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Challenges to our coin hobby these days


gxseries
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Challenges to our coin hobby these days

 

I'm not too sure if you see something similar to my challenge but I'll describe some of my difficulties with collecting these days.

 

1. Counterfeits have unfortunately become a problem. With a lot of counterfeits being cranked out daily and distributed worldwide, it has become an eyesore to our hobby worldwide. No longer can you trust people that say "I inherited this collection from my Grandfather" and assume that they are genuine. But at the same time, this means that we have to be more skilled to recognize genuine coins and must keep on having an upper hand against the counterfeiters.

 

2. With the internet, buying and selling coins have become a lot easier. But at the same time, there's a lot more competition not just from collectors but from investors as well. Not fun as you'll have to fork out a lot more money. But when you win that rare coin, there's that sense of pride.

 

3. When it comes down to money, you'll have to start questioning how much you can budget otherwise you'll burn out really quick. You can start collecting by date, by type set, by themes, by metals, by whatever but of course, overall goal is you want your collection to be awesome.

 

4. Foreign coins can be interesting but catalogs can be tough to locate if not expensive or none exists. Worse still, you can't even read the language or not understand the culture! Sometimes it goes to the extent that you get too into it, you become the expert yourself! :D

 

5. Storage and displaying one's collection may be difficult if you are a hoarder or if you like to collect expensive coins. Security and such - figures. Heck, even the dealers don't get it right. Dansco's album can look nice but they aren't customizable. Capital plastics make nice holders but they don't come cheap. Would be neat if a new competitor comes up in the market. Try keeping track of all of them if you like to hoard - one day you would probably go, "Where did I store that key date coin?!"

 

6. Sometimes you can't always be a buyer and expect sellers to know what you want. Some sellers don't care how they pack their coins and just sent it the easiest way they can which can include taping coins to a cardboard. Some sellers have poor photos or poor descriptions which may turn you away. Of course, you might be lucky but you can get burned out. It does help if you become a seller and see how you can maximize your profits. You need to know what you are selling and be good at promoting. Of course, not too excessively like those guys at cable TV.

 

7. Lastly, being a collector means that you have to think about ethical side as well as some controversical aspect. But in that sense, you get to hold a piece of history and imagine what hands the coins could have gone through. Forget that, maybe memento coins from your grandfather are the most important thing to you. :)

 

What are yours?

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I think TPG's have been a boon and a bane to the hobby. Even some of the recognised examples that are better known have quirks that are inexplicable whence it comes to grading. For instance if a coin is well known, pedigreed, and pricey no matter what, the grade always seems to be inflated - ala the 1933 $20 that is the highest auction price paid for a coin. OTOH they have been beneficial for the most part with authentication. As for assigning grades - they are practically useless to me. I have coins that are IMHO under graded, others that are over graded. I buy for eye appeal and numismatic sexiness - not some other person's opin of a coin or banknote. So in that essence I believe many coins are oversexed, overpriced, and overgraded.

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Challenges to our coin hobby these days ...

[snip]

7. Lastly, being a collector means that you have to think about ethical side as well as some controversical aspect. But in that sense, you get to hold a piece of history and imagine what hands the coins could have gone through. Forget that, maybe memento coins from your grandfather are the most important thing to you. :)

 

What are yours?

After buying my first ancient coin and wondering if I could ever bring it to the USA from Switzerland, I took a look at the text of the Unesco resolution and the Swiss Cultural Heritage Protection/Transfer documents. I was shocked to read that ANY coin over 100 years old is considered an item of "cultural heritage"! :shock: Whether or not it can be imported or exported depends on the "importance" of the object, and there is way too much leeway for interpretation of that.

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Counterfeit coins have been a problem since day one however the Chinese have elevated this to epidemic proportions. Worse yet it's not likely to get better any time soon.

 

Also our governments new position that coin collectors are tax evaders. I pay more than my fair share of taxes already and collect coins for relaxation and enjoyment.

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Counterfeit coins have been a problem since day one however the Chinese have elevated this to epidemic proportions. Worse yet it's not likely to get better any time soon.

 

Also our governments new position that coin collectors are tax evaders. I pay more than my fair share of taxes already and collect coins for relaxation and enjoyment.

 

 

The latter is a far more serious and endemic issue than the Chinese fakes. Wait until 2012 unless the Obama Healthcare bill is overturned in the Congress - when you have to report any and all transactions over $600. :shock:

 

Wanna buy or sell gold in that environment?

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QX, these are certainly problems, some greater, other lesser, and all of them are older than "these days." A good example of a challenge in our time is FOURTH PARTY GRADING. I mean, what next? Another FPG comes along, creating a difference of opinion that necessitates FIFTH Party Grading, 5PG... (Oh, I can't buy that; it's only Ninth Party.)

