Before you dive headfirst into coin buying,
advise you to get acquainted with some of the fundamentals of
numismatics, if you haven't done so already.
The first section below expounds upon some
high level coin collecting
guidelines and advice. Once you've abosrbed this information, you're
ready to move on to subsequent sections outlining various places
where coins are sold.
Pretty soon, we'll be covering options for buying coins, but first, let’s touch upon some basic guidelines to keep in mind as you embark on your coin buying career.
Learn to grade coins:
Learning the basics about coin
grading is essential to success. You don’t have to be an expert,
distinguishing the difference between a Good coin and another coin of
the same type in Very Good, for example, is bedrock knowledge in this
hobby. Perhaps more than anything else, buyers complain about paying
too much for intentionally over graded coins. All too often, the seller
is long gone before the victim catches on to the swindle. Get familiar
with the concept of certified
coins, known as “slabs” by hobby insiders. Buying certified coins
from PCGS, NGC, ANACS, or ICG through a reputable dealer is a wise
strategy as you write out that first big check.
Final Note: Smart coin buying is not a haphazard proposition. It requires thought, discipline, planning, time, and determination. Review the information, follow the guidelines and you will become not just a person buying coins, but a proud owner of a handsome, meaningful coin collection.
Coin buying on eBay has become one of the most
important transaction venues for coin enthusiasts. Coin collectors are
today buying and selling coins through this immense website in
eBay is fast, convenient, and a powerful tool for the coin buying bargain hunter. You can bet collectors of generations past could never have dreamed of something like this! It is not a stretch to say that the Internet, in particular eBay, has in part fueled the rising popularity of coin collecting that we've seen over the last fifteen years.
Since many of the eBay sellers are simply
collectors like you, a lot of
them are willing to sell coins at “below book” value because the coins
are being offered without the assistance of numismatic professionals
(i.e., the “middle man” is cut out). This bodes well for the coin buyer
“looking for a good deal”.
Make sure you understand the
bidding rules. We recommend
you visit the eBay University Learning Center. There, you will
discover a number of well designed free tutorials intended to
illustrate how the eBay system operates. Before you wade into the eBay
ocean as a buyer for the first time, you are wise to review the eBay tutorial
on buying. There's really not that much to learn to get started, but
you must understand the difference between
bidding and Buy it Now, maximum bids, etc. Actions you take while on
eBay are legally binding, so be sure to acquaint yourself with the
rules and formats before hitting that CONFIRM BID button.
At first, eBay may be a bit intimidating, but
after you get your feet
wet, you'll realize how useful eBay can be to the coin collector.
Did we mention that eBay is also fun and easy, and for some folks, a
Because of the huge popularity of eBay, hundreds
(or thousands?) of
books have been written to help "eBayers" become more proficient buyers
and sellers. True, it doesn't take long to get going on eBay, but there
is a whole layer of sophistication beyond the amateur level.
Those who have gained this added experience naturally have an advantage
over those who don't. Best Selling author Jim Griffith has
captured much of this wisdom in his authoritative guide called The
Official eBay Bible.
Jim gives tips to outwit your competition as you vie for that key date
coin you've long been searching for.
|Amazon Collectible Coins|
As of May 2014, a very familiar name got into
the arena of buying and selling coins online. We've all heard of them:
Amazon. Their coin section is operating under the banner of Amazon
|Other Internet Auctions|
Most of the coin auction companies that organize
major sales have established bidding websites of their own. Thus, you
can participate in their live floor auctions via the Internet, but you
can place bids in advance if you prefer.
Make sure you understand the
Terms and Conditions. Do you
know how much the buyer's fee is? It may be as high as 18%, but knowing
for sure will help you make good decisions later on. What credit is
available to you? Does the auction company guarantee authenticity? How
are returns handled? What about disputes? If you ever find yourself
engaged in legal action with an auction house, the judge's verdict may
depend heavily on the fine print in the Terms and Conditions.
Another thing too about these companies that is
good is that they
closely review the coins consigned to them. Over graded coins
discernible to expert eyes generally do not make it to the auction
block. Coins that are cleaned, altered, or somehow compromised
don't make it either, unless they are described as such.
This gives you, the buyer, an added measure of security.
|Community Coin Auctions|
If you're looking to add some relatively inexpensive coins to your collection, an auctioneer in your community may have a sale of interest to you. It's very common to see auctioneers listed in your local phone book with coins to sell now and then. These guys accept all kinds of consignments, so you might have to wait hours until all the lawn and garden equipment has crossed the auction block to get to the numismatic material. If you live anywhere near a population center, you probably will have an opportunity to attend an auction several times a year where U.S. coins are sold.
Community coin auctions are usually
publicized in local newspapers. Check the local newspaper about
once a week to stay informed on upcoming sales. These days, even the
smallest auctioneers have descriptive websites, so you may not even
have to buy a newspaper to know what's coming up.
There are some negative aspects to this coin buying option, but the truth is that if you have competent grading skills understand the market value of individual collectible coins, can formulate a buying strategy and exercise discipline, a community auction is a place where you can find some real bargains.
|Local Coin Dealers|
A local coin dealer might be a great place
to start your quest for quality coins wanted for your coin collection.
it is worth the effort to check out the background of any dealer you
considering working with because there is a small minority of
dealers waiting to sell you over graded and overpriced coins. By
carefully choosing a coin dealer with
expertise and an unchallenged reputation, you will take a big step
becoming a successful numismatist.
