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Coin Collecting for the Abolsute Beginner Learner

Aug 18, 2007
Gold coins are something of a rare commodity. They were circulated only until 1933, which makes them expensive when they are auctioned. The nice thing about gold is that its value probably will never go down - making it a good investment.

Another rare coin sought by collectors is the Liberty Seated Dollar. These were last produced some time in the 19th century and are considered to be a rare find.

From 1875 to 1878, twenty cent coins were minted. This coin looks very much like a quarter and since its value is very low today, it is a coin worth looking for.

The Barber half dollars are rare coins that were minted from 1892 until 1915 and are collected by people depending on date or type. One of the challenges that occurs when searching for this coin is finding one in good condition.

The 1917 type One Standing Liberty Quarter is another coin worth owning. It was only minted for 2 years and shows the exposed breast of Ms. Liberty. This design created such an uproar that it had to be replaced and was only circulated for a year.

Mercury dimes were produced periodically during the 20th century. The market value of them is $50 a piece.

The Walking Liberty Half Dollar is a beautiful coin for collectors. They were only circulated for 4 years and are considered to be one of the all time rare coins to ever exist.

The Texas Commemorative Half Dollar is another rare coin. Only 150,000 of these were minted over a 4 year period and just 60% to 80% of these are still available today making it one of the hardest coins to find today...

The most expensive coin is the $20 Saint Gaudens. This was sold in an auction for nearly $8 million. The design is truly superb and the value of it has never dropped even during the 1980-82 bear market.

Rare coins are truly a challenge for anyone who seeks to make this a mission in life. Not only are they hard to find but it they are expensive to acquire. Should a person have the funds available to purchase them then this adventure is truly something worth finishing.

Once you have the coins now you need to grad them

A "grade" is described as a shorthand designed by coin experts (numismatists) to reveal a coins appearance. Simply put, if a certain coin collector tells another collector that he owns an uncirculated Charlotte 50 half eagle, both should already have a concept of the coins appearance without even seeing it, because of the claim of its grade.

Some disclose that designating a grade to rank or categorize a coin is more of an art rather than science, since often it is extremely subjective or biased; this applies particularly when working on Mint State coins where little differences, in terms of grade, make so much difference in the price.

Grading can be learned, studied and applied with a predictable and known outcome that eventually depends on judgment, not feelings.

Like any language, science, sport, or research, it is best to learn and understand coin grading one component at a time, through serious study and experience.

Today, most numismatists use the Sheldon grading scale. While there are those that complain of "too many grades", most experienced coin graders recognize and appreciate the fact that there is a wide range in features between ranges.


This is the method of stamping or imprinting a drawing or a symbol onto a blank. Depending on the coins design, it can either have weak or strong strike. An example of this would be the Type II gold dollar on which both sides (front and back) have the highest strike that is perfectly aligned, meaning, these designs require weak strikes.

Generally the strike is not a key factor in establishing the coins grade except when it is included in a series where the value is connected to strike.

Preservation of the coins surface

The number of coin marks as well as where they are placed is a significant element in establishing the grade. While there is no fixed formula on the number of coin marks that sets its grade, there are several regulated standards regarding the significance of the location or positioning of a scratch.

For instance, a coin having a deep scratch that it is not easily visible on its reverse (back) side will not be strictly penalized. However, if the same scratch was positioned on a noticeable or obvious central point on the front, such as the cheek on the Statue of Liberty, it would be penalized much more.

Patina or luster

A coin can have a variation of textures on the surface, influenced by design, the metal that was used and the mint of origin. Textures can include frosty, satiny, proof-like and semi-proof-like.

When examining the coins surface in terms of grade, two things should be looked at; the quantity, or what is left of the original skin (has to be intact), and the location and amount of marks.

Luster is important especially when determining whether a coin is either circulated or uncirculated. A coin in Mint State technically; is free of abrasion and wear and must not have significant breaks in its luster.


This is a very subjective element in determining coin grade. For instance, a gold coin showing dark green-gold pigmentation may be unattractive to one collector and attractive to another.

As gold is moderately an inert metal, it is not prone to much color variance as copper or silver. Although wide ranging colors may exist in gold coins.

Almost all of US gold coins had been dipped or cleaned, therefore not anymore displaying their original color. As coin collectors become knowledgeable, most of them are attracted and fascinated to coins having their natural color. In most coin series, it is nearly impossible to discover original coin pieces.

Eye attraction or appeal

Color, luster, strike and surface marks come together, comprises eye appeal. Note that a coin having superior eye appeal can be strong in one aspect, such as possessing exceptional luster but not quite as strong in another aspect, such as not so good color.

A coin that is undesirable in one aspect yet good enough in all the other aspects can still be distinguished as below average in eye appeal.

Knowing how to grade a coin is very important so that one can have an idea of the value or price of the coin that he is buying or selling. When new to coin collecting, be sure to ask the help of an experienced collector or dealer when buying or exchanging your coins.
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