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Gerald Tebben

Five Facts

Gerald Tebben

Gerald Tebben, a Coin World columnist for more than 30 years, also contributes to Coin World’s Coin Values and edits the Central States Numismatic Society’s journal, The Centinel. He collects coins that tell stories.

Coin World’s bloggers are not edited by Coin World’s editorial staff and blog posts reflect the views of the individual author.

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Archive for 'October 2014'

    Five sure-five ways to make money in coins: cherrypicking

    October 21, 2014 3:13 PM by

    Here’s my fifth and last sure-fire way to make money in coins.

    Check out the first four here:  

    Cherrypicking. Knowledge is king in collecting. An investor who specializes in a series, especially early coppers, Seated Liberty coins and Morgan dollars, can find rare coins going for a fraction of their value on eBay, in national auctions and in dealer stock on the bourse floor. Knowing varieties and die states can be immediately and immensely profitable.

    Years ago, astute collectors maintained personal notebooks detailing rare varieties. For the most part, that’s no longer necessary.

    Large cent collectors have William H. Sheldon’s Penny Whimsy and Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of Early US Cents 1793–1814.

    Morgan dollar collectors have The Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars by Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis.

    The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton covers many other denominations.

    The trick to cherrypicking is finding value hiding in plain sight.

    Rare coins are regularly picked from junk boxes, bourse display cases and even national auctions.

    Last year a collector bought the third-known example of a scarce 1794 Liberty Cap, Head of 1794 cent variety (NC-11) unattributed from a dealer’s display case on the floor of the gigantic Whitman Coin & Collectibles Philadelphia Expo.

    Fellow Coin World columnist and silver dollar variety expert John Roberts is locally famous in Columbus, Ohio, for plucking a $1,000 VAM variety from a local auction for common-coin money.

    In addition to money, successful cherrypicking gives the collector bragging rights. Cherrypicking stories regularly appear in Coin World and online at several websites. Probably of all the ways to make money in rare coins it’s the most fun. And that, at base, is what coin collecting is all about.


    October 15, 2014 10:27 AM by

    Here’s my fourth sure-fire way to make money in coins.

    Check out the first three here:  

    Buy coins with a large collector base. Some blue chips are too blue to actually be blue chips.  As the price of a coin increases into the tens and hundreds of thousands the number of possible buyers thins, sometimes to next to nothing. Several very rare, very desirable coins have sold for hundreds of thousands one year and gone begging for a buyer at half that price a year or two later.

    While gains for extreme rarities can be great, their loses can be catastrophic. One of the first collectors to realize this was famed 19th century Boston bean baker Lorin G. Parmelee. In 1870 he paid $700 for a Class I 1804 silver dollar.  When he cashed out in 1890, the King of American Coins, fetched just $570 at auction.  That coin hasn’t been sold since.Buyer Byron Reed willed it to the city of Omaha. It’s the centerpiece of the Reed gallery in that city’s Durham Museum.

    A more recent example is the 1850 Proof Seated Liberty quarter. Three are known. The finest, graded Proof 68 by NGC, sold for a breathtaking $460,000 at the January 2008 FUN show.

    Five years later, at last year’s Aug. 8, 2013, Heritage Auctions U.S. Coins Signature Auction, the coin sold for $258,500. In June, Heritage sold the same coin again, this time for just $223,250.

    If the only other guy interested in a very expensive coin is out on his yacht the day you sell your coin at auction, the price is goingto plummet. Look for coins that are affordable by the average collector.

    Next: Cherrypicking

    Five sure-fire ways to make money in coins: Watch inflection points

    October 6, 2014 11:38 AM by

    Below is my third sure-fire way to make money in coins.

    Check out the first two here: 



    Buy on the downgrade side of rising inflection points.  Many coins have an inflection point – a grade where increasing demand pushes up the retail price dramatically from the next lower grade, often doubling it.  In a rising market, that inflection point moves down grade. Predicting where it will go can lead to profits.

    If demand for a series is increasing, more and more collectors are chasing a fixed number of coins.  When there are more collectors than coins in a desirable grade, price pressure builds on the next lower grade.

    The action first appears in the intermediate grades.  An Extra Fine 40 coin may rise a bit in value, but interest intensifies in Very Fine 30 coins, then 25s.  Like a wave, the value hike rolls down through the grades until it hits the next resistance point, in this case Very Fine 20.

    In Seated Liberty coins, for example, most of the action is between VF-20 and EF-40. Coins graded 25, 30 and 35 are ripe for profit making. It’s hard to tell when it’s happening. The movement is neither smooth nor obvious. 

    Curiously the value of higher grade coins, especially uncirculated coins, may not move much, if at all.  The market perceives that higher grade coins are already valued fairly, but lower grade coins are not.  As the market moves to correct the perceived imbalance, prices rise in lower grades

    Think of this as a numismatic analog to stock market momentum investing.

    Next: Too blue blue chips

    More from CoinWorld.com:

    U.S. Mint gets ready to launch four-coin Kennedy silver half dollar set on Oct. 28

    Rare issue 1879-CC Morgan dollar in black GSA holder sold for $42,777: 'Buy the Holder' Market Analysis

    Morgan dollar in GSA holder disproves old adage, U.S. Mint monthly gold sales double: Week's Most Read

    Gold American Eagle bullion coin sales from U.S. Mint more than double in September

    United States Mint sells 1.15 million silver American Eagle dollar coins in single day Oct. 1