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 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 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.