Articles Published by Ken Dunn - Dunway Enterprises
Coin collecting is the collecting or trading of coins or other forms of legally minted currency.
Frequently collected coins include those that were in circulation for only a brief time, minted with errors or especially beautiful or historically interesting pieces. Coin collecting can be differentiated from numismatics in that the latter is the study of currency, though both are obviously closely related.
There are several different types of auctions and how you bid depends on what type of auction you’re bidding at. Public auctions are live auctions where gatherings of people bid on coins. Public auctions also allow people to mail bids, which will determine the maximum limits for some coins. Keep in mind that mail-in bids typically carry a buyer’s fee of about 15 percent.
There are also mail-bid auctions, where there are no live gatherings. A mail-bid with maximum limits reduced to a normal advance (10-15 percent) above the second highest mail bid allows you to bid high without fear of overbidding.
The highest bids in this type of auction will be reduced unless there is a competing bidder willing to go just as high. If you submit a bid of $150 and the second-highest bid is $100, you’ll get the coin for $110-$115. There may also be a buyer’s fee associated with this type of auction.
In a mail-bid auction with bids not reduced, the highest bidder pays what he bid, regardless of what others have bid. It is not as safe to bid high in this type of auction. “Buy-or-bid” sales state a price for immediate sale. If you are willing to pay the stated price, the coin is yours. If you want to try and get the coin at a lower price, you may bid lower. Otherwise, you must be the highest bidder at the closing date to win the coin.
If you choose to participate in an auction on the Web, proceed with caution. Many online sellers are on the up-and-up but the Internet is an easy and anonymous way to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. No matter what type of auction you choose to participate in, take the time to learn the value of the coins you’re interested in before you ever submit a bid.
Before you bid, try to determine the grade of the coin. The grade of a coin will directly affect its price; meaning, the higher the grade, the higher the price it can command at an auction or sale. While some coin experts posit that you must be trained to grade coins, most people can learn a few basics that will allow them to “eyeball” a coin and estimate the grade without the need for a certified grader. (Keep in mind, though, that if you’re buying or selling you’ll want an official grade eventually.)
The grading scale used most extensively with coins is the Shelby scale, which runs from 0 to 70. A coin with grade 0 is barely recognizable as something that was once a coin, while a perfect grade of 70 means absolutely flawless.
While most coins don’t reach the highest scores, a grade of 60 is designated Mint State, or Uncirculated, and would be flawless to the untrained eye. In a typical batch of new pennies, the average coin would be between a grade of 60 and 63.
Depending on the type of coin, there will be different criteria for each grade. Copper and silver coins tend to wear down more quickly than alloy coins, and each coin has different features that will stand up to wear and tear.
Here’s a basic rundown of coin grades, from the most worn to the best condition. Note that most grades will come with a number that corresponds to the Shelby scale. A representative number is included below:
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