Monday, 10 February 2014

Why Collect Coins?

So why collect coins? Answer is simple really. Coin Collectors, sometimes called Numismatists, enjoy collecting coins on various levels. Some collect coins for their rarity, some collect coins in the hope that one day their collection will be worth a value. Some just do it for the sure pleasure of having a hobby that is easy to do.

Doing a little research and starting off small is the greatest way to get started in this hobby. Learn all you can about coin collecting basics. There are many Coin collecting books and websites (like this one) out there, that will try to put a clearer understanding of what coin collecting is all about, and we are here to teach you what you need to know about coin collecting.

Coins have a history about them, when they were struck, why was the design chosen for that time period. There are no reasons etched in stone that says you have to collect coins in any particular way. You collect the way you want to, if you want to only collect pennies, then only collect pennies, if you want to collect complete sets of each of the denominations of coins, then do that, or you can just collect the coins that interest you. You decide what, when, and how to collect.

 Coin collecting basics is this, start small. Decide what types of coins you would like to collect. What would you like your collection to consist of? Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, Quarters, Half-Dollars, Dollars, Gold, Silver, Paper Money. It doesn't matter. Maybe you want to just collect coins from a certain time period that interest you.

Whatever your decision, stick with it and work to completing your collection. Also remember that coins that were struck at different places have different mint marks. A mint mark is a letter that tells us where the coin was struck. Each of the coins that you wish to collect will have different mint marks. To complete a set you will want to have each of the mint marks for that coin.

Subscribe to a coin magazine, Coin World is a good one. They have a wealth of knowledge pertaining to collecting coins. Also visit a local coin dealer, not only will you be able to look at a variety of coins that the dealer will be selling, they also can answer questions that you may have, they are there to help you build and understand coin collecting basics. Use that to your advantage.

I guess you will need a nice place to put your newly acquired coins. Find yourself a coin folder to display your coins. And once you get into the hobby more you can get some coin sleeves to house your collection and store them the way you would want. The possibilities are endless with coin collecting, and learning coin collecting basics is the first real step in the progression of building a great coin collection.

Monday, 27 January 2014

How do I sell my Coin Collection?

So, you feel it is time to sell your long-time coin collection, or you have inherited a collection and you know nothing about coins and you want to sell them. As with the sale of anything, you want to make sure you get a fair price. Sounds simple enough, right? In the area of numismatics, when the time comes to sell, offers for your collection can vary greatly. The following tips will help guide you to getting a fair and reasonable offer. I will talk more on the term "reasonable" a little bit later. Coin Dealers, like any other profession, number in the thousands. From part-time single person businesses to huge companies that buy and sell millions of dollars worth of coins annually. And like other professions and industries, we have a few crooks. By following the general tips in this article, you should be in a better position to realize your collections value. So here we go!

First and foremost, you need to know what you have. Why? If you do not know what you have, how do you know you are getting fair value? If you have thousands and thousands of wheat cents, I am not saying you need to inventory them all. In fact, it may not be worth your time. The chances of finding a key coin are slim at best. But you should know how many pennies you have. How? Simply weigh them. Wheat pennies come to about 148 pennies per pound. The same rule can apply to other common coins such as pre 1965 Roosevelt Dimes and Washington quarters. For the rest of your collection, you may want to count the number of each piece. Make sure you have a complete list of your collection.

OK, time to contact a dealer? No, not yet. How do you know you are getting an honest one? Before contacting a dealer, you need to do some homework. Does the dealer belong to any organizations and clubs such as ANA or BBB? How long has s/he been in business? What is their reputation? Check out a couple of dealers before you make that call. Also, just because they advertise in a major coin collecting publication, does not make them honest. I know of one dealer who advertises in a major publication and sells cleaned coins as BU/Unc originals. Most novice collectors would not know the difference.

Now that you have done some research, it is time to contact the dealer. This can be done in many ways. You can give them a call or if you are the shy type, just send them an email. In your email, identify yourself and that you have a collection for sale. Include in the email the inventory you completed. This may come as a shock to many, but some dealers will NOT want your collection. Many dealers specialize in certain types or series, or just may have too many coins in their inventory. If your collection is an average collection of common coins, you may be disappointed to learn that many, if not all of the big dealers simply do not want to bother with you. It is too time consuming to sort the common collections and the margins are too small. Do not fret, all is not lost. Many smaller dealers will welcome the chance to obtain your collection. Many of these dealers work in mail-order only and may have only email or a PO Box as contact information. While they may appear shady, these folks generally are quite reputable. As before, contact the dealer and ask if they are interested. If they are not, just move on to the next dealer. If they are, ask them for their "buy price" list. Many dealers will publish a list of what they are willing to pay for certain coins.

