Coin Diagram with Terms and Definitions

This coin diagram above shows all the parts or terms used in describing a coin. In order to better grade, understand and enjoy coin collecting it is important to understand these terms. It also aids in your discussions with other rare coin collectors or dealers.

Device – a design element on the coin such as a bust of a person, and eagle or any other element. Usually the  devices are raised, but on some coins they are below the coin surface (incused).

Rim – A rim is where the edge and the obverse and reverse sides of the coin meet. On many coins there is a raised rim as shown above. The rim can be seen on both the reverse and obverse on this coin. The rim is used to help protect the coin from wear, by providing a raised surface right around the circumference of the coin.

Edge – The edge of the coin is called the “third side” by some. The edge can be plain (smooth), reeded, ornamented, or have letters embossed into it. The edge is the side around the circumference of the coin, the edge is not the same as the rim, the coin rolls on

its edge.

Obverse – The face or front of a coin. “Heads.” Usually has a person, date on this side, but not always.

Reverse – The back of the coin. “Tails.” Usually has secondary design elements, the denomination, and other inscriptions. But not always (look at some modern commems).

Date – The year of the mintage is shown on most coins.

Fields – The open areas of the design, usually they serve as the background and surround the devices. Clean fields are desired in rare coins. Fields that do not have bag marks and are mirror smooth can raise the grade of a coin.

Denomination – The monetary value of the coin.

Mint mark – the mint that produced the coin usually stamps a mint mark for the coin. This shows what mint struck the coin. Most common in the U.S. are S, P, D, CC, O, and WW.

Legend – The words on a coin are the legend or inscription.

Motto – an inscription that has special meaning in the country, such as “In God We Trust” — the motto of the U.S.

Exergue – The area set off from the design for the date. Many times this can be delineated with a line or depressed area. (See the buffalo nickel.)

Dentils (aka Denticles) – the small serrated edge around the rim (tooth-like design around the circumference of the rim). Sometimes small dots can be used, but often, just a gear-like design.

Deconstructing Ten Popular Coin Maxims

We’ve all heard them a thousand times: the numismatic maxims that have been repeated enough times that they have acquired near-mythic status. So are they true or not true?

1. “Size Matters”

True. Big coins are more popular than small coins and will continue to be. While there are some small coins that are popular (most noticeably branch mint gold dollars) most others are unpopular. Double eagles may seem high priced given their mintage figures and relative availability but the demand for choice and rare pieces is increasing. In the long run, it seems likely that new collectors will prefer the heft of larger-sized gold coins than their smaller counterparts.

2. “Sets Are Worth More Than Individual Coins”

True. One of the most significant developments in the coin market in the past few years has been the PCGS Registry Set. Collectors are now able to post the grades of their coins and compete against others. So far, this has most dramatically impacted modern issues. It is likely that “classic” 19th century issues will see more competitive set building in the coming years, especially as such sets are promoted by dealers and encouraged by PCGS and their collectorsuniverse.com website.

An exception to this maxim is a meaningless set. As an example, a set of 1850-O gold coins (gold dollar, quarter eagle, eagle, and double eagle) is not worth any premium over individual price levels for each piece. But, a complete set of New Orleans quarter eagles is worth more, as a set, than the individual coins.

3. “If It’s Slabbed It’s Properly Graded”

False. There is a definite hierarchy when it comes to third-party graded coins. Clearly, PCGS and NGC are the two best grading companies. The next tier is occupied by ICG and ANACS who are also good but whose product is not valued as highly in the marketplace as PCGS and NGC’s. The bottom rung is occupied by such firms as SEGS, PCI and Accugrade. These services grade much more liberally and allow many “problem” coins into their holders. New collectors should be careful to realize that a 1907 High Relief in SEGS Mint State-64, as an example, is typically worth far less than the same issue in a PCGS or NGC MS-64 holder.

4. “Grade Is Better Than Rarity”

False. Back in the 1980’s, there was a widely-held belief that if a coin was not a “gem” than it was essentially worthless. When coin prices came crashing down in the early 1990’s, it was ultra-high grade common issues that suffered the most. As the market became more sophisticated, rarity became more appreciated and in recent years it has generally outperformed grade.

The ideal coin collection features “fundamentally rare” coins in comparatively high grades stressing eye appeal and originality. By fundamental rarity, I mean a coin whose rarity and desirability is not wholly a function of its grade. As an example, a 1795 eagle is a desirable coin whether it is a damaged Very Good or a superb Mint State-65. An 1895 eagle has very little value above its bullion content in low grades and really only attains numismatic value at the Mint State-64 to Mint State-65 level. For this reason, a coin like a 1795 eagle is “better” than an 1895 eagle.

5. “All Coins Sell Best At Auction”

False. For very rare or very high grade coins, auction is an excellent selling venue. But auction is not ideal for all coins or collections.

If you have a collection that primarily features generic coins or have a large amount of coins with tight buy sell spreads (like modern proofs sets and mint sets) then it makes sense to sell these to your local coin dealer. The 10-15% that you pay to the auction company will erode your entire profit margin.

