What You Need To Know: basic pointers/suggestions for collectors
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12,543 posts

I had already posted most of this elsewhere, previously, but recently touched it up a bit and had it added to my website earlier today:

 

Following, in no particular order of subject matter or importance, are my unsolicited comments and advice about coin collecting for collectors - please feel free to contact me at any time if you'd like to discuss any of these topics :

 

1) Buy/collect what YOU like. But keep in mind that when it comes time to sell, not everyone else will necessarily like what you did/do.

 

2) Examine as many coins as you can which have been certified/graded by the most highly respected grading companies. This can be done at coin shows and in auctions. It can be a great way to improve upon your grading skills.

 

3) The best way to improve your grading ability is to find someone whom is highly qualified AND willing to spend time reviewing coins with you. That person can be a dealer or collector, but he needs to be more than just a friend - he needs to be a teacher. Many individuals are "qualified" OR "willing to spend the time", but few are BOTH.

 

4) Don't keep buying coins without ever selling any of them - learn what it's like to try to sell, too. Once in a while you should offer one or two of your coins back to the dealers you acquired them from. See how they deal with that type of situation and whether they want to re-acquire those "gems" they sold to you.

 

5) Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask lots of questions. You and just about everyone else can learn a great deal that way.

 

6) Be aware of privacy and security concerns. It might not be as much fun to do so, but it's extremely important.

 

7) It's always good to get a second opinion. Doing so doesn't make you less knowledgeable, worthy or confident - it simply makes good sense.

 

8) Don't try to get bargains at the expense of quality and desirability for the coins you're buying, or you'll likely end up with sub-par coins which aren't bargains, anyway.

 

9) Generally, I advise against "investing" in coins. Even if you are very well informed, based upon buy/sell spreads and other factors, the odds are against your success. That said, I understand that many collectors end up spending significant sums of money on their collections and can't/shouldn't ignore the financial implications.

 

10) If you are going to "invest", I'd suggest diversification and not putting too much of your money into one coin or one coin type. I'd also recommend staying away from especially esoteric and/or illiquid and/or currently "hot" items.

 

11) While it is not a pleasant mindset to engage in, think about and plan for how your coins should be disposed of if/when something happens to you. Make your spouse and/or family and/or friends and/or an attorney aware of your wishes. If you have a particular dealer or coin/auction company that should be contacted, have that information recorded, along with costs, sources, purchase dates, etc., of your coins.

 

12) Eye-appeal is hard to ignore, but technical quality shouldn't be over-looked/compromised.

 

13) If you participate in auctions, whether over the Internet or in person, set your price/bidding limits in advance and stick to them. Auction fever hits many bidders, and almost always to their detriment.

 

14) Find time for other activities that don't have anything to do with coin collecting. Don't make coins your whole life - life is too short for that.

 

15) If you are going to stretch to buy a coin, do it for a coin which is truly special and/or virtually irreplaceable, not on an ordinary one. There are far more of the latter than of the former, and there will almost always be other opportunities.

 

16) Don't talk yourself into buying a coin. If something about it bothers you now, there is an excellent chance it will bother you as much or more later.

 

17) Don't be lulled or suckered into a false/unrealistic sense of security by the strength of many areas of the market that we have experienced for several years now. There are good markets, and, while some current participants might not have experienced them yet, there are bad markets too - I promise.

 

18) Do not buy rare coins on a sight-unseen basis, regardless of the seller or the images.

 

19) Enjoy our hobby.

 

20) I repeat, enjoy our hobby.

 

[MODERATOR NOTE: EDITED TO UPDATE THE CONTENTS BY POSTER'S REQUEST 5-29-2007]

Edited by Architecht

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1,832 posts

I like #17.

 

If you cant do this then it is time to get out.

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11,753 posts

i would like to see this on the ngc board advise to collectors

 

also mark to do once a month a coin thread with helpful hints to collectors cloud9.gif

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I'm glad that you didn't make us wait for your 10,000th post. grin.gif

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7) Don't keep buying coins without ever selling any - learn what it's like to try to sell, too. Once in a while you should offer one or two of your coins back to the dealers you acquired them from. See how they deal with that type of situation and whether they want to re-acquire those "beauties" they sold to you.

 

This is an excellent point! Being on the other end of the purchase spectrum makes one a more knowledgeable, discriminating and astute buyer. I highly recommend this step.

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835 posts

YES! Excellent point #7 , I'll third EZ_E on that , and add trade up coins as well when you upgrade one !

