A Career in Coins with Michael Miles Standish

A Career in Coins with Michael Miles Standish

Interview With Michael "Miles" Standish

 

Charles Jonath: So, with us today we have Miles Standish. Miles, you've been voted top 10 most influential guy in coins by Coin World Magazine. You're an author best-selling author by the way and extremely knowledgeable person on coins. I feel like you're one of the innovators of our industry. It seems like you were there at the foundation of a lot of things that happen in the world of coins and it's amazing and it's an honor and a pleasure to have you. I just want to thank you again for coming on and doing this. I know you're a busy guy.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Thank you. Yeah, I want to thank you for having me on.

Charles Jonath: No, it's my pleasure. I'm trying to do more of this stuff so we can get the word out there for coins, because it's just a wonderful hobby. I think these things need to happen. But I want to go back a bit to the beginning and like how you really got into coins and what ultimately, because I know like you eventually wound up starting a career at Anacs. Was that right as a grader?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, I was 19 years old at Anacs 1984.  I dropped out of college. Been in college for one semester and by Christmas time prior to starting February first 1984, the ANA made an offer to me to come work for the grading service back when it was owned by the ANA. Some people don't realize but the ANA owned Anacs which stood for the American Numismatic Association Certification Service.

Charles Jonath: I forgot I didn't I, totally didn't, I forgot about that but I remember someone mentioning that once.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, and it was until later when it got sold off. They took that and just left the acronyms Anacs which is you know the name has always been since I believe it was 1979 that they started Anacs. But yeah, I went to work in Colorado Springs 1984. I've been a Midwestern dealer. I grew up in Michigan.

Charles Jonath: Nice.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Kalamazoo, Michigan. And I got this fabulous opportunity to work at the A& A in Colorado Springs at the grading service and I couldn't have been happier. It just seems like yesterday doesn't seem like 37 years ago, whatever.

Charles Jonath: That's what happened.

Michael “Miles” Standish: That's it. It doesn't seem, it does seem like yesterday to be quite honest with you. Yeah. And of course, when Coin World gave me the top 10 most influential from 1960 to 2020, I was I was taken back by that. Most of the other members because I was the youngest member in that top 10 were peers of mine. I mean Ken Burssett was in that top 10, the editor of the Red Book. There were so many he was my first boss at Anacs.

Charles Jonath: Wow.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And at the time Dave Bowers was the president of the ANA. So, it really goes back a long time and then to be included in that group I was completely honored. And over the course of 60 years, I slid in there in less time than that. Some of them had the full 60 years to qualify. But it's been a lot of fun and then fast tracking after I went to Anacs I started buying and selling coins again. And then by 1986 I was the first full-time coin grader, excuse me, first full-time coin grader hired at PCGS.

Charles Jonath: That’s right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: That was another kind of a storybook landing PCGS had a big backlog of coins and they did full-time graders. And I was for years, at least two years I was the only full-time coin grader that was on staff. It's interesting how at that time the hobby hadn't expanded as much as it has today.

Charles Jonath: Sure yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But from 1986 to 2001 I remained the youngest person on staff for grading coins.

Charles Jonath: It's awesome.

Michael “Miles” Standish: So, I maintained that for 15 years just because there just wasn't anybody that was finding their way to working at PCGS to grade and I was like I said overall I was at PCGS 29 years. I was at Anacs two years and I was at NGC 6 years. But it's been a storybook career. Been able to handle all the world's fabulous coins. I think about all the great coins that I've handled from all the Central America gold coins. The first 5,000 of them that came up from the bottom of the ocean to all the fabulous $1804 and Liberty nickels and multi other million dollars plus coins passed through my hands. But working there full time I got that opportunity to get to grade those coins. And it's been a privilege to be kind of a curator maintain the opportunity of being the person that saw the coins before they went into a hold.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It's really a great privilege to me.

Charles Jonath: Up close and personal like that too.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Exactly.

Charles Jonath: It's great. Yeah. Did you always have like a talent for grading or is it just something it took you a while to really get a grasp of?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Honestly, it just fit. It just fit. I was blessed with a good pair of eyes and I can make the determination on grade basically faster than anybody that was ever on staff when I graded. And I probably graded twice as many coins as anybody on staff. So, I think it kind of tells you it fit immediately for me. Some people have an act for different things in life.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: One of the skills that, I was really proficiently was speed and accuracy. And when you can grade twice as many as other world-class graders, I don't think there was any struggles for me in that department. I got lucky.

