Here are my previous posts if you're interested: I Spent $50 On Random Roman Coins So You Don't Have To - reviewing Coalition Numismatic's "random" coins. Spoiler: mediocre. https://www.cointalk.com/threads/i-spent-50-on-random-romans-so-you-dont-have-to.356576/ Hoard Repoardt - a summary of 800 coins I purchased from Yugoslavian hoards https://www.cointalk.com/threads/hoard-repoardt-800-coins-660.359461/ NRC Deluxe Beginner's Set Review - grading Noble Roman Coins "Deluxe Beginner's Set." Spoiler: it's not that good. https://www.cointalk.com/threads/noble-roman-coins-deluxe-beginners-set-review.360323/ NRC Premium Uncleaned Coins Review - grading NRC's "Premium Uncleaned Coins" from the Balkans. Spoiler: they weren't that good. https://www.cointalk.com/threads/noble-roman-coins-premium-uncleaned-review.360569/ Holding History "Looks Promising!" Uncleaned Review - grading HH's uncleans. Spoiler: they're overall excellent. https://www.cointalk.com/threads/holding-history-looks-promising-uncleaned-coins-review.360573/ Here's what I did, and my experience with the whole process. Introduction - A Tale of Too Much Money After losing my job due to the 'Rona, I found that unemployment paid me twice as much as I used to make. With all this extra money I suddenly felt an urge to spend frivolously on thing's I've always wanted- large lots of cleaned and/or uncleaned coins. Instead of doing the smart thing and save, invest, and otherwise NOT WASTE MY MONEY, I decided to be young and dumb and blow my wad on a bunch of old chunks of metal. Sin Number One - High Expectations I've purchased uncleaned coins in the past, around 2014 or 2015, never to good results. The only thing that was worth it was a Byzantine coin I don't remember that I traded for a $13 buffet meal at one of UCLA's dining halls. After taking a long hiatus, I found an eBay seller, "Coalition Numismatics" that sold "random" coins in various grades and sizes. I bought one of each, and spent $50. Most of the coins were overpriced and underappealing. The best was probably the $25 Lucius Verus denarius. Although this wasn't a very good deal, I got the bug and decided to try to hunt for some larger lots with better deals. And so, I found Ancient Treasures, a seller who sells loads of ancient coins and ancient artifacts. What I Learned - Sellers who sell random coins will generally not give you great coins. You will likely not get the large and sharp coins you see in the description pictures. Despite my buying one of each (in vain hopes of getting some preferential treatment from the seller), I walked away getting pretty much exactly what I paid for - okay coins at a mediocre price point. Sin Number Two - Two Many Coins, Two Much Time With my joblessness really settling in, I suddenly had too much time and money and decided to go ahead and buy 2 lots of 100 coins from the Balkans from Ancient Treasures, for $0.73 each. Out of these coins, I managed to sell all of them for about 150% profit. I kept a few nice ones, mainly a nice Elagabalus provincial Cistia Mistica, and a cool Ant Pi provincial Artemis. After seeing that I could sell these coins for profit, I pulled the trigger for another 3 lots of 100 each, from Ancient Treasures again, and at a cost of $0.89 per coin. This time, results were somewhat better than last time. I pulled Elagabalus, Commodus, Gordian III, Caracalla, and some small Greek coins. Sales were still pretty alright, but not as good as last time. Profit margin was much less, to the point where I barely broke even. I couldn't help myself so despite the lackluster sales of this lot, I pulled the trigger on another 300 coins at a cost of $0.81 per coin. This lot was much less good than the previous two, and I only got a few cool ones, like this Barbarous Constantine. The coins sold very slowly, and at lower prices than ever before. I still haven't sold all of the coins, and I suspect that I will have lost 10-15% on these sales. What I Learned - Lesson learned here is that unless you know very well what you're doing, buying large lots of random coins isn't a great idea. You can get some nice coins, but the vast majority are going to be junkers. For some reason, the unidentifiable sets are very easy to sell, while the better grade ones are tougher to sell, at least for a good enough price to get you to break even on prices. If you want to get your start into becoming a dealer, this is not the way to do it. Sin Number Three - Beginner's Trap After retiring from buying cleaned coins, I thought I'd venture into the uncleaned world. I did a ton of research into cleaning methods, techniques, and best practices. I found Noble Roman Coins, who sells a "Deluxe Beginner's Set." I thought this would be a good foray into the cleaning hobby, especially since this set is marketed directly to beginners. Unfortunately, the set fell far short of the mark, and I was mainly disappointed with the coins and the accessories included. It included 30 "Premium uncleaned coins" at a cost of $1.70 each. The coins were very very difficult to clean, unlike the description. I was under the impression that the coins would be easy to clean and a great way for a beginner to get into it. Unfortunately, that was not the case with 21 of 30 coins bound for the trash can. The best coin I got was this Claudius II Salus which is, admittedly, spectacular. But overall, unsatisfied. Any beginner spending 15 hours on cleaning would have been severely disappointed with both the quality and the types of coins that were revealed. At $7.50 federal minimum wage, $112.50 could purchase you one stellar coin, 5 good coins, or 10 decent coins. What I Learned - beware of any beginner's sets. In many industries, a beginner's set is also a beginner's trap and does not provide everything that a beginner needs to get a real start. This set provided less than half of the equipment that one would need to really get going, and forces one to buy the rest in addition to the set. I also learned that cleaning heavily encrusted coins is not fun at all, and usually you get some pretty poor results. Sin Number Four - Redemption and Release After having a pretty poor experience with the premium uncleaned coins from NRC, I made one final purchase for posterity. Holding History, an eBay seller, is someone who I've bought from once or twice before. Prices were good and coin quality was decent. This time, the listed some uncleaned coins which were advertised as "promising" and cost $6.57 per coin. Being completely fed up with cleaning, I did the nuclear option and tossed the bunch in lye and called it a night. Much to my very pleasant surprise, all 6 of the coins cleaned up pretty well and I was highly satisfied. My favorite is this Barbaric Constans. What I Learned - Buying uncleaned coins is a delicate process. You can either waste your money and get stressed out, or buy from a good dealer with good coins. You will spend more, but you will get much more for your money and much more satisfaction. The $1,000 Lesson - Basically, nobody should dive into a new hobby with a fat wad and no knowledge, and think that they're going to get good deals, good satisfaction, or good profit. I can guarantee you are lucky to get one of the three, and mostly likely none of the three. The best lesson I think I learned is that the best way to start a new hobby, like Roman coin collecting, is to learn as much as you can, develop and understand your collecting niche, and then, and only then, should you start spending four-digit amounts. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk. I hope any beginners looking to take the dive do not do what I did, and study my mistakes and take my advice on what not to do.