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Brad Karoleff

Numismatic Ramblings

Brad Karoleff

Brad Karoleff is a lifelong coin collector with a specialization in the early coins of the Philadelphia Mint. He is the proprietor of Coins Plus which operates four locations in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio, area.  

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Archive for 'November 2014'

    What makes a successful collector?

    November 26, 2014 1:24 PM by

    Just like many collectors, my disease covers a number of different collectibles. Personally, I find numismatic literature, Rookwood pottery, fountain pens, and other antique items to be almost irresistible. 

    One of my vocations is that of an auctioneer. This brings me into contact with a very diverse group of collectors.  Recently while representing Humler/Nolan Auctions, the premier seller of Rookwood and related pottery located in Cincinnati, Ohio, I was asked what defined a successful collector. I had given this a great deal of thought in the past and I believe the answer can be used no matter the genre of one’s collection.

    What are your thoughts? Is value and profit potential the benchmark for your idea of success. Is it completeness? Is it the fame that it may bring during acquisition or when it comes time to sell? My thoughts are a little different. My definition can cover everyone from a beginning collector just acquiring the first items for his collection or the grizzled veteran purchasing that last piece needed for completion.

    Quite simply I define success in the enjoyment that the ownership of the item supplies to the collector. If every time you look at a particular item in your collection you smile, and think more of the pride of ownership rather than how much you paid or how much the piece is worth, I believe you are a winner. 

    If you as the collector worries obsessively about the money spent on acquisition then it is likely that the money should have been spent elsewhere. As Dr. Sheldon said, “Do not invest more in any luxury, than you feel you can good-humoredly afford to lose.” This is an axiom that many collectors refuse to respect, especially as they transition from a “collector” to “investor," a very dangerous metamorphosis. 

    So, take this test with any of your collections. Look at one of your prize possessions and what is the first thing to come to your mind? Is it the cost or value of the item, or does a smile come to you face knowing you are the temporary custodian of that particular piece of history? There, you have your answer as to whether you are successful. (Or not ... )

    Read more:

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    Why buying original-surface classic coins can be tricky

    November 11, 2014 1:26 PM by

    ​Note: Read the first part of my breakdown here.

    So, what does all this original-surface stuff mean to today’s numismatist that wants to begin their journey back to the coins from the early mint?  

    First they have to get away from the habit of purchasing coins for their collection based on Grey Sheet bids.  The thought that these older coins are available at listed prices similar to more modern coins is incorrect. At the bid levels, or even Trends and Red Book prices you can only expect to obtain coins that have been subject to some type of alteration. Specialty dealers and collectors have long realized the scarcity and desirability of the few remaining original pieces. The premiums paid for pristine examples can sometimes be multiples of the list prices, much like someone paying a premium for a beautifully toned dollar.

    There is a growing segment of the collecting community wanting one of these elusive original surface coins and are willing to pay for the privilege of owning one. These prices will not show up in any published price list. One must view auction lots and dealer inventories to get an appreciation of what they actually look like and the prices they are bringing. This is more difficult than merely looking at a Grey Sheet, but ultimately worth the effort.

    More from CoinWorld.com:

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    What you need to know before collecting 'classic' U.S. coins

    Specialists identify counterfeit 1900-O/CC Morgan dollar with links to Micro O fakes

    Mint confirms printing error on Great Smoky Mountains National Park quarters set COA

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    What you need to know before collecting 'classic' U.S. coins

    November 3, 2014 11:33 AM by

    ​Those collectors who specialize in United States coins from the 19th century are very familiar with the two-tiered market that exists for those series. Novice collectors are often confused when they first venture into the rarified air of these antique issues. This is my attempt at easing that transition from “modern” numismatics to the “classic” issues.

    Most collectors begin their numismatic journey with a 20th century series. Lincoln cents were a popular starting point for collectors of my generation. Many adults today may begin with Walking Liberty halves or Morgan dollars. They get used to the availability of these coins in bright uncirculated condition by the hundreds at any major coin show. They quickly learn that a bright white coin certified by any of the major grading services often satisfies their collection. After identifying the look they desire it is not usually too difficult in building their collection.

    The classic issues come with more diversity of character. They were used in commerce to a greater degree with fewer collectors and hoarders having saved multiple examples in uncirculated condition. More than anything else, there is a great diversity in the condition of the SURFACE of the coins. Numismatic abuse; mainly cleaning, have altered many of these wonderful coins. Others have been scratched, dented or otherwise altered to reduce their value and desirability to collectors. What is left in original condition is a miniscule percentage of the surviving examples and, therefore, more valuable than their compromised sisters.

    Many advanced collectors refer to these unaltered examples as “crusty” as they have a “skin” of dirt and patina that they have developed over the last couple of hundred years. I often describe it to customers as comparing it to a bronze statue that has been exposed to the environment for decades. It develops a certain patina that is different from the day it was installed. It is what it is supposed to look like after serving its purpose. Coins are the same way.  After decades of handling and storage they acquire a protective patina of oxidation and dirt. Removing it to expose the underlying surface is normally not a good idea. 

    A coin in original XF or AU condition from the 19th century should have original luster. This luster has usually bonded with the toning and/or patina of the coin. When someone removes this protective covering with an acid dip, or other method of cleaning, the luster goes with the patina. This leaves the collector with a “white” coin with lifeless surfaces, or even worse, a stained coin where the cleaning did not remove all the patina. Many of these “classic” coins were subjected to cleaning during the 1950-1960’s as part of the expanding collecting market. Beginning collectors were made to think that “brighter was better”. The cleanings rendered many of these beautiful coins to less desirable condition for today’s discerning collector.

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