Getting Started Collecting U.S. Coins: Basics For Beginning Collectors

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds …..
People have asked me, “ What should I collect, ” or, individually, “ What are the best coins to buy now. ” People frequently become angry when I decline to answer such questions with simple, embrace statements. much depends upon the budget and interests of the individual mint buyer. Each collector should read, learn, examine coins or at least watch choice images of coins, and develop a plan before spending an sum that is ‘ a bunch ’ to him or her .
With input signal from John Albanese and Kris Oyster, recommendations for true beginners are presented hera. Back on Sept. 22nd, my column focused upon advice for beginning and intermediate level collectors who are planning to spend from $ 250 to $ 1000 per coin. The discussion here is more general and much of it applies to collectors of ALL INCOME LEVELS. Collectors who plan on outgo precisely a few dollars per coins and collectors who will spend thousands per mint will, I hope, find the material here to be helpful .
The current approach is very general and is aimed at true beginners, who are frequently puzzled as to how to get started. Although I believe that many rare global coins are excellent values, the advice provided pertains to U.S. coins. realistically, most collectors in the U.S. prefer U.S. coins. furthermore, collecting world coins, colonial coins, or medals is more complicate. There are fewer resources available from which to learn. It is identical easy to find a good deal of valuable reading material and pricing information relating to U.S. coins.

I. Decide on a Budget

A mint collecting budget should not be limited to one year ; it should be part of a hanker run design. A collector should decide how much he or she is volition and able to spend on coins each class, for ten-spot years or more. If a collector is diffident how a lot he wants to spend, or can spend, then set an annual minimum, with the idea that, if the collector becomes a lot more concerned or his fiscal site improves, the maximum may be greater than the minimum. It is significant, though, to be realistic about how much a collector can very afford to spend on coins .
A collector should not spend money that may be needed for retirement, health care or family emergencies. While this may sound obvious, it is park for collectors to financially over-extend themselves. A rage for coins may lead to runaway spend .

II. Read About Coins

Beginners should spend “ time read before buying anything, ” Kris Oyster emphasizes. “ Read CoinWeek.com, and books about coins. ” Oyster was the managing director of numismatics for DGSE. ( Click here to read my interview of him. )
Buy the Redbook, ” Oyster says, “ don ’ thyroxine merely look at the prices, read about the history of the coins and the types. ” The Redbook is the usher ledger of U.S. coins that is published annually by Whitman. “ First learn the basics, ” Oyster adds, “ types of coins, dates and mintmarks, think about how coins are made. Be open, don ’ t make promptly decisions about what to collect, ” Kris states. “ Go out and explore. Don ’ thyroxine worry about spending a batch of money, learn about coins in general. ”
John Albanese, excessively, recommends that each novice buy a current Redbook. In 1987, Albanese was the sole founder of the NGC. In 2007, he was the laminitis of the CAC. After acquiring a Redbook, Albanese says, a founder should “ spend some time going through each serial to see what types of coins catch your eye and fit your budget. ”
In addition, Albanese advises obtaining an older Redbook that dates from the 1970 to 1977 time period. There are specialists in mint relate literature, american samoa well as a few vendors on the Internet, who buy and sell used mint address books .
“ If you can besides find a Redbook from the 1950 ’ second that would besides be helpful. ” Albanese is “ betting most collectors want respect for their hard-earned dollars. Forget the erstwhile principle of ‘ buy the best grade you can afford ’ and replace it, ” John declares, with the maxim “ buy the best value. ” Due to PCGS and NGC pop reports and a register bubble, ” Albanese continues, “ there are many coins that sold for less than $ 5 in the 1970 ’ s that are selling for $ 5000 and up today. These should be avoided. Washington quarters in MS-67 and MS-68 ” are cited by John as examples of coins that are not good values “ today. ”
I ( this writer ) do not find the Redbook to be quite that useful. surely, in the Internet era, the Redbook is not a authoritative as it was in earlier times. There is a capital deal of educational information on the Internet. Of course, as Albanese, Oyster and others point out, there is an incredible sum of misleading information and mint related fraud stemming from websites on the Internet. Nonetheless, a founder who spends a couple of months browsing mint related sites on the Internet, without even spending one penny, may learn a bang-up deal .
In accession to the bombastic number of past articles and column on CoinWeek.com, there is much information on the PCGS and NGC websites. Leading auction companies maintain archives of past auctions with prices realized and quality images. The Heritage, Stack’s + Bowers, Goldbergs and DLRC websites all include a wealth of useful information, though it is much necessary for a novice to consult an expert to interpret such information. Before spend any money, it is a good idea to look and read .
Though I disagree with some of Scott Travers ’ opinions and I do not recommend any kind of curtly condition speculation, I have constantly liked Travers ’ classic book, The Coin Collector’s Survival Manual. The seventh edition was released in November 2010. While a founder may, initially, find this book to be a little confuse, the text will become clear over clock time and much of the information included is very valuable .
After browsing coin related sites on the Internet for a month or more, hopefully including my articles, I suggest finding a copy of Walter Breen’s comprehensive encyclopedia of U.S. coins, which was published in 1988. Yes, this gigantic book contains a significant act of errors and some of the material is outdated. even sol, this book features s a wealth of very valuable information and some excellent discussions of U.S. mint types unfortunately, Breen ’ s 1988 encyclopedia does tend to fall apart, literally, and a founder who spends quite a few dollars for a copy that is barely staying in concert is probably getting a good hand .
For collectors who are interested in Proof coins, Breen ’ s “ encyclopedia ” that is devoted to Proof coins, which was published in 1977, is the only worthwhile book on this topic. Again, it contains errors and early faults. however, it is highly brilliant, and possibly is Breen ’ south best shape.

