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Category: Tips for New Collectors

7 Ways to Improve Your Coin Collection

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Someone recently asked me a question that I thought was interesting and that merited a detailed response. To paraphrase this question, they basically asked me this: can you tell me some ways that I can improve my collection while spending little or no money?

Are there any actual ways that you can make your collection better without dropping a lot of coin (bad pun intended)? I believe that there are and here are a few that came to mind:

1. Bring Out Your Dead. Every collector has them. Duds. Bad deals. Low end duplicates. You know what I’m talking about: the Dead Zone of your collection. These coins may represent more value than you realize. As an example, I recently had a relatively expensive double eagle in stock that a collector wanted for his set but he had no extra money at the time. I had him send me a list of the dead coins he owned; bullion, generic Saints, Morgan dollar rolls, etc. The value of his “stuff” was considerably more than he realized and he was actually in a nice profit position on his bullion. The choice to trade spillage for one nice, rare coin was easy for him to make. And the good news was that he had enough money left over so that he can actively pursue another neat coin or two.

2. Attribute Your Coins. If you collect series like Bust half dollars or large cents you are probably already a die variety collector and all of your coins are properly attributed. But what if you are a collector of early half eagles and you have never bothered to attribute your coins to Bass-Dannreuther variety numbers? And what if one of your supposedly common half eagles turns out to be a very rare die variety that is worth a 30-50% premium? Seems like a no brainer to me. Even if you collect a series for which there is no standard reference work, it makes sense to examine your coins with a 10x glass and see if anything interesting is happening. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a previously unknown mispunched date or a cool double date that has not been recorded.

3. Invest $500 to $1000 in improving your library. If you collect early gold coins you probably own the Bass Dannreuther book and a few other standard references. But do you own pertinent auction catalogs? It has long been my belief that one of the best uses of your money is a good library. You’ll get more enjoyment out of your coins if you know more about them and there is no better way to learn about a series, especially one that is somewhat obscure, than reading books and catalogs. If you don’t know which books or catalogs to pursue, ask a specialist dealer which ones he refers to or, better yet, contact a numismatic literature dealer and ask for some suggestions.

4. Improve your peripherals. If you are using an old, slow computer you are missing out on the “full experience” when it comes to coins. Not everyone has the luxury of owning a sporty, brand-new computer but with the price of monitors having dropped so considerably in the last few years treat yourself to a 16 inch or 18 inch flat screen monitor. It’s just a few hundred bucks and it sure beats viewing coin images on an old, low resolution screen. Spend some money on a good quality new magnifying glass and a high quality lamp to view your coins as well. You’re looking at $50-100 for a world-class loupe and around $100-150 for a professional quality halogen coin lamp. (more…)

Is It Time to Buy an S.S. Central America Double Eagle Gold Coin ?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

For many years, it’s been no secret that I haven’t been a big fan of the 1857-S double eagles that trace their origin from the famous S.S. Central America shipwreck. I’ve written that price levels of these coins haven’t made sense to me and I’ve have had problems with their appearance. More than a decade after they were first released onto the market, has my opinion changed?

I believe that this is (finally) a sensible time to purchase an S.S.C.A double eagle. But there are some important parameters for the collector to follow when considering a purchase. Some of these are as follows:

1. Be Selective. There are over 5,000 1857-S double eagles from this shipwreck and they range in grade from Extremely Fine to Mint State-67. With this wide variety of grades, there are a tremendous number of coins to choose from. At any given major auction, there are typically three to five available and it isn’t terribly hard to find them in specialist dealer’s inventories. I have noticed a huge variation in quality for coins in the same grade. As an example, I’ve seen some in MS63 holders that I’ve loved and I’ve seen some in MS63 holders that I thought were horrible. Spend 10-20% more and buy a coin that is high end and attractive. In some instances, you will be able to buy nice, high end examples for little or no premium.

2. Find the Sweet Spot. In my opinion, the “right” grade range for one of these 1857-S double eagles is MS63 to MS64. There is not much of a premium for these two grades over AU and lower Mint State grades and when you buy a coin that grades MS63 to MS64 you are getting good value. In the current market, AU58 examples can bring as much as $3,500-4,000. An MS63 is worth around $7,000-8,000 while an MS64 is worth $8,000-9,000. It seems to me that an MS63 at around 2x the price of an AU58 is good value. And it also seems to me that an MS64 at around $1,000 more than an MS63 is good value as well.

3. Stick With Coins in Original Holders. It is important to focus on 1857-S double eagles that are in their original gold foil PCGS holders. And having the original box and other packaging is an added benefit. Avoid coins that are not in these holders and stay clear of NGC graded S.S. Central America double eagles. They may be nice coins but they have been cracked from their original holders and probably upgraded.

4. Avoid Coins That Have “Turned” in the Holder: All of the coins in this treasure were conserved after they salvaged. The conservation process has been well-documented and, in some cases, the work was outstanding. But there are other coins that have “turned” in the holder. These can be identified either by very hazy surfaces or unnatural splotchy golden color. Avoid these coins and look for pieces that are bright, lustrous and evenly toned. At this point in time, coins that haven’t turned are probably not going to.

5. Disregard The Die Varieties. All 1857-S double eagles from the shipwreck are attributed to a distinct die variety. There are over 20 varieties known. Some are probably rare but it is even rarer to find a collector who cares. I’d suggest not paying a premium for these.

6. If You Are Buying a PL or DMPL Example, Carefully Study the Market. A very small number of 1857-S double eagles were designated as either Prooflike (PL) or Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) by PCGS. These are some of the most visually arresting coins from the shipwreck. I have seen a few pieces in the last few years bring extremely high premiums. These are no doubt very scarce and very flashy coins but I question the premium that they are currently bringing. If you do decide to purchase such a coin, carefully check auction prices for comparable examples and make certain that the price you are paying is in line with the last auction trade. (more…)

Coin Guides: Tips on Buying Precious Metals and Bullion Coins

By Gainesville Coins – www.gainesvillecoins.com

The Advantage of Physical Assets

Precious metals have long been treasured both for their beauty and rarity. As a result, these metals have been used by many civilizations as a store of wealth, and in some cases, a foundation for currency.

Historically speaking, these stores of wealth have not experienced the kind of boom and bust cycles present in other forms of investment. This observed stability exists for several reasons. First, precious metals such as modern bullion have intrinsic value. The fact that precious metals consist of something that actually has value makes them more stable than fiat currency which is made of near-worthless paper.

In addition, these metals in many cases have practical applications. Modern industrial processes make use of metals such as gold and platinum for their unparalleled conductivity and use in manufacturing electronics. Moreover, in the case of economic turbulence, when investors do seek investments other than those vulnerable to market fluctuations, they wisely turn to the stability of precious metals. This increased demand has the effect of increasing their values, making them an even better investment.

Finally, when precious metals are minted as collectable coins such as the popular Gold Eagle or Gold Buffalo, they are sought after not only for their intrinsic value, but for their rarity as a collectable item. Again, because there is a fixed supply of any one coin, increased demand for such an asset increases its value. It is for these reasons that for hundreds of years, gold and silver coins have enjoyed a remarkable history of defining purchasing power and backing international finance. For more on this subject, see our article addressing the superiority of precious metals.

Technology and Precious Metals

The influence of the Internet on the trade of precious metals has been vast. It is no longer necessary for collectors to buy and sell coins only locally. The Internet has several venues through which to vend or purchase these assets to buyers or sellers around the world. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Advice for beginning and intermediate collectors of U.S. coins

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #22

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Until CoinFest occurs at the end of the month, there will not be a live event conducted by any of the four leading auction firms of rare U.S. coins. Plus, I am not aware of any private sales of newsworthy rarities over the last week. So, this is a good time to address another topic. Often, I hear about collectors who have decided to start acquiring U.S. coins and who are unsure as to how to proceed.

Sometimes, adults who collected coins as kids wish to return. In many other instances, people who have never before bought a rare or very scarce coin wish to get started. Further, people who collect paintings, sculptures, baseball cards, antique silver objects, or rare books, frequently find themselves drawn to coins. This week’s theme of suggestions for beginners will, I hope, be of interest to many intermediate collectors as well.

