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I'm new to numismatics and I want to know if this is normal behavior from a dealer, if I did something wrong, or if I just need to take my business elsewhere.

I went to a reputable local dealer who has been in business for 25 years or so. I had decided I wanted to start a period collection from 1850-1860. The best large cent they had for that date range was a house-graded AU-50 from 1850. I looked at it closely, paid the sticker price, and left.

Three weeks later, I did some more research and realized that if I want to start a serious collection, I need to start with MS-60 coins at a minimum. I decided to cut my losses with the coin and sell it back to the dealer, explaining this exact scenario.

The dealer said he didn't recognize the coin. To my horror, he opened up the plastic case and handled it with his bare hands. I was asked if I had a reciept and which person sold it to me. I was asked if I did anything to it, and I said that I wouldn't even know what to do to a copper coin to alter it, and if I had altered it why would I be willing to sell it back for a loss? I thought the whole point of altering coins was to turn a profit. After about 10 minutes of examining the coin I was offered about 60% of what I had paid and, just wanting to get out of there, I took it and left.

The whole thing was very hostile and from my other 3 trips to the place they seem to be extremely paranoid and untrusting. It's as if they either want me to buy something RIGHT NOW or leave, especially when I flip through their books and don't find anything I like - I browsed a little while they were looking at my coin and they don't have MS-60 or better for anything in my desired time period. I think they expect me to have "pulled a fast one" on them and never return, but the truth is they probably just lost a customer with their hostile attitude. Their prices were all 10-20% or so above book value anyway.

Anywho, for my first real collection piece I ended up grabbing an 1851 trime graded MS-60 by PCGS on ebay for $155. I live in the Baltimore area so I'm going to drop in on the big coin show downtown this weekend to see how other dealers treat their customers and how their prices compare.
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