Charles Jonath: Well, you guys did. You hit like that coming to Anacs I mean PCGS, I mean that's just it's incredible. I know like all you guys were probably all the founders were even doing grading themselves at that time right? Like John?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yes, there was a full ended up being like into 87, 88, 89. There ended up being usually one or two other founders in the grading room full time. And that lessened over time and then of course later on some of us became owners of the company. So, to expand the effort and the commitment to grading, that's how some ownership had been spread around a little bit. I think it was early 90s that I bought in ownership of PCGS and we had PSA which we later rolled up into a public company called Collectors Universe. It took that public in 1999.

Charles Jonath: So, how did that all come about? Because I know there was a separate, if I'm not mistaken right? There was a separate company called Collectors Universe that was there at the time and then it kind of emerged with you guys or how did that work exactly?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Well, we had these other branches. We had PCGS. We had PSA. We had CCE which is the trading network. Long Beach Coin Show PSA. We had PSA and PSA/DNA for the authentication of autographs. I was vice president of PSA for a while trying to build it up and then we just we created a parent company for all those companies to fit in as a public offering

Charles Jonath: Got it. I guess it just made sense to keep it all under one company. I mean, there there's a lot of synergies I would imagine.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Well, it's just an easier way to explain what the company does under one umbrella and it was better for branding at the time. Each individual company did its own branding but as a public company, you needed one major holding company that was over all of it.

Charles Jonath: Right. I mean, you were like, I want to say, you're like one of the guys who's like very creative in the industry which is really exciting. Because you developed a lot of programs I know initially there when you were at PCGS. Like to try and expand things. I mean like as far as we're at now, I mean where do you see things now as far as like what's the next frontier for really coins?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Well, I what I created what I consider the big three that really expanded the brand, expanded the marketplace, expanded the interest. Any kind of colored labels or designs on labels that was my baby that I created and kicked those off in 1998. 1999 was when that started to really jump. And of course, competition did the same thing by 2000 going to say 2000, 2001, I started creating the autograph coin program with actual hand signed autographs. In the beginning, it was with Mint directors because if you buy a mint product today you get a facsimile autograph from the mint director.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And I just took that to a whole new level by providing an authentic hand signed autograph inside the holder from a past Mint Director that was no longer in office. They can't sign autographs while they're still holding the position of Mint director. But I've hired I don't know; I think it's 5 or 6 now former US Mint directors. I think I've hired more Mint directors than any US president did. They appoint them. I got the higher.

Charles Jonath: Probably, exactly.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And try to create some opportunity away from the Mint for people like Donna Pope, Philip Deal, Jay Johnson, Edmund Moy, Rhett Jepson, David Mortal. Some confirmed, some not, but so I tried to create ongoing programs for actual Mint directors too as well. And then of course, then I entered into both, coin designers, like John Mercanti, chief Engraver, 12th chief engraver, the United States Mint. A lot of other designers that I brought into the business. I don't remember the 2014 baseball coin, but that was first…

Charles Jonath: I think so, yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: That was Cassie McFarland who designed the baseball if you remember the glove.

Charles Jonath: The glove, that's right I know the exact coin, yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It was her father's softball glove.

Charles Jonath: Wow. That's cool.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But she was, I brought her into the marketplace because she was the designer of that glove and then it's been proliferation of more and more people after that. That was I don't know 30 or 40 pro Baseball Hall of Fame players, NFL football hall of fame players, NBA players. It became something became pretty widespread. So, the autograph program, that was about 2014 that the sports started coming in. but prior to that the other third thing after labels and autographs was the creation of First Strike.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, the First Strike.

Michael “Miles” Standish: That was my baby from start to finish. And here we are. That was 2004. So, we're 18 years later and it's been the most widely accepted brand name in the industry. At the same time NGC was going to do it that way and they did it that way for a while then they pulled out and they changed their First Strike program to early release. So, First Strike kind of spawned the idea for both grading services to have some type of documented program that said what type of coin it was. And primary started out obviously with modern coins that had date releases from the US men and there's a chain of custody of those packages being sealed from the US men. So, you could have a lot of integrity involved in that. So, First Strike which was 2004, created a lot of programs for both grading services.

Charles Jonath: Yeah. I mean anytime you could find I think little unique ways to build collections and to grow the hobby a bit. I mean those all those all things seem to be successful because I think there's desire for it. I'm just like, what do you see is really next? Are you at NGC right now, right?

Michael “Miles” Standish: No, I've left NGC. I've been gone 7 months actually.

Charles Jonath: Oh wow.

Michael “Miles” Standish: No, I'm completely independent. I do some consulting work. I still sign autographs for NGC and their label exclusively. There's been a demand for my label the last 5, 6 years 8 years I guess and working on expanding that.

Charles Jonath: That's awesome.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Just did the 4th edition, finished the 4th edition and put out the American Silver Eagle book that I've done with John Mercanti.

Charles Jonath: Right, Morgan Dollar.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Right, well, the Morgan Dollar is another book that I did on my own but I co-authored the Silver Eagle book with John Mercanti.

