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The American Stamp Dealers Association

American Philatelic Society
#216650
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U.S. Philatelic Classics Society, Inc. R.A. #4216

United States Stamp Society
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About Us

Getting prepared for Auction #1002!

16 May 2010

 

Gideon, Cathi, Michael and Ariel Casper

7 March 2010

Gideon, Cathi, Michael and Ariel Casper take a break to pose for a photo on Sunday afternoon. We've been working on and updating our website, managing our current auction and preparing for the next. You, the client, are our #1 priority, and we are committed to providing the quality of service you expect from the best. Whether bidding on or consigning material to our auctions, expect nothing less than first class service from beginning to the end.

March 25th - 26th Auction

3 March 2010

We are currently working on our website. It will be completed in the next several days and updated with information about our March 25th - 26th auction.

We, along with Stamp Auction Network, are committed to bringing you a pleasant auction experience. You will be able to bid directly over the internet; by telephone or fax; by mail; through Purser & Associates; and, of course, in person here in Ithaca, New York on our auction floor.

Lot viewing is by appointment. Featured items in this auction will be posted later tonight!

Questions? Don't hesitate to call: 607-257-5349.

Michael and Jack Lee

26 July 2006


Michael with longtime friend Jack Lee the all-time "King of Morgan Silver Dollars" at the "Baltimore Coin Convention" this past July

Dan Freidus

17 October 2005

Colonial Americana

An extraordinary collection

Dealer and anonymous collector collaborate



Dan Freidus

Time, money, knowledge. Ah, we’d all be great collectors if we had enough of all three. A nice fantasy but most have limitations in one of the three (OK, let’s be realistic: more than one).

It’s how you cope with the limitation(s) and what tradeoffs you chose that define you as a collector.

I recently encountered a collector who’s made different choices than I have (and probably different than most numismatists) and it’s led to a very interesting collection.

I first found out about the "Stockbridge Collection" when some relatively highpriced Colonials started appearing on eBay recently. Not surprisingly, most didn’t sell.

Above a certain price point, collectors tend to want to see a Colonial in person or at least have someone they know look at it. I contacted the dealer listing these coins and then spoke with the collector.

You can see details of the collection at www.caspercoin.com, where the coins have been cataloged by Tom Rinaldo (a dealer specializing in Colonials who also catalogs McCawley & Grellman’s annual November Colonial auction, which you can find out about at www.colonialcoins.org).

Dealer Michael Casper told me that he had assembled this collection over the past year and a half for a client who had earlier collected Seated Liberty dimes by die variety and then high-grade Morgan dollars (the Amherst Collection). Casper is listing the entire collection (about 70 coins and about 120 pieces of Colonial and Continental paper money) for $600,000.

Don Kagin was also involved, inspecting and bidding on examples acquired at auction.

The coins are mostly a high-grade Colonial type collection while the paper money includes Continental currency and a full Colony set (plus Vermont), but is particularly strong in notes printed by Benjamin Franklin and engraved or printed by Paul Revere.

The collector turns out to be a physician with an entrepreneurial career in healthcare information and services. That 70-hourper-week career leaves him with more money than time for finding coins or numismatic research.

So he has collected with dealers doing much of the legwork for him. He’s enjoyed working with Casper, whom he described as a "gentlemen" with "extraordinary ethics."

Casper had only limited previous experience with Colonials (and an interest in the New York Excelsior coppers), but had to increase his knowledge on Colonials. Casper and the collector chose an unusual period to assemble this collection. Stack’s sales of the John J. Ford Jr. Collection has made the last few years not a once-in-alifetime but a once-in-a-century opportunity, since many of Ford’s coins were acquired privately from the estate of a collector who in turn had acquired entire collections virtually intact.

Therefore, literally hundreds of Ford’s coins had not been offered or seen publicly in a century.

Interest in Ford Colonials has made some other Colonials sell for strong prices. Colonials are getting more attention than usual at the same time that some Colonials are going for bargain prices while collectors hold back, expecting to spend their money in an upcoming Ford auction. (For example, one collector who sold some coins at auction in the fall of 2004 told me that he had some coins sell for half of his estimate while others sold for three times what he thought they were worth.) I was pleasantly surprised to find that the "Stockbridge" collector had attended the same small college from which I graduated. That only highlighted the different choices collectors can make. I’m glad to say that I don’t work 70 hours per week, but that’s one of the reasons I collect on a much more limited budget. But I’d be hardpressed to argue that the Stockbridge collector enjoys his collection any more or less than I enjoy my own. Different collectors, different coins, different choices.

We both started the way most collectors do: filling a penny board as a kid. I kept with it with only a few breaks while he collected only "sparsely" until a major surgery around the age of 50 made him keenly aware of his mortality.

This midlife event resulted in his evaluating his life and making deliberate choices to include certain activities he had been setting aside.

