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My Journey from Buying Bullion to Collecting GSA Soft Packs posted by AlphaTrilogy

3 posts in this topic

  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

I used to be curious how anyone could pay several hundred or several thousand dollars for something with a $15 melt value? Now, I'm one of the guys I never understood.


My story doesn't start with sitting on my dad's lap sorting coins. I didn't inherit my grandpa's box of Dansco albums and partial sets. My father has never collected anything in his entire life. My grandpa would tell you the only thing he's ever collected is calluses.




I, on the other hand, have always had a natural pre-disposition to collecting stuff. I've collected all kinds of things over the years: baseball cards, antique toys, fishing lures, edged weapons, art, and firearms of all types.




A couple years ago I decided to liquidate a significant portion of my collection. My timing was good since firearms values at the time were through the roof and everyone was scared that they'd never have another opportunity to buy one. Our local municipality was trying to pass a law that would allow them to charge a per gun fee on personal property tax. This was definitely a good time to be selling and I walked away with some cash. Buying a piece every once in a while over 30 years can turn into a large amount when sold all at once.




The stock market and I do not get along. I always tend to think I'm smarter than the market in general, and usually am rewarded with losses. I consider myself a logical person, and the stock market is anything but logical.




I bought some farms, but that is even more illogical. Who would have guessed it possible to lose your entire herd of livestock to wild dogs in the 21st century?




Anyway, I digress, because I've always been intrigued with precious metals. So, why not buy gold and silver? I did. I still do. However, it's kinda boring - definitely from a collectors point of view.




So, one day at a local monthly auction where they were selling bullion, coins, and guns I watched in awe as farmers and old timers paid (what I thought at the time) ridiculous amounts of money for coins. How could a silver dollar with $20 worth of silver be worth over $1000?




I talked to the Auctioneer after the auction about this phenomena. He told me "those old timers know just as much about every coin they bid on as you know about the guns you buy." I still didn't get it. Your looking at less than an ounce of silver and there are millions and millions and millions of them. What is there to know?




Over a period of a few months I started attending the coin part of the auction and watching these guys buy their coins. I began to see opportunities on the bullion side of things. I buy my bullion in larger quantities and at the lowest premium I can find - generally from the really large online dealers.




These guys must not have the internet because they, at times, pay crazy premiums! I don't get why, but it happens at every auction. Someone will pay $400 over spot for a one ounce Gold Buffalo that isn't even slabbed. Someone else will pay $10 over spot for a generic 1 ounce silver round. Crazy!




Anyway I digress again. I started buying a few things to put in the auction just to see what would happen. Well, like with any auction sometimes I'd do really well and sometimes not. But, it was fun either way and I wasn't risking large amounts of money. I noticed that the farmers would all go crazy anytime anything GSA was put up. At the time I didn't even know what GSA was, but I figured I could find some good GSA stuff on the Internet. I started buying small lots of low grade common date (82-CC, 83-CC, 84-CC) GSA Hard Packs on the Internet and offering them at auction.




Low and behold, those guys would go crazy for them. I couldn't figure it out. But, I continued to buy. Before long I'd bought enough stuff of all kinds to qualify as a "Collection" but I didn't know a LOT about any of it. I was at that point where I knew just a little about a lot of stuff.




So, I did a coin show. Got my own table, set up, and thought I'd do some dealing. Amazingly, I sold completely out in one day. Everything! I returned home with just my table cloth and cash box. Don't start sending me emails asking for show locations or auction locations, etc - this wasn't because people are such gung ho buyers in my area but because I'd lucked into buying quite a bit of stuff for considerably below market value. Thus, I'd priced it cheap and sold it fast.




Anyway, messing around with the GSAs got me more and more curious. So, I spent a lot of time researching them and learning about them. My big question: Do these things have actual value? Will they continue to go up in value? Is the collector base big enough? Is there reason for the collector base to grow? Are the quantities limited enough to justify the prices?




I decided that GSA Hard Packs represented a quality investment with the opportunity for a decent ROI and I bought a few here and there. I'd generally end up selling or trading them to someone else, though.




At the beginning of this year, 2014, I decided to start "collecting" for real. I wanted to collect a respectable Registry Quality Set. So, I began looking.




I ran across an individual (who I'd call a part time dealer) with a really nice registry set. His set was ranked within the Top 25 (which is what I wanted)and he was willing to sell it. He gave me a price on it which is higher than the NGC value prices of the individual coins. I offered him a price that was closer to the NGC guide value. We went back and forth for a while and I ended up declining buying the set.




I was, again, really intrigued so I decided to try to build a comparable set and see if the cost was closer to my offer price or his sell price. I got to work. Building the set has been fun AND educational. Finding high end GSA Hard Packs is more difficult than I imagined (which makes it rewarding when you do!) You can see the set in My Collections. It is currently ranked number 20 in the Carson City Morgan Dollars, 1878-1893, GSA Holders Only category. In the set description I share my cost in building the set, price per point, and what I had to spend versus NGC Value Guide.




The same guy that I didn't buy a registry set of GSA Hardpacks CC's from introduced me to GSA Soft Packs. He had a small set of them and offered to sell them to me. He had several key dates and some rare coins and we made a deal and I bought my first GSA Soft Packs.




I instantly fell in love with them. When I purchased those first Soft Packs, I finally became a "Coin Collector". I like everything about them and it has been one of the funnest things I've ever collected. The feeling that you get opening a pack of baseball cards and finding that key rookie card doesn't come close to comparing with the elation you get when finding and securing a rare GSA Soft Pack with a total population of less than 10. Yes, I said "ten"!




Hell, in the world of Soft Packs a population of 10 is almost a common! Looking at building a competitive Registry Set from coins where there are 49 different coins with a total population of less than 10 seems almost insurmountable. Yet, that is one of the reasons that I like Soft Packs so much!




In conclusion, I'll gladly admit that out of all the things I've collected in my lifetime, nothing has brought me more enjoyment than the GSA Soft Packs. I wake up every morning and think "What will I find today?"


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