$10 Indian Head Eagle Gold Coins – 1907 to 1933

By: John Douglas

The $10 Indian Head Eagle gold coin, also know as the $10 Eagle, minted from 1907 to 1933, is considered to be one of the most beautiful American gold coins produced by the U.S. Mint. Its production came about through the insistence of President Theodore Roosevelt. He did not like the current design on his Inaugural Medal that was designed by Charles E. Barber and George T. Morgan, nor other coins being produced by the mint at the time.

The President had some artistic friends who encouraged him to have it re-done. “I think our coinage is artistically of atrocious hideousness,” President Theodore Roosevelt wrote in a note to Secretary of the Treasury Leslie Mortier Shaw on December 27, 1904, and then continues, “Would it be possible, without asking permission of Congress, to employ a man like
Saint-Gaudens to give us a coinage that would have some beauty?”

President Roosevelt commissioned the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens for the task of coming up with a new design. Saint-Gaudens accepted this assignment, but was so terribly busy that he only had time to sketch out some rough ideas on a paper napkin while making the train trip from
Washington. He had told President Roosevelt that he would need to have his associate, Adolf A. Weinman, to do most of the actual work on the design. Collectors today will probably know Weinman for his work on the Mercury dime and the Walking Liberty Half Dollar.

Several modifications of the initial design were made for reasons of minting problems and the $10 Indian Head Gold coin was finally released to the public. There were 239,406 of these that were put into circulation in the fall of 1907. They continued using this last design until the early part of
1908.

Indian Head Eagles are 26.80 mm in diameter, weigh 16.718 grams and are composed of .900 fine gold. The reverse depicts a standing eagle, wings slightly spread, regal in appearance. The obverse depicts Lady Liberty wearing a Native American war bonnet. The edge of the coin is unique decorated with 46 raised stars for the 46 current states in the union at the time instead of the typical reeded edges that had become so common.

President Roosevelt strongly felt that using the words In God We Trust was blasphemous so they did not appear on these new coins at first. So there were 33,500 of these coins made in Philadelphia, and another 210,000 in Denver that did not have those words on them in 1907 and 1908. However, Congress was not happy with this decision and insisted that the words be put
back on the coins. In 1908 they appeared to the left of the eagle on the back side of the $10 Indian Head Gold coin. The mint marks for Denver (D) and San Francisco (S) appear to the left of the bundle of arrows the eagle is standing on. There is no mint mark for $10 Indian Head Eagles produced in Philadelphia.

While there were regular issue coins that were made at all of the mints from 1908 to 1911, and then in 1914, only Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints made eagles in 1912, 1913 and 1915. They were made only in San Francisco in 1916 and 1920.

As far as collecting goes, there have been a few of both the 1930-S and the 1933 $10 Indian Head Gold coins that have shown up periodically. If you are looking for scarce and rare coins to add to your collection, you will want to search for the ones with 1909-D, 1911-D 1913-S, 1915-S and 1920-S. All of these coins are rare, especially in mint state condition. So you are a lucky collector if you find any of them. Common date Indian Head Eagles are widely available in mint state certified condition at reasonable prices. The $10 Indian Head Eagle was well received when introduced to the public in 1907 and continues to be popular with collectors today.

Article Source: http://collectibles-articles.com

An avid fan and collector of American gold and silver coinage, John Douglas writes extensively on the history and mintage of pre-1933 American Gold Coins. Find in depth information about collecting American Gold Coins, their history and design, and supplies for all coin collectors at www.americangoldcoinshop.co

$5 Indian Head Half Eagle Gold Coins – 1908 to 1929

By: John Douglas

America in 1908 was a nation in the midst of wide ranging social and economic change. Headlines of the day sound like they were ripped right from todays news. Women were banned from smoking in public in New York City. A car began production that was advertised to get 25 miles to the gallon. The first “Round the World” car race was staged. New Years Day was celebrated by the famous ball dropping for the first time in New York’s Times Square. And the new $5 Indian Head Half Eagle gold coin, as well as its smaller sibling the Quarter Eagle, debuted in November 1908 to great controversy.