I. U.S. Coins valued from $250 to $1000

The focus here is on advice for a collector who seeks U.S. coins valued at over $250 each. Of course, I realize that not everyone can afford to pay $250 for a coin. I am not ignoring people who cannot. I strongly believe, though, that collectors who buy $10 to $100 coins may learn by reading this column. In order to understand the coins that a collector owns, the collector needs to understand coins that he (or she) cannot afford. It is important for all collectors to learn about the values and traditions relating to the coin collecting community. Besides, I will devote a future column or article to coins valued in the $10 to $100 range.

Advice and suggestions put forth here are geared towards a collector who is just starting, though may be of use to any collector who is willing and able to spend $250 or more per coin. Suppose he (or she) has decided to collect U.S. coins and thus will not be considering (at least not yet) colonials, territorials, patterns, or world coins. Also, further suppose this collector is not likely to will spend hours studying books on die pairings or other technical matters.

In general, the average collector spends a limited amount of time reading about coins, and is much more likely to read articles than books. Indeed, most collectors I know do not take the time to read entire books on coins, though I would recommend doing so.

Most collectors wish to have fun. It is true, however, that beginning collectors tend to enjoy coins more after they spend a few weeks or months learning.

So, herein, consider a collector who plans, over a period of years, to buy plenty of coins in the $250 to $1000 range, plus a few that cost more or less. Such a collector is flexible. On occasion, this collector may spend $1000 to $3000 per coin. The emphasis here, though, is on getting started collecting U.S. coins in the $250 to $500 range.

Rather than focus on my own advice, I have asked experts to provide their respective opinions. I selected experts who are knowledgeable about a wide variety of U.S. coins in copper, nickel, silver and gold, and have each played different roles in the coin business. Moreover, it is beneficial for collectors to be aware of the views of several experts, especially from highly qualified people that may not be available to most collectors. Below, please find recommendations from John Albanese, Kris Oyster, Nick van der Laan, and Andy Lustig.

Before putting forth detailed recommendations from these four, I relay Ira Goldberg‘s more general advice. Ira is a partner in the Goldbergs auction firm and he has been a leader in the coin auction business for decades. (more…)

What’s It Worth? How dealers determine the value of a Rare Coin.

By Vic Bozarth – Bozarth Rare Coin Market Report

How are rare coin prices determined? Often the question dealers will ask is: “I know what Greysheet (Coin Dealer Newsletter bid) is, but what can I ‘really’ get for it?”

In this month’s Rare Coin Market Report, I will explain how I determine the value of an individual coin. Most often I will use a variety of different pricing sources to determine the value of a coin.

The most utilized source of rare coin pricing information among dealers are the variety of Coin Dealer Newsletter publications including Greysheet, Bluesheet, Monthly Summary, and the Quarterly Supplements. Dealers also use CCE, which is the Certified Coin Exchange. Coin World Trends, Collectors Universe prices, Redbook, and Coin Prices are also utilized.

In the last several years auction prices realized have become one of the most useful and often misunderstood sources of pricing information. Let me explain a little bit about all of these different sources before I explain how I use them.

CDN’s multiple publications include the Greysheet, Bluesheet, Monthly Summary, and Quarterly price sheets.

The Greysheet and Bluesheet are weekly publications and list many of the most frequently traded U.S. rare coins, BUT the values they list vary significantly.

Basically Greysheet lists sight seen bids for attractive coins. Bluesheet lists sight unseen bids for coins that might not be that attractive although they are graded correctly. Because I am looking for attractive coins, I often have to pay Greysheet bid or more for an attractive coin. If someone offers me a coin I don’t particularly like I am going to check the ‘bid’ on Bluesheet to see what the ‘basal’ value really is.

Depending on the particular coin the difference between the Greysheet and Bluesheet can vary as much as 70%. Yes, 70%!

CDN Monthly Summary is published each month and includes more of the frequently traded U.S. rare coins by date and grade including the early twentieth century gold series and most of the classic twentieth century collector series.

One of the three different CDN Quarterly issues come out every month and the three include all the other U.S. rare coin series by date. The Quarterly One issue contains half cents through quarters. The Quarterly Two contains halves through $3 gold coins. The Quarterly Three contains prices for $5 Liberty through $20 Liberty Gold Coins.

All prices for the Monthly Summary and Quarterly price sheets are for sight seen coins. There is also a supplement included with each month’s Quarterly Supplement that has prices for Proof coins not listed in the Quarterly Supplements. (more…)

Coin Collecting: Thoughts on Originality?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

“Originality.” It’s one of the most overused terms in all of numismatics. And it’s one of the most misunderstood as well. Given the choice, I believe that most people would rather own an “original” coin instead of one that has clearly had its appearance changed in recent years. With the help of some good quality images, I’d like to show some of the characteristics that I equate with “originality” and offer some suggestions on how to judge if a coin is original or not.

1844-D Quarter eagleThe first coin that we are going to look at is an 1844-D quarter eagle graded AU55 by NGC. (Disclosure: this coin is currently in my inventory and it is currently for sale. I am not using this coin as an example in the hope that someone will buy it as I am certain someone will and I don’t need to go to this much trouble to sell it. I am using it to illustrate this report because I believe it represents what I believe is complete originality.)

One other quick topic before we review this 1844-D quarter eagle. My definition of an “original” coin is one that appears to have never been cleaned, lightened or in any way altered. I would be quick to point out that the flaw in this definition is that, of course, there is no way to make such a comment without having had access to this particular coin at all times since 1844.

There is always the possibility that, in the 1850’s or the 1860’s (or even the 1960’s), it may have been lightly cleaned. But there are some things to look for on a coin that I think gives a reasonably good assurance that it hasn’t been messed with. The most obvious is hairlines. If a coin has been improperly cleaned at one time, it is going to show hairlines. These may range from subtle to very obvious. If a coin has nice seemingly “original” color but it shows noticeable hairlines, this probably means that it was cleaned years ago and has subsequently retoned. Such a coin may have a natural appearance but, from the standpoint of semantics, it can’t truly be called “original.” You can also look for areas of cloudiness or haze. If a coin has these, the chances are good that something has been applied to the surfaces at one time.

In looking at this coin, there are a few points to note. The first is its depth of coloration. Take a look at the color on the obverse and the reverse and note how the hues in the fields are richer than in the protected areas. On coins with natural color this is generally going to be the case. On a coin that may have been dipped at one time, you are going to see the opposite; the color tends to be lighter at the centers and deeper at the peripheries. Also, note how on this 1844-D quarter eagle there is color present even on the high spots and relief detail. A coin that has been cleaned or dipped typically lacks color on these areas as they are the first places that the original color is lost. Finally, note the depth and intensity of the color. On natural coins, the color is “sharp” in hue and depth. On dipped or cleaned coins, the color tends to be “fuzzier” and less intense. (more…)

Coin Collecting: Do We Still Have a $20 Hobby ?

By Mark Benvenuto – The California Numismatist Magazine

If you are like many collectors, you may have spent a bit of time wondering just where our hobby has been going since 2007. With the economic slump, then the proclamations of recovery, you can’t help but wonder where that recovery really is when gold flirts with price tags like $1,250 per ounce, and when silver gets close to $20 per ounce. It makes a person wonder if there I still anything out there that doesn’t automatically have a hefty price tag slapped on it.

For all of us who pine for some bygone day when coins were cheap (if there ever really was one), we present for your collecting pleasure a laundry list of what can still be added to a collection for $20. Here we go.

First: Dealer bargain bins of cents, nickels, dimes, and quarters.

If you have always been the type of collector to wander past these jumbled, often chaotic offerings, slow down. Smell the roses, as it were. Dealers often buy large numbers of coins for a select few within the group that they know they can sell for a profit. This isn’t being crafty, sneaky, or cheap. Dealers have to live and have to eat. The coin business isn’t the grocery business, meaning you can’t eat what you don’t sell. The profit they make the difference between what they spend for a coin, and what they sell it for it what keeps the food on their tables. So, what happens to the many coins in a purchase that aren’t really big ticket items, but that might have been purchased along with those potential gems? They end up in the bargain bin.

Also known as the junk box, dealer bargain bins can be the home of some wonderful U.S. coins. Proof quarters, nickels, dimes, and cents that have been cracked out of US Mint cases sometimes end up here, often for only a dollar or two. A person with a bit of patience can assemble a date run of any or all of these denominations. Additionally, there are plenty of bins that have been sorted according to denomination and series. Wheat back cents come quickly to mind as a coin that ends up in plenty of “copper bargain bins,” if that is a proper term. Loads of these go for much less than a dollar per coin.

