Coin Collector Blog

Mullen Coins Collection Blog provides valuable articles and content about coin collections, rare coins, currency, antiquities and interesting reviews of news and events within the numismatic community.

Tools for Coin Collecting - What Do You Need?

Tools-for-coin-collecting

In our last blog we talked about finding valuable coins by going through your spare change. This is one way coin collectors - often young ones - get hooked on the hobby. In order to grade, handle, and store your coins, you will need some supplies, though. In this blog we will talk about six tools for coin collecting you will need. 

Reference Books 

Buy the book before the coin.” – Ancient numismatic proverb

Continue reading
  88 Hits
  0 Comments
88 Hits
0 Comments

Looking through Your Spare Change for Coin Treasure

coin-treasure

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been many shortages that consumers and businesses have experienced. One of them is a coin shortage, and it’s still continuing today. There are good reasons to turn your change in at the bank or the store, but before you do, you may want to check it for coin treasure. You’d be surprised at what might be hiding in your spare change.

The Great Coin Shortage

The reason for the coin shortage banks and businesses are experiencing now is two-fold. First, the lockdowns meant that the free circulation of cash and coins was halted. People didn’t go to the store as frequently to buy things. They ordered their groceries and other items online and paid for them with credit or debit cards. Some shunned using cash because they felt it might spread COVID-19.

Continue reading
  187 Hits
  0 Comments
187 Hits
0 Comments

How Does Coin Grading Work?

coin-grading

Anyone new to the coin collecting hobby will wonder how coin values are determined and why a particular coin may be worth more than the same coin that is, at first glance, in similar or better condition. In this blog we will discuss coin grading, how it works, and what resources you can use to better understand coin values. 

“Buy the book before the coin.” 

While buying a book is perhaps not as interesting as buying a coin, the above is very good advice. You will need to become educated about the fundamentals of coin grading to begin to assess the value of your own coins or the coins you’d like to buy. 

Continue reading
  282 Hits
  0 Comments
282 Hits
0 Comments

Should You Buy Palladium Coins?

palladium-coins

In our last blog we discussed whether gold is a safe haven for investors. Because inflation is increasing noticeably, many people are looking for solid investments that will keep their value over time if the dollar loses more of its value or there is more stock market volatility. One of these investments is precious metals. Gold and silver coins are traditional choices, but there are others, like platinum and palladium, that are newer and rarer. In this blog we will talk about palladium and the reasons people choose to purchase palladium coins and bullion. 

Palladium: a New Discovery

Gold has been mined and used as a precious metal for the full length of human history, and silver as well. Palladium, however, was only discovered in 1803. Over time this metal has become more valuable because of its uses in science and technology. It’s both malleable and durable. For its desirable chemical properties, it’s used to make jewelry, electronics, and dental crowns and fillings. It’s also in high demand by the automotive industry which uses it to make catalytic converters

Continue reading
  331 Hits
  0 Comments
331 Hits
0 Comments

Is Gold a Safe Haven?

gold-a-safe-haven

In the past six months, inflation has become much more of a concern for Americans. In February, record inflation was observed with the CPI indicating a 7.9% increase year over year, a number not seen in 40 years. Obviously, inflation makes everyone nervous, but it especially makes investors nervous. We do not know if this period of inflation will be short lived or longer term, but in the meantime, the price of gold is rising. Does the relationship between inflation and gold prices tell us anything? 

Inflation and Gold Prices

In the past few months, the price of gold has increased - briefly hitting $2,070 an ounce - but it has also experienced some volatility with announcements by the Federal Reserve about interest rates and the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia both escalating. Obviously, there’s more going on than just inflation, but in insecure times people tend to look to gold as a hedge or a safe haven. 

Continue reading
  472 Hits
  0 Comments
472 Hits
0 Comments

Grand Rapids Coins Has a New Rockford Location

New Rockford location

For coin enthusiasts and our customers on the north end of Grand Rapids, we have very good news: Grand Rapids Coins has just opened a retail coin shop in Rockford, Michigan. We’d love for you to come out and browse our inventory of coins and currency. Our new Rockford location is at 2745 10 Mile Rd., Suite J. We are open on weekdays from 10 AM to 6 PM and on Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM. 

