Unless you go to the country of origin yourself, or establish a good
working relationship with an in-country dealer, buying coins from the
dig source will be a virtual impossibility. Local dealers within the
dig country are the first connection to the buyer, and then the coins
pass through several more hands until they get to the marketplace.
The following paragraph outlines the common links in the supply chains:
"Keep in mind that you, the consumer, are the last to get the coins in
a chain of probably five people- the farmer who digs them up, the
local profiteer who buys them, the middle man, who buys them from the
profiteer, the dealer, who buys the lot from the middle man, and
finally you. In that sequence, the coins are cherry picked and sorted
to filter quality, and pick out some obvious rarities, many times.
Read "A Complete Guide to Uncleaned Coins," by Evan Rankin
The following article provides a few strategies for buying coins at
close to wholesale prices, but it is not easy to cultivate the
necessary relationships with the European or Middle Eastern dealers.
It is also possible to buy wholesale "large lots" at the end of dealer
"Where can I buy large batches of cheap uncleaned coins? I'd like to
get them before they get to eBay."
"Wouldn't everybody prefer to buy wholesale!? Rest assured you are
competing with many other people with the same idea."
"Coin hoards are not found in the U.S., but abroad, and most pass
through several hands before they get to you in the U.S.
"Finders usually deal with nearby dealers in Europe or the Middle East
first. Then the coins sometimes come to major U.S. coin shows to be
sold to U.S. dealers. Some buyers travel regularly to shows in England
and Europe. I have been to minor shows in England where detectorists
had thousands of terrible coins for sale. Over time, you could build
up a relationship with a local and have him ship you material. There
is a lot of trust built up over time between wholesalers and dealers.
Don't think it is easy to simply shortcircuit the usual process. (And,
why do you think buyers who know a good source for wholesale coins
would share their source with you?) It is not that easy to buy a
diamond wholesale either."
"If you persist in wanting to do this, buying groups of lousy coins on
eBay or from websites of European dealers is probably your best way to
buy uncleaned coins if you don't go to major shows. But, be aware that
there are tens or hundreds of uncollectable coins for every really
nice coin found in "uncleaned" batches. You will end up with a lot of
junk, and others who tried this before you will recycle their junk to
you if you are not careful. Reasonable coins can easily cost less than
$5, so why not bid on a group of several pictured coins (say, on eBay)
at some low bid and, if you win, you will have some coins to identify
that you can actually read!"
"Major firms often have "large lots" at the end of their auctions.
These lots are usually sold to dealers, and enough coins are included
to total a few hundred dollars or more. These are true wholesale lots.
They won't usually be uncleaned coins, rather a group of coins of
value too low to be sold individually by firms that sell coins for
$100 each and up. If your goal is to learn to identify coins, some of
these groups would make excellent learning material, because they are
usually lots of identifiable coins.
* "It is not unusual for clearly identifiable, but very common, late
Roman coins to average only $2 - $5 in huge groups. Be aware you would
get lots of duplicates."
"Please do not ask me to tell you which firms do this. Almost all
major firms do this. Get on some of their mailing lists and look at
the end of the ancient coin section. But, if you have not seen the
lot, you may well be outbid by a knowledgeable dealer who is attending
the sale and knows precisely what the lot is really worth."
"I don't do this myself, and people who do usually don't talk about
how they do it. Why would they? Don't you suppose people with twenty
years in the business will protect their sources?"
From "Buying uncleaned ancient coins."
The following questions and answers might be interesting:
The one question I have for the list at this point is: What is the
story with uncleaned batches of coins? What is a reasonable price to
pay? What the heck usually comes in such a batch? If I were to buy a
batch, should I just consider it a good way to learn to attribute
coins, or is there a chance I'm really going to get something
Also see more information on the following link:
Can you recommend dealers?
My favorite dealer site is vcoins.com , "the on-line coin show" and
ancient-coin shopping mall. Some of the top US dealers have their own
websites. If you want to see superb ancient coins, try Classical
Numismatic Group, Harlan J. Berk, or Edward J. Waddell.
What about eBay auctions?
Many fine ancient coins are sold on eBay. Many terrible coins are sold
on eBay. But, without doubt, eBay is the best of the on-line auction
sites because more sellers sell there and more buyers look there.
However, not all the coin descriptions on eBay are correct. It truly
is "buyer beware." See my linked page for more comments on auctions,
especially traditional auctions."
Here is an example of someone offering a large batch of uncleaned
coins at wholesale prices:
"WHLOLESALE PRICED UNCLEANED ROMAN COIN AUCTION !!! This is a very
special auction as I normally sell these exact uncleaned coins for
$.68 each here on Ebay, but I have been trying some new supplier here
and there to see what is out there and I have ended up with ALOT of
coins that are not good enough to go into our higher end aucitons for
$2.35 each!! So here I am stuck between a rock and a hard spot as I
have over 12,000 of these coins in stock!! There are 1000 of these
coins in the lot for only $600.00, that is only $.60 per coins!! Yes
read that price again as it is an unheard of price for these coins!!
NONE of these coins will be holed or bent!!
See the Hunting for Treasure site
These are VERY hard to find ancient Jewish uncleaned coins. They have
come from a supplier we have in Jerusalem and are 100% authentic.
Other ways to buy them cheaper!
Uncleaned bulk lots:
"Hoards of ancient coins are always being discovered by metal
detectorists in Europe and Asia. Bulk lots of these coins can be
purchased easily on the internet for $0.90 - $3.00 each. These lots
are generally 98% bronze coins, but the occasional silver coin will
slip through. Some internet dealers will claim gold coins have been
found in their lots. If not a complete falsehood, it is likely that
inexperienced collectors are mistaking their over polished brass coins
for gold. These lots are generally picked over at the source for all
silver, gold and other rare coins. However, scarce and rare bronze
coins do regularly show up in these lots. The catch, of course, is the
dirt that they are still encrusted in must be removed."
Common bulk lots:
"Common ancient coins can often be purchased in bulk. The coins are
generally of average quality and can include cheaper bronze coins up
to pricier gold coins. When bought in bulk, average quality common
bronze coins can often be had for as little as $5.00 each, silver for
$15.00 each and gold for little more than $100.00 each. These are
usually wholesale lots from dealers who are looking to quickly sell
large quantities of coins that may be difficult to sell individually."
Dealer Pick Bins:
"Dealers who set up at shows generally have bins of ancient coins that
the customer may pick through for a certain amount per coin, depending
on the type. These are often the result of the dealer having recently
purchased one of the above common bulk lots. They can charge a markup
because the customer has control over which pieces he or she
purchases, instead of an "all or none" type of scenario. This is an
excellent way to fill in holes in a collection with common types. The
experienced collector can sometimes pick rare pieces from these pick
bins because the dealer didn't take the time to look closely."
"Ebay and Yahoo both provide excellent opportunities for new and
experienced collectors to add to their collections. Many dealers have
private online auctions hosted on their websites. One usually has to
register ahead of time before participating in these types of
auctions. In general, prices for ancient coins are significantly lower
for internet transactions than for mail-bid catalogs, shows and live
auctions. Online auctions are also excellent sources for uncleaned
From "ANCIENT POCKETCHANGE," by Josh Moran
Example of an Ebay auction:
"Buy uncleaned roman coins from source directly!"
I think these articles provide you with several strategies for
locating coins at close to wholesale prices.
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