Coins We Love: How Fresh is Fresh?

Coins We Love: How Fresh is Fresh?

This week finds us at the Central States Show in Schaumburg (don’t call it Chicago), Illinois. While we’ve already been here a few days, our staff has been so active at the show and in the office, so we’ve decided to hold off on a show report for this week. So, while I could opine on the convention center lunch options or the lack of upscale decorations present, I’ll hold off for a week!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with fellow dealers and consignors that got me thinking about one of the long-held tenants of selling coins as well as the appeal of certain pieces. One of the most often heard (and over-used) words at a show is that a coin is “fresh”. What does this mean? Typically it means that the coin is “fresh” to the market. It’s either been put away for a long period of time, just acquired from a long-time collection, or was just graded by a grading service. While a coin being newly graded can indeed mean “fresh”, that word is used too liberally by many folks that just crack out coins for upgrades. I mean, yes the plastic and label are “fresh”, but the coin has possibly been out there for a while. The concept of freshness has long been something that has enabled a dealer (or collector) to justify a higher price. They can say that because of its newness to the market or that it may be scarce in that kind of quality.

CAC has removed some of that question on actual quality, but the concept of freshness has still been engrained in dealers’ heads. As someone who has long appreciated the history of the hobby/business, I understand how the market has evolved in terms of grading. I’ve had dealers mention that they don’t want to consign a coin to our (or another) auction as they fear the coin will lose its freshness. This flies into the face of how I generally feel as I have an old-school mentality in most ways, but I think that the whole concept of a coin losing its freshness because it was posted on someone’s website, is now over. The fact is, there are just way too many places where coins are listed and it’s impossible for any single collector to monitor all of these places. There are aggregator websites that try to put all of these listings together, but they are unreliable and still miss a ton of places. I’m not sure I understand the algorithms they use to scrape listings, but it’s not a very complete one. With the world that we’re living in, you can find almost any coin somewhere on the web or in someone’s inventory.

I’ve personally decided to try to stop using the word “fresh”. Because I think that the concept is outdated in many ways. But, for once, I don’t think that technology killing freshness is really a bad thing. It forces us all to do a little better and to take better care of our customers, the collector. And we’ll work a little harder this week to do so.

Thanks again for hanging in there with us. We look forward to sharing with you a little more about the Central States Show in next week’s Coins We Love.

Numismatically Yours,

John Brush and Your Friends at DLRC

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