This is starting to feel like the new normal, as coin shows are resuming with more regularity. We professed from Day 1 of the pandemic that this too would pass. We did not believe for a minute that COVID was going to redefine how we lived our lives, at least not on a permanent basis. We just added 2 more shows to our Summer list including Summer FUN and the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money. This week, we will be attending our largest post-COVID show to date, as Rob and Robbie head south to the Georgia-Tennessee border for The Georgia Numismatic Association’s Annual Coin Show in Dalton, GA. Several hundred dealers will be packing the room for what should be 3 active days of numismatic trading. Although Georgia still requires their vendors and facility employees to don masks, the public attendees’ requirement has been lifted, a sign of what’s to come at more and more future public events. Admittedly, COVID has instilled the fear of God in many people. But just as many are ready to move on and get on with their lives. Here at The Reeded Edge, our plight is a common one with other dealers across the country; we are selling three coins for every one that we buy, and our inventory levels are anemic. We need coin shows, and did not fully appreciate their impact to our supply chain until there were none. Both Rob and Robbie are thrilled to see this trend finally reversing, and the guys are really looking forward to all of their upcoming shows with great anticipation and expectation. If the small Battlefield Coin Show in Gettysburg was any indication last week of what’s to come, the guys have good reason to be excited. The good news was that they returned from Gettysburg with almost 8 double row boxes of inventory. The worse news is that one week later they are right back to their pre-Gettysburg inventory levels. The appetite for coins right now is tremendous, and quite honestly even WITH coin shows, it may continue to prove challenging to keep up. On the surface, this would look like a good problem to have, but as an old business mentor reminded us, you can’t sell from an empty wagon. Hopefully, next week the shelves will be restocked….at least long enough to get us through until the PAN show in May. Perhaps, Dalton will be in your plans for this coming weekend. If so, be sure to stop by The Reeded Edge’s booth (#908 & 910) and say hello to Rob and Robbie. Familiar coin show faces are really like an extended family to us, and it will be great to see each and every one of you once again.
The Battlefield Coin Show in Gettysburg, PA is firmly establishing itself as a solid regional show. The combination of the historical lure of The Gettysburg battlefield combined with pent-up demand from COVID restrictions resulted in an active and productive show last weekend. This show seems to get progressively bigger and better with age. Thursday, dealer trading was brisk. The room was equally active and crowded when the general public arrived on Friday, making for a very busy two days. Although Saturday saw a drop-off in both attendance and overall business, it was by no means slow. Rob and Robbie both were pleasantly surprised at the number and attitude of the attendees. In general, most folks seem very positive about the state of the hobby and the coin market. The guys returned from Gettysburg with almost 8 double-row boxes of inventory, more coins than they originally brought to the show. Those of you that have followed our blogs throughout the pandemic know how starved for material the dealer community has been. It was obvious to the guys that with the resumption of more coin shows, that this problem should quickly resolve itself. It’s a good thing too, as coins continue to disappear almost as quickly as they are listed for sale. We are optimistic that next week’s GNA Coin Show in Dalton, GA will be equally robust. This is a well run venue located in a collector hub of the deep south. As one dealer aptly put it, Dalton seldom disappoints. This should prove especially true given the current market conditions, Hopefully, Dalton is on your radar for next week, as the guys would love to see you at this upcoming show!
This is beginning to sound like a broken record, but the facts are the facts. No embellishment is needed to surmise the current market condition. The numismatic market is starved for material, as coin shortages continue. Will the resumption of several upcoming shows resolve this? We can only speak from experience, and the few shows that we have recently attended, did temporarily boost our inventory levels….but only temporarily. We need coin shows on a regular basis, to have any chance whatsoever of maintaining the number of coins in inventory that we had become accustomed to, prior to the onset of COVID. There is hope that this day is not far off, and we remain optimistic that we will soon return to our old normal.
