Welcome to my world. It seems like every week we get coins sent to us for evaluation from clients and non-clients alike for evaluation that they purchased elsewhere sometimes before they met us and sometimes after they met us. Without fail there are coins that are overgraded, slightly cleaned or else just not as described. However, every so often I get a coin that borders on the criminal.
Below is a coin that is just such an example. It is an 1881 Morgan Dollar graded by a company calling themselves “Numismatic Authentication Company.” They graded the coin MS-66 and on the label it says that the coin has been graded according to their standards. You don’t have to be an expert to see that the coin is cleaned and grossly overgraded. The coin is about 26 points overgraded and by anyone’s standard you don’t have to be a genius to be able to tell a coin with wear vs. a solid gem uncirculated coin. Bottom line, the coin is worth $10-$15 compared to $300+ for an accurately graded MS-66.
I personally think there should be a national test or licensing requirement in order to hang a shingle out advertising yourself as a coin dealer. To advertise yourself as having a particular expertise gives the novice the impression that the “expert” is more knowledgeable than they are but until the government steps in and requires licensure caveat emptor prevails.
Since RCNH has been in business since 1990 the one constant we have extolled is to beware of buying overgraded coins. It is our experience that people buy overgraded coins for several reasons. Either there is a greed factor, or they have acquired enough knowledge to be dangerous to themselves or they have been a victim of a scam or smooth talking salesperson with no more knowledge than they have. If you are going to buy coins on your own you have to be smart about it. If you are greedy, sadly there is no help for you since you are driven by the almightily dollar. If you have some knowledge about coins you must realize that very rarely are you ever going to beat a dealer at their own game. If you have somehow found yourself receiving telemarketing calls you must be smart about dealing with these people. They are usually vultures and don’t want to spend the time to educate you or give you much information. They are in the business for a quick hit and will disappear out of your life as quickly as they entered. Bottom line, if it feels slick or too good to be true it is.
This is why it is so important to buy the coins for the right reasons and from the right dealer. Find a dealer that is willing to spend time educating you and explaining why a coin is worth what it is or why a coin grades a MS-65 vs. and MS-66. If a dealer is not willing to do this then become suspicious. Investigate a dealers’ reputation yourself or if he has been recommended ask yourself if you trust the source of the recommendation. In the end it is your hard earned money that you are spending and you owe it to yourself to spend it wisely.