What You Need to Know - Attributes of a Quality Coin Dealer
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My personal belief is that one of the keys to building a successful collection is working with the right network of quality dealers. Conversely, hooking up with the wrong dealer(s) can leave you buried in a sub-par collection. My attempt in this post is to try to identify some of the attributes you might want to consider looking for, and in some cases avoiding, when selecting dealers to conduct on-going business with. This all personal opinion so others should feel free to add and comment.

 

Knowledge and respect from peers in the industry

 

You probably heard a thousands times already, that in order to be a quality dealer you need to possess the requisite knowledge about grading, pricing, buying, selling, etc.... and command the respect of your peers within the industry. That is all true, but here is why its important to you as the collector.

 

If a dealer is not knowledgeable about grading and/or detecting "worked on" or "enhanced coins", they get "marked" as a fish. Once that happens, guess who gets the bulk of the overgraded and messed with stuff that most other dealers would prefer not to handle as part of their retail business ? The fish gets it.

 

You don't want to make a habbit out of buying coins from a fish. Chances are you will unknowingly end up with some of those problem coins. If you are buying coins from a dealer who is selective on what they handle on a retail basis and does their work upfront to weed out problem coins, you more than likely will end up with better coins that will hold their value over time.

 

Some of you might say, well I can get coins cheaper from the dealer who is not as selective in what they handle. That is not necessarily true. I can tell you there are some dealers out there who sell worked on coins at egregious prices. I also can tell you there are some dealers out there that offer truly high end coins at reasonsble prices. Be Careful !

 

Mentoring

 

Ultimately, you want a dealer that will take a vested interest in helping you mature and advance as a numismatist. This can be spending a few minutes with you at their table or over the phone or coming out to your house to do a complete written review of your collection. Dealers are in the best position to teach the technical aspects of coin grading as well the practical aspects of the business side of coins.

 

There are far too many dealers in the market place that consider knowledge a competitive advantange and guard it at all costs. In other words the least you know as a collector, the easier it is for them to sell you a coin. When you find a dealer who is sincere in sharing knowledge, treasure it and take full advantage of their generosity.

 

Side Note: Be respectful of a dealers ability to conduct business. In other words, don't get ticked off when a dealer doesn't make time for you at a show because they are in the middle of a transaction. Wait out for a more mutually convenient time to ask your question.

 

No questions on returns and "hassle free" review period

 

Obviously, prior to purchasing a coin from a dealer, you want to ensure that they offer a reasonable return period. A quality dealer will never question you on your return(s). You may get a inquisitive question to see why you sent the coin back to better service you in the future. But you will never be berated or be told you are a "difficult customer", etc....

 

Additionally, you want a hassle free review period when the coin is in your possession for inspection prior to purchase. There was one dealer I used to do business with that would send me a coin on Monday and by Tuesday I was getting a call telling me a better make my mind up quick, because there were 5 other people waiting in line for that coin. Whenever I recieved that type of sales pressure, I usually returned the coins. Funny enough I watched those coins languish in the dealers inventory for a few months after I returned it, only to be eventually sold off in auction. Waiting list - my !

 

A quality dealer will not pressure you into a purchasing decision. The coin will sell itself.

 

Equal treatment when buying and selling

 

Lets face it, just like everyone else selling a product, dealers are your best friend when you are purchasing a coin from them. However, try to sell that same coin back to them a year or so later and see what type of reaction you get. You are generally going to get 3 types of reactions. 1) No problem strong offer to buy the coin back, 2) Hemming and Hawing but ultimately some sort of low ball offer for the coin 3) A plethora of excuses, including insults, on why they are not going to make an offer on the coin.

 

A quality dealer will ALWAYS stand by coins they have previously sold and make a strong offer to buy them back subject to current market conditions. A POS dealer who is taking shots at you when selling, will more than likely find an excuse to pass on any coins that are offered back to them or offer you something like 50 cents on the dollar to their true worth.

 

If a dealer is selling quality stuff, they usually want a chance at buying those items back.

 

Just says No

 

A quality dealer will talk you out of buying coins ! They would much rather pass on a profit or commission versus putting a bad or illiquid coin into your hands. I have been told a number of times "There are some risks in buying that coin at that level that you should be aware of". "There is much better value for your dollar elsewhere". I have always appreciated that advice.

 

Understands your collecting style and interests

 

Whatever your collecting interests may be, a quality dealer will make an effort to understand those interests as well as your individual style and tastes in order to provide you coins that have a better chance of fitting into your collection. The last thing you want is to be interested in original circulated type and a dealer keeps sending your conserved cameo proofs. You should be able to quickly get a sense of whether someone is working for you or just trying to unload their inventory.

