By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
The last two years have been challenging in so many ways for everyone cosmopolitan. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we all conduct our lives. solid parts of the work force are still working from home and companies in all economic segments are re-inventing how they do business. At the center field of this ball-shaped change is the internet. It is safe to say that nothing has always impacted numismatics in such a profound way. The advent of third-party grade was huge, but still a distant second in my public opinion .
undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a huge boost for numismatics. The commercialize for rare coins is amazingly strong across the board. I have become astutely mindful of this in recent weeks doing my annual price for the Guide Book of United States Coins ( Redbook ). closely every serial saw a monetary value increase from last year. Some series, such as Morgan silver dollars, have increased well.
about every company with a significant network presence has been experiencing a massive increase in clientele, including rare mint auction companies. Billions of dollars trade hands each year through auctions, and for the beginning clock time, most of it is on-line only .
One of my favorite numismatic stories of the distant by is about the legendary collector John J. Pittman. In the 1950s, he urgently wanted to purchase an example of the highly rare 1854 Type-2 Gold Dollar Proof being sold at auction. When the coin came astir for sale, he famously stood facing the consultation with his hand raised in the air like the Statue of Liberty. This intimidating tactic worked, and he purchased the coin. The mint stayed in his collection for his integral life sentence and was sold after his death. I late had the prerogative of selling this coin to the collector Dell Loy Hanson .
If the coin were to be sold nowadays, John J. Pittman would probably be facing an empty room. His frighten tactic would not work, as most crucial buyers are now bidding from the quilt of their home or office .
For generations, collectors and dealers alike have eagerly anticipated the annual ANA convention and auction sales. These annual auctions have traditionally been a basis of the event. Years ago, several auction companies even held crucial rare coin auctions the weekend before. These alleged “Apostrophe” Sales were sometimes bigger events than the ANA-sanctioned sales. In years past, every night, for over a week, was consumed by exist rare coin auctions .
The 2021 ANA convention changed all that for the meter being. Heritage Auctions and Stack’s Bowers chose to display auction lots at the show and conduct the ANA sale the following week only on-line. This has opened an concern debate about the future of alive coin auctions that have been an integral partially of rare mint conventions for over 100 years .
In 2013, I had the honor of successfully bidding on the Walton 1913 Liberty nickel. The room was packed with spectators, and you could feel the excitement when the coin came improving for sale. After winning the distribute, I was besieged by the numismatic imperativeness and had the pleasure of personally receiving thanks from the Walton syndicate in attendance. It was one of the most stimulate nights of my numismatic career. deplorably, this classify of numismatic experience may be a thing of the by .
The pros and cons of major auctions moving wholly on-line have been extremely interesting to contemplate. I have experience with the discipline as both a buyer and seller. Despite the lack of excitement that goes with experiencing a survive sale, I enjoy the greatly enhance tools available for on-line wish. Having the final leverage price ( including buyer ’ mho charges ) clearly stated as you bid is vital when making quick decisions. I found it a closely impossible undertaking bid live when buyer ’ second charges were 17.5 %. You had to be a initiate to figure that in your head !
The price guide and population information available on-line for each draw is besides an perplex clock time rescuer and fiscal joyride. One of the biggest impacts of the internet for numismatics has been the handiness of information at your fingertips. information has leveled the play discipline for collectors and dealers alike when competing for corporeal .
I personally like focusing on the show during the day and not having to worry about attending an auction that evening. Lots of my mate dealers have told me they think having the actual ANA sales the follow workweek is commodity for the show and the auctions. The subject may be debatable, and it will be interest to see how companies handle this in the future .
When contemplating this article, I reached out to many of the major players in the rare coin auction business. The following are edit versions of their answer to my question about the future of alive coin auctions. The answers are in the order of when they were received .
Greg Rohan – President, Heritage Rare Coin Auctions
dear doubt, and something we discuss much .
Heritage didn ’ t miss a drum when COVID started because we already had an easy and intuitive on-line platform. Great images and an easy bidding experience were key to our selling $ 850 million on-line this past year without needing the live sales component. There was no hesitance by our clients bidding on-line on seven-figure lots. go are the days of spending time and money traveling to an auction venue then sitting thru multiple eight-hour sessions, because now you can confidently bid your maximum with Heritage Auctions with secret proxy bids or live with Heritage Live .
The future is now, and last year particularly showed us it ’ randomness about giving the bidder as much information as possible, saving them time, and making it easy to bid .
Laura Sperber – President, Legend Auctions
Legend Rare Coin Auctions is bucking the tendency of on-line sales and staying with a catalog-and-show format. It does appear the bigger firms will be doing only on-line auctions barely about weekly. We will not. We want our sales to be extra and bounty sales. Plus, we know people LOVE the catalog !
The pros of a alive sale are the show-collector exhilaration. More people can view the coins. Makes for a stronger sale. The cons : These days, a majority of people buy spy UNSEEN and do not even go to shows .
Yes, the auction earth has changed everlastingly.
