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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…)

New Collector Coins from The Royal Canadian Mint

The Royal Canadian Mint is proud to demonstrate its skill and craftsmanship with a new selection of precious metal collector coins celebrating symbols of Canadian heritage ranging from prehistory to heraldry. These new collector products include a $300 platinum coin featuring the giant prehistoric ground sloth, a $300 gold New Brunswick Coat of Arms coin and extra-thick “Piedfort” pure gold and silver Maple Leaf coins.

“The Royal Canadian Mint values the role its collector coins play in showcasing Canada’s vast heritage through precious and unforgettable works of art and craftsmanship,” said Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint.

“Collectors from Canada and around the world will find that the Mint’s newest collector coins honour the tradition of celebrating Canada’s defining features through keepsakes of uncompromising quality”.

The following are descriptions of the products now available to collectors and gift givers worldwide.


The Royal Canadian Mint is proud to celebrate its expertise and artistry in the field of precious metal refining and manufacturing with a pair of pure gold and silver “Piedfort” coins whose exceptional thickness distinguishes them from ordinary coins and makes them spectacular gifts or collectibles for those with an eye for the exclusive.

Both the $10 1/5 oz. 99.999% pure gold coin -the Mint’s first gold Piedfort, and the 1 oz. 99.99% pure silver coin -only the second of these coins the Mint has produced in silver, feature the iconic maple leaf, long symbolic of the Mint’s leadership of the world bullion industry. Only 3,000 1/5 oz. coins of 99.999% pure gold and 9,000 silver one-ounce coins of 99.99% purity are being made available in this exciting release.

The entire mintage of 99.999% pure gold coins Piedfort coin is offered as part of a set including the 99.99% pure silver Piedfort coin, retailing at $679.95 CAD. Another 6,000 individual silver Piedfort coins are being offered at $79.95 CAD each.


The fourth issue in the Mint’s exclusive Prehistoric Animals Collection of 9995 fine platinum coins features the gigantic Jefferson’s Ground Sloth, so called after the third President of the United States of America donated, in 1797, the first fossil specimens found in North America to Philadelphia’s American Philosophical Society. The tradition of showcasing the fascinating animals which roamed ancient Canada continues on this precious Mint coin containing a full ounce of pure platinum. Like the rare bones of the creature it immortalizes, this platinum coin has been made in very low quantities, with a worldwide mintage of only 200 examples. Designed by Alberta artist Kerri Burnett, this coin retails for $2,999.95 CAD.


2010 American Eagle Platinum Proof Coin Available August 12

Coin features second new reverse design in six-year “Preamble Series”

The United States Mint today announced that it will begin sales of the one-ounce 2010 American Eagle Platinum Proof Coin at noon Eastern Time (ET) on August 12, 2010. The 2010 coin features the second reverse (tails side) design in the six-year “Preamble Series” program introduced in 2009. The program commemorates the core concepts of American democracy by featuring the six principles of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution. The 2010 coin design is emblematic of the theme “To Establish Justice,” the second principle found in the Preamble.

The reverse designs of the coins in the series are inspired by narratives prepared by the Chief Justice of the United States at the request of the United States Mint. The other five design themes are: “To Form a More Perfect Union” (released in 2009); “To Insure Domestic Tranquility” (2011); “To Provide for the Common Defence” (2012); “To Promote the General Welfare” (2013); and “To Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity” (2014).

Orders will be accepted at the United States Mint’s Online Catalog at or at the toll-free number 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Hearing- and speech-impaired customers may order by calling 1-888-321-MINT. A shipping and handling fee of $4.95 will be added to all domestic orders. Orders will be limited to five coins per household for the first week of the product’s release. At the end of this week, the United States Mint will re-evaluate this limit and either extend, adjust or remove it.

The 2010 coin’s reverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Donna Weaver and sculpted by Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill. The design features a blindfolded justice-symbolizing impartiality-holding traditional scales and carrying a branch of laurel. Inscriptions are JUSTICE THE GUARDIAN OF LIBERTY (from the east pediment of the Supreme Court building), 1oz., $100, .9995 PLATINUM and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. A new design element, an American Eagle “privy mark,” is being included on each coin in the series. The privy mark is from an original “coin punch” identified at the United States Mint at Philadelphia. The coin’s obverse (heads side) was designed and sculpted by United States Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti. The design features Lady Liberty, a symbol of vigilance and resolute faithfulness to duty.

The American Eagle Platinum Proof Coins are minted at the United States Mint at West Point and have the W mint mark. Mintage is limited to 10,000 units. The coin’s price will be based on the United States Mint’s pricing structure for numismatic products containing precious metals.

Collector Coins Offer Enjoyment and Profit

The numismatic marketplace is a diverse landscape of collectibles and investment opportunities that offers both opportunity and enjoyment to those who venture into some of the less publicized areas.

At CoinLink we tend to focus on classic rarities, major rarities and coins that have both a historical and pedigreed back-story. We love to find unusual items to present to our readers along with “important coins” that stand out in numismatic history and give us a better insight into how and why our coinage was conceived, developed and collected.

However this is just one arena in which collectors pursue their interest in the hobby. Many are drawn to specialties such as Bust Half dollars or Seated coinage, some focus on classic commemoratives or rare date gold. And many concentrate on Modern coins and new mint issues including high grade bullion coins or one of the many commemorative coins produced each year by the US mint.

