined PCGS and NGC populations of the 1901-O Barber Quarter to the same group of coins discussed previously. 
Populations of Key Date Coins
F-VF Population
MS60-63 Population
MS64+ Population
1901-O Barber Quarter
1901-S Barber Quarter
1913-S Barber Quarter
1909-S Indian Cent
1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent
1916-D Mercury Dime
1916 Standing Liberty Quarter
1932-D Washington Quarter
1921-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar
1921-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar
The preceding numbers show just how low the survival rate of 1901-O Barber Quarter is compared to other popular 20th century key dates.  1901-O Quarters in MS-60-63 are nearly 100 times as rare at 1909-S VDB Lincolns!   In XF and AU condition, there are less 1901-O Quarters graded than 1901-S Quarters. I must admit that this even surprised me. According to population numbers, the 1901-O is somewhat tougher in Mint State condition than the low-mintage1913-S Quarter.   The 1901-O has only 1/3 of the MS-64+ population of the 1921-S Walking Liberty Half, an expensive rarity in Mint State condition. One could make a host of other favorable comparisons for the 1901-O Barber Quarter by studying the NGC/PCGS population reports further. 
Now, let’s examine some pricing information on the 1901-O Barber Quarter. Using the June, 2008 CDN Greysheet Monthly Summary, we will compare wholesale bids for our same group of coins. Consider the grades XF-40, AU-50, MS-63 and MS-65.
CDN Greysheet Wholesale Bids for Key Date Coins
1901-O Barber Quarter
1901-S Barber Quarter
1913-S Barber Quarter
1909-S Indian Cent
1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent
1916-D Mercury Dime
1916 Standing Liberty Quarter
1932-D Washington Quarter
1921-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar
1921-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar
There are some intriguing comparisons to make if one combines population and pricing information. As stated, the 1901-O Quarter has a population of 100 times less than the 1909-S VDB in grades from MS-60-MS-63. Yet, according to the Greysheet, they are less valuable than the 1909-S VDB Lincoln in both MS-60 and MS-63 condition.   Both PCGS and NGC have graded 8 1901-O Quarters MS-63, and only 11 MS-65. By comparison, they have graded 40 MS-63 1921-S Halves and 25 MS-65 coins. Yet, the 1921-S half is priced about 20 times higher than the 1901-O Quarter in both grades. Even when compared to the 1901-S and 1913-S Barber Quarters, the 1901-O seems way undervalued in relation to the graded population. 
Using population and pricing analysis for the purpose of making comparisons and isolating undervalued coins is not an exact science. For starters, the population reports provide only an estimation for survival rates. Some coins are collected uncertified to a greater extent than others. Population figures are also skewed by resubmissions.  There are also intangibles that influence price. Coins like the 1909-S VDB Cent and 1916 Quarter are recognized keys to widely-collected series. Regardless of higher relative populations, they will always command strong prices.
With that aside, I would still argue that this coin is undervalued, both when compared to other dates within the series and when compared to popular 20 th century keys. Considering how infrequently 1901-O Quarters surface, I believe that they would be a great coin to put back and hold. Eventually, the numismatic community will catch wind of this date’s rarity.
The last high-grade 1901-O that came to auction was an NGC MS-65 example from February of 2008. That coin sold for $4,313, indicating that it is possible to purchase a gem example at the published price levels. I would personally focus on finding a few examples in the Extremely Fine to MS-63 range, although expect to pay a premium for these popular grades. The posted price levels of about $400 -$1,700 seem unrealistically cheap. 
In summation, I believe that the 1901-O Barber Quarter is an undervalued sleeper with significant growth potential, making it this month’s Blue Chip Pick
Find Me One!
By: Rob Lehmann
As our 5th issue of The Insider’s Edge is preparing to go to print, I ponder whether this column should be re-titled “The Futile Search”. Not surprisingly, no one has yet come forth and found any of my first four challenges. Frank Katen, a former dealer and one of my childhood mentors, used to say that when the thrill of the search is over, its time to move on and collect something else. So, for the time being, I stay committed to my task and present to you the fifth of our numismatic challenges-this month’s selection, the surprisingly elusive mint state 1851 Seated Liberty Half Dollar.
