Hello family of coin collectors everywhere!
Collectors, please share this with your loved ones.†
As the holidays are approaching (only less than a month to go of you're reading this in November of 2021!) and we smell the delicious (or not so delicious) eggnog coming from the kitchen, we all ponder the same question: What to give our family for the holidays? When you think of that one cousin or grandkid that collects coins, you are always confused by grading, and pricing, and why a half dollar is worth more than half a dollar, even when your coin collecting relative tries in vain to explain it to you. So I'm here to give you some great tips while you buy those coins, so you can get right back to that holiday cheer and spending time with your loved ones.†
1. Know What Your Collector Collects: We all know that our coin collecting relative collects coins. But why are you just swiping your credit card the moment you see a coin that is labeled as "Collectable"? When thinking about gifts, it is always smart to ask your coin collector what he/she/they collect. The field of numismatics (coin collecting) is very broad, and if you don't even know what the coin looks like, you will probably end up buying something your beloved collector won't be interested in.†
2. Know What Coins Are Missing From Their Sets: Most collectors from some obscure (to you) reason must have every different combination of date and mintmark (where a coin was made). So learn what dates/mintmarks they already have, and learn where the mintmark is on their coin they chose to collect (see tip one). This will help you better understand what they are looking for, and make sure whatever coin you buy them will be placed in their folder/album and be treasured for years to come.†
3. Raw Or Slabbed: For some weird (again, to you) reason, some coins you see listed in catalogs are placed in weird plastic holders. You've also seen your relative's collection, and their coins are stored with the plastic case in an album. It doesn't matter if you get them the plastic version because your collector can just break the plastic, right? Not exactly. First of all, any coin you see encased in plastic is what we call (in collector lingo) "slabbed". To get a coin to be slabbed, the collector must send a coin in, and "slabbing" costs an average of $25 per coin. Now you know why your collector wasn't willing to break the plastic open to get the case. If your collector collects "raw" (not slabbed) coins, get them raw coins. If your collector collects their coins slabbed (incased in plastic), get them slabbed coins. Simple.†
4. Know Your Silver Dates: Have you noticed that some people selling coins will sell quarters for $5 a piece? Can't you just find those in your pocket change for, well, a quarter? Most likely, you're looking at a silver quarter. Most people refer to any denomination above the nickel as "silver", but that really just isn't the case. Ever since 1965, all coins above the nickel have been made of a mixture of copper and nickel. But find any quarters, half dollars, or dollar coins dated before 1965, and you've just found a collectible. This is a cheap way to find a holiday present, but it isn't easy. I've personally searched over 6,000 quarters, and I've only found four silver quarters to date. But still, it doesn't hurt to look. Side note: Nickels were also silver from 1942 to 1945. There are some nickels dated 1942 that aren't silver, however, so look for a large letter "P", "D", or "S" above Monticello on the back of a nickel to see if you've found silver.†
5. Just Because A Coin Is Dirty Doesn't Mean It Isn't Valuable: So you found a dirty coin in somebody's selling stock for $25. Aren't they overcharging you because it's dirty? Not necessarily. Dirt doesn't take away a coins value. Grading (something your collector has spent a lot of time explaining to you without success) does not revolve around how much dirt a coin has on it's surfaces. IMPORTANT: IF YOU BUY A DIRTY COIN, NEVER TRY TO CLEAN IT. Even the slightest scratches or fingerprints WILL devalue a coin, unlike most dirt.†
Sometime in the near future, I'll list the last five tips in Part Two. Stay tuned.†
Soon to be Happy holidays!