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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, http://www.anacs.com/ (NOTE: they do not do appraisals of coin collections)
* ASA-Accugrade, http://www.asa-accugrade.com/coins.htm (reportedly offer coin collectors the lowest prices in the industry)
* David R. Sear Ancient Coin Certification Service, http://www.davidrsear.com/
* Professional Coin Grading Service, http://www.pcgs.com/ (offers a population report of certified coins)
* Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, http://www.ngccoin.com/ (official coin grading service of the Professional Numismatists Guild)
* Professional Numismatists Guild, http://www.pngdealers.com/
* ICTA, http://www.ictaonline.org/
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.