Uncommon Coin, Wine Firm Prides Itself on Family-Flee Dynamic

Steve Contursi had repeatedly been enamored with gathering coins since he was spherical five years worn, and as a young teenager he started making an strive for and selling rare coins for a profit.

It was the adventure of browsing for these uncommon coins, dating again to the founding of the US, that piqued Contursi’s pastime.

“It’s more or less like Indiana Jones,” Contursi, 69, acknowledged from his high upward push pickle of job constructing overlooking Irvine, Calif.

Now, over five a protracted time later, Contursi, with the abet of his wife Seanne Contursi, has constructed the successful Uncommon Coin Wholesalers, which helps other collectors and traders get and construct rare coins worth millions, as nicely as promote coins from their very possess sequence.

What he did as a youngster hasn’t changed that vastly in contrast to this day—nonetheless, the deals Contursi does now are worth loads more.

“We arbitrage with coin dealers. We’re simply no longer doing it for $10 coins, we’re doing it for $100,000 coins and million buck coins,” Contursi told The Epoch Occasions.

In 2005, Contursi, who serves as the CEO of Uncommon Coin Wholesalers, made history on the time for the sole ultimate coin sequence prefer—the King of Siam location, which went for $8.5 million. He made identical headlines in 2011 when a coin he equipped, the 1787 Brasher Doubloon, was subsequently bought by a Wall Aspect street agency for $7.4 million.

Basically the most prized possession of his sequence was the first silver buck struck by the U.S. in 1794 sooner than he equipped it, which on the time was the most costly coin ever on this planet, coming in at $10 million. Its ancient worth is unmatched, because it was forged within the attic of a colonial home sooner than the national mint was even started. Earlier than its creation, The united states had been the utilization of coinage from other countries. Producing this coin proved to the sphere the sovereignty of the US.

Uncommon Coin Wholesalers and its mother or father company S.L. Contursi Inc., which additionally handles their Arrow and Branch winery and boutique retailer in Laguna Seaside, are each and each family whisk. With the exception of about a dozen enhance workers, the companies are managed both by Contursi’s eldest son, Michael, Seanne, or Contursi himself. The family dynamic has served the company nicely, essentially based completely on Michael.

Epoch Times Photo
Steve (L) Seanne (C) and son Michael Contursi sit together on the Uncommon Coin Wholesalers workplaces in Irvine, Calif., on Oct. 19, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Occasions)

“You’ve got ownership. You’ve got pores and skin within the sport. Irrespective of what, you care greatly about its success,” Michael, 41, who has been share of Uncommon Coin Wholesalers since 2006, acknowledged.

Seanne manages Arrow and Branch, the name which references the eagle on all U.S. coins, which grasps an olive department in a single hand and a handful of arrows within the different. It represents The united states’s thought of peace however preparedness for war. Michael is the president of Uncommon Coin Wholesalers.

Contursi’s daughter, Alexandra, 32, has no longer too long within the past taken on a elevated just within the company, engaged on rising the Arrow and Branch name and representing the family when talking to prospective purchasers, each and each within the coin and wine industry.

And his youngest daughter, Nicolette, 25, who has lived in Paris for five years, helps source merchandise for the Laguna Seaside storefront. The two sisters started a jewellery line together called Chat Noir, additionally displayed within the retailer.

“It’s in actuality what my vision was,” Seanne acknowledged. “No longer simply giving again to the neighborhood and presenting something that I thought was maybe lacking or would be liked, however doing that with my daughters in turn is fun.”

Contursi’s two other children, who aren’t as intimately interested by the company, are Steven, 28, and Carly, 40.

Seanne and Contursi live in Laguna Seaside, the set up they’ve lived since their marriage in 1988, for about 70 percent of the time and consult with their home in Napa about twice month-to-month.

In the S.L. Contursi conference room, an entire bunch of catalogues of coin auctions over time flank two bottles of Arrow and Branch cabernet francs. It’s illustrative of his deep experience within the industry.

That plus persistence available within the market has catapulted Contursi’s company to at least one in all the last notice names within the numismatic industry.

“As a rule I make a selection the coins, no longer even luminous the set up I’m going to promote them. And they all promote sooner or later,” Contursi acknowledged. “So that’s repeatedly been our philosophy.”

Contursi’s ardour for coin gathering started at a young age, and so did his publicity to running a rare coin store.

While attending graduate college for physics on the College of Minnesota in Minneapolis, he was equipped a dull night shift on the coin portion of a exiguous jewellery kiosk in a mall.

The proprietor of that store sooner or later equipped to promote Contursi the industry so he might perchance delivery a findings company, which presents items extinct within the jewellery-making route of, just like chains and hoops. His mother loaned him what he says was truly her entire lifestyles financial savings on the time, $10,000, to make a selection the company, and his susceptible boss loaned him $2,500. Contursi acknowledged he paid them each and each off within a yr, and “the rest is history,” he added.

In 1978, Contursi became a accomplice and executive vp at Northwest Territories Gold and Silver alternate, since they wanted an expert numismatist to abet with their growth into rare coins. Then, he partnered with a main silver buck expert, Wayne Miller, to delivery Miller-Contursi Inc. in 1981.

