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Secrets of Coin Collecting

Revealed


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How can I learn to grade coins?

Get a reference book such as Photograde or the ANA Grading Guide at your local coin shop or bookstore. Compare the pictures and written description of a selected coin in the book to one of your coins. Observe and compare as many coins as possible at a coin shows or shops. Check the grade displayed on the coins and compare it to what you have learned from the grading books. If you think the grade displayed on the coin is different from what you read, ask (in a courteous manner) why the dealer graded the coin the way he did. Explain that you are trying to learn how to grade. Most dealers will be happy to share their knowledge if approached properly. Be sure to look at the whole coin. Don't focus on just a part of the coin and base your grade only on that part. For example, if the liberty on a given coin is weak indicating a Fine grade, and the rest of the coin is strong indicating a VF or better grade, then do not base your opinion of the grade just on the weak liberty. Overall, if the coin in question is a VF, then the grade should be VF. Be sure to look for any faults on the coin that will impact on the price. Faults such as cleaning, bad dings (not consistent with the grade), or scratches should cause the price of any coin to be less. The rule of thumb is the more original the better. With continued study, you will in no time at all be grading like a pro!

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How can I tell if a coin is worn or just weakly struck?

Examine the coin very carefully using good light and magnification. Wear will appear as "criss-crossed" lines in an area where the original luster is absent when compared to the surrounding area. This area of wear will appear gray on silver coins. A coin that is weakly struck will still exhibit mint luster in the weakly struck area. The area where the coin is weak in strike should appear as lusterous as the rest of the coin. The distinction between wear and weak strike should only come into play on coins that appear Uncirculated. An obviously circulated coin should have any weakness of strike factored into the overall grade.

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How can I determine what a coin is really worth?

With so many different Price Guides around, it is no wonder that it is very difficult to find out what a coin is really worth. First of all, remember that no matter what source the information is from, it is only a Guide, a starting point for negotiation of value. The values listed are not "set in stone", and no person, collector or dealer is obligated to pay the price listed. It has always been assumed that the Redbook values are high. For the most part this is true. However, as always, there are exceptions to the rule.

The standard pricing guide for the Coin Industry is the Coin Dealer Newsletter, the graysheet. For those not familiar with the graysheet, it lists a bid and ask price for most U.S. single coins and major type coins. The problem is the bid and ask structure. This seems to imply that a dealer will pay the bid and sell at the ask. Remember, this is a guide only. If a dealer needs an item immediately, he may in fact pay the listed bid price. As a rule, however, dealer's buy offers are based on their current need, the general availability of the coin being offered, and their business overhead. With these factors considered, an offer of a percentage of the listed bid price is usually made by the dealer. Remember, it will pay to get several dealer's offers before selling anything. Only by doing this can the collector gain the knowledge of what his items are worth.

A reasonable price for the collector to pay for a particuliar coin is to again take into consideration the factors of availability and need. A price of graysheet bid to 30 percent over bid is acceptable, again depending on the particuliar coin. A common coin should be able to be purchased at or slightly under the bid price while a key date coin can be expected to be priced over bid.

All of this considered, the true worth of a coin is what someone is willing to pay. Be sure to shop around!

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How can I sell my coins?

Once the time comes to sell a Coin Collection or Accumulation, one has several options:

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What is PVC?

PVC, also known as green slime is the abbreviation for Polyvinylchloride. PVC is present in many plastic items. Coin flips, 2X2 holders, and tubes have been known to contain PVC. Over a period of time, the sticky green film that can migrate from the container to the coin can cause severe damage. The only way to be safe is to store coins in flips, 2X2's, or tubes that clearly state that they are PVC free. Most quality 2X2's sold today are made from Mylar and are safe for the long term storage of coins. Minor PVC contamination can sometimes be removed by swabbing with trichlorotrifluoroethane. Unfortunately, this substance is now considered harmful to the environment and is difficult to obtain.

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How can I determine the melt value of silver coins?

The melt value of 90% silver coins can easily be determined. Take the spot price of silver and multiply that number by .724. This will tell how much "pure" silver is in $1.00 Face Value of 90% silver coins. The way this works is that two 90% silver Half Dollars contain approximately .724 ounce of .999 fine silver. Example: Silver spot is $10 per ounce. .724 times $10 is 7.24 or another way 7.24 times face.

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How can I convert grams to pennyweight?

Take number of grams times . 643 and the result is number of pennyweight. Take number of pennyweight times 1.55 to get the number of grams.

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How can I clean my coins?

The best answer to this most often asked question is to not clean them at all. Collectors today value the originality of a coin and any attempt to clean a coin will alter this orginality and thereby lower it's value.

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Does toning lower the value of a coin?

The question of toning is really one of personal preference. Some people love it, some hate it. Attractive toning can add market value to a particular coin. By the same token, ugly toning can lessen the market value. If one admires toning, always be on guard for artificially toned coins. Some Coin Doctors are getting very adept at adding toning to cover a blemish.

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What does Bluesheet bid really mean?

The Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter, commonly referred to as the Bluesheet represents the most up to date price guide on Coins certifed by the major Coin Grading Services on a sight-unseen basis. The major confusion arises as a result of the term sight-unseen. The buyer must always be aware that the "bid" price in the Bluesheet represents highest bid for a particular coin without the person who is bidding actually seeing the coin. As a result, the sight-unseen bid price can be very far below what a coin is worth to the same dealer on a sight-seen basis. The bidding dealer must bid for the most unattractive, barely made the grade, coin in a particular slab. He must "hedge" his bid in other words. This is why it is common for a dealer to ask 10% to 100% over the Bluesheet bid for a specific coin. The sale is taking place in a sight-seen environment where the buyer and the seller can see the coin. The coin may be a very "high-end" coin for the grade on the slab, for example a MS63.9, a barely missed MS64. Again, the dealer making a sight-unseen bid on this coin will bid for a coin that "barely" makes the MS63 grade. This is the only way the sight-unseen bidding dealer can protect himself, since he is obligated to purchase the coin no matter how unattractive it is, as long as the coin is in a particular slab and displays the required grade.

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