After some hard work, you have a couple offers on the table. The offers are not anywhere near what you expected. Remember what I said above about a "reasonable" offer? Here is the painful truth. Coin Dealers are in business to make money. Sure, many of us chose this profession because we love it, but like everybody else, we still have mortgages, car payments, and college for kids, etc. Many people will look in the latest Coin Prices magazine to come up with an idea of what their collection is worth. Magazines such as Coin Prices are really a list of prices of what you can expect to pay a dealer for a specific coin, not what you can expect to get paid. Markups can range from 20-50% or more for smaller denomination coins such as wheat cents. As I mentioned earlier, some dealers just may not want what you have. Also, many, if not all dealers, reserve the right to revise the offer on inspection of the collection. If you think all your Morgan Dollars are BU, but they are really AU, this would make a huge difference in price. Grading is highly subjective. Also, for larger, more diverse collections, a dealer may spend a considerable amount of time reviewing the collection to ensure a fair price.

So, what to do? Take the best offer and run? Maybe, maybe not. If this is an inheritance, and you have no emotional attachment, you can just sell and never look back. If this is your collection of 50 years, well this may be painful. You can continue to contact different dealers and wait for a better offer. If you feel your collection is really worth more, you can always consign it for auction. With some of the fees the major auction firms charge, it may not be worth it. You can also try your hand at eBay but unless you have a strong feedback profile, many buyers will not bid on your items. You can also locate eBay members who will auction off your collection for you for a percentage of the take. Sometimes this works out well and sometimes not.

For now, lets assume you have a reasonable offer and you decide to sell. By the way, this should be a written offer sent via the mail or sent via email. Many times, the buyer may be located in another city/state. No buyer will send you a check until they have seen the collection. If the collection is large enough (many, many thousands of dollars), some buyers will come to you. If not, your very viable option is to send the collection to the buyer via mail. Yes, that is right, via the mail. Wait you say, that sounds risky. It can be, but if you take precautions, you will have no problems. First, package the collection up very well. Make sure there are NO LOOSE coins jingling around. The sound of jingling coins is music to a thiefs ear. So be sure to wrap them up well and tight. When sending via the mail, the USPS is fairly safe. Usually, you will want to use USPS Priority Mail. Contact your local post office as you can usually get free boxes. Generally, you will want to use the Flat Rate options as you can ship up to 70 pounds for under $10.00 (not including insurance), but ask your local postal clerk for options. For your protection, you MUST insure your package and pay for delivery conformation. Include in your package an itemized list. Most dealers will appreciate this as they will audit the shipment to the list. If all is well, you can expect a check in the mail in no time.

In summary, here are the tips

1. Know what you have, prepare a comprehensive inventory 2. Research some dealers before you contact one. 3. Talk to dealers before sending coins to gauge interest 4. Send your coins. Package them well and insure them 5. Review the offer 6. Collect the cash!

As always, happy collecting!

Keith Scott has been a collector for over 30 years and owns a small mail-order internet-based coin store.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Coin Collecting - The Top 10 List

An associate of mine remembers receiving as a child a big paper bag of old US silver dollars, some going back as far as the late 1890s. Sometime between then and today he has misplaced that old paper bag. To this day he wonders if any of those coins might have been worth something.

There is no arguing that coin collecting is one of the biggest and most expensive hobbies in the world. The price tags of some old coins would turn your hair grey. In this article were going to review the 10 most rare coins in existence. Wait until you see what some of these are going for.

Starting at number 10, there are the "proof gold" coins. Today the mint strikes millions of these coins every year and sells them to collectors from all over the world. However in the 19th century the mint struck only a few thousand of these each year and only a handful of proof gold coins. These are very rare and very expensive and sell very well in good and bad market times.

At number 9 we have early US gold coins struck between 1795 and 1834. These were minted in denominations of $2.50 $5 and $10. Today these coins are very rare in any condition and super rare in mint condition.

Coming in at number 8 we have the Liberty Seated Dollars. These coins are said to be the most beautiful ever made and one of the rarest of the 19th century coins. Both circulation strikes and proofs are very rare.

Hitting the chart at number 7 we have a very odd coin that was minted between 1875 and 1878. These were twenty cent pieces. Unfortunately the coin looked too much like a quarter to catch on with the public and there was no real commercial need for the denomination. Today they are highly prized collectors items. These coins today are very rare in top condition.

Number 6 on the coin hit parade are the Barber half dollars. These were minted between 1892 and 1915. They are one of the coin markets most important issues. They are collected by both "date" and "type" collectors and are the rarest of the 20th century silver type issues. These are very rare coins and to find one in gem condition is a once in a lifetime occurrence.

Midway up the chart at number 5 is the 1917 Type One Standing Liberty Quarter. This coin was made for only 2 years. The exposed breast of Miss Liberty caused such a commotion that they had to radically change the design midway through 1917. Since the 1916 is a 5 figure rarity (in the 10s of thousands of dollars) this coin is essentially a one year issue.

