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Laura Sperber Hot Topics: A NEW TWIST AND MY PLAN

By Laura SperberLegend Numismatics ……
Hi all. Yes, I am back to attacking coin doctors and the dealers who enable them. Seems the docs have come up with a new twist about their deeds. Time for a wake up call to them!

Its mindboggling to me how many coin doctors have come up to me in the past few months and declared I don’t do that anymore. They act very brave and feel the past is the past and they are free to move on now that they have “repented”. They never acknowledge what they did was wrong, nor do they offer to stop the criminals playing with coins today. They just want us all to forget about about their deeds and move on. I know I can’t. To me it seems every other day I still see their work. Once a coin is ruined, it is done for life. Even if a coin “comes back”, it was still damaged.

This is why it angers me so much when they try to act like its not a big deal.

First, I don’t believe any of the BS when they claim to be reformed. These cats haven’t changed their spots one bit. They all still run in the same groups, still whisper among dealers about which coins they are buying to “fix”, and they still sell their funky-looking coins via their regular mules. It’s no secret they still want to “beat the system” and don’t care about who or what gets hurt. They’re getting bolder and bolder with their techniques and seem to live for the thrill. Just talking to them you hear negativity about the grading services. They feel they have a right to do what it takes to get their grades.

Whether its a bad case of greed or denial, the current and the ex-coin doctors need to be stopped and punished.


The PCGS lawsuit was an eye opener for sure. It scared a few smaller docs, but the majority just brushed the lawsuit aside and went on their merry way. At least the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) adopted in its by laws that coin doctoring is not allowed. Of course the wall of silence has made sure no complaints have been filed. Besides if you have a bad coin, all you care about is going to the grading service for a refund. That effort was a huge YAWN! So in the end, out of two attempts to reign in the docs, little has come of things other than some noise. To me, this is disgusting and disgraceful.

My plan is simple: If I win a seat on the ANA board, I will make a small part of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) into a consumer protection/advocacy group that WILL have razor sharp teeth. The ANA is all for the hobbyist. There is no greater or larger organization in numismatics. It’s time for the ANA to wake up from being a tired numismatic book-of-the-month club and become the real leadership of the hobby. I strongly believe the ANA should GOVERN the hobby, the dealers, the auction houses, and yes, the grading services. I know with 30,000+ members behind me voting for this, we can clean things up and take back the hobby!

Standards need to be set and dealer ethics needs to be seriously promoted. The ANA can start its own “Accepted Dealer” program for those who care to deal with the public. Those dealers would have to pass rigorous standards and agree not purposely buy or sell doctored coins and truly be of the highest ethical standards. No wannabes allowed here. Should a dealer be caught knowingly doing wrong they would be severely punished after one warning – no exceptions. The ANA should force its dealer members to have even higher standards than the PNG. And IMHO, it should be the GOLD standard for ANY dealer looking to sell to the public. I would have a public/dealer board as the overseers. As a dealer, I would much rather have an ANA dealer endorsement than one from the PNG.

Auction houses especially need to held responsible. How can you be a full-time coin auctioneer and not have a qualified capable numismatist on staff? Sure, no auctioneer is going to turn down a consignment, but they should be able to tell if a coin is AT or doctored. Time to buck it up – where have the in-house numismatists all been hiding? Auction houses need to better describe the coins.

I also feel strongly auction houses should disclose if they own a coin (I know I do in my sales). Auction houses should be the front line of protection and need to report the messed-with coins to the ANA and/or the grading services. Even if the coin belongs to a collector, the dealer who made the coin still needs to be found and punished. The collector wouldn’t be happy, but we might not lose as many when they see real action is being taken. Auctions houses are clearly the BIGGEST mules for the coin docs to sell from. Also, I think there needs to be REAL transparency by the auction houses, not transparency that an auction house makes up.

Last, I would make the grading services print on every coin a note if it has been conserved. It’s outright deceptive if they do not. In the art world, it’s the law to say if something has been done to a painting. Also, I would NOT allow the ANA to accept ANY money for sponsorship from ANY grading service or coin business. IMHO, to be a true public representative with HIGH standards, the ANA MUST remain independent. I believe if it were more proactive in this regard, membership and dues would increase. There are other sources of revenue. The ANA can NOT be in ANYONES back pocket.

Basically, I would create a powerful committee that would hold people responsible. I am so disgusted how many of today’s retail dealers (especially) still say “If its bad, just don’t buy it”. Or how many still keep these coin docs in biz because they can do huge business both ways. Or they just won’t turn their friends in. The retail coin dealer does have a responsibility to the public. Allowing ANY dealer to hide and not face the facts is not stopping the problem.

We have a great hobby that still has tremendous potential. Legend just invested $10,000,000.00 USD in a single coin (the $1 1794 PCGS SP 66 CAC). If we didn’t believe the future was bright, that never would have happened. I want to make sure that EVERYONE (from a YN to the biggest collectors) have a safe and enjoyable hobby today and in the future. Its been driving me nuts hearing all the fake lip service from the coin docs and the dealers who are too chicken-sh*t to do anything. Time to really spank all of them and throw ’em out of the sand box. We can clean things up and move on with self-policing easily–it just takes more people to be involved. Dealers as a group just won’t take action. 30,000+ ANA members vs. a few bad dealers seems like good odds to get things done.

Laura Sperber
Laura Sperberhttps://www.legendnumismatics.com/
Laura Sperber is one of the owners of Legend Numismatics. She is a passionate and outspoken dealer who says what she believes and is a strong proponent of numismatic standards. Since 1987, Legend Numismatics has built an unequaled reputation among casual collectors and avid investors alike by locating and procuring top-quality rare coins.

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