High quality, “fresh” coins sell very well at auction. In some cases, however, private treaty sales can work every bit as well or better. As an example, a specialist dealer may be a better choice to handle the sale of a small to medium sized collection than an auction house. My firm has been chosen to sell some wonderful specialized collection of branch mint gold and has, in my opinion, done a better job of getting top dollar for the owners than if the coins had been placed in auction.

6. “Buy The Book Before The Coin”

True. This hoary old maxim has been repeated to the point of triteness but it remains one of the best pieces of advice a new collector can get. All collectors should assemble a good library of basic coin books and, once they have decided on an area of specialization, assemble a comprehensive specialized library.

Once the basic books have been purchased, it may take some work to find scarce, out-of-print specialty works. The collector should contact numismatic book dealers and specialist dealers to get their input as far which books are important and which are not. If you spend thousands (or ten of thousands) or dollars per year or coins and nothing on books, you are operating under flawed logic.

7. “Quality Is Better Than Quantity”

True. Many new collectors begin with the idea that it is good to have lots of average quality coins. The best collections focus on quality over quantity. In most instances, this means that an important specialized collection will not have more than a few hundred pieces. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. The Harry Bass collection contained thousands of American gold coins. But many of these were duplicates or they represented lower grade die varieties. Plus, Bass had the good fortune to be buying gold coins when they were reasonably priced. Today, it is not practical to assemble a collection as large as the Bass holdings; both from the standpoint of cost and availability.

I purchase (or attempt to buy) collections all the time. The ones that impress me most are “lean and mean.” They contain choice, attractive, interesting coins and often number fewer than one hundred individual pieces.

8. “Non-U.S. Coins Are Good Investments”

False. There are more serious coin collectors in the United States than in all other countries combined. Because of this, it remains unlikely that non-American coins will ever show considerable price appreciation. This doesn’t mean that foreign or ancient coins are “bad deals” and should not be purchased. It just means that if you are concerned with the return on your numismatic investment dollars, you should stick with American coins. Look at foreign coins as a pleasant diversion that can fill in the down time between significant purchases of American issues.

9. “Don’t Be Loyal To A Single Coin Dealer”

False. If you study the buying habits of the greatest collectors, you will note one particularly significant common factor. All of these individuals had close working relationships with one or two coin dealers. This meant that they were able to purchase the best coins from these dealers at fair prices.

The worst way to assemble a collection is to buy fifty coins from fifty different dealers. By doing this you will never earn “most favored nation” status with any one dealer. You may get to speak with a lot of different people (which may not be a good thing…) but you will never get the really good service that they give to their best clients.

10. “High Grade Modern Coins Are A Time Bomb”

True. Tick, tick, tick… The sound you hear is the modern coin market getting ready to self-destruct. In the past year, prices for low population ultra high grade modern coins have skyrocketed. I personally think they are due for a major correction. The most obvious reason for this is potential supply. When price levels for a modern issue are low, there is no motivation to send in examples to PCGS or NGC. But when price levels raise to the point that there is reason to send them in, the floodgates open. Most of these modern issues have mintage figures in the hundreds of millions (or even billions!) and were carefully manufactured. In addition, they are not graded as carefully as older coins. Thus, today’s low population modern coin is tomorrow’s pocket change in a fancy plastic holder. Proceed with caution!!

Article provided courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics

What Are Doubled Dies?

A concise description of how doubled dies occur

by J. T. Stanton, N.L.G.

When the term doubled die is used, we are commonly referring to
a coin which has a doubled or partially doubled image, letters, and/or
numbers. However, a doubled die is actually a die which exhibits
this doubling, and any coin struck from this die will exhibit this
doubling. The correct terminology for the resulting products of doubled
dies would be doubled die coins.

How Doubled Dies Occur – The Hubbing Process

So that we may understand how the doubling occurs on the dies themselves, we must first take a look at the hubbing process; the production of the dies.

Once the coin design has been approved, it is then modeled on plaster in relief (positive), just as it will appear on the coin. The next step is to coat the plaster with epoxy resins to create a surface hard enough to withstand the next process. This epoxy coated model is called a galvano. The galvano is usually 12 to 15 inches in diameter.

The next step is to reduce the design on the galvano to the actual size
of the coin to be produced. To accomplish this, the Mint uses a Janvier
Transfer Reducing Machine
. This machine, operating on the principle of
a fulcrum, will trace the design on the galvano. This is accomplished by a
long metal arm with a tracing stylus on one end as the galvano rotates.
The tracing will be transferred to the opposite end, where a sharp cutting
tool is positioned. This cutting tool will be carving the design exactly
as it is traced from the galvano onto the end of a steel bar. This steel
bar will usually be about 2 inches in diameter, and tapered so that the
end being cut will be the actual size of the coin to be produced. The
steel bar will also be rotating, however at a slower speed, so that the
design being traced from the galvano will be properly transferred. The
process will usually be duplicated at least once to ensure proper
sharpness of the design. Once complete, the steel bar will become what is
known as the master hub (sometimes called “hob”), with
the design again in relief, as it will appear on the finished coin.

