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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dealer Toolkit Includes Radar Detector, Crystal Ball and Wizard's Wand

Let's have a little fun today and explore a fascinating human phenomenon:  Flock (verb):  to move or come together in large numbers

Seemingly without warning coin collectors flock towards a specific series of coins.  This interesting direction change often occurs suddenly, sometimes over a month or less.  It’s as if some special collector sense has become activated.

Flock (or murmuration) of birds
Let’s examine one example:

In the early 1980s older silver and gold commemorative coins had been snoozing for the better part of ten years.  Suddenly the series awakened and commemorative coins were HOT.  General collectors and specialists alike flocked to buy and sell commems.  During the period lots of nice coins appeared in the marketplace, unearthed from dealer back rooms, collections and so on, fueling and feeding demand. The advent of certification increased the heat and the series continued to boom until reaching a peak about 1990. 

Commemoratives have been somewhat dormant since the 1990 peak and quantities of really nice pieces remain limited in today’s market.  The general collector soon turned to other series, leaving commemorative specialists to work quietly on their collections.

To service a moving flock of collectors, dealers need to operate ahead of the curve.  How do they do that? 

Certainly a good coin dealer needs common sense, years of experience, and the ability to fluidly change with collector interest. A dealer’s toolkit might also include a radar detector - to determine what direction the flock will take; a crystal ball - to guess the timing of the movement; and a wizard’s wand - to scare up inventory in time to serve demand. 

Today we see collectors flocking towards Mercury Dimes.  Now, Mercs have always been one of the most solid series of U.S. coins, rarely, if ever, experiencing dormancy of collector interest.  That said, Mercury Dimes have been a relaxed series over the past two to three years.  Until now.  All across the country we see heightened collector interest in Mercury Dimes.

Here’s a final anecdote on the topic, about a savvy Pacific Northwest dealer who acted as soon as he sensed collector interest shift.  This dealer runs a retail coin shop in a large metro area, attending local and regional coin shows.  When he sensed building demand he made a beeline to a local wholesale source with hoards of US coins tucked away, virtually cleaning out the wholesaler’s stockpile of Mercury Dimes.

I have been in this dealer’s shoes many times and applaud his foresight and motivation.  So long for now, I must get back to work.  We’ll chat again soon.  Until then have fun . . . and happy collecting.

Steve Estes

1 comment:

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