Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Unscrupulous Coin Dealers - What to look for.

"You're off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters." ~ Captain Barbosa Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

I wanted to post something a little different. Lately, I have been focusing on how to improve the hobby and, hopefully, how to save some of the larger companies we attribute with numismatics. This time, I want to call bullshit on three companies:

Littleton Coin Company
National Collector's Mint
Home Shopping Network

Case study #1 - 2016 American Silver Eagles

Uncirculated ASE - $34.95

Uncirculated ASE - $32.95

Uncirculated ASE - Not Offered

MS-69 ASE - $49.00
(Graded by NGC)

MS-69 ASE - Not Offered

MS-69 ASE - $99.95
(Graded by ANACS from the "Monster Box Collection". All the Monster Box Collection designates is that the coin came from a 500-count box that anyone could buy from a larger dealer.) (for reference)
Uncirculated ASE - $20.95

MS-69 ASE - $28.99
(Graded by NGC)


Case Study #2 - Gold Mercury Dime Graded SP-70

LCC - Not Offered

NCM - $629.00
(Graded by NGC and signed by former US Treasury Secretary Angela Marie "Bay" Buchanan [who is a co-director of NCM.)
[Fun side-note: Barry Goldwater Jr. is also an NCM co-director. Remember his dad?]

HSN - $499.95
(Graded by ANACS) (for reference)
Gold Mercury Dime graded SP-70 - $319.99
(Graded by NGC - not signed)

How are they able to charge such high prices? An indifference to the unwary and their bank accounts. All three companies engage in selective misinformation. They don't lie, but they do not tell the whole truth. They create a sense of scarcity where there really is none.

Littleton Coin Company -
Offers a $49.95 50-coin "grab bag" of wheat cents (yeah, a $50 roll of wheat cents - condition not specified, but the photo shows circulate pennies). This incredibly historic collection of coins is guaranteed to include one each of the following:
1909 VDB (value $10)
D & S cents from the 1930s (condition not specified - value $0.05 - $0.10)
1943 steel cent (value $0.15)
1944-1946 Shell case cent (value $0.05)
1958-D cent (value $0.05)
All standard wheat cents are valued at $0.05. Best case scenario, you can spend $49.95 on $12.55 worth of coins. But, you know, history.

I have one other Littleton story and it comes from my experience when purchasing coin holders and a Red Book about ten years ago. I was at the actual company in Littleton, NH (because I only lived a half hour away), and the lady behind the counter tells me about Red Book prices, "Remember, those are wholesale values. You will have to spend more if you're not a coin dealer." So, yes, LCC is not above misinforming customers. (I know from experience that LCC offers Blue Book values for coins. Why? Because those are wholesale prices.)

Also, after purchasing those items, I ended up on their coin mailing list. About a month later, coins arrived at my apartment. I returned them with a request for an explanation about how I ended up on the mailing list, so I could avoid it in the future. I did not receive an answer; I also did not receive any more coins by mail.

[Fun fact about LCC. There President, David Sundman won the ANA Dealer of the Year award in 2016. So... I kind of understand why the ANA doesn'the offer much free information. Their leadership is cut from the same cloth as Littleton's.]

National Collector's Mint -
In reference to their Carson City Morgan dollar tribute collection, "tribute proofs, each clad in 71 mg .999 Pure Silver ."
71mg is 0.00250445 oz. That's about $0.05 worth of silver.

In reference to their $50 Gold Buffalo Tribute coin, "is clad in 14 mg of 24 KT Gold."
14 mg is 0.000493835 oz, or $0.60 worth of gold.

In reference to the actual CC Morgans they offer for $199.99 (date not specified), "of these Brilliant Uncirculated to Fine condition coins."
Either NCM does not know what how the grade scale works, or they are intentionally misleading prospects by finding an excuse to say, "Brilliant Uncirculated" first when actually selling Fine coins.

Home Shopping Network -
Actually, their printed material is very smartly written. When selling $12.50 worth of gold plated state quarters for $99.95, they avoid specifics, such as actual gold content. It's almost like they have been doing this for a while.


S. SANBORN said...


Kendall Bailey said...

Right! The good thing is it leaves a lot of room for an honest dealer to make a great impression and siphon off some of their sales.

Anonymous said...

All true, and that's why you should buy your coins at shows.