Older Jefferson nickels, as well as well-circulated Buffalo nickels, are also the stuff of bargain bins. Silver isn’t entirely absent from the bargain bin either. Roosevelt dimes are often found in them, as well as some of the more common Mercury dimes. A person with a keen eye and some patience can assemble some good looking date runs for $20 or less. If you move up to quarters, you’ll receive less of them for your $20 than you will dimes, but some careful searching can land you a handful of silver Washington, or even Standing Liberty, quarters. Certainly, these won’t be mint state specimens, but they can still be handsome coins.

Second: Silver dollars in circulated, but attractive conditions.

Okay, if smaller U.S. coins aren’t your bag, there are still some bargains to be had among what are arguably the most collected of US silver coins, the Morgan and Peace dollars. Those big, fat Morgans are not entirely out of reach, although $20 will only get you one. The common dates, such as the 1879, the 1880, the 1880-S and the 1881-S to name a few examples, can be had for about $20 each in grades such as very fine. Again, these aren’t mint state gems, but they aren’t dogs either.

The tail end of the Morgan dollar series also has a few promising items. Specifically, the 1921, as well as its siblings from Denver and San Francisco, can all be had for about $20 per coin in a grade such as extra fine. There’s a pretty trio that a person on a budget can still collect. The Peace dollars are just about always check by jowl with the Morgans when it comes to dealer selections. The most common Peace dollar is the 1922, with a mintage of a whopping 51.7 million coins to its official tally. Today you can nab one in almost uncirculated condition for $20. But don’t stop with just this one Peace dollar. Take a look through any of the reference price lists and you’ll find several of these large, silver disks that list at just about the same price tag. (more…)

Five Things You Can Do to Make Your Coins Worth More

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

If you have been collecting rare coins for more than a few years, there is a good chance that you have “found money” in your holdings. What I mean by this is that there are a number of things that you can do–often with little or no cost–that can significantly improve the appearance and value of your coins. Here are five suggestions:

1. Send Your Coins to CAC. CAC is now well established as an important factor in the high-end segment of the market. In certain areas, CAC coins trade for a nice premium and there is no doubt in my mind that a CAC sticker makes a coin more marketable. Submitting a coin to CAC is very inexpensive; typically just $10 to $20 per item. Another thing that’s nice about submitting coins to CAC is that you are getting an expert’s opinion (in this case John Albanese) for next to nothing. You might try sending a sample of your five best coins to CAC. If you get CAC approval on all five coins, you know you are doing something right. If only one or two get the coveted “green bean” then you can assume that the dealer you are buying from needs to be replaced.

2. Attribute Your Coins. Let’s say that you are a date collector of early half eagles. It makes sense to purchase the Bass-Dannreuther book on early gold to attribute all your coins to “BD” numbers. You might get lucky and find that one of the coins that you own is a very rare die variety. This isn’t necessarily an immediate financial upgrade, as it would be in a series like Bust half dollars or Large cents which are avidly collected by variety. But wouldn’t you rather keep the potential financial upgrade for yourself than to read on page three of Coin World how some lucky collector just cherry-picked an excessively rare variety of 1806 half eagle? Also, if PCGS or NGC attributes varieties in the series you collect and you find a good variety, have it marked on the slab.

3. Pedigree Your Coins. If you have a coin from a famous collection like Bass, Garrett, Eliasberg or Norweb, a pedigree can add value. Some coins from these collection are clearly marked on the PCGS or NGC insert. But there are hundreds of others that have “lost” their pedigree for one reason or another. I’d suggest that you purchase all of the major auction catalogs in the area that you specialize in and spend a few hours searching through them. Your coin(s) may have a different appearance than they did in an earlier sale, but if they have an obvious mark this will make it easy to trace them. If a great pedigree is easy to prove, send the coin along with a xerox of the catalog page to PCGS or NGC.

4. Reslab Your Coins. Please note that I didn’t say “regrade” your coins. That’s another subject entirely and one that, if you have coins in old green label or “fatty” holders, I do not necessarily think will add value to your coins. What I mean by “reslabbing” is that many coins are in holders that show severe scuffing, wear, or dullness. A great coin can look just so-so if the holder it’s in doesn’t present itself well. I know this sounds a little hokey but its no different than deep-cleaning your house when you get ready to sell it. If all of your coins are in pretty, fresh slabs it is going to make your coins look nicer. (more…)

Tips on Selling Your Coins Via Dealer Consignment

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Many retail dealers, myself included, welcome consignments from collectors. It’s a great way to increase the size of a dealer’s inventory without laying out cash and it is often an excellent source for dealers to place useful, fresh attractive coins to new or existing clients. As a potential consignor, what are some of the questions you should be asking a dealer and what are some of the expectations you should have?

1. What rate should you be paying a dealer?

I can’t speak for every dealer, so I’ll share this from a DWN perspective. I generally charge between 5 and 10% to sell a coin on consignment. I’ve heard of dealers charging more than 10% and that seems a bit on the gouge-y side. On the other hand, to expect a dealer to sell your coins for less than 5% is unreasonable unless you are talking about a very low spread item like bullion or generics (which probably shouldn’t be consigned to dealers in the first place).

2. What should my expectations be as a consignor?

Obviously, your first expectation is for the coin to sell. But there should be other expectations as well. You should expect a dealer to work hard at selling your coins. This means listing them promptly on his website, imaging them, giving them good descriptions and offering them directly (via phone or email) to existing clients. You should expect clear, concise paperwork from the dealer including a receipt stating the terms and conditions of the consignment. You should expect prompt payment with good funds. And you should expect honesty and integrity. No games, no “funny stuff.”

3. What sort of payment terms should I expect?

There is no set answer to this so, once again, I’ll share with you how I take care of payment. First of all, I am very careful to sell consigned coins to collectors or dealers who I know will pay me. There are certain dealers, for instance, whose check I absolutely will not take. I wouldn’t sell these guys any of my own coins so why would I subject a collector to the risk of “will I or won’t I get paid?” I generally pay clients for coins within a few days of being paid myself; a few days usually meaning two or three. In the case of having multiple coins on consignment from one collector, I pay them as they sell. I never wait until the end of a deal to pay the consignor and I don’t think that’s fair, unless that’s what the consignor requests.
(more…)

HOW TO PRICE VERY RARE COINS

By Doug Winter CoinLink Content Partner

If you collect very rare or finest known coins, figuring out what to pay for an item that you need for your collection can be difficult. Here is a real-life example of how I came up with what I believe to be an accurate value for a one-of-a-kind coin.

The coin that we are going to use as our Coin Pricing Lab Experiment is the Finest Known 1860-C half eagle; an item that my firm recently handled.

When analyzing any complicated, rare issue, there are at least four things that I give major consideration to:

1860-C Half Eagle 1. Establishing rarity

2. Determining comparables

3. Gauging the depth of the market

4. How nice is the coin for the grade and for the issue

So let’s take the scenario that I am bidding on this 1860-C half eagle at auction (as opposed to selling it by private treaty) and assisting Collector X. The first thing that I am going to help him with is a basic understanding of the rarity of the issue.

According to the soon-to-be-released third edition of my book on Charlotte gold coinage, the 1860-C half eagle is a moderately scarce issue with an estimated 125-150 pieces known. My best estimate is that there are seven to eight properly graded Uncirculated examples with one in MS64 (the present example) as well as at least two or three in MS63. I would suggest to Collector X that he remember that with as many as three known in MS63, the chances are pretty good that at least one will magically transform into a second MS64 in the future. And should this happen—and his coin is no longer “population 1 with none better”– it will lose value.

Most collectors eventually check out the PCGS and NGC population reports. As of April 2008, PCGS had graded a total of eleven 1860-C half eagles in Uncirculated while NGC had graded twenty-five (!) in Uncirculated for a combined total of thirty-six. Now, I would be quick to tell this collector that these figures are dramatically inflated by resubmissions and that virtually every 1860-C half eagle that I have seen in a PCGS or NGC slab below MS62 is debatable about whether or not it truly is Uncirculated. But there is no denying the fact that there are enough purported Uncirculated 1860-C half eagles out there to make this MS64 lose a bit of its luster. It is a scarce coin but not one that could be called a fundamental rarity as it is readily obtainable in circulated grades and even available in the lower Uncirculated grades from time to time. (more…)

Coin Collecting – Set Premiums: Fact or Fiction?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

One of the things that new collectors are often told is that if they build a set, the collective value of the coins will be greater than the individual value when it is time to sell. Is this correct or is it just clever marketing hype?

