US Coins

Nurturing a budding collector educational for both

It can be difficult to trade a coin that you have owned for a long time. I normally do not purchase a coin with the thought that I can make a profit or upgrade it later; I just keep looking for the coin in the grade I want. But it can be a whole lot of fun to help a friend trade his coins because I have no personal attachment to them.

I met a guy in my first year dorm when I got to college who I could tell had that budding interest in coins, and I would take him with me when I would go to local coin shops and shows. One day he told me he found a guy on an online blog who wanted to sell some coins and he asked me to come with him to meet the man and to advise him on his purchases. I was happy to go and we set off to meet the man. After talking with the gentleman for a little over an hour, my friend ended up purchasing a few Numismatic Guaranty Corp. graded Proof silver American Eagles and an 1893 Morgan silver dollar in Fine condition. I might add that he did get the Morgan dollar for a great, but fair, price. On the car ride back I mentioned this to him and said we might be able to find a nice upgrade for him for a good price; he liked the idea.

I talked to a local dealer I knew and asked about the trade but couldn’t get a good enough trade value for the coin. I called another coin store and they had a variety of 1893 Morgan dollars in their inventory. We went to the store and one of the dealers there looked at our coin and brought out three others that he graded at Extremely Fine, About Uncirculated and Uncirculated

As we looked at the dollars I quickly noticed that I did not agree with the dealer’s grading of the coins and thought he was overgrading them. I got nervous about this trade but I asked him how much trade value he would give on our coin. He quoted a price that was above what my friend paid for the coin. So I asked the dealer what he was asking for each of his coins and, as with the grades, his prices were very high. After quoting some dealer pricing guides to him of the coins in the grades he was describing I realized that this trade was not going to work out.

My friend had talked about wanting to get an Indian Head gold quarter eagle a few weeks back. We asked and the dealer brought out a few examples of what he described as About Uncirculated and a few Uncirculated examples. Again his grading, in my opinion, was high. But his pricing was good for the coins and we could not pass up that he was offering a very nice trade value on our coin. Out of the “Uncirculated” examples I found one coin that had great luster, great detail and nice overall eye appeal, and I concluded that the coin was a nice Uncirculated example. My friend decided to take the trade, pay a little extra money, and walk out with the Indian Head quarter eagle. We thanked the dealer and left very happy.

On the ride back we looked at the coin with awe and my friend was very happy with his first gold piece and the profit he had made off the trade. I talked about the history of the coin and the elements of the design and my friend said he wanted to do more research about the coin and try to maybe build a set. I realized that the collector in him was starting to grow and I told him this, “In coin collecting, it is not about the money, sometimes not even about the coin; it’s about the story.” Meaning that the fun really comes from the relationships and the experiences we gain by looking for these coins that we desire and treasure so much.

While to any experienced collector this case sounds perfectly normal, to someone with a budding interest, this was a taste of what coin collecting has to offer.

Jack Schley is a collector who enjoys his hobby and helping friends in their collecting pursuits.

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