Charles Jonath: Go got it.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But both have sold out each time they've been published. Um and I'm Working on at least one to two other books right now.

Charles Jonath: Right. So, I wanted to ask you about that. You wrote a book Morgan Dollars. America's Love Affair with the legendary coin. I mean that's like probably the most iconic coin in America, right? Like it's in every coin shop you see around the world. I mean I grew up in a coin shop that's all that comes in. So, it's this iconic design. I mean what's so cool about, what's so great about Morgan Dollars because everyone seems to love those coins?

Michael “Miles” Standish: It's going to change in our lifetime, but our lifetime growing up the Morgan Dollar was the most iconic other than Lincoln Penny. But the Morgan Dollar was the most iconic collected Silver Dollar. People love big beautiful coins in America and they've always loved the Morgan Dollar and it's been widely collected through the ages. But we're in a circumstance right now though that The American Silver Eagle Program which has now been struck more years than the Morgan Dollar Series is rising to the top as far as most collected Silver Dollar. Just because of pure mintages and populations that are out there. And remember none of them have been a part of any great melts or lost at sea or worn from being spent. They're all in pretty good shape.

Charles Jonath: Right. That's interesting. I guess what's, 1985.

Michael “Miles” Standish: They've made over 600 million silver eagles since 1986.

Charles Jonath: Wow. So, like there the Mint is still trying to expand on that or what is the latest on. Do you know any other direction or what they're intending?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Well, they changed the design, the reverse design last year to the American Silver Eagle. They changed it in July after 35+ years. Now they have a new design on the back. They've done a really nice job with it. Their problem now is keeping up with production. Production is way behind demand and it's put a lot of pressure on the wholesale value of the bullion coins over their spot price. And the Mints got to do a better job in catching that up so that people can get these closer to a spot price as possible. But the demand is still very strong for them.

Charles Jonath: Yeah. I know it is. I mean I think it's overall it seems to be these days in silver. The premiums on that stuff have gone way up. And I don't know if it's just largely due to the pandemic and logistics or is it more a silver issue? Like not having the metal, that kind of stuff.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Well, the biggest problem is the Mint's not producing enough Silver Eagles monthly. In January, they produced nearly 5 million coins. In February, I think the mintages fell off to about a million 5. And March was about a million coins. I don't have April numbers in front of me yet but when the price is spot plus 10, 12, $14, that means the demand very high and they're not getting enough coins out of the Mint. So, the Mint's got to take some responsibility to make sure that those numbers get increased so that as we're talking today, we have roughly $22 silver. Well, it's spot plus $12. It's quite a premium.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And the Mint's got to do a better job on getting the coins out, so the premiums aren't so high.

Charles Jonath: It sounds like it's just a production issue then. I mean because I know the premiums on the Silver Round seemed to gone down a bit. So, that's good, but I think that for a period of time it seemed like all the premiums were just super high on this stuff. It didn't matter.

Michael “Miles” Standish: The legal tender Eagles at $10, $12, $14. They're having, remember they produced 5 million coins in January. So, it wasn't like they lost staff for they lost effort but they're not getting the plan just to be able to make the coins is obviously the problem.

Charles Jonath: Right, right. Is that, like I was going to ask you too on the grading companies? It's one thing that still puzzles me is that because I have some clients that are actually overseas and it seems like all of them are having to send in coins still to the United States and the time process it takes like a really long time. I wonder, why isn't there, do they actively take submissions and there's graders overseas or what's the plan with that, because it doesn't seem like?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Well, there are graders all over the world in different offices for grading services. But the biggest problem is the demand to get coins grading is out exceeding operations. Operations has to do a continued better job at both the grading services to get the coins back faster to the customer.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And that's been an ongoing problem throughout the pandemic because of the increased growth in the amount of coins getting graded.

Charles Jonath: So, do you see offices opening up for PCGS and NDC like overseas in the future that are taking submissions and doing?

Michael “Miles” Standish: they already have coins; they already have grading services in Asia. But a lot of those are for submissions that are there. I can't tell you at this hour if FPCGS is grading on site there or they're shipping everything. I know at one time I was told there wasn't any grading going on there. It was just all getting shipped to the United States for grading. NGC at the time was grading in Beijing. I think it's Shanghai, excuse me.

Charles Jonath: The NGC was doing onsite grading there.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah. There's been some onsite grading going on in Zurich and Paris too. But a lot of those are for the coins that are actually over there.

Charles Jonath: Yeah. European coins I guess and stuff like that.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah.

Charles Jonath: Got it.

Michael “Miles” Standish: US gold coins and world coins.