President Theodore Roosevelt had determined it was time for the nations coinage to change and become more beautiful. The well known sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt designed the obverse and reverse for the Half Eagle as well as the smaller Quarter Eagle. And the design was controversial from the start. It didn’t look like the typical American gold coin with its incuse, or sunken, design. Complaints were made that the portrait of the Native American model appeared emaciated. Banks complained the gold coins were difficult to stack and would be too easy to counterfeit. It was even claimed by some that the coins design would harbor dirt, germs and disease making them a hygiene problem, all of which proved untrue.

Roosevelt let the coins production move forward as planned despite the complaints and the complainers. The $5 Indian Head Half Eagles production lasted only a few, short years from 1908 through 1916. It was resurrected again in 1929 with a production run of 662,000 pieces but the majority of those were destroyed before ever leaving the mint. It was the last time a $5 Half Eagle gold coin was to be minted for circulation in the United States. From the time American gold coins were first minted in 1795 to 1916 the $5 gold coin only missed production in 3 years, 1801, 1816 and 1817. It was one of the most successful denominations produced by the U.S. Mint.

Today, the $5 Indian Head Half Eagle is one of the most popular collectible American gold coins. It is relatively inexpensive when compared with its big brother, the $20 St. Gaudens Double Eagle.

The obverse features a proud Native American facing left and wearing a War Bonnet. Around the obverse are 13 stars and the word LIBERTY featured at the top. At the bottom is the year produced and just above the year are the initials of Bela Lyon Pratt. A standing Eagle dominates the reverse of the coin standing on a bundle of arrows. Around the circumference is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, to the left of the Eagle is E PLURIBUS UNIM, to the right the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Physically the coin is 21.60 mm in diameter, weighs 8.359 grams and is .900 pure gold. There are key dates that stand out in this series. Obviously 1929 is one, followed by the 1909-O and 1911-D.

Because of its design it is somewhat difficult to be graded correctly, especially by those unfamiliar with its unique design, because it doesn’t have the traditional high spots where you’d normally look for wear. That’s why it’s important to look for coins that are graded by either PCGS or NGC, or that you know and trust the person from where you are purchasing the coin.

These beautiful American gold coins enjoy a very strong following and sell quickly, especially in certified mint state or about uncirculated condition. They are a great addition to anyones coin collection. The $5 Indian Head Half Eagle is far more popular today than during the time it was produced.

Article Source: http://collectibles-articles.com

An avid fan and collector of American gold and silver coinage, John Douglas writes extensively on the history and mintage of pre-1933 American Gold Coins. Find in depth information about collecting American Gold Coins, their history and design, and supplies for all coin collectors at www.americangoldcoinshop.com

Start Your Own Coin Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old Coins: Discover The Thrill Of Owning A Piece Of History

Among the mainstays of coin collecting, old coins are among the most exciting and sought after members of the coin family. Not only do they tend to be rarer than modern coins, but they are often made from valuable materials that actually worth more now than the actual denomination of the coin itself. Which makes old coins that much more of a thrill.

One reason why old coins become value is the simple fact that old coins were often made from precious metals, such as gold or silver. Thus, old coins can often be worth more melted down than they would if they were spent like regular change. However, the fact that they are still stamped coins makes them even more valuable. And their value is only enhanced even more by the fact that they have been around for a while.

Old coins are made even more valuable when they are also rare. Fortunately, the fact that coins are old tends to make them rarer. This is because the older a coin is, the more likely that people have exchanged it for more modern currency and the more likely that the government has gotten a hold of it and melted it down. In fact, most governments have specific legal requirements to destroy old coins in order to keep the money supply modern, making it more difficult for coin collectors to find old coins.

However, coin collectors don’t just look for old coins because they are valuable. They are also unusual and provide a connection to people who lived long ago. When you have an old coin in your hands, you are holding the same coin that was passed from hand to hand one hundred, one thousand, even two thousand years ago. They are not just metal, they are pieces of history. What you see and feel in your hands is exactly what your forebears saw and felt.

