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Know How to Sell
September 22, 2011

I have written on a number of occasions that every collector should sell something from time to time as a method of learning the give and take of negotiating a numismatic sale. The process also gives a collector some idea as to who is an active buyer of the material the collector has to sell.

It is no good to buy, buy, buy. If your grading skills are rusty, you might be buying overgraded coins.

If your purchases have been in small niche areas, it is more difficult to sell items on short notice. In matters of unplanned urgency, the amount of money realized on a sale could easily be a fraction of the real value.

This isn’t some sort of exploitation. It is reality.

No dealer has to buy anything. It ties up his working capital. If he buys hard-to-sell items, or items beyond his usual specialty area, it will take up his time and capital until he moves them. The dealer motive is to know he has a sure percentage. This gives him the confidence to buy something and offer a higher price.

The harder a dealer buyer has to work or the longer he has to hold it will reduce the price. And human nature being what it is, if he feels the seller has a gun at his back, the price also is lower. This is especially true if the buyer has never seen the seller before.

Also, if the dealer specializes in French or German coins, he is not likely to be the best buyer of Chinese issues.

It takes time and experience to know where the high buyers are for what you might have. The best time to map this out is when you have time to do it in a thoughtful manner.

This is preparation for the circumstances expressed in an email I received overnight. The sender needs money because of his job situation and he is inquiring when the next show will be in his area. I sent him the details.

I wish him luck. I hope he has coins that will appeal to the table holders at that local show. He is now being forced by circumstances to act. When he goes to sell, he needs to behave as if there is no urgency at all.

The lesson here is to plan your sales method(s) ahead of time and you will maximize the prices that you will receive when the time comes to sell.

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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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