You do not need to reread that last sentence. I did not say the 1851 Liberty Seated Dollar, as that is far too obvious a choice. Rather, I chose its more esoteric sibling that is not nearly as heralded, but almost equally as rare. Interestingly, when I tried to research the reasons for this, I found almost no available reference materials, not just on 1851 Half Dollars, but Seated Half Dollars in general. With that revelation, is it any wonder that this date has been flying under the radar?
The 1851 Seated Liberty Half Dollar had an original mintage of 200,750. This number was comparable to its slightly more-common 1850 predecessor but much higher than the 77,130 pieces for its 1852 successor. Ironically, the 1851 in uncirculated grades is still scarcer than the elusive 1852. There are no concrete theories of why this date is so rare, however there are some things we definitely do know: 1) No high-grade groups of this date have ever surfaced. In 150+ years, there has never been an original roll. 2) The date doesn’t seem to have been saved by collectors from the era. They apparently preferred the more-available 1851-O for their date sets. Remember, collecting coins by mintmark largely started half of a century later. 3) With the advent of third party grading, we can further substantiate this date’s rarity. PCGS and NGC combined have graded just 41 pieces mint state. On average, that’s only one coin from each grading service per year. And, this reported number probably includes some resubmissions, suggesting a smaller number yet!
Auction appearances provide more proof of rarity. Since 1995, there have been exactly 18 appearances of uncirculated 1851 Half Dollars, an average of just over 1 coin per year. This includes four raw pieces cataloged and sold by Stack’s as BU. Two of these coins came out of the Queller Family Collection Sale from October, 2002. This is the only documented occasion when multiple examples of this date have ever been offered in a single sale.
For some curious reason, 1851 Half Dollars do not seem to sell for a lot of money relative to other coins of similar rarity. In August, 2006 ANR sold a PCGS graded MS-63 specimen for $4,255.00. More recently, in May, 2008 Heritage Numismatic Auctions sold a PCGS graded MS-64 piece for $9,755.00. Although these pieces were not cheap, they were nonetheless grossly underpriced relative to other coins of similar scarcity. Just look at the 1893-S Morgan Dollar and the 1921 $20.00 Saint Gaudens in uncirculated grades. Both of these pieces have six figure price tags associated with them even in basil mint state grades and approach seven figures in grades over MS-65. Both pieces also boast PCGS/NGC populations higher than our under-appreciated subject coin.
If after reading this you’re still not convinced, then go ahead and Find Me One! And for those of you that take solstice in hard numbers, I will pay 50% over the published CDN Quarterly prices for any PCGS or NGC graded example regardless of appearance. Needless to say, a premium quality example, should one even exist, would be worth more and probably significantly more.
When I conceived this column five months ago, I didn’t hold my breath that I would buy any coins. However, that doesn’t make the prospect of buying one of these underappreciated rarities any less interesting. And who knows, this month I could end up owning an elusive 1851 Half Dollar. Now, how bad is that? 
Al Adams is a well-known name in the numismatic hobby. Al has operated a full time coin business since 1968. He specializes in U.S. Gold, and in particular, coins from the Charlotte and Dahlonega mints. This specialization led to the formation of his present company, Gold Rush Gallery. Al assembled the famous “Gold Rush Collection”, which included two counterstamped Brasher Doubloons, the John Jay Pittman 1833 and 1835 $5 gold proofs, as well as many other great rarities. The collection realized nearly fifteen million dollars when auctioned by Heritage Galleries in January, 2005. Al is a true ambassador of the hobby and stresses the need for numismatic education. He has been kind enough to share some of his experiences and insight with The Insider’s Edge. We hope that you enjoy this month’s interview with Al Adams.
Insider’s Edge (IE): How did you get started in numismatics?
Al Adams (AA): I actually started collecting in 1963 when I was working toward my Boy Scout Coin Collecting Merit Badge. My dad and I then collected together for years, searching bank rolls during the 1960s. It grew out of this hobby and I never got over it. 
IE:   How did you convert numismatics into your business?
AA: It’s the only thing that I have ever done. Out of our collecting, Dad and I opened a coin shop in 1968 in Gainesville, Georgia. It was located on Washington Street, two blocks away from where Templeton Reid privately minted his Georgia gold. The shop had revolving showcases with coins and all of the supplies for collectors. We slowly built up a customer base, providing coins from many series to our customers. However, because we were located so close to Dahlonega, we always loved southern U.S. gold and tended to study that.