I believe that the answer to this question is yes, no and maybe. Let’s take a random example of a set–Charlotte quarter eagles–and look at instances where there would or would not be a premium factor established upon completion.

There is, in theory, a clear-cut instance of when a set of Charlotte quarter eagles would gain value if it were complete. This would occur if all the coins were very high high grade and the set would be almost impossible to duplicate at any price. But what if the coins themselves are not as impressive as the plastic they reside in? I have seen sets of Charlotte quarter eagles in which all the coins were accorded very high grades by PCGS and NGC but the coins themselves were unimpressive; some were recolored while others were puttied. Among well-informed collectors of Charlotte quarter eagles there are high grade sets that are famous for having great coins and there are sets that are (in)famous for having coins that are “maxed out” and unappealing despite impressive grades.

A set of Charlotte quarter eagles might not have to be high grade to be impressive and to gain value on a completed basis. I have seen sets where all of the coins were “only” in the EF to AU range but the individual coins were gorgeous with matched natural color, nice surfaces and strikes and strong overall eye appeal. In this instance, I think a set could gain as much as 10-15% premium. The reason it would gain value is that a potential buyer would realize that in today’s market–where most Charlotte quarter eagles are stripped-n-dipped–the opportunity to acquire high quality coins is rare; and the opportunity to acquire a complete set of them is even more rare.

An instance where a “maybe” answer might have to be given is with a clearly mixed quality set. I know of a few sets of Charlotte quarter eagles where the quality is wildly uneven. There might be a common date in EF45 which isn’t very nice alongside a rare date in MS63 that is spectacular. This lends itself to a sort of numismatic version of “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Would you pay a premium for a set that had some great coins but which you knew that you would be forced to do significant upgrades on others? I think the answer has to be made on a case-by-case basis. If the highlights off the set were enough to offset the low-lights than I think a premium factor would be in order; just maybe not the 10-15% that I mentioned above.

There are other instances where I think that a set premium would be in order. I would pay a healthy premium for a set that all the coins had good pedigrees (not necessarily famous pedigrees but they may have come from good retail dealers or not-so-famous auctions that have a high regard among specialists). I would pay a premium for a set of coins that were original. And I would probably pay a premium for a set of early gold coins in which each piece was better produced than usual. (more…)

Legend Offers Suggestions on Building Sets in Coin Collecting

Laura Sperber – Legend Numismatics

There is no magic wand or crystal ball that can tell you when the coin market will turn red hot again or when prices will finally rise across the board. Until then, there are many areas you can explore that we feel have awesome potential-and are actually completable.

GOLD BUGS READ THIS:

Its very interesting that we see the masses buying Saints in MS64 and higher. People have always enjoyed the feel of bigger gold. Because of this, many Gold Type coins have been drifting and actually have come down in value. WE SUGGEST YOU BUILD AN MS64 AND HIGHER GOLD TYPE SET. You can put in it whatever you want. So buy a slight better Gold Dollar for very little premium or buy an MS65 $3 Gold piece-of which we have seen so few around recently. All Indian Gold in GEM has actually fallen recently-and they are NOT easy coins to find.

ALL PROOF BARBERS

HELLO! We KNOW these are incredible values. For years we preached about PR64’s. They have since gone up and are ok, but you can do better in the higher grades. BUY PR 65-67 coins. You can build a COMPLETE 24 coin PR Barber 10C set in 66 for UNDER $60,000.00. Or how about a PR barber Quarter set in PR65? That about $50,000.00. The beauty is the coins look great and MOST have mintage’s of UNDER 1,000 pieces. We only own maybe one or two PR Barbers total-so do NOT accuse us of manipulating pr hyping a market to our benefit!

PROOF LIBERTY NICKELS

Do a PR65/66 Set. Even a semi mixed set of them should cost SUBSTANTIALLY UNDER $25,000.00! These are beautiful coins! You can’t go to a major show and finish the set in day, but you can build a set over a few months.

PROOF TWENTY CENT SET

There are ONLY 4 coins in this set-two of which are Proof ONLY! This set supplies it all: rarity, obsolete, beauty,and affordability. A set in PR64 can be built for UNDER $25,000.00. Or, go for the BEST and do a PR66 set: $50,000.00. Its all up to your tastes and budget.

WALKERS

We have learned from our McClaren Collection that the short set of Walkers (1941 PDS-1947 PD) in MS65/66 is probably one of the most popular collected areas in all of coins. Stunning GEM MS66 Walkers can be purchased for around $225-$275.00. Even the rare 1941S PCGS MS66 will only cost you $2,250.00 or so.

OUR ALL TIME FAVORITE RECOMMENDATION:

Build a Type set. A Type set is a representative of a series. It can contain the 50C 1905 PCGS MS68 we recently bought and sold for over $135,000.00, or it can contain an MS66 PL Morgan for $225.00. You simply pick the BEST examples you can afford and like. By building a Type set, opportunity does NOT pass by you. (more…)

San Francisco Double Eagles: A Date by Date Analysis Part Three

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Part One
Part Two

In 1877, a third type of double eagle was created when the reverse valuation was changed from TWENTY D to TWENTY DOLLARS. Liberty Head double eagles were produced with just one interruption (1886) from 1877 through 1907. This is a very easy series to complete as all thirty issues are readily available in the lower Uncirculated grades and many of the post-1890 date can even be found in Gem.

I would recommend this series for beginning collectors or advanced collectors who are more interested in grade than absolute rarity. What follows is a date-by-date analysis of each issue.

1877-S: This is the most common Type Three San Francisco double eagle from the 1870’s. It is common in grades up to an including MS62. It becomes scarce in MS63 and is very rare in MS64 and above. Most are seen with good luster and nice color but heavily abraded surfaces. The finest known is Stack’s 1/09: 1420, graded MS65 by NGC, which set a record price for the date at $29,900.

1878-S: The 1878-S is scarcer than the 1877-S but it is still a fairly easy date to find in grades up to an including MS62. In MS63 it is rare and it is extremely rare above this. The finest that I have personally seen is the high end PCGS MS63, ex Heritage 9/06: 4139, which sold for a strong $23,000. This date is characterized by soft, frosty luster and heavy abrasions on the surfaces.

1879-S:
This is easily the scarcest San Francisco Type Three double eagle from the 1870’s and it is one of the harder SF issues of this type to locate. It is scarce even in the lowest Uncirculated grades and it is very scarce in properly graded MS62. In MS63, the 1879-S is very rare and there is but one example graded better than this, a PCGS MS64, ex Heritage 9/07: 3851, which sold for an amazing $63,250. Virtually every known example is marred by excessive bagmarks and many have impaired luster as a result.

1880-S: The 1880-S is only marginally scarce in MS60 to MS61 but it becomes a hard date to find in properly graded MS62. It is rare in MS63 and very rare above this but there are a few very high quality pieces known. The best is a superb NGC MS66, ex Heritage 2004 ANA: 7626, which brought a hefty $92,000 and the second best is an NGC MS65, ex Bowers and Merena 2/06: 603 that was bid up to $54,625. These are the two best early date Type Three San Francisco double eagles that I have personally seen.

1881-S: The 1881-S is much more available in the MS60 to MS62 range than the 1879-S and 1880-S. It is only moderately scarce in MS62 but it becomes rare in MS63 and I have never seen one that graded higher than this. The best I am aware of are a small group of nice PCGS MS63 coins, the last of which to sell was Heritage 4/09: 2763 (at $17,250). As with all of the early S Mint Type Three issues, this date is characterized by good luster and color but heavy surface marks.

1882-S: Beginning with this issue, the Type Threes from San Francisco become more available in the lower Uncirculated grades. The 1882-S is very common through MS62 and slightly scarce in MS63. But it is very rare in properly graded MS64 and I am not aware of any Gems. The best I know of is ex Heritage 7/06: 1714; a PCGS MS63 that brought $23,000.