At number 4 are the Mercury Dimes. Even though this dime was minted between 1916 and 1945, proofs were made only between 1936 and 1942. Mercury dimes minted between 1940 and 1945 are actually reasonably priced and sell for about $50 a piece. The proofs are a little more expensive.

Just 2 spots from the top at number 3 is the Walking Liberty half dollar. This is also one of the worlds most beautiful coins and extremely popular with coin buyers. These coins are very hard to find in mint condition. All five of the issues between 1941 and 1945 have made the all time rare coins price list.

Falling just short of number 1 at number 2 is the Texas Commemorative Half Dollar. This is actually the number 1 commemorative coin on the all time rare coins price list. Between 1934 and 1938 about 150,000 of these coins were minted. Only about 60 to 80% of those have survived to this day and only 50% of those grade MS65 or better. So this is indeed not only an extremely rare coin but actually considered scarce.

Finally coming in at number 1 is the Saint Gaudens. This $20 piece is probably the worlds most well known coin. It is one of the most beautiful coin designs in history. This is one of the few coins that didnt drop in price during the 1980-1982 bear market.

In a future article we'll cover how coin collectors go about getting rare coins and where they can be found both on and off line.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

What Is An Un-circulated Coin?

You may have heard the terms proof coin and un-circulated coin, but what's the difference between these two? To understand the difference between a proof and un-circulated coin, let's first answer the question, "What is an un-circulated coin?"

Un-circulated means a coin has not had any wear, such as the wear a coin might experience when it is used in commerce. Handling a coin, as well as improperly storing a coin, can result in wear on the surface of the coin. This wear, even if very minor, will cause a coin to no longer grade un-circulated.

When coins are minted they often bump into each other and receive small nicks and abrasion marks during the production process. These marks also occur as coins are transported in large canvas bags. These marks, sometimes called "bag marks", are more noticeable on larger coins, such as half dollars and dollars. Typical "bag marks" do not keep a coin from grading un-circulated. However, they can be an indicator of how high of a grade the un-circulated coin might receive.

Current accepted grading standards provide for a range of un-circulated grades, from the grade of MS-60 to MS-70. MS60 would be a lower grade (yet still) un-circulated coin with normal bag marks for that type of coin. Anything below MS-60 would not be considered un-circulated. MS70 would be the perfect "ideal" coin. Some coins are rare in grades MS65 to MS70, and even unheard of in MS70 grade. (The attribute "MS" stands for "mint state".)

A newly minted proof coin is also un-circulated, however it is the way it is made that causes a difference in appearance and qualifies it as a "proof". To understand this, let's look at how coins are made. Coins are produced when two dies strike a blank piece of metal with tremendous force. One die is engraved with the front (obverse) design for the coin. The other die has the back (reverse) coin design on it.

A proof coin is made with a specially polished and treated die. By treating the die in a special way, the coins it produces have a different appearance. Modern technology allows the high points on the coin design to be acid treated (on the die). The background (field) design of the coin die is polished, resulting in a mirror-like look on the coin it strikes. This gives the finished coin a frosted look (frosting) on the raised parts of the design, with a mirror like finish on the background.

This contrasting finish is often called "cameo". On some older coins a cameo appearance is quite rare. The attribute "CAM", when added to a coin's description, means cameo appearance. "DCAM" means deep cameo, and indicates the cameo appearance is strong and easy to observe.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

How to clean an old coin

While learning to clean old coins, you should experiment with different techniques to find a method that works best.

As you begin to clean ancient coins, experiment to find methods that work best for you. It will probably take a while to get the process right. The first coins that you clean should be coins that you dont mind ruining. This is part of the learning process.

When cleaning an ancient coin, patience is the key. Work as gently as you can. You goal is to remove dirt and encrustation without damaging the surface of the coin, or the coins patina (a thin, greenish film of corrosion that can build up on oxidized areas of a coin).

There are a variety of tools that you can use to clean a coin. They range from liquid soaks, to tools that you can make at home, to manufacturers brushes of various sizes, to brass tools. When it comes to protecting your coin during cleaning, plastic and wooden tools are best. When a metal tool must be used, use brass, because it is a soft metal. Something to remember about metal tools: never use a metal that is harder than your coin. For example, never apply a steel tool directly to the surface of a coin.

Dental tools, toothpicks, tooth brushes, and straight pins make good tools for cleaning coins. A trip to a hobby store can score you a set of brass tools. Strips of brass can be found at metal supply and hardware stores. You can shave and file these into points and edges that can bed used to get into those tight areas between designs and inscriptions.