 

The master hub is then placed into a hydraulic press, known as a hubbing
press
, opposite another blank steel bar. These steel bars, usually
about 6 inches long, are hardened steel. Several hundred tons of force
will be applied as the master hub and the raw steel bar are brought
together. This process will “squeeze” the design on the master
hub into the steel bar. After one impression, the new steel bar will be
taken to an annealing furnace, where it will be heated to extreme
temperatures to soften the steel for the next impression. When cool, the
new steel bar will again be impressed with the master hub. This process,
known as hubbing, must be performed at least twice to bring the
design up to the desired sharpness. Once the desired sharpness of detail
is achieved, a master die will have been created, with the design
incused (mirror image). Depending upon the design and denomination, the
hubbing process may need to be repeated as many as 15 times. This is the
first point at which doubled die can occur.

There is generally one master hub produced, and possibly two master dies. The master die will create a working hub, again in the same manner asdescribed above (hubbing), and with the design in relief as it will appearon the coin. Working hubs are used to create working dies, with thedesign incused (mirror image). Generally, several working hubs will beproduced, and hundreds of working dies. Doubled dies can occur during any of the above mentioned hubbing operations if the die and hub are not nproperly aligned.

The sequence then is as follows:

 

1. Design approved
2. Plaster model
3. Plaster model epoxy coated (galvano)
4. Reducing machine to produce master hub
5. * Master hub produces master dies
6. * Master dies produce working hubs
7. * Working hubs produce working dies
8. Working dies produce coins

 

* Doubled dies can occur at these stages

 

The Classes of Doubled Dies

There are currently eight different types or classes of doubled
dies listed. These different classes are described and named based upon
the method in which the particular doubled die occurred.

 

It is important to use the correct terminology. “Double die”
would represent two dies, and as you know, we are dealing with a single
die, with a final product which has a doubled (past tense) image,
so therefore, doubled die is the correct term.

 

It is also important to note that in the descriptions that follow, we
often refer to the hub entering the die when explaining how the various
classes of doubled dies occur. We chose this explanation for simplicity,
but keep in mind that doubled die doubling can occur when the master hub
is impressing the master die, when the master die is impressing the
working hub, and when the working hub is impressing the working die, or a
combination of any of these. We are referring to doubled dies in
this text, but you should keep in mind that we are also taking about any
die with a multiple image. Tripled and quadrupled dies are known to exist,
and they are in this same family of die varieties.

 

One final note; keep in mind that the different classes of doubled dies
are numbered and identified with Roman numerals, and not Arabic
numbers.

CLASS I
CLASS II
CLASS III
CLASS IV
Rotated Hub Doubling
Distorted Hub Doubling
Design Hub Doubling
Offset Hub Doubling
CLASS V
CLASS VI
CLASS VII
CLASS VIII
Pivoted Hub Doubling
Distended Hub Doubling
Modified Hub Doubling
Tilted Hub Doubling

 

Class I Doubled Dies – Rotated Hub Doubling

 

This class occurs when the hub, after the initial impression into the
die, is rotated slightly either clockwise or counter-clockwise around an
axis in the center of the coin design prior to being re-entered into the
die. The images around the rim will be of equal spread, and the spread atthe rim will be greater than that nearer the center of the coin. The mostwell known class I doubled die is the 1955 Lincoln Cent doubled dieobverse.

 

Class II Doubled Dies – Distorted Hub Doubling

This class occurs when a die is used for one hubbing, and a die with a
distorted hub used for a subsequent hubbing, creating an image
overlapping, and spread irregularly toward the rim. The process could also
create a die which was hubbed initially with a distorted hub, then
subsequently with a fresh hub, creating a spread in the opposite
directing. The spread will be defined either toward the rim or toward the
center of the coin.

 

Class III Doubled Dies – Design Hub Doubling

This class is caused when a die is hubbed with a hub of one design, and
a second hubbing with a hub with a different design, or the same design
but with slightly different positioning. The 1943/2-P Jefferson nickel is
a good example.

 

Class IV Doubled Dies – Offset Hub Doubling

This form of doubling is caused when one impression of the hub into the
die is offset in one direction from the other. A well known example is the
1983 Lincoln cent doubled die reverse.

 

Class V Doubled Dies – Pivoted Hub Doubling

This form of doubling is caused when the die after its initial
impression is mis-aligned with the hub a second time in a fan shape
direction. The pivot point will usually be near the rim, and the doubling
will be strongest opposite the pivot point. A good example of this
doubling is the 1917 Lincoln cent doubled die obverse.

 

Class VI Doubled Dies – Distended Hub Doubling

This form of doubled die is the most difficult for many novices to
identify, as it will rarely exhibit any separation of the two images. A
die may be hubbed with greater than normal pressure, then hubbed again
with normal pressure, but with the design in a slightly different
position. This will create a single image, but with thicker than normal
letters and numbers, with little or no trace of doubling.

 

Class VII Doubled Dies – Modified Hub Doubling

A hub that was modified or changed so that all or part of the design
element was left on the hub in or around the same or a different design
element, so that all or part of both design elements were transferred to
every die made with that hub, and all or part of both appear on the struck
coin.

