A Mercenary’s Guide to the Rare Coin Market: David Hall’s 1987 book aims for the bottom line

The Investment Column column from the Oct. 6, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Coin World
Published : 09/20/14
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It starts off with a bold title.

Just a look at the cover establishes that David Hall’s 1987 book A Mercenary’s Guide to the Rare Coin Market is unlike other books on coin investment published in the 1980s.

Although many of its chapters were published years earlier as essays, the book is contemporary with the birth of Professional Coin Grading Service, which Hall co-founded and opened for business in February 1986.

Hall writes that the book took 15 years to write and “the lessons were learned the hard way and believe me, the tuition was extremely high.” He tells readers, “If you follow the strategies in this battle manual, I’m convinced you can avoid the tuition and fully benefit from the exciting world of the rare coin marketplace.”

Four types of coin dealers

In its introduction, the book outlines four basic types of coin dealers that are still relevant 25 years later.

First there is the coin shop proprietor who buys from the public and sells to dealers. Next is the investment oriented dealer who buys from other dealers to sell to the public. Third is the auction house and fourth is the coin show circuit dealer who is “the true warrior of the rare coin marketplace.”

Likewise, the benefits of coin investing are similar to what they were in 1987, as are the numismatic facts of life which came from an article Hall first wrote in 1979.

The hard fact: there are no bargains in coins and those who look to make huge profits off of consistently finding wildly undervalued coins in the marketplace may be disappointed.

Hall refers to his own experience, saying that, even though he considered himself an aggressive buyer, at the time much of his dealer-to-dealer coin show sales consisted of buying a coin for $200 and selling it for $250. A modest profit individually, but on the aggregate it can be impressive.

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