Return to Alaska Coin Exchange homepage
Return to ACCent homepage
ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club
|Volume 5, Number 8||
|August Membership Meeting|
|Wed., August 6, 1992||Central Lutheran Church||
7:30 PM Meeting
While it's not unusual for club activity to wane in the summer, last month's E-Board meeting was very poorly attended: a grand total of four showed up. Very little was offered for the auction. Unfortunately this is not the first time the auction material has been lacking. This is hardly surprising considering the quality of the bids that even nice coins get in the auction.
Why will many of us pay $100 for a coin sitting in a dealer's display case and fail to bid $60 or $65 for that same coin in the auction? Sure, we all like a bargain, but we still peel off those hard won greenbacks and pay retail on occasion. Why?
I'll tell you why I have paid retail in the past1:
1) I bought it as gift and didn't feel like (or didn't have time for) seeking a "deal".
2) The coin was "undergraded".
3} The coin was "correctly graded" but had exceptional eye-appeal and/or toning.
4) I WANTED IT
The latter is why we're collecting in the first place.
LOWBALL (or: the flipside)
No, I don't mean poker, I mean the determined effort to acquire material at prices only dealers are likely to offer on whole collections. We've all done it.
We all have a little larceny in our hearts. In fact, one of my thoughts at the first meeting I attended was: "Man, these guys are tough, nobody is bidding anywhere near the prices on this list. This sure is a good place to buy."
I learned about the flipside when I started to put material in the auction starting with the February 1991 meeting. I had just got back from a vacation which included a transactions with a dozen or so dealers. I came back with what I thought (and still think) were nice appealing silver dollars. I was sure you guys were going to love 'em as much as I did.
NO SUCH LUCK. Out of a dozen coins I bought back nine. The typical coin I submitted that time was a common-date, MS-63 Morgan Dollar which at the time TRENDed for $33-$35. I typically paid $20-$23 for them and got resounding bids of $14-$18. Ironically, the really nice coins got the least interest.
WHO CAN BLAME YOU for not showing more interest? Not Me. If I'm not interested I don't even bid. I can't work up enthusiasm for anything that looks like I could spend it on a hot dog (unless it has exceptional eye-appeal, see reasons for paying retail above). Kennedys and Ikes don't capture my attention (unless they're cameo). I don't think presidents dead or otherwise even belong on our currency.
But not liking a particular series is not the only reason we neglect to bid strongly on a coin.
These are my reasons for lowballing my bids at the auction:
1) The coin was "overgraded".2
2) The coin was "correctly graded" but lacked appeal.
3) I already had one3
4) I didn't get a good look at it.
5) I got a good look, liked it, but was unsure of its price range and grade.
6) Because of 4) and 5), I DIDN'T WANT TO GET BURNED.
7) I DIDN'T WANT IT.
We can't do much about unappealing or overgraded coins, but we can improve the selection and viewing conditions so we can confidently bid on the coins we want. Confidence is key to acquiring better pieces. Many is the time that I hesitated to bump the bid on a coin merely because I didn't get a real good look at it. Being conservative like that may keep you from overpaying but it can also prevent you from getting good material.
I propose that we conduct our auctions in a way which will encourage sellers to submit good material and buyers to bid more strongly. My proposal has two key components.
First is to make the coins available for leisurely extended viewing. The E-Board can work on this. One way is to accept, catalog, and grade the coins at mid-month (as before) and auction them two meetings hence thus providing at least one additional opportunity to view the coins.
Better yet, perhaps the auction lots can be made available for viewing at one (or more) coin shop(s).4.
Second, and perhaps most important, this issue contains a form seeking out the buying preferences of all interested parties, a want list if you will.
THE WANT LIST
The want list form has been constructed to allow you to easily indicate what you would like to bid for at our auctions. You may be as general or specific as you want. Spaces for name, address, and phone are provided for those who want to be contacted by others. Want lists of those giving permission will be made available at a few subsequent meetings and by request. Of course I.D. is strictly optional.
Regardless of anonymity, if you want good auctions IT IS VITAL THAT YOU COOPERATE BY FILLING OUT AND SENDING THESE FORMS TO THE CLUB.
For my own part I want people to offer me coins. The more coins to look at the better. For instance, anyone who can help me assemble an 1S66 type set is invited to call.5 I'm always interested in silver dollars especially affordable (read: common) prooflike and cameo Morgans.
And I'm a sucker for toned silver coins of any kind whether U.S., foreign, or otherwise.
It is hoped that an enthusiastic and candid response to the want list idea will eliminate guesswork on the part of sellers.
Here is how I envision the proposed process:
1) Readers recognize the wisdom of the proposal.
2) Want lists come flooding in at the meeting and by mail.
3) The responses get collated and summarized in the newsletter thus showing the collective interest of the club.
4) Members get so turned on by the potential of future auctions that they start putting in their better material, even if they haven't done so in the past.
5) Bidders confidently vie for coins they want because they could get a leisurely look at this superior material.
6) All who participate enhance their collections and have fun in the process.
Let's all follow up on this plan. Come to the next meeting and help to thrash out the bugs. And don't forget to fill out the Want List and bring it to the meeting.
1 A couple of times I hove looked at the wrong column in a price list and bid based on the EF price for a VF coin. Another time I outbid the rest of you for an '86-O Morgan I thought was Unc. which Fivaz graded AU-55 in the '91 ACC coin seminar - not lo mention my "MS-63" Indian cent which Fivaz called MS-61 cleaned. Them's the breaks.