How long has the dealer been in
business? Experienced coin dealers understand coin market
conditions, and can use this knowledge to benefit you. What's
more, someone who has been in business a long time in the same
occupation probably demonstrates a willingness to work hard and treat
customers well, both leading to success. On the other hand,
anyone looking for "shortcuts" usually doesn't stay in one place very
If, after all the above questions are asked, you
still feel queasy about a dealer, you can obtain valuable feedback
through coin clubs, the local Chamber of Commerce, credit
bureaus, or possibly the Better
Business Bureau. Bad reputations are hard to shake, and
chances are good that if the dealer has been incompetent or dishonest,
you’ll discover it, but only if you investigate. On the other hand, a
good reputation is difficult to build, and is usually well deserved.
Type in the word “coins” in any search engine
and you’ll be flooded with dozens of online coin dealers. For the coin
buyer, this is Nirvana. He or she can easily compare prices for a
similar coin from dealers located anywhere in the world. The selection
is incredible, limited only by the amount of time available to surf the
Net. What’s more, the World Wide Web is open for business 24/7, even on
weekends and holidays.
Many online dealers advertise in
coin periodicals. In addition to finding online coin dealers
through Internet search engines, you can also find quite a few of them
advertising their service in coin
periodicals. Some of the same dealers have been running ads in the
same magazines for decades. You can bet these particular outfits place
a high value on customer satisfaction, otherwise they would not have
stuck around so long. However, if you order from a online firm who you
believe has acted improperly, be sure to inform the publisher of the
magazine where they advertise. The reputation of the publisher could be
on the line, so they won’t hesitate to exert pressure on the company to
rectify the situation.
The Internet has permanently changed the face of coin collecting, for the better. Buyers and sellers instantly have access to worldwide audiences. The non-stop flow of information and the ease of communication are widely believed to at least be partly responsible for the strong coin market we’ve enjoyed since the mid-1990’s. Indeed, the Internet has proven to be a major benefit to nearly everyone involved in the hobby.
|Mail Order Firms|
Ordering through the mail used to be one of the
most important options to acquire coins available to collectors. The
convenience and speed of the Internet has converted many erstwhile mail
order shoppers to online surfers, but mail order is still the preferred
method for a significant number of both buyers and sellers.
Coin shows are great opportunities for coin
dozens of coin merchants under one roof makes is easy to compare
grades, and eye appeal. You’ll also have the chance to visit with other
collectors and dealers. If you’re looking for a dealer to work with,
a coin show is ideal for the “interview” process to play out (see Coin Dealers section a little higher on
Coin clubs are great for buying coins in person from other collectors, often at attractive prices. Coin clubs, in general, seem to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity. This is not a surprise development, given the explosion of collectors in the United States over the last decade or so.
Coin clubs are great for buying
or trading coins in person to
other collectors. There's no middle man to siphon off finder's
fees, so club members wheel and deal freely to help themselves and one
another build collections. This is a primary benefit of belonging to a
You will find some of the nicest, most decent people belonging to coin clubs. Because they share a common interest, friendships come by easily in this environment. So, if you're looking for an avenue to add to your collection at below "book" value, heighten your numismatic expertise while doing the same for others, and enjoy a cup of coffee in good company, then joining a coin club is something right down your alley.
Coin brokers look for extremely rare coins for their clients. They get paid when their search results in a sale. If you’re the type of collector with very expensive tastes but want help hunting down your numismatic selections, then maybe a broker service is for you. Google the phrase "coin brokers" and you'll find quite a few of them.
|Estate and Garage Sales|
We’ve all read “Letters to the Editor” in coin
publications from collectors bragging about
unbelievable bargains found at estate sales and garage sales. Will you
be the next person to discover a
1909-S VDB Lincoln cent in a shoebox full of “old coins”? Probably not,
but what the heck…. many people
enjoy the pursuit regardless of the outcome.
The main caveat here is that coins sold at these residential sales are about as likely to be overpriced as under priced. Don’t get suckered in when the sale host (who often knows very little about coins) marks his Good 1964-D dime at $4.00, and refuses to budge off this price because he is absolutely convinced since the dime is silver, he’s sitting on top of a great rarity. Ha! At any rate, estate and garage sales can be fun, and who knows, you might just get lucky!
|United States Mint|
The United States Mint is one of the best places to purchase modern issues of mint state and proof coins. The Mint accepts orders online and is one of the busiest sites on the Internet. Check out the Mint's current offerings at their online catalog. If you’re interested in Mint products no longer being sold through the government, you can still find what you’re looking for on eBay or any of the other coin selling outlets discussed above.
|Mass Media Circulars|
By mass media circulars, we're referring to
widely distributed general interest publications. Individual issues are
printed by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. You might find
them as inserts in the Sunday paper, on magazine racks in the
bookstore, or in your dentist's waiting room. Inside these circulars,
it's quite common to stumble upon advertisements promoting coins.
Silver dollars and recently released products from the Mint are
|TV Cable Networks|
We’ve saved the worst for last: the “Shop at Home” TV cable networks. Our advice is to keep your wallets closed. They make money by preying upon the numismatic ignorance of their viewers. It’s disturbing to think how many would-be collectors spurn the hobby altogether after getting ripped off by these networks. Tune in to any one programs featuring coins and this is what you’ll likely see:
The true value of a coin is
misrepresented. In order to
make their sales appear to be a real bargain for the shop at home TV
viewer, the “book value” of a coin is inflated. In one episode, the
announcer claimed a VF 1923 Peace Dollar lists at $35-40 in most coin
value guides, but he was willing to let it go for only $20. This
approach apparently sells to gullible buyers wanting to get into coins.
If we dug deeper, we could probably find more reasons not to buy coins from the TV cable networks, but we've seen enough already. Are you seriously thinking about phoning in to get that last Peace Dollar before it is gone? In a word: DON'T! (well, okay, that's actually two words).