Welcome to Steve's blog, sharing stories of his professional coin career, 1963 to date. Enjoy stories of Steve's numismatic journey.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Searching The World For Great Coins

Those who followed my inventory in recent months recognize I've been on a long and complicated search for new coins.  Success has come from usual sources (collectors, dealers, auctions) and a bit of gentle arm twisting for access to dealer stashes long hidden away.

Recent experience models the unrelenting search by dealers and collectors to discover the next batch of great coins.  Seems like the search was somewhat easier in the early days of my coin career.   Best results come both from hard work and being in the right place at the right time.  

In early 1981 we were exhausted from the great gold and silver price rise which required months and months of extra long work hours, scrambling mightily to keep body, soul and business together.  We just needed a break, so a vacation to New Zealand and Australia seemed just right.

Maori Warrior
While exploring these new and interesting regions, coin matters quietly percolated in the back of my mind.  It was common knowledge that good U.S. coins were sometimes available in Australia and New Zealand, remnants of the U.S. naval fleet being stationed in the region from 1910 to 1915.

American sailors spent mostly “S” mint coins, including Lincoln Cents, Buffalo Nickels and all Barber denominations. Wouldn't it be great to score some early 20th century coins for inventory?  Maybe we should explore a coin shop or two along our journey.

In Sydney, we connected with M.R. “Bob” Roberts, an internationally known Australian coin dealer I had met several times during my years in Southern CaliforniaBob began in the coin business just two days before the introduction of and changeover to decimal coinage in Australia (14 February 1966) and his Wynyard Coin Centre has been operating since shortly after that.

Sydney Harbor View
I was able to do a little business with Bob, and he suggested other dealers I should contact during our stay.  We were honored to dine in the Roberts home, a spectacular condo overlooking all of Sydney Harbor and the city. 

In New Zealand, we were fully on our own.  From Auckland to Rotorua to Wellington, we enjoyed the culture, scenery and other delights, snooping in coin shops along the way,

Waiotapu Thermal
We found a few treasures in Australia and 
New Zealand to ship home, mostly “S” mint Lincoln Cents and Buffalo Nickels, but nothing truly spectacular.  We had a delightful trip, providing adequate rest and relaxation to return refreshed and renewed.

Yet in terms of coin searches, the prize for being in the right place at the right time went to a U.S. dealer who had visited Auckland about a year earlier, scoring an original BU roll of 1914-D Lincoln Cents.  Talk about good luck . . . .    

Steve Estes - early 1981
The tiny auto in which we traveled
around New Zealand's north island

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