Speaking of coin shows, The Reeded Edge returns to the road from April 1 to April 3 to attend The Battlefield Coin Show in Gettysburg, PA. This show has developed into a nice regional venue with a good mix of local mid-Atlantic dealers. You never know who will show up at Gettysburg, or what type of coins might walk in the door. Rob and Robbie are both optimistic that the pent-up energy resulting from months of COVID dormancy will result in an active and productive coin show. The guys will be at their regular booth located right inside the front entrance. If you are considering selling any of your numismatic holdings, please consider offering them to the guys. The Reeded Edge remains extremely aggressive about buying coins, especially fresh off-of-the market deals. We don’t believe anybody in Gettysburg will pay more for the right coins. We certainly hope to see all of our friends this weekend. Gettysburg is a great historical area to visit, and it’s even more-so interesting, when there is a coin show also in the mix!
These are unbelievable times, the kind that novels are written about and movies are made of. It is counterintuitive to believe that any business could thrive in the midst of a global pandemic, and even crazier to think that hobbyists would be spending unprecedented amounts of money when the economy is on the ropes. Would anybody believe that the financial markets would hit new highs during such a period, or that bitcoin could rise 2000% in value in a little over a year’s time? By the way, what exactly is a bitcoin? (…and don’t answer, “It’s a crypto currency”) Yes, these truly are unbelievable times, and there will certainly be some wild stories for future generations.
The coin market has been in lock-step with all of this insanity. It has been decades since we have been this starved for good numismatic material. Presently, sellers are in the driver’s seat, and until the coin shortages resolve themselves, we don’t see that situation changing. Here in the office, we just kind of chuckle when expectant offers are tendered. Almost like clockwork, those are the exact coins that sell elsewhere, usually soon after, and ALWAYS at our asking price. The wake up call is when we go to replace the sold coin, only to find that we must pay more for the replacement. We hesitate to use the term bull market, but we are certainly in an upward trending market, and the demand for coins (at least in the wholesale sector), is in fact, feverish. Predictably, silver dollars are at the forefront of this market activity. The greatly anticipated 2021 restrikes of the Morgan and Peace Dollars have much to do with this. But, dollars are not alone. Gold Double Eagles, the black sheep of the hobby just two short years ago, have experienced a renaissance. Both investors coveting their gold content, and value-minded collectors have propelled these beautiful coins back to the respect level that they rightly deserve. Type coins are also back in the spotlight, as are 20th century stalwarts like Walking Liberty Half Dollars, Standing Liberty Quarters and Buffalo Nickels. Small Cents have not missed a beat either, as their popularity is as great as ever. In short, most numismatic coins priced at true market levels, are in great demand, and have a short shelf life.
This conversation would not be complete without at least a mention of coin shows, and their return to the circuit. We have tried to keep our expectations tempered throughout the pandemic, but all signs now point to widespread business openings, including public events. We have maintained that COVID protocols have NOT become The New Normal. They have however served as a constant reminder to the absence of normalcy. For those that lost loved ones to COVID, this last year was much more than just uncomfortable, and our hearts and prayers go out to you. But, these dark days are passing, and better times are most certainly ahead. The resumption of shows will be giant morale booster for both the hobby and coin business. It’s easy to forget that there are two sides to our hobby, one of which is represented by the actual artifacts-the coins. The other side is the human element. Being able to interact with kindred spirits in a social atmosphere is the intangible that we sometimes forget about, until it is taken from us. It is going to be great to see all of our old friends at coin shows again, and on a regular and predictable basis. That day is now very close, and honestly, can not come soon enough!
Throughout the last year, we have worked harder than ever to keep new and interesting coins coming into our office. At times, this proved to be a challenge, but one that we were up for. This week, we have an array of material that really spans the numismatic horizon. Everything is represented from copper to gold, with an emphasis on two of our more popular areas, affordable collector coins and silver dollars. PLEASE–If you see any items of interest, we suggest that you get on the store, and place your order. Phone calls are fine, but as more and more of you are finding out, by the time the call is made, the coin, may be sold. Weekends are particularly problematic, as we are not always available to return calls promptly. Please bear in mind, all of the coins listed below also may be available for sale on our web-store, Collector’s Corner, Coin World, Numismatic News and/or eBay.
