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12 Oct 2018

Numismatics Myths

Coins | iccoins

Throughout the world of numismatics, there are several myths that are believed by, often, far too many people. Most of these myths are not believed by coin collectors but are common for outsiders of the hobby to believe – and for good reason. 

1.) Older Coins Are More Valuable Than Newer Coins 

This is sometimes true, but not very often. Of course, a Mercury Dime of any grade would be worth more and be more valuable than a modern non-silver Roosevelt Dime in average circulated condition, as long as it is not a key date coin. There are several times that this is absolutely true, but, if you believe this, you will very likely find yourself in quite a pickle when you have a huge collection of regular coins in a low grade that you kept only because you think old coins are worth more than new coins. This is a common myth or misconception of non-collectors because, in their eyes, you don’t see old coins in change, so therefore, they must be rare. The main reason for this not being the case is supply and demand. The supply of a coin is the mintage numbers, the survival numbers, and how many are currently on the market. The demand for the coin is how much someone, or multiple people, want a specific coin or coin type. As an example, the infamous 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent is incredibly valuable and rare, with a mintage of 484,000. In extremely fine condition, this coin can go for over $1,000. Take many ancient Roman coins. These can easily be had for very little money, often less than $10 each for one with some details. The reason is that of supply and demand. The supply for the Lincoln Cent is low, the supply for some common ancient Roman coin is actually decently high. The demand for a Lincoln Cent is significantly higher due to a large number of collectors that collect these coins. 

2.) Shiny Coins Are Worth More Than Dull Coins 

This is another misconception that is sometimes true, but most of the time isn’t. Of course, a proof or uncirculated coin is generally worth more than a regular circulated business strike, but just because a coin is shiny doesn’t mean it is more valuable. Many non-collectors believe that cleaning coins are good because it makes the coin shinier, and therefore, increases the value. Cleaning, however, decreases the value of the coin by damaging the surfaces of the coin. An uncleaned circulated coin is worth more than the same coin cleaned, even if it is shinier. Most collectors stay well away from cleaned coins, refusing to buy them because they are damaged. Professional grading services, like PCGS, NGC, and ANACS grades cleaned coins with a details grade, a type of grade collectors do not want, and is chosen based on damage to the coin, such as cleaning, environmental damage, and placing holes in the coin. Never clean coins. It only decreases the value more and more, often to the point the coin is only worth face value, depending on the numismatic value of the coin.  

3.) It Is Illegal To Own Gold Coins 

A common misconception is that it is illegal to own gold coins in the United States. It is not. In 1933, the Gold Reserve Act by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made it illegal for private citizens to own gold. It outlawed “the hoarding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States.” The United States government also stopped minting gold coins. At that time, yes, it was illegal to own gold, but there were easy ways to get around this law. Even then, coins with significant numismatic value were exempt from this law. Today, every pre-1933 gold coin has numismatic value, but, at the time, most gold coins were simply worth face value. The Gold Reserve Act stayed around until 1975, at which time it became again legal for private citizens to own and privately hold gold coins and bullion. The simple fact is, if a gold coin or bullion was privately held between 1934 and 1974 without numismatic value, it was illegal. After January 1975, however, it was entirely legal to own both modern gold coins and bullion, as well as coins minted prior to the Gold Reserve Act, commonly known as pre-33 gold. It was stated, however, that the Gold Reserve Act was suspended and not removed, which means it could be placed back into effect at any time. I, however, doubt that will happen. 

If this seems to be a popular article, I will likely make a part 2. If you have any other myths or misconceptions you would like me to discuss more in-depth on a future date, let me know in the comments below. 

Comments

Kepi

Level 6

Great blog! Really enjoyed reading it! Definitely do a Part 2.

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks :) A part 2 may be coming in a few weeks if I come up with more good myths.

JimmyD

Level 4

There’s nothing more beautiful than an awesomely toned silver coin. Removing it should be illegal! Jim

iccoins

Level 4

Toning is always something that some people love and others can't stand. Personally, I'm not objected to toning, but I would prefer a coin with its original mint luster without toning. Regardless of whether or not someone likes the toning, it should never be cleaned. Cleaned coins make me sad :(

"SUN"

Level 6

Another thought provoking blog. Enjoyed it. Longstrider and Mike272 have great comments.

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks :) Those two (along with you) always make great comments.

Myths only affect new collectors, or non-hobbyists. These are some good ones that new collectors need to know before getting deeper into numismatics.

iccoins

Level 4

Exactly. That's why they are so important to make sure people don't do something that hurts a new or inherited collection, their finances, etc.

It's Mokie

Level 6

Any coin described in the newspaper, the 1913 Nickel, for instance spawns a ton of people that believe there dateless buffalo must also be worth a fortune. LOL

iccoins

Level 4

I haven't heard of that one. If that's the case, most people with a buffalo nickel would be rolling with cash ;)

Mike

Level 7

I don't care about myths because I do my homework. First I check the market and see what the metals are selling for. That means the price of coins. It's directly reflected. Second young people don't seem to think that modern coins are go to be old coins. Speculation just like the market. Third I buy what I like if it does t catch my eye I don't by it. Fourth I don't care about how much this is worth or how much that is wort. The value of a coin is the joy and happiness it brings you. Price books you buy ten you get ten different prices. A very wise man told me that A/U are doing great at auctions. I see more and more of them. Thanks for the view we have to protect new collectors . If you want to see what you buy join eBay. That's not a collector he's just a seller. Good blog enjoyed it. Mike.

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks :) I agree. I buy coins because I like them, not because it's a good price (If it's a great price, I might buy it, then sell it to buy something I really want). People do seem to be of the belief that anything minted in the last 50 years or so is worthless, but that isn't necessarily true. Thanks for the comment!

CoinLady

Level 6

Longstrider is right! Thanks for this. Myth: cleaning coins makes them more desirable.

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks :) I put cleaning coins under "2.) Shiny Coins Are Worth More Than Dull Coins ."

Longstrider

Level 6

Good job. If you want some huge lies, I mean myths, watch most of the TV coin sellers. Thanks.

Kepi

Level 6

That's for sure! Those shows are great to watch! haha

It's Mokie

Level 6

Yes, they can be hilarious to a real collector with their assertions the SBA set their hawking for way too much is a bargain. I just feel sorry for the poor folks that buy. They are always paying way more than they would at a show or even a brick and mortar store.

iccoins

Level 4

Good point! I'll look for some of those :)

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