 

But that goes back to Third Party, which is entrenched now like the 70-point scale, and other innovations. We can trace our ancient roots to Roman emperors who bestowed rare coins. We can look to the Renaissance and all that. But, really, this hobby is barely 250 years old, though the material might go back 3000 years. (Spink dates its numismatic trade to 1770.) Coin collecting per se had an early boost in the British Provincial Tokens ("Conders") which were varied, interesting, and easily affordable. In the USA, the introduction of the Small Cent created interest in the Large Cent and Half Cent, though Boston coin collector and bean-baker Lorin G. Parmelee pursued them before that -- again because they were varied and afforable. The point is that this is truly an industrial age hobby in two senses.

 

1. Modern coins are the mass produced outputs of powered machinery.

2. Our general increase in living standards allows us to have hobbies -- indeed to collect money as a hobby.

 

As a result, coin collecting -- like baseball and long-distance communication -- has evolved rapidly, and continues to change.

 

Buying and selling -- your point 2 -- again has over the millennia gotten easier. (I was astounded at the sophistication of commerce in the Middle Ages.) Before the Internet, mail order allowed the same opportunities. And it cuts both ways. Competition from buyers is only half of it: the Internet brought many more sellers out to meet those buyers. That the general price level did not change (or more correctly found a new equilibrium not far from the old one), is true. Still, there is quantitatively more buying and selling going on, whichi s a benefit to all. That leads directly to your 3: the demands of budgeting and planning.

 

As for 4, allow me to quip that too few Americans know the language and culture of the United States. I can take a bunch of Roman coins and point to the sequences as generals became emperors, but American collectors of American coins are more interested in cracking them out for an upgrade than in knowing who was Assistant Secretary of the Navy when the coin was struck. (If you don't get that allusion, google it.) Unable to actually buy the note itself, I received from another collector a nice scan of a Bank of Utica Michigan note. Actually a check (draft) drawn on the account of a horse-drawn rail line, the note shows a Spanish 2-Reales coin. In 1850, Spanish money was widely recognized, even in Michigan. Yet, when Spanish-speaking people come here, we demand that they learn "our" language -- which in Detroit, actually, was as likely to be French, even as late as the 1820s, hence we still name schools after Father Gabriel Richard. (I could go on all day.)

 

By Number 7, I take it your mean the importation of ancient coins? Why do my cousins in Sicily, Corsica, Hungary, and Croatia have more cultural investment than I do? -- and more to the point, can they not share our interest in American numismatics. We enjoy a global society in which the map does not limit culture.

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Interesting point bobh, I didn't see that one coming.

 

mmarotta, I agree that grading has become a joke with the CAC stuff. The reality is that grading is highly subjectable to who grades it and can also lead to bias when it comes to key date coins. Personally I see this as the industry wants to have a standard so that you have a standard price catalog, investors can just grab that catalog, dump their money and expect good returns. Indeed a threat but I must have blanked it out of my mind.

 

What find more difficult is how things are organized on the internet. You can still find information on google but numismatics literatures are limited. You can always buy books over the internet, search archives of auctions but there's just too much out there. Coinarchives.com is a site I would recommand. Used to be a lot better but I guess it's ok. Even looking for coins can be a hassle. Now you got vcoins and ma-shops but you get the point. Would be neat if you can integrate the whole lot like the airline industries. My point is, there's way too much information but there's too few people keeping a good track.

 

On the other hand, I have a feeling that too much information can backfire - for instance counterfeiters can always read how people can tell their products are not genuine and improve on it.

 

When I was writing point 7, I was leaning towards coins that were struck with blood metals for instance world war II gold coins, Lodz gheto, colony coins and such. But of course even importing and exporting certain types of coins are subjected to government intervention for whatever reason it can be.

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I'm amused by one of the comments above. So silly. :doh:

 

I think old age and a closed community of dealers is one of the biggest challenges, at least here in the U.S. I was astonished last week at the Baltimore show by a very sad showing of inclusion and politeness by some dealers. The hobby will die out with them if they don't learn to embrace new faces and new blood.

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I'm amused by one of the comments above. So silly. :doh:

 

I think old age and a closed community of dealers is one of the biggest challenges, at least here in the U.S. I was astonished last week at the Baltimore show by a very sad showing of inclusion and politeness by some dealers. The hobby will die out with them if they don't learn to embrace new faces and new blood.

