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What does the future market hold for impaired coins?

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I tried to buy some cleaned/impaired coins for some framed displays I was working on last year. What I found surprised me.


I expected to find huge price differences between problem-free and problem coins since the latter can't be slabbed and added to the PCGS Set Registry. While that was true in some cases (especially when buying from a dealer in person who acknowledged the problems), I found that I got a lot of competition from people on eBay who resold them as problem-free or who doctored them before reselling them as problem-free.


Will we see greater acceptance of cleaned and otherwise problem coins by collectors and a subsequent rise in prices, or will we continue to see big buy price differences between problem and problem-free coins when selling to dealers? Or perhaps we'll see the coin doctor business grow so much prices will rise even more on eBay.


For example, let's assume an 1838 SL quarter currently sells for about $25 in Fine, $100 in VF and about $250 in XF. If I were to take a lightly cleaned '38 quarter with XF details to a dealer, he'd probably offer me about $50 or $60 for it, telling me that collectors these days really don't like problem coins. If I were to put it up on eBay the bid would probably go over $100 because an unscrupulous dealer or coin doctor would figure he could resell it as a problem-free XF for around $250 and at least double his money.


Let's assume in the future that collectors decide some cleaned coins really aren't such a bad thing after all. Why spend $250 for the problem-free quarter in XF when they could get a lightly cleaned one with XF details for $150? Collector demand for these coins could push prices up.


Is the latter scenario likely? If not, why not?


What do you think?

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TDN posted a great example of this a day or so ago. A Trade Dollar variety where the highest known example is an impaired piece. Does that detract, in my opinion no.


Eventually, problem-free pieces of some coins (especially early copper) are going to dry up and become too expensive for the average collector, who will then look at impaired pieces to fill out their collections.

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