Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – “Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – The Purple Gang Set”

My next book covers Lincoln Fitzgerald and the Fitzgerald Collection of silver dollars.  It is titled:  “Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – The Purple Gang Set”.  The book briefly traces the early days of Lincoln’s life as a “bookkeeper” for the Purple Gang’s illegal casino operations to his crowning achievement of building Fitzgerald’s Casino & Hotel in Reno, NV.   The majority of the book covers one of the most extensive collections of Fitzgerald silver dollars known to exist.   

A note about inflation – it also happens in titles.  Lincoln’s title of “bookkeeper” in the 1920’s would now be called Senior Executive Vice President of Casino Operations. 

The final manuscript is being prepared and I am waiting for some last minute additions before turning it over to the publisher.  It does contain many rare and one-of-a-kind Fitzgerald Collection silver dollar varieties.  It also contains a current population report for the hoard. 

Distributors for my first book, “Rick’s Legacy – Pedigree & Hoard / Coins & Currency”, will also be handling distribution of my second book.  It will be available on Amazon, Ebay, The Book Nook in Jacksonville FL, and at Great Collections auction house.
While most of the sales will be done through these distributors, I am having a few extra copies made so that I can offer direct sales to people who have purchase Pedigree coins from me in the past.  These books will be offered at a pre-publishing wholesale discount rate.  Email me at RicksPedigreeCoins@Gmail.com to secure information.  


Photo:  © 2014, Richard Bretz. Except as provided by the Copyright Act no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Researching the Fitzgerald Collection

Half of the excitement of being a “Pedigree Collector” is assembling coins and memorabilia from your favorite collection.  The other half of the excitement is researching and learning the origination of the collection.  In researching the collection, you can investigate well beyond the discovery date of the collection and learn an exciting history lesson.  And I have found learning about the Fitzgerald Collection to be one of the most fascinating journeys that I have taken in researching pedigree coins.

Silver dollars from the Fitzgerald Collection are one of the best bargains in the collecting market today.  Common date/mintmark coins can be found at coin shows and on auction sites at normal market value for a similar non-pedigree coin.  Sure, there are those guys on Ebay who are asking $400 for a $65 Fitzgerald (or Binion, or Cal-Neva, or Baltimore Hoard) coin, but just don’t buy from them.  Be patient and you will soon see the coin offered for a market driven, economical price.   The Fitzgerald silver dollars could very well be investment sleepers and as more people expand their knowledge and interest in pedigree coins, the value could be ready for a nice increase.
If you are a Fitzgerald silver dollar collector or even specializing in pedigree coins, you probably know about the discovery story of the hoard in 2004.  You may also know that at one time Lincoln Fitzgerald had an association with the Purple Gang.  But now is where the fun begins as you continue to dig into Lincoln’s past and gradually uncover that his “alleged” association may have been more than the rumored bookkeeper.  And you also will learn a lot more about the notorious Purple Gang when Lincoln ran their illegal gambling activities for them in Detroit.  Finding out information like this, 70 years before the hoard in the warehouse was discovered, just makes the ownership of the pedigree silver dollars more exciting to have and to tell others about.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Great Collections vs. Heritage – Costs

In a previous blog I pointed out why I preferred Great Collections auctions and Sunday night I found myself in an unusual predicament that is a great example of what I was talking about.

I did not have a Carson City GSA silver dollar in my collection, so I found some on the big 3 – Ebay, Heritage and Great Collections – and started bidding.  Saturday night I bid on several in Heritage’s auction that closed on Sunday.  Got outbid on all but an 1884-CC, NGC MS62.  I forgot about it and got busy watching Ebay and Great Collections on Sunday.  Great Collections had one that looked reasonable so I bid it and won – an 1884-CC, NGC MS62.  An hour later I am on Heritage and noticed I won the same date/grade coin there also (I forgot I even bid).  So I ended up with 2 of the same coin and here is how the billing worked out:

Great Collections
 $ 165.00
 $              167.80
My Bid
Buyer's Premium
 $ 202.28
 $              188.08

Even bidding more on Great Collections for the same grade/date coin, I ended up paying $14 less.  And that is why I prefer Great Collections.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Stack’s Bowers Numismatics – Coin Photos

I pointed out in my last blog that Stack’s Bowers auctions refuses to show the full slab of coins they are marketing.  Why they refuse to give full product disclosure for the items that they are offering for auction is beyond me, but I would like to point out two cases of where showing the full slab is important:

First, glance at this auction item featured by AANtv (America’s Auction Network).

The description by the AAN is:  1882-S Morgan Silver Dollar Fitzgerald Collection MS66/NGC”

Now by seeing the full slab I can identify at least 3 errors.

1.  The label of the coin identifies the coin as an 1881-S, not an 1882-S. 

2.  The actual coin in the slab is dated 1880.

3.  The slab identifies it as MS66, but by using NGC’s verification system I see that NGC identifies it as: 1880-S, MS63.  Viewing of the full slab allowed me to see the certification number.

So by seeing the full slab three errors are easily detected and the coin described in the listing error being sold for $499.77 is all of a sudden worth around $70.

This listing and the errors were brought to the attention of NGC and they promptly handled with the America’s Auction Network to have the coin returned and errors corrected.  Typo’s happen and we all make them.  To NGC’s credit, they responded immediately after receiving notification of this error.  It is easy to see why NGC is so well respected in the numismatic field.  My only purpose in using this example is to illustrate why it is important to see the entire slab.    

