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The FUN Show and MB 53 - Recent Developments

January 3, 2022

The FUN Show opens to the public Thursday this week.  You probably heard that I will not be there.  Florida has been hard hit by COVID-19, particularly the Omicron variant.  I am not keen on contracting the virus, particularly while away from home.  Babysitting coins while quarantined in a hotel for several days is a dismal prospect.  The FUN Board met in September and decided to hitch its COVID-19 protocols to those of the State of Florida and Orange County Convention Center.  With the recent surge in infections the Board might have reconsidered and instituted a "No vaccination/No mask/No entry" protocol.  Despite outcries from numerous dealers and collectors it has not done so.  The Board's latest pronouncement is here:  It is starkly reminiscent of Pontius Pilate's infamous hand-washing decision, memorialized in Matthew 27:24.  I am also reminded of J.R.R. Tolkien's admonition, "It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him."

 postponed the close of MB 53 untl 6 PM PST, Saturday January 15, 2022.  This will allow you time to preview lots by mail.  The process is simple.  Email a list of the lots you wish to see.  I will ship them to your home, office or P.O. Box via USPS Priority Express Mail (or Fed Ex, if you prefer).  You keep them overnight and return them the next day with a check for my postage, usually $27.70.  I pick up the insurance, both ways.

Hard copies of the catalog were mailed last month.  I have a few left.  If you did not receive one and intend to bid in the auction let me know ASAP.  You may also download a pdf version of the 60-page catalog here.  The cover is here, a bid sheet here.  Five errors in the original catalog have been corrected.  Lot 6 is an 1811 O.112a, not 1812.  Lot 68 is an 1808 O.104, not O.109a.  Lot 92 is an 1827 O.117, not O.143.  Lot 101 is an 1838 RE, not 1837.  Also, the wrong photo for lot 88, the Eliasberg 1827 O.132, was inserted in the original catalog.

Never hesitate to email or call if you have a question about the sale, lot preview or anything else.


December 19, 2021

You may now view photos, descriptions and enter bids in the sale.  The catalog is at the printer and will be mailed to regular bidders before Christmas.  (Library copies of the catalog are available for $10 plus postage.)  The sale closes during the FUN Show, Friday January 7, 2022, at 6 PM EST.  Here is page 1 of the catalog:


Welcome to MB 53!  There are 108 coins in the sale.  Once again, the principal consignor is Tim Osborne, and the watchwords are eye candy.  Tim spent more than 30 years on the hunt for bust half-dollars with exceptional eye appeal.  His BHNC friends, colleagues and suppliers during that period included Floyd Farley, Dr. Gerald Schertz, Charlton “Swampy Meyer, Gehring Prouty, Keith Davignon and, recently, Dr. Charles Link.  Prices Realized for his 60-piece consignment to my recent ANA Sale, MB 52, confirm that his knowledge and patience paid off.  This time Tim favors us with a 64-piece consignment.  When reviewing Tim’s coins pay special attention to his AU 55s.  Many will leave you wondering, “Why not AU 58?”  At lot preview during the November Baltimore Show the most talked about coin in Tim’s consignment was his 1813 O.104, lot 9, a fully original choice AU, masquerading in a CAC approved PCGS AU 55 capsule.  

Several other collectors generously offered one or more pretty coins for the sale.  You will find them in Part 2, lots 65 through 101.  Highlights include three mouth-watering selections from the legendary collection of Louis Eliasberg.  Perhaps you will find an XF-AU 1811 O.113 to your liking.  And, oh, the coin doubles as a major error: it is struck off-center!  Lot 66 is an AU 58 1807 Small Stars.  Need I say more to whet your appetite?!  Last minute consignments, lots 102-108, include jaw-dropping, Condition Census examples of two noted rarities, an 1827 O.124 and 1828 O.105.

                                                     SLAB PHOTOS

I again asked Lance Keigwin to photograph both the coins and their slabs.  To view slab photos just click on the cropped photo next to the description.  The photos are also available by clicking the BID button.  (No, that will not trigger a bid.)  Voila!  You will be greeted by a description of the coin and photos of the coin, cropped and slabbed, along with information on current bidding.