When you hold old coins in your hands, you are not just holding some old money. Rather, you are holding links to your forebears. Those coins have moved through history as surely as great architecture. And the old coins you collect may have even made history on their own. Who knows whose hands those old coins may have passed through? They may have been in the palms of kings and presidents, philosophers and physicians, writers and artists, or inventors and tycoons. And with the number of times that change changes hands, there is no telling who might have spent those old coins you are adding to your collection.

While old coins can be good investments, they are much more than that for a coin collector. They are windows to long gone pasts and forgotten times. They are connections to people who have lived all manner of lives and done things both great and small. So when you see old coins, remember that many people have worked to earn that coin and they have all, at some level, appreciated its presence in their lives. So enjoy those old coins that you collect and appreciate them for the fact that they could fill entire books with the stories that they have to tell.

What is the Difference Between a Coin’s Price and its Value?

Price and Value are Not the Same Thing

There is a big difference between the price of a coin, and the value of a coin. Although you often see these words used interchangeably, it is important that you understand the different concepts represented by each.

The “Price” of a Coin is How Much it Would Cost You to Buy it From a Dealer

This is pretty straightforward. The “price” of a coin is merely the amount that it would sell for on the open market, otherwise known as its “retail price.” Coin prices are set by many different factors, including the type and grade of the coin, its rarity and desirability, and to some extent its availability in the marketplace. The most frequently used price guide to U.S. coins is the Red Book.

The “Value” of a Coin is How Much You Can Sell it for Today

Here’s where it gets a little complicated.

When you want to establish what your coin collection is worth today if you wanted to sell it, you are establishing its value. The amount you can sell your coins for (its “value”) is considerably less than its “price” if you had to replace them. Dealers need to make a profit to stay in business, so when you go to sell your collection, you’re not going to get those nice, high Red Book prices. The Red Book prices are retail amounts.

Consider the Blue Book

There is another book, known as the Blue Book, (formally titled “Handbook of United States Coins”), which is the most widely used guide to wholesale coin values. These are the values a coin dealer will offer to pay you for your collection. They typically run about half of what the coins retail for. Coins which derive most of their value from bullion (such as common-date American Eagles and Double Eagles) will get you more (75% to 85% or so) because most of their value is based on the gold itself, rather than the rarity of the coin.

Appraising Your Collection for Insurance Purposes

The one time when it is correct to use the “Price” metric to determine what your collection is worth, is when you are establishing its value for insurance purposes. In this case, you want to insure the replacement cost of your coins. Since you’d have to pay the Red Book (retail) price to replace them, this is the metric you should use.

Always be Realistic About Prices and Values

There is nothing more satisfying to a collector than to pluck a coin worth $100 in the Red Book out a dealer’s $10 pick bin. And in this case, you’ve probably done very well, because it’s likely the dealer overlooked something here. But the more typical case is finding lots of $20 Red Book priced coins the $10 bin. This is because the dealer is probably overstocked in this material, and would be happy to get his cash back to make more marketable purchases. Be careful that you don’t get carried away thinking you’re getting bargains in cases like this, because the amount you can sell the coin for, its value to you, is about what you paid for it. In other words, don’t deceive yourself into thinking that the value of a given coin is equivalent to the price you paid for it.

Coins, Paper Money, Or Stamps

What should you collect as a hobby; coins, paper money, or stamps?

Which is the best investment?

It’s strange that some people who collect coins, paper money, or stamps, always want some kind of return on their investment. These are the same people who think nothing of buying a new car and then selling it a few years later for a fraction of what they paid for it. A new car loses value as soon as you drive it on the road!

As for investing in paper money, if someone is buying notes and thinking how much will they be able to get when they sell them again, this person has the wrong hobby. Enjoy collecting for the pleasure and for the fun of it.

Coins and stamps are tangible reminders of years gone by. Yet, while coin collecting is flourishing as a hobby, stamp collecting is decreasing in popularity. Many families who inherit stamp collections are more interested in getting the collection appraised than continuing the collection. You can’t collect something if you don’t know what it is.

Stamp collecting dates back to 1840, when the first stamp was issued in England. One of the earliest indications of stamp collecting is an advertisement from an English newspaper in which a young woman wanted used stamps to wallpaper her room. Soon, post offices discovered stamp collectors as a good source of revenue. From there, stamp collecting took off.