 

Ah, I wish I could agree that what you mention is a new thing, but I remember the same BS back when I was a YN. But despite those dipsticks, I kept on in the hobby and found people that were more than willing to feed the numismatic addictions - a couple of months ago I visited a dealer out in Calif. that was one of my primary suppliers back when I was a teenager. He had no problem with me spending literally hours hanging out in his shop going through everything - he relished the opportunity to talk coins and sell me stuff at bargain prices that I still treasure. I met my share of arrogant fools, sure there are lots of them in this hobby. But conversely and more positively there are those out there that have a passion for numismatics and enjoy sharing it with newbs.

 

Remember this:

 

Never be haughty to the humble or humble to the haughty. Jefferson Davis

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Ah, I wish I could agree that what you mention is a new thing, but I remember the same BS back when I was a YN. But despite those dipsticks, I kept on in the hobby and found people that were more than willing to feed the numismatic addictions - a couple of months ago I visited a dealer out in Calif. that was one of my primary suppliers back when I was a teenager. He had no problem with me spending literally hours hanging out in his shop going through everything - he relished the opportunity to talk coins and sell me stuff at bargain prices that I still treasure. I met my share of arrogant fools, sure there are lots of them in this hobby. But conversely and more positively there are those out there that have a passion for numismatics and enjoy sharing it with newbs.

 

Remember this:

 

Never be haughty to the humble or humble to the haughty. Jefferson Davis

 

I agree. I've had great experiences with dealers before too. But I think there is definitely room for improvement. Does anyone know a good way our hobby can improve the dealer/collector relationships? Or add new blood to the dealerhood?

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I agree. I've had great experiences with dealers before too. But I think there is definitely room for improvement. Does anyone know a good way our hobby can improve the dealer/collector relationships? Or add new blood to the dealerhood?

 

Can you supply a definition of "dealer" and "collector" ?

 

It has been said that the only definition that counts is the one you put on your 1040 Income Tax return. By that standard perhaps a third to one-half of the 150 people who paid to sit behind the 184 tables at the upcoming MSNS convention are not dealers.

 

Dealings between people always depend on what you bring to the relationship. The other person can be a jerk: you do not have to be. You can respond in kind, or respond with kindness. Advice is always easier to give than to live up to, but the fact remains.

 

Distinctions between dealers and collectors are arbitrary. I know that there are some collectors who never sell anything: they only buy. They are collectors, agreed. If you sell anything, you become a dealer. Likewise, some dealers do not collect at all, but most have some passion on the side: they, too, are collectors.

 

Disparaging dealers is a reflection of an anti-capitalist ethos reflected in Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt, and Gordon Gecko of Oliver Stone's Wall Street. Face it: we buy and sell money. That makes us capitalists.

My last purchase was a railroad -- a bearer bond for the Cleveland Short Line. Now I have a monopoly: Short Line, B & O, Reading, and Pennsylvania. Admittedly, I bought it from a dealer -- he had the table next to mine at a local show ... and he charged me retail. Go figure.

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Challenges to our coin hobby these days

 

I'm not too sure if you see something similar to my challenge but I'll describe some of my difficulties with collecting these days.

 

1. Counterfeits have unfortunately become a problem. With a lot of counterfeits being cranked out daily and distributed worldwide, it has become an eyesore to our hobby worldwide. No longer can you trust people that say "I inherited this collection from my Grandfather" and assume that they are genuine. But at the same time, this means that we have to be more skilled to recognize genuine coins and must keep on having an upper hand against the counterfeiters.

 

2. With the internet, buying and selling coins have become a lot easier. But at the same time, there's a lot more competition not just from collectors but from investors as well. Not fun as you'll have to fork out a lot more money. But when you win that rare coin, there's that sense of pride.

 

3. When it comes down to money, you'll have to start questioning how much you can budget otherwise you'll burn out really quick. You can start collecting by date, by type set, by themes, by metals, by whatever but of course, overall goal is you want your collection to be awesome.

 

4. Foreign coins can be interesting but catalogs can be tough to locate if not expensive or none exists. Worse still, you can't even read the language or not understand the culture! Sometimes it goes to the extent that you get too into it, you become the expert yourself! :D

 

5. Storage and displaying one's collection may be difficult if you are a hoarder or if you like to collect expensive coins. Security and such - figures. Heck, even the dealers don't get it right. Dansco's album can look nice but they aren't customizable. Capital plastics make nice holders but they don't come cheap. Would be neat if a new competitor comes up in the market. Try keeping track of all of them if you like to hoard - one day you would probably go, "Where did I store that key date coin?!"

 

6. Sometimes you can't always be a buyer and expect sellers to know what you want. Some sellers don't care how they pack their coins and just sent it the easiest way they can which can include taping coins to a cardboard. Some sellers have poor photos or poor descriptions which may turn you away. Of course, you might be lucky but you can get burned out. It does help if you become a seller and see how you can maximize your profits. You need to know what you are selling and be good at promoting. Of course, not too excessively like those guys at cable TV.