In closing, we want to thank each and every one of you for supporting us during what could have been a very difficult period. We hope to see you soon, and express our gratitude in person.
I just returned from a relaxing week of scuba diving in Roatan, Honduras. Ordinarily, I don’t discuss my vacations on a coin-related blog. But, we are not in ordinary times and there is a point to this diversion. One of my pre-trip requirements was a 72 hour negative COVID test. I couldn’t help but to think that I would constantly be reminded of the pandemic throughout the week, and actually second-guessed the timing of my vacation. To my pleasant surprise, the last reminder of COVID was when we deplaned in Roatan, and masks were no longer required. For an entire week, I interacted with kindred spirits from different destinations around the United States, and all without the restrictions of wearing a mask or social distancing. You see, everybody had been cleared to travel beforehand by submitting to a COVID test within 3 days of stepping onto an aircraft. Copies of the negative test were required by Honduras Immigration for entry into their country. In other words, once on the resort, we were in a vetted, safe zone. Then, it dawned on me. This is what normalcy feels like. It also hit me like a bolt of lightning that this day is not far off here in the states either. We all have been enduring some less-than-comfortable times in the name of public safety. As vaccinations and herd immunity both become the flavors of the day, this pandemic will become a thing of the past. It is only a matter of time before major coin shows take place again. It’s just a slightly more distant day before masks, distancing and bubble life also disappear in the rearview mirror. Can you imagine what it will feel like to move from table to adjacent table on a bourse floor without restriction? Personally, I relish the idea of de-masking, handling coins with out the requirement of sanitizing my hands, and most importantly, shaking the hand of the individual I just concluded business with. Enough with the fist bumps! I look equally forward to not signing disclaimers and waivers, as well as waving off the monitor taking temperatures at the show entrance. It’s almost hard to believe that just one year ago, we had these all of these freedoms. Then in an instant, they were gone.
Just yesterday, Governor Larry Hogan lifted many COVID restrictions in my home state of Maryland, leaving me cautiously optimistic that the fall Whitman Baltimore Coin Show should take place. But will this in fact be the first major show, or is that day coming even sooner? Both the ANA World’s Fair of Money and Summer FUN have given us reason for even more immediate hope. Regional shows have paved the way throughout the summer and fall months, and proven conclusively, that coin shows can safely happen, even in the midst of a global pandemic. So yes, my Roatan vacation gave me hope last week. I was reminded that COVID is not the new normal. More importantly, it was clearly evident that I was not alone in my quest to move forward. I’m sure that many of my numismatic friends would concur.
I retell this story often because of its poignancy. For those of you that have heard it, forgive my repetition. It goes like this. A senior collector urges his friend, a non-collector to attend a coin show with him. His friend is intrigued by the idea, and agrees. After a day of visiting dealers and fellow collectors, and of course conducting the requisite coin trading, the two leave the show. “So, what did you think?”, inquires the collector. “Well”, begins the non-collector. “That room quite honestly looked like a senior citizen’s convention. The only ones older than the dealers behind the tables were the collectors that they were servicing. I fear for your hobby, because if things don’t change, the future may be void of coin collectors and a coin hobby as a whole”. This actual conversation did take place (or one very similar to it) and it was reprinted in the American Numismatic Association’s publication The Numismatist…in the mid-1930’s! How does the old saying go? “The more things tend to change, the more things really stay the same.”
