This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Books, awards and exhibits were part of the Central States Numismatic Society Convention April 27-30 in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, but there seemed to be only one thing on the minds of much of the public who attended: silver.
Those who thought that way made a beeline to the SilverTowne table at the entrance to the bourse floor.
I stopped by there April 27 to congratulate Leon Hendrickson, the Winchester, Ind., firm’s founder, on the publication of the book that tells his story, Rare Coins, Rare People.
I bought a copy of the book. Then I got out of the way and watched over succeeding days as many people sold off silver coins, including modern commemoratives, for their bullion value as silver approached $50 an ounce.
Even near that price, which was the record price set in 1980, there were many eager buyers of silver who believe it will go higher yet.
But even as bullion’s high profile cast its shadow, the bourse buzz of other dealers and deals also could clearly be heard.
“Outstanding,” was the one-word summation of the show by Allouez, Wis., coin dealer Mike Schiller. He attended for just one day, the Professional Numismatists Day on April 27.
“I moved a large amount of bullion,” he said. “We were very successful as far as finding some really neat collector coins,” he added.
Schiller said his transactions in bullion were 6.4 times greater than the collector coin deals, but profit margin on bullion was narrower.
“Bullion profits translated into rare coins” said Nick Linzalone of New York Gold Mart Co., Manhassett, N.Y.
The high price of silver and gold “gets people interested in the hobby,” Linzalone explained.
About his results at the show, he said there was good wholesale business and sluggish retail attendance.
“I don’t think this show does very well retail,” he said.
“We do the rare stuff. Civil War is selling well. Shipwreck is selling well,” Linzalone said.
Kurt Krueger of Iola, Wis., said, “We did well,” when asked on the final day how business was. “We sold a lot of collector coins and met a lot of old friends. We were happy to be here. We sold more large cents and Bust half dollars than anything,” he said.
Paper money dealer Mickey Shipley of Mickey’s Currency of Devils Lake, N.D., stopped by the Numismatic News booth early in the show to express concern that bullion might overshadow paper money, but by the final day, she said, “No doubt about it, the market is on the upswing. I did OK.”
She wasn’t the only paper money dealer to express concern.
For Fred and Doris Bart of Executive Currency, Roseville, Mich., the show was slow compared to other Central States shows.
On the other hand, Jess Lipka of Numismania Rare Coins, Flemington, N.J., with a bourse table full of paper money, said the show was extremely busy.
“Chicago is a great place to have a show even though I’m a little concerned that they are moving all the shows to Chicago,” Lipka said. “Business is good. The market is good. People want paper money and the market is definitely on the upswing. I’m finding it very easy to buy and very easy to sell.”
Long-time Appleton, Wis., coin dealer Bob Worachek declared, “Thursday was gangbusters. Friday I could have stayed in the room and watched television. Over all, it was good.”
Worachek said for him sales matched his purchases.
“We can never get enough of the right stuff,” he said of his willingness to buy more than he did.
He also joked about the wind and rain that fell during much of the show, “Next time tell Chicago they can order better weather.”
Though the headlines are currently being made by bullion, Harry Miller of Patchogue, N.Y., was surprised to be asked about the Lincoln cent market.
“Actually, it’s doing reasonably well,” he responded.
He said a promotion house was back in the market seeking cents for its offerings.
“At the show here, activity was moderate. The 1909-S VDB and the 1955 doubled-die are soft because of being overpromoted,” Miller explained. “The rest of the Lincoln market is fine.”
It wasn’t bullion but collectible gold that worked for Julian Leidman of Silver Spring, Md.
“The only thing I sold here was gold,” he said. “I didn’t sell it to the public. Collector coins, I think, are more a function of the economy and I think the economy is still suffering. I don’t even know if I could have sold bullion here because the prices are so high. The people have to catch up with that.”
Collector Geoffrey Lewis of Flossmoor, Ill., observed while he was at Leidman’s table, “The coin market is in flux. It doesn’t go as fast as the bullion market.”
Jack Beymer of Santa Rosa, Calif., said, “All we had were serious collectors. We had a really good show.”
Sheridan Downey of Los Altos, Calif., said, “This has been an extremely active show for me both in buying and selling. The sales were almost exclusively to collectors. A lot of the activity is related to the rise of gold and silver prices. It’s a shot in the arm.”
Brad Karoleff had a Mount Hood 5-ounce silver bullion coin in his case.
“You can buy it for melt,” he declared and then modified that somewhat to “$325 more or less.” The coin had some scratches in Washington’s hair and could not grade out as MS-69 or higher.
About business generally, Karoleff said, “Great, maybe the best ever ... When I got here I had more coins than case room. Now I have a lot of case room,” he said as he pointed to the empty areas.
Also, 1976 Bicentennial quarter designer Jack L. Ahr was seen on the bourse floor. Krueger said he stopped by his table where he told Ahr to come back when the American Numismatic Association convention is held in the same facility in August. He said he told Ahr that if he comes back he hopes the quarter designer will keep a higher profile so other collectors will get a chance to meet him.
Nice idea. By August silver’s high profile might allow someone else in the limelight.