What should I collect?
See Fun With Coins on this web site for some suggestions.
What is it worth?
First you need to identify the coin in question. Then you must identify its condition. Finally you can check out the sources listed below to get a rough idea of the price. Each coin is different and these sources seldom agree on price however you can still get a rough idea of value by researching.
There are many price guides. The weekly newspaper Coin World publishes a comprehensive price guide. You need to subscribe to access this information.
“A Guide Book of United States Coins”, commonly known as the Red Book because of its red cover, has lots of information including pricing. This book can also help with identification and grading and is highly recommended as a first coin book.
The Collectors Universe on line price guide. Collectors Universe is the parent of PCGS. This guide seems to have prices that are too high on average. However they are freely available and convenient.
The Coin Dealer Newsletter is used by coin dealers. They publish price guides commonly known as the Grey Sheet for sight seen pricing and the Blue Sheet for sight unseen pricing. Samples are fairly cheap and can be purchased from their website: Coin Dealer Newsletter.
A coin is only worth what someone will pay for it. You can research auctions to find sales of coins that are similar to yours. EBay allows you to search completed auctions. Other auction sites also provide information on completed auctions.
Are all certified coins of the same grade worth the same?
Grading companies do NOT use the same standards. Not all grading companies guarantee their grades. There are several services that consistently give out high grades. One should never consider labels from different companies equivalent.
The “Coin Dealer Newsletter”, also known as the Greysheet, ranks several grading services according to average prices coins in a certain grade bring. They have PCGS and NGC bringing the highest value with some services bringing well less than half that value.
Some modern proof coins are very valuable if they have Deep Cameo contrast. We find it painful to watch someone paying huge prices for a coin that is in a Deep Cameo holder but would never get the PCGS Deep Cameo or the NGC Ultra Cameo designation. The same thing happens with PR or MS 70 coins.
We have seen many unscrupulous sellers offer a high grade coin from a service with low standards and state that this coin is worth the same as a coin in a PCGS holder. It is almost never worth the same. There is no Santa Clause in the coin business.
Do you buy coin collections?
No, we do not buy coin collections at this time.
Which third party certification services do you recommend?
In our experience Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) are the most consistent and marketable services. These companies guarantee their grades. These companies have high standards even though they are not exactly the same in all series.
What does “buy the coin, not the holder” really mean?
While the grading services are very consistent they are not perfect. Some coins don’t fall easily into one particular grade. Many characteristics contribute to a single grade. Strike, luster, surface preservation and desirability of any toning all are considered. Some things might be more important to you than others. So make sure you really like the coins you are buying.
What is a coin Registry?
A coin Registry is a web site where you can list coins from your collection. People sometimes also include photos and/or descriptions of their coins. The web site ranks sets based on grade and scarcity. Browsing other people’s sets can be interesting and educational.
What books do you recommend?
“A Guide Book of United States Coins”, also known as The Red Book, is packed full of useful information. It lists all U.S. coins with mintages and approximate retail values. This is the book to get if you only buy one.
We also recommend Walter Breen’s “Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins” to more advanced collectors. Breen goes into detail about varieties.
Krause’s “Standard Catalogue of World Coins” is the must have book if you are interested in World coins.
What should I look for when buying coins on eBay?
- Check the seller’s feedback. The seller should have completed many transactions with close to perfect feedback.
- Check the return policy. Never buy a coin that you can’t return if you don’t like it. Photos help but are no substitute for seeing the coin in person.
- Look closely at the photographs. If they are very small or blurry it is reasonable to assume the seller is trying to hide something. Don’t bid if there are no photographs.
- Check out the shipping costs. Add them to your max bid. That is what the coin really costs.
My holders are scratched, how can I fix that?
You can send coins back to the grading services to be put in new holders. However it is much easier and cheaper to buy Brasso, a brass polish, and use that. It is easy and works very well. Brasso is available at your local supermarket.
- Is there an easy to remove sticky residue from labels?Many coin dealers stick labels on coin slabs to keep track of them. Sometimes a sticky residue is left after you peel off the label. A product named Goo Gone really works well for removing this residue. I highly recommend it.
- What does PQ mean?PQ stands for Premium Quality. Some people use that term to mean coins that are high end for their grade. Others seem to call everything they sell PQ so the term sometimes seems overused.
- Can two coins of the same grade look different?Yes, absolutely. A grade is really a single number that describes several characteristics of each side of a coin. We look for coins that have better than average eye appeal for their grade. This does not necessarily mean they are upgrade candidates, just that they look really nice.