Nobody would jump out of an airplane without first becoming acquainted with the workings of a parachute, but there are an awful lot of people who do the numismatic equivalent.
I had a phone call yesterday from a woman who had purchased Coin Digest. She wanted to know where we got our prices because she was trying to sell coins to a jeweler in her area that also deals in coins and he wasn’t paying anywhere near what the book says her coins were worth.
I launched into my spiel about the book listing retail prices and dealers need to earn a living by offering less than retail for her coins.
That turned out to not be the issue. The first coin she mentioned was the Bicentennial quarter. She had been saving them from her change for years. The jeweler told her they were worth face value.
Why is that when the book says they are worth more?
I grabbed the book and looked up the page dealing with the Bicentennial quarter. The MS-60 price is 60 cents and the MS-65 price is $10.
I told her coins are worth more the better the condition they are in. I said that considering what the jeweler had told her, her coins must have been circulated.
Then I launched into my “every collector needs to know how to grade” because coin values depend on it.
She said she knew because she had been saving coins for almost 60 years. By the way, what does MS mean? I explained.
The next coin mentioned were silver dimes generally and the Mercury type specifically. She said the jeweler was offering 60 cents apiece. I said that at the current price of silver, every dime had 90 cents to $1 worth or metal in it. I had not figured the precise price that day, which I see is just about 90 cents on the head.
He must be just offering to buy her coins for silver value, she said. I replied that it looked that way.
Then she looked at the top of the page and zeroed in on the 1916-D dime and she wondered why she couldn’t get $44,500. I said that wouldn’t be too likely because that was the very top grade for this particular key coin and “FSB” meant Full Split Bands, which means the coin was very well struck.
She told me about the coin she paid $20 for over 50 years ago. I asked her what grade it was. She didn’t know. I asked her what grade she thought it was when she bought it. She didn’t know. She said she just traded for it at the time.
I said she would have to figure out what it was before she could get a fair price. Then she said she didn’t have it anymore. What happened to it or why we were talking about it in that conversation is now a total mystery to me.
“Where do you get your prices?” she repeated and the conversation looped around to the original starting point.
I suggested to her that she look around for another buyer if she felt she could do better. I said I thought she could with the silver coins, but that the specific advice the jeweler was telling her seemed to be pretty much on target from what parts of it she volunteered to me.
Even with coins, jumping is easy. It is the landing that it is the hard part.