2 In my opinion this is unusual at our auctions.
3 Or two, or three.
4 On a rotating basis if more than one shop used.
5 (907) 243-1481
The other day I flipped through a back issue of The Numismatist6 and found yet another good reason to subscribe to this excellent journal. It was a short article by ANACS Authenticator Michael Fahey titled:
Basic Grading Part 2
The article discussed "detracting marks on Morgan Dollars. I found it especially interesting for its excellent photographs illustrating Morgan Dollars in various states of bag mark.7
It was interesting in that the photos showed good examples of Typical and High End MS-63 silver dollars as well as A couple MS-60 examples and a nice MS-65 example. Reflecting the eminently reasonable practice of grading both sides,8 reverses were shown along with obverses.
The narrative lent some structure to the grading question, introducing such terms as "reed mark", the aforementioned "bag mark", "contact mark", "scuff, "nick", "scratch", and "abrasion". Collectively, these marks are known as "detracting marks". Most of these terms are self-explanatory and typical to the grading lexicon. "Reed mark" is new to me and was explained as follows:
The reed mark is caused by the reeded edge of one dollar striking against the surface of another resulting in a series of small digs.
Once a Morgan Dollar has been determined to have full original luster and has not suffered mishandling, the primary grading consideration involves these detracting marks. Most such marks are the result of "the damage a coin receives during manufacture and shipping." Considering the handling the typical Morgan Dollar received from the die to the bank vault it's no wonder MS-65 coins comprise only a small fraction of the surviving population.
First the coins were removed from the press and slid down a chute into a hopper along with about a thousand similar pieces. Full hoppers were taken to a weighing and inspection room where the coins were inspected, arranged into stacks, counted, and dumped into large canvas bags one thousand at a time. The usual method for handling these eighty-pound Mint Bags was to grab it by the top and swing it around. The result was that most coins coming from Mint-sewn bags are in MS-60 to MS-63 condition.
THE MS-65 QUESTION
The general requirements for a coin getting an MS-65 grade are that they be very pleasing to the eye and free from "serious marks" especially in the "central areas" of the coin". In addition. Fahey states MS-65 Morgans should have "a minimal amount of tiny nicks or abrasions" in the critical areas.
Of course the crux is what constitutes "serious marks". The article helps with a good photo of an MS-65 dollar. I note that this particular dollar is indeed pleasing with good luster and that it has an obverse die crack connecting the stars in the lower left quadrant and date. This indicates that a mid-to-late die state will not disqualify a Morgan Dollar from Gem status.
Fahey offers a definition for a "serious mark":
When a bag mark is heavy enough to be immediately visible it qualifies as a "serious mark".
He goes on to say:
In general, Mint State dollars are graded without magnification, so any detracting marks should be visible with the unaided eye (emphasis mine)
So all you error collectors can save your eyes and put away your 17X glass when grading Morgans.
In closing Fahey emphasizes the importance of luster:
A mark-free dollar with impaired luster will be graded and price at MS-63 levels or lens. Only after the luster of a dollar is determined to be original and unimpaired should detracting marks be considered.
6 February l985. P.287.
7 The state of bag mark of course determines whether BU means 'Beat Up" or 'Basically Ugly'
8Unfortunately (or not, depending on your outlook) the latest version of ANACS (ex-ANA) no longer grades both sides for its slabs.
9 Obverse: Liberty's face and neck and the fields immediately left of her face. Reverse: the entire eagle and fields surrounded it, wing tips excepted.
Elsewhere in this issue you'll find a pitch by your editor to change the conduct of our auctions. Key to the proposal is determining the desires of potential bidders for which a WANT LIST has been provided.
Sharp-eyed readers will notice that identifying information is requested at bottom of the want list. Please be advised that IDENTIFYING YOURSELF IS STRICTLY OPTIONAL. What is really important is to identify what you want to see for auction.
FILLING OUT THE LIST
The top part of the list contains a table which organizes 18th and 19th Century U.S. coins by Denomination and Type of Design.
The bottom part of the list covers the broad spectrum of all coins not fitting the top part.
Indicate interest in a particular coin type by entering a number between one and five. Five indicates very strong interest, one indicates very weak interest. No entry at all indicates no interest at all.
Consulting a Red Book in conjunction with the list (as I did when assembling it) will help inform you as to dates, varieties, history, price range, and so on.
For example, If one wants very much to buy Cameo Franklin Halves, then one would fill in a "5" in the box to the right of "Franklin Half (located in the lower left half of the form) and write in "Cameo" beside it in the Comment column.
If you have a lukewarm interest in Proof Kennedy Halves then fill in a "2" or a "3" beside "Kennedy Half under CLAD COINAGE and write in "PROOF".
If you have persistent hankering For Capped Bust Half Dimes fill in a "4" in the box formed by the Capped Bust row and the Half Dime column. If you'll pay forty dollars for a strong extra fine (and not a half-dime more) perhaps you'd write "$30-$40" in the Price Range column and "Strong XF wanted" in the Comment column.
I've often noticed that I don't really know what I want until I see it. I'm much more of a numismatist in the aesthetic rather than the historical sense. In other words, I'm a sucker for a pretty face (which is why I don't care much for S.B.A. Dollars).
To that end, when figuring out what you'd like to see in the auctions whet your appetite by browsing your Red Book or any other "overview" book with good photos. When you see something that looks good, put it on the want list.
Too few coins were submitted at E-Board to form a decent auction.
Bring your material and we'll slap together an impromptu auction.
The Anchorage Coin Club is a non-profit organization formed to provide information, education, and a meeting place for individuals having an interest in numismatics.
Correspondence Address: Anchorage Coin Club, P.O. Box 230169, Anchorage,