In the latest entry into my series of coin dealer reviews, I made a purchase from L&C Coins. They are a major advertiser in coin collecting-related magazines, and they were suggested by a couple of readers, so I watched L&C's ads for a few weeks until I found something I thought I'd like. L&C's big "pitch" is that everything is priced "below wholesale." Of course, anybody who knows the coin market will immediately recognize the retail prices on the majority of their lots, but this advertising tactic must work pretty well with novice collectors and casual coin-magazine readers because the basic appearance of L&C's ads has remained virtually unchanged for the past few years. The ads contain a variety of coin types sold mostly in lots.
For example, in L&C's Coin World ads for the week of Sept. 1 - 7, 2008, they have unsearched 5,000 coin bags of Wheat Cents, "below wholesale," for $325 per bag. In fact, the true wholesale price for unsearched bags of Wheat Cents is actually around $200 (give or take $10.) So, how can L&C so blatantly flout the laws regarding false advertising? My guess is that the basis they use for their wholesale price claim is that if the 5,000 Wheat Cents were sold as single coins, they would fetch more than an average price of 6.5 cents each. This is true; most coin dealers don't sell single Wheat Cents below 8 to 10 cents each. In fact, eBay is loaded with auctions charging about 8 cents each or more for various-sized lots of "unsearched" Wheat Cents. So, looking at it from this perspective, L&C can claim their prices are below wholesale, even though the majority of their prices are nowhere near the market standards for wholesale coins (as determined by the Grey Sheet.)
Regardless of the marketing language, are L&C's lots good buys? This is what I wanted to find out, so I purchased a 200-coin lot of RPM Lincoln Cents for $99 (about 50 cents each), and a 25-roll lot of "almost certainly never searched" BU Jefferson Nickels dated from the 1950's through the 1980's for $175 (which is $7 per roll.) You can see the results of my test buy in my review of L&C Coins.
Have you purchased from L&C Coins? Share your experiences in the Comments section below!