Today, there are not that many brick and mortar shops. I have had retail coin shops in the past, but now I operate out of an office. My last shop was about 6 years ago. I had a good staff, with friendly, trustworthy people. But, they were not collectors and did not have a numismatic foundation.  
IE: Your name is still associated with the Gold Rush Collection. What was your role in assembling this collection? What were your customer’s goals?
AA: The Gold Rush Collection was built for an unnamed client. We worked together on it for about 15-20 years. The collection was a product of evolution. The individual began by buying rolls of Stone Mountain Commemoratives and generic $20 gold coins. The collection then evolved into a complete set of Charlotte and Dahlonega gold that I helped him build. After years, he eventually lost interest in that set. Then we decided to begin building a complete U.S. gold mint state and proof set. 
After 10 years, it was a great set, set but not quite complete. We were missing about 12 coins. He decided to auction the collection, and I consigned it to Heritage. In January of 2005, the Gold Rush Collection sold at the F.U.N. Convention. 
One thing that helped with assembling this collection was that the customer and I were real good friends. He never came to my office or attended a coin show. I would always take coins to him. I knew what he liked. He liked quality coins and good value. In his office he had a small sign on his desk with a simple phrase: “I Like the Finest.” It wasn’t always easy assembling this set. His eye for quality resulted in the rejection of some of my offerings to him. But, we were able to acquire some of the nicest coins around for the collection. 
IE:  Prior to the Gold Rush Collection, I can’t recall the 2 different Brasher Doubloons (Name on wing, Name on breast) ever being together at one time. Can you tell us a little about how you acquired the two Brasher Doubloons?
AA: The only other collector to own both of the Doubloons was John Work Garrett, of the famed Garrett/Johns Hopkins collection. I purchased the unique EB on breast counterstamped coin from Jay Parrino. Somewhat surprisingly, just a few weeks later, I was able to purchase the EB on wing counterstamped example, the other from Parrino and Don Kagin, who had partnered the coin. This piece was the Yale Specimen, which had previously been auctioned by Stack’s. 
It was quite an experience for me to find placement for both of these famed coins.
IE: What single coin out of the Gold Rush Collection stands out as your personal favorite? Why?
AA: There were sixty five coins or so in the collection that brought a little over fifteen million dollars. They sold for an average of over two hundred thousand dollars each. So, many of the coins were outstanding. It is difficult to single out one. The Brashers of course; the unique one, of course, stands out.
I always loved the two (John Jay) Pittman Proof classic $5 gold coins. The 1833 and the 1835 both look like liquid gold in your hand. The 1835 PF-67 example, previously pedigreed to Randall, Parmelee, Farouk and Pittman is just stunning. Plus, it has such a well known and distinguished pedigree. When I originally purchased this pair of coins at auction, David Akers was on the podium and said that he had to have visitation rights for both coins.
Another coin that I loved was the 1839/8 Type of 1838 $10. When I first saw this coin, it took my breath away. Normally, with the Gold Rush Collection, I would get coins on consignment and then show them to my customer. I loved this coin so much that I paid $500,000 for it and immediately bought it outright. It was just absolutely amazing. Then, when I offered it to my customer, he passed on it. I was dangling in the wind with the coin for about a year. That was a large coin to have to inventory for about a year. My customer eventually decided to purchase the coin, but I lost a little on the coin. David Hall bought it at the Gold Rush Sale and paid strongly for it.
IE:   Can you tell us about your affection for 1861 Dahlonega Gold? The date and mint are prominent in your advertisements, phone numbers, etc
AA: 1861 is just a magical year for Dahlonega collectors. It is the year that Civil War started and the year that the mint closed.
The 1861 Dahlonega $1 and $5 are highly sought after. If I had a time machine, I believe I would go back to the mint in the beginning1861. A lot was changing. The mint would close only a few months later. This was a major turning point in the history of the country. 
IE:   With the advent of the internet and the growth of major auction houses, what important roles do dealers still provide for the collector or investor?
AA: Dealers will always be valuable to collectors. More and more collectors can buy for themselves. However, good, knowledgeable dealers always earn their commission. They don’t always make collectors a lot of money, but they do save them a lot from making expensive mistakes. You just can’t get around many years of experience that most dealers have.
A good place to learn is at shows. Dealers who work shows constantly gain loads of experience. I encourage collectors to go to shows. Talk to people and look at as many coins as possible. Between attending shows and participating in events like the ANA’s Summer Seminar program, one has the opportunity to talk and network with dealers.   Just working with knowledgeable collectors and dealers is very beneficial.
