L.S. writes: I need some advice or assistance. I had a MS+++/proof 1867 shield nickel, (no rays). I turned it over to a local coin dealer to have it sent in for grading. I live in Mitchell South Dakota. He suggested that he do me a favor by sending it in for grading. I trusted him. I went away on vacation for two and a half months.
When I came back he gave me back a very bad xf nickel with corrosion and serious dings. Mine was beautiful, gold toned, with full luster and not even the tiniest bag mark. We both looked it over with a ten power when I handed it over. He remarked on the toning and the fact of no marks what-so-ever. Yet he told the police that I had given him a low quality coin.
How can I find out if this coin has been put on the market? I just want to know if you know of anybody that has sold or bought such a coin recently. Or how I can get more information. I gave him the coin in early April. Are there any lists or means of looking. I have been collecting for over 40 years and have never seen a better condition circulation coin. I bought it from a dealer in Germany about ten years ago.
I would appreciate any assistance or advice that you can give me. The police have told me that it is his word against mine. However, the dealer told the police that I gave him a low grade coin. So if I can trace a high grade shield nickel back to this guy I would have him cold. Please help me police our hobby.
Proof is not a grade but a method of manufacturing a special coin for collectors or presentation. This is quite a bit different that an MS (Mint State) coin that was minted for use in commerce. Only 600 1867 “No Rays” Shield nickel proofs were struck but 28,890,500 business strikes were minted.
The dealer’s argument will be that if you are confused over the type and grade of the coin that you have then you can’t take the dealer to task. If you are not experienced enough to have known whether your coin is proof or mint state then the dealer can make the argument that you certainly can’t tell the difference between circulated and mint state grades.
I have no doubt that the dealer has been dishonest but you will have to have some evidence of the condition of the coin that you submitted. Do you have a receipt with a description from the purchase of the nickel? Even if you don’t, here are some things to try:
- If the nickel you brought in to be graded was a circulated low grade coin then an ethical dealer would have advised you NOT to have it graded. Average circulated 1867 “No Rays” Shield nickels are worth from approximately $5 – $20, less than the cost of professional grading. Only uncirculated pieces or proofs without damage are worth grading this particular coin and date. (Values for mint state 1867 “No Rays” Shield nickels ($100 -$500+ and proofs: $250+). I would make this argument to the local police.
- Virtually every dealer belongs to the American Numismatic Association. They are a non-profit, educational institution chartered by The United States Congress more than a century ago. Write, email or call them for assistance. They will help you make a case and can mediate on your behalf. Being expelled from the ANA is not exactly good for business. If this individual is not a member, than you really went to the wrong place.
- You can also speak to the local District Attorney or county clerks office about the possibility of filing a criminal and/or civil complaint. The burden of proof may be satisfied by the above argument.
Sorry you had a problem. Collecting coins is suppose to be fun and sometimes even profitable.