His re-entry into numismatics has been with fervor. In our discussion, it’s clear how much he’s enjoyed this episode, even if it’s with a combination of his money and someone else’s time that makes his collecting style somewhat uncommon.

Upon seeing the entire collection, he became ambivalent about his collection.

While he does expect to sell the currency, and has set a price for selling the coins with the notes, he’s now ambivalent about parting with the coins because he finds them so intriguing.

By the time you read this, the collector will have made a decision about whether to close the Stockbridge Collection chapter in his collecting or to make it even more spectacular by participating in Stack’s October sale of the Wurtzbach/Ford collection of Massachusetts silver coinage.

Dan Freidus is a collector and researcher specializing in early American numismatics. He can be contacted c/o Coin World, Box 150, Sidney, Ohio 45365, or by email at colonial.americana@umich.edu.

Bruce Amspacher

25 November 2003

Morgan dollar entusiasts are
''buying everything in sight.''

Gold, 20th century "modern" coins and silver dollars continue to lead the sizzling rare coin market as the final month of 2003 approaches with a rush. It's as though no one ever heard of a "December slowdown" or a "Christmas time fallback" or any of those other terms that used to explain the relatively quiet period around the holidays.

"Morgan dollar enthusiasts, collectors and speculators are buying everything in sight," says Michael Casper, a silver dollar specialist from Ithaca, New York. "Most sales are in the $2,000 to $30,000 range, and it doesn't make any difference whether the coin is frosty Mint State or prooflike or DMPL. They'll take them all!"

Are there any supply problems when you try to replenish your inventory? "I can't find quality Morgan dollars to buy for any amount of money," Casper said. "The last time I looked I had a total of 68 coins in inventory, and that included pieces from the Gilley collection and several other major collections plus my eBay auction and everything listed on my web site. That's one box of coins total.

"I did buy one great coin in the last few days," Casper said, "but I had to go to another dealer's web site to do it. It's the Eliasberg 1891-CC in PCGS MS68PL. The coin cost nearly $100,000 but I had a customer who wanted it."

Bruce Amspacher has been a professional writer since the 1950s and a professional numismatist since the 1960s. He won the OIPA sportswriting award in 1958 and again in 1959, then spent eight years in college studying American Literature. This background somehow led him to become a professional numismatist in 1968. Since then he has published hundreds of articles on rare coins in dozens of publications as well as publishing his own newsletter, the “Bruce Amspacher Investment Report,” for more than a decade. His areas of expertise include Liberty Seated dollars, Morgan and Peace dollars, United States gold coins, sports trivia, Western history, modern literature and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. In 1986 he was a co-founder of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Today he is a full-time writer for Collectors Universe.

Bruce Amspacher

23 April 2002

Michael Casper Collection sells for over $1.7 million.

The Morgan dollar collection that is listed as #3 of all time on the PCGS Set Registry has traded hands. Michael Casper, a dealer/collector from Ithaca, New York, assembled the set over several years and sold it in recent days for over $1.7 million.

"The set was complete except for about 20 coins, most of which were sold at auction late last year. There were also about $200,000 worth of duplicates that were included in the sale," Casper said. "The buyer was a Texas collector who appreciates fine art and significant historical artifacts. This is his first venture into numismatics."

Casper's set included many items that are pedigreed to the finest Morgan dollar sets ever assembled. Below are some of the highlights of the set, their pedigrees and the prices that they just traded for.

1878-8TF PCGS MS66/PCGS Tour $13,500
1879-CC PCGS MS65PL $20,000
1881-O PCGS MS65/PCGS Tour $5,850
1881-S PCGS MS69 $38,000
1883-O PCGS MS67/Bodway, Lee [Collections] $6,700
1884 PCGS MS67/Gauya, Bodway, Lee, NFL $12,000
1884-S PCGS MS63/Wayne Miller $30,000
1886-O PCGS MS65/Eliasberg $150,000
1886-S PCGS MS67/PCGS Tour/Lee $31,500
1887-O PCGS MS66PL $45,000
1892-S PCGS MS67/Eliasberg $150,000
1892-CC PCGS MS66/PCGS Tour $28,500
1893-O PCGS MS64/Wayne Miller $20,000
1893-CC PCGS MS65PL $100,000
1896-O PCGS MS64 $45,000
1897-O PCGS MS66/Eliasberg $52,000
1901-S PCGS MS66 $14,000

Bruce Amspacher has been a professional writer since the 1950s and a professional numismatist since the 1960s. He won the OIPA sportswriting award in 1958 and again in 1959, then spent eight years in college studying American Literature. This background somehow led him to become a professional numismatist in 1968. Since then he has published hundreds of articles on rare coins in dozens of publications as well as publishing his own newsletter, the “Bruce Amspacher Investment Report,” for more than a decade. His areas of expertise include Liberty Seated dollars, Morgan and Peace dollars, United States gold coins, sports trivia, Western history, modern literature and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. In 1986 he was a co-founder of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Today he is a full-time writer for Collectors Universe.

