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GFRC's Approach for Rapid Pre-Show Coin Screening

Originally published in March 31 2018

I'll tell you a dealer secret...shhh. The most difficult part of being a niche coin dealer, as compared to mom and pop coin shops, is buying the right coins! A downtown coin dealer buys nearly everything that works through the door, but at the right price. Then the coins are wholesaled to other dealers quickly to capture a profit and recover cash. But in the case of niche coin dealers, GFRC as an example, the primary challenge is locating the right coins that customers will purchase on a near term basis. Actually, the buying side of the equation is critical. If one can secure superior coins with eye appeal and accurate grading, then these have a high probability of being placed in a solid collection. Niche coin dealers must have a keen sense of date/mintmark rarity, die varieties and of course, immediately recognizing originality plus eye appeal when searching for new inventory. Finally, there is one additional skill that differentiates the top dealers from the pack; the ability to screen large volumes of coins quickly to locate the best candidates. The screening skill is not as challenging as finding a needle in a haystack but may come close on certain pre-show occasions.

Time is money at coin shows as dealers have multiple demands to contend with. New inventory acquisition is paramount and attending major coin show "pre-shows" or examining wholesaler offerings over the bourse floor table is the way this gets done if a dealer does not have a major collector acquisition on the horizon. For example, at the March Baltimore show, there were locations surrounding the convention center where larger dealers (the big boys) will cluster and be available for wholesale trade with smaller retail dealers. Gaining a viewing spot at their tables is a matter of being early and being a recognized buyer. Once seated, the double row slab boxes are presented and time to go to work.

How do I quickly screen boxes of coins and make on the spot purchase decisions? This is where the mindset must shift from being a collector to a dealer. I quickly review and buy coins by working through a decision tree process. A double row box is quickly scanned for those denominations and series consistent with GFRC's customer base. When coin(s) are found, then eye appeal and originality are immediately checked. Is this a coin that I could easily write a description for? There is nothing that I hate more, then trying to put lipstick on a pig, an ugly coin. So best to not buy any; even if a rare date. Once a coin catches my eye, then time for quick loupe examination. Obverse comes first with a radial check of the rims and nearby area for marks, dings, subtle corrosion etc. I typically scan from 11:00 clockwise. If no issue, then the center of the obverse is checked, especially the right field area for Seated dimes, quarters and halves. The right field never lies and captures the preservation history of most coins. If a coin is hairlined, then there is a 90%+ chance they will be found in the right obverse field. OK, the obverse is found to be strictly original and problem free, then on to the reverse with the same review process. Have you noticed that I've not mentioned grading the coin yet?

After surfaces are validated as being original and choice, then the coin is placed under bright light and examined without a loupe. Is the luster continuous or are there breaks on a mint state coin. Does the toning colors match my expectations for original silver? Does obverse and reverse toning match or is there a noticeable difference that might indicate once sided cleaning and recovery? Finally, is the grading accurate? Would you believe that this entire review process takes about 30 seconds? If the coin meets my strict requirements then we are only half way to the goal as pricing becomes the next hurdle. The coin is set aside in a pile and the review process continues until the dealers boxes are exhausted. If the wholesale dealer has great coins, then there are multiple candidates for price review. Each coin is net priced and a decision must be made. My Dell laptop and mobile hotspot connection are up and running with CoinFacts and CAC population report screens at the ready. The net asking price is rapidly researched in terms of salability and a final go/pass decision is made. For coins under $1000, the pricing validation process may take 1 minute tops. For mid five figure coins, the decision process may include a check for potential placements on wants lists as I can't buy multiple five figure coins on spec.

A review of a major dealer's inventory may take a total of 45 minutes and then it is time to move to the next candidate. Mental clarity and focus are paramount for not making mistakes; buying a TPG graded coin that has hidden defects or has been enhanced by the doctors. I hate the feeling when reviewing new purchases hours later and then asking myself, what was I thinking when I bought this one?

When selling retail to collectors, I understand that most collectors don't review many coins and may take 5-10 minutes to study and make a purchase decision. Please realize that I've selected the coin, under consideration, from a huge number of potential candidates and applied a vigorous screening process as outline in today's Blog. If I say, JUST BUY IT...I really mean it based on wading through some much average stuff.