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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 'May 2015'

    First Pogue Collection auction an appetizer for the coins to come

    May 20, 2015 3:55 PM by
    ​If the first auction of U.S. coins from the D. Brent Pogue Collection on May 19 served as an appetizer for the rest of the collection, which will be presented in six more auctions through 2017, the strong prices bidders paid for the 128 coins clearly indicate that numismatists are hungry for these rarities.

    How did Stack’s Bowers Galleries' and Sotheby’s auction stack up? The total prices realized for Pogue I exceeded $25 million with an average price per lot of nearly $200,000. Just a single coin sold for under $5,000: a Professional Coin Grading Service Mint State 66 1834 Capped Bust half dime that sold for a bid of $4,250 (or just under $5,000 when the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee was added).

    When Stack’s Bowers Galleries founder Q. David Bowers took the podium to introduce the Pogue auction, Bowers said that the first Pogue sale would be one of those auctions that will be remembered 50 years from now. As usual, Bowers was right. 

    Pogue purchased his coins from both dealers and at auction, so for many of the pieces, we have a public price history to look at. While most of his coins far exceeded what they realized on their last trip to the podium, a few did not. These exceptions serve as a reminder that even the finest collections accompanied with the best marketing need to be judged on their whole and that individual coins only tell part of the story.

    But what amazing individual lots! Take the sale’s first coin to crack the $1 million barrier: a 1796 Draped Bust quarter dollar graded PCGS MS-66. It was a typical Pogue coin (if any can be called typical) in that it had a rich ownership history that traced back nearly a century, gorgeous color and was of exceptional quality. That it is a popular one-year type, and the first year of the denomination, adds to the demand. It sold for $1,527,500, well above the pre-sale estimate of $750,000 to $1 million. A gorgeous 1797 Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollar also graded MS-66 sold for the same amount.

    A single coin topped the $2 million mark: a stunning 1808 Capped Draped Bust gold $2.50 quarter eagle in PCGS MS-65 that brought a bid of$2 million (selling with buyer’s fee for $2,350,000).

    What’s incredible is that this is the first of seven planned auctions continuing through 2017 and this sale didn’t even have what’s considered the cream of the crop, including a Proof 68 1804 Draped Bust silver dollar that some believe will become the most expensive coin ever sold at public auction. If it does it will break the record established in 2013 when Stack’s Bowers sold a PCGS Specimen 66 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar from the Cardinal Collection for just over $10 million.

    Those in the room were privileged to watch the sale, although physically attending the sale at Sotheby’s showrooms on New York’s Upper East Side wasn’t necessary to get a feel for the room thanks to the streaming video available online at the Stack’s Bowers website. While nothing takes the place of actually being in an auction room, these simulcasts are helpful in documenting bidding increments and winning bidders (at least their bidder numbers) and help viewers get a sense of the overall pace and vibe of a sale.

    Just as looking at a photograph of a coin is an imperfect substitute for actually examining and handling a coin, so is watching an auction online. Yet, the live video of major auctions helps democratize the sale of great collections for those who may not have the resources (both in terms of money and time) to participate, either through bidding or attending the sale in person.  

    Youth and igniting a collecting spark

    May 15, 2015 3:14 PM by

    What does our hobby look like in 10 years?

    One thing is certain: the future of our hobby depends on young people being aware of coins and taking an interest in them.

    It is the spark that is essential, that curiosity about coins that can then either turn a young person into a young numismatist or, perhaps, just linger in dormancy for decades only to reemerge later in a person’s life.

    In chatting with Scott Rottinghaus for this month’s Q&A, Scott shared a story about his daughter Fiachra’s interest in numismatics. While she gave numismatics a try — even winning a few American Numismatic Association Young Numismatist literary awards — the collecting bug didn’t stick.

    Scott said: “I can’t tell yet whether she’ll be back to coins later on. My four younger children haven’t become interested beyond the wild enthusiasm that all young kids seem to have at the prospect of participating in what daddy is doing.”

    So what does it take to make a young person interested in the hobby?

    For both Scott and myself, the American Numismatic Association has been essential to our development from young collectors into adults, and from people curious about coins to numismatists.

    To that end, in the May 18 weekly issue of Coin World where I announced that I was transitioning from my role as Editor-in-Chief to an Editor-at-Large role, I also offered free one-year ANA Gold memberships for young numismatists (those under 17) to the first 50 people who got back to me.

    The offer still stands!

    The responses I received so far are absolutely heartwarming. As Peyton Strzalkowski wrote, “My sister and I like coin collecting because it teaches us about history here in America, countries around the world and because it is special time we get to spend with my dad, David. I also like going to shows and getting to see all the valuable coins that my dad doesn’t have in his collection.” Her father added that publications like Coin World “help keep kids, like my daughters, involved and ensures the future of our great hobby.”

    And what a great hobby it is! 

    Free ANA memberships for YNs: Click here!

    May 4, 2015 10:47 AM by

    I’m often asked what it will take to get younger people involved in coin collecting.

    For me, I followed a pretty normal path where my grandma gave me some old coins when I was 7. At 10 I started reading Coin World, and a few years later I checked out a local coin club show. As I became absorbed in coins, it started to make more sense that it would become my career.

    Throughout each step of my collecting journey, people were there to provide encouragement and guidance.

    Simply put: it starts at the individual level.

    Over the past six years at Coin World, I have had a chance to work with individuals who have made me sharper, wiser and have provided me an entirely new lens from which I can consider our hobby.

    Crafting each weekly and monthly edition of Coin World is the work of a team and each staff member has put his or her heart in the stories that appear in our pages. The same can be said for those who work behind the scenes to help Coin World remain both readable and viable.

    Knowing that Bill Gibbs will be leading the staff going forward in his new role as managing editor gave me the confidence I needed to move into a newly created editor-at-large role.

    Since 1976, Bill has been a backbone of Coin World. He leads by example, always making sure that quality and accuracy define our stories. I’ll continue to work closely with the brand and with Bill so that Coin World — both in print and online — can continue to meet the needs of our hobby and our readers.

    For me, stepping into an editor-at-large role made sense since the one thing I was missing at Coin World was actually physically working with coins. It’s one thing to share wonderful stories about the history of coins and our hobby, but as a collector at heart, there are few things that beat the experience of handling a coin.

    My most meaningful moments in the hobby have come from introducing people to our hobby and helping people engage in it, and this new role will allow more of these interactions.

    When you see me at a coin show, make sure you say hi! I’m always excited to talk coins. 

    Which brings me back to the original question: What will it take to make young people interested in the hobby?

    The American Numismatic Association has provided me with my foundation in numismatics, so why not spread the wealth?

    If you’re a young numismatist (which means you’re under 18) or want to introduce a YN to the hobby, let me know! I’ll pay for a new one-year Gold ANA membership to the first 50 YNs who reach out to me by email at sroach@coinworld.com and let me know what they like about coin collecting.

    I’ll end by saying thank you: to our staff, columnists, contributors and our many readers. 

    My personal journey in numismatics has been more than I could ever have imagined as a 10-year-old reading Coin World, and thankfully, it is far from over.