 

Class VIII Doubled Dies – Tilted Hub Doubling

A die that was hubbed normally the first time, but the hub or die was
tilted for a subsequent impression so that the hub either made partial
contact with the die at one point, or a full impression that was deeper at
one edge than at the other. This will show on the struck coin as a
displaced part of the design or a tapering amount of relief across the
face of the coin.

 

The descriptions above describe the various classes of doubled dies.
However, it is possible to have a doubled die coin exhibit two or more
different classes. A good example is the 1971-S proof Lincoln cent listed
as 2-O-II+V. This variety exhibits both the class II and class V doubling,
as the secondary image is slightly toward the center of the coin, and also
pivoted. The pivoting explains why the doubling is evident on LIBERTY, but
not on the date.

 

Descriptions taken in part from Alan Herbert’s book Official Price
Guide to Minting Varieties and Errors.
Alan is the catalyst behind
most of out current knowledge of Mint errors and varieties.

Copyright 2000 by J. T. Stanton.
This article may be reproduced in its entirety, as long as the source is
recognized.

 

Contact info:
J. T. Stanton
P. O. Box 15487
Savannah, GA 31416-2187
Phone: 912-667-5799
Fax: 912-233-1291
jtstanton@aol.com
www.cherrypickersguide.com

Ten Ways To Improve Your Coin Collection

by Doug Winter Copyright © August 2000

No one intentionally sets out to create a mediocre coin collection. But many collectors–new and old–make a number of basic mistakes that trap them into a cycle of mediocrity. Here are some suggestions that will make your collection better–and make you a better collector in the process.

I. Have Your Collection Assessed by an Impartial Expert
Although the dealer you buy coins from may be an expert, he is not impartial. I strongly suggest that after you’ve begun a set, find a knowledgeable, legitimate expert who can look at your coins and give you an objective second opinion. When he views your coins, don’t tell him who you bought them from. Instead, get an opinion as to the coin’s quality, fair market value, eye appeal and its suitability in your set.

II. Upgrade Your Key Coins
In any set, the rarest coins should be the highest quality ones. For example, the rarest Dahlonega half eagles are the 1842-D Large Date and the 1861-D while the most common are the 1853-D and the 1854-D. An intelligent collection of Dahlonega half eagles would have very high quality examples of the two rarest issues and decent but unspectacular examples of the two most common ones. Rare coins are always better price performers than common ones and your big dollar purchases should always be choice examples of truly rare coins; not common coins in high grade.

III. Take Advantage of Down Markets
When Buying When the market is soft, you should buy coins; not when prices are increasing sharply. The old cliche “buy low, sell high” is particularly applicable to the rare coin market. There is a proven history of coin price cycles and if you learn how to time your purchases properly, you can buy nice coins at 20-50% discounts off of past market highs. Surprisingly, this generally applies to truly rare coins as well as common issues.

IV. Do Whatever It Takes To Become An Expert
The more you learn about the coins you collect, the better your collection will be. Attend coin shows and significant auctions. Read as much as you can. Go to a class at the American Numismatic Association’s Summer Conference. There are many experts in the coin business who would be happy to share information with you. It is up to the collector to find these people and take advantage of their generosity.

V. Have Your Coins Regraded
Grading is subjective and standards change. If you purchased nice quality coins in the early to mid-1990’s, there is an excellent chance that they will upgrade. Have a dealer you trust examine your coins and give you a second opinion as to their current grade. You might have a considerable amount of added value sitting in your safety deposit box.

As an example, in the past year, I have worked with three different collectors who I sold a number of very high quality coins to between 1992 and 1996. I had close to a 50% success rate in upgrading their coins and added at least $100,000 in value to each set through a few thousand dollars worth of resubmissions to PCGS and NGC.

VI. Learn To Be Patient
Truly great collections, like those formed by Louis Eliasberg, Sr. or John J. Pittman were formed over the course of fifty years. When you rush to assemble a collection, the chances are great that you will make mistakes. If you are putting together a date set or a type set, buy the right coin the first time so you don’t have to continually upgrade. If you like coins with a certain “look,” wait for the right coin to come along. With very few exceptions, the right coin will become available sooner or later. But when that truly special piece does become available, don’t be bashful. Collectors like Eliasberg and Pittman paid what were then considered to be “insane” prices for extraordinary coins. When these coins were sold many years later, they once again brought crazy prices–but this time in modern dollars.

VII. Develop a “Hook” For Your Collection
A popular song becomes a hit because it has a “hook.” A hook is an especially catchy melody that literally “hooks” the listener and makes him remember the song. Great coin collections have hooks as well. A numismatic hook might be coins with great color or a detailed, specialized assemblage or coins from a certain era. When you go to sell your collection, a random group of average quality coins will create no interest. A collection that has a great hook will create much more interest and sell for a hefty premium over a mundane assemblage.

