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Buying Right by Barry Sunshine

Originally published on August 14 2017

Gerry Foreward: The following article is definitely from a wise sage and should be read at least twice. Barry shares a sophisticated and well planned approach towards building a significant coin collection. The following article captures my own numismatic journey to the tee including the part of buying few coins from auction, rather working with trusted dealers and striving for appearance consistency. Then there is the advice to be passionate about your numismatic project but with patience! Thank you Barry for capturing sound collecting advice and allowing the Daily Blog readership to ponder.

I been collecting coins pretty much all my life and I read in your blog about the art of selling your coins. I feel the best way to sell your coins starts when you learn to buy the right coins. Buying right takes discipline and patience. Please let me explain what I mean by learning to buy the right coins. 

  1. Buy coins with a goal to develop a "Set Premium" and not just an accumulation. A set premium is created by buying a group of coins together that has a theme. Typically a set premium can be a collecting a type set, a series, mint marks or whatever that interests you. The theme can be as creative as you desire or narrowly focused. For example, at ANA, I went to dinner with a fellow collector that has decided to collect Love Tokens Bust coinage. Over a nice glass of wine, he was educating me about Love Tokens and showed me via Dropbox his collection. Love Tokens are his theme and after viewing his collection I felt his collections had that Set Premium. On the other hand, if you acquire coins without any theme, it will be viewed as an accumulation and will not attract any "Set Premium" when you choose to sell your coins.

  2. Next, each coin in your collection tells a story. Every coin has a story to tell but the collector's task is to find that story. A story can be the coins provenance, finest known, plate coin in a specific book, first year issue, attractively toned, cameo circulated look coins part of famous hoards, first strikes or coins owned by someone famous. For example, several years ago, I was in the market to acquire a Lincoln 1909 S VDB in uncirculated condition. At one show, I was able to locate 15 mint state examples! Each coin looked fine but I didn't buy anyone of them. Three years later, I did finally find that one for my collection. This was a mint state example that was graded 63. No big deal, except the coin came with a letter from Victor D Brenner (designer of the Lincoln cent) indicating that he designed the Lincoln cent gives a 2 paragraph story on how the Lincoln cent replaced the Indian cent. Another coin that I acquired was a 1858 Seated Dime from the Pogue sale. Even though it is a common date coin, the coin was pictured and storied in several issues of Coin World and other periodicals. 

  3. Develop a strong relationship with dealers that will help you. Over time, people like helping others - I truly believe that. If dealers know you and what you collect, then some of the better coins that they have maybe offered to you before offered to others. For example, at last year's ANA, a dealer offered me a 1825 Bust dime that I was looking for a long time. He offered it to me at a very fair price and I was thrilled to have it. This wouldn't have happened without him knowing me and knowing what I was collecting. If you work with a trusted small circle of dealers, then they may source better coins to you at a fair price. 

  4. Join Coin Clubs and Specialty clubs. I have joined several coin clubs in the area near me and attend those meetings monthly. In addition, I am a member of the JRCS and I attend those meeting as frequently as possible. At those clubs, I meet collectors and dealers that have the same collecting interests as me. My fellow club members became my friends and sometimes, they offer me coins that are highly desirable that I wouldn't have ever been offered. 

  5. Become passion about your collection by becoming an expert. Write a book or articles about the series you are collecting. Share your knowledge with others. Readers of your written articles may offer you coins that will add to your set premium.

  6. Develop a consistent look to your coins. If you are collecting a particular series, then be consistent with the look. One of my collectors' friends showed me his Barber Quarter collections. All the coins had a cameo look to them and all the coins looked great together as a set. Another friend showed me his Mercury Dime set. Those coins ranged in grade from Very Good and to Mint State. There was no consistency with the grades or a consistent look. The Mercury Dime set didn't make the same impression on me as the Barber quarter set which had the same look. The look can by high grade Mint State or circulated with a cameo look, an original look or toned look. Clearly all the coins should have a high level of eye appeal as that is considered attractive and desirable for the market place.

  7. Buy only the special coins from auctions. When buying coins from auctions, everyone knows what I paid for the coin. So when its time to sell, everyone knows your business. My preference is to keep the higher hand and not have any auction history for my coins. Some special coins are only offered in auction, then of course go after them. However, when buying at auction, bid smart and if you can't view the coin, have a trusted person view the coin for you.

  8. Be patient and take your time. Buy the right coin that fit your collection. Avoid buying a coin to fill a hole - just to spend money. Wait and only buy the coin that is the final coin for the collection. If you later find a better coin, then sell that first coin. Many collectors purchase coins to fill a hole, and at the time to sell, they sell at a loss. Be patient.
If you follow the above advice and its your time to sell then dealers and other collectors, will be wanting to buy your coins. Typically, you should hold on to your collection for five to ten years before you sell to achieve a profit. Collections that fit the above criteria will sell faster and for more money.