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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 14, 2017 10:54 PM EDT| 1 Reply
THIS IS A POST INSPIRED BY YET ANOTHER COLLECTOR ISSUE WE JUST DEALT WITH
Even with the advent of third party certification, you still need a degree of protection. The other day, yet again, probably the 10th time this year, I had to work with a collector-a long time collector to help him with a potentially devastating problem.
This collector is well educated and knew to try and learn as much as possible. He knew to read books and try and find a good dealer. However he wanted to be a do it yourself person. He knew what he liked and he thought he knew what look for. I estimate he has spent six figures on coins overall.
He had ordered a totally original and gorgeous coin from us recently. GH loved it, I loved, and it was PCGS CAC. The same day he got it, he emailed us telling us he was returning it. We were shocked and did not ask a reason as we knew the coin would sell immediately (which it did). So when I saw him at a show, I had to ask. His reply blew my mind: our coin was not as pretty as others he had bought. RED FLAG. We knew our coin was as good as they come. What could be better?
He told me his biggest source (a well known dealer) for the coins he already owned and a second red flag shot straight up. Seems he was buying NON CAC coins that to him, looked prettier. I knew 100% with out even seeing the coins he was in trouble. So I offered to send the coins to CAC for him. Sure enough, out of 42 coins, only 2 OLD HOLDER coins beaned. The majority of his coins had been messed with in some way. He was mortified.
Then what he said next GH and I were stunned and could not believe. He just blew off the comment by the dealer who said he did not trust CAC so he would not submit. WOW! Why on earth today, when it is more then PROVEN that a CAC coin WILL absolutely bring the most money wouldn’t any dealer worth their salt send in their coins? Obviously, the dealer knew his coins will not bean. The collector said he did have that comment in the back of his head. If he had understood more, especially about CAC, he would not have had 40 coins NOT bean.
Sadly, this long time collector never paid any attention to CAC. He wasn’t a real bottom fisher, but at the same time he wasn’t fully understanding why he’d be beat in auctions by the CAC coins. He as not fully grasping the price difference between CAC and NON CAC coins. Today he sees and understands the difference for sure. Now is prepared to pay more to buy the safety of the CAC bean. I believe he will place several of his coins in a major auction (not mine). Yeah, so someone will experience this ordeal too. I can’t let him sell back or consign these coins to the dealer. I know the dealer is shaky. Its not worth it to tangle with selling back the coins to the services. The new trick the services say when it come to toning (especially if they have older images) -oh the color has not changed in years. Last year I experienced this first hand when I was trying to help a collector out of a famous AT gold coin and the services would not buy it back. I was and still am totally disgusted. It was finally sold at auction. This is why I scream for collectors to get a competent dealer to represent them (the collector who had originally bought that coin thought he too he knew enough).
Unless you live breathe and eat coins 24/7 you do NOT know how to grade or know the latest coin doctoring tricks they are using. That also why I warn there are NO genuises on any of the chatrooms, many people who are heads of this or that group, or write books really can NOT grade at all (oh the stories I can tell). The chatroom group all claim to know better (they know NOTHING and never see or hear experiences like this). Do NOT listen to ANY of their garbage. They are nothing but a group of self promoters who can’t do squat on a bourse floor. Heck yeah I have a beef about them because if there is ever fake news or wrong information about coins, that is where I see it. I do NOT want to see collectors injured from bad advice-which I is all I ever witness in these places. Plus, these genuises have always shown a deep disdain for CAC.
CAC was formed by John Albanese to be yet another set of eyes. John was a founder of BOTH PCGS and NGC. His grading skills are unrivaled as are his ethics. The coin docs are that good they sometimes can fool the services. By the time a coin gets to JA, if it had been messed with, usually it had turned. CAC makes NO money off of grading. CAC is NOT a gimmick. He shows NO favoritism and he does very much stay consistent. Start comparing CAC coins to NON CAC coins-like this collector is now doing-you WILL see a difference. While we all might grade coins differently, CAC WILL NOT grade doctored coins. And if one should get by, they immediately do cut a check to buy it back (FACT). That is unbeatable protection.
I fully understand there can be subtle grading differences which could cause a coin not to bean. That does not mean the coin is dreck. BUT unless you are working with someone and can buy the coin really right-STAY AWAY. Reading books-especially books written by marketers who can not grade certainly are not going to help you. Sadly I have witnessed many instances of that happening-including a very well known self promoting author who landed some big birds and lost them when they realized he could not grade.
If you see a coin a dealer has that is NOT beaned, ALWAYS ask if it had been to CAC. If they do not know or never tried, a red flag should go right up. If you still want the coin, WORK A DEAL. Be fair and offer to pay a little more if they send the coin to CAC. There too-if the dealer says no, WALK AWAY! Again, also tray and find a capable dealer. Those will be the ones who actually have built major collections-not the ones who soley are marketers or are book worms.
Yeah, this was another CAC and anti chatroom rant. I will be happy if even one person understands what happened here and learns from it. I will keep writing about problems like I saw here until they stop. Sadly, I know I will continue to see about 1-2 collectors a month who bought bad coins. I do NOT blame the collector here (even though he missed a huge red flag). He is continuing his collecting and is much more educated now then ever before.
This is still a great hobby. Much more money is involved now then when I started 40 years ago (GULP). I want to see it survive and thrive, not shrink and die. The game has changed and collectors need the right education and to deal with the right people to be safe. I stand by the comment be greatful CAC exists. Use it and be safe-you are not any less of a collector if you do.
Any comments please email me direct: firstname.lastname@example.org
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