 

Full Service

 

In addition to buying and selling coins as previously discussed, a quality dealer can help you with other aspects of the hobby. This may include, but is certainly not limited to, upgrading coins, crossing coins, auction representation, second opinions, and estate planning. In all of these instances, you will likely fare better with a quality professional guiding you than on your own.

 

Offers Value

 

In the end most collectors want value for their numismatic dollars. A quality dealer will provide you great coins at a fair price. These opportunities don't grow on trees, particularly in today's market, so patience is a virtue. Also notice I mention a "fair" price. This does not mean a bargain price, rather it refers to a price that can be considered mutually beneficial to both parties. Often times you will need to step up and pay strong for a certain coin as a dealer can not buy that particular coin at anything close to sheet. You can gain comfort that you are acquiring that coin at the fairest price available.

Edited by Architecht

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2,225 posts

Good sensible advise CT, thanks for taking the time to write and post it. Your efforts are most appreciated. 893applaud-thumb.gif

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8,189 posts

Thanks for another great post. You hit home with alot of those points.

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4,938 posts

Good post! I would add that, as you stated: a dealer with whom you do a lot of business should be willing to purchase back most (or all) of coins that you have bought from them in the future, at a near market price that is equitable to both parties. This is especially true of non-TPG coins.

Edited by Oldtrader3

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8,189 posts

The dealer I deal with quite often goes by many of the rules. The one rule he does have is a 7 Day 90% buy back on any coin bought from him. I have no problems at all with that, since a person should want what he or she is buying. You are tieing up his time with the coin. I find it more than fair.

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8,686 posts
Thanks for the informative post CT. If I can find such a dealer, I'd like to stick with him and give him most of my business. The difficulty is finding such a dealer.

 

I almost exclusively deal with www.markfeldcoins.com and have never sent back a purchase out of some dozen transactions.

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3,649 posts

Thanks for this informative and encouraging post!

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Yes great post. There is one coin shop here in Boston that has made me feel uneasy the last few times I was there. The last time I went I was looking at coins in the $100 - $200 range and said that I wasn't entirely comfortable buying raw coins yet. The coin dealer told me not to worry about no-grade coins until I got into higher dollar values. I haven't been back.

 

Maybe it's being in a city, maybe it's the snootiness of Boston, maybe it's me, but I haven't found a coin shop that I am comfortable with yet.

 

Thanks for this post! It reaffirms that what I was hoping to find exists.

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11,425 posts

Absolutely outstanding post that should be read and re-read by any serious numismatist! 893applaud-thumb.gif

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Thanks for the post CT. "The way things otta' be". I sure could work with the dealer you describe (when I find one with all those fine attributes). Although one employee at one of our dealers is really helpfull and I would consider a good mentor. I buy somewhat overpriced coins there (without hope of saleback) because I am greatful for what he has taught me on Morgans.

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Great post CTcollector, 893applaud-thumb.gif

 

Your post is filled with good sound advice, the points you made should be considered by novice and experienced collector alike. 893scratchchin-thumb.gif

 

I've been lucky to have done business with and gotten to know as a friend one local coin dealer,(who’s store is about two miles from me, that’s real lucky) for over a decade now, not only has he treated me fairly with coins on both sides of the counter, but has taught me a lot of what I know about coin collecting and coin marketing.

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That is a nice post CTCollector. I assume that you and most others who have written notes here collect US coins because there are no dealers who consistently carry the material that I want and in the grade I want to buy it. Or at the least, I do not know of any.

 

Since I resumed collecting in 1998, I have had to buy almost all of my world coin material mostly on eBay supplemented by other auctions.

 

I have bought a handful of coins from dealers (like the two Peru pillars I just bought from Northeast Numismatics) but for the most part when I even see anything I want to buy, the asking price is too high.

 

I did contact a dealer and had them bid for me at one of the major auctions recently, but I'm not sure it was much help. They did not bid on all the coins I asked them to and I'm not sure I got a better deal either. In the future, I am only going to use this service in auctions where there is no live internet bidding... I would rather spend the extra 5% on the eBay fee and do it myself than give it to them.

 

Also, since I want to have all my better coins graded, I prefer slabbed coins and will only buy a raw coin at a discount due to the price and grade risk I am taking. Some of the coins I bought from a recent dealer were rejected for improper cleaning and the best I will probably be able to do is sell them for the slab fee. (I was fine on the first two from this guy but not three of the last four. )

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