Our Mission and Commitment to You 

Grand Rapids Coins is in business to help coin owners and collectors realize a fair value when they buy and sell coins and currency. We buy U.S. coins, world coins, U.S. currency, full collections, bullion coins, and Mint and proof sets. We also buy gold and silver jewelry, other sterling, and antique collectibles.

Continue reading
  1026 Hits
  0 Comments
1026 Hits
0 Comments

The American Women Quarters Program Debuts

American-Women-Coins-Program-U.S.-Mint

For a little more than a decade, from 2010 to 2021, the U.S. Mint issued 56 different types of quarters in the America the Beautiful series. The reverse on these quarters commemorated one site of national interest from each state, the federal district, and each U.S. territory, making this an interesting set to collect for Americans and travelers especially. In 2022, the U.S. Mint is switching gears with the American Women Quarters Program, minting a series of Washington quarters that honors famous American women. 

The American Women Quarters Program

"Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country — what we value, and how we've progressed as a society. I'm very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America's most remarkable women.” –Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

Continue reading
  634 Hits
  0 Comments
634 Hits
0 Comments

What Is the Difference between Proof Coins and Uncirculated Coins?

proof-coins

We have discussed a number of times before which factors determine the price for rare coins, including a coin’s availability, its condition, and what the market for that coin is at present. One aspect of coin condition is if it has circulated. Coins that have circulated will be worth less than uncirculated coins because they become damaged with time and use. Proof coins do not circulate either, but there are numerous differences between proof coins and uncirculated coins. In this blog we will go through those differences and how they affect value and collectibility. 

What Are Proof Coins?

Proof coins originated as evidence that the master die the mint used to stamp the coin worked correctly. The first proof coin was a test of the die and was struck multiple times to bring out the detail in the die design. Typically, a few proof coins were stamped to make sure there would be no coin errors. If the coins looked correct, the proof was approved, and the die was then used to strike coins meant for circulation. These coins were then struck only once and released to the public. 

Continue reading
  719 Hits
  0 Comments
719 Hits
0 Comments

The 1943 Copper Cent, an Off-metal Treasure

1943-Copper-Cent

In December of 1941, Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor. The United States entered World War II in both the European and Pacific arenas immediately after. This had a drastic effect on the price and availability of many common commodities, including metals. The U.S. Treasury changed the composition of coins it minted during the duration of the war years as a result, and some especially collectible coins like the 1943 Copper Cent exist because of it. 

1943 Lincoln Cents 

The bulk of Lincoln cents that were struck during 1943 were zinc-coated steel cents that over time became known as “steelies.” This is because the copper and tin the Mint had been using was needed for the war effort. To maintain the availability of cents in circulation, Congress passed a law in 1942 that allowed for this temporary change. In 1943, the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints struck over a billion steelies combined. As a unique type of cent, these coins remain a favorite with coin collectors. 

Continue reading
  613 Hits
  0 Comments
613 Hits
0 Comments

The Sometimes Overlooked Peace Dollar

Peace-dollar

The Morgan dollar often gets the spotlight for American dollar coinage, but the Peace dollar is no ugly stepdaughter. It also has a rich history full of some controversy and is an attractive coin with interesting design elements. Due to a greater supply, the Peace dollar presents an enjoyable challenge for collectors. 

The Need for a New Dollar

The iconic Morgan dollar premiered in 1878 and was minted steadily from that year until 1904. More than 500 million Morgan dollars were in circulation by the time of the Great War. To help supply their English allies with bullion during World War I, Congress passed the Pittman Act of 1918. Short on gold, Congress decided to make use of the large number of silver dollars in circulation. This resulted in the melting down of more than 270 million silver dollars, almost half of all of the Morgan dollars in existence. 

Continue reading
  740 Hits
  0 Comments
740 Hits
0 Comments

How Much Is Confederate Currency Worth?

confederate-currency

Coin lovers know that collecting paper currency can also be enjoyable and rewarding. Currency is more fragile than metal coins are, of course, but they also preserve history. A period of time in American history that seems never to fully fade in the American imagination is the Civil War. During these four years American money changed because of the disruptions caused by the war. Some of this money is valuable, even very valuable. How much is Confederate currency worth?