This leads me to my topic today. Are hobbies dead as we knew them? Has the thrill of collecting things been replaced by electronic mediums which have captivated today’s youth? I turned 61 last week. When I was a kid in the 1960s we collected everything: rocks, stamps, buttons, baseball cards, Matchbox cars and of course, coins. Objects…things…captivated our attention. They made us think and learn about their history. They made us remember facts and figures that were pertinent to their existence. And perhaps most importantly, they made us desire more things. To some extant, my whole generation were collectors. There was not internet, there were no video games, and we didn’t have cell phones. Distractions were at a minimum, and collecting was our way of life. Every small town had a coin shop or two. Bigger towns may have had a dozen. Large cities like D.C. and Baltimore had 50 or more coin shops each. Department stores like Gimbels, Woodward and Lothrop and Sears all had coin departments. But that was then, and times have changed. Today most towns are lucky to have a single coin shop, and larger cities may have half a dozen. Maybe the fella attending the coin show back in the 1930s wasn’t that far off base….or was he?
Our lifestyles are going through a transition, and its one that we obviously can’t ignore. We truly are in the midst of a technological revolution. Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded by it, whether it’s checking an app on our cellphones, fact-checking a resource on the internet, sending a text message or typing a story about hobbies on my laptop. It’s all around us, and without even realizing it, consumes our routines and lifestyles. So, have hobbies actually gone away, or are they just changing?
When growing up, my parents would take me to antique shows. They piqued my interest in collectibles, and served as a gateway to coin shows once I grew older. Today, those same shows have gone electronic, and now exist in a virtual format. Enter eBay. EBay was originally a platform invented in the 1990s by a handful of San Francisco area hobbyists who saw potential in an electronic trading medium for collectibles. Today, it is a behemoth of a marketplace, where a great percentage of trading secondhand goods takes place. Every mom, dad and child has sold something on eBay, and for many of us, it has also become an integral part of our business plans. My company is no different. We use eBay as a conduit to sell coins, currency and collectibles. We also use our web store, Collector’s Corner, Certified Coin Exchange and CDN Exchange to name a few others. The common denominators? These are all electronic platforms that didn’t exist a generation ago, and each has redefined how we do business. They have also redefined how this generation collects. My title to this discussion is Are Hobbies Dead?, so let me focus on that question for the moment.
As of 9:00 this morning, I observed 1,092,311 unique listings on eBay for United States Coins, 1,507,986 unique listings for United States Stamps and a staggering 17,585,445 unique listings for Baseball Cards. Mind you, these numbers don’t include world coins, currency, bullion, world stamps, football cards or non-sports cards, just to name a few other related areas. Suffice to say, the number of collectibles just being offered for sale on eBay is enormous. Consider that there are many secondary trading platforms to eBay that also market millions of collectibles, and it’s plainly obvious that collecting is not dead, or even on life support. Collecting appears to be thriving. What has changed is how we collect. Quite honestly, this aspect is not unique to collecting, but is indicative of a wholesale transformation of our lifestyles. When I need something in my office, I seldom stop my work day to hop in my car and go to a store. I can just as easily access those same goods on Amazon with just a couple of keystrokes. Delivery occurs within a day or two without me ever leaving my desk. Convenience is one obvious biproduct of technology.
So, what does the future hold for hobbies in the midst of a technological revolution? I believe that this raises an even more compelling question, and that is, what does the technological revolution offer for the future of our hobbies? The answers are several, each one very important in its own right. For starters, the internet marketplace breeds competition. Competition is vital to keeping service at a high level and prices down. Secondly, the internet offers information and answers, both in real time. There is no amount of data, history or background that can’t be accessed in a moment. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the internet allows us to network. We can find like-minded collectors, chatrooms, message boards and real-time virtual functions which allow us to expand our collecting horizons in almost unlimited directions. Technology really is our friend, and represents the future of our respective hobby.
By now, it should be plainly obvious that hobbies are not dead. Human beings by nature are inquisitive and nostalgic. Artifacts from an era gone by will always garner our attention, and especially so now, when their history is easier to research and their availability is more accessible than ever. Coins, stamps and baseball cards have not gone away. Nor have most other stalwart hobbies with a solid collector foundation. Instead of opening the yellow pages to “C” and looking for coin shops, we now go to our computer and type a web address, and quite honestly, that’s not a bad thing!
