Happy New Year Coin Enthusiasts!
2011 is behind us and the FUN Show was held this last week in Orlando. For dealers, like us, the year actually revolves around our show travel schedule. The first week after the New Year Holiday is the Florida United Numismatists Show. This year we flew to Orlando on the second. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about going to Florida in January. Thankfully, because of the calendar itself and New Year’s Day on a Sunday no one tried to put together a ‘PRE’ FUN Show this year.
What were the big news flashes from the show? The grading controversy is still causing discord and angst within the PNG. In addition, the completely confusing and arbitrary measures to try and regulate something the commercial grading companies are already charging a fee for is, in my opinion, whipping a DEAD horse. On a brighter note a new initiative between both the Professional Numismatists guild and the mega marketplace EBAY was very positive. I will discuss both, but first let me tell you about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the FUN Show itself.
The FUN Show is huge. In fact, although I stated in a Rare Coin Road Warrior article earlier this year that the FUN Show was the biggest single show of the year, I was informed that the Summer ANA World’s Fair of Money is larger. Some say potato, some say potato-you know what I mean. The FUN Show is HUGE!
The FUN Show is held most years in the Orange County Convention Center. Dealers from all over the U.S. come to Florida the first week after the New Year’s holiday for the annual Florida United Numismatists Winter Show. I attended my first FUN Show in the eighties when it was still being held at the Buena Vista Palace near Disneyland. FUN is cool. Lots of dealers that don’t attend any other shows come to FUN and ‘set-up’ on the bourse floor. FUN is exciting for us because we get to see dealers, collectors, and friends we have known for decades but see only once or twice a year.
This year’s show was active and very well attended. Dealer set-up was relatively quiet Wednesday afternoon, but both Thursday and Fridays’ business was brisk. Although the ‘bourse’ was well attended Saturday, the show was over for the most part. Folks who are serious about buying rare coins know that the best coins are not going to be available on Saturday or Sunday. The best coins rarely survive the first couple of days of a big show.
One of the most interesting developments of the show was the attendance of several representatives of EBAY. Introduced at the Professional Numismatists Guild luncheon and meeting prior to dealer set-up Wednesday, five representatives of both EBAY and Paypal attended the PNG meeting and four attended the show itself. EBAY and PNG are discussing some great new developments in rare coins sales that will benefit both buyers and sellers. The first big announcement from EBAY is that “REPLICA” and “COPY” coins CANNOT be sold on EBAY in the future. The PNG has long sought a removal of these FAKES, albeit labeled replica or copy, from the EBAY market place. Selling ‘replica’ or ‘copy’ items is little different from selling ‘knock-off’ designer items. The problem is the confusion and downright fraud that can result from the marketing of these items.
In addition, EBAY plans to take much greater action towards preventing the proliferation of counterfeits quite often originating in China that sometimes get listed for sale on EBAY. Counterfeits, copies, and replicas are nothing but ‘pie in
the sky’. Unfortunately much of the rare coin market is driven by greed and all rare coin buyers would like to buy their coins for less. One of the first things I like to remember is that there is ‘no free lunch’. Nice AUTHENTIC coins are not cheap and most often cheap coins are not nice.
Both Sherri Bozarth and I, along with another major dealer and his head buyer had a very rewarding and straightforward dinner meeting one evening during the FUN Show with the four EBAY and Paypal representatives. We were pleased that EBAY was quite interested in our experience with listing coins for sale on EBAY. Both Sherri and I and the other dealers were quite interested in voicing our concerns as dealers about some issues we have had with listing coins on EBAY’s incredible marketplace. This ‘one on one’ attention we received was very refreshing. Our hope is that some of our concerns will be examined and addressed by EBAY.
