Greg Bennick's latest interview for the Newman Numismatic Portal is with London dealer Richard Lobel. Here's the sixth and final part, where Richard talks about his company publications, staff, warehouse and hoards.
Greg Bennick: Fantastic. Now tell me about the Phoenix because I know that I've received the
Phoenix in the past. I was on your mailing list.
Richard Lobel: We sent you two copies of the Phoenix of two issues, and two issues of the Blue
Card Flyer, which in some place, the post office are bad here and its worst in America.
Greg Bennick: Well, I look forward to receiving them.
Richard Lobel: Yeah. We published the Phoenix well, and the Blue Card Flyer, which the Blue
Card Flyer only goes out to about 1,500 most active clients and it's every three weeks. So, every
three weeks, we do two publications. It is a treadmill and it's -- I just had a fight with -- because
I'm a week late in delivering, I said leave me alone. I own the company. Leave me alone. But the
client who's in today -- he said he loves it because it's very personal in some ways. We tell it
what it's like. We may tell you that it's the ugliest coin we've ever sold. But we've got it.
We have two pages of rare British coins. We have four pages of banknotes. We have two pages
of ancient coins, and then we have other interesting things. For instance, we're selling at the
moment the new king, I want to say Prince Charles because I grew up my whole life, it was
Prince Charles, but it's King Charles is gold sovereign and it's selling very well, and also the
silver one ounce. And it's the first one with his portrait. And we're selling those. And we're not
the cheapest, but those, unfortunately, the silver ones have 20% VAT on them. And there's
nothing you can do about that. So, it's a killer. But we're selling what we think people will be
For instance, I mentioned to you that I did a medallion for the investiture of Prince Charles.
Well, we've done them again silver plated and gold plated. And we put them in a nice case and
we give you a first day cover of the five stamps for his investiture and the five mid stamps. And
we put the whole thing together and we sell it for 18.95. So, we're not trying to screw anyone.
We're trying to give you…we'd like to think we're giving you value for money. Certain things
the cheaper items, we have to be much more expensive because it's cost of handling them.
Greg Bennick: Of course. Of course. That makes sense.
Richard Lobel: But we handle somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 orders a year.
Greg Bennick: Wow. Wow. There must be a staff of dozens or hundreds behind the scenes
making this machine happen and --
Richard Lobel: We've got 20 staff. There's 20 people full-time. I think they're the best staff
around, and they're happy doing it. And we all, you know, we work at it. I went to the warehouse
today, because I hadn't been well for a while. And we were talking and two of the girls and one
of the guys said they'd never been to Las Vegas. It's the eighth wonder of the world. I love Las
Vegas. So, I've been going there for 60 years. So, we all sat and talked about it, and they said,
what hotels should I stay at? And I said, I've stayed at a lot of them because a friend of mine
used to own three of them. But we stay at the Golden Nugget Downtown because you're right on
Fremont Street and at night it is the wildest place in the world. I'm still wild.
Greg Bennick: I can tell.
Richard Lobel: Older but wild. And so we sat down and we must have chatted for half an hour.
But that's okay. You know, that's what the -- it's a family business. It's run like a family
business should be run.
Greg Bennick: So, you mentioned before, people being reluctant to spend money, coin dealers
being reluctant to spend money on advertising, and you said they're doing all -- they're not doing
all the things you should be doing as a coin dealer. In your opinion, what should people be doing
as coin dealers? And what should people not be doing as coin dealers? What advice would you…
Richard Lobel: Well, I think the first thing they should do is try and to get more people
interested in collecting. Too many of them are selling investments. It's investment, look how it's
gone up. You can pay £95 pounds for a new £5 pound piece from the Royal Mint. Or you can
buy from us and Edward I penny which ruled from 1272 to 1307 in nice condition for £60
pounds. Now, which would you rather have? I'd rather have a penny.
Greg Bennick: Yeah. For sure.
Richard Lobel: You know, this is a real -- because when Edward I reigned, the penny was the
largest denomination struck. And it's got a portrait on it. I mean, all right. It's a bit you know, I
think it was engraved with a paperclip. But okay. But that's the way -- but that's what they are,
except for the type one C, which comes through beautifully. But the Phoenix wants you to be
interested. I had one, he's unfortunately dead now. He was an American ambassador to Egypt
during the Six Day War, American. And he was wonderful. And he would buy very expensive
coins. And then he said, oh, you've got this Bolivian coin at 3.95, I want one of those too. You
know, that was a collector. That is a collect-- You buy what you enjoy, you buy what you want.
