• Sick of Dealers and Coins

    From Adrian P Baxter@21:1/5 to Ira Stein on Wed Nov 25 19:53:42 2020
    On Tuesday, August 26, 2003 at 8:52:00 AM UTC-7, Ira Stein wrote:
    Phil Barnhart wrote:
    << This summer, a good friend and ethics professor at a prominent law
    school invited me up for a weekend. During this visit he commented
    that it had been quite awhile since I had mentioned coins to him. I
    had been an avid collector. I told him the truth.
    "I am sick of dishonest, unethical and greedy people. So I have sold
    almost all my coins and am leaving the hobby. It is just too hard on
    the psyche"
    After a great deal of debate, I made an offer to him. The ANA
    convention would be in Baltimore in a few weeks and I offered to prove
    to him that finding an honest dealer was harder in the convention
    floor than in any court. The bet was on.
    We met up at the convention, and I explained what we had to do. I had
    two coins, slabbed by well-known services, that we would remove from
    the slabs and try to sell. Each would be in an Eagle holder. Our
    story was that these were my father's coins, and he was now in a home
    and needed some money. One would be an 1892-O Half Eagle graded AU-55
    (value between $1500-$2000). The second would be an 1916 Standing Lib
    graded AU-58 (value between $4500-$5100).
    Over six hours we approached 40 dealers (one of which posts here on
    occasion - do you remember us?). We were lied to (10 dealers pointed
    to the price of an 1892 Half Eagle on their grey sheet instead of the
    New Orleans coin). 6 dealers gave us prices for the 1917 Standing
    lib. What did the others do?
    Almost every one asked us how much we wanted. One dealer even had
    similarly grade 1916 in his case - he purposely laid several papers
    over that area of the case while we chatted.
    Almost every dealer undergraded these coins considerably. They used
    the terms "very good" and "fine." At least 8 dealers said that they
    had been cleaned. Here are the lowest and highest offers:
    1892-O Half Eagle
    Low offer: $250
    Median offer: $650
    High offer: $875
    1916 Standing Lib
    Low offer: $50 (offered 3 times)
    Median offer: $550
    High offer: $1300
    Many of these dealers were good ANA members, respected, and heavy Coin
    World advertisers. Not a single one of them were ethical. One
    well-known dealer eyed the Standing lib for several minutes, declared
    it an "extra-fine" and offered me $900.
    "Are you positive about the grade?"
    "Oh, yes. I've dealt with thousands of coins over the years. My
    standards are very strict."
    "What about grading companies?" Many of his coins were slabbed.
    "They can be all over the map, but usually my grade matches theirs.
    Slabbing a coin is expensive, though."
    "So this coin is extra-fine, and you can give me $900 right now? How
    about $1100?"
    He pretends to think about it a bit. "I think I know someone who
    might take this. MMmmmmmmmmmm. Okay."
    "What if I told you I know this coin is actually AU, was purchased
    from B&M five years ago, and is worth over 4 grand?"
    If looks would kill, I'd be dead. "Everyone is entitled to their
    opinion. A coin is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for
    it." He had a few other choice words then had to call someone on his
    cell. This dealer was the only one we confronted.
    My good friend, the law profession, paid for drinks that night - and
    looked ill about our day. He agreed with me - in ANY other field what
    these dealers attempted would be unethical; in many cases even
    criminal fraud. One man's "caveat emptor" is another man's thievery.
    And I am sick of the lot of them. I just can't stand being around an
    entire crowd of people all trying to rip each other off. And
    certainly not any "fun." I've switched to wine tasting.
    For the record, I sent the coins back through the slabbing process -
    the standing lib came even back MS-63. Lol! I sold both of them -
    this time letting the dealer in LA know I knew what the coins were
    actually worth. The final price:
    1916 Standing Lib: $5300
    1892-O Half Eagle: $1600
    Oh, and why did I take such a low price on the standing lib? I was
    actually offered more. Because I think the grading service messed up;
    in my own eyes it is a great AU, not a poor UNC. And ethically, I
    could not take more. I wonder if this dealer will discount the coin
    against the grade when he sells it . . .

    I find your story hard, no, impossible to believe.
    The 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter was in incredible demand at the Balto ANA, and at large shows, the dealer knows you'll shop it around and generally will offer you strong dollars for a desirable coin.
    In a slab by one of the two top grading companies, you'll generally receive considerably more $$ than trying to sell such coins raw as anyone in the business knows and anti-slabbers refuse to recognize. Many dealers are uncertain as to what final grade a slabbing company will put on a raw coin and
    will protect themselves by offering on the low side of wholesale value, estimating worst possible case from the grading companies.
    As far as the gold coin, many deceptive counterfeits abound, and even if the coin is genuine, it may have been lightly cleaned and this occurence may not be
    clearly noticable on the bourse floor.
    Even if a small portion of your scenario is true, I believe we have all learned
    that with quality coins it PAYS to get them certified. A far as your opinion that the so-called AU standing Lib was an AU and not an unc, and then selling at less than the going price for an AU in a reputable PCGS or NGC holder stretches the limits of credulity. 2 months ago I sold an NGC graded 1916 AU-53
    Standing Lib to dealer JH Cline for $7100 and he sold it fo $7800. It did NOT have a full Head and was not so designated.
    End of story.

    Ira Stein
    Yes, coin dealers appear to be worse than those of cars.

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