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Getting Out is Hard to Do
August 10, 2011

What’s your exit strategy?

That’s an important question for everyone whether they are a bullion investor riding the present gold wave higher, or a long-term coin collector.

Sooner or later the time will come to sell. Do you know what you will do?

An unsettling number of people who communicate with me do not seem to.

This isn’t some gratuitous swipe at novices. Everybody goes through a learning curve – or should.

I am referring to individuals who for whatever reason seek to avoid the learning curve altogether and have done so for many years.

That’s a mistake.

If you own something, you should know how to sell it long before the time comes. If you plan to buy something, you should know why you are buying it and how you plan to sell it before you make the purchase.

This is critical for noncollectors who are simply riding current market trends.

Won’t that take the fun out of it?

It might, but it will also preserve most of your profits or minimize potential losses.

There are many people who like to buy new Mint issues. It is fun. The process is easy. There is no question that what you are told you are buying is what you are getting.


But then some are shocked that prices of new Mint issues can decline in value. For most of my career, declining prices of proof sets has been singled out most often for complaints.

There are no guarantees. That should be planned for. If you are going to follow flights of fancy in your purchases, know that some will crash. Others will be profitable. You have to know what to do in both cases.

Find the dealers you will most likely sell things to in the future before you do your buying. Proof set buyers would have discovered long ago from these dealers that the track record is not good.

Buyers of bullion coins often can sell back to the firm they make their purchases from. Find out how this works and what the costs are.

Then practice.

Make a sale. Sell anything. Then evaluate your experience. If you don’t like it, try it again until you are comfortable with it.

Once you have your exit strategy in place, you might be surprised by how much more you will enjoy numismatics. You might even discover that you will avoid more mistakes and your profits will be larger.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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