As I attend coin shows I begin to notice how there seems to be a theme that appears across the many vendors. This is where a few coin types just seems more prevalent than others. This past Baltimore show was no different. As I walked through the aisles on Friday, I noticed the recent mainstay 50 State Quarters,™ the increase in competition amongst the grading services along the back wall, certified gold coins, and Morgan dollars.
It is difficult to argue against the display of the 50 State Quarters. The program is credited with raising the profile of numismatics and have made collectors out of many people. The program has sparked an interest in coins in many different areas including with the kids, who are the hobby’s future. It has also raised the profile of the numismatic industry for those who see this as a hobby and those who just invest. The investors are accused of driving up prices. Only time will tell if this is good for the hobby.
At my first Baltimore show, only PCGS and NGC were present. This past show also included ANACS, ICG, PCI, and PMG. There was so much competition that one of the services announced “show specials” while I was walking around the floor. I always believe competition is good and hope that these grading services keep up the good work as they compete for our business.
Nowadays, it is rare to walk up to a table and find a raw gold coin. The only raw gold coins I see are sealed in Mint packaging or uncirculated American Eagle bullion coins. What I saw at the show appears to be similar to what I read in the trade press. There is a demand for Saint-Gaudens double eagles and Indian head eagles, Indian double eagles, the Bela Lyon Pratt Indian Head half-eagle, and the “odd denomination” $3 gold coin and I saw a few $4 Stellas. I was impressed with the crowds looking and what I saw was buying these coins.
For other circulation coins, I saw a lot of Morgan Dollars. While Morgan Dollars have always been very popular, there seemed to be an overwhelming appearance of top and mid-grade Morgans. I was able to pick up a number of good pieces at good prices to add to my collection. A few friends also noticed the availability of quality Morgans at this show.
As I patrolled the floor, I was looking for some key coins without much success. While I cannot afford high grades, I would be happy to find some nice mid-grade key coins with some nice eye appeal. For example, I am looking for all three 1921 Walking Liberty Half Dollars but found either high grades that were beyond my budget or low grade coins that were affordable but did not appeal to me. I know there is a compromise that has to be made for low grade coins, but much of what I saw did not even make my compromise grade.
Is the market for key coins going to shut out those of us who have to stick to a budget? Although many dealers will work with you at their tables, from what I saw at the Baltimore show, it may start happening.
The Baltimore Show is fun. Aside from being Baltimore, the dealers I meet at the show are good folk and nice to meet. Although I have my favorites, I like to buy and trade with many different dealers just to meet them, talk with them about the market from their perspective, and just see the variety. I highly recommend anyone attending any one of the big shows to meet the people who go. I also recommend you come to Baltimore and enjoy your experience in Charm City.