1883-S:
The 1883-S is very common through MS63 but it becomes very rare in MS64 and it may not exist in Gem. This date is seen with good luster and color but is almost always very heavily abraded. There is a small group of properly graded MS64’s known and the last of these to sell was Heritage 1/10: 2261, graded by NGC, which realized $16,100. (more…)

What Makes Certain Coins Popular–and Others Unpopular?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

I often make buying decisions based on a coin’s popularity. As an example, I will buy a coin like an 1839-O quarter eagle for stock because it is popular and I know it will sell. But I might pass on a rarer coin like an 1862-S quarter eagle because it is not a popular issue and it will be a harder coin to sell. This got me to to thinking: what makes one coin popular and another unpopular?

Certain 20th century series are popular with collectors because of a strong nostalgia factor. I would imagine most of the collectors who focus on Lincoln Cents or Mercury Dimes remember collecting them as a kid and the sense of accomplishment that they get from completing a set is an act of closure that extinguishes the nightmares they felt as kids about filling those pesky 1909-S VDB Cent and 1916-D Dime holes.

The nostalgia factor does not really apply to gold given the fact that circulation for these coins ended in the early 1930’s. There are certainly some collectors who can remember being given an Indian Head quarter eagle for the holidays by their grandparents or aunt and uncle. But I’m willing to bet that the majority of gold coin collectors are not working on a set of Charlotte half eagles because it rekindles pleasant childhood memories.

The word “promotion” gets a bad rap in numismatics. Yes, there are naughty promotions where worthless modern trinkets get hyped and sold to unsuspecting people for multiples of their true value. But in the better sense of the word, coin promotions can turn formerly unpopular series–like Type One Liberty Head double eagles–into popular ones. The key to a coin promotion is that it has to be sustained and it needs more market participants than the first wave to regenerate its initial success(es).

I mentioned the Type One double eagles series in the last paragraph. One of the most brilliant coin promotions of all time was the S.S. Central America.. The marketing group that owned the coins not only was able to sell them, they were able to generate enough new interest in this denomination that it impacted all Type Ones, not just the few dates that were included in the hoard.

A coin that is historic is always going to be popular. What represents “history” to be may not be what represents history to you. But I’m almost certain we can both agree that a gold coin produed in the 18th century–the first decade of the operations of the new U.S. Mint–is clearly historic. This is one reason why a coin like a 1795 half eagle or a 1799 eagle, while not truly “rare,” is still always going to have a very high level of demand among collectors.
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To Ebay or Not to Ebay?

By Gary Tancer – Coin Gallery of Boca Raton

As a fellow E-bayer, I find the site a great place to buy and sell rare coins. However, caveat emptor is an important rule of thumb just like with any online coin or bullion auctions. Many of the top rare coin wholesalers list coins on Ebay and are willing to sell them for a small premium above wholesale prices. But beware of dealers who are auctioning their coins without any reserves set on them, for many times these items are subject to shill bidding. Shill bidding is the act of having someone run up the prices on auctions with the hope of causing the winning buyer to pay a higher price. Although Ebay has made great strides in policing this illegal practice, inevitably it still occurs.

Something else to keep in mind with Ebay is if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is not legitimate. For example, in the past few months, I purchased several raw gold coins which turned out to be counterfeit on later inspection. Buying raw coins can be especially tricky and requires more scrutiny due to their not being graded and authenticated, which makes for a higher susceptibility to alteration. When buying uncertified coins, it would be wise to only purchase them from established and reputable dealers with a strong feedback history. However, for coins over $250, I recommend buying them slabbed.

For a general rule while buying on Ebay, I would recommend to shop from dealers who offer some sort of guaranteed return privilege. This way, the buyer knows there is nothing to hide on the dealer’s end and can rest assured if satisfaction is not met by the item in person.

What are some of the major advantages of Ebay buying?

1. All In One Convenience

o You can search one site instead of hundreds to instantly find what you want
o Compare prices of the items you want as soon as you find them to pay the best price possible

2. Best Prices

* Sellers pay lower fees than at traditional auction houses, allowing them to offer a lower price to the buyer

3. Updates From Your Favorites
* If you have had a pleasurable experience buying from someone, give them positive feedback, and you can also save them as a favorite seller and receive email updates on their latest listings

Disadvantages of Ebay?

Like any high volume website, there exists the ever-present possibility of fraud. There are watchdogs on Ebay constantly monitoring the site, but it is impossible to prevent all wrongful listings. Always check people’s feedbacks, organizations, how long they have been on the site, and their about me page to determine if who you are dealing with is legitimate and trustworthy. Furthermore, Ebay also has their guarantee.

Remember, of course going to coin shows or buying from major coin auctions are still great ways to obtain fresh coins; however, if one does not have the time to physically attend such an auction or show, then Ebay is a great alternative to purchase coins at your convenience.

Wizard Coin Supply Chosen by Verdi-Chem™ as Exclusive Distributor

Verdi-Chem has chosen Wizard Coin Supply as the exclusive distributor for its VERDI-CARE™ with ReAcT2™ coin conservation fluid product, a revolutionary coin care offering.

Verdi-Chem™ is proud to announce that it has selected Wizard Coin Supply, a global provider of coin collecting supplies, as the exclusive distributor of VERDI-CARE™ with ReAcT2™, a revolutionary new coin conservation fluid and protectant that is already changing the way coin collectors care for and protect their coins. Developed by professional chemists in conjunction with Verdi-Chem™, VERDI-CARE™ is a safe and water soluble coin conservation product that can be applied to all types of coinage, including gold, silver, nickel, copper, brass and more. VERDI-CARE™ contains no harsh chemicals and is designed to ensure that valuable coins are protected while maintaining and preserving surface integrity.

VERDI-CARE™ with ReAcT2™ is easy to use and can be almost entirely removed with water, if so desired. “This product was designed specifically for numismatists who understand the importance of protecting and preserving valuable coins,” noted Thad J. Meszaras, Verdi-Chem™ President. “VERDI-CARE™ is not a coin cleaning product and its gentle ingredients will effectively condition and preserve the natural subtleties of a coin’s surface.”

“VERDI-CARE™ with ReAcT2™ is an important breakthrough in coin conservation technology and we are very excited to offer it to our customers,” said Wayne Herndon, President of Wizard Coin Supply. “We believe VERDI-CARE™ is a major step forward for numismatics and we are happy to offer this product among the thousands of coin collecting supplies and accessories that are currently available at WizardCoinSupply.com.”

ReAcT2™ is a state of the art chemical compound that adheres to all metals, forming a transparent, anti-corrosive protective lower layer on the surface of valuable coins. It consists of the same chemical technology employed by the US Mint in protecting its coins. In addition to the lower layer of protection, a second, water soluble, polymeric layer is created that actively repels contaminants. Experienced numismatists will quickly realize just how effective VERDI-CARE™ with ReAcT2™ can be for conserving and rejuvenating the natural features of collectible coins.

VERDI-CARE™ with ReAcT2™ is recommended for coin collectors who have experience handling coin conservation and protective agents as well as various types of coin cleaning supplies. VERDI-CARE™ performs best when coins are properly prepared for application and when specific instructions are followed for drying and storage of coins. Although this product is completely non-toxic and contains no harsh chemicals, it is always recommended that users wear gloves and eye protection as a safety precaution.

About Verdi-Chem™:
Verdi-Chem™ is based in Cincinnati Ohio and is run by chemist and numismatist Thad J. Meszaras. The company is dedicated to the advancement of coin conservation science. Verdi-Chem™ uses the latest discoveries in chemical technology to develop its products.

About Wizard Coin Supply:
Wizard Coin Supply is a global provider of coin collection supplies and coin collection accessories, based in Chantilly, Virginia. Wizard is dedicated to providing its customers with the largest possible selection of coin supplies at deeply discounted prices and to promoting the hobby and enjoyment of numismatics.

Coin Collector Tips: The Twenty Five Most Overlooked Early Seated Coins

By Ken Cable-Camilleis E-Gobrecht

The following is a collector value assessment of coins within the portion of the Liberty Seated series spanning the years 1837 through 1852, all denominations. The foregoing analysis is based on several factors, including but not limited to the PCGS Population/NGC Census Reports, various pricing guides, and extensive personally compiled data and statistics related to general market presence. This compilation indicates, based on my observations and research, what in the realm of mainstream numismatics could be the 25 most underrated Seated coins within this period.

1846 Half DimeMy research suggests that presently there are no overpriced Seated coins dated prior to 1853. I also surmise that most of the dimes and quarters minted from 1840 through 1851 are dramatically undervalued in the mainstream market. While working from such a large sample space of dates and varieties within the five Seated denominations covering the 16-year span of 1837-52, it was a tough call to narrow the field down to 25 specific coins that have especially captured my attention.

