Brad Karoleff is a lifelong coin collector with a specialization in the early coins of the Philadelphia Mint. He is the proprietor of Coins Plus which operates four locations in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio, area.Visit one of our other blogs:
Why buying original-surface classic coins can be tricky
Note: Read the first part of my breakdown here.
So, what does all this original-surface stuff mean to today’s numismatist that wants to begin their journey back to the coins from the early mint?
First they have to get away from the habit of purchasing coins for their collection based on Grey Sheet bids. The thought that these older coins are available at listed prices similar to more modern coins is incorrect. At the bid levels, or even Trends and Red Book prices you can only expect to obtain coins that have been subject to some type of alteration. Specialty dealers and collectors have long realized the scarcity and desirability of the few remaining original pieces. The premiums paid for pristine examples can sometimes be multiples of the list prices, much like someone paying a premium for a beautifully toned dollar.
There is a growing segment of the collecting community wanting one of these elusive original surface coins and are willing to pay for the privilege of owning one. These prices will not show up in any published price list. One must view auction lots and dealer inventories to get an appreciation of what they actually look like and the prices they are bringing. This is more difficult than merely looking at a Grey Sheet, but ultimately worth the effort.
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