There are no rules about stamp collecting. Some people collect stamps from a certain country while others focus on a particular theme, such as flowers, or ships, or buildings.

Unfortunately, stamp collecting has simply lost its appeal to younger people.

Coin collecting, on the other hand, is at its peak in popularity. Rare or modern coins offer history that collectors can hold in their hand, and every period from the past 2,500 years is reflected in coinage.

Stamps disappear and become part of the ground. A coin can be dug up and, while new varieties of stamps are not really being discovered, new types of coins from all over the world are still being found. How many stamps or bank notes do you think you’ll find while out exploring with a metal detector?

Whilst improperly stored coins can degrade and lessen in value, paper money can be damaged by handling, sunlight, or water. All are subject to flood, fire, or other natural catastrophes.

A stock certificate with half of it burned away is just as good as a mint one in terms of its value on the exchange. In fact, as long as ownership can be proven, it often doesn’t even matter if the physical certificate exists. The same can’t be said for paper money.

You can insure against these problems, and go to great lengths to maintain proper storage conditions, but all of this costs money and adds to the cost of the investment, often for many years before there is any return at all.

Today, coin collecting is one of the world’s most popular hobbies. Amateur collectors enjoy coins for their beauty and rarity. Added to this is the excitement of searching for and finding specific coins and the challenge of identifying new ones.

Why is coin collecting thriving and stamp collecting dying? Coins are still being used and are still fascinating. It is an investment as well as a hobby. Coins continue to go up in value while many stamps are at the peak value they will ever receive. Furthermore, many are going down in value.

Enjoy your hobby, and consider whatever you invest in it to be pleasure money, the same way you would count money you spent going to ball games, or dining out, or buying new clothes. Then, whatever you or your family get out of your collection is pure profit, whether it is more or less than what you originally paid.

After all, if you spend $20 a week going to the movies, you don’t expect to get anything back for your $1,000 a year collection of ticket stubs, do you?

I believe there is room in both the collecting of coins and paper money for both collectors and investors.

The important thing to remember in investing in coins or banknotes is rarity and desirability.

How Do I Sell My Coin Collection?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In summary, here are the tips

1. Know what you have, prepare a comprehensive inventory

2. Research some dealers before you contact one.

3. Talk to dealers before sending coins to gage interest

4. Send your coins. Package them well and insure them

5. Review the offer

6. Collect the cash!

As always, happy collecting!

Do You Have Precious Rare Coins In Your Purse Or Change Jar?

A Guide to Rare Coins in Circulation Today

It’s usually a small thing that turns regular looking money into valuable rare coins. Last year’s materials used instead of this year’s, a tiny symbol left off a minting die. Collectors covet the unusual and uncommon above all else, and these minor oversights result in a very limited number of coins. This means that supply is much lower than demand, and even something that looks almost exactly like a common penny can actually be a precious rare coin. Even more interesting is that many of these rare coins were released into circulation before anyone realized that a mistake had been made. Because not many people know what distinguishes precious rare coins from run-of-the-mill legal tender, these coins can remain in circulation for decades, until a lucky coin collector recognizes them.

How would you feel if you knew that you had handed over a penny worth $2,000 or more as change for a dollar? This guide will help you recognize a few exceptional American rare coins that you just might have lying around your house, shoved in a change jar, or tucked away into a pocket.

Rare Coins with Mistakes in the Printing

One of the most common mistakes that turn normal coins into limited rare coins is a mistake in the printing. In the case of a nickel minted in 1964, the problem happened when a plate was cleaned too often, and a part of one letter was worn away, leaving the Jefferson nickel with the inscription “E PLURIDUS UNUM.” It took collectors quite some time to catch on to the misspelling of the word “PLURIBUS,” but now these limited nickels are highly sought after. A similar problem resulted in the 1970-S Atheist Cent, when the motto “In God We Trust” was covered with a blob of metal, causing it to read only “In God.”