The reader should bear in mind that the coins enumerated in this work are not all “classic rarities” because current pricing may have already taken their rarity into consideration. They are simply coins that have received too little attention, or coins that can be obtained relatively cheaply. Some of these coins may already be recognized by LSCC members or other numismatic specialists as having been overlooked. Their market values are not, however, reflected in the most influential price guides, especially the Coin Dealer Newsletter “Greysheet” Quarterly (CDNQ) which since 1992 seems to have been the predominant buyer guide for Seated material.

1848 Seated QuarterAnother observation is that most certified coins of 1837-52 are “market graded” for their assigned grade. Therefore, I have taken into consideration that many Seated coins of this period that are certified MS60 to MS62 may actually have cabinet friction, obtrusive field abrasions or hairline scratches, poorly struck stars and areas within devices, or wear which is confused with poor strike. I have even seen Seated coins slabbed MS63 to MS65 for which I would assign technical grades in the AU range! Choice pieces seem to represent less than 25% of third-party-graded Seated coins from 1837 through 1852, and even some that have few blemishes are not fully struck (that is, all 13 stars, full head/shield details, full eagle features, and anything else that is supposed to be struck up).

The notation “ATB” means across-the-board, that is, all grades from Good through mint state (and proofs where applicable), “MS” means MS60 or better business strike, and “GEM” means MS65 or better.

25. 1840-O No Drapery 25c, ATB. This is a cute coin. I’ve developed a soft spot for this one-year-one-mint style, for which a cameo-like effect is produced with the placement of devices against the backdrop of the fields. I have found this date somewhat tough to obtain problem-free. In MS64, it appears priced almost right, but considerable upward adjustments should be made for all circulated grades and the lower MS grades. I really enjoyed the article in the CDN Monthly Supplement for December 2007 by Larry Briggs on Seated quarters … as I’ve enjoyed his great publication work of 1991. I believe that most of the mint-state coins of this issue that came from the New Orleans hoard have environmental damage from having been buried in the ground, perhaps making them not certifiable by PCGS or NGC.

24. 1848 5c Medium Date, GEM. Although a relatively “high-pop” coin, my analyses suggest that this more common variety of the 1848 Philly half dime is not as easy to find in MS65 as has been believed. In fact, its O-mint counterpart appears on the market with much greater frequency. (more…)

WHY YOU STILL NEED A COIN EXPERT FOR ADVICE ON PURCHASING COINS

By Gary Tancer – Coin Gallery of Boca Raton

With any investment: stocks, bonds, real estate, collectibles; if you do not have extensive knowledge in that field, it is always advisable to consult an expert. The coin business is no exception to this rule.

The advent of grading services such as PCGS in 1986, and NGC in 1987 was extremely beneficial to the collector or investor because they no longer had to rely on the seller for the grade of a coin who, let’s face it, usually had a vested interest. However, the third party grading services, which have no interest in the selling of coins, simply collect a fee for selecting a grade they judge appropriate.

In a perfect world, any amateur could use the internet or weekly sheets available to get a good idea of the value of a coin based on its grade. Unfortunately, this alone will only get someone so far.

The grading services, in my opinion, do a decent job grading; however, lately we have seen that there can be dramatic differences between the pricing of a coin for the same grade. This is why I am writing this article. In an ideal world, an MS 65 is an MS 65, and every coin graded would have the exact same value, but, as most people are realizing, this is not the case.

There are several factors in the determination of a graded coin’s value. Luster, color, and originality are only a few attributes that can add or detract from the value of a given coin compared to another of the exact same type. This is seen especially in auction prices realized; how a coin with the same date and same grading service, can have a 10%-100% variation in price. For example, in April of this year, a 1911-D $2 ½ in NGC AU58 sold at auction for $8625. Two months later, another 1911-D in NGC AU58 sold for $5463. In another April auction, a 1914-S $5 Indian in NGC AU58 sold for $805 while, in the same auction, another coin of the same date, grade and grading service sold for $546.

Today there exists CAC, PCGS Secure Plus, and NGC Secure Plus; though, these also can be confusing with regard to which coins are worth the high end of the spectrum and which are worth the low end. The reason for these new services is because mistakes happen, and grade inflation has occurred over the last 24 years.

In my opinion, CAC does a fabulous job and has made their presence felt in the coin business today. But as far as PCGS Secure and NGC Secure, they are too newly established for me to voice an opinion. This leads back to the title of the article. Even though many feel CAC does a great job, there remain plenty of quality coins that are highly desirable that do not meet their strict standards. That’s why expert coin graders/dealers are still needed to interpret anything and everything in between.

The difficulty is finding these expert dealers and building trust and a rapport. Most quality retailers deal directly with their customers or have educated employees working for them. You can research a dealer to see how long they have been in business, if they are active in going to coin shows and their membership in professional associations. A final factor in determining a high-quality numismatic dealer will be how receptive he is to buying coins back that he sold. I, for one, look forward to buying back any coins I’ve recommended to my customers in the past.

Smart Coin Collecting 101: Avoiding the Churn

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

When talking to collectors, I often find myself giving them advice as to what makes a “good collector.” I thought it would be interesting to share some of my thoughts and observations in a series of blogs entitled “Smart Collecting 101.” These will run, from time to time, over the next few months.

One of the mistakes that many collectors make is allowing themselves to be “churned;” either by their dealer/adviser or by themselves. Churning is an expression that means too much buying and selling from an account (or in this case a collection) by a salesperson in order to generate profits for the company and commissions for the broker.

Many of the big marketing firms in the coin business (and some of the better known boutique retail firms) are notorious churners. They will sell a collector a coin and then, a few months later, encourage him to upgrade it.

What many new (and even old) collectors fail to realize is that there are hidden transaction costs involved in any numismatic transaction. Most collectors who deal with the larger marketing firms are paying at least 20% over cost and in many cases more. Now this isn’t meant to imply that a 20% or 30% markup is unfair; it’s not. But what the collector needs to understand is that the market has to rise at least 20-30% in a short period of time in order to break even on a transaction.

And this fails to take into account another hidden cost: selling. A firm that churns isn’t expecting to take back a coin at a price level in which they can break even. Typically, though, they will mask this in a cunning way.

Let’s say a dealer sells a coin for $10,000 and his cost is $8,500. And let’s say that the current wholesale value for the coin is still around $8,500. What a clever salesperson might do to churn a client is to tell him that his coin is now worth $12,000 or $2,000 over the collector’s cost. The salesperson has a coin in stock that represents an upgrade. It’s worth $15,000 on a wholesale basis. He charges $19,000. He knows he will lose money on the trade-in but he is selling the new coin for enough of a profit that he is still able to generate a healthy profit. There is nothing really “wrong” with this but what it means is that the collector now has a new $15,000 coin that he is way upside-down on as opposed to an old $10,000 coin that he is only slightly upside down.

Not all churning is the result of sleazy or even “aggressive” dealers. Much of it is self-imposed by collectors.

One of the pieces of advice I try to give to new collectors is that they should “but the right coin the first time.” What this means is that instead of impulsively rushing through a set of, say, Dahlonega quarter eagles an then upgrading their mistakes as they go along, they should take their time and buy the coin they will want in their set for the long term the first time.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. You might have bought a great AU55 1854-D quarter eagle that has pretty natural color and surfaces as well as a great strike. But a few years later, a really superb MS61 becomes available; a coin with an even better strike, a nice pedigree and fantastic coloration. In this case, an upgrade might be a very smart move.
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Heritage adds CAC Population Data to Rare Coin Auction Archives

A very quick way to measure a coin’s rarity is to look at how many coins of a particular date have been graded by the major grading services. Three figures are key as a rule of thumb in determining rarity:

  • The population of a coin in a particular grade, which shows how difficult the coin might be to replace exactly
  • The population of a coin in all higher grades, which shows how difficult a coin might be to upgrade
  • The population of a coin in all grades, which shows how difficult a coin might be to find at all.

The first two figures above are often written in shorthand. For example, a coin with a population of 100/4 has 100 known in the same grade and four known in higher grades. A coin with a population of 1/0 is the finest known to the grading service that certified it.