The Story of Confederate Money

In 1861, when eleven southern states seceded from the Union, the Civil War began. The Confederacy was immediately confronted with several challenges. Its people were still trading in the coin of the enemy now invading them, and wars are very expensive. The economy of the South was agrarian. It had neither the infrastructure nor the manufacturing capacity of the North, and it still had to purchase military equipment and pay its bills. The Confederacy decided to print paper money as a fundraising strategy

Continue reading
  787 Hits
  0 Comments
787 Hits
0 Comments

Why You Should Invest in Platinum Coins and Bars

platinum-coins-and-bars

At Grand Rapids Coins we love coins. We love helping people collect coins with numismatic value, and we also enjoy finding investment coins for our clients. In this business, much of the focus is on rare coins or gold or silver coins and bullion. However, we are also excited about platinum coins as an investment opportunity. Why platinum coins? Keep reading to learn why you may want to invest in platinum now. 

Platinum, a Rare Earth Metal 

Precious metal investors are drawn to platinum coins as well as platinum bars because platinum is a very rare substance. This silver-white metal, found deeper in the earth’s crust, is much rarer than gold or silver. It’s usually in short supply because the demand for this metal is high and only a few tons of platinum are mined every year. 

Continue reading
  1091 Hits
  0 Comments
1091 Hits
0 Comments

Finding Real Life Hidden Treasure

hidden-treasure

Who doesn’t like a good treasure hunt? Many favorite movies and books, including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hobbit, and Romancing the Stone, are about finding lost treasure in unexpected places. Here at Grand Rapids Coins we also hear stories about hidden treasure - but these stories are real. Let’s talk about a few of our customers’ more interesting finds. 

Hidden Treasure in Expected Places

There are many news stories about coins hoards that people, often with a metal detector, find buried in an English field or in the basement of an old theater. Some coin finds help historians to date or place certain events, the details of which were previously unknown. While there have been some incredible finds of coins buried underground, nature isn’t really the best place for stashing something if you want it to remain in good condition. Water is quite corrosive to metal, especially over time. 

Continue reading
  985 Hits
  0 Comments
985 Hits
0 Comments

The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar

1964-Kennedy-Half-Dollar

In an earlier blog we talked about the history of the Kennedy half dollar and why it has both sentimental and real value for American coin collectors. In this blog we will talk about the most valuable issue of this coin: the 1964 Kennedy half dollar, including the rare Accented Hair variety. 

A Coin Memorial for President Kennedy

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in late November of 1963, the United States went into mourning. A month after his death, Congress authorized the creation of a half dollar coin to honor and memorialize him. This coin was quickly designed, based on a Presidential series medal that was already in existence, and the U.S. Mint struck it in early 1964, with the first coins released in March. The president’s wife, Jacqueline Kennedy made one requested change in the design. She asked that his hair be slightly modified, and it was.

Continue reading
  1313 Hits
  0 Comments
1313 Hits
0 Comments

The Widow's Mite: What Was the Coin Value of "Everything She Had"?

widows-mite

Readers familiar with the gospels may know the story of the widow’s mite. This story is related in both Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4. In it Jesus praises a widow for her generosity in giving all she had even though the financial value of her contribution was not large. If you’ve ever wondered what coins the widow’s mites were and what their value was, read on. 

Luke’s Gospel Account of the Widow’s Mite

The gospel writer Luke relates the story like this (New King James Version): 

Continue reading
  8731 Hits
  0 Comments
8731 Hits
0 Comments

The Eisenhower Dollar and the U.S. Space Program

1971-eisenhower-dollar

With the passing of Michael Collins, an astronaut from the famed Apollo 11 moon voyage, it might be time to discuss how the history of the U.S. space program intersects with U.S. coins. Do you know the history of the Eisenhower dollar coin? It was created to honor a successful general and past president at a very interesting time in our country’s history - when the space program was at its zenith.

