Monday, February 9, 2009

California dreamin’ (of Long Beach) on a rainy Dallas Monday

Feb. 9, 2009
Posted by Noah

I wrote about the Long Beach Coin auction on Friday of last week, as you can see below, and I said that the early news out of Long Beach, California was positive so far, and I wasn’t just talking about the surf and the sand – though I’d certainly dig a few days with my wife and daughter in the sun and fun. It’s hard not to be on tenterhooks about the state of… well, the state of everything these days, but Long Beach did indeed provide the kind of positive news that everyone at Heritage was hoping for, and the kind of news that this nation badly needs right now: The coin market is steady.

According to Jim Halperin, Heritage co-founder and best-selling fiction writer (see The Truth Machine), the total of the auction, $13M and counting with post-auction buys, exceeded what the company was hoping for. This is good news to all of us. Not out-of-control exuberant good news, or new-puppy-peeing-on-the-newspaper-when-it-sees-you enthusiasm, but steady, controlled zest for a continuance of what we saw at FUN in January.

“Prices are still down a little though higher than they were at FUN,” Jim said, “which was already above people’s expectations. We were actually expecting a $10-11M auction, so with $13M I’d say it was well beyond our expectations.”

Well. Beyond. Expectations… What a refreshing phrase to hear after the daily turmoil of the financial pages and the bum reports NPR has greeted me with every day since September of last year. Let’s all say it again, shall we? Well. Beyond. Expectations.

This is not a company given to irrational exuberance; in fact, steady guidance has been a hallmark of its existence, as has steady leadership. Most everyone at this company chooses their words very carefully – or at least those who are in a position where people listen when they talk – so I cannot imagine that Jim spoke lightly.

The future of the market, then? Same prognosis as a few days ago: You’re better off with coins than just about any other investment. It helps when you have a passion for it, and a brilliance – like so many here – but in this day and age the word of an expert like Jim might just be enough to spur investment.

“At the very least,” he said, “coins have gone down less than any other asset. At least any that I know of.”

That might as well be gospel. Here’s the link to the Long Beach catalog and the prices realized.