Another common oversight is when the mint mark, the tiny letter on most American coins that indicates which mint created the coin, is missing or incorrect. Some rare coins with this mistake include the The 1982 no-P Roosevelt dime. The Philadelphia mint used no mint mark until 1980, when it started stamping coins with tiny P’s. Yet somehow, a small number of dimes minted in 1982 were a throwback to the time before the mint mark, and bear no letter P. There were only a few coins with this error, and their scarce nature has made them valuable to collectors. A similar problem happened in Philadelphia a few years later, when the P on the die of some 1989 quarters was clogged with dirt, preventing the coins from being properly stamped.

Rare Coins with Double Printing

Minting problems don’t only involve the writing on the coin. Sometimes a problem with the die causes a coin to be double stamped accidentally, resulting in a very unusual form of rare coins. Some precious coins with double stamping include doubled-die Lincoln cents from 1972, 1983, and 1984, and a doubled quarter minted in New York in 2001.

Rare Coins with the Wrong Metals

Other than printing problems, another reason why rare coins can be minted is when the wrong precious metals are used to make the coins. American coins have undergone several changes in material. For example, during World War II, pennies were made out of steel, because copper was needed for the war effort. Nevertheless, a very few pennies were minted in 1943 out of copper instead. These rare coins are worth upwards of $200,000 today, and they look exactly like any other penny.

As you can see, sharp-eyed coin collectors can really make a profit by keeping their eyes for rare coins in everyday transactions. Most people wouldn’t look twice at a unique find like a 1943 copper penny or a dime that’s missing a letter nearly too small to see. By knowing what coins are limited and rare, you could make an exceptional find just sorting through your household change.

Do I have to Buy the Best Quality Coins to Make Money?

Buy quality! Buy quality! Buy quality! That’s all you hears these days when you are considering rare coins as an investment. First, are you really buying coins as an investment, or merely for the pleasure of owning a piece of history? That is sometimes the real dilemma for many collectors, or is it investors? Everybody wants to make sure that their investment is protected, but there are no guarantees, especially in rare coins. In fact, some rare coins take years to appreciate to the point of being able to sell it profitably.

Hey, I would love to be able to plunk down $100,000 for a 1919-s Standing Liberty Quarter in MS67 condition certified by PCGS. There is only one coin with this date certified by PCGS as of February 7th so it is the finest available. But not many of us have that luxury. I don’t, and I suspect you do not either. It’s hard to comprehend paying more for a single coin than my first house cost. And while the rarest and finest of all rare coins have reached stratospheric prices, what does this leave the rest of us? Not much, unless you are willing to do a little work.

So if my interest is in rare coins as an investment, what do I do? Well, there are many other coins and options you can choose. First, let’s review what drives the price of a coin.

1. Demand. Demand perhaps is the biggest driver of price. A clear example of this is the 1909 S VDB with a mintage of 484,000 and an estimated retail value of $720.00 in G4 and $7,500 in MS65 vs. an 1879 Shield Nickel. The Shield Nickel had a mintage of only 29,100 yet the estimated retail value of a G4 is only $415 while the MS65 example is $1,950. To further illustrate this point, PCGS has certified 703 MS65 Red 1909 S VDB cents and only 27 MS65 Shield Nickels. How many Shield Nickel collectors do you know vs. Lincoln Cent collectors?

2. Scarcity. Generally speaking, putting demand aside, the more scare/rare a coin, the higher its value. This is usually very true, especially when comparing dates within the same series. Scarcity should not be confused with overall mintage. During the silver booms, many, many silver coins were melted for there bullion content. Additionally, some coins with higher mintages can be quite rare in certain grades such as higher MS condition coins due to weak strikes, etc.

3. Condition. This is the most obvious one. When comparing the same coin, the better the grade, the higher its value.

4. Age. Although age can have some factor, I would rate it lower than the three above

Ok then, considering all these factors, how do I find nice coins that I can afford that will not only appreciate in value, but appreciate at a higher rate than other coins? I think the key word here is “nice”. Coins other than Mint State coins can appreciate in value if you know what to look for. Look at the 4 driving factors of price again. They are demand and scarcity. Take a good look at the following chart. The chart shows a good comparison of some different coins. Some you might consider a good investment and some you may not. The main comparison I am trying to make is from 2005 to 2006. I had an old issue of Coins Magazine from November 1973 so I thought I would throw those values in as well.

