Long before I became a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I realized that certain coins no longer fit into my collections. At a certain point, as a coin hobbyist or investor, you will undoubtedly come to the same realization. Maybe you have decided to collect a different series, or trade up to a higher grade. Or perhaps one of your set just doesn't measure up to the appearance of the others.
It pays to hone your negotiation skills, and a few basic tips can take you far when negotiating sales and trades from your coin collection.
By the time you get around to selling and trading coins from your collection, you probably know something about coin valuation, and the way that coin values change over time. Before you set out, prepare for your negotiations through some careful research into the history and current value of the coins you are willing to trade.
Become familiar with dealers in your network. Most specialize and are interested in (and most knowledgeable about) particular types of coins. If you would like to get a variety of opinions or evaluations of the coins you want to trade or sell, you could take them to regional coin shows. In Grand Rapids, for example, monthly coin shows are held at the Neil Fonger American Legion Post in Grandville. Take advantage of the opportunity to show your coins to several experienced dealers, to get their coin valuation feedback, and to negotiate purchases, trades and/or sale of coins.
Beyond your knowledge of coins and dealers, there are also several points of etiquette that will probably make your negotiations go more smoothly, and may even fetch you higher prices. Coin collecting is known as the "hobby of kings," and a certain amount of gentility goes a long way. When negotiating, be careful not to intentionally or unintentionally insult the interests or the wares of other dealers or hobbyists. Coin dealers have long memories, and the relationships and reputations formed among hobbyists often become more important than any single sale or trade.
As with any negotiation, keep your end goal in mind, and always try to be fair. It's great to be able to negotiate a good deal, but if the deal is so great that you feel you may actually be taking advantage of someone, consider "sweetening the pot." This goes both ways… the dealer also needs to fair and not take advantage of someone's lack of knowledge. In the long run, it's to your advantage if both parties are happy and neither later has the impression that they were somehow cheated.
Over time, many collectors find enjoyment in the art of negotiation as an important part of the hobby. You may even find that the skills you practice with coin collecting serve you well in other areas of life. Do you have any suggestions from your experiences negotiating? Please share in the comments below.