Archive for the ‘Collecting’ Category

Is Perfection Worth It?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Since the advent of third party coin grading, many collectors have focused on finding examples of coins in the highest grade available. Some collectors who have worked to assemble top graded sets in classic series have been rewarded handsomely when their collections are sold at auctions decades after they were originally assembled. But will collectors of top graded modern coins experience the same benefit when it comes time to sell?


Modern series are much different than classic series in that the production quality is typically much higher. Many series are also created specifically for collectors leading to a very high survival rate. As such, it is possible for certain series to be collected entirely in MS 70 coins, signifying the highest grade on the 1 to 70 point scale.

For series which began in the past decade or so, these MS70 coins command a premium above raw of MS69 graded coins, but it is perhaps a reasonable amount since typically a sufficient number of coins have been graded as such to satisfy the market. However, going back a few years further, before coins were immediately graded in mass and production quality was not so high, the perfect graded coins are more scarce.

For example, many American Silver Eagles from the 1990’s are represented by only a handful of MS70 graded examples. Registry set collectors vie for these rare examples and bid them to prices in the thousands of dollars. This compares to prices below one hundred dollars for the same coin graded only one point lower.

Time will tell if these top graded coins retain their value. Prices may be impacted negatively by increased populations for the previously rare coins, or simply a drop in demand. However, it is also possible that as more people collect a certain series, there will be greater demand for the small number of top graded coins, driving prices higher.

A New Style for the Annual Proof Set

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Collectors have long been enamored by products which can be purchased directly from the United States Mint. In the early history of collecting this included proof coinage and certain medals, which could be order through the mail or picked up at mint offices. In modern times, this has expanded to a large proliferation of different objects and packaging options that can be dizzying in nature. One noted expansion took place in 1983.

From 1968 onwards, the US Mint had been offering an annual proof set containing examples of each of the circulating denominations in proof format. These coins were struck at the San Francisco Mint and carried the “S” mint mark. Highly popular, sales extended into the millions of units for most years.

In 1982, Congress authorized the first modern commemorative coin, which was followed by another program in 1983 and for most ensuing years. The US Mint created a product which would combine the popular annual proof coins with the newly issued commemorative issues. These were all placed within a deluxe style of packaging and marketed towards an upscale audience. Th product was dubbed the Prestige Proof Set.

The offering proved highly popular, particularly for years which included commemorative coins with broad appeal. Sales reached a peak of nearly 600,000 units with the release of the Statue of Liberty Commemorative Coins. Despite the early popularity, over time sales would slowly slip as the Mint introduced many other new types of products. By 1995, sales had dipped to nearly 100,000 units. This was spelling the end, and in 1997 the final set was issued with sales of 80,000 units.

Valuable Key Date Indian Head Cent

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

One of the most highly sought after Indian Head Cents that avid collectors would like to own is the rare 1877 dated issue. The Bronze coin, containing an alloy of 95% copper and 5% tin, had a mintage of just 852,500 coins.

The series of small cents was produced for circulation between the years 1859 and 1909, when they were supplanted by the new Lincoln Cent.  As with any collectible coin, their value is determined by both their rarity and their condition. Collector preferences also play a part in determining the level of demand.

In the case of the 1877, there is no question about its rarity as evidenced by its very limited production. The status as a classic key date adds more appeal to the issue. It is very hard to find these coins in very fine condition or that never made it into circulation.

According to a general consensus from some of the most respected coin industry rating services such as the Handbook of U.S. Coins and the Numismatic News, a circulated example in good condition can sell for around $1,000 and one that has not been circulated can bring as much as $3,000.

Of course, the market is always changing, but, according to the U.S. Coin Values Advisor, the 1877 Indian Head Coin has just about doubled in value in the latest 10 year period of 2002-2012. In G-4 condition, the coin is currently estimated to be worth about $850.

Best Places To Find Rare Nickels

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Coin collectors know that shield nickels are great finds, and any collector who knows his stuff would probably spend his entire coin collecting life pursuing one of these coins if he has not found one yet. Shield nickels were produced from 1866 to 1883 and were the first of the denomination to depart from the 90% silver composition that prior coins had. Rather the composition consisted of a copper and nickel combination, which¬† occurred after silver came in short supply at the end of the Civil War. The Shield nickel also holds the distinction as one of the first coin series to carry the motto “In God We Trust.”

For certain issues of the series, collectors can take years to find one in high grade and with exceptional attributes. Finding a nickel minted in the rare years would mean paying a hefty price for it, especially if it is rated with a higher grade. One of the best places to find Shield Nickels is eBay, but you can also find mint coins on Etsy, Most Popular Collectibles at Auction, and other sites that offer unconventional items for sale.

Collectors who are not too meticulous about their specimens have better luck finding Shield nickels in the lower grades. These specimens typically go for 10$-25$ on eBay.