This year’s FUN show was well, fun and interesting. For the first time in 5 years I attended the show in place of Warren who could not make it. I went armed with a folder full of want lists from novice as well as sophisticated collectors ready to purchase anything that met our needs. Warren also instructed me to buy anything else that was original and met our strict criteria for grading. With that I trotted off like a 10 year old to summer camp and returned like someone that had survived a week at football camp, battered and bruised but happy I went.
I have been doing this for 30 years and have attended countless coin shows both small and large and was simply amazed at the lack of nice material at this show. It didn’t matter what type of coins you were looking for, the complaints from dealers was the same, a lack of nice coins. I had a conversation with a major dealer on Thursday of the show and she was bemoaning the lack of nice coins and that “something” had to be done about the lack of fresh coins on the market. Since you cannot make anymore coins the only alternative is to raise prices and herein lies the problem. There is perception and reality.
The perception is the Coin Dealer Newsletter which publishes both the “grey sheet” and “blue sheet.” The prices listed in these guides are supposed to be the levels at what dealers should be able to buy and sell coins at. The reality is that these guides are for the most part so far off base that it is not even funny and is bordering on deceitful. When I finally was able to find an occasional coin that was on our want list or I wanted to stock for inventory I had to throw the price guides out. I am not talking about ultra rare coins I am talking about Proof 67 Mercury dimes and Walking Liberty halves. If the coin was original, had a hint of color or had a CAC sticker I was typically quoted 30% - 150% over grey sheet or other standard price guides.
Unless you are dealing with a sophisticated collector this creates another problem, how to justify the price to a client. Hence prices NEED to start moving up on the grey sheet and the publishers should start to reflect actual transactions versus what dealers bidding on the teletype system. If you doubt what I am saying take a look through the recent Heritage FUN sale and compare prices. I am not talking about exceptions like the Delaware in MS-67 with beautiful color that has a bid $800 that sold for $18,480 or the 1953-S Franklin 50c in MS-65 FBL that sold for $28,750 I am talking about nice quality honestly graded coins that brought much more than what they “should have” according to the price guides. The Delaware we sold to a client for $3000 when bid was approximately $1800 and the Franklin also happened to be a client’s coin. Yes you will find exceptions but those are for average to below average coins.
The conclusion is this, buy the coin and not the label and don’t be afraid to pay a little extra for a superb coin for the grade. What you may think is too much today will most likely be rewarded when you sell. Most collectors don’t know how to tell when a coin is a great value or just over priced. If you would like to learn then just give us a call or e-mail.