*I originally wrote this on October 26th 2013 2:40 PM. The writing never had the proper flow, I never made time to revise it, and I’m not really a writer. However, it’s been revised and chronologically much better than before with less mistakes as well. Just a few cut and pastes here and there with a few minute rewrites and it’s all fixed for now. Part Two I have posted as well, and it remains intact as I had originally written. I took my time with the second part, and both parts now harmoniously compliment each other in my eyes. A trip down coin memory lane can be experienced as I did many years ago. Thanks for reading my thoughts if you choose.
Tails from the Crank-
Christmas Eve 12/24/2010 I made a deal buying Chinese slabbed coins with someone on ebay, and out of this sale blossomed a so called “friendship” in the coming weeks/months. We continued to bounce ideas off of each other, observed the market closely, I always stuck to my “no reserve” strategy 99.9% of the time, and he had his “buy it now”/”best offer”. When you are in need of money like me all the time you try to sell what you can as quickly as you can to keep the cycle going. Unless of course you have money then time is on your side. Usually time is against me.
Demand was insatiable-
For Chinese coins around this time, my new buddy was a constant cheerleader about the prices infinitely rising, and was pumping prices like a kid pumping his new spare tire on his bike that went flat. In a hurry to replace his tire, and start peddling again. Seriously. This guy would sell your ass out in a New York Minute to save his own. Anyways, he had sold inventory to me when he thought prices would peak, they kept going, and he is now starting to accept my views/speculative thoughts about continued rising prices.
Now being a strictly by the numbers guy, I translate data to confirm price action, and what price action I see forms a rising trend. At least to me this is what I conclude, and I happen to guess correctly. I’ve been monitoring some type of pricing or another since the age of 8….Yes 8 years old since 1979, and I still can’t get it right most of the time.
The prices kept rising higher and higher every week for almost 40 consecutive weeks, primarily on eBay, and even to me it’s puzzling but I go with the flow. My new found “friend” has assured me the prices in the future will surely continue to exponentially compound forever. Sound familiar to anyone that follows the British India market?
We (me and my confidant) had an opportunity to sell coins in the month June 2011 to a prospective buyer who I refer to as “X”. This buyer believes in the future of the Chinese coin market, to him it looks really bright, and will continue. During this time I had offered a coin to his close family friend who I refer to as “Z”, and the deal never transpired. But it wasn’t a completely dead deal. My friend mentioned he met “X”, he will be selling him some Chinese coins, and wanted to know if I wanted to sell my “so and so coin”. I mentioned that I had offered the coin to “Z”, and waiting for a response. He says, “F#CK Z”! His statement reminded me of a scene from the movie TRADING PLACES where the Duke Brothers have lost all their money to Dan Akyoyd and Eddie Murphy. One of stock exchange representative says, “Mortimer, your brother doesn’t look well.” (The guy looks like he’s having a heart attack in the movie)”…..Mortimer say’s with great excitement, and anger, “F#CK HIM”! This is the same selfish behavior I see erupt from my trading friend, and his close family friend is not so close to him when it comes to MONEY!
In April/May 2011 he took an interest in the India market because I had mentioned how I thought it was undervalued. We made a deal on an auction as he asked me “Will you be bidding on this gold coin or do you have any interest in it so we don’t run each other up.” I never looked at it, and casually said “no.” I mentioned I had another few lots I had my eyes on. When the guy went to the coin viewing in person he viewed 2 lots for me which I appreciated. What else would one homeboy do for another? We don’t want to “run each other up”, hence our so called “auction alliance”. These auction alliances never work by the way.
August 2011 there is a major/massive auction set to auction Chinese coins which will give us more data about the market : The Wa She Wong Collection Part Two in Hong Kong. I always need data to keep my thoughts at bay or to readjust my forecasts. Since forecasts are ever changing as frequently as the weather at times. After three hours of monitoring auction prices I realized the prices have peaked, and they are going to go down. Quickly. But on the surface it looked like a slight pullback, but my brain says something different. I conveyed my thoughts to the head cheerleader, my newfound buddy, he vehemently denied any fissures in the foundation of building a skyscraper to Mars, and living next to the Martians. I don’t argue, and keep my thoughts to myself. Why? I’m a numbers guy, and the numbers don’t lie they generally reveal the real deal. Plus he just dropped “big money” on Chinese coins to secure a deal which two weeks ago which he planned on selling in 3-7 months.
He has to believe his decision was correct. Even if it wasn’t as that’s part of the risk process. Damage control has to be implemented, and you cut your losses as quickly as possible as a trader. September, he missed one major Indian coin auction, and he knew of the “Yashoda Singh Collection” only because I brought it up, and deep down he knows the Chinese market he has been pumping is starting to quickly erode.