Charles Jonath: That's so cool. Yeah, I mean I think that's there's definitely room for growth there. I mean the collector demand just seems to be growing globally. And a lot of people are doing things. And even in the Middle East now too, everywhere. It's incredible.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I think probably the biggest growth in the band is probably Japan. Japan has a wild interest in US coins and numismatic coins. So, there's been a wild growth there for those folks. And collectibles are so hog wild in so many markets from sports memorabilia, trading cards, coins. It's because of the internet. Now that the internet has been around for plus 25 nearly 30 years.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It's really expanded to visually show the coins to the whole world. It's not like you got to go to your coin show to see your coins. You can see them all. You can see them all from your back bedroom.

Charles Jonath: Right. Well, apps like Instagram wonderful for coins. It seems because it's so visual.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It's a great visual.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: So great visual. And that's I got to tell you, the word you just choose there, Visual. That was the reason for why I came up with all the colored labels for coin holders. Because in the 90s, coins were expanding with the internet the coins were expanding with television. Remember this is pre-Facebook pre-Instagram time and I kept saying, we've got to add more color to the coin labels in the holders to attract the eye to grow the interest to tell more of the story about the coin on the label. And that's really a simply why I came up with colored labels of visual aids that are on those holders. I wanted to introduce coin collecting to the common person that didn't know our industry existed.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: There's a lot of people that don't know anything that coin collecting goes on the way it does.

Charles Jonath: Tell me about it.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But I was in hopes of creating visuals on the labels that would create more intrigue and interest.

Charles Jonath: That makes sense. I mean you have a similar goal. I mean that seems to be also my passion these days is trying to expand our industry to people that then wouldn't even think about coins.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Well, I grew up in that area where you sit down in the morning at the kitchen's table and eat a bowl of cereal. Okay.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And it's a little, not that people don't still do that. But as a kid we used to sit down at the kitchen table in the morning and eat a bowl of cereal with the box in front of us and read the comic strip on the back of the box or the story or the giveaway puzzle.

Charles Jonath: Inside, yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Trinket they had. My goal was when I worked at PCGS especially in the especially in the 80s and 90s was figure out how to way to put a slab coin in a box of cereal to get coins out to the masses. And that was some of my main effort why I created the things I did. Autographs, I created autographs to create what I call the double play of collectibles. You can get an authentic certified graded coin with an authentic hand signed autograph. And many times, that coin and the autograph were tied to each other, but it just made it that more interesting. Maybe I'll introduce some autograph collectors to coins and coin collectors to autographs.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But now half a million plus coins a year by the grading services go into hold with an autograph so I think it caught on.

Charles Jonath: Yeah. Yeah, I mean just things like that plus the registry sets, I mean that bringing a registry set online too was huge, I think.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Well, I was talking to somebody today about the registry sets. The registry set is you know it's competitive warfare amongst collectors. They love it.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It's a little bit of an ego boost to tell your buddy that.

Charles Jonath: You beat them.

Michael “Miles” Standish: You know Mercury Dime. Mercury Dimes in 65 or better and you got a better set than he does.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It's a great competitive add-n and he can live; he doesn't have to be your neighbor. He can live in Washington.

Charles Jonath: Anywhere around the world.

Michael “Miles” Standish: You can talk about your collection together. You can talk about how you're competing against each other.

Charles Jonath: Exactly. And they made it very visual.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Oh, yeah. Maybe one of you needs a key date that's coming up in a heritage auction and you got to compete against each other on it.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Which I got to tell you and that idea was really created by from baseball cards. The checklist on a card. Well, if you remember if you ever opened up a pack of cards in the 1970s, they always had a checklist. Checklist of all the cards that were.

Charles Jonath: Oh, that first card that was on the top.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, it was the one we threw away, okay.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, exactly.

Michael “Miles” Standish: We hated the checklist. It wasn't really, it was in there but it wasn't like I was the one that used it. But it really was the set registry and that is you buy multiple packs and it might take I don't know 4, 6, 8 packs of different checklist to be able to have the whole checklist of the whole set.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And the checklist was the way to create a checkoff of what you had in the set. So, you're building your own set registry that way. You knew what you needed to collect if you didn't have it already.

Charles Jonath: Interesting.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But it wasn't really a compete against your neighbor, because or your buddy that was a baseball card collector. It was just something for own registry. But when you put it online and you make it so efficient, it's not like you're hauling it around in a spiral notebook.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: You get to look online you can see what you're missing and somebody else can look online and see what you're missing.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, that's the thing. It is cool.

Michael “Miles” Standish: So, it's a little, so that's really how set registry began.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, I know. I mean it was very innovative because it not only it took, I feel like because people used to collect what the old Whitman books and then filling holes and that kind of thing. It took that and it made really visual in everyone's face and they gamified it. So, it's big. But I think overall I mean would you say like as far as retail in coins, probably the main area of the biggest popularity in coins would be like the late 50s early 60s or would you say it's more now even? I don't know. It's hard for me to say I feel like back then it was more of a retail thing. you know what I mean? Like a lot of kids collect.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Are you talking about the expansion of the business?