Brian Kendrella – President, Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Regarding be auctions at coin shows, we have heard about solid appreciation for the change to holding the auctions after the express. In today ’ s robust market, it is besides much for even the most effective principal or collector to successfully manage the bourse, lot view, and auction. Moving the auction to the days after the usher allows for those attending to comfortably do their bourse action and lot watch. I besides believe this scheme leads to more bids and higher prices as collectors and dealers aren ’ thyroxine distracted by other numismatic activities while the auction is happening .
evening pre-COVID, we saw fewer and fewer of our clients bid live on the auction floor. The bidders who would traditionally bid bouncy were nowadays doing indeed from the comfort of their hotel room or while at dinner with friends. Our live bid technology is so good, so easy and commodious, that even the few who did bid in the auction board, many did therefore from their laptop or telephone ! early in COVID, we recognized that the auction landscape would change, and we began building a television studio in our new worldly concern headquarters. From our newly Griffin Studios, we can deliver a much more absorb, entertaining, and competitive wish know for those who are bidding on-line, which was quite about all our clients ! We are quite gallant of this invention and believe we offer the best alive on-line bidding experience in the industry as a consequence .
We will continue to selectively have auctions at coin shows .
For case, we will be hosting our auctions live from the NYINC in New York future calendar month. When we are allowed to return to Hong Kong, I anticipate hosting our sales live there. Those venues are different than a traditional US coin read and we have historically had identical active agent and well attended survive offer audiences, and there is value to doing the sales there live. besides, if we receive an appropriate solicitation that will benefit from us hosting the auction live at a Baltimore or ANA show, we will .
John Brush – President, David Lawrence Rare Coins
At David Lawrence Rare Coins, we ran a trio of live auctions for the Richmond Collection in 2004 [ and ] 2005 that totaled around $ 24 million — at the fourth dimension, one of the highest dollar amounts ever realized for a single collection. While we have the technology to run a alive auction at any time, we ’ ve found that there are many unnecessary expenses that go along with alive auctions that just take money out of the buyer ’ south and seller ’ randomness pockets. furthermore, the results of internet auctions over the past five to 10 years and, more recently, the results of the COVID-19 pandemic have proven that the populate auction experience international relations and security network ’ thymine actually necessary. Coins can be displayed, viewed, and bid on outside of the be auction event, which shows us that engineering is far more crucial now .
At DLRC, we ’ ve focused on photography, live interactional experiences with coins with nuTilt imaging solutions, and improving customer overhaul overall, as these are the factors that drive results. While I frequently attend live auctions when bid on coins for the Hansen Collection, I much find myself to be closely the lone person in a large room that is actively offer. For better or worse, these long, lone nights with the auction are becoming less necessary with the more agile arena of internet auctions .
Dell Loy Hansen – Collector
I have bought quite a few coins in live auctions and from internet auctions. While I ’ ve enjoyed attending know auctions, and I in truth like the action of an auction work, I ’ ve found them sometimes to be extremely long, and they become unenjoyable. I would much quite buy coins directly without the auction process, but sometimes this international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine an option, so I have no trouble invite on-line when I have the time to do so .
Ian Russell – President, GreatCollections Coin Auctions
At GreatCollections, while all of the command work happens on-line, we however have live view of the coins, with clients flying in every workweek to opinion at our function, and we show coins at many of the major shows. We find this is the best of both worlds. The internet opens up coin auctions to the populace ( we have bidders participating from 20 to 30 different countries EVERY week ). We besides offer our opinions by phone or e-mail from one of our experts — so we can pull the coin from our vaults and discuss it with a potential bidder in real-time, giving our honest opinion about every view of the coin .
I remember the first six-figure coin that we sold to a brand-new bidder in our first class of business. He never viewed the coin and relied upon our images. This gave me an penetration into the future of GreatCollections, as we were never planning to sell a lot of coins over $ 10,000 to $ 20,000 back when I worked on a business plan in early 2011 .
I knew that imaging technology was the most important view ; we spent a significant sum of time working out how to take “ veridical ” images, showing the coins how they are in your hand. We never enhance images to artificially make them better, which is coarse practice on websites with very little numismatic oversight ( like eBay, Amazon, and so forth ). We even auctioned the finest 1893-S Morgan dollar for over $ 2 million in August ( an all-time record for the series ). In fact, it ’ s the first million-dollar Morgan dollar, and it sold for over two million ( ! ) and most of the bidders above $ 1 million did not view the coin in person .
As we see the future, more and more coin auctions will gravitate toward online-only bid or offer without a exist floor. We saw it at the ANA final year, with both “ official ” auction houses choosing to hold their auctions at their respective offices the workweek after the read, with identical little floor bid ( and about all bid happened on-line ). I spoke to one of the auctioneers who calls the auctions for hours, and he mentioned it ’ s a new challenge for him to maintain the exhilaration without having hot people on the floor. rather, he is looking at calculator monitors. It even changed from his point of view. GreatCollections has grown each class since we launched in 2011, and our sales this year are expected to exceed $ 225 million .
In summary, you can tell from the above responses that live rare coin auctions, as we remember from the past, will be very unlike from immediately on. technology and consumer behavior have combined to make attending an auction in person unnecessary for most dealers and collectors. Lot watch is another matter, and even though some feel comfortable buy coins based on photography, a bunch of buyers want to see coins in handwriting before bid. Most of the companies above have invested heavily in state-of-the-art photography to offset this refer .
The future of live rare mint auctions will continue to evolve as rare coin companies compete using every technological edge they can muster. sadly, a room packed wax of bidders is probably a keepsake of the past .
Jeff Garrett bio
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