Monday, September 29, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Phony Pedigrees

If you are purchasing a Pedigree coin because it carries a Pedigree name on the label, be sure to check the authenticity of the claimed Pedigree.  There are more and more coin vendors starting to apply their names, trademarks or slick titles on NGC and PCGS labels to give a false “enhanced” value to sell their items.  Some are even applying stickers to the slabs.  Don’t be tricked by these hustlers.  Buy smart and buy legitimate pedigrees.

“Rick’s Legacy – Pedigree & Hoard / Coins & Currency”  - available at GreatCollections Auctions, on Ebay and Amazon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rick's Pedigree Coins – 1880 Fitzgerald Collection Morgan Silver Dollar - Coin of the Week

My Pedigree Coin of the Week this week is the 1880 Fitzgerald Collection Morgan Silver Dollar.  This is an often over-looked rare date/mintmark in the Fitzgerald Collection with a population of only 45 coins being “hard” graded.  With a census of only 45 coins, a lot of Fitzgerald collectors have an empty slot in their collection for this date/mintmark.
Shown below is one of the 45 coins graded as MS63 by NGC.  Since I have 2 examples, anyone interested in this coin can write me at

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – California Coin Cache 1997 - Littleton Coin Company


California Coin Cache 1997

“A California hoard that had been accumulating for years yielded 3,671 Flying Eagle cents dated 1857 & 1858. This was believed to be the largest group ever to be purchased at one time. The three previously known largest Flying Eagle cent hoards contained only a fraction of the coins comprising this cache. The entire group contained 8,467 U.S. type coins from the 18th & 19th centuries.”

Littleton’s complete article can be found at:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Buffalo Nickel Hoard - Littleton Coin Company

Buffalo Nickel Hoard 1998

[photo: Littleton's buyers purchased a hoard of 300,000 Buffalo nickels]

"Buffalos stampeded into Littleton after the company bought a hoard of 300,000 – the largest one-time purchase of Buffalo nickels in the firm's history. Sold by a western states dealer, some were still in Wells Fargo bank bags. The 3,300-pound delivery arrived at Littleton's headquarters in a Brink's armored car."

Littleton’s complete article can be found at:

The Eisenhower dollar from the “Big Sky Hoard” shown in my book Rick’s Legacy – Pedigree & Hoard / Coins & Currency” was purchased from Littleton.  Check out their website at:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – The Stetson Collection Gold Coin Hoard

COINLINK Coin Collecting News had a very interesting and thorough article on The Stetson Gold Coin Hoard on March 5, 2010, written by Doug Winter.  I am quoting part of the article below:

“One of the more interesting (and lesser known) gold coin auctions that I’ve attended was the sale of the Stetson Collection which was conducted by the old Bowers and Merena in May, 1993. This was an instance where the back story (or stories in this case) was nearly as interesting as the coins themselves.

Beginning in 1992, an amazing hoard of gold coins started to quietly enter the market. This hoard consisted of tens of thousands of coins dated from the late 1830’s through, I believe, the 1920’s. It included large quantities of semi-key St. Gaudens double eagles, extensive runs of Carson City eagles and double eagles, large quantities of New Orleans eagles from the 1880’s through the early 1900’s, sizable quantities of San Francisco rarities and much, much more.

It has never been revealed where these coins came from (although it is widely rumored that they came from an Eastern European central bank; given the time they were sold it would suggest that they were dispersed by a former Soviet bloc country in an attempt to infuse some Western capital).”

The complete article can be found at:

For years, I have tried to locate a coin from the Stetson Collection graded by NCG or PCGS with a label reference but have never found one. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Steamer Trunk Hoard - Littleton Coin Company

The following is quoted from a Littleton Coin Company article on coin hoards and collections:

Steamer Trunk Hoard 2000

Littleton's team bought 171 $20 Confederate Notes with consecutive serial numbers from an original brick issued more than a century ago. Since the Crisp Uncirculated 1864 notes might have languished unnoticed in a piece of luggage, Littleton's buyers called the stash the Steamer Trunk Hoard.

Littleton’s complete article can be found at:

The Eisenhower dollar from the “Big Sky Hoard” shown in my book Rick’s Legacy – Pedigree & Hoard / Coins & Currency” was purchased from Littleton.  Check out their website at:
I have purchased from Littleton in the past and always received superior service.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Alabama Hoard - Littleton Coin Company

Littleton Coin Company published an article on a number of Coin/Currency Hoards and information shown here comes from that article:

  Alabama Hoard 2002

One family held a stack of 1864 State of Alabama Southern States Notes for more than 135 years. Still looking much as they did when printed in Montgomery over a century before, the Crisp Unused $5 and $10 notes presented a window on the Confederacy with their vignettes of plantation life. Littleton's buyers purchased over 300 of the Confederate Notes, each of which was individually hand signed and numbered.