We chatted a bit about the lots in the Singh Collection, a day before the auction he calls me, and asks me questions in a hasty manner. “What do you think about this, what is the potential, and what is the scarcity.” I revealed a few of my price points to him about a few lots which was one of the dumbest things I did. More dumbness will follow in the coming years though. Without mistakes I cannot succeed- how could I distinguish success from failure? I want to make more mistakes but just less of them at crucial times.
Now keep in mind that the Chinese coin market is in free fall, and he/we sold this guy (buyer “X”) a bunch of Chinese coins by chance at the height of the market. Out of the total dollar value of the sale my coin was about 30% or so, and remainder of the 70% were coins that my acquaintance had sold to this dude. That sale took place in June 2011, and was no small amount of money. Did we do anything wrong? No. It was a sale, and there was a demand that was fulfilled. In hindsight this guy got completely screwed as he bought at the absolute height of the market. It happen. Happen to my a year or two later. Lol!
I’m not certain how much my acquaintance had pumped the Chinese coin market to buyer “X”. The unknown is still the unknown, and forecasts are forecasts. They are never a sure thing. But now the Chinese coin market is going straight down at its peak from June, it is now September, and more damage will come. The rising sun is about to reach the horizon once again, and this time on the way down though. Not up.
Buyer X had lots of money to burn according to my acquaintance, and he is not so happy I suspect 4 months later when the prices have fallen 30% by the month of September. Who would be, and I never told him to buy my coin. I gave him a firm price, and he paid up. Now on the other end of the sale I don’t know whether the sale was hyped up or not by my buddy. I suspect it probably was because my acquaintance thinks he is a know all speculator, and at times I think the along the same lines.
But he is much more prouder than I am, and I call it like I see it. You have to believe in your ideas because belief is the only thing someone cannot take away from man. But there comes a time when ego starts driving that chariot, you got to get back in the drivers seat, un lodge ego from taking over the journey, and put ego in check, and throw it in the passenger’s seat.
Here is what I think happen : For “my buddy” to get back in the good graces of “X” he has to give him something. Essentially make him feel that part of his money has been replenished or “recovered”. Now I suspect I have been the “fall guy” for this guy losing his shirt somewhat. My acquaintance probably blamed me, and maybe mentioned: “I have been relying on that guys data, and I know a way you can get even with him. There is huge sale of Indian coin coming up in England, and I know the guy knows his prices (which is a budgeted forecast). You can get even with him, and I know he knows India. This is your opportunity to get even with him.” What he ended up doing to this guy is screwing him over again because he was blindly buying coins with no knowledge of what he was buying.
I recall a second phone call with him, right before the Yashoda Singh Collection auction at Baldwin’s of London I had with this man who was formerly known as “my friend”, anyways, he spoke very quickly, and was in a hurry. Remember to be wary of anyone who is a fast/slick talker. This is what the country folk here say where I live in Bridgeville, PA or was it from the movie “Doc Hollywood” starring Michael J. Fox where the girl he’s chasing says something to the effect that “I can spot you city slickers a mile away.”
So my buddy goes right into a conversation immediately about “What has potential in India, what should I paying for this and that, how scarce are two annas, and what would you pay for this?” Are these scarce, how rare are these. “X” is buying India heavily. There is BIG MONEY chasing INDIA now.” I thought to myself, “Hmmm. I guess he discounted all the money I have put into the market, which according to his statement is peanuts, and what he says is really amusing to me.
He must have overlooked the : “Shah Alam II, AH 1173-1221; 1759-1806 A.D. 10 Rupees, Hijri, AH 1185, year 6. AR 115.6g, 45mm. Struck at Surat, in the name of the Mughal Emperor Shah ‘Alam II” which sold for almost $200,000 That coin sale was 9 months prior, I guess that was “small money”, and I wonder if he was planning on spending $200,000.01 which would qualify as “BIGGER MONEY”…..haha….I casually revealed my bids, lots, thoughts, and some of the trading ideas I was planning on implementing at the Baldwin’s auction. We have had numerous conversations about coin trading ideas, our communication was an open freeway of information between me, and him. What do I have to fear? He is my buddy.
Note to self : Never share your trading ideas with anybody-
Keep that shit to yourself-
Mysteriously during the September Baldwin’s auction I was outbid on all of the lots I was planning to buy. Some dude from the United States was in the room buying up all kinds of coins. Blindly outbidding almost everyone in the room. I realize that my so called buddy probably conveyed most of my trading ideas to “X”, and sold me out. What a swine. I distance myself from now my former acquaintance or we drift apart. Whatever you want to call it. Things won’t be the same as before, and that’s life.
Anyways, he has bigger problem on his hands, as he’s invested a chunk of change in the Chinese coin market which is eroding as I had mentioned. He also is trying to get me to invest in a so called “pool or tranche” investment to buy coins in an upcoming auction/catalog (that is off the radar, and does not as much exposure as some of the other major auction houses according to him), and we can flip it for “Millions”!!!!!Basically it’s an opportunity to make some money that he wants to share with me, and I suspect he’s looking to share this same generosity with with his childhood friend, remember “Z” and his newly found friend “X”. Don’t forget about himself as an investor either, but why is he being so generous, and sharing all this information?
