Are Greysheet Prices Accurate?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by Argenteus Fossil, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. Argenteus Fossil

    Argenteus Fossil Active Member

    I subscribed and purchased a few of the quarterly CDN's "greysheets". I have various price "guides" ranging from a red book, two years (2012 & 2014) of North American Coins Price Guide, a Blue Book, etc. I get different guides to get a feel for a spread of a certain coin. I feel this is part of "doing my homework" as I continue to learn about rare coins.

    My question, I attended a coin show. A dealer was claiming his PCGS AG03 1795 Large Cent was marked only 10% above what he paid @ around $300 and change. The ask price at the time in the greysheet was only $70. I walked away as I felt he was lying about his cost. I could not care less about his cost. I do not care if he paid $10 for the coin, I would pay a fair market value. I just felt he could not be trusted and I elect to not do business with people I feel are being deceptive. The coin had no real toning. It appeared to me to be an average, run of the mill, chocolate cent with heavy circulation. The dealer was unaware that I had a greysheet in my pocket and went on about how those coins never come back with a grade, etc...

    Was my feeling about him being misleading accurate? Would a dealer actually pay close to $300 for a coin that lists as $70 ASK? This occurred over the summer, I have just been thinking about this as of late.
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  3. mrweaseluv

    mrweaseluv Supporter! Supporter

    grey sheets are dealer to dealer prices you as a "collector" or buyer will never see anything close to that price.
  4. bqcoins

    bqcoins Olympic Figure Skating Scoring System Expert

    Greysheet or no, a coin is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. That being said a number of coins defy the greysheet either high or low. Some coins cannot be accurately predicted because they either aren't bought and sold enough to establish a real average or the sales just don't get reported.
    Seattlite86 likes this.
  5. ToughCOINS

    ToughCOINS Dealer Member Moderator

    I'll try to come up with a statement that fairly addresses your question, but bear in mind that this is just a generalization, to which there will certainly be exceptions:

    Grey Sheet is accurate for items which you can find in every coin shop in the country (90% silver, modern proof sets, 1881-S Morgans, steel cents, common date type coins in any published grade, etc.) . . . it is often inaccurate for coins which will not walk into every local coin store at least once in any 12 month period (1901-S quarter, $3.00 gold, Grant with Star commem, etc.), and completely unreliable for many underappreciated scarce and rare coins (1867 half dime, 1924-D dime, 1906-O quarter, etc.).

    I hope that sums it up pretty well for you.

    Depending on what you intend to buy and / or sell, it either does or doesn't make sense. For the kind of coins I deal in, it is a rare occasion when I can rely entirely on the Grey Sheet for either a purchase or a sale.
  6. josh's coins

    josh's coins Well-Known Member

    An accurate price guide does not exist. Is it better than using the red book or basing prices off of what littleton coin sells them for? Yes.
  7. Amanda Varner

    Amanda Varner Well-Known Member

    There are often differences in the gray sheets once you get out onto the floor.

    For comparison, I just brought this coin (assuming a plain edge) up in CCE and while there are no bids for the coin, it does list some interesting bits of information for a 1795 Large Cent in PCGS03:

    PCGS suggested retail price: $350
    Recent Auctions:
    • 7/14 one sold CACed for $319
    • 6/14 one sold for $350 CACed, NGC holdered
    • 3/14 one sold for $229
    • 3/14 one sold for $202
    Here's the coin sold in June that brought the most, just for comparison. :)

  8. stldanceartist

    stldanceartist Minister of Silly Walks

    What I think is most entertaining is that Greysheet is supposed to be for dealer-to-dealer transactions...but since you can order them online without having to be a dealer, everyone that wants to buy what you're selling wants it for Greysheet Bid.

    Of course, when selling they want Red Book. :)
  9. Argenteus Fossil

    Argenteus Fossil Active Member

    Thanks for offering these other prices realized. I should learn to start looking at auction prices realized.

    This is also informative. I was thinking of it from the angle that just because it doesn't walk into one store all the time does not make it expensive as it could just be walking into another's store in abundance. That being said, I see the point you are illustrating. I was also curious as to how well the greysheets illustrate "street price". If something goes for well above the bid/ask prices because they are more scarce, I would assume the price guides would increase to compensate. I see that that might be easier said than done.
  10. Argenteus Fossil

    Argenteus Fossil Active Member

    This comment serves no purpose and was a waste of both of our time.

