Coin Collecting Tips

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Can you tell me why US coin collecting is more popular than other markets?

Five Reasons To Get Into US Coin Collecting

If you're wondering what makes US coin collecting stronger than any other market in the world, you can find out here.

1. US coin collecting encompasses many diverse and interesting designs. The United States has over 200 years of coin design behind it. If you're wondering just how successful the US coins are at drawing in new collectors, the new 50 States Quarters Program alone has drawn in millions of new coin collectors into the field.
2. US coin collecting is affordable. Although some US coins can command hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can collect coins without breaking the bank.
3. Commemorative coins make US coin collecting that much more exciting. With a specialty area which covers national events, places, and people, you have many commemorative coins of significance to choose from.
4. There is an active market for US coin collecting. Places to buy, sell, and exchange coins include coin shops, coin shows, and online.
5. Through coin clubs and newsgroups, you have the opportunity to meet with and interact with other coin collectors interested in US coins.

How should I decide which coins I should collect?

Coins to Collect

Deciding which coins to collect can be a matter of personal preference and finances, but there are some key points you should consider. If you want to learn more, read our guidelines to help you decide which coins to collect.

Denomination – The denomination of a coin can be as common as a quarter or as obscure as a three-cent piece. Deciding what you're interested in collecting can help you move in the right direction to collecting the best coins for your collection.

Type – There are a number of types of coins within a given denomination. Types of coins could include the Flowing Hair Half Dollar versus the Walking Liberty Half Dollar or the Draped Bust Half Cent versus the 1793 Half Cent.

Date – Each coin comes out during a given year. You could collect coins during a given year or a Silver Dollar for every year it has been available.

How do I know if a rare Morgan Dollar has been altered?

How To Identify An Altered Morgan Dollar

Sometimes, coins are altered to make it appear to be a more valuable rare coin when it is not. This can be the case with the 1895 Morgan Dollar. There are no known business strikes of the 1895 Morgan Dollar, but there are proof versions. A business strike is a coin struck by the US Mint intended for general circulation. However, sometimes, a business strike of the 1895 Morgan Dollar will be offered for sale. A proof version of the 1895 Morgan Dollar can go for $25,000.

Will fellow coin collectors help me as a beginner?

Newbie vs. Experienced Coin Collectors

Remember the first time you went online, or even further back, the first day of school? For some of you, both may have happened the same day. You felt nervous, excited, afraid no one would like you. Add to that the anxiety that someone may swindle you, and you think you'd be better off collecting butterflies, because they're in your stomach!

Not to worry. Most experienced coin collectors have a love of coin and currency collecting. They also are willing to help novice coin collectors or newbies.

Signs you've been unfortunate enough to run into unscrupulous coin collectors:

o They're not interested in talking to you, only pressuring you to buy their coins or sell yours, usually at a ridiculously high or low price, respectively.
o They won't answer any questions, or make you feel stupid for asking what a BU is or what the difference is between a Mercury dime and a Barber dime.
o They refuse to provide any information that could help you because they want to "beat" you in coin collecting.
o You suspect they might be giving you false information.

Talk to other coin collectors about this person. Helpful coin collectors will steer you away from hucksters.

Now you're ready to mix and mingle in the world of coin and currency collecting, and it feels better than the first day of don't have to worry about Play-doh fights and fashion faux pas!

How do I protect my coins?

Protecting Coin Collections

Your coin collections are the envy of the neighborhood. After all, you're not the Home Depot type, so you have to have something to show off. But you might want to invest in a fire alarm system or you could have a serious setback in coin collecting if a fire breaks out.

Less destructive or catastrophic woes of coin collectors include preserving coin collections from wear and tear. Here's a partial list of protective measures:

* Packets of silica gel for storage measures
* Safe or, for extra insurance, safety-deposit box
* Bags, jars and boxes for circulated bullion
* Folder albums for series as well as type sets
* Plastic sleeves, "flips" or cardboards
* Plastic "slabs" for rare or valuable coins
* Velvet pad for examining coins
* PO Box for receiving all coin collecting correspondence or orders
* Separate policy insuring coins against theft or fire (most standard policies don't cover coin collections)
* Trusted friends and fellow coin collectors who won't blab about your coins

After all, while you're happy to enlarge the bathroom, you have no desire to be the next Trading Spaces guest--so protect your coins.

How can kids get started in coin collecting?

Kids and Coins

It's never too early, in a world that tries to sell kids everything, to help them understand the value of money. A great and fun way is to introduce your kids to coin collecting. Junior coin collectors have been discovering the joys of coins for years. The Canadian Numismatic Association sponsors the Kids on Coins program.