To keep the market at high prices so he can liquidate all of his stock and be out.
I listen, and play along. But I have no inkling of investing a single penny with Slick Rick. Wouldn’t you know it that “X” is considering investing, and so is his family friend “Z”. Remember that he needs to go to the next hot market or growing market, and employ the same strategies within the India coin market. First though he must liquidate his Chinese coin holdings, and his strategies remind me of the movie Boiler Room.
I still stick to my guns, tell him my money is tied up, and I can’t invest. I recall in September 2011 sometime he is asking me what do with his most recent acquisition of Chinese coins he bought in August at the ANA. He’s uncertain as what to do. I mentioned he should “split up the coins in two auctions.” Half in December 2011, and half in April 2012. “The April auction has more exposure, money, and is in Hong Kong” he mentions to me. Not sure what he ended up doing but I think he may have elected to sell all the coins in April. Which was the wrong move in hindsight.
One time I had an auction for a Chinese Copper coin on eBay in December of 2011, and he told me he would be bidding. It was nothing special but it made me wonder : Why is he bidding? The prices are on the way down week by week, and this copper coin is nothing special. It’s a variety but nothing that special. I don’t know much about Chinese coins, but have attempted to study price action in general for many years, it’s ever changing, and never set.
I only had one thought from a speculative standpoint. He is supporting the prices for this copper coin to keep the bullish illusion fresh on eBay, and it’s in his best interest to keep prices high. But that’s got to be really hard to do on the way down, and you would need an exorbitant sum of money to sustain the market. Now ebay, which is a smaller coin auction venue in the grand scheme of things it’s easier to support or manipulate prices. His major Chinese coin auction is slated for April 2012, and he would have to keep these buying charades up for many months. Which must be a lot of work, and he might have to eat a coin or two at times. But he is working a classic pump and dump as prudently as he can to cover his ass.
The April 2012 Hong Kong auction shows the market what I had been thinking from August 2011 after The Wa She Wong Chinese sale : The “Specter of falling prices” rears it’s ugly head throughout the entire auction, and roils prices. This trend will continue for a few more months until it finally bottoms for the Chinese coin market. I had actually stopped monitoring that particular market in September of 2011.
I learned a lot from my former buddy but our friendship is soon slipped back to the “acquaintance” phase quickly and it happens with competitors quite often. I have unique identity as a competitor, and for someone to replicate what I do is identically is difficult. Everybody has got their own style like a fingerprint, and if you succeed. People will try to mock what you do, and then mock you. Kind of fucked up eh? That’s Life-
To be fair : Do I view my competition? What businessperson wouldn’t? I do, but I go about my business my way, and see more what I’m doing in my competitors work than what I take away from them. In a way it’s a great compliment, and a nuisance at the same time. Guess you can’t always have it your way like Burger King.
KRS ONE says, “you got to have style, learn to be original, and everybody is gonna wanna dis’ you.” dis’ = disrespect-
When I view my competition, and I see them copying my style. What do I have to fear? Myself? Possibly.
Back to my friend who is now my acquaintance and slipping to lower levels in my eyes. Remember that deal we had in June 2011 with “X” that we did well with our coins in a deal he brokered. He did sell my coin, which I thanked him and I asked, “Are you all taken care of with price.” Essentially meaning did he carve out a commission for himself the sale.
His reply, “Yeah, and I’ll have to cut the paypal fees out from the sale.”
My reply, “Sure”
I’m happy, and he’s happy. We both handled our business, and made some money in an illiquid market.
But there is an underlying problem in the Chinese coin market that arises after the fourth massive Hong Kong Wa She Wong sale in April 2012. The prices are eroding day by day, and there were prices that crossed that nobody has seen on the downside before. Some items went for ridiculous prices and coins with the most liquidity are starting are dropping. Quickly. Which is the beginning of a free fall in the market from what I saw.
When prices rise 8x-10x in a short span of time, jumping of a cliff is destined to be the only path to travel as a speculator, and that is what happen. Tulip Mania, Elliot Wave Theory, South Sea Bubble, and there are many other examples that point to past compressed price explosions. Who is to blame for these behaviors? Nobody. It’s a marketplace, and that’s how it works. Perception can be construed in many ways especially if you are not the person monitoring the situation closely.
Now in May/June 2012 my friend who is not my friend is quietly playing a role in boosting the British India coin market artificially in a small trading arena : eBay. But it will take him much longer then he anticipates to artificially boost the prices as I have blocked him from my auctions for over a year. In addition I have blocked 7 other people he knows in order to shield my client base from his monkey business. Essentially I won’t let him run up a common coin (1841 TWO ANNAS) in high grade (MS65) to create an illusion that prices are rising. I could care less, and want the market to flow naturally as it should. I tried as long as I could. But who am I to what is fair?
TO BE CONTINUED