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Scarce Coin Watch

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Pierre_Henri
21 hours ago, jwither said:

Due to the much lower price level, better Union has all but dried up on eBay, foreign auctions (Heritage, DNW) and US dealers.  (The latter was minimal anyway.)  I have always assumed that most of the better coinage is sold privately but cannot confirm it.

I am a member of a few South African Coin Societies like those of Natal, Border and PMB.

Every month I get a  newsletter or "minutes of the last meeting" via e-mail from them, and usually  the attendees and sometimes the committee members names are provided. 

I have never been to one of these meetings as I live in Cape Town, the nearest of these societies are 1500 kilometers away from me.

I have, for example,  just received the minutes of the Natal Numismatic Society and the names of all committee members were provided.  I do not know, or have ever met, or have ever sold (as far as I can remember) a coin to a single person on the list

So, those who think (like I did) that BidorBuy (and say E-bay) are the main trade platform(s) for coins in SA is WRONG - but where and how these people (fellow South African coin collectors) buy coins, is a total mystery to me.

So you are probably 100% correct that the transactions you refer to, are done privately.

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jwither
1 hour ago, Pierre_Henri said:

I am a member of a few South African Coin Societies like those of Natal, Border and PMB.

Every month I get a  newsletter or "minutes of the last meeting" via e-mail from them, and usually  the attendees and sometimes the committee members names are provided. 

I have never been to one of these meetings as I live in Cape Town, the nearest of these societies are 1500 kilometers away from me.

I have, for example,  just received the minutes of the Natal Numismatic Society and the names of all committee members were provided.  I do not know, or have ever met, or have ever sold (as far as I can remember) a coin to a single person on the list

So, those who think (like I did) that BidorBuy (and say E-bay) are the main trade platform(s) for coins in SA is WRONG - but where and how these people (fellow South African coin collectors) buy coins, is a total mystery to me.

So you are probably 100% correct that the transactions you refer to, are done privately.

I am assuming this as it appears to be the most reasonable explanation why the elite and rarer better grade coinage seldom or never shows up for sale.  Union much less than ZAR but still applies to at least some of the latter.

Private transactions can work for or against you both as a seller and buyer.  You never know whether you are selling below or above "market".  I will qualify my prior statements though that at least some of these people are more collector than financially motivated buyer versus those who posted on this forum.

I'm still guessing it's what I implied before here.  There is a relatively small circle of collectors in your country who own most of the elite and rarer better grade coinage.  They know and deal directly with each other or have the transaction handled by one of the better known dealers for a commission.  On occasion we will see this coinage offered for sale publicly.  Examples include the 1926 proof farthing sold somewhat over 10 years ago, the 1926 proof set offered on Bob now, and the handful of Remick coins offered on BoB late last year.  This included the 1926 1/- and 1926 2/-.  I would describe the ask prices on these two as "aggressive" but someone must have made an acceptable offer, as both weren't listed long.

This might also be true of my current primary series.  I have two reference books (Gilboy and Yonaka) plus the Patterson catalog from the 1996 Bonham's sale.  In 15+ years of collecting this coinage, I have literally seen almost none of the better plate coins show up for sale and though the absolute number is low even collectively, most don't seem to be in the TPG data either.  I don't know any of these other collectors though I suspect Yonaka knows at least a  few.  Unlike Union and ZAR though, I suspect that they are distributed more widely geographically, though presumably concentrated in the US and Europe.

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jwither

Here are some additional coins from elsewhere with usually large TPG populations in high quality.  Most of these might be hoards (I don't always know) but it's an indication that it isn't unusual for old coinage from all over the world to survive in high number.  This is from NGC only, unless otherwise noted..

1712 Peru 8E 37 MS, probably mostly or entirely from the 1715 fleet shipwreck

1821 Guatemala Real 369 MS (264 PL)

1774 Bolivia 8R 91 MS (MS-66 top grade) ; This is a hoard (Cuzco hoard I believe) with many more presumably ungraded

No date (1542-1555) Mexico 4R 52 MS (up to MS-64); Many more in AU-55 or AU-58

1754 Mexico 8R 566 MS; This is a confirmed hoard coin

1923 Australia 1/2D 310 total (15 AU-55, 8 AU-58, 3 MS), most at PCGS.  This is frequently thought of as a "rare" coin but is only a "key" date.  In AU or MS, It's almost certainly scarcer than all circulation strike bronze Union except maybe the 1932 1D.  I'm dubious on this but it's possible.  (I consider the 1933, 1934 and 1936 farthings to be disputed circulation strikes.)