The Grading/Coin Doctoring controversy was also addressed at the PNG meeting. The TOTAL lack of any cohesive and positive light on this subject is embarrassing. Frankly, I am appalled at the time and effort being spent on this controversy. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CONTROVERSY IN REGARD TO GRADING. Although most can agree on a nice coin, there is also value for a lower quality and even ‘doctored’ coin. In the current U.S. rare coin market virtually ALL more expensive coins are graded by PCGS and NGC. We are paying these grading services for an opinion on grade and both PCGS and NGC have guarantees in place to ‘buyback’ coins that have been doctored.
What I find most interesting is those who are attempting to quantify and enforce what an individual can or cannot do with his own property. If an individual want to RUIN a coin by cleaning it, let him. Interestingly enough, the parties who have ‘stirred’ this controversial pot of noxious brew were not present at the PNG meeting. In fact, the special committee that was put together to address this controversy seems less likely than ever to come up with a ‘plan’ that we can all agree on. As I stated last year in my initial article about this ‘coin doctoring’ controversy, the ‘TAIL is still wagging the dog’. Send a coin for grading and let the grading services determine the grade.
Buy coins you find attractive in PCGS, NGC, or CAC approved holders for your collection or portfolio. If you want to try the grading game yourself as an individual be prepared to make some mistakes. After 25 plus full time years in the coin business I still make mistakes buying raw and ungraded coins. Don’t expect to buy a raw coin for a small percentage of the expected graded price and get it in a holder. You will most often be disappointed. Please remember nice coins are not cheap and MOST OFTEN cheap coins are NOT NICE.
Bozarth Numismatics Inc. is a full service rare coin dealer. We buy and sell coins on both our website bozarthcoins.com and in our EBAY store under Bozarthnumismaticsinc. Because we travel over 200 days a year buying U.S. coins, we can often locate those ‘hard to find’ items. We offer free want list services and will call or email you if we get a coin you are looking for.
As far as saving/buying on eBay in general goes:
If you send the seller a question about an item, find another of their listings, and send the question from that item page, rather than from the one that you actually want. This will add a little bit of work for the seller, if they want to add your question and their answer to the item description page that you are actually interested in.
If you see an item that you want listed in auction format, send the seller a message asking if they will accept $x to end the auction early and sell the item to you. May be telling them that they would not have to wait as long to get their money (they would probably know that, but it still might help). If that does not work, use a sniping service such as Bidball.com to bid for you. It’ll bid in the last few seconds, helping you to save money and avoid shill bidding.
Use a site like Ebuyersedge.com to set up saved searches. You’d get an e-mail whenever a match is listed. Especially good for “Buy It Now”s that are priced right.
If the item that you are looking for is a long word or a bit difficult to spell, try a misspelling search site like Typojoe.com to hopefully find some deals with items that have main keywords misspelled in the title. Other interested buyers might not ever see them. Then, if the item is listed an auction format, after a few days of no bids (hopefully anyway) send the seller and offer to end the auction early and sell the item to you. After a few days of no bids, they may worry that no one is interested, and take whatever they can get.
You don’t seem to have any problem letting the free market work with regards to grading, so what is wrong with eBay selling replica coins? They are in a separate category. Not everyone can afford an authentic 18th century coin. Why should these buyers have less access to the benefits of Ebay than your glorified customers? Your analogy to knock off designer items is misplaced. There is no trademark or other intellectual property right being violated with replica coins. Do you include Ken Potter in your blanket condemnation?
I enjoyed your show report, but your view on coin doctoring is not clear to me. Do you not think PNG should address this matter? Or do you not think it is even an important issue in the first place? I am not aware of people who believe one can’t ruin one’s own property, if that is what you want to do, but if you alter a coin to try to pass it off as something it is not, doesn’t that need to be addressed? It also seems to me that cleaning and doctoring are not quite the same.
EBAY is a big phony when it comes to stopping fraud on their auction site. I used to peruse auctions to warn bidders on bogus items until EBAY took away a members ability to contact bidders. You see EBAY makes huge profit from these bogus sellers and they don’t want you to interfere with their cash cow.
definitely agree with rob on the ebay situation.