Earlier than starting S.L. Contursi in 1991 with Seanne, who additionally has a background within the coin industry, he labored for the largest retailer of U.S. coins on the time, James U. Blanchard and Co, the set up he served as the pinnacle of its rare coin division.

Epoch Times Photo
Michael Contursi shows extraordinarily necessary coins on the Uncommon Coin Wholesalers workplaces in Irvine, Calif., on Oct. 19, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Occasions)

Going out to dinner with chums gave Contursi a important style of gorgeous wine, however it no doubt was a fellow coin seller who became Contursi into gathering wine, which sooner or later resulted in Arrow and Branch.

“He launched me to Bordeauxs and Burgundies and in actuality high terminate stuff, which wasn’t very costly again then in contrast to this day,” Contursi acknowledged. “And I simply got hooked on it.”

“I was ingesting gin and tonic and beer, and I acknowledged, ‘Smartly, this is loads better and it doesn’t give me as grand of a headache.’ So I got alive to about gathering it.”

Contursi remembers negotiating with restaurant sommeliers to make a selection costly wines in bulk, luminous that they’d easiest stir up in worth with age. In 1978, he equipped his first Bordeaux future, that means that he bought the wine whereas it was nonetheless maturing in barrels. He persevered procuring futures until 2005.

So when Contursi was making an strive at a 2nd home to preserve his children all via their college vacations, Napa, the wine capital of the U.S., came to mind. He had imagined a good home within the valley with about a grape vines terminate by, and on the 2nd day stir back and forth up to stare at estates, Seanne and Contursi perceived to have found the good pickle.

They closed on the estate in 2007, which took pickle to be beforehand owned by Tony Soter, who’s neatly-known within the wine industry for bringing natural farming to Napa Valley and starting Etude Winery.

In March of 2008, the Contursi family was confronted with a dedication.

“What can even simply nonetheless we attain with these grapes?” Contursi requested, recalling the dialog from virtually 14 years within the past. “I looked at Seanne and acknowledged, ‘When are we ever going to have a large gamble to fabricate wine? What an thought.’”

That was the starting set up of Arrow and Branch. The wine company now vegetation spherical 3.5 acres of Cabernet Franc grapes after they equipped the adjacent lot to their property in 2012. On moderate, Contursi acknowledged, that’s an moderate of 500-600 circumstances of 12 wine bottles every yr, ranging from $42 to $225. Nevertheless when blended with other harvested years, it comes out to about 2,000.

It was on no tale about money for Contursi despite the proven fact that. After 14 years of rising grapes and producing wine, Arrow and Branch is within the slay turning an correct profit. The usual of the wine was repeatedly top of mind no longer simply for the Contursi’s, however additionally for his or her winemaker, Jennifer Williams.

“It’s been very rewarding,” Contursi acknowledged. “We stuck to the correct thing. We didn’t set up it within the bottle until it was what we thought was nearly as good as can even be.”

Now, Arrow and Branch is rising and is within the approach of constructing a current winery. The vines had been harvested this yr, and the plot is to interrupt ground on a modification of the present constructing sooner than the terminate of 2021.

That winery can have a designated crush facility, with the capability to fabricate about 15,000 circumstances of wine per yr, which is easiest a share of what Arrow and Branch makes. Contursi is planning to rent out that space so other wineries can fabricate their wines in a “high terminate white glove winery,” he acknowledged.

The rare coin industry is evolving too. While Contursi nonetheless serves as the CEO of Uncommon Coin Wholesalers, his son Michael helps modernize the company in his just as president. Contursi describes it as stepping into the 21st century.

Epoch Times Photo
A library of coin catalogs sits within the conference room of Uncommon Coin Wholesalers workplaces in Irvine, Calif., on Oct. 19, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Occasions)

That means the utilization of loads of current trading codecs and platforms, however it no doubt additionally means rebranding the company to kind out the strengths of investing in rare coins.

An increasing number of people are seeing the benefit of rare coins in an abilities with high inflation and fears of the soundness of the authorities, Michael acknowledged. These coins are private and transportable and retain worth, derived from ancient events and from the metals they’re constituted of.

To point out that point, Blackstone, one in all the largest investment companies on this planet, no longer too long within the past bought one in all the 2 companies accountable for verifying the worth of rare coins and other collectible items is named the National Guarantee Corporation. Most coin collectors employ a 70 point scale to hunt down out the quality of an item, 70 being a good uncirculated coin, and a 1 being an unrecognizable circulated coin.

The finest 1794 silver buck, for instance, ranks above 66.

In the final couple of years, Uncommon Coin Wholesalers has narrowed its client tainted to a couple hundred households. It’s within the approach of transitioning out of the broader wholesaler market the set up the coins derive misplaced within the hurry to set up terminate relationships with like-minded collectors who glimpse the worth in maintaining items for a protracted duration of time.

“Our plot is to construct mighty relationships from individuals who we meet via every of our agencies, work with individuals who’re like minded that you prefer to your lifestyles, and allow them to benefit off of what you’ve constructed and figure out ways to proceed to grow and evolve and build,” Michael acknowledged. “We’re an entrepreneurial family so it’s more or less in our blood in actuality.”

Hawken Miller


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