First, let’s look at the 1877 Indian Head Cent, the key of the series. In a one year period of time, the value of the coin rose 18-19% depending on condition. The 1909 S, the coin with the lowest mintage of the whole series rose only 2-3%. Take a look at the mintages. The 1877 had over 2.5 times the coins produced than the 1909 S yet is valued much higher. Part of this is demand and there are probably less 1877 dated cents to go around.

Next, take a close look at the 3 Lincoln Cents in G4. While the 1909 S and 1931 S are considered keys just as the 1909 S VDB is, it is the 1909 S VDB that has risen in price while the 1909 S did not budge and the 1931 S moved ever so slightly. It is interesting to note though that in XF condition the 1909 S VDB stayed the same.

Compare the mintages of the 5 above coins to the 1879 Shield Nickel. A mere 29,100 nickels were produced that year yet the price for a G4 is a paltry $415

So, what does this all prove? To me, it proves that picking coins solely for investment is as tricky as playing the stock market. You just never know what may be the hot item. Certainly, key issues will continue to rise and will probably rise at a higher rate than non-key issues. If you are truly set on buying rare coins as an investment and you cannot afford the high-end items then keys in some of the lower grades may be the way to go.

What will be the next “hot” coin? Only time will tell and your guess is as good as mine. I suspect that with more and more interest in Lincolns, especially with the upcoming changes to the Lincoln Cent

As always, happy collecting!

Collecting Greek, Roman, And Other Old Coins

A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Inexpensive Old Coins

Collecting old coins is like holding a piece of history right in your hand. It is common to find affordable ancient Roman coins that are 1600 years old, and many are even 2000 years old or more. Imagine that the ancient Roman denarius in your collection might once have bought admission to the gladiator fights in the Coliseum or chariot races at the Circus Maximum. The best thing about collecting old coins is that, unlike other antiquities, ancient coins are remarkably affordable. Because so many ancient coins have been discovered, and more are being unearthed every day, it is possible to buy millennia-old coins for only a few dollars apiece. For less than the cost of a movie ticket, you could own a link to olden times.

Things You Should Look For While Buying Old Coins

Unless you are looking to spend some serious money on your collection, the old coins that you buy will probably not be extremely valuable as an investment. However, that should not undermine the thrill of being able to own a genuine aged coin on a shoestring budget. There are numerous places, both online and off, that sell inexpensive old coins. The important thing to look for when buying these ancient coins is that the coin is identifiable. It is disappointing to buy an aged coin, only to realize that there is no way of telling what it actually is. The best way to ensure that an ancient coin is identifiable is to be certain that the writing and inscriptions on it are legible.

Buying Uncleaned Lots of Old Coins

Of course, there is another bargain option when buying ancient coins, and that is to buy a lot of uncleaned coins. These are old coins that have been unearthed in archaeologically rich areas like Italy or Greece, but have not had the dirt and buildup of the centuries cleaned from them. Uncleaned lots of elderly coins are exciting because you never know if the coins will be so worn that there is nothing left but a smooth piece of metal, or whether you will uncover a genuine rare coin. You should be aware, however, that the likelihood of finding a high-value gold or silver coin among uncleaned lots is extremely slim. Furthermore, the reason why uncleaned lots are sold to begin with is that cleaning old coins is a difficult endeavor in the best of circumstances. Removing large amounts of dirt and debris from ancient coins carries the risk of spoiling the coin.

How to Store Old Coins

Elderly coins, like elderly people, require tender handling. It is important to remember that one of the vital factors regarding the value of an old-time coin is the patina, or the sheen that builds up on the surface of a coin over time. The last thing you want to do is to polish an ancient silver coin so that it is bright and shining! When dealing with old coins, you should only hold them by the edges, since the oil on your hands can ruin the patina. Do not attempt to clean old coins on your own without learning a lot about the proper techniques. Only a veteran should attempt to clean a potentially valuable aged coin.

When storing old coins, always use acid-free materials; any other kind of storage could damage the coin. You’ll need a safe place to keep your ancient coins. Some options include mylar flips, acid-free plastic sheets that go into three-ring binders, and even special collector’s cases, if you want a particularly elegant look for your collection.