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Collecting Key Date United States Coins

By Edited Jun 16, 2016 3 2

1877 United States Key Date Indian Head Cent

Collecting key date United States coins is like collecting vintage automobiles or Rolex watches. Price is absolutely tied to condition.

Selling a rare date key coin is something that should be considered before making any purchases. Will you be able to get as much as your paying? Will the coin bring a profit?

These are questions that too many people let go by the wayside and end up buying on impulse because it's pretty and looks rare in the books.

There are many factors that go into appraising this type of item. The fact that it gets a rare listing as a key date because the mintage was low is only one variable that will be looked at when deciding what a coin will bring when it's put up for sale.

If you're not familiar with these other variables, then mistakes can be made that will cost thousands in lost value. Remember in the coin market not everyone is totally upfront with all the information they could give on an item.

The seller after all is trying to sell a product for as much as they can get, so leaving out information might not be outright lying but the results are the same. You're not getting what you think your getting.

Sliders are coins that are placed up for sale and have an assigned grade that is a little pinch below the actual condition of the coin. This little pinch can be a huge pinch in your pocketbook. Let's take a look at the 1877 Indian Head cent pictured at the top of this article.

The comparisons below are drawn from PCGS which is well know in the numismatic world and one of if not the best returning grading company available today. They have long been considered the cream of the crop.

We look at this key date Indian and find it in:

MS-66 Red condition, this coin is listed for $145,000.00

MS-65 Red condition, the coin is listed for $27.500.00

MS-64 Red condition, this coin is listed for $10,500.00

MS-63 Red condition, the coin is listed for $8,000.00

Ms-60 Red condition, the coin is listed at $5,000.00 

As it is easily seen from the above data, a slider that is listed as an MS-66 but really only makes the grade of MS-65 can be a $100,000.00 + mistake.

This shows the importance of understanding grading for the particular coins you are contemplating buying. The reason that dealers can get away with this type of practice is because the grading of a coin is actually an opinion.

One man's trash is another man's treasure. Unfortunately most people are not fine tuned enough into what's selling to understand the inconsistencies that abound in the grading world.

2011 Silver American Eagle with U.S. Mint Case
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Certified Coins Are Safer

Know What You're Buying

So, still thinking of giving it a whirl? If so then you should definitely make sure you acquire a very good knowledge of grading techniques or stick to third party authenticated coins.

There are other concerns that need to be addressed when spending money on key dates. Some have to do with silver coins that may have been cleaned, or whizzed it's called, in a chemical cleaner.

This action reduces the value of the item by 100 percent. Coins subjected to whizzing are worth whatever is left of the metal content by weight as this action actually removes metal and makes the coin worthless.

Although some coins have received this treatment innocently enough by people that knew no better, it doesn't change the fact that the coin is now under weight and has relatively no value as a numismatic item.

Any research you do should always include a look at the daily price guide at PCGS. This way you know exactly what the coin is worth at the time your thinking of buying. You can also look at trends at their site as well as searching eBay for past sales. This way you can see the historical data that will help you to make the decision.



Mar 15, 2011 6:24pm
Nicely detailed article on what to look for when evaluating old coins!
Mar 15, 2011 6:45pm
Thanks DD and again thanks for the visit
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