As for books on U.S. coins that are found in bookstores, libraries, and flea markets, many of them are written by authors who have little cognition of coins. An effective writer may frequently seem to be much more knowing about a topic than he is in actuality. When I talk about sports memorabilia, for model, I often sound more knowing than I actually am. possibly no one will discover that I in truth do not know much about baseball gloves, jerseys and bats, or even about autographed footballs .
constantly, while searching and determine, beginners will come across other books about coins that are well written by intimate authors. indeed, beginners frequently find books by Jeff Ambio and Q. David Bowers to be very helpful .

III. Buy Classic, not Modern, U.S. coins

My belief is that the field of modern coins, like the field of contemporary abstract art, is largely a fad and surely is not grounded in custom. The pursuits of modern coins lack cultural rules, and stem, in part, from the whims ( which are often profitable for the national government ) of decision-makers in the U.S. Treasury Dept. and the U.S. Congress. stopping point class, I wrote a two partially series ( click for Part 1, or Part 2 ) on why 1933/34 is the dependable dividing telephone line between authoritative and modern neologism. It is incontestable that U.S. coins minted after 1933 are typically a lot more common than corresponding coins minted before .
If a founder is planning to spend an amount that he or she regards as “ a lot ” on an person mint, it should be for a coin that is at least reasonably barely and is not a generic commodity. One recently minted “ Silver Eagle ” coin looks about the like as the future and these can be ordered over the Internet in seconds. They lack individuality and there is hardly any custom of collecting them. furthermore, U.S. ‘ silver eagles ’ are not barely and many coin experts do not regard them as truthful coins. It makes coherent sense for a collectible to be scarce and to have individual characteristics, rather than be something that was recently multitude produced. besides, beginners should collect coins that sophisticated experts esteem as meaningful ; such coins do not have to be expensive .
“ For the most part, stay with pre-1934 issues, ” John Albanese asserts. “ If you buy coins later than 1933, avoid top pop coins and coins [ certified as grading ] higher than MS-66. ” Further, Albanese declares that there “ is no need to pay a five or ten times premium for a [ certified ] MS-70 or Proof-70 grade. ” For more opinions of Albanese and Oyster regarding modern coins, along with those of Jeff Ambio, please see my column on Modern Coins .
Some collectors are under the stamp that modern coins are less expensive than classic ( pre-1934 ) coins. While I understand how my auction reviews may give that mental picture to beginners, the accuracy is that there are numerous pre-1934 coins that are not expensive. A agile perusal of the value estimates at Numismedia.com, PCGS.com and in the Redbook would indicate that there are many pre-1934 coin issues that can be purchased for humble amounts of money. There are naturally toned, barely pre-1934 coins available for collectors of all income levels. It only takes a few dollars to buy some neat coins .

IV. Buy Certified Coins?

Should beginners buy coins that are PCGS or NGC certified ? In attentiveness to modern coins, this question is crafty and is covered in my column on modern coins. As I suggest that everyone bargain coins minted before 1934, the discussion in this section relates to pre-1934 U.S. coins. Again, colonial coins, medals, tokens and world coins are all unlike matters and would require separate discussions .
John Albanese notes that “ it is a fact ” that “ most [ U.S. ] coins in the $ 3000 and up range are slabbed by NGC or PCGS. If you are not an adept and you buy $ 3000 and up coins ” that are not PCGS or NGC certified, Albanese says, “ you are playing russian Roulette with your collection and your finances. ” In another words, it is identical bad to buy U.S. coins priced at over $ 3000 that are not PCGS or NGC certified .
Regardless of whether a founder buys cheap coins or expensive coins, Albanese stresses the want to “ find an honest technical adviser. There are experts who are not honest and there are honest dealers who are not experts. ”
Kris Oyster agrees that it is important to find “ reputable dealers. ” Oyster emphasizes that beginners should “ beware of sellers offering deals that sound good, [ particularly ] on the Internet. Coins sell at market levels, not below market. ” Additionally, Kris maintains that “ a gold mint priced at more than 10 % over thaw, and all silver or nickel coins over $ 500, should be PCGS, NGC or ANACS certified. ”
In my ( this writer ’ randomness ) opinion, the dividing line should be $ 250. If any collector is planning to buy a pre-1934 U.S. coin for more than $ 250, it should already be PCGS or NGC certified. Yes, I have written about grade-inflation and coin repair. No one is suggesting that all PCGS or NGC license coins are desirable. U.S. coins valued at above $ 250 that are not PCGS or NGC certified often have serious problems, however, or are being mis-represented by sellers. indeed, many such coins have been rejected and deemed ungradable by the PCGS or the NGC .
While a coin buyer should take early factors into consideration, not barely the opinion from a authentication service, PCGS or NGC certify coins are a lot more desirable and much better values, on average, than coins valued at over $ 250 that are not certified. Put differently, if a begin or intercede collector buys 100 coins that are PCGS or NGC certified and then buys 100 obviously very similar coins, in terms of type, curio and represented quality, that are not certified, the group of 100 attest coins ( on median ) will normally be vastly superior, in terms of overall quality and originality in particular, than the corresponding group of non-certified coins.

For those buying coins valued at less than $ 250, the costs of certification may outweigh the benefits. It is truly important to examine many such coins and to ask questions of experts. A founder should spend only a humble percentage of his or her coin roll up budget while attaining a basic understand of the physical characteristics of coins. With experience and campaign, cognition may be attained and grading skills may be developed. Again, it is crucial to communicate with experts .
In total, it is easy to get originate collecting U.S. coins. Formulate a budget, read a great cope, think and research, ask questions of experts, and then buy coins .
©Greg Reynolds

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