I would say that we've been successful enough as I say, do we have this huge -- I mean, if you
ever come over to London, please, I will show you. I mean, I can't believe what we have. I really
Greg Bennick: I would love to see the shop and the warehouse and everything, and I'll make a
Richard Lobel: The shop is very nice. It's very attractive. But the warehouse is unbelievable.
Greg Bennick: That's amazing.
Richard Lobel: Row after row of shelving full of boxes and things. A friend of mine from
Johannesburg -- do you know Gary Levitan?
Greg Bennick: I know the name. I'm pretty sure.
Richard Lobel: Yeah. And he was over. And he had never been so I took him to the warehouse.
He just went. It's row of silver sets and all the -- We love to own. And I mean, I've just bought
20 or 25,000 farthings. Well, they haven't been made since 1956, and mostly the George V and
George VI. I just think that I could -- I bought them for six pence each. I think they're so cheap
that they're fantastic, they're history.
Greg Bennick: I love it. I think that you might have just given me the title with your permission,
I might use it of my book on collecting someday. We love to own: an exploration of the mind of
Richard Lobel: But it's true. I mean, if you look at the firms in America that have been in
business for a while, if you look at Stacks before it was bought out, because years ago, I used to
date a cousin of Stacks, and I would fly down from Boston to New York. I was so clever. They
never had prices on them. I would always be able to buy US coins and make enough for the trip.
And funny when I stopped dating, my brilliance went. Like Samson with the hair. It was gone.
But the Stacks they told me a story once, was really wonderful that a guy had come in for 1796
quarter. So, they showed him and he said, um, so…they went downstairs and they took a wrench
and they hit a pipe, they kept hitting it like they would strike it, and they came up and said here it
is, but careful it's still hot because they just had struck the coin. I mean, in the old days, the
dealers had inventory. Today, they -- and as for slabbing, well, that is the worst thing in the
Greg Bennick: Yeah. It's been a challenging ride. It's made a lot of people a lot of money. It has
most definitely shifted the hobby in the last bunch of decades. So, your opinion on slabbing is
that it's not something that you enjoy.
Richard Lobel: Funny, we just broke a beautiful George II crown out of plastic -- out of slab.
Because it was just such a pretty coin. It just shouldn't be in plastic so we broke it out. Yeah. I
mean, I've been in coins since 1955. I know how to grade. Slabbing people don't know how to
grade. We find that they tend to over grade. They tend to be loose in the grading. I hate to say it.
And is a 64 really worth four times what a 63 is worth? No. You know, I look at a coin, let's say,
a William III 6 pence of 1697, which is a common coin because it was part of the Glyn, Mills
hoard. I don't know if you ever heard of the Glyn, Mills hoard.
Greg Bennick: No.
Richard Lobel: Glyn, Mills was a big bank in this country, one of the bigger banks. And in the
old days you had to keep so much money in cash on hand, well, they kept it in coins except the
coins were William III, Queen Anne and George I. And in the 1930s when the depression was
on, they decided they wanted to cash it in because it was no longer legal tender because the
Currency Reform Act of 1816 made everything earlier no longer legal tender. So, they walked
into Spink and they sold the hoard to Spink. Douglas Liddell, who used to be the managing
director, told me once laughingly, we're having a drink or two, lemonade or something like that.
He told me that they bought the William III crowns uncirculated. Now they're five shillings face.
They paid them four and six pence each for them because they were no longer legal tender. And,
I mean, this hoard was -- if you see a 1723 SSC shilling, it probably came to the Glyn, Mills
hoard. If you see the 1708 Queen Anne shilling, it came from the Glyn, Mills -- 1697 6 pence,
1697 shilling or -- they had bags of these things. Bags of them. Because of the depression, Spink
was the only one who had money to buy them. Well, them and Baldwins. But there've been more
hoards come out of this country that I know somebody who bought a hoard of 1933 $10 gold
piece, not the 20s, but the 10. They had a bag, an original bag of them. This was years ago.
Now it would be worth many, many times that. They bought it from a Coutts bank because that's
one of my bankers. And after they -- Coutts started to complain, and the guy who had bought
them said, fine. Let's talk to the police because it was illegal for you to have them. Which was
true in this country. And that shut them up. That was enough to shut them up. But no -- there've
been incredible hoard. I mean, we have been lucky enough to buy a lot of banknote hoards here
and some coin hoards. We have a philosophy when we buy a hoard, we sell what we can and we
don't dump the rest. We just -- it's like an annuity. You can take it out every 6 months or a year,
and that's how Baldwin's made its money originally. They were smart. They had some money,
and they were smart enough to put stuff aside.
Greg Bennick: So, just by putting stuff aside, you can always tap into that resource, basically.
