Rare Coins Tips

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What extremely rare US coins are good, affordable investments?

Investing in Rare US Coins

Are you tuning out the "rare US coins are a good investment" lecture yet? You probably do the same to those male enhancement drug commercials. The difference is, rare coins last longer, and they don't have the dangerous side effects, or the annoying spam e-mail solicitations. So ignore the "Let the dance begin" and listen to our list of extremely rare US coin choices.

* Liberty Cap Left-Facing Half Cents 1793 Regular Strikes--Bent Cap, Bunch Leaves, may be worth as much as $125,000 MS-65
* Liberty Cap Right-Facing Half Cents 1794-1797 Regular Strikes--1797 Lettered Edge, may be worth $11,000 Very Fine
* For the collector on a budget: Liberty Cap Right-Facing Half Cents 1794-1797 Regular Strikes--1797 Plain Edge, $425 Good
* 1793 Chain Cents (the first US coin, a rare American coin) with interlocking circular chain on the reverse--very few perfect coins survive, may be worth $7,500 with the word "America" and $8,500 with the word "Ameri," Good grade
* Standing Liberty Coins, 1916-1924, made of 90 percent silver--1918/7-S is worth $1650 Good, $160,000 MS-66

When arriving at a rare coin value for your rare coins, be sure to factor in today's silver prices, just as you would for gold coins.

Also, don't be afraid to buy rare coins in less than Uncirculated or Mint State. Everyone expects some wear and tear on a rare American coin.

Don't tune out conversations about rare coins, but when someone starts discussing Viagra, change the subject. Your audience will thank you.

Are wooden nickels really worthless?

Wooden Rare Coins

"It's worth as much as a wooden nickel." Is that old chestnut true? And if you step on a crack, will your mother have to have back surgery? Don't test the sidewalk theory, but don't believe stories about wooden nickel rare coins being worthless.

For starters, the Congo has produced a 5-franc 2005 wooden rare coin, the first national coin ever made out of maple wood. The coin depicts a gorilla and draws attention to the endangered gorilla population. The motto on the obverse is "Protection d'Animaux" or Protection of Animals. One dealer sells it for $24.50. But will it be worth its weight in wood, which can decay faster than metal (think termites)?

In 1931, cities in the state of Washington issued wooden coins when their money failed thanks to the Depression. Wooden nickels have been made in later years and in different places. A set of three wooden nickels from Clarksdale, Mississippi is going for $52.89 on eBay. Those "Support Our Troops" wooden nickel rare US coin produced today may be collectible. Clearly, to a collector, a wooden nickel rare coin value can be more than the coin's five cent face value.

But we still wouldn't recommend risking Mom's back to disprove a superstition.

What is the rarest US coin and what's it worth?

The Rarest US Coin

Collecting rare coins is addictive. You'd sell your right arm for the 1804 "King of Siam" US dollar. Your sister says she'd sell your mother, but you've always been the good child. But don't put up that eBay listing under "Weird Stuff" just yet. The 1870 Richmond Seated Liberty Dollar is said to be the rarest US coin, graded at PNG and PCGS at MS-62 for weak strikes on Liberty's head. It may have a value of $690,000.

You're just now rethinking selling Mom. She does, after all, burn the roast and lecture you about getting married. But you wouldn't sell her. On the other hand, your Dad wears those plaid golf pants and hair plugs.

Don't be in a rush to auction off your flesh and blood. There were historically only nine Richmond Seated Liberty Dollars. Most Seated Dollar rare American coin specimens are from different dates, and with coin dealers, you may not get to choose the date of your coveted rare coin. Also, many dealers sell US rare coins as "type," because you can't find affordable examples of, say, the 1870 Richmond rare American coin. You can be happy with any Seated Dollar rare US coin, since other collectors avidly seek them.

So you don't need to sell Mom, Dad or your right arm. You can now enjoy your rare coin with less guilt at Thanksgiving dinner...and pull that wishbone with your right arm!

How do I invest in ancient rare coins?

Investing in Ancient Rare Coins

You're tired of trying to predict what sectors will be hot. Buy oil. Don't buy oil. Buy tech. Steer clear of tech. Pharmaceuticals are cyclical. Buy retail stocks. Time to get back to the classic fundamentals. Youll invest in Biblical, Chinese and Medieval rare coins.

Some cautions before you abandon days of squinting at mutual fund figures for days of examining rare denarii. Rare coins can allow you to reap mucho dinero. They can also be tricky. Some rare coin road rules:

* The value of money isn't only the metal or paper, it's how readily accepted the money is. Very few places will accept a Byzantine rare coin with Justinian's picture if you're in a bind, whereas you can still sell an Australian Lunar coin or a Canadian Maple leaf for ready cash--it's all about liquidity.
* Antiquities dealers may be willing to pay a premium for, say, that Widow's Mite Biblical rare coin or that gold Byzantine coin--but check a rare coin value and price guide first.
* Ancient gold and silver rare coins are tied to today's modern metal values. While a collector may pay you for the ancient "worn" look of that Scottish rare coin from William Wallace's era, you still have to consult gold and silver indexes.
* All investments carry a degree of risk. Decide how much you can absorb.
* As CNBC's James J. Cramer says, "Diversification is the only free lunch." Devote only a small part of your investing efforts to rare coins.

It's a good idea to bank on blue chips and well-known investments. After all, everyone talks about Oracle, Intel, Black and Decker, Valero, and Microsoft, but no one ever says, "What are rare Celtic coins doing today?"