When you are ready to work, set up a clean and spacious work area with good lighting. Have on hand a supply of water for rinsing. Before cleaning a coin, submerge it in liquid to soften the encrustation on its surface. In some cases, you may find that soaking alone cleans a coin. Wiping it with a soft rag after you remove it from the soak may be all that you need to restore some of the coins original beauty. Distilled water, lemon juice, calgon water softener, vinegar, baking soda, and olive oil are surprisingly useful.

These methods can remove dirt slowly, and you may have to soak a coin anywhere from a few hours, to a few weeks. To remove olive oil residue from a coin, soak it in Tri-Sodium Phosphate, TSP can be found at paint shops, and home repair stores. Other metal degreasers can be used, but remember to test new substances out on your least valuable coins before applying them to your most valuable coins.

After you have soaked and rinsed your coin in fresh water, gently work with your brushes and small detail tools to clear remaining dirt and encrustation from the surface. If some spots are not lifting, repeat your soaking techniques. If these problem areas still persist, do not try to force them off with a tool. It is better to leave a coin as it is, than to damage it by force.

After you have cleaned your coins, you may want to apply a coin sealer, or a wax polish to preserve the job that youve done. Check the usage labels on these products to make sure that they are compatible with your coins. Look for these supplies in numismatic supply stores, internet stores, or mail order catalogs.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Challenge coin display cases and challenge coins tips

I find it amazing that the interest and popularity of challenge coins and challenge coin displays keeps rising. I get many questions about military challenge coins so I have decided to gather some valuable tips for you.

The most popular challenge coins are navy challenge coins, marine corps challenge coins, army challenge coins, air force challenge coins and police challenge coins. Which one do you prefer?

Challenge coins are more precious than one can imagine - they are usually worth a couple of bucks, but they have a sentimental value no one can evaluate. That's why; you must protect your military challenge coins by using a challenge coin display case.

Buy a challenge coin display that totally answers your needs:

1. One that will make you proud of your challenge coins collection - Some have dozens of challenge coins from navy challenge coins, marine corps challenge coins and army challenge coins to air force challenge coins and police challenge coins. A collection like this could be really impressive.

 2. One that will fully protect your challenge coins - Most of the challenge coin display cases have a plastic capsule for each individual coin.

I find the military challenge coins a bit magical. Did you know that no one can point exactly to when the first challenge coin was made? Some say that the first one is dated to World War 1. Others say that the first military challenge coin is from the Vietnam War.

 I believe that people are just starting now to understand the real value of challenge coins. A good investment would be purchasing as many different challenge coins as you can. They are going to be an expensive collectible item in a few years.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Start Your Own Coin Collection

Coin collections can be prized possessions that can be handed down from generation to generation. There are even coin collections today that can fetch a prize up to hundreds and thousands of dollars. Coin collecting, more importantly, can be a very engaging hobby to follow. Anyone can enjoy collecting things as a hobby. So why not collect something that can appreciate in price as time goes by? That is just one thing that a coin collection can reward its collector. Such a collection can increase in value in time.

People may not be aware of it, but most may have a start of their own coin collection. It is a wonderful hobby worth taking. Coins should not be that hard to collect since there are plenty to go around with. But that is depending on what kind of coins you wish to collect. Regardless of that, a coin collection can be a breeze to start. You might begin with what is easier to obtain in your area. You can collect your own set of good luck coins. Maybe you can add in to that collection a silver dollar, an old Indian token, or a souvenir token. As you keep on collecting, you might find out sometime later that you already have a coin collection before you.

Coin collecting can be a fascinating hobby because each coin reflects stories from the past through its marks. From royalty, great leaders to power and patriotism, each coin provides a history of the place where it was issued. Famous figures from history are forever depicted in each coin so you have an accurate portrayal of how such famous people look like during their own time.

Deciding on what coins to collect will usually depend on the collector. There are no stated rules on what coins you can collect. But there are different methods that you can use to help you in your coin collecting. One method you can use is by collecting a series or a complete set of the coins in a series such as collecting a series of coins issued at a specific date in time. You can also use the shotgun method where you collect coins that have special interest to you. You might also be able to specialize in collecting coins of unusual shapes such as those found on other countries. This might prove to be a more challenging task but it can also be more rewarding for you as you continue on adding to your collection.

There are many ways available for you to be able to start your own coin collection. There are many places where you maybe able to look for coins to start off your own collection. First off, you can check your own pocket for coins that you might have otherwise discarded. You might have traveled to other countries and they might have a lot of interesting coins worth collecting. You can also check out coin shops in your neighborhood for more valuable coins that you may want to add into your own collection. But be prepared to dish out some cash for some coins that you might want to acquire.

Coin shows also offer you another venue where you may be able to check out a wide selection of coins from dealers from all over. You might also be able to meet up with other coin collectors and build many friendships along the way. You can also ask the help from your friends and family for a coin or two that they might have. Even flea markets provide you with a great place to look for valuable coins at a bargain price. But you might need a good eye to look for such coins.