1921 Canada 50C 27 total (11 MS); This is the most prominent Canadian coin, excluding the 1911 pattern dollar,1936 SP "no dot" cent and one (or maybe two) Sovereigns.  Possibly some duplicates given the value but also excludes ICCS.

First Jewish Revolt shekel  66-70CE 42 MS + 139 AU.  Believe it to be a hoard coin.

1912-S USA 5C 360 MS-65 +68 MS-66.  Never believed to be a rare coin generically (mintage = 238,000) but it is a "key" date in this series.  Several gem rolls (40 coins each) were graded within the last 10 years and flooded the market.  (The PCGS Coin Facts narrative is outdated and mentions they have graded only 10 MS-66.)  Probably numerous duplicates.  Last MS-66 sale (1/2020) about $4200.

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Pierre_Henri

The 1923 Union Penny also shows an unusual high MS population vs. other SA Union Pennies from the King George V era. I vaguely recalls that a large shipment of these coins were hoarded by someone who traveled the world on an old ocean liner and when the ship docket in Cape Town, he bought a bag full of these pennies that was kept for many decades in a safe (in the USA?) and then many years later, his estate  sold them to someone who had them graded by NGC. 

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jwither
1 hour ago, Pierre_Henri said:

The 1923 Union Penny also shows an unusual high MS population vs. other SA Union Pennies from the King George V era. I vaguely recalls that a large shipment of these coins were hoarded by someone who traveled the world on an old ocean liner and when the ship docket in Cape Town, he bought a bag full of these pennies that was kept for many decades in a safe (in the USA?) and then many years later, his estate  sold them to someone who had them graded by NGC. 

The 1923 1D is unusual in the sense that a lot of very high (MS-65 and MS-66) coins showed up in the NGC census around the same time almost 10 years ago.  I first noticed it when Northeast Numismatics (NEN) listed multiple MS-66 on their website simultaneously.  Prior to this, I assume that most collectors in your country would have assumed it was at least somewhat scarce due to the much lower mintage (versus other dates) and prior to the adoption of TPG in your country, might have considered it even scarcer.  (The price guides I have don't indicate that it was ever considered "rare" but 

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jwither

Never got a chance to finish my thought.  I saved the post prior to completing it by accident and the software doesn't let me edit my post.

The primary point I was trying to make is that when anyone looks at the TPG data for most Union coinage, there is no reason to believe that, due to prior melting and limited collecting, that a coin with several dozen MS in the TPG data (applies to most Union dates) is anywhere near as scarce as it appears.

This is hardly unique to this coinage as the examples I included above make evident.  Most of the examples I included originate with little (if any) collecting at the time, there was far less travel, the mintages were (presumably) usually lower and given the age, far more likelihood of being lost or mishandled.  In most instances where collecting was not widespread locally where the coin is at least somewhat old, survival is a random event.  The 1925 florin and 1944 shilling both have mintages of 50,000 but I equally believe both are scarcer in MS (or higher quality) than most of the examples I listed.  Mostly though, I assume that Union dates have MS or at least several hundred and up to around 1000.

Most of this coinage isn't worth enough to bother grading, either now or even at the YE 2011 peak.  This is also the unknown factor with most non-US coinage, including those I collect.  (This is aside from TPG preference, since the scarcity of many prominent coins is generally or even specifically known without it.)  When I have evaluated scarcity, I have attempted to consider these questions, though it doesn't eliminate random chance survival:

What was the original mintage?  This is generally unknown but the starting point.

What was the extent of local collecting, if any?

Was there a change in the local monetary system?  The answer is usually "yes" though in countries with limited collecting, the coinage was neither saved nor melted  for years after the changeover.

How prevalent is it in the most prominent collections?  This matters because usually even the scarcest coins can be found through the dealer network, if it is financially worthwhile to do so.

How does the scarcity compare to other (reasonably) comparable but more widely collected coinage (probably mostly British and American) where the scarcity is better known?

With the last question, this is how I can reasonably conclude that the pillars are mostly as scarce as I believe.  Scarcity of US Liberty Seated coinage is much better known than most.  So where the mintage is comparable, it's reasonable to believe that being about 70 to over 100 years older with less collecting and greater geographic isolation, it is scarcer.

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