Charles Jonath: Yeah, so just like as far as popularity in collecting coins.

Michael “Miles” Standish: We're in it right now.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, you think so?

Michael “Miles” Standish: This is the most, this is the biggest expansion of the collecting hobby of all time.

Charles Jonath: Interesting.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Why? Why think about it? You and I have never stood in the same room together but we get to connect.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: We don't, we're strangers to each other than we like collectibles. I don't mean to be, I'm being raw here for a second. But think about how many common people who have never been introduced to each other get introduced because social media. And quite honestly, and I'm not trying to say you're going to take something away of you're going to expand your collection because you got to speak with me about collecting coins. But every night of the week, you could talk to a new collector. About what he's collecting and get motivated and interested and enriched and given more knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the more expanding of your collection you'll have.

Charles Jonath: There's more engagement.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And it's because of these devices that we have that have expanded the market so much more. But no, when I see different things where there seems to be a fall off, there's gain other places that you people haven't even looked at of interest. But the collecting interest is bigger now than it ever has been, the history of collecting coins. And think about it. The grading services, I'll use a round number. In 1984 when I was at Anacs was the only grading service at the time. I don't think, they had one in Dallas. I don't know what their volumes were, so I'm going to say a few thousand coins a month. But Anacs was doing about 8,000 coins a month in certification. 1984. 8,000 coins a month between both, excuse me. 8,000 coins between both grading services gets done before 10 o'clock in the morning.

Charles Jonath: That's right. Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Come by.

Charles Jonath: Alright, you're right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And that's obviously I know the grading services volumes pretty well. But you think about, so you tell me is the market bigger today or is it 1984?

Charles Jonath: Yeah, I guess it is. I mean it's interesting. You're right about that and definitely in grading for sure because the grading services sort of like they've proven themselves, it's established over the years.

Speake r 2: Even if you get, even if you say, even if you argue for a moment, we say Miles that's just the grading side. That's just the grading side. Well, it's 25-fold. Don't you think the non-grading side has sped up also? A multiple?

Charles Jonath: Yeah. In general collectibles it's huge.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I'm not arguing with you. I'm making you think about that for a second. If certified coins have let's say the grading services grade 1000,00 coins a week between two of them. That's a very round number. 100,000 coins a week. Well. think about how many times fold that is of what it was 35 years ago.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, it's crazy growth. Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And so, you have to think that whatever the collecting base was of non-certified coins in 1984 was, that numbers had to have jumped too quiet a bit.

Charles Jonath: It's interesting. You know what?

Michael “Miles” Standish: But you know what? But we're located more places now. I didn't talk to somebody. I mean I talked to people all over the United States in the 80s and 90s. I talked to people in four different countries before 12 o'clock some days.

Charles Jonath: Sure. Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And remember in the 80s or nineties. That was an expensive long distance.

Charles Jonath: Oh man. Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Nobody, a young person today doesn't know that phone call used to be quite expensive. There weren't applications.

Charles Jonath: Long distance.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, there weren't applications for me to talk to Australia tonight for free.

Charles Jonath: Yeah. So true yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But yeah, I might talk to four different countries before noon now today.

Charles Jonath: It's interesting. So, I think a lot of it is just perception to me like for some reason in my brain I still, I feel like it in general popularity I'm thinking, oh yeah, coins was big and a lot of kids collected in the late 50s early 60s. That seem the era of the coin shop and the retail business and kids coming in and stuff like that. But you're right you're 100% right. Like if you look at the numbers and the statistics, it's probably now.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, I mean it's pretty bold of me to say that.

Charles Jonath: No, but it makes sense though.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I can't tell you what was going on in the 1960s, okay. I really can't. I mean I was born in 64 yeah.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, it was before your time, yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I can't say that I know that, but I would tell you post 1980. I mean…

Charles Jonath: Things have really started to accelerate since then.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, but if it's a lot bigger now than it was in 1980, than those 1960s and 1970 collectors couldn't have just gone poof and gone away.

Charles Jonath: No.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I just think it grew no different than most things that grew.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: We can compare it to a lot of things, but yeah the expansion of the market globally contributed, the growth is contributed to the global growth. But even in this country I think the expansion of it. I mean look at eBay on a nightly basis how many coins are listed that are sold typically sold in the US. There was nothing we didn't, we were so far behind in technology we really didn't know what was going on.

Charles Jonath: Right. Well, eBay built the whole business on it. They got a whole division that's just coins.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Sure. Absolutely. And you have all the other auctions. You got Heritage Weekly auctions. You got great collections, weekly auctions, stacks powers. I mean, they're all rock and roll. Those things were few and far between back in the 80s. You had tele trade which was a phone dial up auction.

