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Evaluating Purchased Coins

Originally published on March 22 2015

Shifting gears...how do you evaluate a purchased coin when it arrives from a dealer? Since dealers offer return privileges, there is always the initial question of how well is the purchased coin appreciated. Does the coin match the dealer's descriptions and images? Are there subtle defects or problems that were not properly described? As a long-term collector, I went through this evaluation process countless times while building my Seated dime collection including the base set listed on the PCGS Set Registry. Granted while many pieces were purchased at major shows, via auction with lot previews, or through auction representation, via individuals that I trusted to see coins in the same manner as I would, there was a subset purchased on fixed price lists with return privileges.

My secret for evaluating a purchased coin was quite simple...80% of the decision process was made within 30 seconds after removing the coin from the shipping container. The initial eye appeal and first impression was a critical factor in the evaluation of a purchased coin. Collectors well know the feeling of opening a package, viewing the coin and saying WOW! as the coin is first view in hand and under bright light. If the reaction was, "yeah, this is an ok coin" or "man, this coin is not attractive", then the probability of a return was high. Of course, rarity and purchased priced are also critical parameters in the decision process when chasing truly rare pieces that infrequently come to market.

Attempting to talk yourself into keeping a coin that fails the initiate eye appeal screening comes with potential buyer's remorse risks. From experience, I have talked myself into keeping certain coins for a variety of reasons. But long term, these were the first coins to be sold or traded as the overall collection continued its upgrading process. My point in today's Blog is to trust your first impression with a purchased coin. If you immediately liked the appearance upon opening the package, then it is likely you will enjoy the coin for years to come. I have found the opposite to also be true. Just some food for thought on a Sunday morning...