The Eisenhower Dollar 

Younger Americans today may be less familiar with the name Dwight D. Eisenhower, or “Ike” as he was known, but he wasn’t just a two-term president. He was also the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II, and a five-star rank General. Eisenhower ran for president in 1952 and presided over the post-war expansion of the economy. He ended the second term of his presidency in January of 1961 and was succeeded by John F. Kennedy

Continue reading
  1686 Hits
  0 Comments
1686 Hits
0 Comments

The Buffalo Nickel, Another Iconic American Coin

Buffalo-nickel

The Buffalo nickel is another iconic American coin that is very enjoyable to collect. Preceded by the Liberty Head nickel and succeeded by the Jefferson nickel, this coin pays homage to Native Indian history and the history of the American West. It is a piece of Americana and, in the words of Eames MacVeagh, “a permanent souvenir of a most attractive sort.”

The Earlier Version - The Liberty Head Nickel

Before the Buffalo nickel the Liberty Head nickel was in use. It featured designs by then Mint Engraver, Charles Barber. This coin was first issued in 1883, but its design created a sticky problem. The Liberty Head nickel was very similar in size to the half eagle. This meant that criminals could pass it off as a five dollar coin with a little work. Because of this, the design was modified to add the word CENTS to the reverse. With this modification, this nickel continued to be minted until 1912.

Continue reading
  1294 Hits
  0 Comments
1294 Hits
0 Comments

The History of U.S. National Bank Notes

Old-National-Bank-of-Grand-Rapids

Most Americans have lived their entire lives using the standard American currency we all recognize. They might be surprised to learn that in its earlier years the American money system was the opposite of standard. The genesis of our modern currency was the National Bank Act which President Lincoln signed into law in 1863. This created the United States National Banking System, a prototype of what we use today:

“The National Banking Act (ch. 58, 12 Stat. 665; February 25, 1863), originally known as the National Currency Act, and was passed in the Senate by a narrow 23–21 vote. The main goal of this act was to create a single national currency and to eradicate the problem of notes from multiple banks circulating all at once. The Act established national banks that could issue notes which were backed by the United States Treasury and printed by the government itself. The quantity of notes that a bank was allowed to issue was proportional to the bank's level of capital deposited with the Comptroller of the Currency at the Treasury. To further control the currency, the Act taxed notes issued by state and local banks, essentially pushing non-federally issued paper out of circulation.”

Continue reading
  1190 Hits
  0 Comments
1190 Hits
0 Comments

Grand Rapids Coins Charges No Sales Tax on Coins Bought In Michigan

sales-tax

If there’s anything most customers want to avoid, it’s paying sales tax. That’s why buying online had such an advantage over brick-and-mortar stores for so long. Did you know that Grand Rapids Coins charges no sales tax on purchases of coins bought in Michigan? There is no sales tax at all on coins or bullion in Michigan so all transactions that we make with our customers - either sales or purchases - are tax free as long as they’re purchased in the state. 

Michigan’s Sales Tax Law 

Prior to 1999 Michigan did charge a sales tax on transactions of coins, and it meant that there were fewer coin dealers and almost $2 million dollars fewer coin sales per year. That’s because rare coins and precious metals bullion are largely fungible products. If a buyer couldn’t find the coins he wanted in Michigan or didn’t want to pay sales tax, with the exception of very rare coins, it was possible to buy a similar coin from a buyer in a state with no sales tax. Many people who live in states with a sales tax on coins, like Ohio, will now travel to states like Michigan in order to avoid paying taxes of 6-8% of the sale price. 

Continue reading
  1611 Hits
  0 Comments
1611 Hits
0 Comments

How Does Toning Affect the Value of Collectible Coins?

toning

Grand Rapids Coins recommends to our clients that they not clean their coins. Cleaning coins decreases their value. Generally speaking, every time a coin is improperly handled or used, its value goes down. Coin collectors prefer to have coins in as close to mint condition as possible. However, there are a few coin alterations that can positively affect a coin’s value. One of these is toning. 

What Is Toning? 

Toning is coloring that occurs on the surface of a coin as a result of it interacting chemically with its environment. We often see coin toning that is beautiful and has a spectrum of colors like a rainbow. Not all toning is pretty, however. Sometimes it can be a dark color that obscures the images on the coin and makes the coin look pitted or ugly. How a coin tones depends on the chemical composition of the coin and what it has interacted with. 

Continue reading
  2766 Hits
  0 Comments
2766 Hits
0 Comments