July 2003 Book Review Part Three
Special *July 2003* Early Addition Of Our Book Review:
Indepth Book Review On 2000 North American Coins & Prices:
A Guide To U.S., Canadian and Mexican Coins....
Collectible Treasures Antique and Collectibles
Book Review July 2003
Interesting Information On Coin Collecting as noted in the 2000
North American Coins & Prices: A Guide To U.S., Canadian and
THE THRILL OF THE HUNT
How to acquire coins for your collection by: Al Doyle
Among the many pleasures coin collecting offers is the satisfaction of
acquiring that long-sought piece that fills an important hole in a set or
completes a collection. Many collectors say half the fun of pursuing the
hobby is the thrill of the hunt--trying to find that needed coin in the
condition desired and for a good price. Following are the main sources
from which collectors acquire coins.
Once the most popular method of building a collection, hunting through
pocket change has declined substantially since 1965, when silver dimes
and quarters were replaced by clad (base-metal) coinage.
Most collectors from 1935 into the 1960s got started in numismatics
by searching through circulating coinage. It was worth the effort, as
scarce and interesting coins such as the 1909-S "VDB" and 1914-D
Lincoln cents, Liberty and Buffalo nickels, 1916-D and 1921 Mercury dimes, and Barber and Standing Liberty quarters were often found. Hobbyists who searched bank rolls and bags obtained at face value
had no downside risk, and entire date collections of Lincoln cents were obtained in this manner.
Other denominations were also pursued in the treasure hunt. On Midwestern
dealer found dozens of 1939-D Jefferson nickels (worth $1 to $30 each
at the time, depending on condition) by searching through change
obtained from parking meters of a nearby city. Another well-known numismatist put together a complete date and mintmark set of Walking Liberty half dollars in one afternoon by searching through coins obtained
at his bank. Needless to say, those days are gone forever.
What is available to pocket-change searchers today? Even the pre-
1959 cents, with the wheat-ears reverse, are rare sights, but some interesting coins remain undiscovered.
Jefferson nickels can provide plenty of collecting enjoyment for virtually
no financial commitment. A recent sampling of five rolls (200 coins, or
$10) turned up 58 different date and mintmark combinations. Some of
the highlights were a 1938-S (mintage 4.1 million) in grade fine, a 1947
in very fine, and a 1953-S. Looking through Jeffersons on a regular
basis should lead to building the better part of a date and mintmark set.
Half dollars are the other relatively untapped area in modern coinage.
The 40-percent-silver pieces of 1965 to 1969 can sometimes be found
in bank rolls. Half dollars seldom circulate, which means that older
coins may be gathering dust in your local bank vault at this very
Collecting Lincoln cents with the memorial reverse, from 1959 to date, makes an excellent starter set. Many of the dates can be found in circulation.
What else might turn up in pocket change? Modern proof's enter
circulation from time to time, and foreign coins are found occasionally. Canadian and U.S. coins frequently cross their respective borders.
Collectors of error coins sometimes find unusual pieces in circulation. What may be scorned as a reject by the average person is a valuable
item to the error and variety specialist.
Start examining your pocket change. It's an inexpensive and pleasant
way to get involved in the coin hobby.
Most medium-sized or larger cities and suburbs have at least one coin
shop within driving distance, and a surprising number of small towns
also boast of having a store that caters to local numismatists. Living in
or near a metropolitan area is an advantage for the coin-shop enthusiast. For example, more than 15 dealers live in or near Cincinnati, and
southern California and the New York area are home to hundreds of numismatic firms.
In some ways, a coin shop is similar to a small museum. All kinds of
items from early coppers to gold coinage and other collectibles such
as paper currency, stock certificates, and historic curiosities can be
seen. A visit to a well-stocked shop is a visual treat.
It is likely that some of those coins in the display cases will appeal to
you, and that means some comparison shopping and determining the
value of your favorite coin are desirable. Prices do fluctuate, although collector-oriented coins tend to maintain steadier values than coins
sought by investors.
If you are a casual collector, consider a subscription to Coins magazine.
A monthly publication, Coins offers articles on a wide range of topics
as well as a Coin Value Guide of retail prices for U.S. coins in most
Serious collectors and others who want more frequent information will
find Numismatic News to be a timely source of knowledge. Published weekly, the News includes coverage of recent market trends and reports from major coin conventions. World Coin News is published every other week and covers non-U.S. issues. All three publications also carry
display advertisements from dozens of coin dealers.
Prices are determined by supply and demand as well as the grade, or
state of preservation. Grading is often described as a subjective art
rather than an exact science, and it does take some study and
experience to become a competent grader (see Chapter 4).
Numismatic education is a never-ending process. Getting to know
an experienced dealer who is enthusiastic about his product will
certainly increase your knowledge of coins. Most shops carry a wide assortment of items, but dealers (like anyone else) have their personal favorites. If you find a dealer who is especially knowledgeable about a certain series, it could be to your advantage to do business with him or
her if that also happens to be your favorite area too.
Strangely enough, doing business with a dealer who does not share
your particular interest could work in your favor. Learning about
collectible coins is a massive undertaking, and no one knows
everything. Collectors of large cents and Bust half dollars are willing to
pay substantial premiums for coins that have minor differences from
other specimens struck during the same year, and specialists in those areas frequently "cherrypick" rare varieties that are offered at common-
Never be embarrassed to ask questions about coins or the dealer's experience in the hobby. As the old saying goes, "There is no such
thing as a dumb question." A question asked at the right time could
save you plenty of grief and money.
This is one area that generates a fair amount of emotion among
collectors. Many hobbyists swear by the convenience of shopping
at home; others swear at mail-order firms that send overgraded and overpriced coins. Common sense and the same quidelines that apply
to shopping for any other item should be used in selecting a mail-order
Look for someone who has a fair amount of experience in coins as well
as enthusiasm for the hobby. Reputable dealers are willing to answer questions about their numismatic backgrounds and business practices. Word of mouth is ofter said to be one of the most effective forms of advertising, and it pays to ask other collectors about their favorite mail-
If several people agree that a firm provides accurately graded coins at
fair prices, chances are excellent that you will also be a satisfied
customer. How do you avoid being cheated? Collectors can be their
own worst ememies and are often victimized by their own greed.
Take a coin that has a retail value in the $100 range in a particular
grade. If that same coin is advertised at the same grade for $49.95,
the savvy collector should immediately become suspicious. When a
coin is offered at a price far under the going rate, remember these two sayings: "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is," and "there is
no Santa Claus in numismatics."
A dealer will generally pay $70 to $80 to acquire a popular coin with a
retail value of $100. With that in mind, how can someone offer the
same coin in the same grade at far less than wholesale cost?
Wouldn't it be much easier to sell those coins to other dealers at a
higher price and save on advertising expenses?
Obviously, the "underpriced" coins are not the same quality as their properly graded counterparts. It pays to keep up with current prices
and grading standards. It is possible to find good deals at less than
full retail cost, but don't expect to purchase decent coins for half
of July 2003 Book Review
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