Charles Jonath: That's right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah. That's all changed. The live auctions have gotten a lot bigger

Charles Jonath: Yeah. It's true.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Lot of pressure. It's a great it's a great hobby to expand it. Now I will tell you this. In the early 90s late 80s, we had a lot of discussion when you sit in the dark room grading coins. There's sometimes that discussion swung around saying, is our business, is the industry shrinking? Because you go to a coin show you don't see any young people. But you go to, you watch on Instagram. There's a lot of young people on Instagram. There's more, when the youth was raven in the 70s and 80s at a coin show it's nothing compared to what it is on an Instagram night.

Charles Jonath: That's right. Yeah. No. I mean Instagram too. It's either, but that's the thing, is it the tools that are driving that growth amongst the new, the younger kids now or is it just the ability to showcase it and they were already there.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yes, the showcasing, it's like I was on an Instagram group there was four or five young people that were I don't know 18 to 23. And I was blown away by their spectrum of knowledge.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It was it was really great to hear. But I think that you know what? They had a place where it was safe to talk about it like they found other people that related to them.

Charles Jonath: That's right, yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And sometimes, sometimes, that's really hard to do. It's like, I can't walk out my driveway and say, hey, well, Lindy around here want to talk to Miles about coins.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It's a lot easier because of Instagram creates that private space for you to say, yeah, let's talk about coins or talk about the history of coins or the history of the coin business or the grading business. They're just, that's what this whole social media thing has done.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I don’t think unfortunately, I have a feeling that it's going to evolve drastically. I have a feeling that Instagram is not going to give away this space free forever. I think that.

Charles Jonath: So, you think they're going to try and commercialize it in some kind of way or?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Like any business. Sure. Yeah. If something really works really well and it's free it doesn't last long.

Charles Jonath: Right. Well, they're doing live auctions on Instagram now. I mean.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, if you could make, if you and I were outside the Zoom tonight hosting a show selling slab coins together and we were talking about it. We start making money at this too long. Nothing lasts forever when you're doing well nobody's charging you for their venue.

Charles Jonath: Right. It's true.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It's just logical. It's kind of like a street corner that's an empty lot. Somebody let you set up for free because you have an airstream and you can sell hot donuts by the hour. Well, that might work for a little while. It ain't going to last forever.

Charles Jonath: That's true. Well, if that ever occurs, I hope it's more membership driven and not transactional.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Of course. Well, I think there are some that'll be membership driven that'll be fantastic.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I've been in one that's fantastic called Stack & Sell.

Charles Jonath: Oh, interesting.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It's got a big community of people. Yeah, it's you guys should check it out.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, I'm not familiar with Stack & Sell.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, check it out. Let me know what you think.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, for sure. What's largely going on there like Bullion or?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Certified coins.

Charles Jonath: Really? Slab coins. That's so cool.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But it's safer than eBay. The coins get verified before they get sent out for authenticity. You don't buy them from somebody. They don't know who you, they handle all the transactions. But it's a new one with everyone watching and it seems to be catching a lot of head steam.

Charles Jonath: Got it. Yeah, I mean, I guess CCE and stuff like that's mainly just dealers, right?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Right. It's kind of a wholesale and then there's Facebook groups. It's like all these free Facebook groups for people to be, let's say they're Morgan Dollar collectors and they're gold collectors. Enough business goes on long enough that they'll get eliminated or they'll get charged and get [Inaudible][40:18] and they'll find a retention rate of what it's worth to be there or not.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, It makes sense. So, what's next for you? Well, you're going to just keep doing consulting or?

Michael “Miles” Standish: I've got a lot of projects that I've been working on that are fun. This is kind of, I was meeting with an organization today that they said, ‘What are you doing? I said, ‘Well, right now, I'm just trying to do things that I haven't done in 36 years.’ I said, being in the grading business, the development of marketing, and packaging and putting programs together so dealers grade more coins. For now, I'm just taking a break from doing that.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And taking a step aside.

Charles Jonath: It's nice.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And yeah, it's like, I can go to a coin show now and I'm not looking at people saying, how can we grade more coins for you?

Charles Jonath: No pressure, you're just going there having a good time.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, I always said, you know, in my work, I always had three or four hats.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Some coin some coin graders just have one hat, it fits their personality. And I always wanted to do more. I always use the baseball analogy. I wanted to be Willie Mays in the business and multi-tooled outfielder that could run hit throw and pitch or catch, I should say not pitch. So, where I created packaging ideas creating grading programs and graded coins. One of the biggest projects I've been doing lately is that when you sit down with coins as long as I have you really understand what emotionally grabs your attention and what you like to see.