Richard Lobel: Right. But I think the coins, if you buy the right coin, they're like fine wine.
They're going to increase. You know, I buy these farthings. Well, George VI, the last -- was
1952 and the George V go back to 1911 for 6 pence each. You know, it was the smallest
denomination issued at the time. They're wonderful. You know, they're incredibly good value
for money. That's why I bought all those 1953 crowns because I could buy them at 3 or £3.50
pounds each. And I did sell 24,000 of them for £8.50 each. But then again, the people who
bought them were charging £30 pounds. So, you know, good luck to them.
Greg Bennick: Yeah. Exactly.
Richard Lobel: Don't ever object to somebody buying something from you and making a profit.
Greg Bennick: Yeah. For sure. That's good advice too. So, you mentioned currency, of course,
but I wanted to touch on before we close, I wanted to touch on your other area of interest,
antiquities. What sort of antiquities do you…
Richard Lobel: No. We stopped that. My daughter's an archaeologist. She wrote a fantastic
book on the Elgin marbles. It sold 20,000 copies, which I thought wasn't very good. But now I
understand it's an academic book. There's too many problems with antiquities now. We've
stopped that. One, are they real? And we got stuck with a lot of them. Are they stolen? You
know, are they from the country? So, we've decided that it just -- It's not something we have the
expertise -- We deal with ancient coins. Don't get me wrong. Josh does a fantastic job. We have
a large inventory. I've got Constantine the Great, I think I have 10,000 pieces in stock of his
alone. Again, because it's good value for money. I like value. If I buy value for money, I can sell
you value for money.
Greg Bennick: That's right. That's right.
Richard Lobel: But no, we don't deal in antiquities anymore because my daughter wouldn't talk
to me so I figured that was a good -- But she was right. We don't have the expertise. And when I
sell you something, I give you a lifetime guarantee as to its authenticity. Not that it's going
down, but it's real. So, if I can't say it's real, I don't want to sell it to you.
Greg Bennick: That's right. I was going to say from a coin's perspective -- from a coin's
perspective, you know that it's authentic or it's not. From an antiquities perspective, it's more
difficult. And that's why I was so curious about it. It just seems -- it's close, antiquities, coins,
and whatnot, but it's different enough that I found it interesting.
Richard Lobel: We used to have somebody who dealt in them and he had a reasonable
knowledge, but not good enough because when he left, we had three very expensive antiquities
sent back from Sweden which were not real. We gave them money immediately. We don't want
any hassle. You know, if we made a mistake, we admit it.
Greg Bennick: Sure. Sure.
Richard Lobel: Not everyone does that.
Greg Bennick: Well, Richard, this has been incredible as an interview. I mean, just entertaining,
enlightening. I love the idea of a young Richard just running wild through the city of London and
then forming this incredible store with Coincraft and having that embody the values that you've
brought not only to your own life, but to your own hobby. Just everything has come together and
you've lived an incredible life thus far, and I look forward to many more years of stories from
you. This is just tremendous.
Richard Lobel: Thank you. Some might have to wait for the statute of limitations to expire.
Greg Bennick: Well, then we'll have to do another interview a few years out, and we'll see if
the statute is….
Richard Lobel: I love what I do. I can't think of anything worse than hating going to work
every day. I love it. What can I say?
Greg Bennick: Amazing. All right. Well, let's stay on for a few moments. I'll sign off here for
us and say to everybody that on behalf of the Newman Numismatic Portal, my name is Greg
Bennick. I hope you've enjoyed this interview today. There are other interviews, and you can
search my name and interviews under the Newman Numismatic Portal, and you'll find a list of
the interviewees I've spoken to. And Richard, thanks so much for your time today, and I look
forward to hearing more stories in the future.
Richard Lobel: My pleasure. And you'll see the Phoenix and the Blue Cart Flyer. Eventually,
the post office will deliver it.
Greg Bennick: Great
About the Interviewer
Greg Bennick (www.gregbennick.com) is a keynote speaker and long time coin collector with a focus on major mint error coins. Have ideas for other interviewees? Contact him anytime on the web or via instagram @minterrors.
To watch the complete video, see:
Richard Lobel of Coincraft Interviewed for the NNP by Greg Bennick
To read the complete transcript, see:
Richard Lobel of Coincraft Interviewed for the NNP by Greg Bennick (Transcript)
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
RICHARD LOBEL INTERVIEW, PART ONE
RICHARD LOBEL INTERVIEW PART TWO
RICHARD LOBEL INTERVIEW PART THREE
RICHARD LOBEL INTERVIEW PART FOUR
RICHARD LOBEL INTERVIEW PART FIVE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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