    I clearly stated that I was not attempting to buy at that price, I would but at any price I see as fair and desirable to me. I do not care what he paid, he deserves to make a profit (however big or small he can get). My point was that I did not ask for what he paid, but he claimed he was selling it at a small margin which I did not trust.

    One thing that really gets my upset is this mentality that some dealers have that dealers are above collectors and are entitled to lower prices and "collectors" just have to pay what I consider artificially high prices. Get over yourself.
  11. Amanda Varner

    Amanda Varner Well-Known Member

    ... or that all dealers are the scum of the earth just waiting to pull one over on you. ;)
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
  12. rzage

    rzage What Goes Around Comes Around .

    Also not all same graded coins are created equal , some have been dipped , some have great strikes some weak . Some have great eye appeal and toning while others are plain ugly . So 3 coins all graded 65 will sell for different amounts . Also something that BooksB4Coins told me makes a difference . Say at a show one dealer sells a coin to another , that coin may have passed hands any # of times in a day with each dealer making some $ . Now if you bought off of dealer 1 or dealer 5 the , Dealer 1 could sell it cheaper than Dealer 5 .
  13. ToughCOINS

    ToughCOINS Dealer Member Moderator

    This is true, however it usually takes place under circumstances similar to the following:

    Dealer 1 sells an underappreciated coin for back of bid, just having hit a homer grading a nice raw coin, and will be content with the quick profit;

    Dealer 2 sells for bid to make another quick profit;

    Dealer 3 similarly sells quickly, but at ask;

    Dealer 4 better understands the true market for this coin, and knows who the last dealer in line is before the coin finds its home with the collector;

    Finally, dealer 5 makes a living selling this particular type of coin, has hungry clientele, and can get the most for it.

    It's pretty unusual for coins to pass through so many dealers hands, but it happens far more often with very scarce and rare coins than with common ones.
    harris498 and josh's coins like this.
  14. rzage

    rzage What Goes Around Comes Around .

    Thanks for better explaining it for me . After rereading it I knew it wasn't exactly the way Books told me , so I pm'd him to take a look .
  15. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank

    that explains a LOT!
    rzage likes this.
  16. JPeace$

    JPeace$ Coinaholic

    I look for pricing guidance from the auction results at Heritage. They usually have the exact coin I'm looking for with many transactions over years of time.
    Amanda Varner likes this.
  17. bigjpst

    bigjpst Well-Known Member

    I don't use any one source to price coins. I use the greysheet, coinfacts, and several other sources depending on what I am looking at. IMO many of the coins in the weekly greysheet are pretty close, but for coins in the monthly and quarterly they are all over the map. Some are way too high, some are way too low.
    For example, I recently bought a better date Seated Quarter at auction for 3X + greysheet, and had several offers on the coin before it found it's home.
    Amanda Varner likes this.
  18. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    I don't know why it's hard for people to understand that there is no coin that is worth a set amount of money - not one. That just isn't how it works, and that is what Amanda was trying to illustrate. She posted 4 examples of the same coin, in the same grade, and they all sold for different amounts ranging from $202 - $350. That's a 75% increase of one over the other. This is typical of ALL coins, in any grade. And sometimes the percentage increase is even higher.

    The situation the OP described is also very common. As are his feelings about that situation. So why is that ? Simply put it's usually because people will look at the Grey Sheet, or maybe realized auction prices, or maybe some other price guide, or maybe even a combination of all, and as result of that they expect the coin they currently looking at to have an asking price similar to what they saw in the Grey Sheet, or whatever. But if it isn't a similar price, particularly if it is higher, then they wonder why it is higher. And some will assume it is higher because the seller is not, shall we say, on the up and up.

    Well, sometimes the seller isn't on the up and up. There are unscrupulous people out there, that is a fact. But it is a huge, huge, mistake to assume that they are all unscrupulous just because of situations similar to that being discussed in this thread.

    No two coins, even of the exact same grade, are equal. One of them will almost always be nicer than the other. And since it is nicer it is worth more money. How much more depends on the person buying the coin, not the person selling the coin. Sellers can ask anything they want, but the buyers are the ones who control the purse strings. The buyers are the ones who set, who establish, the prices because of that. Now if that particular person wants that particular coin at that particular time and he wants it very, very, badly, and he has been looking for one for a long time then he is likely to pay more than the coin is really worth. If he barley wants it at all then he is only going to pay less than what is being asked. Especially if that coin is just average for the grade or low for the grade. That, those things I just described, is what establishes the price range for any given coin.