Meteorite Hunter Michael Casper

05 May 2000

By Geg Clark
Staff Writer
posted: 11:00 am ET

Michael Casper's entrance into the field of meteorite dealing was, in a word, meteoric.

Six years ago he didn't know there was a market for rocks from space. Now he operates one of the biggest space rock dealerships in the world in Ithaca, New York. By his count, he sells more than $1 million worth of meteorites a year through mail order, at gem and mineral shows and on the Internet.

Casper was an aggravated restaurateur when an advertisement changed his life.

"I was thumbing through a magazine and I saw an ad of Robert Haag's: 'meteorites for sale,' " Casper recalled. The small promotion surprised him because he thought the handful of meteorites in the world were all at the Hayden Planetarium in New York, where he had seen them as a boy. "I said to myself 'Wow, I can own a meteorite?' and I went out and bought a few."

After that Casper just wanted more.

Running the restaurant that Casper owned with his wife had become a nightmare. The couple bought the restaurant thinking it would be a pleasant way to work for themselves. But the clientele at the eatery, which was adjacent to Cornell University, was "abusive, hard-to-please college kids," Casper said. He hated the place. So when meteorites burned into Casper's consciousness, he saw opportunity, and he leapt.

"I took all the money we had out of the bank and out of the cash register and bought as many meteorites as I could. And I sold them all, and then took out a loan and bought a bunch more."

His wife thought he had lost his mind, Casper said, but it was too late. "I just did it. I was on fire, I was lit up. Nothing could stop me."

And for the past five years, nothing has.

Casper trades, buys and sells everything -- from rare specimens of crucial scientific value to commonplace stony meteorites that simply have novelty interest. He recently engineered the purchase of the new Martian meteorite, LA 001, which turned up last fall. Casper teamed up with New York City meteorite dealer Darryl Pitt to buy the meteorite and distribute it to various museum and research collections around the world. By trading samples of Mars rock for meteorites that have already been thoroughly studied, Casper was able to secure valuable specimens he could sell, while ensuring that the rare LA 001 was available to scientists.

The most popular meteorites lately have been pieces of Sikhote-Alin, the iron meteorite that exploded above eastern Siberia in 1947. Small pieces, the size that would fit in your palm, sell for $50 to $100. But larger samples, pieces with exotic shapes fitting to be displayed as sculpture can sell for that much per gram. (One ounce is equivalent to 28 grams.)

This iron meteorite from Casper's catalog is one of the countless fragments from the Sikhote-Alin meteorite, which exploded above eastern Siberia in 1947. More than 25 tons of material -- less than one third of the estimated original mass -- has been recovered from the area of wilderness where the meteorite fell.

"I have one that weighs about a pound with a hole in it, which I paid over $10,000 for," Casper said. That was a bargain at just $22 per gram.

Prices vary tremendously based on the demand for various types of meteorites. The most common stony meteorites sell for just a few dollars per gram, while prices for very rare meteorites, such as pieces of the moon or Mars, or especially beautiful meteorites can reach hundreds of dollars per gram.

Unlike most meteorite dealers -- who buy and sell in order to expand their personal collection -- for Casper it is all about commerce. Except for the rare pieces that are so important that they need to be saved for scientific research, everything he has is for sale,

Casper's business practices occasionally irritate other meteorite dealers. He is willing to sell large pieces at prices well below the prevailing market value for that particular meteorite.

He did that recently with a rare and exotic type of meteorite called diogenite, much to the irritation of other dealers who were holding large amounts of the rare type and seeking a price between $40 and $60 per gram.

With one sale of several pounds of diogenite at a price that some report to be about half the market value, Casper single-handedly cut the world price of diogenite meteorites, critics say.

"It just goes to show you, if you think you got it all, you better do some research," said stalwart meteorite dealer Robert Haag. Haag is one of the few dealers who have been buying and selling meteorites for more than 20 years.

The people who were stung when Casper undercut the market were those who misjudged the availability of diogenite in light of several recent finds, Haag said.

"The guys that held it too long blew it. They blew it," he said. "Because one guy had 7 kilos stashed away in Belgium, and he didn't want anybody to know about it. But in the meantime another 25 kilos has been pieced out and distributed."

It led to a price war that ended with a buyer's market for diogenite, Haag said. It could ultimately help everybody who wasn't left holding a box of it.

For Casper it was just good business: buy low, and unload fast for a profit. To a large degree, the meteorite market is a speculator's business, a fact that other dealers acknowledge is just a part of life in the meteorite trade. You can't count on the fact that any price will be kept artificially high to protect other trader's investments.