IE:  What advice do you have for the individual looking to invest in today’s rare coin market?
AA: I use the old adage of buy the book, then the coin. Join a coin club. Build a library of numismatic reference material. Go to shows.  Learn as much as possible.
It is important that collectors be in the hobby for awhile and learn. Then, they should focus on an area or two. One should have a collecting strategy rather than simply throwing darts at a wall.   A hobbyist should work to go from accumulator to collector.
As a beginner, when purchasing higher valued coins over a few hundred dollars each, buy certified coins by PCGS or NGC. Then, continue developing a good eye until you can buy the coin, not the holder. Work to train your own eye so that you can recognize differences in coins that are graded the same by a grading service. 
Look for above average to premium quality coins when making purchases. I am really excited about the new company that John Albanese has formed, the Collectors Acceptance Corporation or CAC. I am presently trying hard to buy CAC coins and submitting some coins to them as well.
IE:  You have been around to see the advent of Third Party Grading. In your opinion, how have the grading services impacted the coin market?
AA: The grading services have tremendously impacted the market, mostly for the good. Prior to PCGS and NGC, this business was often like the foxes guarding the hen house. It was similar to Meryl Lynch grading their own bonds. Certification has removed much of the product risk, but not the market risk. NGC has done a good job, but is somewhat disappointing on dated gold. 
On generic gold and commemorative coins, the two services are very close in grading. On dated gold, PCGS is stricter. We buy coins in both holders. But, we don’t buy sight unseen. 
We don’t like buying recycled coins at auction. New collectors come into market building Dahlonega and Charlotte sets. They often buy a holder at first, then become more sophisticated. Collectors should buy what they like and get a second opinion from a dealer because quality does count! 
IE:  Many great coins in today’s marketplace have become very expensive. What coin or series do you believe is still undervalued in today’s market?
AA:  I think there are several examples. One area that I like a lot is the Classic Silver Commemorative series. They have gone down, down, down and are at a stupid cheap point presently. I have continued to see minus signs, thinking that they will soon rebound. They are a great series, displaying the history of our country. There are many nice books written about them. We have been working to build 50 commemorative sets and have built and sold a few. It is a great series. 
The other interesting thing to consider is the surprising difficulty of building a 50 piece Commemorative set with white or near white surfaces. Assembling this set in NGC or PCGS holders in nicely matched condition is not easy. This series is prone to toning, which can be very popular, or can turn people off. I would estimate that about a third to a half of the nice surviving Commemoratives are toned medium to dark. Some are plain ugly. Just focusing on a white or near white set is challenging. The 50 and 144 piece sets look nice when they have a similar look to them.
As for other areas, Morgan Dollars are waking up again. The rare ones in high grade are still expensive, but the whole series is waking up. Early type is especially hot at present and is always on our want lists. However, it is especially difficult to purchase at present, as most of the nice coins go directly to auction.
IE:   Do you have any further comments that you would like to share with our readers?
AA: You have covered most of the important areas with your questions. I would encourage people to get really involved in the hobby. Read as much as possible and learn to look at coins. Figure out what you are interested in collecting and just enjoy the hobby. 
I got involved by attending one of the first ANA Summer Seminars in 1972. I took the counterfeit detection seminar and was drilled for an entire week. It was a really big experience. I have since been an expert witness in counterfeit detection for courts, post offices and other groups.
IE: Thank you for your time.
Personalized Investment Portfolio
If you like what you have been reading in the Insider’s Edge and want to build a personal rare coin portfolio, we strongly urge you to contact us at The Reeded Edge. Our firm specializes in structuring personalized numismatic portfolios, targeting the same type of coins that we have been reporting in this publication.
The last fifteen years have witnessed the rare coin market outperforming virtually every other investment medium. The good news is that this market continues to be very bullish. Great numismatic opportunities still exist, if you know where to find them. The professionals at The Reeded Edge have over 25 years of experience, helping people just like you, acquire world-class coins.
Please call Robbie Jenkins today for your free personalized consultation @ 301-724-0400, or email him at
We would like to thank you for taking the time to read The Insider’s Edge. If you ever have comments or inquiries about The Insider’s Edge, rare coin investment questions, or are looking to begin building your own numismatic portfolio, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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