Littleton’s complete article can be found at:

I have purchased from Littleton and if I recall correctly, the “Big Sky Hoard” Eisenhower dollar shown in my book Rick’s Legacy – Pedigree & Hoard / Coins & Currency” was purchased from them.  I have always found Littleton Coin to be very pleasant and accommodating in my transactions with them. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – The Las Vegas Collection

GreatCollections Auctions had a rare offering from the Las Vegas Collection in their auction this week.  It was a 1901 Liberty $20 gold piece graded by NGC as MS65.  The Las Vegas Collection was once owned by a private collector living in Las Vegas.  Over the years, many high-grade/end coins from this collection have been offered in various auctions.   All the coins that I have observed from this collection that have the “Las Vegas Collection” notation on the label have been graded by NGC.
Anyone knowing more about this collection can write me at my blog and I will update this information.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – PCGS & NGC Grading Standards For Problem Coins

At times, some pedigree coins cannot be graded because they have incurred environmental damage or some other type of grading issue.   Pedigree collections affected include (but are not limited to) the Binion Collection, Tuscaloosa Collection, Champagne Lanson Collection, Saddle Ridge Collection, Suwannee River Collection, Wall of Greed Hoard and many shipwreck recovered coins.  Both PCGS and NGC have expanded explanations for problem coins and they can be found at:

PCGS:  (Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the more for detailed explanations)

NGC: (Additional information is available by clicking on the grading problem listed to the left of the explanations)
The “Improperly Cleaned” explanation is always a favorite of collectors.  Recently, a fellow collector that I met at the Ocala (Florida) Coin Club meeting told me he is still waiting to see the NGC slab that says “Properly Cleaned”.  Amen!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Ebay Return Policy – Selling Coins on Ebay

Okay, one more shot at Ebay and then I will get back to Pedigree coins. 

In addition to the excessive seller fees that the coin seller is faced with on Ebay, they are also faced with an unrealistic and poorly thought out return policy if they want preferred selling status.  Basically, what Ebay wants to force on the sellers is a 14-day no questions asked return policy. 

Here are a few reasons (experiences) why this is a poor policy:

1.)    The buyer has an opportunity to purchase a coin and then if he finds it cheaper within the 2 week period from another source (on Ebay, at a coin show or in a coin shop), he returns it for refund.  

2.)    The fluctuation of gold and silver prices make this policy idiotic.

3.)    A buyer has the opportunity to “load-up” on inventory and then attend local coin shows and flip for a profit.  What he does not flip gets returned to the Ebay seller.

4.)    Buyer’s remorse.  What about the remorse of the seller who could have sold it to the next highest bidder but after the coin is returned 2 weeks or more pass and the next highest bidder has moved on to other interests?
The dynamics of the coin market simply make this return policy stupid.  I have purchased coins through the mail for years and I can safely say that when I open a package, I know immediately if it is acceptable (as advertised and viewed in photos) or not.  Two weeks are not needed for that decision.  Two minutes, maybe.   

Friday, September 5, 2014

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Ebay & Pals Fees – Selling Coins on Ebay

If you are a coin buyer on Ebay and you are evaluating the purchase price of a coin, you are oblivious to Ebay fees.  But sellers have to consider these fees and they are reflected in the selling listing price.  On average, these fees add about 20% to the gross selling cost / list price.  For example, a coin listed at $100 breaks down like this:

$100 – Selling or List Price

10% of the selling price goes to Ebay
3.5 – 4 % goes to PayPal
4 – 5%  goes to USPS/Shipping cost ($2 to $4 for postage, $1 for padded envelope)

So there you have around 18% out the door to Ebay & Pals and they have no investment cost in the coin or risk associated with the transaction.  The seller still retains the transaction risk and the cost of delivering to the post office as well as shipping material cost.  Sure, the postman can pick it up, but that adds at least a day delay in shipment and the seller gets dinged by the buyer for being a slow shipper.  Conservatively, the post office is 5 miles away (round-trip) and the mileage allowance (IRS 2014) is 56 cents so that is $2.80 or another 3% on the cost to sell.  Plus padded envelopes run from 50 cents to $1 each.  And that takes your selling fee to 20% of the gross sales or more.

Now here is a real-life example:

$     9,686
Gross sales, 80 transactions
 $     7,796
Investment cost in coins
 $     1,890
Gross Profit before Fees
 $       973
Ebay fees / Gross Profit
 $       302
PayPal fees / Gross Profit
 $       166
USPS fees – Gross Profit
 $         84
 $     1,525
 $       365
Net Profit

For sharing in none of the risk and having no investment costs, Ebay & Pals take 80% of the profit while the seller makes a 5% return on the investment cost and has all the risk and work.

So when you see a coin that is listed at what you consider a high price on Ebay, discount it by 20% and then see what the price looks like.  The 20% difference – or premium if you wish – is all Ebay & Pals.  Not the seller price gouging.  And Ebay & Pals are taking 80% of the profit.  Amazing, 80% of your profit goes to someone else – and we have not even given the IRS their cut yet.

The two major competitors to Ebay in coin auctions are Great Collections and Heritage Auctions.  Both beat the pants off of Ebay as far as cost to the seller.  While postage may be a push, you may save in that you can send several coins together – saves postage cost and material cost.

Great Collections only charges 5% for their services and they take care of the listing and picture taking.  And, if your coin sells for more than $1,000 the selling fee is zero!  They also take care of the shipping and they absorb the transaction (PayPal) cost.  So you pay Ebay & Pals 20% or Great Collections 5%.  And Great Collections pays sellers within a week  - plus or minus a few days.

Heritage is a bit more complicated and fees can be negotiated, but still are lower than Ebay & Pals.  Additionally, you can list for free if your coins meet certain criteria.  Like Great Collections, Heritage takes care of all the listing work, photographic work, shipping and payment collections.  (Negative: Heritage is very slow to pay sellers.)

Buyers in both Great Collections and Heritage auctions share the listing cost to some extent because they are required to pay a buyer’s premium.  
And for these reasons, coin buyers may find higher listing and purchasing prices on Ebay than on Heritage and Great Collections.  As a matter of fact, I frequently see coins that have sold at those two auction sites and then relisted on Ebay for 2 to 3 times the selling cost.  On the flipside, I have never seen a coin purchased on Ebay and listed on Heritage or Great Collections for a higher price. 

The Wall of Greed