 

7. Lastly, being a collector means that you have to think about ethical side as well as some controversical aspect. But in that sense, you get to hold a piece of history and imagine what hands the coins could have gone through. Forget that, maybe memento coins from your grandfather are the most important thing to you. :)

 

What are yours?

What you have compiled here is a fairly accurate assessment of this business today. It may be easier to Buy and Sell coins today, but it certainly isn't any less costly. As for the "Trust" part, I don't think there was ever a time when the hobby had complete trust of participating members. Trust was built with long term relationships as it should be today. Like everything else today, people want things to happen real fast. Hence my new BFF, whom I've never met but, but she is on facebook . I have to laugh at things like this. There is no substitute for going down to that local coin shop, or your local coin club and getting to know folks, and letting them get to know you. There is a huge price to pay for Anonimity .

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4. Foreign coins can be interesting but catalogs can be tough to locate if not expensive or none exists. Worse still, you can't even read the language or not understand the culture! Sometimes it goes to the extent that you get too into it, you become the expert yourself!  

From what you wrote sounds like a long time collector but obvously you don't get to coin shows much. Or you just don't get to the foreign coin shows. Around me there are numerous coin shows and most have tables full of coin books. In fact I'm starting to wonder if there are more coin books than coins lately. :confus: At one coin show for foreign coins only there was a tagble with so many books on foreign coins I thought it should have crashed to the floor due to weight. At one show I saw a book on foreign coins that I measured as 9 inches thick just for the fun of it. Books on coins is becoming a new hobby in itself.

As to all your statements about this hobby. Mostly are really true and the end may well be in sight due to many of your observations.

Fakes and/or counterfeits for a while started to become a real problem but many people started to rely on the TPGS's to fix that. Then came the Counterfeited TPGS slabs with faked coins inside. Those are now flooding the market too. The growing number of odd, weird, fly by night TPGS's is also a new drain on the hobby so you couldn't tell what is what anymore at all. Check out Google for the amount of TPGS's. Soon to be as many of those as the books being pushed on this hobby.

It is now impossible to brag, show off, display a coin collection due to home invations, home robberies, store robberies and all the other crimes due to having a hobby where the products can be used for everyday spending. Insuring a coin collection is just one more problem today. With everything you tell an insurance company going into their computers, thier entire company, thier friendds too know what you have and what it's worth. And in many instances where you keep them.

And now it's our own Mint making massive amounts of all sorts of coins that is going to help ruin this hobby. Remember the old US Stamp collecting. They ruined that with so many types it became impossible to have the slightest idea of how many stamps where being produced. Movie star stamps, silly stamps and even if you want, your own photo on one.

With the counterfeits being so good I really wonder how many collectors have one or many in their collections and don't have the slightest idea they are there.

I'm a collector for well over 60 years now but starting to think it's all over now. Possibly this hobby will join the Beanie Babies, Hot Wheel Cars, Sports cards and US Postage Stamps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The main problem I see is grade-flation. People just can't take the fact that cretain coins don't survive in MS-70. So they add special rules for grading, put a star or shield on the slab, and add another sticker to show that someone else thinks that that coin is concentrated wonderfullness.

 

If you look in a book from the 1950's, what we formerly called VG (three letters in liberty) was G-4. Now, some people today will call that coin VG+ or VG-10. If you find the really liberal graders, or if the coin is a key date, that might pass as a F-12.

 

This will grow, and become a bigger problems. I find one of two rules (niether of which I created) apply for coin grading:

 

1. It's either collectiable or Non-collectiable.

2. It's UNC or JUNK.

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I have read all of your topics, points and arguments and have come to the conclusion that if we don't get some kind of control and generalized grading rules I see this hobby become a cesspool of uncertainties leading to a vague and confused montage of corrupted beliefs and rules causing our hobby's values to leap out of the collector's laps and into the laps of unconnected and indifferent persons. The grading companies are getting out of hand with their grading alterations instead of striving towards creating universal simplicity with slabbing and grading coins. Us collectors are supposed to enjoy our hobby, not become overwhelmed, confused and angry. I hope that numismatics reverts back to the older customs and traditions that we had before this age of excessive information. Too much information can become detrimental if misconstrued and abused. We need to keep it simple (as Judge Judy says).

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Just carl, I'm located in Australia so I might not have the same privilage of what you might have over there. In fact, I had to get a fair numnber of books from US so that might be true.

That does make things a bit more difficult with any coins. Not sure of the cost of transporting, shipping, packaging, etc from one country to another. In many instances some countries make it almost inpossible to become a World coin collector due to no coinage or any of their money being able to leave. I guess around the USA and especially here in Illinois there are so many coin shows, coin stores, coin clubs, etc. that we get a little spoiled.

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