    So, when you look up a coin in the Grey Sheet the number listed there may be $70 just like it was in the OP's case. But, the coin you are currently looking at, same coin same grade, may only be worth $50, or it may be worth $350. It depends on the coin !

    Now I know that just doesn't seem logical but it is logical, very logical, because no two coins are equal. So are the numbers in the Grey Sheet no good ? No, that is not true. The numbers in the Grey Sheet are accurate, but they are only accurate for that SPECIFIC coin at that SPECIFIC time. There is a dealer offering to sell that specific coin, in that specific grade at that specific time. And if you agree to meet his asking price the coin is yours, in this case $70. But does not mean that the coin, same coin same grade, at the show dealer's table is not worth $350. It very well may be, or even more.

    And it's not because the Grey Sheet is dealer to dealer prices either. I know of many, many dealers who sell coins directly to collectors at Grey Sheet prices and they do it every day. They don't care who the buyer is, they only care what their Ask is. And if you will meet their Ask they will sell you the coin, no matter who you are.

    Bottom line you cannot look up any coin in any grade in the Grey Sheet, or in realized auction prices, or in any price guide, and expect to pay that same amount for that coin. It just doesn't work that way. It never has and it never will. There is a price range, sometimes a very wide price range, for any given coin. Your job as the buyer, the collector, is to try and stay within that price range. And if you do that then you have paid a fair price, assuming you like the coin.

    Sounds complicated, and yes, it is. But it is, what it is. Coins are not like shares of stock that all sell at the same price. They are not like produce or cans of soup in the grocery store that all sell at the same price. Coins are not commodities, they are coins, collectibles. Every one is unique, different, and worth different amounts. And because they are collectibles they have emotions attached to them and emotions can cost you money. And if your emotions are different than those of the guy standing beside you then it may cost you more, or less, that it would for him. Or the next guy.
  19. jfreakofkorn

    jfreakofkorn Well-Known Member

    grey sheet is there as a reference ... ( as well as the re and blue book )

    and it doesnt mean that the price there is what you ll get it for

    you can either pay more for the item or less ....

    just experience and knowledge on the item will get you the best possible price ( and how bad you want it for, IMO )
  20. mikenoodle

    mikenoodle The Village Idiot Supporter

    The best way to find out is to actually buy a coin in the grade that you desire and THEN compare your price to greysheet.

    The operative word in price guide is "guide". It is an approximation given at a specific point in time, but understand that the specific point used is in the past and therefore no longer valid.

    If all coins in a grade of VG-8 were exactly the same, then a price guide might work better, but they're not. In fact, no two coins are exactly alike and so even the grade is an approximation of it's state of preservation.

    The price on ANY given coin will depend on the specific coin and the market for that specific coin at that particular point in time. It will vary from buyer to buyer and from seller to seller.

    In your example, the dealer told you what he paid and asked for a 10% profit. If you ask me, he disclosed more information than most will. It is then your choice to buy or to walk away. You wonder if he was being misleading, but you have given absolutely no reason for anyone to think he might have been other than the fact that you think he wanted (in your opinion), too much for the coin. I wonder if you're suspicious of everyone you do business with, or only those that seem want too much money. If you want a better price, then find the same coin somewhere else at the price you desire and don't worry about this dealer. Until you are able to make an actual purchase at the price you think is fair, don't cast aspersions and do more legwork.

    Long story short, sometimes the guide is misleading or even wrong. I have yet to see anyone buy a coin from the publishers of greysheet.
    Amanda Varner likes this.
  21. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    Something else you have to consider is that you were talking about an early large cent, a coin often collected by die variety. Those die varieties can vary wildly from what the gray sheet shows. The piece Amanda posted is an S-77, a scarcer variety and one that will command a significant amount more than the gray sheet lists. A S-73 or S-76a will also sell for much more. An S-78 though would probably sell for closer to the gray sheet price, although $70 is on the low side I would have thought $100 wholesale closer. There are a lot of cents out there in the grading services slabs that are NOT identified by variety, but the dealer may still have had to pay the variety price for it. So it is quite possible the dealer did pay close to $300 for the coin.
    rzage and Argenteus Fossil like this.
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