Charles Jonath: It's just refined over the years and you know exactly.

Michael “Miles” Standish: It really, I think I have the biggest advantage over many artists. So, I've been designing coins and so I have a couple agreements where I designed coins for groups exclusively legal tender coins with World Mints. So, I've been very busy with that. I've done more than 45 points already.

Charles Jonath: That’s so cool.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And I plan to do that for a very long time. my goal is to be the most prolific designer that people want to collect.

Charles Jonath: That's awesome and that seems like your passion too.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I like design. When you sit there and you look at a coin and there's this thing in your gut that goes on.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Sometimes, it goes sometimes it doesn't. And I've had a lot of good luck. I call it luck, luck of experience. In designing coins, the last 3 years. That people are going wow. I really love that coin. And they're not just telling me they like one particular coin but if you talk to, I can talk to 30 people and there's a lot of different answers. So, that tells me I'm doing the right thing. And what I mean by answers are not just saying oh that first one you did. That was it. Okay, I hear that all the time. But it's the 8th one and the 20th one, the 35th one.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And that's inspiring to me. So, I really enjoy that.

Charles Jonath: That's awesome, man. Well, I mean, you have so much knowledge of the coins themselves and the quote unquote medium for you as a designer. I mean, the aspects of strike, all that, all that goes into, and I think that all plays a role in developing wonderful design. Something that'll just strike people.

Michael “Miles” Standish: There's a lot of great artists, but they've never spent 30 in the grading room looking at coins.

Charles Jonath: That's right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: The artists usually are given they're usually given a project. Okay I create all my own designs.

Charles Jonath: Exactly.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I'm not given any projects. I come up with the theme, the marketing, the story, the theme, the marketing, the story is as important as the actual finished product.

Charles Jonath: Wow.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And no artist gets that chance. They're like, here we need a new eagle for the back of the Silver Eagle. Come up with it, smit three ideas on what you think that eagle should look like on the back. Well, there's a lot more to that and I have more fun creating the marketing behind it, the historical value behind it, with the coins that I've worked on.

Charles Jonath: That's very cool. So, you like communicate directly with the die makers and everything, right?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yup.

Charles Jonath: That's awesome, Mills. That's great stuff

Michael “Miles” Standish:  Yup.

Charles Jonath: That's great stuff. Yeah. Well, I'm glad man. I'm glad we got.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I got my plate full with things I like to do.

Charles Jonath: That's what as you should. That's great, man. You you've been through it all. You've had a lot of experience in this industry and I think, you can contribute a lot to that. I'd love to see some of your designs for sure.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, you know what? I'll share some with you and you can get an idea what I've been working on.

Charles Jonath: That's awesome.

Michael “Miles” Standish: You might get a big kick out of it or you may not. You may say, hey, you know what works for him, it doesn't for me. Everybody's got a different interest in what they like.

Charles Jonath: Either or I'll tell you.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I love, you have to understand something. I love our country. I love American history.

Charles Jonath: Yeah, me too.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Right now, I'm really working on American history. But over the course of the next 12 to 15 years I believe I'll cover the globe on history and important moments. I love special moments. And like I said 45+ into it design wise of different legal tender coins and it's working. People like it. And they keep on asking me to do more and more and more. Like I said, it's a lot of fun. So, I'm going to keep going. But I'm not done for a long time. A lot of people say, are you retired? It's like, I'm not retired. I'm just doing a different path right now.

Charles Jonath: No, you're doing what you love but it's great. You keep your mind active and it's good. I think, I don't know. It's a fortunate thing that we're in the industry that we're in in a sense that I feel like you don't ever have to retire with it. There's always something to do with coins.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Collectibles people really never retire and you always have your hand in it. There's an endless amount of information that you can research, read about, learn about, and meet other people that have different interests.

Charles Jonath: It's so true. Yeah. I mean, there's so much to know like you could spend a lifetime, multiple lifetimes learning this stuff. So, and the historical significance, I think it's very underrated like the history of these pieces. Because really, it's the history of money and monetary Systems have affected societies and throughout history it's why some empires have rose and then they fall. So, I mean there's a great historical significance there and there's a lot.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I just completed a series on Benjamin Franklin. And I have a special tie to Benjamin Franklin. Multiple distances relations. He is a great, great uncle through his wife.

Charles Jonath: Okay. Wow.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And I don't consider that significant because of the distance between that time but obviously with a name like “Miles” Standish there's more history behind my name than Benjamin Franklin. But I'm inspired by Benjamin Franklin, because I believe he was the probably in our country's history probably one of the most significant if not the most significant non, and non-politician in our country's history. He's considered to be the first American. Washington did great things but it's a shortlist but its greatness is very high.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Lincoln did great things. If you think about it, the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves, won the Civil War. It's a shortlist but damn, is it important, okay. But I really, really fell for the depth of Benjamin Franklin.