As with anything else your children enjoy, coin collections will probably overwhelm your house, but it's a hobby you can get interested in too. You can take the opportunity to talk to your kids about investing, the history of money, and encourage them to put away part of their allowances and/or pocket money if your six-year-old operates a lemonade stand or your teen has a part-time job. Some kid-friendly coin collecting tips:

o Encourage your kids to learn as much as possible about coin and currency collecting. The COIN COLLECTING FOR KIDS book, a 2000 Parents' Choice Award Winner, introduces kids to coin collecting, with slots for all 50 statehood coins.
o Help kids make decisions about buying coins. They may not be able to afford a valuable Golden Eagle right away, but kids have been resourceful in saving their money.
o Use the Susan B. Anthony Dollar and the Kennedy Half-Dollar to teach kids about history.
o Sometimes you don't have to look farther than that jar of change your uncle gave you. Start a "treasure hunt" and encourage kids to pick their favorite coins, or find an Indian head penny.

With digital pets and ever more sophisticated robots, coins might take a back seat at first, but kids like the idea of doing something adult, and your enthusiasm will make coin collecting an invaluable family pastime.

How can I avoid spending too much money when buying a proof set from an older year?

Save Money By Buying Your Proof Set Direct

One way to save your pocketbook some money is by making your purchase directly from the U.S. Mint if you're buying the current proof set year. Otherwise, when you miss out buying while supplies are plentiful, you'll often have to contend with paying higher prices. To keep from overpaying if you've missed the boat on buying a proof set from the U.S. Mint, wait a while until the demand drops and the market stabilizes. You may have to sit it out a few months, but it could be worth it to do so.

Can you tell me some facts about collecting quarters?

Some Facts On Collecting Quarters

Collecting quarters is an excellent way to own a piece of US history. US quarters came on the scene in 1796 when Eight Reales, the Spanish colonial coin, was used throughout America. Since its debut, there have been six types of quarters produced. To find out some facts on collecting quarters, take a look at our handy list.

  • The six types of US quarters you can collect include the following: Draped Bust (1796-1807), Capped Bust (1815-1838), Seated Liberty (1838-1891), Barber (1892-1916), Standing Liberty (1916-1930), and Washington Head (1932-present).
  • If you're looking for quarter by type, the main versions are all fairly easy to obtain. The Draped Bust and Capped Bust Quarter Dollars can be very difficult to find. The more common Washington Head version of the Quarter Dollars has some interesting varieties like double dies for 1934, 1942-D, 1943, and 1943-S.
  • Costs for Quarter Dollars vary. Collecting quarters will give you a wide range of price types to choose from. You might pay just $1.50 for a minted 1960 Washington Quarter in good condition, but expect to pay $14,400 for a very fine condition minted Liberty Head circa 1901.

What are some good ways to get more involved with coin collecting?

Getting Involved With Coin Collecting

Whether you're just starting out in the world of coin collecting or looking to get more involved, finding additional resources and like-minded folks will enrich your experience. There are several ways you can meet other coin collectors and learn more information.

1. Join a local coin collecting club in your area.
2. Visit coin shops in your area to browse and talk shop with the dealers. Find a reputable one affiliated with a coin dealer organization.
3. Go to a coin show in your area where you can interact with numerous dealers, coin collectors, and have the opportunity to view coins firsthand.
4. Attend a summer seminar given by the American Numismatic Association. They offer weeklong courses on subjects like coin grading, photography, and detecting counterfeit coins.

What are some of the going prices for mint sets?

Mint Set Prices

The mint set was first introduced in 1947. Through the issue year 1958, packages included two examples of a particular coin. From 1959 on, a mint set only contained one version of each coin. Prices of mint sets issued throughout the years will vary. We've compiled a list to give you an idea of what price you could expect to pay for an official mint set from a given year.

1947 - $1,150
1957 - $250
1967 – $18
1977 – $6
1987 – $6
1997 – $30
2006 - $17

Are there any benefits to coin collecting?

Four Reasons To Collect Coins

Coin collecting as a hobby grew in popularity during the 1930's when commemorative coins became accessible to the American public. Today, according to the US Mint, there are millions of coin collectors throughout the United States. If you are considering a worthwhile hobby, here are four reasons why you should consider collecting coins.

1. Coins have a rich history and collecting coins gives you a glimpse into another era.
2. Coins may appreciate in value or have intrinsic value. Rare coins may be worth a great deal.
3. Collecting coins allows you to interact with a thriving community of coin enthusiasts.

I might like to become a coin dealer, how do I do it?

From Collector to Dealer

Cue "The Apprentice" theme song. Money, money, money...You're a coin collector and an entrepreneur. Like Donald Trump, you also have hair that doesn't move.

A penchant for coin collecting may lead to a lucrative career. Many coin dealers started out as coin collectors. They have a passion for coin and currency collecting and a respect for the coin collector. "The Donald" might have begun this way, had he been a coin collector.

Your financial empire might not span the globe, but as a coin dealer you can pursue your love of rare, old, and new coins. Looking for some coin career guides to the art of the deal? Here are some coin collecting tips:

* It's a good idea to be a member of ANACS and the other coin certification/authentication organizations. You keep current on which coins are genuine, and you inspire confidence in buyers.
* As with any other business, develop a business and marketing plan, but count on the loyalty of coin collectors.
* You might consider specializing in particular coins, e.g. British coins, modern coins, specialty coins, Colonial coin collections. This is good advice for beginning and advanced coin collectors as well, since it can save beginners time and money as well as help old coin collecting hands increase their ROI.
* Become a member of the American Numismatic Association--you can stay current on coin trends and establish yourself as a reputable dealer.
* Offer appraisal and grading services, but back up your appraisals with data from the ANA or ANACS (note: ANACS doesn't appraise coins.)
* Take Accugrade's course, "How To Become A Coin Dealer The Professional and Ethical Way," or a similar course.

