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Journal entries from the founder of Legend Numismatics, Laura Sperber, help you stay current with the real happenings of numismatics. A former ANA Board Member, Laura has handled close to $1 billion worth of rare coins to date and has assembled many of the greatest collections ever. Her views and opinions are as "inside" as you can get. Warning: ALL her Hot Topics articles are pretty blunt!
Posted: October 29, 2018 01:48 AM EST| 4 Replies
Sorry I have not been able to write a Hot Topics in a while. Been too damn busy and a bit under the weather. Here is an issue that bothers me deeply I had to make my comments. I doubt it will ever be addressed nor will it change.
One of the reasons I started an auction company is I saw it would be the future of selling coins. After running the company now for nearly 5 years, I know my instinct was right. It has nothing to do with a lack of younger people entering the business as there are plenty. It even has nothing to do with people loving to bid in auctions. Its not even a millenial issue.
The biggest problem-gradeflation has created such a toxic culture most people are either in denial or are just so used to the “the game” of resubmission. At the Baltimore Show I saw about a dozen, yes a dozen what I call baby dealers set up. I’d say most of them are in their 20’s. EVERY one of them was doing nothing but crackouts. They all seek instant gratification. Not one seems to be on any path to be a dinosour like me and build a long term retail coin company. I even talked to one to possibly to work with, but he is tied to a backer for his crack outs. Another I know just wants to sell big coins and move on. He too does many crack outs. I’m not so sure these kids really know how to grade either. They are being brought up on standards where the line has slid nearly a point and half. They never had the pleasure of grading raw coins or even knowing what a certain coins should look like. They grade via the holder and the look. Bad for the future too.
My concern isn’t so much about crack outs-I know PCGS and NGC have both gotten tighter. Its the fact I can’t see many collectors ever having the chance to build “old time” relationships and work one on one with dealers in a few years. It a very dangerous and sad situation. Of course my fav worthless group the PNG probably has no clue about this nor would they care. The grading services do not care so long as their submissions are strong. It is of my strong opinion, someone has to care. I have tried to talk to a few of these kids but they want the easy hassle free money.
You could be buying all your coins in a few years from auctions with no dealer interactions. You really want that? Next time you go to a show and see a baby dealer with his back turned at his table grading coins, talk to him. Let him know there is another world out there he can deal in and make money from. Start discussing this top more in public, it could just spark a kid or two. I would hate to eventually fully retire knowing I could be the end of an era. My group-what we all call the class of 59 (at least 20+ dealers today were born in 1959) is clearly ready to fade out. This is a such a great hobby with great opportunities and the youth are headed in the wrong direction-in my opinion.
I have received several emails from younger dealers today 10/29. I guess I hit a nerve. One asked me if I do crack outs. YES, I do. However, my crack out rate is maybe 10% of my business vs 85%+ of what these kids do. That is NOT what this article is about!
This article is about the fact I sincerely believe we will have a horrible shortage of true retail dealers in the next 5-10 years. It is my strong opinion that WILL hurt the market. Making coins and throwing them up on ebay is NOT really retail. Sitting in an office educating people, doing shows, transacting with the public , and building collections etc is what I do NOT see these kids even thinking about. The money is too quick and easy doing crackouts (although that is coming to an end).
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