When Picking Dealer, Make Right Choice
By Greg Heim
This "Viewpoint" contains information that many
of you might not want to hear. However, I
believe that getting the truth out there and
sticking my neck out is worth the risk - so here
For years, we have read about how disgusted
collectors are with the way that they are
treated by many coin dealers. We have heard
about the early table departures, the rude
treatment, the astronomical prices, the horrible
grading, etc. Well, I am here to set the record
straight on as many of these issues as possible.
Before we get into these points, I am going to
preface this entire "Viewpoint" by saying one
thing: "Go where your bread is being buttered."
As an avid poker and video poker player, I know
that not all casinos are created equal when it
comes to the way I am treated. Some casinos give
me better offers for cash and freebies (called
"comps" in the business). Why would I go to an
establishment that treats me in an inferior
nature? The answer is that I do not.
Point #1: Do the dealers really need the
collector? The answer, sadly enough, is "no" for
the majority of dealers that exist on a bourse
Regrettably, you and your neophyte 10-year-old
child will be considered a nuisance for many
dealers while they are flipping a $10,000 gold
deal to a wholesaler. Ask any dealer what his
percentage of sales is before the show is open
to the public, and you will be alarmed. Dealers
are willing to work on less of a profit margin
in hopes of turning/flipping merchandise to
preserve cash flow. How can this happen? Because
many dealers have clients who do not attend
shows. Other reasons are that the material will
eventually end up outside of a wholesale
setting; it can take a while to get there as
there are numerous layers that exist.
The Remedy: It is important to make sure that
you have done as much of your homework as
possible. Treat all dealers with respect and
with proper etiquette, and only go to those who
are willing to take the time to establish a
relationship. Under no circumstances should you
be the recipient of rude treatment. Report such
infractions to the bourse chairman.
Point #2: Too many dealers are gone when I get
to the show. This is a large problem that occurs
more at multi-day shows, but it is also a
problem at one day shows when attendees show up
after a late breakfast or church service.
The Remedy: It is beyond the scope of this piece
to discuss the remedies for this, but it is my
feeling that the dealers have an ethical
obligation to stay for the entire hours posted
for a one-day show, especially if there is an
admission charge. However, we know that this
does not occur. Just look at it this way: those
dealers who have left (obviously) did not want
your business, so good riddance. Remember, use
the same advice about friendships that you would
give your own children: It is not the quantity
of friends that you have, but the quality.
Point #3: When I go to sell my material, I am
only offered a fraction of what I paid for it.
On the other hand, when I go to buy the same
material, it is marked up almost 100 percent. I
understand that the dealers have to make a
profit, but in the coin business that is
The Remedy: This is one of those occasions that
we hear quite often. Unless you are talking
about proof sets and mint sets, you cannot
compare two MS-64 1880-S Morgan dollars and say
that they are the same, even if they are created
by a reliable third-party certification service
such as PCGS or NGC. One may be a mistake for
being overgraded, and the other may be a mistake
in that it is undergraded.
Learn what acceptable profit margins are for
dealers on various items. If you are selling 40
percent silver halves, 90 percent coin or
circulated silver dollars (1935 and before),
your buyer should be working very close because
such an item is easily "flipped" and need not be
On the other hand, let's say you selling a
1912-D Liberty Head nickel in XF-AU that's
average for the grade. The dealer will have to
stock that item, so his cash will be tied up
longer and they will need to make a higher
percentage of profit because of that.
In closing, it is very important that you not
show prejudice toward all dealers and bourse
chairpersons when entering a show. Even with
those dealers who do not fit your needs, just
agree on disagreeing and move on.
Remember, they have a right to grade and price
their merchandise they way they choose - you
have a right not to associate with them. More
importantly, you have a right not to buy it.
Greg Heim of South Plainfield, N.J. describes
himself as a collector of half cents and
full-time dealer who does not set up at shows.
Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of
opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The
opinions expressed here are not necessarily
those of Numismatic News. To have your opinion
considered for Viewpoint, write to David C.
Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State
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