Mike Gumpel Reports on the September Long Beach Expo

(Long Beach, California) – Before leaving for the latest Long Beach Coin Expo, I thought about the market, the recent ANA Convention, all the auction bills that were coming due shortly and how close in date these two major shows were this year.

All this led me to believe that there was a very strong possibility that Long Beach would be a weak show highlighted by some cash-poor dealers making distress sales to meet future auction payment obligations.  It seemed logical and probably would have happened if both dealer liquidity and market strength were not solid right now.

Of course, I was wrong, and I knew it shortly after setup.

It was not a record-breaking show.  It was not even a great show for most of the dealers.  It was a very solid show that not only exceeded my expectations but probably those of most of the dealers there.  Everyone I spoke to had gone to the show with a similar mindset to mine: too close to ANA, too much money spent at ANA, not enough time to liquidate many coins, not enough time between shows for there to by much in the way of new purchases, etc.

All of this was very true, especially the lack of fresh material.  (To date there has probably never been a coin show in history where someone had not complained about this)

Just about anything nice was an easy sell with many buyers available.  Type coins, long undervalued on the price sheets but selling in the sightseen market for higher prices, are finally beginning to show some increases.  Rare and better-date coins of just about any series continue to be in high demand.  A look at the want lists of 10 dealers who sell retail to similar clientele showed an amazing amount of duplication: Everyone is looking for the same coins to some extent.

The reason for this is the reason that this market has continued to be strong.  At its base, it is primarily a collector's market-that is, a market driven by collectors buying better coins and not by investment programs or telemarketers pumping up coins that can be had in quantity.  That does not mean that there are no "programs" going on.

A strong market will bring questionable investment ideas, uneducated investors and new collectors into the market.  This does not mean that all investment ideas are questionable, but people who enter the coin market thinking that all they need to know is how to write check is are always vulnerable to buying the wrong coins.

The super-grade common and modern coin market has also remained strong, encouraged by the competitive nature of registry sets.  Personally, I find it hard to believe in this market, but it has been a factor in discovering that certain seemingly common coins are not common at all in better grades.  There is also the "human nature" factor of being able to say, "My set is better than yours!"

The show stayed consistent throughout, and the opinions of every dealer that I spoke to seemed to be nearly identical: It was a good show, better than expected!