One area where scant attention has been paid is to the World Collector Coin market. These are generally Silver coins, based around a particular theme and produced by several national mints under the authority of small far away counties such as Tuvalu and The Cook Islands.

The Perth Mint has been a prolific producer of such coins covering Nature, Military History and Famous People to Maritime and Aviation themes.

All these coins are visually striking and most incorporate innovative manufacturing techniques to add Holograms, colorized backgrounds and even revolutionary new design concepts such as the ‘orbital’ coin where the coin rotates around a fixed center.

Mintages for these coins is almost always limited, often to as few as 5000 coins, and are generally Sold out within a very short time after they are introduced.

Cory Maita of Gainesville Coins remarked that they can’t seem to keep these coin in stock. ” The demand is amazing and the collector coins just fly out the door”

Gainesville Coins is a major seller of collector coins and because of their special relationship with many of the mints and suppliers, they often are the first company to have new issues in stock and ready to ship.

The New 2010 Warrior Series has been very incredibly popular. The coin’s reverse portrays a Roman legionary in colour. Tough, courageous and highly-disciplined infantry soldiers, professional legionaries formed the backbone of the Roman army, a formidable fighting force that conquered and controlled Rome’s vast Empire.

The legionary is dressed in a galea, a metal helmet with cheek guards, and a cuirass, body armour comprising overlapping iron plates. The legionary is also wearing an apron of leather strips featuring metal plates hanging from his belt, and caligae, leather sandals with iron hobnails.

This Four coin set will also include the Viking, Knight and Samurai. (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…)

Collector Coins From The Royal Canadian Mint To Feature Nature and Canadiana Themes

Royal Canadian Mint marked spring’s arrival with a strong accent on nature in the launch of exciting new coins designed to appeal to the discerning collector and the budding coin enthusiast alike.

A number of popular series continue in this latest release of 2010, notably: the 99.999% pure gold Canadian Floral Emblems series featuring Manitoba’s Prairie Crocus; the 1/25 oz. pure gold coin honouring the RCMP; the Birds of Canada 25-cent coin series celebrating the colourful Goldfinch; and the 2010 50-cent specially-wrapped coin roll.

New entries include a $20 Fine Silver coin adorned with a painted water lily and CRYSTALLIZED™ Swarovski Elements; a $2 “Young Lynx” circulation coin in a new Wildlife Specimen Set series; and, new Coin Collector Cards featuring complete sets of 2010 circulation coins available in four different “all-Canadian” backgrounds.

“Every year, Royal Canadian Mint coins are inspired by the best of Canada’s history, culture and values and the richness of these most recent themes proudly stands out on the best collector coins in the world,” said Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “In the spring of 2010, our collector products continue to demonstrate that quality, innovation and artistry are at the heart of every coin produced by the Royal Canadian Mint”.

Below are descriptions of the featured products being launched today.

The addition of genuine CRYSTALLIZED™ Swarovski Elements to finely crafted Royal Canadian Mint numismatic coins has delighted collectors since their first appearance of our popular Crystal Snowflake and Crystal Raindrop coins.  In 2010, this innovative enhancement simulates three water droplets shimmering over a beautifully painted water lily gracing the reverse of a 99.99% pure silver coin.

The painting of a blooming water lily on an impressive 38 mm coin is inspired by the 75th anniversary of Flore laurentienne, a seminal compendium of Canadian flora by renowned botanist Brother Marie-Victorin.  Designed by Quebec wildlife artist Claudio d’Angelo, this coin is limited to a mintage of 10,000 coins worldwide and retails for $104.95 CDN.

The Mint’s 2010 $350 Pure Gold Coin is the 13th in a series started in 1998 and features the Prairie Crocus, Manitoba’s official flower.  Made of 99.999% pure gold, this newest addition to a precious collection of Canadian floral emblems stands out as the finest gold collector coin in the world.  The reverse of this exquisite coin was designed by Ontario botanical artist Celia Godkin.  Limited to a worldwide mintage of 1,400, this coin retails for $2,599.95 CDN.

2010 1/25 OZ GOLD COIN – RCMP
The smallest gold collector coin currently produced by the Mint has been a perennial favourite since its introduction in 2004. In 2010, the 1/25 oz 99.99% pure gold coin is dedicated to the RCMP, one of Canada’s best known and most enduring icons. This coin is limited to a world-wide mintage of 14,000 and retails for $109.95 CDN. (more…)

Teletrade Presents “The Lakeside Hoard” Beginning March 28 through May

Teletrade, America’s premier Internet auctioneer for certified coins and currency – has been selected as the exclusive auctioneer of “The Lakeside Hoard,” an amazing collection of more than 3,500 certified U.S. coins amassed over several decades during the consignor’s nationwide travels.

The first selections from “The Lakeside Hoard” were offered in Teletrade’s online auction 2830 on Sunday, March 28, 2010.

Fresh coins from the collection will be allocated weekly through April and May. All Lakeside lots will be pedigreed in the online catalogs for identification.

The collection is made up of popular collector-grade certified U.S. coins that are sure to impress collectors and enthusiasts of all interests and budgets.

A featured highlight from “The Lakeside Hoard” is a collection of 1932-D quarters in a wide range of grades – offering something for everyone who has ever dreamed of owning a coveted 1932-D in their collection!

Click here to view lots from “The Lakeside Hoard” in auction catalog 2830.