Finding old United States gold and silver coins can at times be difficult and challenging but with perseverance and determination you can find them. If you are someone who collects or invests in US gold and silver coins, you probably already know, they are not easy to find and even harder to find at good prices. In this article you will find some helpful tips to locating and purchasing older US gold and silver coins
First let's have a brief history on gold and silver coinage minted in the United States. In 1791, the newly formed nation established the first US mint in Philadelphia, all coinage prior to this was minted by the colonies, private institutions and individuals. The first US coins were issued in 1793 with the half and one cent copper pieces, within a few years the 90 % silver half dime (this eventually became the nickel), dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar were being produced. In 1795, gold coins had begun being issued starting with the $5 and $10 pieces and expanding to the $1, $2.50, $3 and $20 pieces by the mid-1800's. In the 1930's with America in the depths of the Great Depression, American's were hoarding gold and driving up its price and in effort to re-stabilize gold prices President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order that essentially suspended and inevitably put an end to gold coin production in the US. US Silver coin production was ended in 1964 as a result of silver values exceeding coinage face value prompting the passage of the Coinage Act of 1965.
So now where do you find these collectible and investment gold and silver coins that haven't been minted since the 1930's and 1960's respectively? The answer is almost anywhere.
Often times you can find these coins in neighborhood garage sales, flea markets, consignment shops and antique shops. Of course just because you find the coins you are looking for, it doesn't necessarily mean you should buy them. Some times (certainly not always) sellers at these venues will inflate the prices of their coins either out of ignorance of the true value or to make more money. Either way, you should expect to pay for good quality coins but not more than what the current market says they are worth. Whether you are buying to collect or buying to invest in US coins you want to make sure you get good quality, authentic coins for a good price. Getting the latest edition of The Official Red Book, A Guide of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman, is a good resource that will help you become acquainted with US coin types, coin grading and conditions and current coin retail values. This book among many others will also give you helpful tips for identifying the very undesirable counterfeit, altered and cleaned coins that you may come across.
Occasionally, you can find silver coins like pre-1964 Washington quarters and Roosevelt dimes, sometimes even Ben Franklin half dollars or older in your pocket change. This does not happen all the time, but always check to see if they are there. Banks are great locations for getting not only newly minted US coins but finding older silver and copper coins (sometimes gold) and even older paper money. Checking at your local bank branch often (and making good friends with the tellers) is a great way to find old and unusual coins. So much money goes through bank branches, the odds of finding old US coins of silver, possibly gold is much higher. Quite often, people who have saved old coins or have inherited them, will grab them mistakenly, think they are not worth anything or who just need some quick cash and take them to the bank. The same applies to businesses that take in lots of cash. If you have friends or family members that are bank tellers or cashiers asking them to check the money they handle for you for anything of value is a great way to pay face value price for something that maybe worth far more.
Coin shops and coin shows are also a great place to find old US gold and silver coins. While you might think you would not get as good a deal from coin dealers, in general this is usually not the case. Coin dealers understand and know the coin market and how it works. They know the going rates of coins and when they can let coins go for less. It comes down to them selling a coin for more than what they paid for it so they can make a profit and this often occurs at less than the red book, retail values. Most coin dealers just like business owners are trying to provide a good to customers at a fair price, their aim is not to take advantage of you but to build a working relationship with a customer for life.
On the internet there is a wide variety of options for purchasing US gold and silver coins. While you could find and purchase almost any type of coin imaginable, proceed with caution. Buy from trusted and well known sources, such as the US Mint, and if you plan to broker a deal with an individual seller, plan to see and inspect the coins in person so that you can ensure that you're getting the quality and authentic coins you are paying.
Yeoman, R.S. (2010). The Official Red Book, A Guide Book Of United States Coins 2011.
Bressett, Kenneth (Ed). Atlanta, GA: Whitman Publishing.