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.

Find valuable articles and content about rare coins, coin collecting, coin evaluation, and coin prices.

The American Women Quarters Program Debuts

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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

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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. 

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The 1943 Copper Cent, an Off-metal Treasure

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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. 

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The Sometimes Overlooked Peace Dollar

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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. 

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Why You Should Invest in Platinum Coins and Bars

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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. 

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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. 

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The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar

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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.

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How Does Toning Affect the Value of Collectible Coins?

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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. 

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How Does a Coin Evaluation Work?

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When someone requests an evaluation of his or her rare coins, it is usually for a specific reason – an insurance appraisal, a division of assets, or to learn the value for the purchase or sale of a collection. It’s important to understand the basics of how coin evaluations work to make sure you get a fair valuation and – if you’re planning to sell your coin collection – a fair price.

How do you choose a coin evaluator/appraiser?

Many people who live near a trusted and reputable coin dealer prefer to visit the dealer in person. It is best to arrange your meeting ahead of time so that neither of you is rushed. You’ll want to make sure the dealer handles the type of coins you have, and whether they may be interested in buying your coins.

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The Franklin Half Dollar, a Popular Collector Coin

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The Franklin half dollar is a popular series to collect. These coins were minted between 1948 and 1963 and remain in demand today for many reasons, not the least of which is their relative affordability and the ease with which they can be obtained. This is a great coin set project for beginning collectors.

Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father

Benjamin Franklin, while never an American president, was a founding father who is well remembered for his inventions and his work during the American Revolution and afterwards on behalf of the new nation. In 1947, Nellie Taylor Ross, the director of the U.S. Mint and a fan of Franklin’s, pushed for a coin that would feature his likeness. She asked the mint’s chief engraver, John Sinnock, to create a design. Sinnock had also designed the Roosevelt dime, but he died before he could complete the Franklin project. His successor, Gilroy Roberts, finished up the work on the Franklin half dollar.

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How Much Was a Biblical Talent Worth?

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The Bible contains many mysteries within it, but not all of these were meant to be mysteries. Some are just references to a culture that no longer exists. One of these is found in The Parable of the Ungrateful Servant in the Gospel of Matthew. In this parable a king (or “master”) forgives the debt of a man who owes him ten thousand talents. The reader is meant to understand this is a huge sum of money and the king, who represents God, is very generous. How much money was a talent worth, though? What was a biblical talent? Here we will answer those questions. 

The Parable of the Ungrateful Servant 

For those unfamiliar with this story, the details are these: a servant who owes ten thousand talents to a king is brought before him unable to pay back his debt. He and his whole family are to be sold into slavery to settle what he owes. The man throws himself at the mercy of the king and begs a little more time to pay back the money. The king, in response, shows him pity and tells him the debt is forgiven and he can go. 

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The Walking Liberty Half Dollar, a Beautiful Collectible Coin

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The Walking Liberty half dollar is one of the three most collectible U.S. half dollar coins, with the others being the Kennedy half dollar and the Franklin half. This historic coin is not only very collectible, it’s also a beautiful and beloved American coin. Let’s talk about how the Walking Liberty half dollar came to be and what it’s worth to coin collectors today.

Early 20th Century Coin Revamps

In the early years of the twentieth century, several U.S. presidential administrations were motivated to update the coinage with designs they thought were more beautiful and modern than the Barber coins in circulation. In 1890 Congress had passed legislation regulating the design and issue of new coins, putting a 25-year limit on when the treasury could replace old designs for new. The Barber half dollar and other denominations were introduced to the American public in 1892, so the U.S. Treasury instigated the design process for a new half dollar in January of 1915. 

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The History of Vatican Coins

Vatican-coins

For Americans who collect primarily American coins, it can be hard to know where to start with coins from around the world. There are so many beautiful and history rich coins that have been produced over the millennia. Collecting Vatican coins would be a rewarding place to begin. The Vatican has a long and storied history of politics and art. Its mint produces new Vatican City money every year, and those coins tend to increase in popularity and value. 

The Catholic Church dates back to the death of Jesus Christ and the evangelism of his disciples, in particular Peter. In Catholic history, St. Peter is one of the earliest martyrs and saints. Tradition has it that he was crucified upside down in Rome in Nero's amphitheater in 67 A.D. This is the site on which the Vatican stands today. 

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Barber Coins - Affordable and Enjoyable Coin Collecting

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For people who have an interest in coin collecting but don’t know where to begin, one common recommendation everyone gives is to search out Lincoln cents. There are so many different varieties of this coin, and they are everywhere in circulation, so even young children can successfully hunt for them. Barber coins are another wonderful entry-level choice - attractive coins that can be found at mostly affordable prices. There are enough Barber coins available that a collector can build a year set without breaking the bank. Halves are readily obtainable, quarters have three challenging years, and dimes have the mammoth rarity being 1894 S. Given some very low mintages compared to Walking Liberty halves, Standing Liberty quarters, Mercury dimes, and Washington quarters there is upside potential. The Walking Liberty half dollars series has a mere 9 coins with mintages under one million compared to 20 for the barber half series. Considering the extra years in circulation, this makes higher grade circulated coins a fun challenge.

