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Rare Coin Road Warrior – Beating the Bushes

Dear Rare Coin Enthusiast,

This morning I am somewhere over the Rocky Mountains at 34,000 feet.  I have always loved seeing new things, meeting new people, and getting to reacquaint myself with old friends.  This week’s trip is strictly for buying.  I plan to visit several high end coin dealers over the next several days and see what I can buy.  One of the big misconceptions about the rare coin profession is ‘where’ the nice coins come from.  This month I am going to explain what I have experienced over the years ‘on the road’.

Many customers and individuals we encounter believe that our inventory came from a little old lady that had a bag of silver dollars in her sock drawer.  Yea, right?  Frankly, with maybe a half dozen exceptions in nearly thirty years of business, nice coins DO NOT walk into your store or office.  STUFF walks into your shop or office if you are a coin dealer.  Oh yes, occasionally something nice will walk in with a group of ‘stuff’.  Even more infrequently a nice collection will be offered or walk-in.  Advertising helps, but frankly I advise you put on your hip boots, because you are going to be wading through a lot of ‘stuff’.  Yes, there’s that word again.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with ‘stuff’.  STUFF makes the coin market run.  Scrap silver and gold, scrap jewelry, 90% silver, modern proof and mint sets, Franklin Mint stuff, even Home Shopping Network stuff walks into coin shops or coin offices on a daily basis.  What does all of this stuff have in common?  Well first it is just stuff.  In general there is nothing rare or scarce about it.  You are probably thinking ‘sure Vic, but that STUFF can be very valuable?’  Yes, you are right, but is it RARE?  Do others really covet or desire to own one?  Sure there are the investors and hoarders who amass huge PILES of STUFF.  And yes, some of these PILES of STUFF can amount to a staggering amount of money, but once again, is it worth owning?

Remember the old Wendy’s commercial about chicken nuggets, something about ‘parts is parts’.  Well, STUFF is STUFF.  One of the first lessons I learned in the RARE coin business was the secret to a GOOD promotion is a READY supply, i.e. plenty of STUFF.  The problem with almost ANYTHING promotable is that it is not RARE.  It may be expensive and even desirable, but it is still just STUFF.  One of my first mentors in the coin business was Fred Sweeney a K.C. area dealer who is now semi-retired.  Fred put it this way, ‘Vic, if you can buy a bucket full of it, regardless of the price, is it RARE?’  No Fred, it is NOT.

I deal in RARE coins and have to travel to find them.  Fortunately, my wife Sherri and I love to travel.  Travel can be stressful and we have dozens of not so pleasant travel stories, but the great adventures we have experienced FAR outweigh the crappy flights, crappy cars, crappy motels, and yes, crappy convention centers-HA!  The bottom line is that if I want to buy nice coins, I MUST go out and find them.

Over the years, with my extensive show schedule, I have come to realize that finding one really nice coin is great, but to buy enough NICE coins, I have to visit other dealers who buy nice coins.  Yes, they know what these coins are worth and I have to pay a fair price.  Yes, sometimes a dealer doesn’t want to sell to another dealer.  Over the years, I have developed a very nice list of dealers who not only will sell me coins, but almost always ask, ‘when are you coming back through this area?’.  There is a very defined ‘dealer etiquette’ that I won’t explain today, but one of the first things I try to do when buying from another dealer is to put myself in their shoes ‘so to speak’.

Although I am buying their nicest coins, I also buy other coins as well.  I don’t cherry pick their inventory and then ‘beat them to death’ on the price.  I try and buy every coin, priced reasonably, that I can make money on or at worst break even on.  Wow Vic, why would you buy a coin to break even?  Sometimes those ‘break even’ coins are nicer when you get home.  Sometimes you lose money, but bottom line is the dealer asking me when I am walking out of his establishment, when are you coming back?  You have to make it work for them too.

Unfortunately, we are in a market where the ‘bottom feeders’ are dictating the price levels because many dealers and collectors have no choice but to sell.  They need the money.  I have been there.  The problem is the first coins they sell are most often their WORST material.  Do you think the nicest coins available are coming onto the market at the current price levels?  There may be a few, but overall the coins available in this market are “CRAPPY”.  What are crappy coins worth?

Another K.C. area dealer also has a saying that he runs as a message on the Certified Coin Exchange, called CCE.  Basically, the saying goes something like this:  ‘do you want the oats before they go through the horse or after?’  Well, I want fresh oats, not manure.  Nice ‘fresh’ rare coins are difficult to locate, but easy to sell.  On my recent trip I was able to buy some really neat items.  Frankly, sitting in my office and hoping something nice ‘walks in’ is like watching paint dry.

Once again, my point is that buying nice coins is time consuming and difficult, but….nice coins sell quickly.

The show schedule for late March, April, and May is busy and includes four major shows.  Next week we will be attending the ‘dynamite’ Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center.  Week after next we will drop in at the South Shore Coin Club Show in Milwaukee.  The BIG show in April is the Central States Numismatic Society Show in Schaumberg, IL.  We are also excited to include three buying trips in our March and April travel schedule.

May is very busy with the late Spring ANA Show in Denver.  Prior to the Denver ANA Show, Jerry Morgan hosts the semi-annual Denver Spring Show held twice a year at the Great Western Center.  This year’s show will be somewhat like a pre-ANA, but with no affiliation to the ANA.  The ANA Spring Show is a new time for a show traditionally held late in the winter.  Although we love going to Denver, we are somewhat apprehensive about attendance.

The week following the ANA in Denver, the Texas Numismatic Association holds their annual show at the Will Rogers Center in Fort Worth, TX.  This is a great regional show that attracts quite a few bigger East and West Coast dealers.  We have upgraded to a corner table at the TNA and are excited about this year’s show.  The Long Beach Expo held the last week of May is the fourth major show in the next 12 weeks.  We expect Baltimore and Central States to be very active.  Bozarth Numismatics Inc show schedule for March, April, and May includes:


Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo.                                   March 22-24                     TABLE

South Shore Coin Club, Milwaukee, WI                     March 29 & 30                 Attending

Central States, Schaumberg, IL                                   April  18-21                       TABLE

Denver Coin Expo., Denver, CO-PRE-ANA                 May   3-6                           TABLE

ANA Spring Show, Denver, CO                                    May  10-12                        TABLE

Texas Numismatic Association, Ft Worth, TX           May  18-20                        TABLE

Long Beach, CA                                                              May 31-June 2                  Attending


Bozarth Numismatics is a full service rare coin dealer.  We specialize in high grade U.S. coinage independently graded by PCGS, NGC, and CAC.  We sell coins at shows, in our Ebay Store Bozarthnumismaticsinc and on our website  We add new listings to our Ebay Store weekly and add new purchases to our website twice a month to coincide with the publication of our blogs, The Rare Coin Road Warrior and our Rare Coin Market Report.  We offer free and confidential want list services.  We are always buying rare high grade U.S. coins.  Please contact us whether you are buying or selling.  We will also consider trades and sometimes offer special terms.

Vic Bozarth
Vic Bozarth
Vic Bozarth is a member of the Professional Numismatics Guild (PNG), the ANA, the CSNS, FUN, and many other regional and state coin clubs and organizations. Vic has extensive experience buying and selling coins into the mid-six-figure range. Both Vic and his wife Sherri attend all major U.S. coin shows as well as most of the larger regional shows.

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  1. As an established coin and bullion dealer that doesn’t travel, we agree that we see a lot of STUFF! It makes a pleasant change for us when we attend coin fairs or occasionally visit dealers and purchase something rare or interesting.

    We’ve tweeted a link to this article – are you on Twitter?


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