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!

William Henry Harrison Presidential $1 Coin Goes Into Circulation February 19

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WASHINGTON – The United States Mint will release its ninth Presidential $1 Coin into circulation on February 19, in honor of President William Henry Harrison.  Collectors can begin ordering 25-coin rolls of William Henry Harrison Presidential $1 Coins on the same day, February 19, at noon Eastern Time.  The rolls are priced at $35.95.

United States Mint Opens Exhibit Highlighting Journey to Re-create 1907 Double Eagle

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PHILADELPHIA – United States Mint Director Ed Moy opened an exhibit today detailing the development of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin, a modern version of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ original 1907 Double Eagle $20 gold piece.  The exhibit, previewed at the World’s Fair of Money® last year in Baltimore, is on display at the United States Mint at Philadelphia.  Immediately following the ceremony, reporters and the media got a behind-the-scenes look at coin design using 21st century digital technology used to make the coin possible.


    

2009 Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar Available February 12

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WASHINGTON – This year the Nation will celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.  To commemorate the occasion, the United States Mint is releasing the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar on February 12, Lincoln’s 200th birthday, at 12:00 noon Eastern Time (ET).  Public Law 109-285, the “Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Coin Act,” authorizes the United States Mint to pay qualifying surcharges collected from the sale of these commemorative coins to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to further its work.

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.

2009 United States Mint Presidential $1 Coin Proof Set™ Available February 10

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WASHINGTON – Proof versions of the circulating Presidential $1 Coins scheduled to be released this year will be available in one set beginning 12 noon Eastern Time on February 10, 2009.  The 2009 United States Mint Presidential $1 Coin Proof Set TM, priced at $14.95, contains coins honoring William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor.  Each coin has a common reverse design featuring a striking rendition of the Statue of Liberty.

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!

United States Mint Releases Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin on January 22

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WASHINGTON – The United States Mint is proud to announce the opening of sales for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin on January 22, 2009, at noon Eastern Time (ET).  Pricing for the 24-karat one-ounce gold coin will be based on the United States Mint’s new pricing structure-implemented January 12-and may change weekly.  Information about the most current pricing for the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin will be posted on the United States Mint’s Web site, http://catalog.usmint.gov/.

Determining the Values of Your Coins

Factors that Influence the Value of Collectible Coins

If you are interested in collecting coins, it’s important to be able to have a rough idea of how much coins are worth. Knowing how coin values are determined will enable you to find good deals, and ensure that you don’t get cheated into paying too much money for a coin with a low worth.

Supply Influences Coin Values

One major factor in determining coin values is the law of supply and demand. If there are many coins of a particular type available, that coin will not be worth much. On the other hand, if only a very few coins of that type are produced, the coin values will rise. This is why a completely normal-looking copper penny minted in 1943 is worth about $200,000, whereas a 2,000 year old Roman coin may be worth less than $100 – because thousands upon thousands of Roman coins were minted, but only 40 pennies produced during war-time 1943 were made out of copper.

Demand’s Effect on Coin Values

Even among coins with a similar number of copies in existence, some have a higher worth than others. This is because some coins are in higher demand, driving up the coin values. Coins may become popular because they are particularly lovely to look at, because they are part of a topical set that is often chosen by collectors, or because they have a certain historical significance.

Precious Metals and Coin Values

Some coins are made out of precious materials like gold bullion or platinum. These coin values are less volatile because the worth is guaranteed in part by the material. A gold bullion coin, for example, is usually worth more than its melted weight, but it is never going to be worth less.

Coin Values are Tempered by Grade or Classification

The final major factor in determining coin values is the grade or classification of the coin. The more wear and tear that a coin has undergone, the less value it is going to have. This is why uncirculated coins are usually more valuable than coins that have been passed from hand to hand. Uncirculated coins have always been kept in the very best of conditions, making their value much higher. A coin in flawless condition may be worth hundreds of times more than a low-grade version of the exact same coin.

Now that you understand the basic factors that influence coin values, you have a better grasp of which coins may have real value and which will be worthless. In order to get a ballpark estimate of the value of any coins you might have, you will first need to determine its grade or classification. You can do this by comparing your coin’s condition to a published list of guidelines. Then look up the value of a coin in that condition in a book such as “The Standard Catalog of World Coins,” which should be available in most public libraries. If you need to know the exact amount that your coin is worth, you should take it to a coin dealer and let him or her evaluate it for you.