Bad Coin Show Etiquette
I attended our local annual coin show yesterday and today. All in all I enjoyed the show except for an unpleasant experience I had today.
I was looking for something in particular and a buddy sent me to a dealer's table. It turned out the item was not to my liking. I am always on the lookout for nice counterfeits and I asked the dealer if he had any counterfeits. He said that he had two - a counterfeit $2 1/2 gold piece (not an Indian) and a very nice altered coin. (I don't want to go into any more detail about the coins because I don't want to even hint as to who the dealer is.) So I looked at the $2 1/2 and it is OK but not great. (By that I mean it would probably fool a lot of people but it was not good enough to fool someone that knows what to look for.) I asked his price and he said, "I bought this coin as a genuine coin. Another dealer told me it was fake. I paid $250 for it and I have to get what I paid for it." Really? OK. Melt on the thing is $180 and I am willing to pay over melt for it but not a lot. I jokingly said, "You paid $250 for the coin thinking it was genuine and you want $250 for it. I shouldn't have to pay for your mistake should I?" He persisted that he could not take less than what he paid. I asked him if he had paid $400 for it would he ask $400 for it. I put the coin down and asked to see the altered coin.
The altered coin is one that was discussed here recently except this one was nicely done. I am no expert but I think it is a contemporary alteration (meaning I think the alteration was made about 150 years ago, not recently). The host coin was a nice XF and had toned to a nice chocolate. It is one of the nicer ones that I have seen. But the coin is the wrong type for the date it was altered to. Again, it was a very nice example and I was interested in it. I asked his price and he said, "$230." Gulp!! I told him I would have to think about it. We chatted a bit and it turns out he was an instructor at ANA Summer Seminar last week. I have taken the course he taught but I had different instructors. He said something less than flattering about the other instructors and how ANA got rid of them and asked him to teach the course. I didn't think that was very professional but I let it go. I told him that I have been thinking about taking that course again.
I phoned a dealer who knows counterfeits very well and he said the altered coin should sell for $50 to $100 tops. If it was the correct type (meaning if the host coin was closer in date to the altered date) it would be worth more but being the wrong type limits its value. A different dealer told me another one similar to this one sold at auction recently and brought $250+ but the buyer needed it for his collection of these alterations and paid strong money for his. That does not mean all of them are worth what that guy paid.
So I went back to the dealer's table, sat down and asked to see the coins again. He laid them out in front of me. I proceeded to tell him I thought the $2 1/2 was not bad but it wasn't a great counterfeit (even though it was good enough to fool him) and melt is $180 . . .
Then a guy walked up behind me and said to the dealer, "Hey, Joe (not his name). Do you have any counterfeit type coins?" The dealer turned his attention to this guy and said, "Yeah! I have this great XXXXX. You wanna see it?" And he picked up the altered coin and started to hand it to the guy. HELLO!! I thought you were dealing with me. The dealer looked at me and said, "You mind if I show this coin to him?" I sat back in the chair and said, "I thought we were discussing the coin but do whatever you want." He put the coin down and told the guy he would get with him in a minute. (But the guy kept hanging around.) GEEESH!!
So the dealer turned his attention back to me (at least partially) and I explained that melt on the $2 1/2 is $180 and it is not an especially good counterfeit but I would be interested at $225 (which I think is more than it is worth but I liked it). He said he wouldn't take less than $250 so I put the coin down and picked up the altered coin (with the other guy still lingering around) and told him that I would pay $100. $325 for the pair. He thought about it and came back with $390. I thanked him and told him my offer of $325 stands and I would let him think about it and return later.
So a couple of hours later I returned to his table with money in hand. ($335. I decided I could go another $10 higher but that was my limit.) I said, "Let's talk about those coins." He said, "What coins was that?" Come on! So I told him. He said, "I sold the altered coin for substantially more than you offered." OK. Good for you. So I counted out $225 and said, "I'm willing to give you $225 for the $2 1/2." He thought about it and said he could go $235. I again offered $225 and he declined. I thanked him and before I left I said, "Next time I see you I may be your student."
I could not believe what he said next - - - "You wouldn't like the class."
He is probably right. We were unable to agree on a price for his coins. I am not angry. But apparently he wasn't happy. I thought that was very unprofessional of him and I doubt I will ever visit his table again.
So where do I think there was bad coin show etiquette?
1) The guy walking up and interrupting us while we were discussing coins.
2) The dealer turning his attention to the rude guy that interrupted us.
3) The dealer offering to show a coin that I am interest in to the rude guy.
4) The dealer becoming persnickety when we got to within $10 but could not agree on a price.
5) Maybe a few more but that is enough.