VIII. Form a “Fun” Collection
If you are buying expensive, high end coins, you have to make some stressful decisions. One way to reduce this stress level is to put together a cheap, “fun” set. As an example, one of my biggest clients (who regularly purchases $25,000+ coins) has a secondary collection of Civil War tokens. He’s never spent more than $500 on a token but has put together a really great and interesting set. I take the edge off buying and selling expensive U.S. gold coins by purchasing superbly toned high grade Washington Quarters. A fun collection is especially useful when your primary collection is nearly complete and many months–if not years–may go by between opportunities to fill those last few holes.

IX. Share Your Collection With Others
A good friend of mine, who has a superb collection of Minnesota national bank notes, recently exhibited his collection at a major coin convention. It was the first time I’d ever seen him really have fun with his notes and I think it was a wonderful ego boost for him to bask in the glow his collection received. Another friend of mine, who specializes in Proof bust coinage, is busy compiling interesting information about these under-researched pieces and hopes to write the ultimate guide to them. The Scrooge McDucks of the coin collecting world have no fun and they are missing out on the best aspect of collecting: the fraternization.

X. Improve Your Numismatic Library
There is no substitute for knowledge in numismatics. You should make a goal to add at least one book or catalog to your coin library every month. Become a regular customer of numismatic literature dealers and ask them which books and catalogs are essential to your library. After you’ve purchased the essentials, buy the slightly less important books. Later, buy the esoteric books. Read as many of them as you can. I regard myself as a pretty knowledgeable numismatist but I am continually learning new information from old auction catalogs or obscure reference books.

Provided courtesy: www.raregoldcoins.com. This site is a Gold Coin site and among the best on the internet.

The Five Components of Coin Grading

by Doug Winter Copyright © November 2001

A “grade” is a shorthand devised by numismatists to indicate the appearance of a coin. In other words, if one collector tells another that he has an About Uncirculated-50 Charlotte half eagle, both collectors should have an expectation of what the coin should look like, even if one has never seen it, due to the implications of its grade.

For many years, there were a relatively small number of adjectival grades. Grading became more “scientific” in the 1940’s when the numerical grading scale was invented by Dr. William Sheldon. This scale, which ranged from 1 to 70, was originally devised to ascertain values of 1793-1814 Large Cents by ascribing a basal value to each variety and multiplying this value by the grade in order to determine a price.

The Sheldon grading scale is now used by most numismatists. Newcomers tend to complain that there are “too many grades” but experienced graders appreciate that there can be a huge range in quality between specific ranges.

To better understand coin grading, it is important to study the major components of grade. When I grade a coin, I employ five important individual components which, when taken into consideration as a whole, help me determine my opinion of a coin’s grade. These individual components are strike, surface preservation, luster, coloration and eye appeal.

Strike: The strike of a coin refers to the process of stamping a design onto a planchet or a blank. A coin can have either a strong or a weak strike. Much of this depends on a coin’s design. As an example, certain designs (such as the Type II gold dollar) have the highest relief element on the obverse directly aligned with the highest relief element on the reverse. This means that weakly struck coins are the rule for these designs. Other designs (such as the Indian Head quarter eagle) may be found with sharp strikes on certain issues and weak strikes on others.

Generally speaking, strike is not a major element in determining the grade of a coin unless it is in a series in which value is related to strike. In a series such as Mercury Dimes, where a PCGS MS-66 1945 dime is worth $15 and the same coin with a full strike (designated in this series as “Full Bands”) is worth $7,500, strike is a huge element. In all but a handful of circumstances, strike does not play a critical role in determining the value or United States gold coins.

Surface Preservation: The number of marks on a coin and their placement are important factors in determining grade. There is no set formula that says “X” number of marks on a coin’s surface means that it grades “Y.” But there are some fairly normalized standards in terms of the importance of an abrasion’s location.

If a very nice coin has a deep mark that it is well-hidden on the reverse, it tends not to be severely penalized. But if the exact same mark was located in a prominent focal point on the obverse (the cheek on a Liberty Head double eagle, as an example) it would be penalized considerably more.

Coins that have a very open, uncluttered design tend to show marks more obviously than those with tight, compact designs. For this reason, the intensity of the marks on a Liberty double eagle play a greater role in determining grade than on a Type Three gold dollar.

Certain types of coins are known for showing greater concentrations of marks than others. As an example, the quarter eagles struck from 1821 to 1834 did not see ready circulation. They tend to have reasonably clean surfaces. Indian Head quarter eagles, on the other hand, saw a greater degree of circulation. It is much harder to find examples that do not have the marks, scratches and scuffmarks associated with circulation and/or poor handling.

On United States gold coins, surface preservation is very important in determining grade.

Luster: Depending on the design, mint of origin and the metal used a coin may have a variety of surface textures. These include satiny, frosty, semi-prooflike and prooflike. When analyzing the surface of a coin in regards to grade, there are two things to look for: the amount of the original surface (or “skin”) that is intact and the amount (and location) of marks.

There is really not one type of surface that is “better” than another. In certain series, such as Morgan dollars, premiums are paid for pieces with mirror-like surfaces. In most other series, prooflike coins may be regarded as interesting but not necessarily worth a premium.