I like to collect rare German coins, what are they worth?

Value of Rare German Coins

You know enough (or let's hope so) that if you collect Nazi or SS memorabilia, you may draw some criticism. While we can never forget the Holocaust, a rare coin value should take a back seat to sensitivity.

Luckily, you can skip protests by buying the Prussian gold rare coin "Wilhelm II" 20 Mark piece. This was the coin Germany printed during their recession when paper Mark currency became worthless. The recession led to a nasty period of potential world domination and ethnic cleansing, but you're safe collecting the pre-Hitler rare coins. In addition to the collector's value, you add the rare coin value of 0.2304 troy ounce multiplied by today's gold prices. That's $101 before dealer's mark-up.

If you're determined not to forget the horrors of World War II, remember that the Third Reich didn't mint any silver coins after 1939, so any silver coins dated from the 1940s are as phony as people who claim the Holocaust never happened. We know of a 1936-1939 Reichsmark Hindenburg/Swastika selling for $9.50, but remembering the horrors of tyranny is priceless. You might want to buy a rare Tripoli Raymond III coin or a modern Israeli statehood coin just to balance out your collection.

Can I collect rare coins made of clay and what are they worth?

Feet, er, Coins of Clay

Clay isn't on any major stock index, but you love clay. Modeling clay, the movie "Clay Pigeons," Cassius Clay, and of course, Clay Aiken. So you wonder how valuable a rare coin of clay would be. What would be the rare coin value of something you can't track on the Gold Index?

At the end of World War II, Japan produced a sen coin with Mount Fuji on one side and a flower on the other. This Japan rare coin had a limited run and is scarce, whether you're buying a brown clay rare coin or a red clay rare coin. One site we know sells brown and red clay coins for $19.75 and $18.75, respectively. Another opinion (from the CoinSite's Coin Doc) says that the sen rare coin brings $5 in the marketplace.

For World War II history buffs and Japanophiles, a clay sen rare coin may be worth a pretty US penny. On the other hand, since you adore clay and keep the clay ashtray your niece made, you may want to hang on to that Japanese clay rare coin.

How do I buy rare American tokens?

Rare American Tokens

As a token of your affection, you've given your coin-loving sweetie a rare American token. But is your gift a good one?

Unlike your arcade tokens and subway tokens, American tokens can be collectible rare coins. What is the rare coin value of an American token and what should you collect?

* World War II Ration Tokens--food and necessities ration tokens, a set is selling for $4.99 on eBay.
* Patriotic Civil War Tokens with slogans such as "Army & Navy," "Win the War" or "Live and Let Live"--and 1864 token is sellign for $88.00 on eBay.
* Southern Civil War tokens--one is selling on eBay for $484.
* Old rare bus and train tokens.
* Colonial half-penny tokens--a 1794 specimen has attracted a bid of $34.99 on eBay

You can buy tokens from rare coin dealers, eBay, and at coin shows.
Tokens are usually made of brass or bronze, and a token rare coin value won't fluctuate, unlike gold and silver rare coins. While a token isn't the most valuable rare American coin, your numismatist sweetheart will appreciate your token of affection.

How do I know what ancient rare coins are truly valuable?

Rare Valuable Ancient Coin Values

People joke that you remember the flood and Noah's ark. In that case, you should be able to remember what ancient coins are worth. But hey, it's been millenia. Besides, after buying all those animals, two of everything, you're broke. What ancient and rare coins will be valuable to a rare coin buyer on a budget?

Surprisingly, an ancient Greek rare coin value doesn't translate into a holy catastrophe. A Perseus 179-168 B.C 17 mm VF, nice green patina is affordable at $35, particularly since, like all ancient rare coins, it has chips and less-than-sharp strikes, but that only adds to its desirability. An ancient rare coin should look ancient.

On the other hand, if you're considering an Egyptian gold Octadrachm, someone may have tried to golden fleece you while you counted the animals two by two. These are replicas and not worth the $375 of a Meredates AE Tetradrachm in Very Fine condition.

Ancient coins should not look like new, since part of the value of ancient rare coins is that, well, they look ancient. Consult a qualified antiquities or ancient coin dealer if you're not sure of the value of your ancient coins.

After all, your brain is a bit waterlogged from that flood.

I'm a Civil War buff, can I collect Confederate coins?

Confederate Rare US Coins

Although you're a Yank with a Union souvenir flag from Gettysburg, you're also a coin collector, and hey, the Old South was great. You've watched "Gone With the Wind" a million times and read the book twice as often. You want to collect Confederate coins.

Fiddle-de-dee! The Confederacy didn't make circulating coins. Dies were made for a Confederate cent, but only twelve were made, numismatists say. At the New Orleans Mint, half dollar rare coins were made with a Union obverse and a Confederate reverse. There have been restrikes, because the glory of the Old South will never fade.

What's the rare coin value of a Confederate half dollar? One source says $5,000 in uncirculated condition--remember to adjust for Yankee metal price fluctuations. The Confederate cent rare American coin, made of copper and nickel, can fetch $30,000, although some sources say the original coins and copper restrikes are worth $200. That ought to pay the taxes on Tara! As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry for rare coins again!

Note that true Confederate half dollars have a die break between Miss Liberty's nose and the rim. Coins made from dies 1861 and later are genuine Confederate coins.

Frankly, Scarlett, I do give a damn after all! Especially when it comes to history and collecting the rare American coin.

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Barbara Gibson