As a Indian Cent variety expert, I usually am usually shown
great varieties that some other collector found or cherrypicked. I
usually don't find them myself. There are very few instances where
a rare coin lays waiting for anyone to come by and buy it well
below its true value.
In early October, 2012, I had a spare moment and dropped in on
eBay and search for auctions that were just listed. The first
auction I spotted was just put up by a dealer of "junk" coins. Here
is his image:
Do you see the rare coin? It is the 1888 Indian cent. Due to the
die break at 9:00 on the edge, I can tell that it is the very rare
1888/7 Snow-1 in VF condition. It is a $10,000 coin!
So, I am all giddy that I discovered this coin. I place a small
bid of $20 on the auction and then go to a "snipe" site and
register an automatic bid for well over $5,000 set to go off 5
seconds prior to the close of the auction. I then spent the next
few days in anxiety waiting for the auction to finish. Would
someone else see it? Quite probably, yes. It might cost me a few
thousand to acquire the coin. What if the owner removed the coin
from sale - perhaps at the instgation of some side-offer? The
chance of getting the coin was 50-50.
On the Sunday afternoon when the auction ended, I was off with
the family out of internet range. When I finally got back to a
town, I looked up the auction - and held my breath.
A few bidders tried to grab it at the end, but the high bid
other than my "snipe" bid was only $46. I got it! After paying
instantly, I waited for days for my prize! On the Monday before
leaving for the Dallas ANA show, it came - first class with
signature confirmation. Clearly a low value package!
The coin was submitted to PCGS at the show and they graded it
VF-35. It sold instantly to another dealer for close to $10,000. It
is the biggest percentage gain I have ever had on a