One of the features that has long been available on the Heritage Web site listings and archives HA.com/Coins are population reports. PCGS and NGC keep track of every coin they grade, and Heritage is generous enough to post this information, in condensed form, on the web page for every US coin.

Now, Heritage has added the CAC population data to it’s population listings.

As an example, the table you see here covers an 1911-D $20 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle, graded MS65 (in this case by NGC). Under the header “Population”, you can see that the PCGS Population Report shows 1731 1911-D $20 Saints with an MS65 grade, NGC Census figures show 1831 similar coins and CAC has stickered 130.
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How To Collect Charlotte Gold Coins

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

Charlotte Gold Dollar, $2.50 and $5.00There are many ways to collect Charlotte gold. Some people have only a mild interest in these coins and may buy just one or two pieces. Other people are more serious and they have a large number of Charlotte issues in their collection. A small number of Charlotte collectors are obsessives who focus exclusively on these pieces and do not collect anything else. I would like to make some suggestions on how to collect Charlotte gold. In my experience, all of these ideas have merit and none is “better” than the other. It depends on the tastes and budget of an individual collector to determine which one(s) is right for him.

I. THE INTRODUCTIORY THREE COIN SET

The most basic way to collect Charlotte gold is to purchase a single example of the gold dollar, quarter eagle and half eagle denominations. This is a very good way to collect for the individual who has a limited budget or who is not certain how deep his interest lies in Charlotte gold.

A basic three coin set of Charlotte gold should consist of nice, problem-free pieces. It would make sense to focus on the more common dates although some collectors might prefer to include some scarcer issues. The grade range for these coins is likely to fall in the Extremely Fine-40 to About Uncirculated-58 range.

The 1851-C is the most logical choice for the gold dollar in this set as it is the most common and affordable date. A pleasing Extremely Fine can be obtained for $1,500 or so. About Uncirculated pieces range from $1,750 to $3,500 depending on quality.

The optimum quarter eagle for this set is the 1847-C as it is the most common date of this denomination from Charlotte by a large margin. A nice Extremely Fine example costs around $2,000 while About Uncirculated coins range from $2,500 to $4,000. It is possible to upgrade to a much scarcer date without paying a substantial premium. As an example, the 1843-C Large Date sells for around the same price in Extremely Fine as does the 1847-C but it is much harder to locate.

In About Uncirculated, the 1847-C used to be much less expensive than all other Charlotte quarter eagles but the price spread has diminished in the last few years. This, in my opinion, makes dates such as the 1843-C Large Date, 1848-C and 1858-C very interesting alternatives, especially in the lower range of the About Uncirculated grades.
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The Three L’s of Coin Photography

By Pinnacle Rarities

The digital age has ushered in a new coin cabinet for collectors. Digital photography allows collectors to display their treasures without leaving their valuables exposed. Registry programs and advances in the digital technology, coupled with the proliferation of the rare coin websites and social networking platforms, has made digital coin representations an integral part of a collector’s portfolio. The overall demand for quality photos has been facilitated by digital camera manufacturers who produce a number of cameras capable of capturing the nuances of rare coins. With practice, consistent high quality images can be taken by any collector, even with a limited equipment budget. If you plan on photographing your coins yourself, here’s a quick primer. Consider these three “L’s” before you get started – the lens, the lighting, and the luster.

The Lens

The first “L” stands for the lens, but it includes other camera equipment too. It isn’t necessary to spend thousands to capture images of you coins. However, don’t fool yourself. In photography, the more you spend, the more you get. The “more” may just be more bells and whistles. But most likely, the “more” will be in the optics. The cheaper lenses do not produce as sharp an image especially along the peripheries. It will perform poorly in tougher lighting situations. The general rule here is the more light that gets through the lens, the better the depth of focus. Better light will result in crisper images up close. The better the lens the more light it lets through.

In this same vein the body of the lower priced camera will not have the options and “gadgets” that the more pricey models may include. The expensive models will produce better resolution and have a wider range of file types and sizes to choose from. You will get better results with cameras that have interchangeable lenses. You should outfit these cameras with a good quality macro lens (macro zooms are adequate, I suggest splurging on a dedicated macro lens). If you’re using an “all in one” point and shoot camera, you’ll still be able to get great images. However, a macro setting is a must. The macro setting is usually a flower icon. You may want to consult your owner’s manual.

If you are planning to image coins sealed in third party holders (or slabs), consider this plastic an additional “lens”. Before you photograph your coins, be sure that you’ve cleaned the holder to the best of your ability. Fingerprints and sticker glue will fog the holder. Many holders develop scratches on the surfaces from handling and contact with other holders. These will show-up in high quality images. Some of this can be removed or at least masked using a variety of plastic cleaners and polish. The heavier scuffs may need a light polishing with the aid of a small power craft tool fitted with a polishing wheel. (We use a Dremel MiniMite). Practice this before ruining a holder on a prized possession.

You’ll need to stabilize the lens and camera. Trying to achieve anything of quality with a handheld camera is futile. A simple inexpensive tripod at the corner or a low table works as well as a professional photo stand. Remember position you camera where you’ll be able to manipulate your lights, while keeping the camera stationary. This set-up is our second “L”.
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The Top Ten Best Coin Protection Products

By Razi – Wizard Coin Supply
Top Ten Coin Protection ProductsWizard Coin SupplyIf you have a valuable coin collection or you aspire to build one, it is imperative that you take the necessary steps to protect your coins and, ultimately, your investment. Much damage that is done through improper handling or storage of coins can not be reversed. As a result, each passing year sees fewer and fewer original, problem-free coins remaining.

The incremental cost of quality hobby supplies and tools for the proper storage and handling of one’s collection is marginal compared to the value of the coins in the collection. While there are countless products on the market that claim to offer the best protection for your coins, we have identified what we believe to be the 10 best coin protection products available today.

10. Flat Clinch Stapler

– One big category of coin damage we see is from staple scratches. Much of this damage comes from staples that are not completely clinched. Normal staplers leave a curl of the staple rising above the surface. This piece of staple can easily scratch adjacent coins as the coin shifts in a box or is removed or inserted from the box. Flat clinch staplers fully compress the staple into the surface of the holder leaving nothing behind to damage other coins. We like the Max HD-50DF because it is full size and uses regular staples. Max also makes half strip and palm size versions for collectors that prefer a smaller stapler. All three staplers completely clinch the staple as part of the stapling process.

9. Gloves

– A second big category of damage type we see on coins is fingerprints. The oils and acids present on one’s hands can damage coins if left on the surface of the coin for an extended time. Initially, they can cause a fingerprint pattern toned area that is unattractive and lowers the value and grade of the coin. Left unattended, these oils and acids can eventually etch the surface of the coin making the fingerprint permanent. Even handling coins by their rims still allows the dangerous compounds onto the rims of the coins. Using a pair of soft cotton gloves when handling raw coins helps protect all three surfaces of the coins. Make sure you get a pair of thin gloves so that you can still feel the coin. Bulky “work gloves” make it harder to handle small items and increases the risk of dropping the coin.

8. Silica gel

– Metal and water do not go well together! Almost everyone intuitively knows to keep their coins from getting wet but many collectors do not realize that even the moisture present in the air (humidity) can be enough to cause damage. Silica gel absorbs moisture that makes its way inside your safe deposit box, safe or other storage area preventing it from reaching your coins and causing damage. Silica gel can be easily reactivated in the oven when it has absorbed as much moisture as it can hold. Before shopping for silica gel, measure the size of the area to be protected and then buy the appropriate size of silica gel for storage space. (more…)

Which Gold Coins Are Popular and Why: Part One

BY Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

A question that I am often asked by new collectors is “which gold coins are popular?” I think this is a great question and one certainly deserving of a blog. I’m going to not only answer this question for each denomination, I’m going to give a few reasons why I think certain coins/types are or are not popular.

I. Gold Dollars

People tend to be in one of two camps when it comes to gold dollars: they either love them or they hate them. This is mainly due to these coins small size. I am clearly in the “love ‘em” camp and have, over the years, handled many finest known and Condition Census pieces.

In my experience, the most popular gold dollars are the Dahlonega issues. Produced from 1849 through 1861, they are very collectible and a number of the issues are quite affordable. The most popular is the 1861-D which, at this point in time, is the single most popular gold dollar of any date. This is clearly due to this coins historic significance.