All of the previous weeks’ blogs where we hypothesized that numismatic activity was somehow tied to bullion, lost validity this week. Metals were for the most part vacillating between flat to bearish for the better part of the week, with some sell-offs and weakening premiums both evident. Numismatic coins however defied that trend. The phones were as busy as any week in the last quarter, with our inventory boxes all getting emptier. As fast as a new deals would come in the front door, orders would outpace them out the back door. This really has become a numismatic seller’s market. That’s provided of course that a seller can muster up enough coins to keep this process going. It’s been a challenge, and perhaps no more so, than in the last two weeks. As we have stated on numerous occasions, coin show are integral to our supply chain. In an average year, they account for almost 40% of the coins that we purchase. But this last year has been anything but average. With the level of activity right now, we dealers are in dire need of coin shows. Hopefully, these become a regular part of our routine again soon.
Speaking of coin shows, we do have several hopefuls on the horizon, and could be filling in some dates soon on our Coin Show Schedule. Tentatively, both the upcoming Tennessee State Show and The Central States Numismatic Convention both look to be green-lighted. But then, we have built up expectations on numerous occasions over the last several months, only to see a show cancelled at the last minute. So, we are going to refrain from using the word definite until we see a more convincing trend. COVID is still a very fluid situation, and although there is great reason for optimism on the horizon, we are not there yet. We do firmly believe that at some point this year we will see the regular resumption of coin shows, and a sense of normalcy return to all of our lives. That day can not come soon enough!
Not for a second did we believe that the Reddit/Robinhood renegade young traders were going to commandeer the silver market like they successfully had done with a bankrupt game retailer. That nonetheless didn’t stopped the public from jumping on the silver bandwagon two weeks ago, when the metals markets opened feverishly up on Monday morning. Within a day, the euphoria had worn off. Silver prices went into a subsequent nose dive before they stabilized later in the week. What didn’t subside was the demand for physical silver. Gold’s pattern followed suit. Refineries were backed up 4 weeks or more. The U.S. Mint announced delays in delivery of both gold and silver Eagles, not for days or weeks, but months. It didn’t take long for premiums on physical gold and silver, IN ALL FORMATS, to balloon. We heard of one ounce silver Eagles being advertised for as a high as $50 (or almost double melt) by a leading metals marketer. Knowing that the supply shortages would eventually resolve themselves, these high premiums, on the surface, were nothing short of insanity. But, there may be more to this story. It appears that what market investors were betting on, was a stratospheric rise in the price of metals before the physical supply became sufficient. Precious metals turned from a market based on fundamentals, to one driven by supply shortages and speculation. The obvious question becomes, how long will this sustain?
More importantly, what is the relationship of heightened demand for precious metals to the rare coin market? Our offices have noticed an uptick in virtually every sector of our business. From pure numismatic coins to intrinsic bullion-related material, the newfound demand is across-the-board. Our inventory levels are at their lowest point in several years, while orders are coming in at an unprecedented pace. This has kept us all working around the clock trying to find fresh new deals of coins from both our collector base and dealer trading network. This is by all measures a seller’s market. Buyers who try to negotiate for a lower price or procrastinate on a purchase, are more times than not, walking away with an empty plate. We have done a one-eighty on our inventory philosophy, putting more value on coins and live inventory than a fat checking account balance. The velocity of sales has assured us of positive cash flow, but the shortage of coins remains a constant challenge. We are continuing to keep out heads above water as the shelves stay stocked, albeit not at the levels we would ultimately would hope for. As one of our colleagues recently noted, “Coins are so easy to sell right now, why do I need a lot of money sitting in my bank account?” We concur.
This week, we purchased a sizable silver dollar group, dozens of pieces of numismatic gold and several collector deals including a small cent collection. One would think that this was a pretty good week for buying (which it was). The sad truth is, by the time that you read this, well over half of the aforementioned coins will be gone. Until the resumption of regular coin shows, this may become a reoccurring theme. Rest assured, we at The Reeded Edge won’t be sitting on our laurels; we will continue to figure out this market, overcome its challenges, and in the process, keep new coins coming in for our customer base.