Great comments Mark ! thumbsup2.gif

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I found #18 and #19 from my original post across the street on this topic:

 

#18) Next time you see a newbie seller make a silly statement or listing error due to their lack of knowledge and are about to make fun of him/her, take a moment to try to help inform/educate, instead. Offering your help doesn't take any longer than making fun of him/her in a thread here, and it is often far more rewarding, even if not nearly as entertaining. Most of us were newbies at one time, too

 

#19) Find time for other activities in life that don't have anything to do with coin collecting. Don't make it your whole life, i.e. spending all of your free time here at the CF or racing from coin show/shop/club meeting to coin show/shop/club meeting. Coins have been around for centuries before and will be here for a long time to come. Life is too short. don't get too wrapped up in your hobby/business.

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I am delighted with this thread, Mark, and am glad you posted it here. thumbsup2.gif

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Mark and Supertooth (Bob): This writeup would make an excellent WYNTK column entry. Good writeup!

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Mark, a very helpful thread. Wish you posted more on the NGC board like this, you have a lot to offer and I'm sure most everyone here would appreciate it. Thanks.

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I like this thread. I have the worst time with 7. I hate to part with coins at this stage in my collecting.

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#7 is hard for me at this time too. I've been considering it but haven't had the guts you to part with one of mine. I might pursue a trade/upgrade first.

 

Great article and one that will help many collectors regardless of experience level. We can never master the basics too well and you give more than basic info here. Thanks! thumbsup2.gif

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Thanks for the advice, it's a good list. I'm afraid many of us have violated #17 and #19, at least once in a while.

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In no particular order of importance (and please feel free to agree, disagree, discuss).......

 

1) Buy/collect what you like. But, keep in mind that not everyone else will necessarily like what you did/do when it comes time to sell.

 

2) Generally, I advise against "investing" in coins. Even if you are well informed, based upon buy/sell spreads and other factors, the odds are against your success. That said, I understand that many collectors end up spending significant sums of $ on their collections and can't/shouldn't ignore the financial implications.

 

3) If you are going to "invest", I'd suggest diversification and not putting too much of your $ in one coin or one coin type. I'd also recommend staying away from especially esoteric and/or illiquid items.

 

4) While it is not a pleasant mindset to engage in, think about and plan for how your coins should be disposed of if/when something happens to you. Make your spouse and/or family and/or friends and/or an attorney aware of your wishes. If you have a particular dealer or coin/auction company that should be contacted, have that information recorded, along with costs and sources, etc., of your coins.

 

5) Look at as many coins as you can which have been certified by highly respected grading companies. This can be done at coin shows and in auctions.

 

6) The best way to learn how to grade better is to find someone who is highly qualified AND willing to spend time reviewing coins with you. That person can be a dealer or collector, but he needs to be more than just a friend - he needs to be a teacher. Many individuals are "qualified" OR "willing to spend the time", but few are BOTH.

 

7) Don't keep buying coins without ever selling any - learn what it's like to try to sell, too. Once in a while you should offer one or two of your coins back to the dealers you acquired them from. See how they deal with that type of situation and whether they want to re-acquire those "beauties" they sold to you.

 

8) Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask lots of questions. You and just about anyone can learn a great deal that way.

 

9) Be aware of privacy and security concerns. It might not be as much fun to do so, but it's extremely important.

 

10) It's always good to get a second opinion. Doing so doesn't make you less sharp, worthy or confident - it's just good sense.

 

11) Don't try to get bargains at the expense of the quality and desirability of the coins you're buying, or you'll likely end up with sub-par coins which aren't bargains, anyway.

 

12) Eye-appeal is hard to ignore, but technical quality shouldn't be over-looked/ignored.

 

13) If you participate in auctions, whether over the Internet or in person, set your price/bidding limits in advance and stick to them. Auction fever hits many bidders, and usually to their detriment.

 

14) If you are going to stretch to buy a coin, do it for a coin which is truly special and/or virtually irreplaceable, not on an ordinary one. There are far more of the latter than of the former, and there will almost always be other opportunities.

 

15) Don't talk yourself into buying a coin. If something about it bothers you now, there is an excellent chance it will bother you as much or more later.

 

16) Don't be lulled or suckered into a false or unrealistic sense of security by the strength of many areas of the market that we have experienced for several years now. There are good markets, and, while some current participants might not have experienced them yet, there are bad markets too - I promise.

 

17) Enjoy our hobby

 

Although all 17 are great suggestions, I particularly like numbers 1 & 17.

 

Buy what you like, and like what you buy.

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Great post and thanks for the pointers. Not sure how missed this post back in Aug. confused-smiley-013.gif

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I'd add, know what an uncirculated coin should look like before buying anything in an MS 61 or MS 62 holder.

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