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Walking a Tight Rope



Purchasing coins on a strict budget and the balance between registry points, grade, and eye appeal.

Greetings all, buying coins for my New Orleans, Morgan Dollar registry set, ?Born on the Bayou? has been a challenge. In the past, whether I could reasonably afford a particular coin or not, if I liked the coin, I bought it. All too often, to buy the coin I wanted, I pushed back other priorities. The problem with pushing back other priorities though is that they eventually come back to nip you in the butt. Case in point, I recently had to have $1500 worth of repairs on the car and without cash reserves those repairs went on the credit card. Now my wife wants me to get a new car, but I rather drive a clunker with no car payments so that I can buy more coins! At any rate, the car should be good for a while now. The point is, I hate living on a budget, but I must admit that by being on a budget I am learning how to buy better coins for less money and have fun doing it. Trades-offs between price, grade, registry points, and eye appeal is where the fun comes in.

With the Numismedia Fair Market Value as my guide, I can acquire most of the coins for my set well within my $200/coin limit, however, there are some coins that are definitely on the edge. One of those coins on the edge is the 1894-O dollar. This coin has a FMV of $192 in AU-50 that rises to $420 in AU-58. I briefly considered this coin in XF-45 for $90 FMV, but quickly dismissed it when I discovered it earned a paltry three registry points! Three points are NGC?s way of saying, ?We acknowledge that your coin is a coin, but you get no credit for spending $90 on it?. However, in any AU grade, this coin garners 366 registry points, effectively narrowing my choices to one coin, AU-50 or bust. In the past year Teletrade sold only one coin within my price range and all the E-Bay, ?Buy it Now? listings were just over the limit. On a side note, most coins offered on E-Bay as a ?But it Now? tend to be overpriced. Therefore, true auctions are the most likely place to get the coins you want at a good price. One such E-Bay listing had a PCGS AU-50 1894-O bid fairly close to my limit with very little wiggle room. I put the coin on my watch list anyway and set up my ?Snip? program to bid my best offer with six seconds remaining in the auction. Not expecting to win the coin, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had won the coin for a little less than FMV!

Conversely, with the 1897-O dollar and a FMV value of $86.40 in AU-50, $120 in AU-53, $156 in AU-55 and $270 in AU58, I have several options. Since this coin gets 304 points in any AU grade, to save a little money, I bought a nice AU-53 coin Sunday evening on Teletrade. Once again, I acquired this coin for a little less than FMV. Comparing both the 1894 and the 1897 coins, it would seem that the points? street runs both ways.

My latest purchases leave me with only five coins left to buy. I should be able to buy the 1887, 90, and 1901-O dollars as rainbow toners, although rainbow toned coins of these dates rarely come up for auction. The 1889 and 1892-O dollars may give me a little trouble. If I am patient and persistent, I should be able to get the 1889 coin in MS-62 condition. The 1892 is a little tougher with a FMV of $192 in MS-61. Both coins earn three points in AU condition. The main problem that enters into the equation on low-grade MS Morgan Dollars though is an unsightly abundance of contact marks. Do I take coins with poor eye appeal or toned high-grade AU coins with three points? The balance here may be to get toned MS coins that hide the contact marks to give the coin a little more eye appeal. On the other hand, I may buy a blast-white coin with lots of contact marks to illustrate poor handling of coins by the mint in my owner description. Still yet, dare I say, is the option of going over budget to get a higher quality coin. For now, I have a good set, and I am in no hurry to complete it. Patience is the order of the day, and patience concerning this set has not failed me yet.

Thinking the silver train left me behind at the station; I calculated the silver melt value of my set to be about $450! With that, I am encouraged to know that I am on board the silver express after all! Until next time, happy collecting all!





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