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.

6 Experienced Coin Collector Favorites

6 Experienced Coin Collector Favorites

Every experienced collector has a favorite coin, and as a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I have had the pleasure of seeing many of them.  While each collector’s personal favorite may not be the most valuable gem in their collection, there is usually a story behind it (as in the case of "The Extraordinary Eric Newman and His Extraordinary Favorite Coin").

As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, I am sometimes asked what the most important coins are for any experienced collector. There are, of course, a number of ways to answer that question, because every collector has different goals.   Instead of focusing on favorite coins, maybe the focus should be on coins that require a bit of collector knowledge.   As is the case with nearly all things, knowledge is power. In the collecting world, powerful knowledge can mean big value. 

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The Extraordinary Eric Newman and His Extraordinary Favorite Coin

Numismatists dream of owning the rarest and most desirable coins—perhaps an 1804 Silver Dollar, or just one of five known 1913 Liberty Nickels.  This Grand Rapids coin dealer is no exception!  Just imagine owning an 1804 Silver Dollar, AND all five 1913 Liberty Nickels!   As a foremost U.S. numismatist and numismatic scholar, centenarian Eric P. Newman has owned all of these, and many more.   Which of these noted rarities was his favorite? Answer: None!

Mr. Newman’s favorite coin is the gold 1792 George Washington President “pattern coin,” privately made by Obadiah Westwood at his mint in Birmingham, England, from dies engraved by John Gregory Hancock.   This one-of-a-kind numismatic treasure is part of the two percent of Mr. Newman’s collection on display at The Newman Money Museum in St. Louis*. 

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How to Begin a Coin Collecting Hobby

If you’re reading this, you must have at least a passing interest in collecting coins.  So how does this happen?   First, you likely have the collector gene… that little thing inside that makes us crave certain things that we find interesting and give us the treasure hunter mentality.  

Collectibles can be beautiful, ugly, unusual, rare, valuable, historical, or just plain interesting to the collector.   Some collectors specialize in the most unusual minor niche, while others hoard almost anything they find.   But what all collectors have in common is a passion about their personal interest, and they spend untold hours engaged in their hobby.  

If you’re new to coins, what brought you here?   Did you find an unusual coin in circulation?   Did a family member leave you part of their coin collection?  Do you hope to profitably invest in something that provides educational enjoyment?    Do you collect in antiques—and often see coins that may be collectable?  Did you learn about coins from your grandfather or when you were a Boy Scout or Girl Scout?   Whatever the reason, have fun nurturing your new-found hobby.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

    1.    Buy books. Study before spending significant money to purchase coins.   Get a basic knowledge of what makes a coin rare and/or valuable.  Learn about grading coins, and how to tell the difference between nice original examples and cleaned coins.   Understand the basics of detecting counterfeits.   Knowledge is power, and is in the “DNA” of most avid collectors.   If you know at least as much as other collectors about the coins you collect, you will build a wonderful and likely valuable collection.  


    2.    Start with a modest budget.  Having a budget will likely cause you to study possible purchases more closely before making the buying decision.  Research builds knowledge, and choices will include in far fewer mistakes.  


    3.    Know in advance if you are collecting for the interest of the hobby or with a potential profit motive.   Most advanced collectors do both.  
A beginning coin collector can find many different, interesting coins in circulation and enjoy the search, but should understand that the potential appreciation in value of circulated coins is quite limited.  


    4.    Join online coin collector forums and join in the conversation.  Learn to take good photos of your coins and post those photos online.   Experienced collectors are an exceptional source of knowledge.   They love to demonstrate their knowledge by answering the questions of “Newbies.”   Don’t be afraid to ask… it’s a free education. 


    5.    Learn how and where to store coins to keep them safe and protected from environmental damage.   Keep in proper holders and store in a dry steady temperature location.


    6.    Have the proper tools to look at and handle coins.   Use 3-5 power magnifying glass and a 10x loop for closer examination.   Hold coins by the rim to avoid fingerprints and oils.   Use a soft cloth to place coin on when examining.   Avoid cleaning coins… most attempts severely damage the coin surface and devalue the coin. 


    7.    Consider specializing. With US coins, you can specialize in many different ways… collect a specific series of coins such as Lincoln Cents, “Type” Coins (one example of every type of coin), errors and varieties, attractively toned coins, coins from one specific year, and on and on.   Pick what interests you, and pursue it with pleasure.


    8.    If you want to eventually profit from you coin collection, regardless of your budget, buy the highest quality coin you can afford.   One high grade Lincoln Cent will likely appreciate in value far more that many heavily circulated examples.   If you want to fill albums with all dates and mint marks, consider silver dimes, quarters, halves and silver dollars.   Even in circulated condition, as silver values rise, silver coin values also rise.


    9.    Find places to browse for coins to learn more and to add to your collection. Shop online but make certain you are only buying from sellers who offer a ”no-questions asked” 14 day refund policy.   Visit coin shows and take time getting to know the dealers.  Visit coin shops and again, take time to get to know the dealer… many are great, some not so much.  


