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Price is in the Eye of the Buyer
December 21, 2009

Pricing is an eternal issue. Sellers want higher prices. Buyers want lower prices.

I had a call from a collector who said he had been active for over 50 years. He wanted to talk about an offer a coin dealer made to him about a silver dollar.

Without seeing a coin, there isn’t a whole lot anyone can do about figuring out an accurate price for anything, but the collector wanted to talk so I listened.

Since he was asking questions, I interjected a few words into the conversation.

I told him that nobody was obligated to buy a coin from him at a price that he wants. I said the dealer might not agree with the grade. He might not need the coin.

There are any number of reasons why someone won’t buy something.

I suggested the caller take the coin to others and see what they offer.

He said he did. They offered the same money.

I replied that then that would seem to be the market price of the coin.

The caller still was not happy. I think “disappointment” might be the best word to describe his mood.

I always feel helpless in calls like this.

The coin might be perfectly awful. It might be a jewel. I cannot tell. The price quoted to me was for a run-of-the-mill specimen.

After 50 years I wonder how it came down to this one coin.

Had the caller never sold anything before? I don’t know.

Had he promised his grandson a special present with money from the sale of the coin?

I don’t know.

The only real advice I can give is that every collector should be out there selling something from time to time to stay on top of the market and not let their sense of it rust away.

This might be a good New Year’s resolution for those who have not done this.

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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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