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The Disappearance Of The Low End Bargains

 
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Author Previous TopicReplies: 8 / Views: 486Next Topic  
Pillar of the Community
United States
2590 Posts
 Posted 09/21/2022  3:35 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add thq to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I come from a tradition of Whitman Book hole fillers. My dad's pride and joy was a 1931-S cent he discovered in circulation. Unfortunately after he died we couldn't find it. But we did find my grandpa's painstakingly filled books of Lincoln cents and Buffalo nickels. Neither book is complete, and the best coins are semi keys, and many of them are pretty rough. The point was always filling the holes. For now they're in my hands, but I'll pass them on to the grandkids as family history.

I've adopted the same attitude as my ancestors, but I have focused on coins that are scarce and sometimes rare. The objective is to find the coin and not pay 5 figures for it. This has been going on for 20 years now, but in the last two or three years almost everything has dried up, and I have developed lots of sources for them. I'm starting to wonder whether I'm to blame.

Three years ago I worked on picking up all the S half eagles from 1867 to 1874. When I started they showed up frequently, at prices well below $1000 each, in grades G-VF. Now they've dried up. These coins all have populations below 200, with low survival in the low grades (ie less than 50 coins), and it's reasonable to assume that when I bought one it would be a long time before another one appeared. Now when they show up for sale they sell for 2-3x as much - but mostly they don't show up at all.

Oh well. There's only so much low grade gold in the gold mine.
"Two minutes ago I would have sold my chances for a tired dime." Fred Astaire
Edited by thq
09/21/2022 3:40 pm
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United States
39658 Posts
 Posted 09/21/2022  4:43 pm  Show Profile   Check nss-52's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add nss-52 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I'm starting to wonder whether I'm to blame.
How many have you purchased? The answer to this question will directly affect my (and others) ability to opine on your postulation.
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Pillar of the Community
United States
2590 Posts
 Posted 09/21/2022  7:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add thq to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For a while I bought all that I saw on eBay, Collector's Corner and APMEX. I ended up with a few duplicates. Most of them are raw. I went after cc's early on, but those dried up REALLY fast. All told, a couple dozen.

Low end gold used to be treated as scrap. RedBook doesn't even bother to price these coins below VF20. Never mind that these coins are 100x more rare than an 1877 Indian cent, and less expensive in the same grade. For a random example, look at the 1871-S half eagle. PCGS population 125, of which only 12 are VF20 or lower. The low end gold coins turn over quickly when the price is close to melt, as scrap, and they don't replenish. Perfectly understandable for a 1901-S, but inexplicable to me for a 1882-CC or a 1858-S, both of which I have purchased for 20% over melt in the recent past.

I'm not doing this to get rich, but I do expect that the gold is a store of value. I'm just trying to fill the holes, like my dad and grandpa did.
"Two minutes ago I would have sold my chances for a tired dime." Fred Astaire
Edited by thq
09/21/2022 7:52 pm
Pillar of the Community
United States
2319 Posts
 Posted 09/22/2022  12:36 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kbbpll to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
People are holding on to things that are real, and right now don't have a reason to sell them. "in the last two or three years almost everything has dried up" applies to real estate and a few other tangible assets I can think of.
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Russian Federation
960 Posts
 Posted 09/22/2022  05:33 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Slerk to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Gold is difficult to find in the VF20 class or lower. Even in the 19th century, people were not particularly willing to part with a piece of gold, and therefore they were preserved in much better conditions than the same cents. The fact that prices have grown is natural, gold and silver never (probably) falls in price (there are more people on earth, which means that those who want to have some hard currency in stock, too). You just need to wait, and some coins can be waited for years or even decades, perhaps if you could increase your budget, you would replenish the collection more often.
Bedrock of the Community
Australia
20051 Posts
 Posted 09/22/2022  06:04 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
thq:- your story is typical across numismatics generally, not just US classic and colonial coins, and especially now in the face of a period of high inflation, across the World.

This has happened at least in at least two periods, even before the GFC of 2008

My response to a situation of prohibitively high market pricing was to expand my knowledge across the whole of numismatics just like a dealer has to do.
That way, real bargains are much easier to find.
Thus, I have been price cherry picking across the whole of numismatics for more than 40 years.

It follows that I have made a reasonable profit of perhaps plus(+) 2 or 3% over and above average inflation rates in that 40 year period.

My only problem is that the profit is of a 'paper' nature only.
I have sold none of my coins in that period.
And I don't intend to start now.
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United States
39658 Posts
 Posted 09/22/2022  08:20 am  Show Profile   Check nss-52's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add nss-52 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Since 2010 I scooped up all of the Mexican silver medals I could afford for $10-$20 each.
It is impossible to find one now in that price range as most SELL for $60-$150 and up.

Did I cause it?
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Pillar of the Community
United States
2590 Posts
 Posted 09/22/2022  09:19 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add thq to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It depends NSS. Did the supply of medals dry up completely? In some cases I see the same coins I bought selling for 3x what I paid 3 years ago. But in most cases I don't see them at all. Are your medals genuinely scarce?

The ones that I do see are the common date cc's, with PCGS survivals over 500. They're like your medals. Available but for 2-3x the price.
"Two minutes ago I would have sold my chances for a tired dime." Fred Astaire
Edited by thq
09/22/2022 10:59 am
Pillar of the Community
United States
2590 Posts
 Posted 09/23/2022  2:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add thq to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I forgot about Northern Nevada. They have a F-12 1872-S half eagle listed right now, which is the kind of coin I was looking for (but have already found), and in the same price range. It's been at least a year since I've seen one like this.

What is more interesting is their current offerings of CC gold. At one time I had an 1891-CC eagle, which I sold years ago to get another more interesting coin. They have 29 listed currently, and none graded below AU-53. This end of the market has always been readily available, but this is a lot more than usual.
"Two minutes ago I would have sold my chances for a tired dime." Fred Astaire
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