What Are Barber Coins? 

U.S. Mint engraver Charles E. Barber designed these coins, and they get their name from him. Specifically, Barber coins are dime, quarter, and half dollar denomination coins that were minted between 1892 and 1916. Barber dimes, quarters, and half dollars all have the same design on the obverse of the coin, so size is the best way to tell them apart, along with the different details on their reverse sides. 

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How Did the "In God We Trust" Coin Motto Originate?

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Americans are very familiar with coins and currency that display the motto, “In God We Trust.” It’s our nation’s motto, so it only makes sense that it would appear on our money. This was not always the case, however. Why was the motto added to our coinage and when?

Civil War Upheaval 

The first coin to display the “In God We Trust” motto was the 1864 two-cent coin. Given the timing, you can imagine the impetus for the change. Shaken by the worst war that Americans had ever experienced and great casualties for both the North and the South, many people were looking for reassurance that all would be fine and that God had not abandoned them during this terrible ordeal. In 1861, the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, received the first request for an acknowledgement of God on the national coinage. Rev. M.R. Watkinson wrote to him with a design for a coin in mind involving a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION, the all-seeing eye crowned with a halo, the American flag with all the stars of the once again United States, and the words GOD, LIBERTY, and LAW. 

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What Are Doubled Die Coins?

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Coin errors that occur during minting have often created coins that are in demand by collectors. There are many different types of coin errors. In our last blog we discussed off-metal coins. In this blog we will talk about doubled die coins - what they look like, how they are made, and which are especially collectible. 

Doubled Die Coins

Doubled die (not “double die”) is a numismatic term referring to doubling or repeating in the design elements of the die which creates the coins. As the term suggests, it is the die that is doubled and then used to create thousands of coins. 

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What Are Off-Metal Coins?

off-metal-coins

In an earlier blog we discussed coin errors, how they occur, and what makes them special. In this piece we will talk about off-metal coins, another kind of rare coin that can occur accidentally as the result of error. Finding off-metal coins can be exciting for coin collectors, and many will search them out as part of the treasure hunt that is coin collecting.

What Are Off-Metal Coins?

Off-metal coins are coins that are struck using a different metal alloy planchet than the one that is typically used. This usually happens accidentally as in the case of the 1943 Copper Cent. The typical metal for the Lincoln cent that year was zinc-coated steel. In 1943, the U.S. government had substituted zinc-coated steel for copper to mint cents because copper had been allocated for other war purposes. There were, however, about 40 copper Lincoln cents struck, likely on planchets left over from 1942.

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What To Do with Inherited Coins

inherited-coins

You’ve inherited coins from a friend or relative or been gifted a coin collection. What will you do with it? That’s a very good question. We’ve talked before about whether coin collectors should leave their collections to their heirs, but if you have inherited coins and don’t know their value, it’s challenging to know what to do with them. In this blog we will go through your options. 

Determining coin value takes both familiarity with coins and knowledge of the market. It’s not something that anyone learns overnight. So if you have been given coins and don’t know their value, don’t feel overwhelmed. The good news is that even if you have no idea about the worth of your coins, it is unlikely to change very rapidly so you have time to decide what to do while you educate yourself. 

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Franklin Roosevelt and the Roosevelt Dime

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You have probably heard of the March of Dimes, but the origins of that organization have faded from the public’s memory. One ever present reminder is found on the Roosevelt dime - the  ubiquitous coin you use everyday to pay for small items or make change. President Franklin Roosevelt, the March of Dimes, and the change in your pocket are all connected, and in this blog we will explain how.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had an enormous impact on the history of the United States. He was the 32nd President of the United States, and he won four national elections - more than any other president. His presidency lasted from the early days of the Great Depression until the final days of World War II. He was loved (and hated) by Americans and citizens of many other countries.

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Coin Myth #1: Old Coins Are The Most Valuable

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People who are new to coin collecting may assume that because many of the coins in numismatists’ collections are old that age is what makes them valuable. This is not true at all. Here we will talk about this myth about old coins and what does affect the value of coins, old or new.

Old Coins Aren’t Valuable because They Are Old

Ultimately, supply and demand determine the value of a coin just as they determine the value of everything else in a free economy. Coin dealers consider a number of factors when they value coins, including availability, metal content, condition, and the current popularity of specific coins. However, if there is no great demand among coin collectors for a certain coin, its value is going to be low. You can have an incredibly rare item, but if no one wants it, it’s not worth anything.

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