Until next week, happy collecting!
After a Fall coin draught that followed us into the new year, it appears that the dam has finally opened. The greatest challenge of the coin market has continued to be buying coins. It didn’t take us long to realize that we had to modify our business model. Coin shows, which traditionally accounted for over half of our coins purchased annually, were curtailed because of COVID. We turned to our customer base for help. Thirty two years in the coin business gave us an advantage in this department, as we had plenty of them to call upon. The rallying cry became, “We need coins”. The response, especially this month, has been overwhelming. Essentially, we have gone from famine to feast. The shelves are stocked again with coins, and although we are still well shy of our inventory levels a year ago, it feels good to have coins to sell. As one of the old time dealers in our business professed, you can’t sell from an empty wagon.
This week, you will find a host of new coins throughout our web store. Silver dollars account for a good percentage of our new acquisitions, and from market strength standpoint, we couldn’t think of a better series to be flush with. Of special note, is a PCGS-graded Morgan Dollar set, essentially complete and with an average grade just south of MS-65. There are some really nice coins throughout this set, but with the newfound demand for this series, we don’t expect these to last very long. If Morgans are your thing, we urge you to take a look through our new purchases. We also have a host of other new coins, ranging from copper to gold. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this rash of new purchases is a sign of better things to come. Until next week, happy collecting.
On January 2nd when visiting a local supermarket, a puzzling pattern manifested. The market was completely out of lite yogurt, diet fruit juice, Enlightened ice cream products and their vegetable isle was decimated. It is not unusual for our market to be out of one or more of these products, but to be out of all simultaneously, is very strange. When questioned, the store clerk provided a very logical answer. “We see this trend every year”, he said. “People make resolutions to lose weight and go on diets. We’ll have plenty of all of this stuff by next Saturday.” That thought provoking response made us ponder a different kind of resolution. What if in 2021, we just focused on numismatics without any outside distractions? Further, what if we actually committed to this resolution, not dropping it in a week like a newfound diet? To begin with, this would involve turning off the news, at least until they had something inspiring to broadcast which warranted our attention.
It is downright amazing that collectors have remained so focused over the last nine months despite the obvious distractions. Imagine maintaining that same level of interest without them? These real and hypothetical situations both bode well for the health of the coin market. In all likelihood, at some time this year, political, social and health challenges will all become yesterday’s news. Consumer confidence should also return as businesses reopen, and then, the coin market could REALLY be in for some good times.
We are still in the position where demand for coins outpaces the available supply in the marketplace. The collector who hems and haws, is generally left with an empty hole in their album. Coins are selling briskly, but replacing them is progressively more challenging and expensive. This situation should get better once the world opens back up. The resumption of coin shows and foot traffic in the shops are two important missing components. Their return will change the landscape of the coin market, and in a big way. Holiday shipping delays caused us non-stop headaches for the better part of a month. Fortunately, this situation seems to be improving by the day. At some point in the not-so-distant future, all of these challenges should be in the rearview mirror.
Dollars and gold seem to be pacing the U.S. market, but other series have also seen pockets of strength. No single area in the numismatic spectrum is getting ignored. For those of you that watch our web-store (and/or listings elsewhere) with regularity, we want to assure you that both the inventory levels and selection that you’ve become accustomed to, will return. We really believe that the coin shortages will be short-lived, and the worst should be behind us. We continue to marvel at the dedication, perseverance and resilience of our collector base. It speaks volumes to the strength of our hobby. Unlike the supermarket store shelves that were restocked a week after New Year’s eve promises were abandoned, your resolve and commitment are unshakable. We believe wholeheartedly, that you’ll keep the news muted, and your eye on the numismatic ball. In short, we are not worried. Until next week, happy collecting!