Establish yourself as a coin dealer, and who knows, The Donald just may come knocking on your door, thankfully not with the words, "You're fired."

Should I collect coins on EBay or start out with an online dealer?

I Bought It on eBay

You've seen the ads. Most likely you've thought of bidding on that grilled cheese sandwich with the Virgin Mary's image. You decided against it because you wanted to see how much your old coins were worth, or you see it as a new wave in coin and currency collecting.

If you're a beginner, it might be wise to look at coins from an online dealer rather than bidding on eBay. This is not to say you don't have sense--after all, you avoided temptation with the grilled cheese Virgin Mary. It's simply that, like many hobbies, coin collecting is a contact sport. You need to see and feel the coins.

Many coin collectors do consult eBay to see what their coins are going for, and several online merchants auction off coin collections on eBay.

A searched "seated bust coin" produced two independent items and one from eBay Shops. The eBay Shops merchant is the Old Curio Shop, selling circulated a coin collection--however, note that the coin collection is uncertified, so if certification of value matters to you, get any coin collections you buy certified.

Another item is the Mixed Coin Collection/Capped Bust/Seated/V-Nick full of old coins--including 1943 steel cents. So how do you bid on an item? What if the bid seems too high?

You must decide if the starting bid or minimum bid is less than the value of the coins. Do your research. An individual seller may not know the true worth of the coins--which can be subjective. You could decide that those Colonial coins with holes aren't as valuable as the seller says.

If you're a seller, have all your coins appraised before writing your product description--but don't price yourself out of the market. Consider selling valuable coins by themselves, since a serious coin collector can afford a higher price ($1,975 for a 1795 draped bust silver dollar) than a beginner. Tailor your product descriptions to the serious collector for rare coins, or try to entice beginners with the thought of getting great coins inexpensively.

After all, coins are a better investment than buying that Jay Leno likeness potato chip!

How do I find other coin collectors?

Finding Other Coin Collectors

No one in your family shares your obsession with coin and currency collecting. You're responsible, stable, just happen to knock people aside to get to that rare doubloon or German Euro with Einstein's portrait. How do you meet other coin collectors? Here are some coin collecting tips on some places to meet the numismatically minded:

o Coin shows
o Coin and stamp clubs
o Coin shops
o Online coin collecting newsgroups (remember: never give out your personal information, Social Security number or credit card number, to anyone online.)
o Estate sales and auctions

You can bond with people who are as devoted to coin collecting and coin collections as you. You'll make friends, enhance your collection, and stop going on and on at dinner about coins. That way, your husband or wife can discourse endlessly about that Beanie Babies/sports memorabilia/doll collection. Just be thankful you have a coin collectors' sanctuary with your pals.

How do I get my coins certified?

Certified Coins

You didn't mean to make the coin dealer prick her thumb to guarantee that your Walking Liberty coin is valuable. But you take coin and currency collecting seriously. How can a coin collector protect herself? Have your coins certified, also known as authentication. That way, you'll know if you should let that Walking Liberty take a walk. Reputable dealers sell authenticated and certified coins.

How do you get your coins certified? Several organizations will tell you whether that King George III shilling is the real deal:

* ANACS, (NOTE: they do not do appraisals of coin collections)
* ASA-Accugrade, (reportedly offer coin collectors the lowest prices in the industry)
* David R. Sear Ancient Coin Certification Service,
* Professional Coin Grading Service, (offers a population report of certified coins)
* Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, (official coin grading service of the Professional Numismatists Guild)
* Professional Numismatists Guild,

Just make sure you choose an established organization (PNG and PCGS are the gold standard) rather than one you find in the phone book or the fifth page of Google search results.

Certification is the best friend of the coin collector. It will also keep coin dealers from having to donate blood every time you suspect the authenticity of a coin.

Is coin jewelry a great coin collecting investment?

Collecting Coin Jewelry

Ancient women wore jewelry made out of coins. You, as a fashionable coin collector, want to continue an ancient trend. But won't that ruin your coin collections? Not if you don't intend to sell them, at least not right away.

Coin jewelry is a fashionable twist in coin and currency collecting. Most coin jewelry is gold, such as a 20 francs Gold Necklace or 1/10th oz Gold Panda Necklace. If you intend to wear them, here are some tips on care should you decide you want to sell your necklace coin collections.

--Cleaning coins is still a no-no, especially with harsh chemicals. If you must, use olive oil or rubbing alcohol.
--You can clean the chain with normal jewelry cleaner.
--Store coin jewelry in plastic sleeves or protective casing. Keep your jewelry coin collections separate from other jewelry.

It feels great to be part of a classical trend. This way, you can combine your favorite hobbies: coins and jewelry.

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Guru Spotlight
Patricia Walters-Fischer