Shop Talk with Steven Bromberg
A penny for your thoughts?
The Shopping Channel's coin expert, Steven Bromberg, has made a career out of researching, collecting, sourcing and selling collector coins. It's a passion that's very evident whenever he starts talking about the historical significance and value of the coins that he offers. We recently asked Steven a few questions about his interest in the hobby.
How did you become so interested in coins? Was it something you've always been passionate about?
I started collecting coins at about age 10 when my parents gave me a small collection. There was something intriguing about these objects, which were made when my parents and grandparents were children. I have actively collected since that time. My passion for the hobby has continued to grow as I deal with increasingly interesting and rare items.
What do you enjoy most about being a professional numismatist?
My biggest interest is not just in the coins and bank notes I collect, source, and offer to other collectors, but rather in the history that surrounds each of these items. Every coin and bank note is a link to the past, a tangible piece of an era gone by, and an image or design created from the experiences of our ancestors. Rarities have been created from economics and other events in history. It is easy to become very knowledgeable about Canadian history just by collecting and researching Canadian coins and paper money.
Why do you think this hobby is so popular?
I think there are a lot of different reasons why coin collecting is one of the most popular hobbies in the world. The reasons can be different and personal for each collector. For collectors of rare older items, it is the history and artistry which is usually the first attraction. Collecting rare items with intrinsic value is also quite different from most other hobbies, in that the items you enjoy collecting will always have value, and in many cases increase in value over a period of time. Some of the leading collectors in Canada have amassed incredible collections valued at several million dollars. And when it comes to older rarities, the number of new collectors continues to increase year after year, while the number of coins and bank notes available never increases. I think that is the main reason why the demand for so many quality numismatic items is exceeding the number of items available in the marketplace.
For collectors of new Royal Canadian Mint coins, it is easy to see the appeal. The coins feature beautiful Canadian artwork, often use colour and other innovative new technology, and are produced in limited mintages which provide a great opportunity for the coins to appreciate in value in the secondary market.
How long have you been appearing on The Shopping Channel?
It's hard for me to believe that I have been doing coin shows on The Shopping Channel for twenty years. It feels like such a short time ago when I first presented collector coins here in December of 1992.
How did you get involved with The Shopping Channel?
I had been actively buying and selling collector coins since 1987, and was even a licensed auctioneer holding several coin auctions. But I always enjoyed being creative and innovative, and so I started to design new presentations to display collector coins. In 1992, I designed a presentation holder to display all of the 'Canada 125' coins set within a map of Canada. I offered this to The Shopping Channel and it was extremely popular. Since that time, I have been invited back regularly to offer an ever increasing variety of collector coins.
Do you continue to practice law? If not, do you have any regrets in choosing this career path?
I am still a member of the Ontario Bar and I continue to do some pro bono work for an excellent non-profit organization. However, my full time business is dealing with coins. It is interesting and always challenging to find new items of interest. I have no regrets in choosing this profession over law.
Where do you find all these rare coins?
Almost everyone in Canada has a few old coins tucked away somewhere. Some of these people are active collectors, while others choose to sell their coins. I wish I could say I track everything down myself, but that would be impossible. Over the past twenty years, we have built a network of over 80 regular suppliers who together purchase most of the Canadian collector coins which become available in the Canadian market and throughout the world. We receive many small shipments from our suppliers on a daily basis to assemble into the collections we offer on The Shopping Channel.
We also purchase dozens of collections from the public every day at our "Canadian Coin & Currency" store in Richmond Hill, Ontario. I have an on-site staff of about 30 people working to buy collections and put together these items into products for The Shopping Channel. Perhaps as the best part for me, I also regularly travel across Canada, the United States and Europe to source some of the rarest and most interesting collections.
What is your relationship with the Royal Canadian Mint?
Canadian Coin & Currency has been one of a select few Authorized Distributors for the Royal Canadian Mint for over 20 years. More recently, arrangements have been made for Canadian Coin & Currency to represent the Royal Canadian Mint on The Shopping Channel. This unique arrangement allows us the opportunity to offer nearly every Royal Canadian Mint coin, with special allocations of scarce items set aside for Shopping Channel customers.
Do you think collectors should buy new Royal Canadian Mint Coins?
With beautiful artwork celebrating Canada's history and prominent personalities, leading edge new minting technology, and extremely limited mintages, the unequivocal answer is "yes". If you like the coins, they will be worthwhile additions to your collection.
Over the past few years, the Royal Canadian Mint has completely changed its philosophy about mintages and supporting the secondary market. Through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the Mint used to produce large quantities of most products, allowing every collector who wanted one to be able to obtain any coin. While this allowed easy access to products, the negative result for collectors was high mintages and coins which usually did not appreciate in value in the secondary market.
Today, the approach from the Mint is completely different. Most new Royal Canadian Mint coins are produced with mintages well below the actual level of collector demand. Dealers and collectors compete for "allocations" before the coins sell out. Many of these coins appreciate in the secondary market within days of selling out at the Mint. With low mintages and beautiful artwork, these modern coins can be a great way to get into the hobby or expand a collection. My only suggestion is that if you want a new Royal Canadian Mint coin, make your purchase as soon as it is released. If you wait, it may not be available or the price may be higher.
What's it like being a guest on The Shopping Channel?
After twenty years, I hardly feel like a guest any more. It's always exciting for me to come to air to offer interesting collections and scarce items, especially thinking about the excitement so many collectors feel as they receive each new item for their collection. And it's always fun to work with great hosts at tsc who are often amazed at the interesting items we bring to air.