On 19th century United States gold coins, I am most fond of a frosty texture. This texture can be found on issues from all mints but it is most closely associated with Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Luster is especially important in determining if a coin is Uncirculated or not. A Mint State coin is, technically, free of wear and should not have major breaks in the luster. However, this is often not the case for coins graded Mint State-60 and Mint State-61. These coins will typically show breaks in the luster; perhaps as a result of a light cleaning or “rub” that occurs from improper storage in an album. A coin that is not Uncirculated will show a greater amount of breaks in the luster and, obviously, a smaller amount of luster.

Luster is another very important component in determining the grade of a United States gold coin.

Coloration: Color is the most subjective factor in determining grade. A coin is either well struck or it’s not well struck; this is not open to debate. But a gold coin that shows deep green-gold color may be attractive to one viewer and unattractive to another. In my opinion, attractive original coloration greatly enhances the appearance of a coin.

Gold is a relatively inert metal and not subject to as much variance in coloration as silver or copper. However, a wide range of colors may be present on gold coins.

Coins from the Charlotte and Dahlonega mints have very distinctive coloration as a result of the amount of silver or copper that was part of the gold found in these sources. Philadelphia and San Francisco pieces have much different coloration.

The majority of United States gold coins have been cleaned or dipped at one time. As a result, they no longer display original coloration. As collectors become more savvy, they are often attracted to coins with pleasing natural color. In many series, it is almost impossible to find original pieces. In the near future, it is likely that totally original pieces will be accorded a strong premium over “typical” examples.

Color is not as important a factor in determining the grade of a gold coin as it is on a silver or copper coin.

Eye Appeal: The four individual components listed above, when combined, form an all-encompassing component that is called “eye appeal.” This is a fairly self-explanatory term. A coin that has good eye appeal may be very strong in one area (excellent luster, for example) and good in another (nice but not great color). If a coin is negative in one area (very heavy marks, for example) but acceptable in all others, it is still likely to be noted as having below-average eye appeal.

The concept of eye appeal seems subjective but it is really not. Most sophisticated coin buyers will agree that a certain coin has good or bad eye appeal. But it does require a certain level of knowledge to make this determination.

There are some specific dates or types that almost always come with poor eye appeal and a coin that is somewhat attractive may be considered to have good eye appeal “for the date.” As an example, all known 1870-CC double eagles have heavily abraded surfaces. A coin that has typical marks but none located in very prime focal points may be looked at as having good eye appeal for the issue. But if this were any other date, the exact same coin might be regarded as having poor eye appeal. It takes in-depth knowledge of a specific series to make this determination.

Grading is an important subject and this article could easily have been two or three times longer. If you have any questions regarding the five components of coin grading, please feel free to email me at dwn@ont.com and I will do my best to answer them.

Provided courtesy: www.raregoldcoins.com. This site is a Gold Coin site and among the best on the internet.

Coin Prices and Values – How do I determine the value of my coin?

We get asked frequently to evaluate the worth of coins. Occasionally someone will also ask us to buy their collection, and we certainly do that for uncommon or higher grade coins. Many of the common coins cannot easily be sold via our website so we do limit the offers we make. Below is a guide to help you determine the value of your coin.

Approximate Value of Various Circulated U.S. Coinage

Please note: uncirculated and graded coins are worth more, and we are interested in acquiring both, as well as key circulated coins. The values below are approximate values of circulated coins.

Cents
Large Cents – $5 to $22
Flying Eagle Cents – $6 to $15
Indian Cents – $0.45 to $2.00
Lincoln Cents (Pre-1958) – $0.02 to $.25

Nickels
Shield Nickels – $4 to $10
Liberty or ‘V’ Nickels – $0.50 to $2.50
Buffalo Nickels – $0.07 to $2
Jefferson Nickels from 1942-1945 – $.23; others $0.05

Dimes
Bust Dimes (1837 and earlier) – $12 to $50++
Seated Dimes – $3 to $8
Barber Dimes – $1 to $3
Mercury Dimes – $1 to $3
Roosevelt Dimes (1964 and earlier)- $0.20 to $1

Quarters
Bust Quarters (1838 and earlier) – $15 to $50++
Liberty Seated Quarters – $3 to $14
Barber Quarters – $1 to $5
Standing Liberty Quarters – $1 to $3
Washington Quarters (1964 and earlier) – $0.75 to $2.50

Half Dollars
Bust Half Dollar (1839 and earlier) – $15 to $55++
Liberty Seated Half Dollar – $9 to $20
Barber Half Dollar – $4 to $8
Walking Liberty Half Dollar – $2 to $4
Franklin Half Dollar – $1.50 to $2.50
Kennedy Half Dollar (1964-1969) – $.75 to $1

Dollar Coins
Early Dollars (1840 and earlier) – $150++
Liberty Seated Dollars – $28 to $80++
Morgan Dollars – $6 to $15++
Peace Dollars – $5 to $12
Eisenhower Dollars – $1 to $1.50
Anthony Dollars – $1

Coin Value and Pricing Notes

Silver Dollars
Most people believe any silver dollar is worth significant money. However, many grades of Morgan and Peace dollars are quite common. Unless you have a key date, or high grade silver dollar the coin is worth close to the values listed above.