Incidentally, if you are purchasing any pedigree coin with a premium value, I would suggest you use either NGC’s verification system or PCGS’s verification system.  

Here is another example I saw on Ebay last week covering a coin with the GSA pedigree:

The title describes the coin as:  $1 1883 S MORGAN NGC MS 62 GSA HOARD PL FIELDS”

 A quick look at the full slab shows the GSA pedigree coin as 1880-S, not 1883-S.  This is another example of the importance of showing the full slab.

I sent the seller a quick note as a “heads-up” about the error in the title and he immediately canceled the listing.  The seller has an amazing feedback and I am sure it was a simple typo’.  We all make them and his quick action supported my believe that nothing ill was attended.  I am only referencing this incident to further illustrate the importance of showing the full slab.  Now if Stack’s would make this mistake, you would end up paying $1,500 for a coin that is only worth $45 to $50.

Everyone makes typo’s.  I have seen them on all the major auction sites by being able to see the full slab.  And every time I see one from reputable vendors, they pull the coin or if they can, immediately correct the error.  The only time I do not see immediate correction is on Ebay by shady sellers that are trying to scam buyers.  And in these cases, I do notify the seller of errors and when no action is taken, advise Ebay.  But Ebay does nothing about it, so be sure to use utmost caution when buying pedigreed coins on Ebay. 

Now on Stack’s, I really don’t know what their problem is in providing full slab pictures.  I don’t know if they are lazy or just don’t understand the importance.  Whatever it is, it is worse than the scammer on Ebay.  At least with the Ebay scammer you can see the full slab so you have a fighting chance.    

Friday, March 7, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Best Coin Auction Sites – Pro’s & Con’s

I am a big fan of Great Collections Auctions, Heritage Auctions and Ebay.  I miss Teletrade and I avoid Stack’s Bowers Auctions.

Great Collections is my favorite coin auction site because of the outstanding customer service, low 10% buyer’s fee and you get coins at reasonable prices generally set by the market place.  Also, their shipping fees are very reasonable.  What I am surprised about is that more people have not picked up on the advantages of this site.  This is good for me because I have less competition in going after items I want. 

Heritage Auctions is another favorite site of mine because they offer a wide variety of coins.  They offer high-end coins and they offer common collectible coins.   

The minus side of Heritage is their steep buyers’ premium of 17.5% they add to your purchase price - especially when they charge the seller a premium.  So they are taking in around 27% of the sale price with absolutely no risk.   Other minuses are high shipping cost, will not accept credit cards for purchases over $2,500 and slow or no feedback on auction listing errors.  At times they also have sloppy listing practices.  For example if you are a pedigree collector, at times Heritage does not list the pedigree name in the title so you may miss the coins you are after.  Additionally, they may list it in the body of the description (not in the title) but their search engine is setup to default to searching only on the title description.  It is a very clumsy system to use.     

Ebay is the workingman’s coin auction site.  They bring a wide variety of collectible coins to the market and depending upon timing, you can find a treasure you thought you never would find.  Two big advantages that Ebay has is that they offer a “Buyer’s Protection Plan” that is amazing and no buyer’s premium is added to your invoice.   

On the bad side of the ledger, Ebay has a tremendous problem with over-priced coins listed year after year after year after year.  I am not kidding here.  They have coins that have been listed for 3 years or more by sellers that are asking 400% over market value.  You flip to Great Collections or Heritage and you can purchase a common date Binion or Fitzgerald for $75 more or less.  You start a common date on Ebay at 99 cents and it will sell for between $65 to $75.  But because of Ebay’s free seller listing policy, you have hundreds of these same coins listed for $240 to $380 each.  Now why will anyone pay $380 for a coin that is worth $65?  The end result is that you see the same coin for many, many years and Ebay not only allows this practice to continue year after year, but encourages it by giving sellers free listing services.

Another problem with Ebay is that they make no effort to control outrages shipping charges.  I have seen sellers charge $12 shipping for items that cost $1.93 to ship.  Now you can report these sellers to Ebay but Ebay does nothing about it.  The same sellers pull the same unethical selling practices – again, year after year after year. 

I used to enjoy Teletrade and looked forward to their auctions.  While their listings dwindled over the years, they would still occasionally list coins of interest to the pedigree collector.  I found many pedigrees in Teletrade auctions that I could not find any other place.  Now they are gone and we have Stack’s.  I used Stack’s for a while many years ago, but found the site very difficult to use.  Their auction site is/was hard to maneuver, has/had a poor search engine and an illogical format.  To me, it was all just a bunch of clutter thrown together.  But the biggest item that killed me on Stack’s is their refusal to show the full slab of coins.  I use coin auction sites a lot.  And I find errors in listings by looking at the slabs a lot.  I also find coins that are pedigrees by looking at the label when the auction house fails to describe the coin accurately.  For some unknown reason, Stack’s refuses to show the slab so you do not have the opportunity to fairly assess the coin or see if errors are being made or even omissions in the description.  And for these reasons, I don’t even bother to look at Stack’s auctions.  I have deleted them from my saved sites.  There probably are other deficiencies in Stack’s auctions, but if it is not worth going in the door, why bother to look.