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Tales from the numismatic crypt, a coin dealer's perspective



This post was contributed by friend and coin dealer George Kountouridis about his recent and past experiences in the coin business.

I am going to tell you a story, or rather some stories. It is from my experiences throughout my (relatively short in relation to my age) career in numismatics.

So, early in my beginnings and before I understood things in numismatics (and business for that matter) I bought twenty sovereigns. It was not my first time and certainly not my first with this particular dealer. Unfortunately, I quickly changed my mind and when I asked to return them the answer was "yes at 80%". He was (and still is) a dealer. I have never ever changed my mind since, although I certainly take more time to decide.

Coin shop sign

Another story fast forward ten years (and this is in about 2011) I bought a coin again from a prominent dealer (also an auctioneer then and now). Fine. I submitted it to one of the US services who thought "questionable authenticity". I asked to return the coin and money back. The answer I got was "to us and our team the coin is genuine we don't care (I put it mildly you can imagine what I was told) what the third party service thinks. “But we can put it back in the auction for you if you want” was the final answer, and I thought well fair enough. But no money back.

Tray of gold sovereigns

So what stories I am telling you today (and inspired by recent mishappenings) things can go wrong even among the most respected and trusted people in the business. Dealers often have policies and you are not to take them lightly and misuse them and abuse their stock, there can be a price to pay. Always pay attention to the smallest detail.

Now, I read a story about an Ansell and what if one common 1859 sovereign was graded as one, what should one do? Well, this happened about three years ago. One indeed was graded as Ansell and of course it was not. I myself have graded £5s as genuine and actually in high grades when in fact they were not and once I have come across a 1917 London mint sovereign in a slab but it was counterfeit. These things happen.

1864 proof coin set

Please do not necessarily think your dealer is a crook or that he is trying to sell you something that is not. And most certainly please avoid making it public and making us, the readers, the jury. We are not. We are not qualified, and do not know the facts and most of us pick sides with one or the other, so emotions will often obscure our judgement. I will say it again, most of us are not qualified to judge.

We are in groups to share and give and take knowledge. Let's leave the unwelcoming side effects of business to our better selves and above all keep it there. To ourselves. And if needed to the other party concerned.

Hope you enjoy this. No matter if you agree or disagree. It was written in good faith.

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