In the previous article in this issue John Feigenbaum recalled his difficult experiences in setting up a live coin auction business for David
Lawrence Rare Coins. He was reminded of his Richmond Sale experience by an article published by Legend Numismatics owner Laura Sperber about her
similar difficult experiences in setting up her auction business. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online. -Editor
When the original Superior was for sale, I badly wanted to buy it. It had a great manager (the late Steve Deeds) and had been around a long
time. I just knew way back when (20+ years ago, that auctions were the future in selling coins). My partner Bruce put his foot down and said no. So
no it was.
Then I got the itch really bad a few years later. I figured to try a different route. I knew Dan Morphy from my friend John Snyder and his boss at
Diamond comics, Steve Geppi. So I figured why not partner, he is outside of coins and has a huge customer base. Sadly Dan, did not understand coins
at all and he clashed with my style. That association was brief.
A couple of years later, I contacted him again and tried for a second time. We had small success until a very flawed computer program he offered
us failed. We turned to an outside source and ended up losing $600,000.00.
Even a small start up required a ton of money, even more work, and a lot of great people. After losing $600,000.00 money was tight. At that point
I was fighting up hill with Bruce who did not want me to do it. My vision was undeterred.
I started reaching out to all of my best customers. Surprise! They all gave me some pretty cool stuff that was duplicates. I was smug and thought
every one knew Legend so it would be easy to start the auction co. HELL NO!
It took me 3 years to gain ANY name recognition. Even then we still had customers walking past our table and tell us they were going to major firm
to put their coins in auction (none ever made it to their destinations). Then I started to get Mr Simpsons duplicates (he was watching to make sure
we really could get top dollar before he gave us any coins) and we never looked back. Those coins certainly got peoples attention.
At the time I knew what I wanted and needed. I hired a manager, a art director (I wanted hard bound catalogs), and a top tier cataloger. I hired
the two auction coordinators I always wanted. Two years ago I hired a Exec VP/finance guy and a manager of the entire auction process. You would be
amazed the amount of work that hits us even when we are way out from an auction.
My goal is and still is to be a 500 lot boutique auction house. Being a major player in auctions for the last 25+ years, I knew what and how I
wanted an auction company to be. I do NOT want Legend to be big, I know I can not sit thru 700 lot sessions until 1 AM.
Knowing the intense work that goes in a bigger sale, I will never knock the big guys. Its amazing they can get it all done.
You should see how much physical work and time goes into making, editing, proof reading the web site and the catalog! EVERYONE has to pitch
To read the complete article, see:
THE AUCTION BUSINESS
THE BOOK BAZARRE
THE 2020 RED BOOK:
Keep your library of classic hardcover Red Books up to date. Order your copy of the Guide Book of United States
, 73rd edition, for $17.95 online at Whitman.com
, or call
Wayne Homren, Editor
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