Life as an Ancient Coin Dealer
The greatest benefit of dealing in ancient coins is that this is such a fascinating field. Unlike modern coins, all struck alike on high speed machinery, ancient coins were struck with hammers impacting hand held dies at the rate of one every second or two. This created innumerable variations between individual coins struck from the same dies, and since dies were all engraved by hand, no two ancient coin dies are exactly alike. Every ancient coin is to some extent unique and different.
Offering Greek and Roman coins for sale to collectors is a challenge when approached as a business, not a hobby. A large and costly numismatic library is essential to an ancient coin dealer. That of Classical Coins (http://www.classicalcoins.com) took ten years to acquire, and hasn't yet been fully inventoried, but 1000 titles and $50,000 invested are milestones passed long ago. Another capital intensive aspect of providing ancient coins for sale to collectors is coin inventory. Collectors demand a large selection of attractive ancient coins to choose from. Being extremely value conscious, they then expect bargain prices. There is a constant struggle to maintain an attractive, balanced inventory of nice ancient Greek coins for sale, for example, since many issues sell rapidly while others may take more than a year to find the right collector.
Dealers are essential to the economic cycle of coin collecting. Few collectors give this aspect of their avocation much thought, but dealers are the key to providing attractive coins for acquisition and a market for collections when the time has come to sell. Dealers make the market. They even things out, providing pricing continuity at auction sales in much the same way as stock specialists do on the New York Stock Exchange.
The life of a coin dealer is hard for collectors to visualize. Much painstaking research must be done, in authenticating, attributing and cataloguing coins offered for sale. Homework for acquisitions is equally important, and a dealer who does not pay attention to this will not be in business long. When Classical Coins bids on a coin at an auction, or makes an offer for a collection, the selling price has already been accurately established and as many as a dozen price comparisons per coin may have been involved.
Processing orders is time consuming, painstaking detail work in which absolute accuracy is essential. When an order is received, the coin(s) are first retrieved from the vault. Each order is entered into the accounting system, an invoice is prepared, funds are captured by depositing a check or money order, or billing a credit card, and then the order is packaged and shipped. More than a dozen individual steps occur before the package is taken to the post office. An accountant is a heavy financial burden for a small business, so David fills that role at Classical Coins as well as that of webmaster. The task of developing a major website such as Classical Coins has to be experienced to be believed.