Mark Feld’s Coin Collecting Tips

August 20, 2012

by  Mark Feld (Mark Feld Rare Coins)

Following, in no particular order of subject matter or importance, are my unsolicited comments and advice about coin collecting for collectors – please feel free to contact me at any time if you’d like to discuss any of these topics.

  1. Buy/collect what YOU like. But keep in mind that when it comes time to sell, not everyone else will necessarily like what you did/do.
  2. Examine as many coins as you can which have been certified/graded by the most highly respected grading companies. This can be done at coin shows and in auctions and is a great way to improve upon your grading skills.
  3. The best way to improve your grading ability is to find someone who is highly qualified AND willing to spend time reviewing coins with you. That person can be a dealer or collector, but he needs to be more than just a friend – he needs to be a teacher. Many individuals are “qualified” OR “willing to spend the time”, but few are BOTH.
  4. Don’t keep buying coins without ever selling any of them – learn what it’s like to try to sell, too. Once in a while you should offer one or two of your coins back to the dealers you acquired them from. See how they deal with that type of situation and whether they want to re-acquire those “gems” they sold to you.
  5. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask lots of questions. You and just about everyone else can learn a great deal that way.
  6. Be aware of privacy and security concerns. It might not be fun to do so, but it’s extremely important.
  7.  It’s always good to get a second opinion. Doing so doesn’t make you less knowledgeable, worthy or confident – it simply makes good sense.
  8.  Don’t try to get bargains at the expense of quality and desirability, or you’ll likely end up with sub-par coins which aren’t bargains, anyway.
  9.  Generally, I advise against “investing” in coins. Even if you are very well informed, based upon buy/sell spreads and other factors, the odds are against your success. That said, I understand that many collectors end up spending significant sums of money on their collections and can’t/shouldn’t ignore the financial implications.
  10.  If you are going to “invest”, I’d suggest diversification – not putting too much of your money into one coin or one coin type. I’d also recommend staying away from especially esoteric and/or illiquid and/or currently “hot” items.
  11.  While it is not a pleasant mindset to engage in, think about and plan for how your coins should be disposed of if/when something happens to you. Make your spouse and/or family and/or friends and/or an attorney aware of your wishes. If you have a particular dealer or coin/auction company that should be contacted, have that information recorded, along with costs, sources, purchase dates, etc., of your coins.
  12.  Eye-appeal is hard to ignore, but technical quality shouldn’t be over-looked/compromised.
  13.  If you participate in auctions, whether over the Internet or in person, set your price/bidding limits in advance and stick to them. Auction fever hits many bidders, and almost always to their detriment.
  14.  Find time for other activities that don’t have anything to do with coin collecting. Don’t make coins your whole life – life is too short for that.
  15.  If you are going to stretch to buy a coin, do it for a coin which is truly special and/or virtually irreplaceable, not on an ordinary one. There are far more of the latter than of the former, and there will almost always be other opportunities.
  16.  Don’t talk yourself into buying a coin. If something about it bothers you now, there is an excellent chance it will bother you as much or more later.
  17.  Don’t be lulled or suckered into a false/unrealistic sense of security by the strength of many areas of the market that we have experienced for several years now. There are good markets, and, while some current participants might not have experienced them yet, there are bad markets too – I promise.
  18.  Do not buy rare coins on a sight-unseen basis, regardless of the seller or the images.
  19.  Enjoy our hobby.
  20.  I repeat, enjoy our hobby.

©2004-2012, All Rights Reserved Logo Coin ©2004, American Numismatic Rarities


About Mark Feld:

Numismatics must run in my blood – numismatic pioneer B. Max Mehl was my grandmother’s uncle. In addition to having enjoyed collecting coins as a child, I have been involved in the rare coin industry on a full-time basis since 1979, as follows:

1979-1982: Retail sales and auction consignment coordinator for Steve Ivy Rare Coins
1982-1983: Owner of Mark Feld Rare Coins
1983-1985: Auction consignment coordinator, cataloguer and auctioneer for Heritage Rare Coin Galleries
1985-1987: Buyer for David Hall’s Numismatic Investment Group
1987-1989: Employed by Mark Salzberg (now an owner of NGC) as part of a two man wholesale rare coin business
1989-1991: Owner of Mark Feld Rare Coins
1991-1998: Full time grader at NGC
1998-2004: Employed by Pinnacle Rarities, where I was involved in purchasing, sales and coin descriptions
2004-present: Owner of Mark Feld Rare Coins

The coins I handle and my way of doing things:

Ideally, I would love to have a perfectly balanced inventory featuring many more coin types and grades and to be able to offer something for everyone. However, the realities of the marketplace dictate otherwise.

I buy nice coins when I can find them AND when they are priced realistically. I’m not looking for bargains, but if I settle for sub-par quality and/or pay too much, I will be doing you a disservice. So, as circumstances and opportunities allow, I buy appealing coins at fair prices and then offer them to my customers. That means that sometimes I might have several examples of one type and/or grade of coin, but none of another. At other times the mix may be very different.

I will not offer coins which appear to have been over-dipped or conserved in such a fashion as to make them look obviously unoriginal and/or undesirable.

I strive to be fair and accurate in my descriptions. I generally prefer to err on the side of understating a coin’s attributes and qualities, and prefer that my clients be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed when they receive their coins. If you order a coin from me and upon inspection feel that my description was inaccurate, I will issue a full refund and reimburse you for your return postage.

If you ever have any questions about any of the coins I have listed for sale, please do not hesitate to ask – I am always happy to discuss them.

Visit Mark Feld Rare Coins online at


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