At one time, the Type Two issues were extremely popular with date collectors. But the values of the 1854 and 1855 Philadelphia issues have dropped considerably in recent years. At the same time, the branch mint issues of this design (1855-O, 1855-C, 1855-D and 1856-S) have become exceedingly popular.

Type Three gold dollars tend to be overlooked but offer the collector a number of very good values. The best known–and most popular–issue is the ultra-low mintage 1875.

II. Quarter Eagles

As a denomination, quarter eagles are fairly popular and they are clearly increasing in popularity each year.

The pre-1834 issues are all rare. They are not as popular as the half eagles and eagles of this era but there are a number of people who specialize in them and they are seldom overlooked when offered for sale. The most popular early dates are the 1796 No Stars and the 1808. Both are one-year types that have low original mintage figures. (more…)

Top 10 Rare Coin Purchasing Strategies

By Kathleen Duncan – Pinnacle Rarities

Top 10These strategies were based upon the true case of two collectors who each decided to assemble a million dollar collection of high grade United States coinage, then seven years later, both decided to sell. One now has a collection that is worth upwards of $2 million while the other individual’s coins are worth $600,000. What did collector #1 do that was so much smarter than the other? In the end, the difference was the way that they bought coins; there were a number of important purchasing strategies employed by the first collector that were ignored by the second.

Collector #1 did the following: he was patient, he chose his coins carefully, he was loyal, he was not a slave to published bid levels, he reached for the best available coins and he assembled a true collection as opposed to an accumulation. Collector #2 made rash, impulsive purchases, bought coins from a wide variety of sources (some reputable, some not), would never purchase a coin unless it was priced at a “bargain” level and wound-up with a strange, disconnected assemblage of coins rather than a true collection.

It is a good idea to look at some of these points more carefully to understand why one collector did so well while the other did not.

1. For the collector, patience is a virtue: One of the key reasons for the success of collector #1 was his patience. Instead of wildly charging out into the market and buying whatever looked interesting, he was highly selective. In fact, he typically purchased just a few coins each year. Collector #2 was extremely impulsive and purchased some coins that, in retrospect, made no sense. As an example, he bought at least three five-figure coins that he didn’t really like and which he knew, even at the time they were bought, that they would have to be upgraded. And he purchased some other coins that had absolutely no thematic tie-in to what he was collecting. These were quickly jettisoned at a significant loss.

2. Always buy the best coins you can afford: If you care about the financial returns provided by your coins (and if you are buying coins that are more than $1,000 each you should) then it is important to buy the best you can afford. A collection should be centered around quality instead of quantity. This means that you will have to tailor your collection around your budget.

3. Both collector #1 and collector #2 had the same budget but collector #2 wound-up buying dozens of coins while his counterpart only purchased a few. The result was that the first collector had a small collection of superb pieces with enough of a synergistic tie-in that it was more valuable as a whole than as a sum of its parts. The second collector had an assemblage of expensive coins that, because of the presence of a number of “dogs”, would have to be broken-up and sold piece-by-piece.

4. If you find one or two dealers you like, stay loyal to them: Yes, this is a self-serving comment, but nonetheless this is earnest advice and it works. If you establish a good relationship with a knowledgeable expert, you are more likely to get good deals from this person. That dealer will be genuinely concerned about the coins he sells you, especially if he knows that he will have a chance to resell them in the future. Because collector #1 was loyal (and because he established a good relationship during the time spent with a dealer pursuing coins) he purchased great coins at fair prices. Collector #2, while a very good person as well, never became a faithful customer and, as a result, dealers were less enthusiastic to sell him their very best coins. (more…)

Finally…An Appeciation for San Francisco Gold Coinage

After decades and decades in the dumps, it looks like there are small signs of life in the San Francisco gold coin market. But the activity in this market area is sporadic, to say the least, and is being led by exactly the sort of coins that you wouldn’t think would be the pacesetters.

There are plenty of overgraded, unappealing high priced San Francisco gold coins on the market right now. You haven’t been able to give these away for years. You still can’t. San Francisco gold coins that are faux-rarities, uninteresting dates or processed with no eye appeal are impossible to sell.

The coins that are suddenly selling have three things in common:

1. They are genuinely rare dates and most are either from the Civil War era or the years right before the war (i.e., 1858 through 1860).

2. They are well-worn but problem-free coins in the VG to VF grade range. These are true collector coins and this little renaissance of interest is obviously collector-based.

3. They are in PCGS holders. There are a few exceptions to this rule but the people buying these coins seem to want PCGS graded coins. This may be because they are forming Registry Sets.

The denominations that seem to have generated the most interest are half eagles and eagles but from time to time a quarter eagle is included as well.

The recent Heritage Central States auction included a few early, rare San Francisco gold coins that nicely illustrate this new trend. Let’s take a quick look at each.

The first was Lot 3476, an 1862-S quarter eagle that was graded F15 by PCGS. This is a rare date in all grades with just 8,000 struck. It sold for $1,092.50 against a Trends value of $550 in F12. Why did it sell for double Trends? The reason is obvious: Trends is way too low for a coin as rare as this. I would have figured it was worth around $700-800 but even at a shade under $1,100 I think its great value. (more…)

Thematic Collecting of US Silver Commemorative Coins

By Kathleen Duncan – Pinnacle Rarities

The silver commemoratives produced between 1892 and 1954 are remarkably adaptable in terms of collectibility. Most collectors assemble a standard fifty piece type set which includes a single example of each basic half dollar type plus the Isabella quarter and the Lafayette dollar. This set can then be expanded to fifty-three coins with the addition of the basic major varieties: 1921 Alabama 2×2, 1922 Grant With Star and the 1921 Missouri 2×4. Taking this a step further, the collector can assemble a complete 144 piece set which contains an example of the branch mint and multiple year issues, where applicable.

What about the more casual collector who likes silver commemoratives but who doesn’t have the resources (or perhaps level of interest) to delve this deeply into these issues? We recommend thematic (or topical collecting) which is very popular in the field of stamps and which can be very well adapted to silver commemoratives.

In a nutshell, a thematic collecting of silver commemoratives takes a group of approximately four to six coins which are tied together by a basic theme. Four examples which we find appealing are as follows:

(NOTE: Because of the relative availability of these coins in lower grades, we suggest the collector stick to PCGS or NGC graded examples in the Mint State-66 to Mint State-67 range. The values listed below are for attractive, nice quality coins.)

I. Civil War Issues

There are a number of commemorative half dollars that are related to battles or great leaders of the Civil War. Listed alphabetically (along with the year in which they were issues), these are as follows:

* Antietam (1937). This issue was produced to commemorate the 75th anniversary of this epic Maryland battle. It is a very affordable coin with nice MS-66 examples currently valued around $750-1,000 and MS-67’s at $1,350-1,650. (more…)

14 Fundamental Reasons Why You Should Be Investing Your Money . . . In Money

Concentrate on popular‚ rare‚ historically significant quality coins as part of an overall investment plan in good times and bad…and history suggests that the rewards are great. There are numerous reasons why the demand for rare coins is growing among collectors and investors alike. Here are fourteen of the most fundamental:

Fundamental Reason #1: Diversification

Investment professionals recommend ten to twenty percent (and sometimes higher) of an investment portfolio be devoted to tangible assets in order to maintain diversification‚ reduce overall risk and create a hedge against inflation. Rare coin investing‚ and owning hard assets‚ should be one of the foundational elements of any portfolio.

Fundamental Reason #2: Stability

There is little history of dramatic sudden price shifts with truly rare and popular rare coins. This is partially due to the huge collector base…an estimated 35‚000‚000 and new ones entering the market all the time…who create a steady‚ consistent demand for the coin market. And‚ since a collector/investor takes physical possession of his or her coins‚ there are none of the destabilizing forces that exist in other markets.

Fundamental Reason #3: Rarity

It is estimated that only 2% of all the rare U.S. coins ever minted still exist. This existing supply is consistently being reduced as collectors/investors buy more‚ hold them longer and take them off the market. By the year 2015‚ experts believe that there will be some 100‚000‚000 coin collectors/investors worldwide‚ or nearly three times the number that exist today. Since there will be no more new coins available for these new collectors/investors‚ prices should continue to rise to meet the increased demand—a basic supply/demand fundamental.

Fundamental Reason #4: History

Since coins have commemorated heroes‚ great achievements and significant events throughout history‚ a collector/investor is essentially purchasing a piece of history AND a piece of art. (more…)