Dr. Sol Taylor

Mike Aron and the Smaller Coin Auction

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
Saturday, March 8, 2008

mong the smaller coin auction firms, Michael Aron Rare Coins is now in its 26th year as the successor to the George Bennett-Murray Singer sales of the early 1980s.
    The most recent sale, No. 141, was held in the same Van Nuys, Calif., Masonic Hall where Aron has held auctions for most of the past 26 years — usually in January, March, July and November. The format has been a catalog varying from 800 to 1,000 lots. Viewing starts at about 10 a.m. Sunday. Approximately 95 percent of the coins are United States issues, and the catalog is formatted with U.S. proof and Mint sets first, followed by half cents, then large cents, then Flying Eagle and Indian cents, then Lincoln cents, then right through the other types of U.S. coins.
    After the gold series, there usually are bulk lots, mixed lots, foreign lots and a small group of floor bidder lots. All other lots are open to mail bidders who make up a large percentage of all incoming bids.
    The floor bidders consist of 100 to 200 persons during the sale. Some come only after the break when the silver dollars and gold coins are auctioned; others come for early lots only.
    Bidding starts at 12:30 p.m. with auctioneer, Larry Brasler, calling the lots. Registered floor bidders hold up their bid cards to bid as sales proceed at a rapid clip of about 200 to 300 lots per hour. A buyer's fee of 10 percent is added to the successful bid. Most lots are picked up by the bidders at the close of the sale. Mail bidders and absent bidders are subsequently mailed their purchases.
    Unlike the major coin auction houses — Heritage, Stack's, Superior, Bowers and Merena — Michael Aron Rare Coin sales focus on coins typically valued below $1,000, with approximately 5 percent going for more than $1,000. In a typical sale, at least 50 percent sell for less than $100. Each catalog lists the prices realized in the most recent sale. At many sales, a prize such as a new "Red Book" (the annual "Guide Book of United States Coins") is awarded to each winning bidder of $250 or more.
    Mike Aron and his wife, Toni, attend to the details of each sale, with a staff of 10 or 12 assistants to manage the showcases and display the coins and prepare the sold lots for pickup. A snack bar is open during the sale, offering coffee and doughnuts, with a sandwich break in the middle of the auction. In this collector-friendly atmosphere, the majority of floor bidders are repeat customers at each of the four annual sales.
    This type of auction offers collectors — and dealers — the opportunity to acquire coins that rarely show up in the major auctions.
    To get on the mailing list, contact M.AR.C. at P.O. Box 4388, San Clemente, CA 92674.

    Dr. Sol Taylor of Sherman Oaks is president of the Society of Lincoln Cent Collectors and author of The Standard Guide to the Lincoln Cent. Click here for ordering information.