                                             A PEP TALK FOR BIDDERS

This is an auction.  There will be coins that sell for record prices.  There will be coins that sell below expectations.  Approach the sale as you would any other: select the coins that are of most interest; research current and past prices; then bid what YOU are willing to pay, without worry that someone else will bid “too much.”  Some coins are doubtless of Royal Blood, the finest of their ilk.  Others are working class citizens.  Each is lonely and seeking a new home.  

Two invaluable research tools should be at your fingertips, Dave Rutherford’s on-line price guide,, and Steve Herrman’s latest edition of AMBPR, Vol.59. I have a couple of copies available.  Call or email if you need one.  

  Thanks, and enjoy the sale!

MB 52 – An Update and Reminder

August 4, 2021


We are 7 days from the close of Mail Bid Sale No. 52.   Time to hunker down and look at the lots that pique your interest.  The witching hour is 6 PM CDT Wednesday August 11.  If you’ve not already marked your calendar, now is the time to set a reminder.


In mid-July, when the auction went live, consignors were greeted with a remarkable number of early bids.  Another wave of bids arrived a week or so later, when the catalog hit the mailboxes of established bidders.  At this writing only 9 lots in Part 1 of the Sale, Tim Osborne’s 60-piece consignment, lack an opening bid.  It is my experience that over half the bids in an auction that allows Internet bidding are entered in the last 24 hours, many in the closing minutes.  Late bidding in this Sale is certain to occur when collectors attending the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money hand in bid sheets after previewing lots at my bourse tables this coming Tuesday and Wednesday.  Snipers will lie in wait, as always.


The past couple of weeks brought several emails and phone calls that concern the auction.  One question recurs.  “If the current bid is $500 and I bid $1,000 will other bidders know my top bid?”  The answer is an emphatic “No.”  Other bidders will see that the current high bid has moved to $550, requiring a minimum bid of $600 to continue the battle.  If a new bidder bids the minimum, the computer will bid $650 on your behalf and advise the new bidder that he or she has been outbid.  The new bidder, of course, may skip over the $600 minimum and bid $1,001.  Ouch!  You will go into 2nd place and face a new minimum bid of $1,101 if you wish to carry on.  Many bidders tack on an extra 1, 5 or 10 dollars, hoping to avoid this bit of frustration.


Other questions concern sources to be consulted when valuing a lot.  That’s a tough one.  PCGS offers a retail price guide,  Steve Herrman’s AMBPR is in most of your libraries.  Dave Rutherford’s important resource, Bust Half Auction and Sales Results, is here:  Some collectors subscribe to the Greysheet for wholesale pricing suggestions.  Heritage, Stack’s/Bowers and Legend allow us to access their auction archives.

Whew!  Sorting out available data can be a chore.  And confusing.  Price disparities are sometimes explained by a dirty little secret of the coin business.  Pretend you are a coin dealer who just bought a 50-piece collection of PCGS graded bust halves.  You look through them, falling in love with a dozen nicely toned coins while shaking your head in wonder at another dozen that lack eye-appeal or look over-graded.  What to do?  No rocket science here.  Set aside the best coins for your best customers and extol their virtues as you add them to your Price List.  You hope to see these coins again.  The ones you don’t want to see again?  Consign them to auction, hoping someone will buy the plastic, not the coin. 

Major auction houses survive on dealer consignments but crave collector consignments, especially collections put together over a few decades by a discerning collector.   The names George Hamilton, Brent Pogue, Dale Friend, Keith Davignon, Roger Solomon and others come to mind.  Compare the prices their coins brought with similarly graded, unpedigreed coins.

I am pleased to report that every coin in MB 52 is consigned by a collector.  There are no dealer castoffs.  If an “AU 55” in the Sale is bid at 3 times its usual range consider it a well-earned thank you to the consignor.  He is offering us the fruits of his patience and knowledge, exercised over many years.


Did I neglect you?  Take heart.  You may download the catalog here.  The catalog cover and Terms of Sale are here.

Sheridan Downey, Numismatist
4400 Keller Ave., Suite 140, PMB 398
Oakland, California 94605
(510) 479-1585

©2022 Sheridan Downey