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Steve Roach

The Art of Collecting

Steve Roach

Steve Roach, Coin World’s editor-at-large, has been deeply involved with numismatics for more than 20 years, starting as a young coin collector in Michigan. Two years spent as a coin grader, nearly three years at a major coin wholesaler and a stint as a paintings specialist at an international auction house have given Steve a rich understanding of the hobby, its market and the unique personalities and exceptional objects that make collecting meaningful. He joined Coin World in 2006 as a columnist, and has served as associate editor and editor-in-chief. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan, a juris doctorate from the Ohio State University and is a Certified Member of the International Society of Appraisers.

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Archive for 'October 2014'

    When does an object’s value impact our experience with it?

    October 24, 2014 12:14 PM by
    ​What happens when an object’s value becomes more important than the object itself?

    I was confronted by this question head on when viewing two exhibitions in Columbus, Ohio, this week.

    The first was a small exhibit featuring paintings and sculptures from the collection of Les Wexner, founder of Limited Brands. The quality of the paintings, especially those by Pablo Picasso, was extraordinary, but because many were sold at auction over the past decade or so, I couldn’t separate the economic value of the art from my viewing.

    Knowing that the gorgeous, sensual 1932 large Picasso canvas Nude in a Black Armchair brought $45.1 million at auction in 1999 and a comparable picture sold for more than $100 million recently distanced me from my visual experience with the painting.

    Rather than admiring Picasso’s mastery, I thought about how a single object could be worth so much, and if, perhaps, there were other uses for that money which would provide more value to society.

    The next exhibit, “In_We Trust: Art and Money” at the Columbus Museum of Art, brought it home, as 26 different artist deconstructed the concept of money.

    As the exhibit curator Tyler Cann wrote in the exhibition catalog on money, “It connects, defines, and divides nations. It is pocket change and dead presidents. It is the key to happiness, and the root of all evil. It has no intrinsic value apart from what we’ve given it.”

    There are those coins that have become more than coins. It is tough to think of a 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle and not think of the nearly $7.6 million that one brought at a 2002 auction.

    How does knowing an object’s worth in the marketplace change our viewing experience of it (and does it even matter?)

    These types of questions keep our hobby interesting in a way that goes beyond dates, grades and Mint marks.

    Coin shows remain vital and relevant today

    October 17, 2014 11:18 AM by
    It’s autumn and local and state coin clubs are busy hosting their coin shows. 

    Coin World recently gave an informal survey to our email list and more than 2,000 of you replied. The results confirmed some things that we already know (such as our audience being predominantly male) and revealed a few surprises. 

    Perhaps the biggest surprise is how relevant coin shows are to our readers. Roughly two-thirds of the respondents reported that they attended a coin show in the past year. 

    Even better? Nearly 30 percent of the respondents attend three or more shows a year. 

    I generally go to a coin show at least each month, where I see the spirit of collecting and volunteerism in full effect. This was wonderfully evident when I was invited to address the Virginia Numismatic Association’s 56th annual convention and coin show in Fredericksburg, Va., Sept. 26 to 28. 

    The show was fantastic, with a variety of dealers who were busy buying and selling coins, but not too busy to chat with new collectors. I had the luxury of visiting with many of the dealers, including VNA director John Cunningham of Hibernia Rare Coins, who was assisted by his daughter. He told me that he loves introducing modern coins from around the world to new collectors, and showing more seasoned collectors the great things that world mints are doing to produce attractive, innovative coins. 

    Col. Steve Ellsworth of Butternut Coins shared his passion for early American large cents while Ernie Swauger explained that his customers love 17th, 18th and 19th century world coins because of their link to history. 

    Nearly all day on Saturday, VNA education director John Philips led dozens of young people including groups of Boy Scouts and homeschooled children through thoughtful educational programs that are sure to inspire some new collectors. 

    Local and state run shows are a vital part of our hobby, serving to introduce new people to numismatics, and keeping longtime collectors engaged in the hobby. 

    Check one out in the coming weekends!

    Could Jackie breathe life into the First Spouse gold $10 coin series?

    October 9, 2014 10:25 AM by
    As the First Spouse gold $10 coin series winds down, 2015 will see the release of four coins including one for Jacqueline Kennedy.

    Could the launch of “Jackie O’s” coin breathe some life into this series that is in desperate need of attention? 

    The series has had some unfortunate twists of circumstance that have hurt its popularity with collectors. The Mint has been inconsistent with its release dates, often releasing all four (or five) coins in the final months of the year.  Add to that a roaring precious metal market that saw gold rise from $660 an ounce in the summer of 2007 to more than $1,800 an ounce in the summer of 2011, meaning many collectors were priced out of the program. 

    With few collectors building sets, mintages have dropped. The 2007-W Thomas Jefferson’s Liberty coin saw nearly 40,000 pieces produced across both Proof and Uncirculated formats. Total sales across both formats of 4,000 to 5,000 are likely for each of the five 2013 First Spouse coins. 

    As gold settles down to more reasonable price levels, and the First Spouse designs celebrate first ladies who many coin buyers remember, the program could get a nice bump. 

    The set has a lot going for it, including handsome designs, with often very interesting reverse designs emblematic of themes of the corresponding first lady’s life, low mintages and accessible entry points with the higher-mintage pieces from the first few years of the program. 

    It is a series that is worth a second look.