Trust Your Eyes and Your Knowledge When Buying Coins

May 30, 2009

I posted about this subject a couple of days ago on the Australian Ebay forums and on thinking about it it's well worth posting about here. The topic in question is one of dealers and whether or not dealers should be trusted. This comes about from comments I have made about the recent ANDA Coin and Banknote Show I attended and the 'improved' nature of a large number of the coins that I saw. By improved I generally mean cleaned. Because of these comments someone asked if mistrusted all dealers, and my answer was, trust had nothing to do with it. When I look at a dealers stock I go with my eyes open prepared to buy what I see with my eyes, based on the grades that I assign a coin, not on the basis of what a dealer says. Unless I have a very personal relationship with a dealer this is how I approach all of them and I strongly recommend you do the same. It is your collection, the dealers coins might end up being your coins, and you should buy what you see, what you grade, and what you understand.

Why? Well dealers in Australian, in general, need to carry many, many coins. Perhaps thousands. Not only that they have to carry Royal Australian Mint products, Perth Mint products, and all manner of world coins. Then end result? Dealers generally, just don't have the time grade a coin with the same degree of care and attention that a diligent and educated coin collector would. Some dealers do, but based on my observations of most dealers stock they clearly do not. So what's the lesson of all this? Find a dealer whose grading you can trust, who doesn't clean or 'improve' his coins, one who understands what it is that you collect, and what you look for in a coin. Oh and one with a return policy.

There's one story I can give you that explains why you should trust YOUR eyes and YOUR knowledge to pick YOUR coins. Recently at a coin show I saw a nice Australian 1954 6d in uncirculated to choice uncirculated condition. Dealer wanted $30 for it. Now, if you know something about 1954 6d's you'll know that year they were struck from hardened polished dies and sometimes have a lovely prooflike appearance. Well I dont know if this dealer knew this or not, but on the top of the holder scribbled out was written "Proof $20,000". So at some stage that dealer thought the coin was a proof based on it's appearance and wanted 1000 times it's value for it. Someone could have bought that coin for $20,000 and been stuck with a dud. Now dont think I am targetting dealers here, I know for certain that NGC has slabbed one 1954 6d as a proof that wasn't, so the TPG's can get it wrong too! That's why you need to trust YOUR eyes and YOUR knowledge.

Posted by mnemtsas at May 30, 2009 2:35 PM
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