Modern Proof Sets
Many modern proof sets (1958 and later) are priced on a commodity basis, and have less value than the original mint issue price. Modern Silver proof sets that have state quarters HAVE appreciated in value.

Coin Pricing & Value Guides

Professional Coin Grading Service Coin Prices – The Premier Internet Site For Collectors of Coins
Professional Coin Grading Service is The Premier Internet Site For Collectors of Coins.

NumisMaster.com Coin Values
Coin values and more

Coin Dealer Newsletter – Wholesale Coin Prices
The Coin Dealer Newsletter (Greysheet, Bluesheet, Greensheet): CDN publishes wholesale price guides for all U.S. coins (copper, nickel, silver, gold), bullion (gold, silver & platinum), certified coins (PCGS & NGC), currency (paper money). Th…

Coin World Trends and Prices

NumisMedia Monthly Price Guide Fair Market Value Prices for U.S. Rare Coins

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Dealer-to-Dealer trading,coins, collectables, Auction software, dealers. Resources, wholesale, collecting, numismatic, currency. Collector, network, automated auctions

NumisMedia – Numismatic Prices and Values Rare Coins and Coin Dealer Community

Are Gold and Silver in a Bubble Market? by Gary North by Gary North

We look at the real estate markets in coastal cities and conclude, “these are bubble markets.” Yet they have not risen as far and as fast as silver and gold have risen since 2001.

Nevertheless, most recent first-time buyers of gold and silver give no thought to what should be obvious: the moves of both metals over the last four years are anomalies. Other than believing they are geniuses, why should precious metals investors not be getting nervous?

Gold and silver are inflation hedges. Yet the Federal Reserve System is sending mixed messages regarding inflation. On the one hand, the FED has been increasing the adjusted monetary base at double-digit rates since late 2005. The other monetary indicators have followed. This can be monitored here (and should be).

On the other hand, the FED has also raised the federal funds rate by a quarter of a point every time the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has met since mid-2004. This is the classic sign of anti-inflation policy. The short rates have been rising faster than long rates, which has now produced a flat yield curve. An inverted yield curve is a prelude to a recession. The yield curve can be monitored here (and should be).

So, which is it: recession or accelerating price inflation?

Right now, we are in “anyone’s guess” territory, which is why wise investors had better monitor the statistics of these seemingly rival policies on weekly basis. It is not clear which FED policy is dominant today. A great deal is at stake.

THE FEDERAL RESERVE’S DILEMMA

The growth of the U.S. government’s annual budget deficit is being matched by the growth of the balance of payments deficit. Wise investors look at these twin deficits and conclude: “This cannot go on indefinitely.” So, they ask themselves: “What is likely to reverse these trends?”

The answer to the payments deficit is a fall in the value of the dollar. Foreign investors will cease buying dollars for purchasing dollar-denominated assets. This will reduce international demand for dollars, which will produce a falling dollar internationally. Prices of imported goods will rise.

But if this happens, how will the U.S. government persuade foreign investors to buy its T-bills? The obvious response is to raise short-term interest rates. This is what the FED is doing today.

Raising short-term rates has a negative consequence: it produces a recession. First the yield curve goes flat. Then it inverts. Then there is a recession. We are halfway there today: a flat yield curve.

So, it is possible to have simultaneously a falling dollar internationally (scenario #1) and a recession domestically (scenario #2).

The FED today seems to be moving to head off scenario #1. How? By raising short-term interest rates. Yet it is also clearly trying to head off scenario #2 by inflating the money supply. I am reminded of the Apostle James’ warning:

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8).

If you have been following the price of gold and silver, both seem to have topped out. So, for that matter, has the Dow Jones Industrial Average. I contend that the reason for this hesitancy on the part of investors to buy or sell en masse is their confusion with respect to Federal Reserve policy. Until the FED makes up its collective mind, marginal investors will be hesitant to issue either “buy” orders or “sell” orders. I cannot blame them.

THE LOGIC BEHIND THE PRECIOUS METALS BOOM

The FED, beginning in late 2000, saw what had happened to the yield curve: it had inverted. That was when I predicted a recession in 2001. The FED saw this, too. The FED began cutting the fed funds rate a quarter of a point at a time.

Then came the 2001 recession: March. The FED continued to reduce rates. Then came 9/11. The FED continued to reduce rates. The housing market continued to rise, and gold and silver at long last began rising. That was when I issued a strong “buy” recommendation for gold: the fall of 2001.

Gold in 2001 had been battered by 21 years of downward pressure. It had gone to $840 in early 1980. Despite a doubling of the price level, 1980–2000, gold declined to the mid-200s in 2001. I became convinced that an anti-bubble process was at the end of the road.

Gold is not a recession hedge. It is an asset that can be sold to raise funds in a crisis. It gets sold in recessions because people want to raise cash. Selling any asset is a way to raise cash. Gold is not under any king’s-X safety umbrella.

