An interesting questions was posed at the PCGS Message Boards recently, and I thought that it would make for the perfect blog response:
The question posed: “What Do Coin Dealers Do All Day?”
I can’t answer for most coin dealers, or local shop owners, but there are never two days alike at David Lawrence.
To preface — it’s a Friday, and we’ve been insanely busy the past few weeks and I’m hoping for a slightly slower day to catch my breath.
We typically get in around 8:30 in the morning and once I get past the coffee pot, I sit down to answer the emails that I received since 11pm last night…Today there were about 45 that needed reading or a personal response. It’s hard to imagine that many incoming emails in that time frame, but that is precisely why I always try to get to emails before bed as well.
At some point in that hour of responding to emails, there’s always a discussion about an offer made on a coin the previous evening, an auction item, a collection coming up for sale, or a package the size of a small gorilla that is inevitably waiting for us in shipping.
Today I conquered the emails and wanted to gaze through the 3 auction catalogs sitting in front of me. The likelihood that I actually get to view them is basically zero, but they do make great paperweights. Typically I try to stay on top of all of our incoming packages, but the last 2 months in our office have been so busy that I’ve been a day or two behind (if not more!) on every package. Today’s first is a deal of about 150 coins, ranging from $5 coins to $5,000. I hope to finish figuring that collection before lunch time as there will be another 5-6 packages incoming from the postal services by then.
While figuring this collection, I take a small break every 30 minutes to browse the airlines as I have 4 trips to plan by the end of the day, including airfare, hotels, etc. I’m afraid of committing to flight times in almost all cases as it is inevitable that our plans will change, but at some point you have to lock in something (I guess?).
I haven’t yet started the collection and I have an interesting research-related email regarding selling some raw gold coins that we just acquired. We get these in fairly frequently, but the problem with such items is that it’s really impossible to get much more than the melt value. And most dealers (even those that say they buy them) don’t really want to buy such items. This becomes a bigger problem when a collector wants to trade bullion for collector coins, but that’s another story! Long story short, I don’t believe that the sales idea is a good one, but I’ll get back to that. (Anyone want some raw, XF $5 Indians???)
Okay, back to the collection. Oh, nevermind. Had to head off a fraudulent order for five minutes. Now, first coin is a 1931-S Lincoln Cent PCGS XF45…
It only took me an uninterrupted hour or so to finish evaluating the collection. There’s one really rare coin amidst 125 cheaper pieces…Unfortunately it’s much tougher to make a living on coins under $100-200 and only a few dealers have been able to sustain a career that way. For us, the feasibility on the collection lies in the pieces over $500, so if I can buy those, I’ll end up with several boxes of other pieces, but if I can’t buy those, it won’t really make sense for me to acquire the remainder due to imaging costs and the fact that we have a pretty heavy inventory already.
Back to the grindstone…I just bought a nice 1849 Mormon $5 NGC AU53 that I’m excited about. It needs a new holder as it is scratched up, but it’s unusual to get a neat piece such as this to come in from an unsuspected source. On the other hand, I also bought 5 silver Pandas from 1989 that we might send to grading just for fun. The next package had some 2009 Proof Lincoln Cents in PCGS 70 holders sent…I had no idea what those were worth, so it took 5 minutes to check out the values on those. Next up was a shipping question to sort out on some bullion material.
Okay, it’s lunchtime. I’ve brought a sandwich every day this week, but today I’m going to run a few errands.
I return an hour later (2:00) and I have to fix a couple of invoices to send out to some customers. Upon completing those, I am finalizing the purchase on a group of 25 coins for about $30,000. There’s a few nice PCGS/CAC coins and we’ll be adding those to the website in a few days. The highlight was a nice Proof 65 Morgan dollar with a CAC sticker.
I only received about 15 emails while at lunch today, so I cleaned those up and have offered on 2 other packages that we received yesterday. One is a large lot of US mint products (I love going through these for some reason!) and the other is a various mix of US type coins.
As I’ve processed all of these packages, our imaging staff has imaged about 225 coins for our website, our numismatic staff has spoken to about 20-30 customers, and we’ve received 2 packages from CAC and a group of coins we had reholdered at NGC. All of this on top of pulling approximately 45 orders (probably over 200+ coins), describing 100 coins for the website, and receiving as many payments and packages as we can possibly handle.
And, as I mentioned, this is a slow Friday.
Our company is not your typical coin company, but we are your typical boutique auction company, coin buying outfit, website-based coin company, and small business. We even try to do it all with only 9 in-house employees! After writing all of this, it makes me think I need a vacation! Of course, the coin business is always a lot of fun and if the job didn’t change every minute of the day, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable. That being said, it looks like I have 75 more emails to answer this evening…