Charles Jonath: Yeah.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And Benjamin Franklin.

Charles Jonath: All that he did, I mean, he was like a polymath.

Michael “Miles” Standish: I mean, at 9 years old, he invented swim fins, okay. He invented bifocal glasses, the Franklin stove, street lights, endless amounts of inventions.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: We're I know in normal school where we talk about how you know he captured electricity by going flying a kite. But we only raised the surface of what we were given knowledge about Benjamin Franklin as kids. And I dove into it pretty good. But he was America's and if you're on Instagram you know what a stacker is. He was literally, he may have been the first stacker. Like a real stacker.

Charles Jonath: That’s incredible.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Benjamin Franklin died. He'd been retired. He died in his early 80s, but he'd been retired since just like 43. And of course, he's on all the major documents of our country. Non politician. Appointment.

Charles Jonath: Definitely.

Michael “Miles” Standish: He was appointed ambassador. He's appointed Postmaster General.

Charles Jonath: Right.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But he died with four thousand pounds of Sterling Silver.

Charles Jonath: Wow. That's incredible.

Michael “Miles” Standish: And it wasn't to be.

Charles Jonath: I never knew that. So yeah, he might have been America's first stacker.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But the greatest thing about him is that he had a plan with his trust because he died without children or wife. The first hundred years after his death, that 4,000 pounds of silver was used to create more money and to build up a bigger nest egg but it was loaned out into small business loans for the first 100 years.

Charles Jonath: Interesting.

Michael “Miles” Standish: You talk about trusted will planning. I'm sure there's some trust attorneys that are going to want to get a hold of the story because it's pretty phenomenal. and then second 100 years, because I believe he died.

Charles Jonath: It had to be what? Early 1800s or?

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah. Because it wasn't all settled till about 1991. But he was basically this money was used to loan out to help small businesses in the first 100 years. The second 100 years it was to help municipalities with loans. And at the end it was used to build two buildings, One in Boston. His original town to where he grew up and one in Philadelphia that still stand today, The Franklin Institute.

Charles Jonath: Wow.

Michael “Miles” Standish: The money from that and at the end I think there was I don't know 6 or $8 million dollars left over and it got dispensed amongst those two cities after those buildings were built. And at the end, that's what it, I mean he had 200 years of trust planning for his money.

Charles Jonath: Can you imagine?

Michael “Miles” Standish: He kept significant in those areas in the country for a long time. I mean they're sitting around the 1950s and 1970s, we got all these millions of dollars Benjamin Franklin left us, but we got to follow this trust. I mean he kept relevant. He kept relevant for 200 years after his death.

Charles Jonath: Well, the fact that he thought that far out.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Oh my God. It's phenomenal. I've never heard of another case like it.

Charles Jonath: Is he's like if you think about having a manifest like that or a business plan that extends to such an extent. I mean you play a role throughout God knows how long, up until now until the hundreds of years.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah. Anyway, I didn't mean to go off on a tangent. I know we've been talking about.

Charles Jonath: No, that's very interesting.

Michael “Miles” Standish: But you can see what my passion of coin design and history. What I like about it.

Charles Jonath: Well, a big takeaway on that from our industry. What I think is that look at what stacking funded. If you think about it. That's pretty incredible. And then all through the vision of this man who was great to our country, the Benjamin Franklin. So, that's very interesting. That's fascinating. I never knew about that.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Quite a guy. Quite a guy.

Charles Jonath: That’s very cool. So anyway, I'm having fun. Books and coins and different business opportunities that I'm partaking in and enjoyed and it's nice to change the bicycle ride. That's all it is to me. It's just part of the bicycle ride in life that's a little different. And for over 35 years, I did it just one way with a few interesting projects along the way that tried to change the coin industry and the collectibles industry, but it was an intent to do one thing. I wanted to expand the amount of people that wanted to collect and that's why I created the things I did with coin grading.

Charles Jonath: Well, Coin Community at large I feel is very appreciative. I mean, all these things played a role in building our hobby and that's awesome, Miles, man. I wanted to thank you. I know your time is busy. I wanted to thank you so much for coming on here and it's really an honor and a pleasure, and hopefully, I'd love to see you guys sometime soon. I'm sure we'll catch up at some.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Yeah, I'd love to meet you, Charles. I'd love to, and if you ever want to do a different segment, we can talk about, I don't know. We'll just figure out something.

Charles Jonath: Whatever you want, I'm open. I'm here.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Okay. Okay.

Charles Jonath: Alright.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Charles Jonath: Likewise, you too. Take care out there. Be good.

Michael “Miles” Standish: Thank you, Charles. Be well. Bye-bye.

Charles Jonath: Cheers. Bye.

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