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.
It’s the dream of every novice coin collector… rummaging through a handful of change and coming across that one mint condition rare coin. In reality, rare coin collecting is an exciting hobby that takes many forms.
What makes a coin truly rare? Coin rarity is determined by two different criteria. In some instances, a coin may be fairly common in circulated condition, but there may be very few in “mint” or un-circulated condition. This is known as “conditional rarity,” since the coin’s rarity is based on the actual condition of the coin.
There are some coins, however, that are rare in any condition, and these are known as “absolute rarity.” Many gold coins fall under this category, and the investment market is fairly hot for these items. Examples of these kinds of coins are gold pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries, rare silver dimes like the 1894-S Barber dime, and several types of one cent pieces from the last 1700s.
If you have a coin that you feel is rare, either conditionally or absolutely, there are a number of resources out there to check. You can take your coin to a reputable dealer for an appraisal (you may want to visit more than one to get a second opinion).
Conventions and coin shows often offer free appraisals too. You can also find any number of coin appraisers online. Some appraisers will waive their fees if they end up purchasing your coins; ask up front what the charges will be for the appraisal. Be sure to check the background of any appraiser you use, and make sure they have extensive experience and credentials.
You can research your coins on your own with a good coin valuation guide. A comprehensive resource is the Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman, often referred to as the “Official Red Book.” Any local bookstore or serious hobby shop should have a few different books available. You can also check your local library.
There are a number of coin dealers that buy and sell exclusively in rare coins. Some of their products can be quite expensive, and some specialize in gold coins and “investment” products.
And don’t forget to check that change in your pocket! There are a number of rare coins still in circulation, and you never know when you might get lucky. Some of the coins to keep an eye out for are listed on various websites:
1943 Copper Penny – During World War II, production of pennies moved from copper to zinc-coated steel, so the copper could be used for the war effort. In the changeover, however, about 40 copper cents were struck from copper by mistake. A true copper penny with this date could fetch upwards of $200,000.
1982 “No P” Dime – Struck in the Philadelphia Mint, the P was inadvertently left off from an undetermined number of these dimes. Estimated to be worth around $100, although some dealers may try to get more for them.
1955 Double Die Penny – With a value estimated at $200 - $1,000, these goofs were caused by a misalignment, resulting in a double image of the numbering and letters.
Coin enthusiasts often search for years looking for that once-in-a-lifetime find. In the meantime, they enjoy the thrill of the hunt. If you want to join the true lovers of rare coins, read up as much as you can so you’ll know what you are looking for, and how to identify it when you find it.
Collecting rare coins can be a lifelong hobby for the whole family.
Get out there and starting looking!
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