    10.    Finally, after you have begun to purchase coins, also try selling them.   The best way to really know the value of coins is to sell coins.  You can sell to dealers, online via coin forums or auction sites, or sell at your local coin clubs or shows. Understand that dealers must make a profit to stay in business.


Most important, have fun.  Coin collecting is a hobby that can provide years of fun, and hopefully a profit.  Remember, most other hobbies cost lots of money over the years and, other than the fun, there is no profit to be had.   With coins, you can have all the fun and build real value over the years.  

We love to talk coins so, along the way, if you need help and advice, let us know.  Mullen Coins is a Grand Rapids-based coin dealer. We are happy to help anyone who is learning about the fascinating hobby and investment opportunities presented by coin collecting.

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Treasure Hunting for Valuable Coins

 

 

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Coin Values – Change is the Only Constant

Coin Values – Change is the Only Constant

 

The old adage “change is the only constant” applies to the coin market. And January and February 2013 has seen some significant changes. We saw the first coin to top $10,000,000 in auction… the famed 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar from the Cardinal Collection. This seems to have generated a great deal of confidence in the increasing value of the great numismatic rarities. Expectations are very high for the final sale price of the Walton example of the 1913 Liberty Nickel scheduled for auction in late April. Other high six- and seven-figure coins are “hot.”

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The Fly-In Club

The Fly-In Club


Tell me if you think this is a forgivable mistake.

 

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Introduction to Coin Grading


The ABCs of Coin Grading

 

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Recent comment in this post
Guest — Jade Brunet
My dad loves collecting coins and I want to know more about this passion. I agree that this activity would take time and practice.... Read More
Friday, 02 September 2016 15:23
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Rare Coin Auction Prices Soaring Cardinal Collection Dollar over 10 Million at Auction

Rare Coin Auction Prices Soaring Cardinal Collection Dollar over 10 Million at Auction

 

Record Set by First Year United State Silver Dollar- 1913 Nickel Up Next!

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A Grand Rapids Coin Dealer's Perspective on The Trillion Dollar Coin

Coin collecting intersects with a number of other interests - art and design, history, geography, and politics, to name a few. Lately the "trillion dollar coin" controversy has been the main discussion where politics and collecting collide. Recently the Treasury and the Federal Reserve both have indicated that a trillion dollar coin will not be produced. However, as a Grand Rapids coin dealer, we view this improbable political battle as a chance to delve into the numismatic feasibility of the trillion dollar coin.

For those who may have missed the debate, the short history is that some bloggers advanced an idea that, should Congress refuse to raise the debt ceiling, the president could erase the national debt by authorizing the Treasury to create a trillion dollar coin as legal tender. The idea initially sounded preposterous to many, but the media and politicians began to investigate, and sure enough, there appeared to be a legal loophole that would allow such a banana republic strategy to be enacted.

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Circulated vs. Uncirculated Coins

Circulated vs. Uncirculated Coins

Guest Blogger:     Katherine Mullen came on board in 2012 to manage the business side of Mullen Coins. Pat Mullen is Mullen Coins’ numismatist. Ride along as Katherine learns the basics of numismatics.


I have always known that uncirculated coins are shinier and have fewer scratches than circulated coins.


Because I started with a large pile of quarters, I found all 50 State Quarters in a few short hours. Not even a collector, I was a little bit proud of myself.

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A Grand Rapids Coin Dealer’s Thoughts on Coin of the Year

World Money Fair

Once again it’s the time of year for annual awards – the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and of course Coin of the Year! As your Grand Rapids coin dealer, Mullen Coins will be watching along with the rest of the coin collecting world for the announcement of Krause Publications’ annual Coin of the Year (COTY) for 2011 coins. A fascinating list of nominees has already been announced, and the winners for each category have been announced as well. The overall winner will be revealed February 2, 2013, at the World Money Fair in Berlin.


These carefully juried designs showcase some of the best examples of coin design in the world, competing in ten award categories including best design, most artistic, best contemporary event, most innovative, most inspirational, and most historically significant. In a departure from the past couple of years, there is even an American nominee this year in one of the categories – the Olympic National Park quarter for Most Popular Coin.

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Coin Dealer or Con Dealer

I recently purchased a semi-key date collectable Morgan Dollar for $250, a fair value for the seller. I should be able to sell relatively quickly to a Morgan coin collector looking for a hard-to-find rare date coin.

Here’s the important part: Another coin dealer had offered to pay just $20 (80% of the value of silver content) for the very same coin!

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Creating Your First Type Collection


One of the joys of being a Grand Rapids coin dealer is when new collectors want to talk about different ways to collect coins. Today I’ll focus on type collections. A type collection is one that contains a representative coin of each design variation in a group.  For example, a type collection could cover each type of American quarter, or all coins with an American Indian theme, or world silver dollars with ship designs. The 20th Century American coins type set is a popular choice – interesting and very affordable. Another example would be a complete type set of the historic Kingdom of Hawaii, which can be made with only five coins.