Silver is even less protected from recession-induced sales, which is why silver’s price is more volatile than gold’s. It has no central banks buying it during recessions. Meanwhile, demand slows because the economy is slowing. Silver is an industrial metal and to a lesser extent an ornamental metal. Demand for most metals falls when the economy goes into recession.

There is a longtime myth of gold that has been popular in every pre-recession period. Recent buyers console themselves by saying: “Gold did not fall during the Great Depression. It went up.” In the 1930s, the U.S. was still on the gold standard internationally. By law, the U.S. government bought gold from gold mines at $35/oz. So, the gold market had a legal floor.

That policy ended on August 15, 1971, when Nixon unilaterally took the United States off the international gold standard. So, the experience of the Great Depression is economically irrelevant to today’s gold market. Central banks may buy gold or they may not, but they are not compelled by law to buy it. All we can say with confidence is that they will not buy silver, which is no longer a money metal.

Gold fell in the 1974/75 recession. Then it rose in the Carter-era inflation. Then it fell by 50% in the 1980/81 recession. Then it fell in 2000 prior to the 2001 recession.

My point is that gold, as an inflation hedge when price inflation exceeds what the experts have forecast, should not be regarded by investors as a universal solution to the gyrations of Federal Reserve monetary policy.

Silver is even less of a hedge. It has been de-monetized, so it is even more a captive of the overall economy.

The FED is trapped long-term in a policy of “inflate or die.” It is committed to the absurd premise that a committee of academic economists (FOMC) is a better source of monetary policy than the free market. The FED has created a boom economy – i.e., a universal bubble economy – through the constant expansion of money. Like addicts, investors, consumers, and debt-issuing governments demand ever-more money from the Federal Reserve. Everyone has factored in 2% to 4% monetary depreciation. If the FED fails to provide this, the entire debt pyramid is threatened with collapse.

So, we find that the FED does not stabilize money. It expands the money supply at varying rates. Sometimes this expansion is insufficient to goose the economy into more growth. The economy then falls into recession. The FED’s response is always the same: create even more money.

This process of varying rates of monetary expansion does not immunize gold and silver from wide swings in price. In the case of the period 1980 to 2001, the contraction wiped out 90% of investors’ asset value, if you factor in the 50% loss of the dollar’s purchasing power.

NEW INVESTORS

A new generation of investors has arrived. It took them at least two years to believe that a new bull market had arrived: 2001–2003. Then they hesitantly began getting into the precious metals’ market. They have done well.

They are newcomers. They don’t understand fully why they bought. They just understand that their investment’s market value has risen. Remember: “Genius is a rising market.” They are tempted to regard themselves as geniuses.

If the economy goes into a recession over the next 12 months, the precious metals are unlikely to continue their upward move. The pressure on asset-holders to sell in order to gain cash is always a problem for asset holders who choose not to sell. They see the value of their holdings fall. Yet prices in general continue upward.

I do not expect a fall comparable to what happened to gold and silver after January, 1980. That was an historically unique period in the post-World War II era. The rate of price inflation under Carter soared. This, coupled with Bunker Hunt’s silver play, created panic. Then the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December, 1979. The metals mania exploded for one month: January, 1980. Then it ceased, overnight.

Still, there will be selling pressure if the recession hits, as it looks as though it will hit, if we take seriously the flat yield curve. This is not written in stone yet, but the behavior of the metals markets and the U.S. stock market does point to increasing doubts concerning the continuation of the economic boom.

CONCLUSION

In a recession, asset values tend to fall as people become desperate for cash. Fear is a great motivator. So are margin calls. The marginal sellers of assets are more active than the marginal buyers of assets.

I am issuing this warning because I know how many of my subscribers have not gone through a recession-induced fall in the precious metals markets. I don’t want new investors to conclude that the boom, 2001–2006, was a fluke, a bubble that will not return for decades, which was the case after January, 1980. The gold and silver markets, unlike the housing markets, are not driven by long-term government-subsidized mortgage money. So, I do not call them bubble markets.

Nevertheless, they are markets. They respond to supply and demand. Recessions increase the supply of assets offered for sale and reduce demand for these assets. The quest for ready cash in a recession is a universal aspect of all recessions. Don’t expect the next recession to be different.

The FED stands ready to inflate its way out of the next recession. It seems already to have begun. This is the case for the precious metals. But it is a long-run case, not a full-time case.

Be forewarned.

March 15, 2006

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.

Wisconsin State Quarter Varieties Found

These quarters are turning up in the low thousands primarily in Texas and Arizona. We, at CoinResource, have had a chance to review both varieties in person, and these coins are indeed a very exciting variety!

You can see the added extra “leaf” in the two close-up photos above. One die error “leaf” points upwards, the other to the left and downwards. Normally, there is no extra leaf as you can see in the top left picture noted as “normal.”

So far the error is unexplained by the mint, but the mint quality control folks are investigating.

These coins are in current high demand across the nation and have received significant press on TV and print.

Usually errors like this do not gain so much press and demand, but on occasion, public interest is sparked as with these varieties.

Time will tell where the price lands for these two varieties. The exact cause, quantity minted, and demand will drive the ultimate price.

– CoinResource staff article.