Dr. Sol Taylor

Mike Aron Rare Coin Auctions, 1982-2009

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
Saturday, August 15, 2009

n July 19, 2009, Mike Aron Rare Coins held its 145th auction. It was the end of the 28-year history of MARC as an auction company. In an earlier column, I explored how MARC operated in the "small" coin auction market.
    The final session was held at the same site for the past 25 years, the Van Nuys Masonic Temple on Sherman Way. The final auction had some 75 bidders in the room and bidding was pretty strong on most lots. The 58 page catalog had 612 lots. For many years, MARC held six auctions a year, and in recent years reduced that to four a year.
    As a goodbye gesture, each person attending the sale received three raffle tickets for the ten items to be given out during the sale — at about every 50th lot. The gifts included several copies of the first auction held at the Golden West Center in Van Nuys.
    Mike Aron had just taken over the auction from its founders George Bennett (who was also the auctioneer) and Murray Singer. Each prize included either a silver one ounce round or a Morgan dollar. Every person also was given a gold coin chocolate.
    At the lunch break, sandwiches were served along with glasses of champagne to toast Mike and his wife Toni (who has been with him as assistant auctioneer since 1993) and several long term assistants — Dick and Louise Bowers who served since 1982 and auctioneer Larry Brasler who pinch hit for the regular auctioneer 20 years ago and handled every sale since.
    Mike will continue in the coin business, but mainly via mail and his bourse tables. He attends several regional conventions a year.
    A few highlight items in the last sale include:1874 3-cent nickel graded NGC PR-66, which sold for $850; 1883 shield nickel, NGC PR-65, which sold for $490; 1971 No-S Proof Jefferson nickel, PCGS PR-68 Cameo, which Mike found in a Mint-sealed proof set in 1971 and sold for $440. Now it sold for $1,200.
    A 1919-S Mercury dime, PCGS MS-64 with golden toning, sold for $575. A 1936 Mercury dime, PCGS PR-65, sold for $1,100.
    For all prices realized, plus a 10 percent buyer's fee, go online to coindaddy.com.
    In a letter to his clients, Mike addressed the current status: loss of audience (once 125-150 per sale), increased cost of cataloging, loss of consignments, fewer mail bidders, and general overhead in running the business.
    His office is located some 50 miles from the auction site, and sometimes it takes two hours to cover that distance.
    Mike started out as a young dealer in 1972 with a bourse table at local coin shows. When Bennett and Singer decided they were too old to work such a labor-intensive business, they sold out to Mike Aron.
    This last sale was one of the very few that I managed to not buy a single lot. Of the 145 auctions, I probably attended at least 135 of them. The room bidders were eager to buy almost every lot offered. A few lots went to "the book" — the high mail bidder.
    When the last lot was called "sold," the audience stood and applauded. It was a touching ending to a long run and another chapter in the cycle of the coin business.