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What Is Considered 'Fair' Markup?

April 19, 1990|DON ALPERT

Question: As a result of your column, I subscribed to the Coin Dealer Newsletter and discovered that I have been paying sizable premiums over the quoted prices to my dealer. I realize that the quoted prices are for "dealer-to-dealer" transactions, and that I can expect to pay a premium over the quoted price. Here's my question: Is there an average markup that an off-the-street buyer can expect to pay, or is the price whatever the traffic will bear? What is considered fair in these transactions?--J.T.

Answer: You've cut to the bone of coin collecting--the relationship between dealer and collector. There should be a feeling of mutual trust. The collector should feel he is paying a fair price; the dealer should feel customer loyalty.

As a collector, you did the right thing by subscribing to the Coin Dealer Newsletter. It was a way for you to verify prices. Some dealers will share their price guide with collectors. Sometimes the dealer will reveal exactly what he paid for a coin. That way, you know what the markup is.

A good dealer will pass good buys along to his customers. A good collector will learn the fine points of numismatics, especially grading. That way, it won't be necessary to ask what is fair. You'll know.

If you really want an education, try to sit in on some dealer-to-dealer transactions. They really go at it. And when a deal is struck, you'll have a pretty good idea what a particular coin is worth at that particular time.

Q: I have several coins that, as far as I can tell, do not have any mint marks. They are two quarters dated 1965, one quarter dated 1966, one quarter dated 1978, two nickels dated 1973, one nickel dated 1964 and one penny dated 1980. Are they worth more than face value?--R.J.J.

A: Only regular U.S. coins dated 1964 and before contained silver. Your 1964 nickel is mostly copper and nickel. Wartime nickels (1942-45) did contain some silver. Your coins, as you may have suspected, are just worth face value.

Coin News

Mintages don't always tell the story regarding coin rarity. The 1893-S $1, for example, had a mintage of 100,000 but only a handful of gems are known to exist. The finest known (pictured) is graded Mint State 65 by the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. It sold for $52,000 in 1978 and for $100,000 in 1980. It will be featured in the Sussex Collection Sale in New York June 11 through 13. Catalogues are $20 from Auctions by Bowers and Merena, Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894.

Uncut currency sheets are an interesting method of collecting $1 Federal Reserve notes. There are 32-note sheets for $47, 16-note sheets for $28 and 4-note sheets for $10.25. Shipment of currency from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve will begin about April 15. Mail requests to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Public Sales, Room 602-11A, 14th and C streets S.W., Washington, D.C. 20228.

Coin Calendar

Friday and Saturday-- Exhibitor space at the semi-annual Buena Park Coin and Stamp Expo is sold out, with 80 dealers ready to buy, sell or trade everything from coins and stamps to baseball cards, jewelry and related items. Saturday hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The show is being held at the Retail Clerks Union Auditorium, 8530 Stanton Ave., Buena Park. Admission is $2.

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