Type collections are a lot of fun, especially for new collectors, because they are:

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Politics in The Mint - Grand Rapids Coin Dealer Discusses 1933 St. Gaudens vs 1974 Aluminum Cent

Politics in The Mint - Grand Rapids Coin Dealer Discusses 1933 St. Gaudens vs 1974 Aluminum Cent

Although the exact details of these coin thefts are not the same, the big picture is the same… significant coins were “lifted.” Ironically, one party realized significant consequences, and the other has suffered none. Is that fair?

In one case, 20 of the 1933 St. Gaudens gold coins destined for melting were stolen from the Mint in 1933, coming into the hands of now-deceased jeweler, Izzy Switt. The US Government sued Mr. Switt’s heirs to recover the remaining 10 coins, valued at millions of dollars each, and won the case in July, 2011.

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Quality and Rarity Drive Values for US Coins, Ancient Coins, and US Currency

$10 National Bank Note – The Old Grand Rapids National Bank
1879-CC Morgan Dollar
Arsinoe II, Wife of Ptolemy One-Mina Piece

“Buy the best you can afford” is a sound strategy for collectors of nearly any rarity, but is particularly important with US coins, ancient coins and US currency.   Also, as simple as it sounds, never forget that rarity is of critical importance to long-term value.

Since 2008, the coin market has done well compared to other financial markets.   However, the increase in value of common coins has been driven almost entirely by the increase in gold and silver values.   Common copper and nickel coins have languished or decreased in value while rare coins of high quality have skyrocketed in value.

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Pay Attention to Fundamentals When Considering a “Hot Coin” Purchase

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Like all collectibles, certain types of coins tend to get “hot” and are in high demand for a period of time and then they cool off.  What drives these trends?  Pure rarity, trade publication articles, publicity of particular series (Washington Quarter became “hot” when the Statehood Quarter program began), and increase in gold and silver prices.   However, too often “hot” coins are the product of ambitious telemarketers… prices increase short-term and then retreat to pre-promotion prices when the promotion is over.  Read on to learn how Grand Rapids coin collectors can avoid these schemes.


Have you ever watched a coin television show?  Very professional production techniques and a slick pitchman will promote “highly collectable” coins at “bargain prices” that are certain to go up in value as the public recognizes how rare they are.    Unsuspecting collectors looking for quick profits are usually disappointed.  Too often, these “bargain prices” are nearly double the base collector market retail prices.  A buyer, later seeking to sell such items, might find the value to be just 40%-60% of what they paid.   

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Grand Rapids Coin Buyers Beware of Counterfeit Coins

Grand Rapids Coin Buyers Beware of Counterfeit Coins

In my recent post “Hidden Treasures – Rare Coins in Grand Rapids,” I talked about the prudent Michigan State student who scored with his Grand Rapids coin garage sale find. His trove included a very collectible coin – an 1893-S Morgan Dollar. He wisely chose to authenticate his find with a local Grand Rapids coin dealer (Mullen Coins), and the rest is history.

 

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Copyright

© Mullen Coins

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Hidden Treasures - Rare Coins in Grand Rapids

Hidden Treasures - Rare Coins in Grand Rapids
Valuable Coin Found by Michigan College Student

I love the stories I hear from clients who “just got lucky,” and stumbled upon rare coins.   A recent example is the story of a Michigan State University student from Grand Rapids who purchased about 25 silver dollars from a neighbor’s garage sale a few years ago. He paid somewhere between $250-$350 for the group. As the story goes, he held the coins for a few years and finally decided it was time to find out what they were really worth.  

The MSU junior contacted me at Mullen Coins to ask if I could take a look. He also said he had one Morgan Dollar that, according to his research, was potentially quite valuable and he wanted me to help send it to PCGS (Profession Coin Grading Service) for grading and authentication.   While nearly everyone hopes that one of their treasures turns out to be a rare and valuable item, most often the coin turns out to be fairly common.   In this case, the young man was right!   He had a genuine 1893-S Morgan Dollar… the rarest circulation strike of the entire Morgan series and a highly collectible coin.

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Grand Rapids Coin Dealer Tips for New Coin Collectors

Top Ten Do’s:

  • Study coins and become a knowledgeable collector. Consider subscribing to coin trade journals (Numismatic News and Coin World offer a wealth of detailed information).

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Characteristics of rare, collectable, and valuable coins

In this blog post we discuss the key elements that make a coin rare, collectable, and valuable.

  • Precious Metal – Gold/Silver/Platinum

  • Specific Dates and Mint Mark (a letter indicating where the coin was made)

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PCGS NGC Michigan State Numismatic Society 

Mullen Coins, LLC, Coin Dealers, Supplies, Grand Rapids, MI

 PMG Authorized DealerWest Michigan Coin Club