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My Spidey Senses are Tingling
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6 posts in this topic

My first post here.  New to coin collecting, having started nine months ago.  Try to buy what my wife and I like that also has some investment potential.  We have several PCGS or NGC graded coins that we paid $2,000 - 7,000 each.  We buy from a local brick & mortar as well as online auctions such as Heritage.

Went to our first local coin show yesterday.  Saw a few interesting coins.  One in the $2,000 range that seemed overpriced so we passed for now.  I have noticed that most of the show dealers have few graded slab coins, most are packaged in paper flip holders, some with grades written on them.

Many of these dealers say they don't bother with PCGS or NGC because they've sent the same coin in multiple times and gotten a different grade each time.  The dealers claim they can grade coins better themselves.  Also, most of these coins are under a few hundred dollars, making grading not economical.

We saw one coin we are interested in, but the saying about a deal too good to be true may apply here.  It is a 1907 $20 High Relief (appears to be a flat rim, but I'm not sure).  It is in a slab from an unheard of grading service.  Aside from their thin website, it appears no other collector on earth has ever mentioned them online.  It shows MS-62 but the dealer said he thinks it's MS-60.  Either way, if legit, it is a coin in the $15-25k range being sold for $10k.

I would be willing to pay $10k if it's in a PCGS or NGC slab with an MS-60 or above.  At a minimum, I have a concern about what appears to be a large carbon spot on the top edge (see picture).  That might be a deal-killer to start.

I find it unlikely somebody along the way would not have submitted it to PCGS or NGC.  Before I would buy the coin, I would request the dealer submit it to PCGS or NGC and achieve the minimum of MS-60.  Before making such a request, can somebody look at the photos and tell me if that's a reasonable goal, particularly with the worrisome carbon spots.  Any other thoughts on this prospective purchase?  My Spidey senses are tingling.  Thanks.

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NGC backs up its service with the NGC Guarantee of authenticity and grade. If an expensive coin like that is not in an NGC (or other reputable TPG's) holder, there is likely a reason for it.



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If I may offer my very humble opinion, as I have sent hundreds of coins over the years to NGC for grading and learning from my mistakes and sometimes sad results, I would hard pass on that at 10K. Obscure TPG slabs with inflated grades are something to stay away from unless you can determine its grade yourself. Having tested some less value coins in obscure TPG slabs, cracking them and submitting them to NGC has led to two to three points less in grade level. From your photos which is all there is to go on, I would put this one at AU level.

The other thing to note is when submitting it is important to remember the rim is part of the coin and needs to be considered when selecting coins for submission. I have gotten back several descriptions on my return slabs which all became part of my learning experiences. For rim issues, I got back details grade followed by these (ugh) descriptions : Rim damage, Repaired, Mount Removed (as in the coin being previously used as a piece of jewelry), and Rim Filed. I am relaying these experiences I have had as the spot on the rim of the coin in your photo, for it being on a gold coin which basically should not erode, something is definitely wrong in that area, and with the amount of $$ involved in the transaction, I would continue my search for a better specimen.

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   It doesn't appear that the original poster has returned to the forum for some time, but I would like to point out for the benefit of anyone looking at this post that the 1907 High Relief $20--assuming that it is genuine--is clearly circulated (XF or AU), with obvious wear on Liberty's breast and the eagle's upper wing, and it has hairlines suggesting that it has been "cleaned". If you are going to spend thousands of dollars on coins, it is imperative that you understand what the coins you want to collect look like in various conditions, even if you purchase only coins certified by reputable grading services.  It would be better to spend a few hundred dollars on books and subscriptions and some hours in study before making purchases at such price levels.

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@BIC2 -- There are two old expressions among coin collectors.  One is, "Buy the book before the coin."  The other is, "There is no Santa Claus in numismatics."  You had good instincts in realizing there was something "not right" about this valuable coin being offered as uncirculated in an unknown brand grading holder when it had obvious defects. Apart from being worn, I believe that @powermad5000 is correct in suspecting that it has been removed from a mount, a.k.a. "ex-jewelry", which collectors regard as a significant impairment.  There are also deceptive counterfeits of this issue, such as the one described by NGC at Counterfeit Detection: 1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle | NGC (ngccoin.com) (right click for menu to open).

   I began collecting in the 1970s, before third party grading existed.  You had to learn about coins yourself, which to me was much of the fun of it, and with knowledge develop your own taste.  I've never regarded coins as an "investment" but as assets and as a pursuit that has enriched my life.  The spread between wholesale and retail is approximately 30%, so coins purchased at retail values generally have to increase by that much just to break even, without considering the impact of inflation. 

  I don't know what books and other resources you already have.  I described what I view as the basics in the following post:

   I hope this helps.

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