Many skill sets factor into making successful coin investments, from
understanding grading and pricing, to developing an eye for quality
within a grade. But one that doesn’t get as much attention is just as
In a recent Wall St. Journal Magazine article on luck, actor
Tom Selleck said, “If you’re going to pursue something, you should
start where you might be the luckiest.”
That works for profitable collecting: why not start your collecting
where you know the most and have the most interest? Focusing on what’s
trendy or what commentators are saying is a good investment can be
fine, provided you understand and like that area. Otherwise, you’re
best to build and work to your strengths. Selleck ends by saying, “If
you want to get lucky, stay at it.” Keep working to refine your skills.
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In the same story, professional poker player Maria Ho discusses the
role of luck on her way to becoming one of the top ranked poker
players in the game today. She said, “It’s important for poker players
not to get psychologically stuck in the bad luck of a given hand.” She
reasons that focusing on what went wrong impacts how a player plays
the next hand, and suddenly one expects to lose.
In collecting for investment, some coins will be profitable and some
may not be. Preparation and working to your strengths can tilt the
odds in your favor, but sometimes when it comes time to sell, a coin
may not bring as much as you thought it would.
Let’s say that a coin that you purchased thinking that it would
upgrade doesn’t work out. For some Mint State coins, the price jump of
a single grade point is enormous. While a typical MS-64 1923-S Peace
dollar might sell at auction for $300, solid MS-65 ones can sell for
10 times that amount.
What if you purchased an exceptional example for $600 thinking that
it would be a clear-cut Gem, and then, when you send it to third-party
grading services, it continues to come back MS-64 multiple times. This
unlucky situation shouldn’t stop you from trying to play the grading
game but rather, it should cause you to take a closer look and get
outside opinions as to why the coin is not making it to the next grade level.
Benjamin Franklin once said that diligence is the founder of good
luck, and he observed that luck is a by-product of hard work. A
collector can stack the odds in his or her favor by continuing to
learn with every purchase and sale, whether it be a profitable one or
not, and in doing so, become lucky.